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God's Rules Of Engagement: Obedience is Better than Sacrifice

Updated on January 17, 2013
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels of PNG - World War II
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels of PNG - World War II

Table Of Contents

  • 1 Samuel 15:22
  • God’s Rules of Engagement on a Mission – A Test for King Saul’s Obedience
  • King Saul's Excuse
  • Do We Fear God or Man?

1 Samuel 15:22

‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’ is a famous Bible quote found in 1 Samuel 15:22. What is God’s principle of ‘to obey is better than sacrifice’ and what does it really mean? In this hub, I share my thoughts on what obedience is better than sacrifice means.

To understand any scripture verse in its entirety, it is important to read the whole chapter or chapters in which it occurs to understand the context. In this case, it is 1 Samuel chapter 15.

God’s Rules of Engagement on a Mission – A Test for King Saul’s Obedience

In 1 Samuel 15, Prophet Samuel tells King Saul to heed the voice of the LORD and co-operate with Him to punish Amalek for what it did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came out of Egypt. God gave specific instructions on how that mission was to be accomplished, and that is to “utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them”.

Saul attacked the Amalekites and utterly destroyed the people. “But Saul and the people spared Agag (king of the Amalekites) and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed”.

The rules of engagement for this mission regarding the spoils of war was breached and even though King Saul saw that God’s command was disobeyed, he did not do anything and everything in his power to stop it. This is where the principle of obedience is demonstrated. Saul chose to obey the people or “go with the crowd” and did not obey the invisible God who anointed him king over Israel.

Do we remain true and faithful soldiers to God’s rules of engagement in our lives?

King Saul's Excuse

Saul’s response to Prophet Samuel shows arrogance and rebellion. Saul plays down the fact that God is the higher authority and he did not submit to Him by fully obeying what He commanded. Saul’s response also indicates he is not a God-fearing and responsible leader.

Saul is blaming the people for bringing back the best of the spoils of the war. Then he tells the prophet the reason for this, “to sacrifice to the LORD your God”. It is interesting that Saul says "your" God! Was He not the God of Saul and Samuel?

God is expecting us to simply obey Him, obey His Word. But many times, we do not stick with our rules of engagement and our mission on earth. We do things contrary to His Word and expect God to be pleased with our good deeds that we accomplished. Once again, obedience is better than sacrifice.

Do We Fear God or Man?

Saul said he “feared the people and obeyed their voice”, instead of God. The Bible says “the LORD regretted that He made Saul king over Israel”. This is a very strong statement. Do we do things God forbids in fear of man or what man would say?

The Bible is full of promises of the many blessings that comes with the fear of the LORD. Saul chose to fear man and not God, and therefore he was dethroned and eliminated early in battle. The same is true for us today. We can reject God’s blessings, even without knowing it, if we do not have the fear of the LORD in our lives.

In order to be obedient to authority, the obeying person has to accept that it is the legitimate (i.e. rightful, legal) for the command to be made of them. God and His Word is our final Authority. If we do not accept that God is the Author and Finisher of our faith and He is the Ultimate Authority, it will be living a life of rebellion.

Our quest for obedience to God must therefore be fueled by a genuine love relationship with our Creator, Who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


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    • Kejanny profile image

      Kejanny 4 years ago from Port Moresby

      Hi Maralexa, thank you for visiting this hub and adding these wonderful words about God's principles on love, obedience and fear of the LORD. You are right about Saul's attitude.

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      Great example of obedience and following orders (principles, objectives, values) completely. Fearing God does not mean being frightened to death by Him. It means respecting Him and following His will because we love Him so much.

      Sometimes we don't serve "willingly" because we may not understand the "big picture" behind the order. But if we fear/respect God we will follow His orders despite our desire to have people like us.

      By sacrificing his need for adoration from his people (by allowing them to keep the spoils of war) Saul would have shown his complete obedience to God. As it was, he chose to have the love of his people rather than have God be pleased with him for obeying His command.

      Saul blamed the people for not obeying God's command. Then tried to squirm out of this disobedience by suggesting that he kept the spoils to sacrifice to God. That's not what God commanded. Unfortunately, Saul did not understand this, or did not feel he needed to completely obey God.

      Although God made Saul the king, as the king, Saul felt he had more power than was appropriate. He believed he, Saul, could interpret God's command to suit his own needs and desires.

      Thanks for this wonderful hub. And thanks for letting me say all this.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • healthwealthmusic profile image

      Ruth R. Martin 4 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      God does wish us to choose to love and obey Him. He will never force us to do it, but if we make bad/wrong choices, we will suffer the consequences.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 4 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      Not necessarily fear - rather learning the wisdom of God and serving willingly because of that wisdom.

    • Kejanny profile image

      Kejanny 4 years ago from Port Moresby

      Thank you Someonewhoknows for your comments and for visiting this hub. Yes, God gave man free will and whether man chooses to obey God or his own will is a demonstration of whether the man sees God as the legitimate higher authority or not. Only when he fears God, he will obey.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 4 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      So,what your saying is that god gave man free will and god wants man to choose God's will above man's will and yet God lets men decide for themselves weather or not to do God's will ?

      I can see that!

      How do you know that some men are not just saying that God wants them to perform a particular service and just getting the people to follow them rather than GOD?