The Lord commands Saul to do something very specific: destroy the Amalekites. This includes the women, the children, and every animal.
So Saul does... kind of. He wipes out everyone except the Amalekite king, as well as all the best sheep and cattle, and "everything that was good" (v. 9).
Samuel, who had given Saul the Lord's instructions, arrives after the destruction, only to hear Saul say, "I've carried out the Lord's instructions!" and yet - has he really?
Samuel responds, "Then what is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" Saul had taken things into his own hands, and
Then this from Samuel...
"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22)As I read the story this morning, I remembered a time in my own life that I disobeyed in a pretty major way. The week after I turned 18, I took a weekend trip to Texas to visit my boyfriend at the time. We had worked it out for me to stay with a friend and get to see him on his college campus for a couple days. It was a huge sign of trust from my parents, and there was much potential to prove that I was the responsible, mature woman they'd raised me to be.
And then... I got a tattoo. My boyfriend got one that matched. It was a very spontaneous decision (as in... I think within an hour of tossing around the idea we'd found our way into a smoky tattoo parlor). And the whole time, I knew I was disobeying my parents in a big way. My poor sister tried so hard to talk me out of it on the other end of the phone, but I tried to justify it because the tattoo was of a cross and I'd use it to witness (ha!).
When I got home, my parents' reaction was just as I expected. Shock. Disappointment. Taking away privileges. And it was deserved, every bit of it. I was still living at home and therefore under their authority, and though I'm not sure "don't get a tattoo" was written in the family rules, it was obvious enough not to have to be.
At first, I didn't feel much remorse. I tried to justify to them - and to myself - that I'd use the cross on my ankle to witness to people. But I was using Saul's tactics: feigning sacrifice for what was actually very flagrant disobedience. I acted like I was making a sacrifice to the Lord - I'd tell people about Him when they'd ask about the tattoo, right? - but sacrifice was far from my actual motivation.
A little while later, conviction set in and I felt worse about what I'd done than my parents did. I wouldn't forgive myself. I'd lost a lot of their trust, and rightly so. I'll never forget as I sobbed in the living room and said something to the effect of, "I'll always look at it as a sign of my disobedience!" they just calmly explained that they really did forgive me. And to prove it, they each kissed the tattoo. :) It wasn't that they liked it or were pleased at what I'd done, but they forgave me because they loved me.
A few years later, I opted to get the tattoo removed. Do you know how much more painful and expensive it is to get a tattoo removed than to get one put on?! Yep... painful. And expensive. But worth it to me. (I couldn't find a photo of the actual tattoo or I would've posted it... the one picture I do have is of my friend Camille and me at one of the laser treatments to get it removed.) :)
Today, I'm tattoo-less. And I'm very thankful for that (especially because that boyfriend and I broke up a few short months after we got matching tattoos). I'm not sure I could ever get another with how dramatic the first one was.
As I read about Saul this morning, that story came to mind and I was reminded of one of my clearest acts of disobedience I can think of. But so often, I disobey much more subtly. I sin in my heart in ways that only the Lord sees. No, I'm not always traipsing into a tattoo parlor the week after my 18th birthday. But these hidden sins are just as real and dangerous as the ones that are exposed, and I pray He will reveal those to me just as clearly. He deserves our obedience. Our full, wholehearted obedience.