Partial obedience is disobedience. Jesus told a lovely parable in Matthew 21: 28 – 32. It was about a man with 2 sons. He asked them to go and work out in his vineyard. The first refused but later changed his mind and went. The second agreed but failed to do so. Jesus asked the people, “Which one did what his father wanted?”
Saul knew what he was supposed to do. He agreed to do it but then changed his mind. The spoils of war were too tempting. Why must the good be destroyed with the weak? Why can’t we keep some of the stuff – surely there is nothing wrong with that, is there? The men deserve something for risking their lives. Anyway, God’s not looking and Samuel isn’t here.
God told Samuel the situation and he went on his way to see Saul. However, Saul had moved on from the battlefield. There was something far more important for him to be doing. He had a monument set up to himself and he had to go and make sure it was erected properly and rightly reflected his newly won glory.
When Samuel eventually caught up with Saul, Saul was ecstatic. He was so proud of his victory and commenced by claiming to have executed his orders to perfection.
You may have heard the maxim – never work with animals and children. Well, Saul may well have coined it first, for even as Saul was extolling his own virtues, the animals started braying and causing such a cacophony of noise to enter the ears of Samuel. If you have done what God asked, how come I can hear the sound of sheep and cows?
Hey, don’t blame me, Saul replied, it’s my men. You know what soldiers are like. They kept the very best – but no, not for themselves, of course, but so we could have a great worship celebration to God. You know how He likes sacrifices – so we determined to give Him the best one He’s ever seen or heard! How about that, eh?
Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night…., replied Samuel.
Watch promotion. Watch out for success. You may long for it. You may even live for it but watch out – it has a horrible propensity to expose what is really inside us. Saul had got so used to being king that he had forgotten how he got to be there. He forgot Who put him there and what he was there for. He equated his success with his own prowess. He mistook privilege for power. He had moved out from being under the authority of God and entered the new frail realm of human control.
Saul’s authority had come straight from the Throne of God. Unfortunately, he had surrendered that through his disobedience and was to reap the consequences of that fateful decision. He ignored God’s demands and demanded respect and honour from his people. That is a fragile and tenuous pleasure.
Saul had substituted the Kingdom of God for the kingdom of Saul.