“If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors” (1 Samuel 12:14, 15).
Faithful obedience to God was a condition for God’s continued blessing on His people. This obedience applied not only to God’s people, but also to the king. Remember, the people had asked for a king. Samuel had (reluctantly) anointed Saul, who had initially demonstrated some great leadership that caused the nation to rally around him. But, over the course of several chapters, Saul’s foolishness and disobedience caused God to remove His blessing from Him. Here are three specific situations where that was true:
- Saul foolishly offered a sacrifice that Samuel should have offered (13:1-15). Feeling pressed for time, he impatiently took into his own hands a responsibility that belonged to the prophet. I suppose Saul wanted to be sure to appease God and seek His favor as the Israelite armies headed into battle. But pleasing God is more than just making sure that a task gets done. He is also interested in the heart that drives the task and the means by which the task is accomplished. He doesn’t want us to just go through the motions.
- Saul foolishly ordered that the armies fast until the victory was won (14:24-48). While fasting can be a good spiritual discipline, there were a couple of problems associated with his order. He was challenging them to perform physically without nourishment. But, in addition, his own son, Jonathan, was not present when the order was given. He ended up violating the very order his father had given.
- Saul foolishly disobeyed the Lord’s instruction to destroy the enemy and the enemy’s livestock (15:1-35). While the instruction itself may seem violent, God wanted His people to neither be plagued by the Amalekites nor lured into their pagan worship. God always has reason for his commands even when we are unable to recognize it.
Because of his disobedience, it is no surprise that Saul was to be replaced as king. What kind of consequences might you experience if you choose to ignore the Lord’s commands?