Obedience to God is one of the most interesting, and sometimes controversial, topics that people study in the Bible.
How should we be obedient to God?
Can we relax our obedience?
Does God expect us to obey Him in everything, all the time?
Is obedience to God conditional on circumstances?
Questions like this commonly haunting people’s minds.
The response we each give to them affects the way we live our lives and relate to the creator.
Today, I would like to share a bible story about right obedience to God.
I think this story answers all those questions.
This is the story of Saul.
Two years after being appointed king of Israel.
It so happened that Saul resolved to attack the Philistines, a neighboring people who were enemies of Israel, and he destroyed one of their military garrisons.
When the Philistines found out, their hatred for the Israelites became inflamed.
They then prepared heavily for battle and stood in front of one of Israel’s camps.
Saul then sent messengers to all his people, calling the men to come before him to go to battle.
However, the Philistine army was so numerous that people were very afraid of them.
Even soldiers preferred to hide in caverns and wells.
They even decided to flee to confront them.
God had told Saul, through the prophet Samuel, that he should wait seven days in a city called Gilgal until Samuel arrived and offered sacrifices to God.
Then Samuel would bless him and probably give him divine instructions about the battle.
This had been a definitive instruction to Saul from God, which he was to obey.
However, seeing that the people were so scared and deserting, and seeing that Samuel was not coming as soon as expected.
Thinking that by making the sacrifices, people would gain courage and stay with him.
Saul decided to do the sacrifices without waiting for Samuel.
Shortly after finishing them, Samuel arrived.
Read with me what happened next:
“(…) Samuel said to him, “What have you done?”
And Saul replied:
“I realized that the people were deserting and, since you were not coming and the Philistines were gathered in Micmas, I thought:
“Now the Philistines are going to come to Gilgal to fight me, and I have not implored the Lord’s help.”
So I mustered up the courage and offered the holocaust.”
But Samuel said to Saul:
“What you’ve done is crazy.
You did not obey what the Lord your God commanded you to do.
If you had obeyed, the Lord would have forever confirmed your reign over Israel.
Now your reign won’t last long.
The Lord has sought a man who will act as he pleases, and he has already chosen him to reign over his people, for you could not obey what he commanded you.”
1 Samuel 13:11-14
In short, Saul did not obey what God had commanded him to do.
This brought him God’s reproach and disapproval for his reign.
Those of us who read the story might be inclined to think that God is exaggerating a little.
After all, making sacrifices to God is not a bad thing.
Also, the situation Saul faced with the fleeing people seemed quite critical.
Perhaps we can see ourselves acting in the same way.
And that’s where we find the important lesson of this story in relation to obedience to God.
Even in times of anguish and confusion, it is better to risk the side of faith, faithfulness, and obedience to God than to let ourselves be carried away by our own judgment and risk doing something that God does not like.
Human beings tend to think that obedience to God is conditional on our circumstances.
We reason that if it is difficult to obey, or if circumstances dictate to our reason something different, then we can do something different from what God has told us.
But we are wrong.
Obedience to God is not conditional on our circumstances.
Obedience and faithfulness must be unconditional things in our lives.
Saul thought victory in that battle depended on numbers.
That if he didn’t have enough men, he would lose.
But he forgot that the battle belonged to God and not to him.
That his role was not to win the battle, but that his role was to be faithful to the God who fights the battles for his people.
He forgot that God had defeated the Midianites, with only three hundred men.
He forgot about so many other circumstances where numbers weren’t the important thing.
He forgot that God is the God of the impossible.
Dear reader, although it is not easy.
Well, as human beings we have a hard time understanding this, perhaps because we’re generally focused on looking at ourselves.
If we look to God and His power, we will see that circumstances are irrelevant to Him, and that our duty is not to solve His problems as if they were ours.
That our duty is to be faithful and obedient to his words.
Remember that God always knows what is best and that He has the right view of history.
Trusting him will always be better than trusting ourselves.
I hope this message has been a blessing to your life.
And what do you think? Do you have a hard time being obedient to God? Share it in the comments.
A hug, God bless you.