Elect Lady's Corner

Biblical Wisdom In Plain English


Beware Of Half-hearted Obedience

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As we have often heard the story of King Saul, the first King of Israel, we are reminded of how he was later rejected as the king by God. Saul started out as a meek man, very unassuming and not feeling worthy to become Israel’s King. But, once he had a taste of power and fame, his humility and dependence on obeying God lessened and he fell into half-hearted disobedience. Half-hearted obedience is “justified disobedience!” 

There are at least 5 signs to watch for in half-hearted obedience:  1) You do not acknowledge your wrong but pretend everything is well. 2) You become confrontational when confronted by authority for your wrong. 3) You blame others for your wrong.  4) You come up with excuses to justify your wrong. 5) Pride enters in and you’re more concerned about what people think than God. As we rehearse the story of King Saul, we find all these signs in his half-hearted obedience during his reign. 

God spoke to the Prophet Samuel to give King Saul instructions in I Samuel 10:8: “And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down to thee, to offer burnt offerings: …seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.” But when Saul felt he was in a crisis because his enemies had surrounded him and his soldiers had scattered; in fear, Saul half-heartedly obeyed.  

He obeyed partially by waiting to the 7th day, but he didn’t wait until Samuel came. (I Samuel 13:8-9) And although he was not a priest, Saul offered a burnt sacrifice to the Lord. He should have been obedient and waited for Samuel, no matter how long it took!  But v.10 said: “And it came to pass, that as soon as he made and end of the burnt offering, behold Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.” 

So, we see the 5 signs of half-hearted obedience in Saul’s behavior: 1) He greets Samuel but does not acknowledge what he did wrong. 2)When Samuel confronted him for his wrong, he accused Samuel of not doing his part 3) He blamed the people for scattering from him. 4) He gave the excuse that the Philistines were coming to overtake them, so he had to force himself to do the sacrifice to get God’s blessing.  5) Out of pride, being the King, he took upon himself to step in Samuel’s authority. 

The story ends with God taking the kingship from Saul and transferring it to King David. Again, we find King Saul in another half-hearted obedience when Samuel instructed him in I Samuel 15:2-3: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” 

Now, that’s about as plain instructions as you can get! But instead, look at how Saul responded in v.9: “But Saul and the people spared Agag (King of the Amalekites) and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”  

Again, we see the 5 signs of half-hearted obedience: 1) Saul did not acknowledge that he did wrong. He greets Samuel with flattery and then says to him: “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 2) When Samuel confronts him asking what is this noise of sheep and oxen he hears? Saul responded we kept the best of the sheep and the oxen for a sacrifice to your God, and everything else we destroyed utterly. 

3) When rebuked by Samuel, Saul blamed the people for keeping the best of the spoils and sparing King Ahab’s life; when previously, Saul had already erected a monument in Carmel in his honor before Samuel came. 4) Then, Saul’s excuse was the pressure of the people caused him to disobey and he should not have allowed them to persuade him. 

5) Lastly, pride kicks in when Saul pleaded with Samuel to make a positive appearance with him before the elders of Israel and the people to pretend all was well with them. But sadly, this is the final rejection of Saul as king and Samuel never saw him again until his death. So, remember, it doesn’t matter how well you started, but it’s more important how well you obeyed! So, please, I adjure you: “Beware of Half-Hearted Obedience!

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