1 Samuel 15:8-12 When earthly blessing turns into an obsession
1 Samuel 15:8-12
He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night. Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal.”
God sent Saul with an expressed command to destroy everything within the territory of Amalek sparing not one person or livestock. However, Saul disregarded God’s commands in preference for his own. In doing so, Saul set himself up as a contender opposing God’s rule over Israel. Hence, God regretted in making Saul king and rejected him because he has crossed the point of no return. He sought to glorify himself by establishing himself as the sovereign ruler in place of God. Saul’s desire to the take the place that is rightfully God’s caused him to cross the line from wilfulness to open rebellion. That which was originally a blessed appointment to rule became an obsession that robbed Saul of his true blessing. In today’s passage, we learn never to be obsessed with earthly things and lose sight of the true blessing in heaven.
But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly – God instructed Saul to destroy everything within the territory of Amalek because, the people were extremely evil and He did not want to the people to retain anything that is associated with the Amalek culture of idolatry and cruelty. Saul having understood the expressed commandment of God chose to disobey and kept Agag alive as well as the best of the livestock. As a result, Saul became a man in direct contention with God; he decided that God’s commands must be put aside in preference for his own. Hence, through this one decision Saul has fatefully made God his contender posing an open challenge to Him for sovereign control over Israel. Saul kept Agag alive because he wanted to make him his trophy as much as possible and he kept the best of the livestock because he wanted to please the people.
I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands – After Saul has determined to rebel against God’s rule, God immediately responded to Samuel: I regret that I have made Saul king. The word “regret” connotes that the time of mitigating or withholding judgment has come to an end. God has resolved within himself that Saul was never going to change and has remained resolute in rebellion against Him. He expressed his rebellion against God by erecting a monument for himself at Carmel as a symbol of his rebellion against God’s sovereign rule. Samuel understood the severity of the state affairs for Israel whose king was rejected by God and slated for judgment. Hence, he was distressed and cried out all night to God for a solution to this crisis for fear of what may come upon Israel.
- The key to experiencing a life of freedom in the Spirit is the resolve to exterminate all shades of sin in our lives. Only when believers make the daily endeavor to exterminate all things displeasing to God can they truly experience freedom in the Spirit. The failure of Saul lies in his obsession for the pleasures of the flesh and the pride of life, and so he kept Agag and the best of the livestock instead of destroying them. Similarly, many churchgoers were procrastinating in ridding themselves of their habitual sins and selfish agenda. They wanted God’s salvation but at the same time pleasures of the world. Hence, they were constantly undecided between two worlds: the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of world. For such, they will never experience what is true freedom, what is the exhilaration, the power, the glory, and what its like to touch the things of heaven; only the struggle, the emptiness, the poverty, the unceasing cares of the world, being continually trapped by the hesitation to make God their Lord.
- We must not let the good things that God gave us become an obsession that robs us of our true reward. When Saul was insignificant, God anointed him and raise him up to be king. However, the good things God gave became to him an egoistic obsession. Saul’s dark passions and his desire for glory crossed the point of no return; God gave up on trying to turn him back towards His commands. Saul was not acting out of character as in a moment of passion or being deceived as in the case of King David where he repented at the skillful prompting of Nathan. Saul was sober, when he disregarded God’s commands in preference for his own. When God gives us good things, beware that the dark passions of the flesh may rise up to pervert God’s gifts. When God gives wealth, beware that it may give rise to greed. When God gives us a job, beware that it may draw us away from good family time and Sabbath worship. When God gives authority to rule, beware that it may give rise to pride and rebellion. The below are common fleshly obsessions that threatens to rob us of our true heavenly reward.
Pride & Power – This appeals to the pride of life, of wanting to exalt himself above his peers, above human authority and eventually above God. This is the single most dangerous and destructive sin that has far-reaching and wide-ranging effects. Pride and power can mislead thousands and take whole nations down the path of destruction. It usually begins with a hint of willfulness and a general disrespect for authority. Then it degenerates into power play, by leveraging on the weaknesses of people, and by manipulating the truth. Pride blinds the eye from dangers and causes him to be illogically optimistic. If one observes hints of manipulative behavior, or an insatiable desire to lord over others, it is time to pull back and let God be Lord.
Pornography & fleshly pleasures – These appeal to pleasures derived from the flesh as opposed to pleasures of the Spirit, which is love, joy and peace. Pornography, promiscuity, addiction to alcohol and nicotine, all appeal to the lust of the flesh. Hence, one must endeavor to starve the desires of the flesh and eventually kill it. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he will experience the pleasures of the Spirit as fulfilling and enduring. Whereas the pleasures of the flesh seem attractive at the onset, but it soon give way to emptiness and depression. By keeping a strict discipline of reading God’s word, by doing what God has instructed for the day, and by enjoying the pleasures of the Spirit, he can wean off his dependence on fleshly pleasures.
Gambling & Greed – This appeals to greed and the obsession for earthly things. Materialism, greed and pride are antithetic to the values system of God’s kingdom. The gambling addict is completely oblivious to the values system of God’s kingdom. What he deems as enduring and important is passing away, but what is permanent in eternal terms is too far-fetched. A gambling addict must endeavor to appreciate the joy and value of helping others. By spending time and being involved in the lives of others he could see true value in changing and protecting lives. Gambling will lose its appeal when he comes to understand that money cannot change the world or even his family, but only love can.
- Are you still struggling with certain areas of your life like pornography, smoking, gambling and promiscuity? Perhaps, a part of you has not made the decision to divorce yourself from them. You can be free by making that decision today, and the Spirit is at hand to break the bondages.
- Are you taking control of your own life and securing your own fate supposing that is exercising good personal responsibility? All men and women are created by God for a divine purpose and function on the earth. By surrendering our lives to God, He will begin to reveal to us the purpose of our existence. By reading the Bible daily and understanding the truths, we begin to move towards our calling and fulfill it.
Dear Lord, I desire to live the abundant life of freedom and power. I acknowledge you as the Lord of every area of my life. I am determined to cut off all habitual sins. I come against the bondage of the lust of the flesh, of pride and of greed. I ask the Spirit to fill my life with peace, joy, and love and purify my heart from all darkness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.