1 Samuel 15:13-15
And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Saul was willing to take all the credit for the victory but none of the blame for the disobedience. In his view, he had performed the commandment. He’d done what he was supposed to do. The Amalekites were destroyed, and Israel had triumphed. But Saul had modified the plan himself. He did something he thought should be done that was actually in opposition to what God had said to do. He took it upon himself to spare some of the spoil instead of destroying everything like God wanted him to do.
At times in our lives, we may not understand why God commands us to do something or what it would hurt to modify the plan a little bit. We may not agree with God’s way in every situation we will face in our lives. But God gives His commands for His reasons, and He deserves to be obeyed. We don’t know as much as God about the situation, and our part is to do exactly as He says.
The evidence of Saul’s disobedience was obvious. The noise of the animals alerted Samuel to Saul’s transgression. Saul then tried to blame the people for what happened, but as their leader and king, it was up to him to compel them to do the right thing, not to follow them to do the wrong thing. And in his mind, from his perspective, he had done everything he was supposed to do. But he needed Samuel to point out how he’d gone astray, to reveal that it wasn’t the sacrifices that mattered, but total obedience to God.
Sometimes we need a Samuel, too, to come along and show us where we’ve gotten off-track. Sometimes we really don’t see how what we did was wrong until someone else makes the distinction for us. Hopefully that then prompts us to humbly repent of what we’ve done instead of trying to shift the blame or make excuses or, worse, totally disregard it and keep going further and further down a path away from God. How we respond in these kinds of teachable moments will determine the direction of our lives. For Saul, it cost him the throne, and we, too, may lose something precious when our way takes precedence over God’s way.