1 Samuel 15 Partial Obedience

Saul was very successful as the first King of Israel. He fought many battles and had victories over many of the enemies of Israel. There was no instruction from the Lord about what Saul should do but it seems that Saul was doing what God had anointed him to do which is fight the enemies of the Lord.  It seems several years have passed and now God had a specific assignment for Saul to carry out.

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-3

God, through Samuel, told Saul that the time of the Amalekites has run out. When Samuel used the phrase, “This is what the Lord Almighty says” which is used seventy six times in God’s word,  it showed that it was directly from God.  The Amalekites judgement was predicted a long time ago and after 500 years of not repenting God was finally giving up on them and allowing them to meet their final judgment. The prophecy of the Amalekites was given in the time of Moses. (Exodus 17:14-16; Numbers 24;20) This judgment from God was only for those who had fallen under Gods severest judgement like the people of Jericho. God used and still uses the military to carry out His judgments against rebellious people and nations.  (See Romans 13) The assignment that Saul received was that all the people and all the possessions were to be destroyed with no soldier profiting from anything from the war.

Read 1 Samuel 15:4-6

There was a group of people called the Kenites who were living in tents among the Amalekites. Saul warned them that they should leave because he was coming to destroy the Amalekites and did not want them hurt in the process. The kindness the Kenites showed  Israel when they escaped Egypt was never forgotten (Judges 1:16; 4:11) along with the fact they were relatives of Moses was the reason that Saul wanted to spare them.

Partial Obedience

Read 1 Samuel 15:7-9

1)   …Is because of selfishness

Saul did not carry out the will of the Lord totally because he did most of what was supposed to be done but not all of it. Agag the King was one man that Saul saved. We do not fully know why but it could have been a pride thing to display to others or because he was also a King to show respect.

“But Saul and the people spared…”

The people did not act on their own they were following the lead of Saul. Leaders lead for good or for bad that is why you need to make sure if you are a leader that you are leading people the right way.  They spared the King and took the finest of the flocks for themselves and whatever they did not want they willfully destroyed for the Lord.

As easy as it is for us to criticize them for their actions you have to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine going into a million dollar home that God told you to destroy everything in. Once you get inside you see a really nice plasma television and a gaming system. Maybe you see a nice refrigerator or oven that is better than the one you have and so you think to yourself, “surely God did not mean destroy all the good things”.

It is sometimes difficult to fulfill the things of God but we have to or we are doing self- serving selective obedience. We cannot pick and choose the areas we will and will not obey God in because God asks of full obedience from each one of us. The truest definition of sin and setting our wills up against God’s. When we make decisions that override what Gods will is then we are setting ourselves up to be a god.

Sin is missing the mark or willfully stepping out of the boundaries. It is one thing to not live up to the expectations since we all fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)  it is another to willfully and deliberately not do the things you know you are supposed to do. If you look at the areas in your life that you have not fully obeyed God in you will see that it is because of your selfish desires and wanting things done a certain way.

Read 1 Samuel 15:10-13

Notice first how heartbroken Samuel is over Sauls sin. When people continually sin are you grieved or are you angry? The Heart of God grieves over sin and what people think is acceptable. If you love the way Christ love then your heart will be broken by the actions of others and the lifestyle they are choosing to live.

When is the last time you prayed for someone all night with tears because of their sin? That is exactly what Samuel did.  We should not point out other people’s sin before we have prayed and wept over them.

Partial Obedience:

2)…feels like full obedience

I used the words feeling because our society bases everything off of feelings. How does that make you feel? Are you happy? All that matters if you are happy. Follow your heart.

Saul either truly believed he did the will of God or convinced himself he did the will of God.  Saul was so proud of himself that he went to Carmel and set up a monument for himself. When Saul saw Samuel he quickly let Samuel know that he did what the Lord had asked him to do.

Partial obedience gives us the FEELING that we are obedient so that is why is it more dangerous than total disobedience. God is clear that He does not want a half hearted obedience.

Revelation 3:14-15 I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

We said that sin is missing the mark and that is why we need Jesus Christ but many people are good with close enough in their lives. We are called to be Holy but we are alright with pretty good. We think that some is better than none but the reality is God would rather have you not do anything at all (be cold) then to make a partial attempt at obedience. (lukewarm)

Read 1 Samuel 15:14-16

Partial Obedience:

3)   …Is due to blind spots in your life

Saul truly believed that what he did was right. Samuel had to get Saul to stop talking by literally yelling for him to stop. Saul was so blinded to his disobedience that he ignored the animal noises that were around him.

Have you ever been around someone who did not see the wrong they were doing as wrong ? It can be very frustrating.

We all have areas that we call blind spots. They are things in our lives that we either have accepted as alright to do or no one has addressed them as sins in our lives. Just like a blind spot in a car is dangerous so is a blind spot in our lives. The blind spots in our lives can lead to us crashing our lives and we will not even see it coming. The blind spots, if not pointed out by others, will eventually lead to a person’s destruction.

Sometimes the blind spots are pointed out but you do not believe the people that are telling you about them. If someone who loves you points something out to you in your life you need to pray about it because you may not be able to see it. Samuel was pointing out the blind spot in Saul’s thinking but instead of being humbled he made excuses.

Read 1 Samuel 15:17-23

Partial Obedience:

4)   … Leads to excuses for your behavior

Saul was not repentant right away because he immediately began to blame the people instead of seeing the wrong he did. If your not sure how a Kingship works it is just like dictatorship where whatever the King says goes. The people would have never acted without the Kings approval.

There were other times that God allowed them to keep the spoil but to be obedient to God is to act the way He wants you to at this time. (See Numbers 31:32) Then Saul tries to make it sound spiritual by saying we were only bringing the sheep back to offer a sacrifice to God. Notice Samuel says to obey is better than sacrifice.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love[a] and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

“That humble, sincere, and conscientious obedience to the will of God is more pleasing and acceptable to him than all burn offerings and sacrifices. “ Matthew Henry

Should you tithe? Yes out of obedience to scripture but if you are tithing to make up for other areas in your life that you are not obeying God in then you are wasting your money. God does not need our money and He does not need us. God wants us to be fully His and that is why He uses the illustration of marriage when He addresses His church. (Matthew 9 and 25). Marriages that have a spouse not totally committed to the other do not last and are not based on love. God wants all of us not to control us but because as a spouse wants their partner all to themselves so God wants all of us for Himself.

Saul did not only not destroy wickedness but his false spirituality was increasing the wickedness God hates. We all try and justify our actions and try and make them seem spiritual. “This is just how I was raised”. ”I was born this way ““ive always been that way. “I am Latino that’s just how we are” Even people that get a divorce will say that surely God would want me to be Happy. (no He wants you to be Holy) God does not need our half attempt at a spiritual life and that is why He says that it makes Him sick to the point of vomiting.

Read 1 Samuel 15:24-29

Partial Obedience

5)   …Can disqualify you for service

Saul claims that he sinned (missing the mark) but then he says that he did it because he feared the people. Sauls rejection of the word of God destroyed his career as King. Some believe his repentance was not because he was truly sorry but because he did not want to lose his position with the people. True repentance leads to a change in actions and as we will see Saul continues to not do the things of God. He wanted Samuel to bless him in front of everyone because he wanted the appearance of still being the King. Even though he would continue to be the King of Israel God had His sights set on David.

Many people have allowed areas in their lives to cost them their position of leadership in their businesses  or in their families. Saul was asking Samuel to forgive him but he should have been asking for God to forgive him. Saul’s continual disobedience led to God finally moving in another direction

1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Because we focus on grace so much we think our actions do not matter. Yes you are forgiven, but our actions can disqualify us from doing the things God wants us to do on this earth. If your attitude is you only care about making it to Heaven then I would question whether or not you really love God.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Obeying the word of God is becoming more difficult simply because people do not want to do everything it says. Romans 5:19 says that we are all sinners but as Jesus said we are to remove the plank from our own eye so we can help others with their splinter. (Matthew 7)If I am going to speak truth to others I have to continually remove the sin out of my own life. Many pastors have disqualified themselves from their ministries simply because of the actions they allowed to ruin their lives.


What areas of your life have you thought they were good enough? Are you making excuses for how you live or are you surrendering every area of your life to Christ? Partial Obedience is really disobedience and God is asking for all of your life not just some of it.

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