Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice

I Samuel 15, Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice


How do we as Christians understand passages in the Old Testament ( the Old Covenant) that seemingly contradict what we have learned from the New Testament – our New Covenant with God?

Some form of this question or issue is bound to be asked this Sunday in light of this lesson.  Therefore, below are some articles you might find interesting to help you prepare for that particular discussion:

Why is God so different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament?


Six Times Jesus Contradicted the Old Testament


The God of the Old Testament vs the God of the New Testament


by Zach Breitenbach, MA, MBA

Why is the God of the OT Vengeful & Violent? by Emily Cavins


Jesus Is The Antidote To Our Delusions Of A Violent God, Made In Our Own Violent Image by Jacob Wright



Today God has a completely different call for Christians under the New Covenant than what was being asked of Israel under the Old Covenant/s found in the Old Testament.  The kingdom we are working for is a spiritual kingdom, not a military one.  (John 18:36)

Getting back to God’s expectations of Saul in 1 Samuel 15, Saul not only disobeyed God’s commands, but Saul lied about it.  Saul and his men did what suited them.  God’s heart was broken by Saul’s actions and God regretted selecting Saul as king.  Saul, the man who started out humble and submissive had lost those traits.  This is a clear reminder that we have all been given Free Will to choose to follow God’s plan or to ignore it.  It is also a reminder that even if we start on the right path, we have to stay on that path or at least get back on that path.  It is not enough to just start as obedient, we have to finish well.  Saul had the potential to obey God, but he chose not to.  In fact, Saul did not grow in his love for God.

As Saul created a monument to himself there is no evidence that he felt guilt or shame.  Instead we see evidence of pride and blindness to his disobedience or at least the cost of his disobedience.

Even Saul’s language when speaking about God reveals his lack of relationship and commitment to serve God:

“They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”…

As one commentator reminds us, the real problem was that God was not Saul’s Lord.  Saul was Saul’s Lord.

Questions for your class in terms of who or what sits on the throne of their lives are always relevant. In addition, reminding them that it is not enough to just start out well in our relationship with God, we need to finish well!  How are they doing?  Do they need any course corrections?

My prayers are with you as you prepare for this Sunday.

In His Love,


Comments by Wayne and Veronica Grant…

I Samuel 15 is a part of the Old Testament that is very hard for many Christians to accept. Did God really ask Saul and the Israelites to kill every one of the Amalekites including women and children 13? Well, it seems so. This is so difficult for many to understand; it seems so out of character from our New Testament perspective.

Certainly, we should not judge the Old Testament based on this one scripture. We don’t presume to know the answers to these issues ourselves. We accept that God had his reasons. For one thing we realize that these things were happening in a very different time and place. Cultural and religious values were very different. In addition, the Amalekites were a very evil culture who had harassed the Israelites for a long time.

For whatever reason, God gave explicit instructions to Saul regarding the conflict with the Amalekites. Then, in spite of his directions from God, Saul did not obey. In the resultant battle Saul took hostages and booty—He was told clearly not to do. Because of his disobedience he earned the wrath of God. The heart of our lesson is Saul’s disobedience and the consequences he suffered for this disobedience.

Here are some discussion questions to help you reflect on this scripture with your class:

  1. In verse 1-9,

What do you learn about Saul?

What do you learn about Samuel?

What do you learn about God?

  1. In verses13-23,

What do you learn about Saul?

What do you learn about Samuel?

What do you learn about God?

  1. In verses 24-34,

What do you learn about Saul?

What do you learn about Samuel?

What do you learn about God?

In his response to Saul, God made it clear that he valued obedience over sacrifice. God and his will cannot be bought.

Vicki L. Hollon

Minister to Adults

Trinity Baptist Church