Why was it not OK for Saul to make a sacrifice to God after the battle with the Amalekites?
1 Samuel 15:13 - 15
ESV - 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord. 14 And Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?
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Saul was given explicit instructions to annihilate the Amalekites, destroy everyone and everything including livestock. "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." (1 Samuel 15:3) However, Saul's obedience to The Lord's command was only partial. "And he took 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, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly." (1 Samuel 15:8-9) I believe the answer is in the following passage. "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Saul was guilty of "willful sin". He like so many today apply humanistic rationalization to what God actually said. He relied on his own judgment rather than taking God literally at His Word deciding that keeping the best livestock for whatever purpose including sacrifice would be OK. I.e. "the end justifies the means". This is not the way God operates. God's blessings reign through righteousness but never at the expense of.
Basically Saul disobeyed God's Commands in that he did WHAT the people demanded, not what God ordered. This is noted in Chapter 15:14-27 of 1 Samuel. This is a lesson on the fact you should ignore the world when the Law of God and the Demand of the World Collide, as in this case. This little incident sure sounds like what we have going on today in the political arena.
To put it simply, Saul knew better. And the LORD God knew that Saul knew better. Saul could maybe deceive Samuel since Samuel was only human, but Samuel knew the LORD, and the Lord knew Samuel and told Him about Saul's rebellion (1 Samuel 15:10-11). For Saul, the temptations of the spoils of war overcame him. The LORD knew this: He knew He spoke in a way Saul could and did understand, completely (it wasn't an "oops - I misunderstood" situation), and Saul tried to trick everyone, maybe even himself, into believing he could both obey and keep the spoils.
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