Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15: 22)
About a year after the Israelites were delivered from the land of Egypt on their journey to the Promised Land, God gave Moses specific directions about how a gold-plated chest should be built to house the most sacred Tablets on which were written God’s commandments. It was the holiest item that the children of Israel had, and it was highly consecrated and anointed by God. It represented God’s Presence among His people. That Holy chest is known as the Ark of the Covenant.
During Samuel the prophet’s apprenticeship, the Ark was stored in Shiloh and cared for by Hophni and Phineas, two evil sons of Eli. (Read about them in 1 Samuel 2:12-4:21.) There was a war between the Philistines and Israel at Aphek (1Samuel 4) and the Israelites took The Ark of the Covenant into the battle. Hophni and Phineas died, and the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant.
When David became king, he wanted to return the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place. David gathered some of his people, built a little cart, and chose two cart drivers. Uzzah was one of them. The people were pleased that the Ark was coming home, but they failed to honor the Ark properly. The oxen pulling the cart stumbled and, to steady the Ark, Uzzah put his hand on it. Uzzah died right on the spot! God killed him! Uzzah was not a Levite, and he was not authorized to touch it. That tragedy let David and his men know that there was something wrong with how they were transporting the Ark of the Covenant.
In 1Chron. 13:10, David was confused, and he was displeased about Uzzah’s death, but David feared God. So, what did David do? Did he curse God and die? Did he hold a secret grudge against God? No, David made the Ark of the Covenant secure in the home of Obed-edom (a member of the Levites), where it stayed for three months. God tremendously blessed Obed-edom’s house because of the presence of the Ark.
Finally, David understood that he had to do things God’s way. In the 15th chapter of 1Chronicles, David prepared a special tent for the Ark, just like Moses did. He selected the chief fathers of the Levites who were in the same position as the Levites back in Moses’ day. He had them sanctify themselves and appointed them to carry the Ark of the Covenant just as in Moses’ day. David had the people honor the Ark and respect the Ark, and they were able to bring it home with much pomp and splendor. They pleased God by following His rules.
Obedience is compliance with an order, request, law, or submission to another’s authority. Biblical obedience is hearing, trusting, submitting, and surrendering to God and His Word. It is the submission of one’s will to the will of God. Matt. 6:10 says: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. These words of the “Our Father” prayer express a desire that the will of our all-knowing, pre-eminent God prevail upon the earth even as it prevails in heaven.
Disobedience, conversely, is defined as the failure or refusal to obey rules or someone’s authority. Rebellion, a synonym for disobedience, is identified with witchcraft according to the Bible. 1 Samuel 15:23 says:
23 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.
In the afore-named scripture, Saul willfully disobeyed God and was therefore rejected as being King over Israel. God hates disobedience, for it is, in His eyes, equal to divination by the help of evil spirits. Obstinate resistance to Him is no better than worshipping idols. It elevates self-will into the status of a god. If Saul could not get away with it, neither can we. How much better for us is it to submit our will to that of our All-Mighty God.
Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior, is our perfect example of obedience to God. As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He agonized over the pain, cruelty, and ultimate death that He was soon to encounter for the sins of all of humanity. Fortunately for us, He allowed the Will of God to take pre-eminence over His natural Will.
In Luke 22:41-43, He prayed.
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
As Jesus cried out to Our Heavenly Father, God dispatched an angel to strengthen Him for the task ahead.
I recall an instance in which I needed God to strengthen me to comply with His Will. It occurred when I first got saved back in 1975. I had found the church that I had been searching for all of my life. God gave me the assurance that I was where He had planned for me to worship, grow, and work for Him. I loved the people, and it was where God saved me and filled me with the Holy Ghost. There was this one minor issue that I didn’t want to comply with. I was not willing to go along with this one rule of the church because it did not make “sense” to me.
But the sweet young woman that was instrumental in bringing me to the church came to me and said, “When you are ready to obey God concerning (the matter), just cry out to God, and He will help you to do it.” That night I cried out to God, telling Him that I was willing to comply, but I needed Him to help me. I was able to obey God, and I have not gone back on God since that day.
It does not matter what the obedience issue may be; if anyone is having trouble with obedience to the Will of God, the latter half of Luke 22:42 is the answer: Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. We must first realize that God’s choices for our lives are best. We must always see His Will as pre-eminent over our own. Then, when we are ready to comply (and there should never be any hesitation), we cry out to God, ask Him to strengthen us as we submit to His Will, and we get it done. (My Pastor reminded us that with a command to do comes the power to do). Walking in disobedience is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. The Will of God is supreme, and we should walk in it.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me if and when I have allowed my own will to prevail over Yours. My heart desires to please you in every way, for I realize that You see the outcome of things that I cannot see, You know those things that I cannot know, and that You are always working for my good. I love You with my whole heart and yield to Your will. Strengthen me as I bow my will to Yours, for You are my All-Mighty God. Amen.