You have been foolish. You have not kept the command which the Lord your God gave you. – 1 SAMUEL 13:13

In 1 Samuel 13, the massive Philistine army is gathered against Israel while they’re waiting for Samuel the priest. Samuel had previously told King Saul to wait 7 days until he got there to offer a sacrifice and give instruction, but the fearful Israelites began deserting as the 7 days came and went. Finally, Saul took matters into his own hands and began the sacrifice himself.

If I had been in his shoes, would I have done things differently? The enemy was pressing in, his people were deserting him, he’d waited the 7 days, and he really, really wanted to make sure that he had the favor of the Lord before engaging in battle. So he “forced” himself (v. 12) to offer the sacrifice. He knew it was a job only for the priest, but the priest wasn’t there. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

When Samuel showed up a short time later, he taught Saul – and me – an important lesson: God is more pleased with our obedience than with our offering. If we really love God and want His favor, obey Him. That’s how love acts. Saul didn’t get a pass because he had technically waited 7 days. It was never about the 7 days to begin with. It was about pursuing the heart of God despite what was happening around him. Desperate times call for obedience.

[Flip back to the story of the exodus. Moses led the Israelites into a corner, trapped between their enemy and the Red Sea. Not a smart tactical move, but an obedient one. And look what God did.]

In John 14, Jesus promises that when we pursue His heart, He reveals more of Himself and we’ll see Him working for us, in us and through us. And isn’t that what Saul needed that day on the battlefield? Isn’t that what we need?

When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love Him. – Elisabeth Elliot

Think and pray

What are the top 3 areas where you struggle with obedience to God? What does pursuing the heart of God look like for you?

Father, draw us to You, that our desire and passion would be aligned with Yours, and our lives marked by obedience to You. Amen.

Brent Vawter is a recovering marketing professional, having spent the last half of his 30-year career as a specialist-for-hire to a good number of Fortune 100 companies. He now serves as an Area Director for CBMC in Oklahoma City, helping men to grow in their relationship with Christ and help others do the same. He's a husband, father, grace addict, mountain goat, and cheap coffee drinker who badly wants to be a contestant on one of the survivalist reality shows. (Anyone have connections?!)