The AMI QT Devotionals from March 11-13 are provided by Mei Lan Thallman. Mei Lan is originally from Taiwan and a graduate of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary (M.A.) in Kentucky. She is the wife of Pastor Kirt, who serves at Grace Covenant Church (Philadelphia). They have two children, Nate (14) and Naomi (12).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Test of Leadership”
1 Samuel 15:17-26
Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” 20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” 22 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” 26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”
One challenge of teenage parenting is how to handle selective hearing and obedience. When I ask my teenagers to put their iPhones away, they usually respond with selective hearing— meaning, they act like they do not hear me.
In today’s text, we see that God chose Saul to be the king over Israel. Saul rose to kingship overnight from a nobody to the first king in Israel’s history. The limelight of kingship soon revealed many flaws in his character. Essentially, the core of his character failed under the pressure of leadership. The most important test of Saul’s leadership was his obedience to God’s instructions. In 1 Sam, 13:8-12, when Samuel showed up later than expected, Saul gave in to circumstantial and people pressure and took matters into his own hands to perform a priestly job that was outside of his responsibility as a king. In 1 Sam. 15:17-26, he disobeyed God’s instructions again and attempted to justify his selective obedience to the prophet. Through his examples, we see that partial obedience in God’s eyes equals disobedience. Therefore, God could not trust Saul to carry out His will for the nation of Israel, and God was grieved that He appointed Saul to be King (1 Sam. 15:35).
Our obedience matters a great deal to God. Do we trust Him enough to obey Him at the risk of losing face, reputation, or popularity? Many of us dream about doing great things for the Lord; but the fulfillment of that dream begins with where we are now in our home, school, work, and church. Are we dependable and trustworthy to diligently and responsibly carry out the tasks that are entrusted under our care? If not, how can God entrust us with bigger responsibilities?
We must set our mind to please God over pleasing people. In both instances stated above, Saul heard and understood God’s instructions to wait for Samuel and destroy all of the enemy, including their livestock. Instead of leading the Israelite army to please God by their total obedience, he succumbed to the pressure of pleasing his soldiers over God.
May we learn from Saul’s example and tune our ears to hear God’s word and train our heart to respond in total obedience in all circumstances. Small acts of obedience build our character and get us ready for bigger tasks requiring more obedience.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please forgive me for grieving Your heart by my selective hearing and partial obedience. When Your Spirit prompts me to forgive, go out of my way to serve, or be the first to apologize, help me to quickly respond and obey. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Judges 6
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 3:7-9: Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.”
Questions to Consider
- What does it mean to harden our hearts toward God’s voice?
- How does disobedience lead to unbelief and rebellion?
- Has the Lord been saying something in your heart that you need to heed to, but you haven’t responded? Today is always the best time to comply.
- Though this can happen in several ways, one of them is by not abiding by what is clearly commanded in Scripture, because doing so will cut in on your profit and/or fun.
- Disobeying God today makes disobeying God tomorrow that much easier. Proverbs 29:1 says (NIV), “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.” Each time a person rejects God’s call for repentance, his or her heart gets hardened, which eventually would prompt God’s discipline (Heb. 12:5-11).
- Personal response.
Lord, please reveal to me specific areas of my life where I have compartmentalized hearing the truth. In what ways have I been hardening my heart by refusing to do what I know is the right thing to do?