So I’ve been reading through the story of Saul and David in recent weeks. And it was interesting because in the beginning Saul was this great guy and he was humble and feared the Lord. But somewhere along the way he started to see himself as in charge. Because we see by his actions that at some point, his heart was no longer surrendered to the Lord. We see this when Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel to offer a sacrifice before he went into battle and Saul got impatient thinking Samuel wasn’t coming, so he decided to offer the sacrifice himself!
When Samuel got there he found Saul just finishing with offering the sacrifice. And it was at this point that Samuel tells Saul your kingdom is being cut off and God is raising someone else up instead. (1 Samuel 13)
Samuel goes out and finds David’s family to anoint David as the next king. And we all know God called David as a “man after His own heart.” God was always after the heart and Saul’s partial obedience shows he wasn’t fully surrendered to God.
Another time, in 1 Samuel 15, Samuel tells Saul that God wants him to go and completely obliterate one of their enemies and Saul goes off to war and only destroys things of poor quality and keeps back the good things.
God tells Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” 1 Samuel 15:11 NLT.
So Samuel confronts Saul and Saul says, oh yeah, I did just what God said! But I saved all this good stuff to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord — like he was trying to justify his partial obedience.
In contrast, David (during this time) was humble and sought after God wholeheartedly. And it was obvious that God was with him. He killed Goliath, and was a hero in Israel and Saul began to be jealous and tried to kill David. Now we all know these stories, but my point is that there is a contrast in the attitude of the heart of these two men. A couple of times when David was on the run from Saul, he had the opportunity to kill him but he did not and he then told Saul, look I’ve spared your life. Because David’s attitude was, “who am I that I should kill God’s anointed?”
He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my Lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul. 1 Samuel 24:6-7 NLT
So David, even though Saul was clearly his enemy and wanted to kill him, David feared the Lord more. He spared Saul’s life at least 2 times that the Bible mentions. So David showed his heart was fully surrendered to the Lord. Even to the point that later on, when Saul was at the end of his life and had fallen on his sword (1 Samuel 31), and some guy comes off the battlefield and sees Saul there dying, thought he would do him a favor and put him out of his misery. Then he goes and tells David what had happened. And David says, what? You killed God’s anointed? And had the man killed!
There are so many good things we can get out of these stories, but what struck me most this time through was that David’s heart was fully surrendered and obedient to God and Sauls partial obedience didn’t cut it.
David got to become part of the lineage of Christ and Saul was utterly cut out. (Now I know David was obviously not perfect and I’m not talking about mistakes he made later, just this time in his life, God used him to do mighty things for Israel and Saul could have been that guy if he had purposed to walk that line of obedience). Also, we could look at this as an opportunity to evaluate how we view those who have been put in authority over us. Are we trying to undermine them? Or are we praying for them? Are we taking opportunity to weaken them or are we sparing them and supporting them because they are God’s anointed over our life for this season? What could we say about our political leaders? Are we praying for our nation or complaining about policies? We do our part and vote, but God puts in office who He chooses and we have to do our part to pray for our leaders.
We could also say that partial obedience is not obedience at all. Either you’re obedient or you’re not. There is no middle ground. There is nothing we can do to justify ourselves before God. If He were standing in front of you asking why didn’t you do what I asked? Do you think there would be any answer that would get you off the hook? Is there anything other than, “I thought I could do it my way.” you could say? …and do you think God would be ok with that? He wants our heart. He wants us to surrender absolutely everything to Him and hold nothing back. If we’re holding any small area back, we aren’t surrendered.
Now God always gives us chances and we can always ask for forgiveness and come back and do better … but if we’re in a pattern of not being surrendered, not walking in full obedience, then God will raise up someone else and give them our kingdom… our domain… the area God has called us to work will be handed over to someone who will do what He wants. You won’t always know what breakthrough is on the other side of your obedience until you do it. God always shows up for those who do His will. Always. (Hebrews 11:16, 2 Chronicles 16:9)
So grab your journal and let’s work through some of this. Like I said, there is so much we can pick out of here, so there is no wrong answer!
Pick out some stories in 1 Samuel about Saul and David to read through. What is God speaking to you through these stories?
Is there an area or areas in which you could be more surrendered? Have there been times when you were sort of obedient but not fully obedient to what you felt God was leading you to do? What would you do differently if you could do it over again? What can you do right now today to move toward being fully surrendered in that area(s)?