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Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD’s command, for I was afraid of the people and what they demanded.” (I Samuel 14:24)

“King Saul had instructions from the Lord to completely destroy the Amalekite nation. So he mobilized his army and killed most of the Amalekites. However, he captured the Amalekite king and brought him back as a prisoner, and he kept the best of the livestock, destroying only what had no value anyway. Then he ‘set up a monument to himself’ (I Samuel 15:12).” --From Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament, Nancy Guthrie.

Saul practiced “smorgasbord obedience.” You know how it is when you walk through a smorgasbord buffet of food. You pick and choose what you will eat. To treat God’s word like a smorgasbord, picking and choosing what to obey and what not to obey, is a real trap we can fall into! We do this when we are influenced by or intimidated by others’ opinions. This turns us to want to please people in our words and actions rather than to simply seek to please God. How did this happen?

Saul didn’t think very highly of himself. When Samuel was going to anoint him as king of Israel he said he came from the small tribe of Benjamin he was a part of and that he belonged to an insignificant family within the tribe. (I Samuel 9:21) Later when he was to become anointed king he had to found by God Himself because he “hiding among the baggage” (EL AL Airlines? I have no idea!) reluctant to take the place that God had given to him. (I Samuel 10:22) Samuel knew that Saul had a low view of himself. Fair enough, but what Samuel chastised him for was having a low view God and the high calling He had placed upon his life. “Although you may think little of yourself are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel?” (I Samuel 15:17)

So, this is where Saul went astray. Rather than trusting in the high and significant calling that God had for him, he looked to others for validation, sought to build his own greatness, building up his low self-image through giving what other fallen, sinful people wanted from him. What gave “juice” to opinions of others was he became dependent upon others to shape his own image of himself, NOT on what GOD had said about him. So, he viewed God’s command to him through the prophet Samuel as a “smorgasbord,” where he got to pick and choose what to obey.

These obedience choices weren’t haphazard decisions. They were guided by one question: “What will build ME up, will make ME look great in others’ eyes and by so doing make ME feel good about MYSELF?”

As it was before Saul, the choice is also ours. We either believe what God says about us of our royal position or not. We that we have by being united to Jesus Christ and simply need to obey Him. We have been made one with Him by faith in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension! We could not in our own efforts have any higher place or calling than that! But if we don’t trust in this true identity we will be create a false identity, as did Saul, by listening to the demanding voices of those who don’t follow Him. If we choose that course we will wind up disobeying His voice and grasping for the approval of others to aid in the construction of a phony, hollow self-image.

Dear Lord, Please forgive me for taking my eyes off of you and onto myself. When I look to others to tell me who I am rather than You, I go astray and disobey You, the only One whom I should be concerned about pleasing. I know You have made me already pleasing to You through Your Son’s righteousness. I ask that you cleanse me by His blood for this sin of people-pleasing sin. Teach me to increasing measure live according to who You say I am!

In Your Wonderful Name, Amen

Written by Jamie Bohnett. Contact the Author:

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