These verses in 1 Samuel are often quoted — particularly in regard to the concept of rebellion — and usually as a form of accusation to change the attitude or behaviour of the one accused, as in “I am right and you are wrong.” God does not enter the equation except as an onlooker.
So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
[1 Samuel 15:22-23 NKJV]
Samuel is expressing truth about hearing and obeying ‘the voice of The Lord’, and does so by stating that the The Lord would much rather have our complete obedience to His precepts than that we give offerings and sacrifices which may cost us little beyond mere observance of form.
Today — the Fourth of July — is America’s Independence Day, and in 1776 by ‘rebelling’ against British overlordship and declaring themselves an independent nation (of 13 states), America could then make an alliance with the French and go to war. So independence to America, was rebellion against Britain.
In this example, it is a case of ‘all men are created equal’, so neither party is better or worse than the other, whereas in our relationship with God, He is our Creator, and His hope is that we might be loyal to Him. In this regard, we are in rebellion from birth because ‘we know Him not’ [Job 36:26a KJV]. This is the lesson from Genesis; that, since the Fall, our days are lived out in search of Him in His fullness. Many, will never do so; thus remaining stubbornly in rebellion.
Together these twins — both arising from the one source— are likened to ‘the sin of witchcraft’ and ‘iniquity and idolatry’. In short, these mean simply going our own way instead of God’s way. If we have chosen to go His way and follow Jesus, who is ‘the way’, then we cannot dally with either rebelliousness or our own stubbornness in doing so. The Lord cannot by His very nature accept compromise.
A man’s idea of prosperity is according to where his hopes are founded — on God or on a hearsay God; on the living God, or on ideas of God. It is in the way alone with God that the soul says with Job, “I have heard of you … but now my eye sees you” (42:5).
[from ‘Christian Discipline’]
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GEORGE and GILL STEWART