June 28, 1999


Series Verse: 1 Samuel 15:23
"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…."

Stubbornness – "Worshiping Self "

Study Text: 1 Samuel 15

This week we conclude our series on stubbornness. Remember our definition
for stubbornness: "turning aside quickly from the way of the
Lord"–(Deut. 9:16)? Well, this week we take a look at how Saul’s
stubbornness led to the termination of his reign as king of Israel. As we take
you through part of this story, we’ll divide it into seven steps that can
perhaps be applied to any stubborn person’s life.

(1) Charge – Saul To Become King [1st Verse]
    Here we see Samuel, the prophet, reminding Saul that it was
he [Samuel] who was sent by the Lord years ago to anoint him as king over
Israel. (see I Samuel chapters 9-10 for the story of Saul’s anointing).

(2) Command – Instructions Given To Saul [2nd & 3rd Verses]
    Samuel then tells Saul of the next commands the Lord has for
him to follow as king; "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy
everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women,
children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." This is to be
punishment to the Amalekites for ambushing the Israelites as they came out of

(3) Carry-Out – Executing the Command [4th – 7th Verses]
    Saul then begins to carry out the commands of the Lord. He
starts by summoning men to build his army. He then goes to Amalek (Home of the
Amalekites) and sets an ambush in the ravine of the city. Saul also goes to the
Kenites and tells them to leave the Amalekites so that they would not be
destroyed along with the Amalekites. This was because the Kenites had shown
kindness to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. The Kenites heeded the
warning and moved away; then Saul attacked the Amalekites.

(4) Compromise/Contradiction – Turning Aside From God [8th & 9th
    Now remember, God told Saul, "Kill Everything."
Instead, Saul decided to do his own thing. He had all the people killed except
for the king – this was still disobedience because partial obedience is disobedience
and delayed obedience is disobedience. Whenever we turn aside from the way of
God temporarily, short-term or forever, it’s still disobedience.
    Then in full stubbornness Saul and the army spared the king
and the best sheep, cattle, calves and lambs. However, they destroyed
everything else because they saw those things as despised and weak. [Note: we
also see that this isn’t the first time that Saul compromised the commands of
the Lord. See I Samuel 13:13-14]

(5) Cleanup – God Has To Get Rid Of The Problem [10th – 22nd Verses]
    After Saul’s disobedience, the Lord spoke to Samuel and
said, "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has TURNED AWAY
from me and has not carried out my instructions." This troubled Samuel and
he cried all night but early the next morning he went out to meet Saul and to
begin the "cleanup" process. While looking for Saul, Samuel was told
that Saul had gone to Carmel to erect a monument in HIS OWN HONOR and then he
(Saul) was going down to Gigal.
    Upon seeing Samuel, Saul stated, "The Lord Bless you! I
have carried out the Lord’s instructions." But Samuel replied, "What
then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I
hear?" Saul then answered, "The soldiers brought them from the
Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the
Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest. Saul is really beginning to
realize that he didn’t fulfill the mission that God sent him to do, so he tries
to blame the soldiers for this shortcoming; however this tactic fails
    Samuel then just tells him "Stop!" Within that one
word, Samuel is telling him I don’t want to hear it; you knew the commands that
were given to you, and still you turned away from them. Samuel then reminds him
how far the Lord had brought him, from being small to becoming the head of the
tribes of Israel. He reminded him how the Lord anointed him as king over Israel
and sent him on the mission against the Amalekites, and how he (Saul) had done
evil in the eyes of the Lord.
Again Saul makes an effort to state his case by saying he did completely
destroy the Amalekites and brought back the king. He then tries to rely on a
two-fold excuse. The first was that the soldiers were the ones that brought
back the livestock. The second was that the livestock was to be given as a
sacrifice to the Lord at Gigal.
    Now even though all of this sounds good, it was still
disobedience. It really doesn’t matter what you have to offer or give, our
obedience is what God wants. Samuel tells Saul this by stating, "Does the
Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice
FAT OF RAMS." If we really look at this, we see that Saul wanted to give
what Saul wanted to give. He didn’t want to obey the Lord; he had a set plan to
turn toward his own way of doing things, and we will see that his actions cost
him everything.

(6) Correction – Choosing a Substitute who will do the job [23rd – 27th
    God still needs the mission completed – TO SPECIFICATION.
Therefore, as part of his "while you’re on your way out" speech,
Samuel tells Saul, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and
stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (KJ). Let’s look at this
    Rebellion is insubordination or arrogance. The reason it is
as the sin of witchcraft (the art or act of foretelling future events in the
services of anti-godly demonic powers) is because man is attempting to change
the future by his "own powers" and by not being submissive to God’s
plan and purpose. Now let’s remember that sin is an opportunity to "step
outside" the will of God and if a person chooses to do things his/her own
way then surely he/she is stepping outside of the Father’s will.
    And Stubbornness is iniquity (wickedness) and idolatry
(worshiping idols). In this case, the person decides to "worship"
himself and his ways; not the ways of the Father. Samuel then tells Saul,
"Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as
king." Because Saul made his ways an idol and turned away from God by
worshiping that idol, God removed him.

(7) Completion – God’s will is still done even if someone else has to do
it [28th – 35th Verses]
    In the final section we see that no matter what, God’s will
shall be done. Even if He has to bring new people in to do the job, the job is
still going to be done. Now after having his robe torn by a desperate Saul,
Samuel shows a tremendous amount of composure. He tells Saul, "The Lord
has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your
neighbors – to one better than you." As we will later see, Samuel was
about the Father’s business and his sole purpose was to get Israel where the
Father wanted Israel.
    Samuel then tells Saul, "He who is the Glory of Israel
does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his
mind." In other words, "Just because you didn’t finish the mission
doesn’t mean God is going to come down to your mediocrity. Also, He doesn’t
lie. Whatever He authors or begins, He finishes, so this thing will come to
    Still in the midst of all of this, Saul is begging Samuel to
come back with him so he (Saul) can worship the Lord. Samuel finally agrees and
he goes back with him; however Samuel is still determined to get God’s mission
completed. Samuel then summons for Agag king of the Amalekites. Agag comes
confidently thinking that all the bitterness has passed, but little does
he know that Samuel isn’t easing up until God’s will is done. Samuel then tells
Agag (and this is a pretty cold statement), "As your sword has made women
childless, so will your mother be childless among women." Man!!!! Is that
cold or what! Samuel, not Saul, completes the Lord’s mission by killing Agag –
Mission Complete!

    To conclude this series, we can say that Saul’s story is
perhaps the most powerful example of stubbornness. Through his life, we see how
quickly turning aside from the will of God can cause you to lose your
blessings. We must place the Lord’s plans first and take time to listen for His
voice so we can be guided by Him in the big things and the small. With Saul (as
with so many other stubborn people), what should have been accomplished in
three steps (Charge, Command, Carry out to Completion) had to be taken through
seven steps. But remember, whether it’s three steps or seven, the Lord’s will
shall be done. Don’t make Him take the long way home-because if He does, you
might get left behind.