Samuel’s Reply to Saul

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
“To obey is better than sacrifice.”
There is immense power in Samuel’s brief but pointed reply to Saul, “Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Saul’s word was “sacrifice”; Samuel’s word was “obedience.” No doubt the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen were most exciting. They would be looked upon as substantial proofs that something was being done, while, on the other hand, the path of obedience seemed narrow, silent, lonely and fruitless. But oh! those pungent words of Samuel! “To obey is better than sacrifice.” What a triumphant answer to the most eloquent advocates of expediency! They are most conclusive — most commanding words. They teach us that it is better, if it must be so, to stand, like a marble statue, on the pathway of obedience than to reach the most desirable ends by transgressing a plain precept of the Word of God.
But let none suppose that one must be like a statue on the path of obedience. Far from it, there are rare and precious services to be rendered by the obedient one — services which can only be rendered by such and which owe all their preciousness to their being the fruit of simple obedience. True, they may not find a place in the public records of man’s bustling activity, but they are recorded on high, and they will be published at the right time. As a dear friend has often said to us, “Heaven will be the safest and happiest place to hear all about our work down here.” May we remember this and pursue our way, in all simplicity, looking to Christ for guidance, power and blessing. May His smile be enough for us. May we not be found looking askance to catch the approving look of a poor mortal, nor sigh to find our names amid the glittering record of the great men of the age. The servant of Christ should look far beyond all such things. The important business of the servant is to obey. His object should not be to do a great deal, but simply to do what he is told. This makes all plain, and, moreover, it will make the Bible precious as the depository of the Master’s will to which he must continually occupy himself to know what he is to do and how he is to do it. Neither tradition nor expediency will do for the servant of Christ. The all-important inquiry is, “What saith the Scriptures?” This settles everything. From the decision of the Word of God there must be no appeal. When God speaks, man must bow. It is not by any means a question of obstinate adherence to a man’s own notions. Quite the opposite, it is a reverent adherence to the Word of God. Let the reader distinctly mark this.
It often happens that, when one is determined, through grace, to abide by Scripture, he will be pronounced dogmatic, intolerant and imperious, and, no doubt, one has to watch over his temper, spirit and style, even when seeking to abide by the Word of God. But, be it well remembered that obedience to Christ’s commandments is the opposite of imperiousness, dogmatism and intolerance. The time is rapidly approaching when obedience shall receive its right recognition and reward. For that moment the faithful must be content to wait and, while waiting for it, be quite satisfied to let men call them whatever they please. “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity” (Psa. 94:1111The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (Psalm 94:11)).
“Study to show thyself approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15).
The Remembrancer (adapted)