4.5.32 7.5.2020 Saul-Failure to Launch 1 Samuel 15

When a Hero Comes to Town  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Houston-we have a problem....

Entice: Saul and Samuel lived in a low-information age. It was primarily an oral culture. They had their voices, some writing. Under the circumstances it would have been easy for either to claim that Saul's failures were due to poor communication or excusable misunderstandings. Except what God wanted was clear, had been communicated repeatedly, and was completely unambiguous.
Engage: Saul's failure to launch was

a failure of intent

a failure of attentiveness


a failure of execution.

Not accidental. Not someone else's fault. God's word has to first grab our attention. Then His message must generate an enthusiastic response. Then God's revelation can govern our will and guide our actions. Saul seems to have mostly missed this process, despite the indications we discussed last week that God had moved in him in a life-changing way.
Expand: Our words and actions are the gateways to our true person with its true commitments. Saul may have gone through the actions. He may have mouthed the right words. In the end he abandoned his commitment to listening obedience choosing to be the captain of his own destiny. He then steered his destiny into a catastrophic shipwreck.
Excite: It does not matter how clear God's will is if you reason selfishly and act disobediently you too will fail to be what God wants and needs you to be.

Pleasing God is not a matter of information: it is a matter of will and desire.

Explain: Like going downstairs we can follow each step Saul takes into his basement of disobedient despair...Step one

1. His Assignment was clear.

1 Samuel 15:1–6 ESV
1 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” 4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

1.1 Clear directions

1.2 Realistic discretion...

... So, Saul keeps descending. His next step--->

2. His Attitude was Selfish

1 Samuel 15:7–21 ESV
7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction. 10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.” 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

2.1 He did not listen.

2.2 He grieved God.

2.3 He was too focused on his “image.”

2.4 He made excuses.

2.5 He blamed others.

2.6 He alienated his spiritual advisor.

Final level. Last step--->

3. His Actions were disobedient.

Samuel acknowledges for Saul, and us, some basic principles which underlie obedient service.
1 Samuel 15:22–31 ESV
22 And 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 listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” 24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord.

3.1 Obedience is better than Sacrifice

3.2 Rebellion and insubordination=Idolatry and witchery.

3.3 Responsibility means accountability.

Flaming out:

We look at tragedies like this and think "How sad." I'm tired of that being our outlook. Why not say "This makes me mad! This disappoints and haunts me. This inspires me to do better. This drives me to do and be more. This convinces me of my weakness before; and my need of God. If someone like Saul can flame out and fail to launch what about me without all of his gifts?
The application of this passage is evident:
God's assignment for us is clear though we must listen closely.
Our attitude must be selfless rather than selfish
Our actions must be obedient...in intent and execution.
Our instructions are still clear: Listen to God, Serve others not self, Obey.
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