The Danger of Disobedience

Bible Book: 1 Samuel  15
Subject: Disobedience; Judgment; Pride; Repentence; Confession

Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960) told the following story: A young son of a missionary couple in Zaire was playing in the yard. Suddenly the voice of the boy's father rang out from the porch, "Philip, obey me instantly! Drop to your stomach!" Immediately the youngster did as his father commanded.

"Now crawl toward me as fast as you can!" The boy obeyed.

"Stand up and run to me!" Philip responded unquestioningly and ran to his father's arms. As the youngster turned to look at the tree by which he had been playing, he saw a large deadly snake hanging from one of its branches! At the first command of his father, Philip could have hesitated and asked, "Why do you want me to do that?" Or he could have casually replied, "In a minute." But his instant obedience without questioning saved his life!

1 Samuel 15 contains a very sad story about the danger of disobedience. It is a story about Saul, the first King of Israel. Saul was ordered to destroy the Amalekites, but he did not carry out the order. He disobeyed God and brought great sorrow on his life and his family. To understand this story, we need to know who the Amalekites were.

The Amalekites were the descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau. You will remember Esau as the brother of Jacob. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of red beans. He loved the world and the flesh and his descendants became symbolic of the world, the flesh and the devil. It was the Amalekites that attacked God’s people as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. They had slipped in behind the traveling Israelites and attacked the old and young who were trailing along with the larger body of travelers. God had sworn then that He would eventually bring judgment on the Amalekites.

Over 400 years had passed since God promised that judgment would come on the Amalekites. God’s patience had run out and it was time for judgment.

Saul was to be the tool of God in this judgment, but Saul failed to carry out the orders of the Lord; instead, Saul did things his own way. He spared the king of the Amalekites, Agag, and much of their flocks and herds as well.

Lets pick up the story in 1 Samuel 15:10. The Lord is revealing to Samuel what Saul has done. Watch what happens as the story unfolds. I want you to see three important elements in this unfolding historical event.

I. A Dreadful Transgression

Sin which is cloaked in righteousness is the worst of all sins. It is without doubt the most hideous of all iniquities. Jesus faced people who committed this type of dreadful transgression. He faced the most obstinate resistance from the self-righteous Pharisees. Likewise, Saul camouflaged his sin in the skin of righteousness. While claiming to have obeyed the Lord, he knew full well that he had been disobedient. Note two important things about Saul’s disobedience.

A. The Seriousness Of The Sin Of Disobedience (vs 23)

The sin that Saul committed was witchcraft and Satanic rebellion. Look at Romans 5:19. Disobedience was the first sin, and it threw the entire world into sin and death! Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the horrors of the world we live in today are the results of that rebellion. Some people like to think that their actions are personally and are not the business of anyone else, but that is not true. When we disobey God, it affects everyone. The drunk driver thinks he is just minding his own business, until he drives head-on into an innocent family. Sin is serious business!

B. The Stubbornness Of The Sin Of Disobedience (vs. 23)

After a day of complete harassment, a mother shook her finger at her small, unruly child. "All right, Junior," she shouted, "do anything you please! Now, let me see you disobey that!"

Saul was much like the little boy. He was constantly doing his own thing. The only way he could have obeyed God would have been for God to tell him to do whatever he wanted to do.

The word for “rebellion” comes from a root word that means “bitter.” God states that we are acting in bitterness toward Him when we partially obey His Word to us. In essence, partial obedience is total disobedience in the eyes of the Lord. The word stubborn comes from a word that means to "press" or "push" one’s own ideas or ways over that of an authority. In this case, it is the authority of God!

The word for “the evil of idolatry” means that of having an idol in your home which is your family god. In other words, it is tantamount to having your own god set up in opposition to the true God. That idol may be money, pleasure, pride or any other thing that takes precedence over the Lord.

Saul’s disobedience was reflective of an inner rebellion which revealed that he had another god in the inner-most part of his life. That other god was “SELF” (see verse 12).

II. A Direct Confrontation

God is so loving that He always grants us an opportunity to confess and receive cleansing. In the case before us, God sends Samuel to meet Saul. Samuel meets Saul and confronts him about the sin.

Some people say that today’s generation will not tolerate hearing the truth about sin. They say that this has led many preachers to water down their messages. Actually, people have never liked to hear the truth about their sins. Each generation seeks to make sin acceptable; however, God’s Word does not change. The Lord will always have prophets (preachers) who “tell it like it is.” The Lord’s way is not cruel or mean, rather His way is direct and honest. He loves us too much not to tell us the truth – even if it hurts us to hear it!

III. A Deficient Confession

Saul confessed that he had sin, but his confession lacked sincerity. He was confessing with his mouth but thinking of a way to get out of it at the same time. He was not confessing because he was repent, but he was confessing because he had gotten caught!

A. He Tried To Deflect It

Often, when God’s man preaches the Word regarding some sinful habit in our lives, we think of someone who is committing those sins. People will sit in church and listen to a sermon and say to themselves, “I hope that deacon is listening to this sermon. He needs it.” Sadly, the person trying to deflect the message of the Lord is the one who needs it most!

B. He Tried To Deny It

Like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, people try to deny sin the sin that is clearly apparent. You can deny it to yourself, but you can’t deny it to the Lord!

C. He tried to Diminish it

Saul was full of excuses, lame and weak excuses. People today have all kinds of excuses for not doing what God commands. For example, some years ago a news reporter invited people to send in their response to the statement, "Why I don't go to church." After he had received a number of replies, he decided to show the weakness of their alibis by inserting the word "movies" wherever "church" appeared in their letters. Here is a sampling of his column.

One said, "I am out of the habit of going to the 'movies', that's why I no longer attend." Another wrote, "I know a man who has gone to the 'movies' for years, and he is no better than I am." Still another remarked, "There are as many good people outside the 'movies' as inside." Some commented, "I stay away from the 'movies' because I went when I was a child." A number of other excuses were given which were just as absurd when 'movies' was substituted for the word 'church.' The reasons given were not valid.

The truth is, we often use excuses to conceal a diminished interest in the things of God. It is usually a weak attempt to show why we refuse to follow in the footsteps of Jesus!

Saul’s view of sin and God’s view of Saul’s sin were totally different. That is true today. In the end, it is God’s view of sin that really counts.

IV. A Divine Denunciation

Saul could not get away with his sins. The Lord saw right through him, just as He does with all of us. The Scripture is true, “Be sure your sins will find you out.” The Bible teaches that we cannot hide our iniquities.

This Scriptural truth was illustrated by what happened to a group of students at Renaissance High School in Detroit that I read about a few years ago. The article appeared in the Detroit News. The writer reported that the young people cut classes to attend a rock concert in Hart Plaza. I'm sure they felt they had gotten away with it. But the next day, when the Detroit News appeared on the newsstand, it carried a color photo of the concert on the front page. And who was in that picture? That's right - the delinquent students of Renaissance High, easily recognizable by anyone. According to the paper, "Eagle-eyed assistant principal Dr. Elijah Porter spotted the students and had a conversation with them." The article reported that the kids had nothing to say.

A. Rejected For Service

Saul sowed the seeds of rebellion and reaped the crop of judgment. He reminds us of many people who sow wild seeds in their lives and then later pray for “crop failure.”

Saul reminds me of a troublemaker who rode his bike into an inner-city park, jumped onto a box, and told the people to steal because no one should be poor while others are rich. A few minutes later he discovered that his bike was gone. Infuriated, he shouted, "Where's the bum who stole my bicycle?"

How true are the words of Job, "Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble, reap the same."

B. Rejected For Salvation

No one can settle for certain the debate as to whether Saul was saved or lost. The important question today is, have you rejected the Lord and failed to believe His Word regarding His Son? Rejecting Jesus is not a matter of aggression; it is a matter of neglect. Saul did not commit some terrible sin of blasphemy, or go on a crusade against the Lord. He simply refused to do what God told him he had to do. A person is not lost because of sins, he is lost because he will not accept God’s Word – God’s living Word - Jesus Christ - as the sacrifice for sin!

God’s judgment is slow, but it is sure, and it is always SAD! Saul experienced this first hand.


Byron Paulus tells a story about a farmer who discovered the blessing of obedience in a way he'll not soon forget. A few years before, he had sold a combine at an auction. However, in order to increase the sale price, he first set the hour meter back so the combine didn't appear to be as used as it really was. During a revival crusade in his church, the farmer came under conviction for his dishonesty. He confessed his sin to God and determined to make restitution. Next, he talked with a farm implement dealer to determine how much less the combine would have been worth had he not tampered with the hour meter. Finally, he went to the new owner to confess what he had done and to offer $1,500 in restitution.

“The buyer was taken aback and said, `This is unbelievable. My wife just underwent a series of cancer treatments which have put us under financial strain.' He went on to explain that he and his wife had determined that the amount they needed to get out from under the financial burden was $1,500. Two households were blessed by the obedience of one man." [Personal letter, Oct 17, 1995.]

When you do what is right, you bring blessings on yourself, blessings to others and you are a blessing to God. When you deny your sins, it can ruin your life, cause great sorrow to others, and bring God’s judgment.

Have we disobeyed God? Don't think today about what someone else has done or failed to do - think of your own life. This is a good day for us to settle some things with God. You can come today and kneel here at that the front of this church and agree with God about your partial obedience or outright rebellion. If you can't kneel, you can sit on a front seat and bow your head and get things right with God.

Someone is listening to me this morning who has never accepted Christ as your Savior. You may be religious and even be a church member at this church or another somewhere else, but you know you are not saved. Come to Christ today. Admit that you are a sinner. Confess Him as you Lord and Savior. It is a decision you will never regret!

Now let us sing, and most of all, let us be obedient in this invitation. Remember, it is not my invitation - it is the Lord's invitation. He is calling - what will you say to Him? The only correct answer to His call is "YES."