Training for Reigning - 53 - Why be Obedient (pt2)

WHEN KING SAUL heard Samuel declare that, "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (I Sam. 15:22) it would appear that he was not impressed very much. He felt he had obeyed the Lord - as far as was necessary. True enough, he had spared Agag’s life. But Saul, himself, was a king, and knew how he would feel were their positions reversed. Moreover, would not the sight of Saul’s royal captive serve to silence those who had despised him? (1 Sam. 10:27). The best of the flocks and herds, and all that was good
- what was the sense in destroying such valuable things when many in Israel were poor? How was a king to win his people’s support, and to build up his own wealth, if not at the expense of their enemies? Anyway their booty could be used for sacrifices to the Lord . . . which ought to square everything. Thus it was that he had greeted the prophet with, "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord".
meaning of course, as he considered it should be carried out; vs. 20. Sacrifices and Services - what more could be asked of him?
After Samuel’s rebukes he confessed that he had sinned, excusing himself by laying the blame (like Cain) on others. Now if Samuel only would be reasonable, forgive him, and go along to worship with him (so all could see them together) everything would be fine once more. So I say, you wouldn’t think Saul was much impressed, would you?
Nevertheless, mark you, Saul went on reigning for another 23 years. So what did he lose after all? True enough, "an evil spirit from the Lord" plagued him all the time; but never did it cause him to give in and make an honest confession of his wilfulness. So let us see just what his losses were - if any - and whether or not they amounted to much.
First of all, it is clear that he lost the confidence and peace that is the portion of those whose lives are God-directed. Each of those twenty odd years, when through his stubborn self-will he had to carry on In his own strength, made him jealous, un reasonable irritable, vengeful, and subject to dark moods, to melancholia.
He lost, also the continuity of his kingdom. This meant that whatever he might accomplish would pass, at length, into the hands of his hated rival - for Saul, a very bitter reflection, indeed.
Finally, instead of a glorious reign, his fears proved to be a steady downward march, beset by fear - fears that eventually drove him, in shame and trembling, to consult the witch at Endor (1 Sam. 28), and thence to the miserable defeat, and death, along with his heir, plus the desecration of their remains, described in Chapter 31.
So, to the two benefits of obedience mentioned in the last chapter, viz.:
(1) A progressive work of conformity to Christ, and deliverance from the mastery of indwelling sin;
(2) The overcoming and modification of character defects so that throughout the ages to come we shall not bear the marks of their removal; let me add:
(3) A life of confidence in God, freed from fears, nervous tensions, frustrations, irritability - and all evil characteristics of a self-centred life - which can become the portion of those who will make it the objective of their lives "to will and to do of His good pleasure"; Phil. 2:13.
(4) A fourth point is that obedience to the Lord’s word, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13), is His method of fitting His children for "positions of authority and responsibility" in the coming kingdom age. See also: Rev. 5:
9-10; 20:6; 1 Cor. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:12; etc.
Yes, as most Christians know, the reigning time is coming by and by. Yet few take it seriously, much less do they realize that Life-time is Training-time for Reigning-time! - Rev. 2:26-27 along with 2 Tim. 2:12.
So get your sights up, young Christians! The ages to come are right ahead of you . . . and Obedience is the "open sesame" to the blessings you desire so greatly before long . . . fitnesses, and distinctions, and spheres, of heavenly service - FOR ETERNITY!