Obedience is Not a Beast of Burden | 1 Samuel 15

I. Is backsliding in the Bible?

A. Some say the Bible doesn’t talk about backsliding

  • In reading the history of Israel and Judah, we see one generation after another backsliding against the Lord. God told Hosea, "My people are bent to backsliding from me..." (Hosea 11:7). In Hebrew, the meaning is, "My people are in the habit of turning their backs and withdrawing from me. They've always had this tendency and we do too!"
  • Jeremiah's frequent heart-cry was:
"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married to you..." (Jeremiah 3:14).
"O Lord...our iniquities testify against us...for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee" (Jeremiah14:7).
"(Jerusalem's) transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased" (Jeremiah 5:6).
  • The term backsliding means, simply, "turning one's back on God."
"I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery." (Jeremiah 5:7b)

B. 3 consequences for the backslider

Consequence Number One: Your Backsliding Makes You a Dangerous Person to Be Around!

  • When God brings the storm in your life it hits everyone around you.

Consequence Number Two: You Will Be Rebuked by the World!

When the ship's captain found Jonah asleep in the hold, he shook him awake and soundly rebuked him: "...What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God..." (Jonah 1:6)
  • A prophet of God being told to call upon his God by a pagan.

Consequence Number Three: God Is Going to Take You Down into a Pit!

  • Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish and you will be swallowed up b a great trial.

C. We can come back

  • There are consequences to living in sin, or “sowing to the flesh.”
Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.  So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
  • “Never give up giving it up until it’s given up!
  • God disciplines those who He loves.
Hebrews 12:10 - For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
  • Peaceful harvest of right living

Don’t you want to live in peace? Come back.

II. Why does God delight or is pleased in obedience?

1. Because disobedience is a misplacement of fear V24 Instead of fearing God he feared the people.

24 Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.
  • He fears the people’s animosity more than God. He has lost his perspective. Haven’t we all.
Matthew 10:28 - Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

2. Because disobedience is a misplacement of pleasure

19 Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

3. Because disobedience was a misplacement of praise

12 Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”
  • Saul looked for praise for himself. He has this bad self-image that we think as we read is humility. It is not. Be careful those of you with inferiority complexes it will lead you into stealing God’s glory!
17 And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel.
  • You are King is that not enough. Get your self-worth from the fact the God of the universe died for you. You are the son and daughter of the King of glory but we disobey to hear the praise of man…

4. Because disobedience is a misplacement of trust.

22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So, because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
  • Divination is turning away from God for another source to tell you which way to go in life.

5. Because disobedience is a misplacement of worship

stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
  • When we disobey we are stubbornly making ourselves god in our life. We become our own authority.

Secondly, let's ask this question: Is it a good thing that God delights in obedience or is it bad news?

III. Is it good for us that God delights in obedience, or bad news?

1. Because He is praise worthy and reliable

  • If He ignores disobedience He becomes unreliable to us.

2. Because it shows that grace is a power not a tolerance of evil.

  • God’s grace is a sanctifying power in my life. My sin will be eradicated. I will be holy.

3. Because none of His commandments are hard.

1 John 5:3 - Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
Matthew 11:30 - For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

4. Because everything He asks me to do is for my good.

  • When He says He delights in my obedience He is saying He delights in my happiness.
Deuteronomy 10:12 - “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. 13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.
  • There is not a commandment in the word of God that is not for your good.
  • The pursuit of obedience is the pursuit of happiness.

5. Because the obedience in which He delights is faith.

  • Faith is banking our hope on the mercy of God.
  • Hear that… Mercy means that we don’t have to be perfect it means we have to be repentant.
1 John 1:8-9 - If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.


Obedience is not that absolute power of the will to choose what God demands. It is the overwhelming outflow of people who have tasted the Lord and found that He is good.

It is not the burden of a bucket brigade trying to put out the flame. Obedience is a spring that wells up in the souls of those who trust the Lord.