Hello Fellow Saints!
This is Jillian and I am honored to share personal reflections of Proverbs 21 with you today. This chapter is packed full of tidbits of wisdom, ranging on topics from: working and justice, to violence, dishonesty and pride. Today, we’re going to focus on key verses that get to the real heart of the matter--- our heart in decision making towards obedient living.
Growing up, I had a very wise mother. She was a woman after God’s heart and strived to be a part of His kingdom work in whatever capacity she was called. Her life strove towards excellence and obedience in Christ. Her life went where God directed and she was always faithful. In reading Proverbs 21, I can’t help but think of the wisdom Mom shared with me about obedience. As a young adult trying to make my way in the world, Mom persistently and heavily taught me the principles of verse 3, “Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Mom would tell me time and time again, “It’s better to obey than to sacrifice.” Being her daughter in her mid-20s, starting out in a new career, fresh out of college and trying to make it in the world, she wanted nothing more for me, than to be consistent and faithful in my life with Christ.
Looking at verse 3, we are able to see it is a direct reference to I Samuel 15: 1-29, in which we find the reign of the first king of Israel, King Saul. So, let’s jump over there and see what a life of sacrifice, and not obedience led to this king’s downfall. King Saul had one directive from the LORD God--destroy and annihilate the Amalekite tribe. This people group had terrorized the Israelites since they had fled Egypt and God’s directive to Saul was to absolutely blot this nation out and the memory of them. So, we pick up the story where Saul obeys by summoning, organizing and sending into battle around 210,000 troops. He successfully led the Israelite army into victory, killing all of the Amalekite people. So, he obeyed God, right? Not exactly. He decided to keep their king alive and gather their livestock, sheep and goats for an offering to God. Saul decided to capture King Agag and imprison him, instead of killing him altogether. His pride led him to keep a fellow king alive, instead of obeying the instructions of God. Now the LORD God witnessed Saul’s disobedience and understood his heart, and His response to Saul was simply stated, “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following me and has not carried out my instructions.” Saul’s pride of keeping King Agag and the livestock alive, demonstrated he wanted to be his own victor, doing it his own way. Saul was challenged and in verse 22 it bluntly states, “Look, to obey is better than sacrifice.” So, where did Saul’s disobedience lead him to? God rejected him as king and appointed David. Where did Saul’s sacrifice lead the children of Israel? To battle the Amalekite tribe for another 300 years, which plays out to 16 kings after David having to battle this formidable enemy.
Proverbs 21 tells us in verse 2, “All a person’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart,” then in verse 21, “the one who pursues righteousness and faithful love will find life, righteousness and honor.” Listen to the words of the writer, it’s better to obey what God wants than to try to manipulate, disregard, or go opposite of God’s directives. Our direct obedience or sacrifice will always start a chain reaction. Obedience and faithfulness of heart leads to a chain reaction of moral, upright and blessed living. Sacrifice of heart, moral and faith will always lead to a chain reaction of contention, rebellion, missed opportunities and sin. Saul’s once bold act of disobedience led to an additional 300 years of torment, war, additional sacrifice and death. Our disobedience can do the same. It can lead ourselves and others down a path we were never intended to take.
So for today, dear friend, will you choose the act of obedience or sacrifice. Every day, I remember the words of my beloved mother and try to put them into practice, “It’s always better to obey than to sacrifice.” I pray you remember and live them out as well.
Let’s pray: Dear God, may we become children of obedience rather than sacrifice. May we strive to do what you want us to do. Search our hearts oh God, and find the rebellious ways in us. Stir us towards repentance, convict us towards obedience and lead us in Your everlasting ways. I pray all of these things in your name, Amen.