Day 109: A heart of obedience

1 Samuel 15:1-35 Saul defeated the Amalekites, but in doing so he sinned against God. The Lord had directed him to destroy everything of the Amalekites, but Saul allowed the Israelites to keep some of the spoils of the battle. For this disobedience, God rejected Saul as King of Israel even though he, after some protest, finally admitted his sin. Such contrition was likely imperfect, i.e., based more on regret of the consequences of sin rather than the offense it caused God. (CCC 1453, 1492, 1964)


Ch 16:1-13 David was chosen by God as King of Israel to succeed Saul. He was a prototype of a king “after God’s own heart,” and his royal line would lead directly to the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Messiah. Though he had moral flaws, David was generally well disposed to doing God’s will and being faithful to God’s covenant. He would become known as Israel’s greatest king. (CCC 436, 695, 2579)


Psalm 61 This Messianic psalm is brief but powerful. It is not clear whether the psalmist here was in exile, living far from Jerusalem, or even close to death; nevertheless, his desire was to be in the presence of God by visiting the Temple. Its mention of an ideal king who would reign forever reflects the Jewish hope and expectation of a king who would return Israel to its former glory (vv. 6-8); this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, who will rule for “all generations” and “be enthroned forever before God.”


Let me dwell in your tent forever: The tent, or Tabernacle, is the Temple and its sanctuary. These words at the same time transcend any earthly temple and point to the Temple of Christ’s Body.


Shelter of your wings: This signifies God’s loving protection, possibly another reference to the cherubs in the Holy of Holies, whose wings extend over the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat of God’s Presence. (CCC 1125, 1575)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


  • Finally, Saul ignores the Herem warfare ban after his victory over the Amalekites, sparing Agag, the Amalekite king, and some of the choice booty.

  • When confronted by Samuel, Saul twice blames the people, claiming that he intended the livestock as sacrifices to God and denying any disobedience.

  • This prompts a prophetic reply from Samuel, one that will be echoed by many future prophets of Israel:


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 hearken than the fat of the rams. (1 Sam 15:22)


  • These words disclose an essential element of the liturgical worship of Israel

  • The Instructions for sacrificial offerings were to each Israel’s hard heart, so that in sacrificing the things they worshipped in Egypt, Israel might turn her heart away from Egypt and to the Lord.

  • What God desires is that we attentively hear his word and live by it

  • Outward forms of worship, without the heart of obedience, are rejected by God

  • All these episodes illuminate Saul’s deep insecurity, and his reaction to this last episode throws his tragic flaw into stark light: “I have transgressed the commandment of the lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” (1 Sam 15:24)

  • When we first encountered Saul, he said: “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my family the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?” (1 Sam 9:21)

  • We might have construed such words to reflect deep humility

  • But as we learn more about Saul, a quite different portrait emerges, one of a man plagued by his own insecurity, which he seems to think insurmountable EVEN BY GOD’S GRACE.

  • The anchor of his identity lies not in his stance before God and the power of God to transform him

  • Rather, it lies in others’ perception of him as a leader

  • Unlike Moses, who heard the voice of the living God and allowed God to transform him so that he could stand before Pharaoh and lead God’s people, Saul listens to the VOICE OF MEN

  • This flaw cost him his future dynasty at Gilgal

  • Now it will cost him the throne in his own lifetime

  • Samuel announces, “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. (1 Sam 15:28)


A New King

  • Samuel is again called to anoint a future king, and, given the character of the reigning king, he obeys with prudent caution

  • God sends Samuel to Bethlehem and the house of Jessie, of the tribe of JUDAH, promising to reveal the chosen son

  • Samuel assumes God has chosen Eliam, Jesse’s eldest son, because of “the height of his stature” (1 Sam 16:7), just as he rejected Saul as the king of Israel (1 Sam 16:1)

  • This captures a theme that will surface repeatedly in the ensuing narrative: “For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7)

  • After seven of Jesse’s sons are rejected, Jesse’s youngest son, David, is called from the field where he is shepherding the flock

  • Immediately, God reveals to the aged prophet that this is the chosen one to shepherd God’s people.

  • Samuel anoints David, and the Spirit of the Lord falls mightily on the lad, as it did on the first king

  • From here on the narrator will contrast the Spirit-filled David with the fading king Saul: “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” (1 Sam 16:14)

  • Saul asks for music to soothe his troubled soul, and by the strange ways of Providence, David is brought before Saul to play for him

  • The king’s malaise thus provides the occasion for his successor’s entrance into the royal court

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)


  • So what’s Saul’s Achilles’ Heel again?

  • VANITY!!

  • Vanity is not just thinking you look so great

  • Vanity is not just being obsessed with your own appearance

  • Vanity AT ITS HEART is an INORDINATE PREOCCUPATION with what OTHER PEOPLE THINK

  • Yes, it’s kind to be aware of what other people think

  • We should be sensitive to what other people are thinking

  • VANITY is being INORDINATELY PREOCCUPIED with that thinking

  • Yet again King Saul who goes and fights the Amalekites, he is told to DESTROY EVERYTHING, the KING, the PEOPLE, the ANIMALS

  • So what does Saul do?

  • Well, he certainly destroys the people

  • He SPARES THE KING

  • Saul takes the BEST of the animals and uses the excuse of sacrificing them to God to lie about why he took them

  • This is pretty remarkable

  • Remember the books that taught us how God is to be WORSHIPPED

  • (Pop Quiz!! What are the names of the “law” books of the Old Testament Torah? Answer in the Comment Section of the Facebook Post 😁)

  • When we take what WE WANT TO OFFER and we make that our gift

  • As opposed to TAKING WHAT GOD HAS ASKED US TO DO and simply DOING IT

  • It is very clear that God asks us to do one thing, but it’s the one thing we don’t want to do, we are willing to do very difficult things instead in that one thing’s place

  • If God tells you to sacrificially give in a certain area and you don’t want to, you’re more willing to do other hard things in place of that

  • We know that God wants us to do this one thing

  • But we don’t want to

  • So we do other hard things to make up for it

  • This is similar to what Saul just did along with the People of Israel

  • God gave them orders for total destruction of the people, flocks, animals, etc

  • Saul decides to not obey and keeps what he THINKS is good stuff like the animals and gives them to God instead

  • Remember what 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 hearken than the fat of the rams. (1 Sam 15:22)


  • One of the PRINCIPLE VIRTUES is OBEDIENCE

  • If you ever studied in a religious community or learned about these men and women who conformed their hearts and wills to the heart and will of God

  • The heart of HOLINESS is often OBEDIENCE

  • What has God asked me to do?

  • I will only do that

  • What has God told me TO NOT DO?

  • I won’t do that (OOOOH I get it now, So THAT’S what MEATLOAF MEANT!!! 🤪)

  • It’s important because here is King Saul who once again loses the Spirit of God through his disobedience and it ends in catastrophe

  • We also get to see David ANOINTED as King

  • We are on YOUNG DAVID NOW (kind of like YOUNG INDIANA JONES)

  • God will choose “Another who is after my own heart.”

  • Samuel is sent before Jesse, he sees the oldest son who is handsome, tall, and regal like King Saul

  • God told Samuel NOPE

  • DO NOT LOOK AT HIS APPEARANCE OR THE HEIGHT OF HIS STATURE

  • THE LORD SEES NOT AS MAN SEES

  • THE MAN LOOKS ON THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE

  • THE LORD LOOKS ON THE HEART

  • When we assess ourselves or present ourselves to the Lord, we can look a certain way on the outside

  • But what the Lord desires is a HEART JUST LIKE HIS

  • The Lord desires a HEART OF OBEDIENCE

  • The Lord desires us to WANT WHAT HE WANTS

  • WE WANT TO CHOOSE WHAT GOD WILLS

  • THAT IS THE HEART OF HOLINESS

  • THAT IS THE HEART OF A MAN OR WOMAN WHO IS AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

  • It is SO HARD to be that way

  • It’s hard to OBEY when we don’t understand

  • It’s hard to OBEY when we would rather do other things

  • It’s hard to LISTEN TO GOD AND RESPOND and because of that we can’t do it without God’s Grace

  • SO WE PRAY

  • WE PRAY FOR OURSELVES

  • WE PRAY FOR EACH OTHER

  • WE PRAY FOR FR. MIKE


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thanks. We just give you glory today. And we just honor you for who you are and all that you’ve done. We give you thanks, not only for calling us to be yours, but also for being so patient with us even in our disobedience, Lord. There are consequences to our sins. There are consequences to us saying NO. And yet, you continue to give us mercy. You continue to restore us. You continue to be with us. In our weakness, you are strong. In our faithlessness, you are faithful. And so we praise you and we honor you and we love you. Thank you so much. May you be praised, glorified, and loved all the more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”