April 14 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
~1 Samuel 15:22

We have already seen hints of pride in Israel’s first king. He once took to the stage and acted the part of the priest when this was clearly NOT his place. And he nearly killed his own son to make a point about following royal orders absolutely. In today’s reading, Saul decides to modify Samuel’s instructions regarding the war plan against sworn enemies. After his partial obedience, which God labels as disobedience, he has the audacity to erect a monument in his own honor. And when the prophet confronts him, he still doesn’t get it! “But I did obey the Lord” he argues (1 Sam. 15:20). Here is a man who, although “small in his own eyes” upon becoming king, develops a hefty ego that is his undoing (1 Sam. 15:17).

One of the most insidious things about pride is how blinding it can be. Saul became so confident in his own wisdom that he simply could not see the depth of his sin. Proverbs repeatedly warns of the danger of self-deception: a man can think he is wise and be a fool or assume he is right and be dead wrong (Prov. 14:12, 16:2). Saul doesn’t perceive his misdeeds as wrong or regret his missteps because he’s proud and that gives him a certainty that is neither warranted nor deserved. We’ve all met people who just don’t get it. Pride has a way of doing that to a person. And unfortunately, to paraphrase the sage, there is more hope for an idiot than an egotist (Prov. 26:12)!

Let us guard our hearts! We must beware lest we allow blessing to puff us up with pride. Perhaps it would help us all to find and adopt a “Samuel, “ a friend not afraid to tell it like it is! If you have been blessed with money, or talent, or education, or experience, or influence, or beauty, or whatever, always acknowledge God as the source and use your blessing for His glory. Just to be clear, that includes obeying God without modifying His instructions because “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). What delights God most is worshippers totally and completely devoted to Him! True disciples are all in, under the authority of God, no matter what the personal cost (Luke 14:26-27).

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.