1 Samuel 15 is the story of why God rejected Saul as the King of Israel. It is a tragic story. God tells Saul attack the Amalekites and destroy them completely, including their children and animals. Saul attacks and wins a great victory, killing even the babies and all the men and women, but he leaves the best livestock and spares the King of the Amalekites. He killed only the weak and the despised of the animals. We see in this how little Saul loved or understood about God.
God tells Samuel, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
The next day Samuel goes to look for Saul and is greeted by Saul with these words: “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” Samuel, horrified, immediately asks Saul why he hears sheep and cattle and Saul claims that his soldiers spared them, the best of them, “to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
Samuel asks Saul: “Why did you not obey the LORD ? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD ?”
Saul responds, “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
Samuel then delivers the ultimate point from the passage:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Saul truly had no understanding of God’s heart or character. God doesn’t desire our victory. Victory is already His. God doesn’t desire our accomplishments. They are His. He made Saul king and He gave Saul the victory over the Amalekites. God doesn’t desire our decisions about what to sacrifice to Him: Cain failed to learn this; Saul failed to learn this. We can’t decide what is best for God. God knows what is best. God tells us what He desires.
All God desires is our obedience. And we listening and obeying the “voice of the LORD?”