SAUL DISOBEYS GOD
Scripture: 1 Samuel 13:1-14; 15:1-3, 7-28; Jeremiah 7:23
Memory verse: Jeremiah 7:23
"Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it my go well with you."
Write the following sentences on slips of paper. Ask volunteers to draw a slip and read it aloud. The rest of the students must determine whether or not the sentence tells of an obedient attitude. If it is a disobedient one, discuss what could happen if someone did that action. Then let the students suggest ways to change that statement into an obedient attitude.
1. Always stop at a red light.
2. Don’t drink alcohol.
3. Don’t use a seat belt when riding in a car.
4. Don’t use drugs.
5. Spend your food money for sweets.
6. Ride your bike across the railroad tracks when the train is coming.
7. Look both ways before crossing the street.
8. Run between parked cars.
Help the students understand that just as laws and rules are made for a person’s physical well-being, so God’s laws exist for our spiritual well-being. Mention that we learn about our parents’ rules from listening to them. In the same way we learn about God’s rules by listening to what He says in the Bible.
Ask the students if it’s OK to obey our parents’ rules just once and then forget them. Mention that the laws of the land and our parents’ rules must be obeyed all the time. It’s not enough to obey them once and then forget them. It is the same with God’s laws. Today the students will learn about a man who found out that God demands obedience.
Hearing God’s Word
God had told the Israelites to take over the land of Canaan. This would be quite a task, because many enemy nations were living there at that time. In order to possess the land that God had promised to them, the Israelites had to drive these enemies out. But the Israelites didn’t have to be afraid; God was with them.
The Israelites At Gilgal
One day Saul gathered the Israelite soldiers together at Gilgal. There they prepared to fight the huge Philistine army which was camped nearby. Saul had already received instructions about what God wanted him to do. “Wait 7 days until I come,” Samuel had told Saul. “Then I will offer sacrifices before the battle.”
Saul waited 7 days. Samuel was nowhere in sight. At the same time, the Philistines were crowding in upon the Israelites. The Israelite army was getting restless. Waiting day after day was very discouraging. Some of the soldiers got tired of waiting. They deserted the army and went to hide in caves, thickets, pits and cisterns, and even among the rocks.
Saul began to get worried. How could he possibly win a battle if all his soldiers ran away? He grew more and more impatient as he waited for Samuel to come.
Saul Offers The Sacrifices
At last Saul concluded he could wait no longer. He decided to do things his own way. He took matters into his own hands and ordered the sacrifices to be made even though Samuel wasn’t there.
God had said only the priest was to offer sacrifices. Saul was not a priest, but Samuel was a prophet and a priest.
As soon as Saul finished making the sacrifices, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to salute Samuel as though nothing wrong had been done. But Saul could not cover up what he had done. Samuel knew Saul had offered the sacrifices himself instead of letting Samuel offer the sacrifices as God had instructed.
When he saw that Samuel was not pleased with what he had done, and that he had not fooled Samuel, Saul began to make excuses. He told Samuel how bad things were with all the men deserting him and the enemy closing in. He even blamed Samuel for not coming sooner.
How did Samuel answer Saul? (Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 13:13.)
Samuel didn’t accept any of Saul’s excuses. He told Saul he had been foolish for disobeying God’s commandment. Then Samuel told Saul something else. (Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 13:14.)
Samuel said Saul’s kingdom would not continue. This meant his family would not get to continue being kings of Israel after Saul’s death. A better leader would take Saul’s place after he died.
Saul Disobeys Again
As time went by, Saul turned further and further from God. One day God spoke to Samuel and told him to instruct Saul to defeat the people of Amalek, another group living nearby. Long ago the Amalekites had tried to keep the Israelites from coming into the land God had given them. God said they had to be punished; nothing or no one was to be spared.
Saul gathered his army together and went to fight the enemy. The Israelite army defeated the Amalekites, but Saul disobeyed and failed God again. Although God had said nothing was to be spared, Saul brought back the king of Amalek as a prisoner. Saul probably thought it would be fun to show off the king and enjoy the honour of victory.
Saul also saved the best of the oxen and sheep instead of killing them as God had commanded. Saul let his desire to have the fine sheep and oxen rule him. He did what he wanted instead of what God wanted.
The morning after the battle, the prophet Samuel went to see King Saul. Samuel was probably the last person Saul wanted to see at that moment. “What is the meaning of this bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle that I hear?” Samuel wanted to know.
Saul had an excuse. “It is what I have brought back from the battle with the Amalekites. The people spared the best animals to use in sacrifices to God.”
Saul Loses His Kingship
How did Samuel answer Saul? “God doesn’t want your sacrifices, Saul,” Samuel said. “God would rather have your obedience than all your sacrifices. You cannot be king of God’s people. God has turned His back on you.”
Samuel’s words shocked Saul. As Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed Samuel’s cloak and tore it. “The Lord has torn your kingdom from you today,” Samuel said.
Saul was sorry for what he’d done, but it was too late. His chance to honour God was gone forever. Saul’s disobedience had kept his family from becoming kings after him and now further disobedience cost him the kingship. He had let what he wanted take the place of what God commanded. The glory and honour of being king would soon be snatched from him. Apparently, Saul was more sorry about losing his position than he was about not obeying God.
The Importance of Obeying God
Directions are given to be followed. If we fail to do this, the results can be costly. Saul’s failure to obey God cost him a right relationship with God, as well as his kingship.
When we think only of ourselves and what we want, we are not giving God first place in our lives. God wants us to obey Him. This week’s memory verse says, “Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.” (Jeremiah 7:23) Repeat the memory verse with the students.)
Ask: “How do we find out about God’s ways?” (Allow responses.)
God’s Word teaches us God’s ways. We are to obey them. Obeying God also includes obeying parents, teachers, and the laws of our country.
There is no such thing as halfway obedience. Obeying one time is not enough. Walking in God’s ways is a daily activity.
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. God loves us and He listens when we are truly sorry and repent of disobedience. But Saul was only sorry that he had lost his kingship; he wasn’t truly sorry that he had failed God. God knows when people are telling the truth.
We have a choice to make in our lives. We can choose to obey God and His Word or we can live selfishly and do what we want without listening to God. The selfish choice leads to life without God now and eternal separation from God forever in hell. But choosing to obey God brings God’s help and care now, and eternal life with Him in heaven. What choice will you make?
Accepting God’s Word
Stress to the students in your class that the first step in obeying God’s Word is to believe God’s Son Jesus died for our sins.
Step two is to recognise we need to be sincerely sorry for our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us and be our Lord and Saviour. God is a holy and righteous God who commands absolute obedience, but He is also a loving God who is always willing to forgive us if we are truly sorry for our sins and our disobedience.
Ask if anyone in your class would like to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
Eritrea's new road from Massawa to Assab is now completed. It passes through Tio and local merchants are pleased, for they know this important link will be a big boost to their business ventures. Tio's village elders believe the new road will entice the nomadic Afar to build villages along the road for the purposes of trade and education.
One of the village elders is blind. We met him at a restaurant while drinking a cool Coca-Cola. Dressed in a wraparound cloth bound with the Afar green belt, he heard our voices and spoke loudly to us, drawing everyone’s attention.
He shared with us the history of Tio, an appreciation of the Italians who governed Eritrea for 60 years, and the community’s hopes for the future based on the new road and school. He specifically asked if we would come and teach the children. He agreed to teach us Afar if we taught them English. The old elder gave us his name and asked for his picture to be taken with us. It appeared to be a very special moment for him.
A young man preparing for sixth grade in the new school met us at the restaurant. His mother was sick, so he came for a meal. Sitting at a table near us, he tried to understand our English. We asked him to help us learn Afar greetings, and through this exchange we struck up a friendship. The next night, the eve of our departure, he entered the restaurant and walked up behind me, gently patting my shoulder. It was a tender expression and communicated his pleasure with our brief acquaintance.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Afar Mothers
1. Mothers to eat properly while the child is developing in her womb.
2. Mothers to safely deliver healthy babies.
3. Mothers to recognize their babies are gifts from God and are to be raised to serve Him.
"For everyone who asks receives..." (Matthew 7:8).
Study 3 | God's Character/O.T. Kings | africaatts.org/go-teach