Grace Covenant Church

Fall ’01 Bible Study

Character Study: Saul



“To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice”

1 Samuel 13:1-15, 15:1-35


“A right thing done in a wrong way is wrong;

A wrong thing done in a right way is wrong;
Only a right thing done in a right way is right."


Matt didn’t want to take the time to read through a one-inch thick instruction manual to put together a brand new bookshelf.   “I don’t need this,” he fumed in exasperation.  “I can do it myself.”  His mother pleaded with him to follow the directions, but Matt had different plans.  After sorting through the many screws and other miscellaneous pieces, Matt thought he had assembled the bookshelf properly.  But as he finished shelving all his books, the whole structure collapsed unexpectedly because one small piece of wood had been attached improperly! 


There is something extremely important when it comes to listening and obeying, especially when it comes to God’s Word.  Let’s take a look at the tragic story of Saul and how his disobedience to the Lord resulted in more than a broken bookshelf………….


Share about a time when taking matters into your hands led to undesirable consequences.



Read 1 Samuel 10:8-9, 13:1-15


1.        Discuss the surrounding circumstances of Saul at Gilgal.  In light of these, do you think Saul’s action was terribly wrong?

On the surface, it seems that Saul acted appropriately, given the circumstances.  He had waited 7 days, but still no Saul.  Also, his army was quaking with fear.  He didn’t know what to do so he resorted to what he thought was right.  BUT IT WAS STILL WRONG. 



What was his mistake/sin?

·         V. 13 – he acted foolishly by not keeping the command the LORD God gave him.

·         He thought that he could take matters into his own hands

·         He saw the physical realm (fear and panic), not the spiritual realm (God’s promise)

·         Showed a lack of trust in God.

·         He referred to human “logic”, not God’s Word.

·         He offered up a burnt offering when this was the job of a priest or prophet.

·         He acted for pragmatic reasons



When are you often tempted to take matters into your own hands?

·         When we become impatient (under pressure due to time constraints)

·         When we do not see the hand of God in the situation.

·         When we are fearful.



2.        Discuss verse 14.  What do you think it means that God “seeks a man after his own heart”?



Read 1 Samuel 15:1-35


3.        Discuss the surrounding circumstances of Saul and the Amalekites.  In light of this, do you think Saul’s action was terribly wrong? (Read also Exodus 17:8-16, Deut 25:17-19)

God was engaged in a holy war (His cause and initiative, not Israel’s) against the Amalekites b/c they had tried to block the Israelites during the exodus.  It was God’s judgment in v. 2-3 that He would wipe out everything of the Amalekites.  It would seem that Saul had not erred greatly b/c he killed all the Amalekites except the king, but IT WAS STILL WRONG



What was his mistake/sin?

·         He did not obey God’s Word completely (vv. 17-19)

·         He “was afraid of the people and he gave in to them.” (v. 24)  Who are you trying to please: God or people?

·         He tried to cover it up when confronted by Samuel.

·         He tried to blame others (v. 15, 21)


What do you think it means that “to obey is better than sacrifice?”




4.        We are taught that genuine repentance always meets forgiveness.  But, even though Saul has a repenting heart, God still rejects his kingship of Israel.  Is this a little harsh?  What can we learn about consequences of sin?

·         God does forgive, but there are consequences to our sins.




5.        Read 1 John 2:3-6 and 5:3-4.  What do these passages teach us about obedience?

·         Those who obey God, know God

·         God’s love is made complete in those who obey Him.