In the first reading today from 1 Samuel 15, we see a bit of the sneakiness of King Saul. Samuel has to call him out on it. More in a moment. In the Gospel reading from Mark 2, Jesus talks about pouring new wine into old wineskins. It just doesn’t work. What He means is that when we try to pour the new wine of the Spirit into our old selves (the old wineskin), it won’t cut it. We must become a new creation in Christ.
God gave Saul a mission. Now, Saul fulfilled the mission, but he took things one step too far. After defeating the Amalekites, he “pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the Lord.” Saul justified his actions, saying that he did it so that his men could offer a fine sacrifice to the Lord. God wasn’t buying it. Samuel tells him, “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams…Because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”
Obedience is tough. No one really likes to be told what to do. It's especially hard when we think we know better than God, or try to justify our actions like Saul. We must obey the teachings of Christ, as elucidated by His Church. Remember, these teachings are for our good. And disobedience has a price, just as it did for Saul. It took a while for the price of Saul's disobedience to come to fruition. But in the end, disobedience to God never works out.
Father, give us the grace of obedience, that we may follow Christ's teachings and be pleasing to you. Amen.
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The abbreviated reading (1 Sm 15:16-23) provided on the USCCB site can be confusing (at least for me) as it is taken out of context.
It all comes to light and makes sense when one goes back to the beginning of the chapter (15:3), God’s command become clear:
“Go, now, attack Amalek, and put under the ban (NOTE: Put under the ban: this terminology mandates that all traces of the Amalekites (people, cities, animals, etc.) be exterminated. No plunder could be seized for personal use.) everything he has. Do not spare him; kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
Now Saul’s disobedience becomes clear.