Month of Sundays: Obedience

Is the LORD as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices as he would be with your obedience? To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice. To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Management gurus frequently cite the work of Sun Tzu, the Chinese author most famous for his book The Art of War. About 512 B.C., after he wrote the book, he came to the attention of the King of Wu, who decided to put Sun Tzu to the test. So the king called forth his 160 concubines and instructed Sun Tzu to turn them into a drill team.

Sun Tzu organized them into two companies and appointed two leaders. Giving the women spears, he instructed them in how to turn to their left, right, front and back in unison. When he sounded the drums and gave the first command to turn right, the girls burst out laughing.

Concluding that his instructions and commands were not clear, Sun Tzu went through the whole set of instructions once again. He sounded the drums again and gave the order to turn left. The girls once again burst out laughing.

Now seeing that he had a discipline problem on his hands, he ordered that the two company leaders be summarily executed. Ignoring the pleas of the king (they were his favourites,) the two were beheaded and new leaders appointed in their place. The girls got the message: they moved to his commands in perfect unity. And he got the job as the king’s general.

Sun Tzu’s methods are, by today’s standards, harsh. But disobedience to God’s will and Word can have dire consequences for our lives. In the passage partially quoted above, King Saul lost the favour of God by ignoring the divine command, and David—a man after God’s own heart, and a great general in his own right—took his place.

We want the blessings of God for our lives. But are we prepared to be obedient to his commands? Is our first objective to do his will or, as the song said, to do it “my way?” The difference in the results can be dramatic!

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