Partial Obedience

The deadly consequences of partial obedience are illustrated in the life of King Saul.

God gave him very specific instructions. 

He carried them out ... sort of ... not exactly ... almost. 

It didn't make sense to him to carry them out exactly. 

His friends encouraged him to do a few things differently. They had some "good" arguments. 

I imagine King Saul's reasoning in 1 Samuel 15 was similar to ours when we read God's specific instructions in Scripture.

And we believe ... sort of ... not exactly ... almost. 

God's instructions about sexual purity, homosexuality, finances, honoring parents, and self-sacrifice don't make complete sense to us. 

And our culture has some "good" arguments for ignoring God's commands. 

When Samuel confronted King Saul after his "partial obedience" to God's instructions, Saul made excuses. 

Eventually, he repented but only because he didn't want Samuel to embarrass him in front of his men. 

And Saul never walked with God again. 

What will we do when confronted with compromise in our lives? Will we make excuses and insincere apologies and walk away from God's will for us? 

I pray not!

I encourage you to do the Bite Size Study for this devotion. We can learn some valuable lessons from King Saul's life.

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The deadly consequences of partial obedience are illustrated in the life of King Saul.

The deadly consequences of partial obedience are illustrated in the life of King Saul.


  1. You have a point. Partial obedience isn't obedience. However, I noticed you said "Saul never walked with God again" - do you mean that Saul was a converted man? I doubt it. Let's look at the facts:
    a) his "partial obedience" as you well put it,
    b) his hatred of David (to the point of trying to kill him on more than one occasion),
    c) the way he USED his daughter to entice David, and then later did not keep his promise,
    d) his pride (did not want to be rebuked before the elders of Israel) instead of true repentance, in a sharp contrast to David when he sinned,
    e) his visit to the woman of En Dor and the spiritist session...
    Well, if the tree is known by it's fruit, then Saul's fuits were quite rotten.

    1. Hi João.

      I think your points are good ones.

      Whether Saul was ever converted or not, I don't know.

      The Calvinist might have a different answer than the Arminian, and I try to avoid that debate on Bible Love Notes.

      In 1 Samuel 10:6-7,9 Samuel tells Saul: "The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you...As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day."

      I don't fully understand what this means as far as Saul's salvation, especially since it's found in the Old Testament before the fullness of the Gospel was realized on earth. 1 Samuel 16:14 says: "Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him."

      But you are completely right about the kind of person Saul became.

      As I said, the Calvinist would probably say Saul was never saved. The Arminian might say Saul was saved but chose to reject God. I wouldn't want to get in the middle of that debate. : ) Either way, Saul seems to have reached a final stage in his rejection of God's ways.

      Thanks for taking the time to think this through. From this and past comments, I can tell that you take Scripture seriously. And that's a good thing.

    2. How thankful I was when God brought to my attention that discerning whether someone belongs to Jesus is not work He has assigned to me! The parables of the wheat and the tares and of the sheep and the goats indicate this. "Search ME, O God: try me and know MY thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me: and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

      That would include legalism, Pharisaical law-following as well as liberal distortions of Truth.

      I remember Howard Hendricks saying that comparison is carnality. How often I catch that tendency in me, but thank God for bringing weaknesses to my attention and extending forgiveness and cleansing when I confess.