Fear of man & people-pleasing

If you ever read 1 Samuel 15, then you might be familiar with the story of King Saul being rejected as king over Israel because of his disobedience to God.

The first thing that King Saul was instructed to do, was to seize the city of the Amalek and not to spare the men, women, children, livestock etc. In other words, utterly destroy everything within that city:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

However, King Saul along with the people that was under his authority disobeyed God by sparing the life of King Agag of the Amalekites, kept what was valuable but destroyed the rest of things that were considered worthless (1 Samuel 15:8-9). This is revealed to Samuel the prophet by God and Samuel goes to speak to King Saul. When King Saul sees Samuel, he praises him and tells him of the success of his mission, but Samuel asks King Saul why he hears the “bleating of sheep” and “lowing of cattle” (1 Samuel 15:14).

When King Saul explains to Samuel that the people decided to spare what was valuable and offer it as a sacrifice. Samuel rebukes King Saul and tells him that the Lord desires his obedience more than his sacrifice that even disobedience which leads to rebellion is just the same as witchcraft; stubbornness (refusal to heed counsel) is the same as immorality and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

This led King Saul to be rejected by God because he rejected the word of the Lord.

However, if you read verse 24, King Saul acknowledges that he has sinned against God and says,

Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words because I feared the people and obeyed their voice”.

King Saul realised that he feared people more than he feared God and instead of obeying His instructions, he disobeyed them in order to please others.

This was the downfall of King Saul and led to his rejection of being king over Israel. Fear of man and people-pleasing can ensnare us and even cause us to sin against God. When we exalt other people’s opinions more than the word of God and their words have more weight than Him, it becomes idolatry.

We can begin to worship them and seek validation from them rather from the one who created us. Anytime we worship something or someone other than God, it is idolatry. It can be anything and it’s what we run to in our time of need, anything that grabs our attention, that we find our security in, our value and put all of our trust.

People-pleasing can lead to disobedience because, in our desire to please people, we can displease God especially when we refuse to obey Him or do what He has asked us to do because we’re afraid of what others will think.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time King Saul disobeyed God because of fear of people. If we read in chapter 13, King Saul offers a sacrifice of wellbeing unto the Lord despite the instruction that Samuel gave him in (read 1 Samuel 10:1-8).

Samuel was supposed to offer a sacrifice of wellbeing, not King Saul, however, after waiting for the appointed time and not seeing Samuel – King Saul decides to take matters into his own hands and offers an unlawful sacrifice.

          As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favour of the Lord’; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”
– 1 Samuel 13:8-11

King Saul justifies his disobedience because he “saw that people were slipping away” from him.

Will you still wait on God even when opposition rises against you? Will you still wait on God when people begin to slip away? Will you still wait on God and not allow impatience to lead you into rushing ahead of God’s timing? Or force yourself to do things that He hasn’t asked you to do?

Are you willing to compromise the instruction He has given you so that you would not lose others around you?


Maybe we fear others and seek to please them because we don’t have a strong identity especially in Christ.

Samuel tells King Saul what the Lord had told him and says,

Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.  – 1 Samuel 15:17

Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel?

For God to say that it means that King Saul saw himself as little even though God anointed him as king. The children of Israel viewed themselves as grasshoppers because they focused on their giants more than they focused on God. And yet the tribes that they feared who were idol-worshippers were more afraid of the one true living God!

How do you view yourself? Do you see yourself the way that God sees you or do you see who you are without Christ? Whenever we try to find our identity outside of Christ, we will always realise how fallen we are but in Christ, we are complete because He is perfect. And He continues to perfect us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you’re struggling to see yourself the way God sees you, start reading His word. It may seem so obvious and repetitive but it is the truth. There is no special secret or out of this world revelation that you need to chase after. If you want to know who you are in Him, then you need to read His word. Not just acknowledge but actually accept what it says.

Disobedience & consequences

Each time we disobey God especially because of people we’re unknowingly telling God that we put them first.

And what we don’t realise is that when we stand before God on the judgement day, He will ask us what we have done with the things He has entrusted into our hands. There will be no excuses on that day and we can’t say it was because of people. He’s not going to judge us with other people, He’s going to judge us individually.

Is it worth trying to save our honour and dishonour God in the process? We have a choice to make – either we stand with God or against God. If we acknowledge Jesus before others, he will acknowledge us before God. But if we deny Jesus before others, he will deny us before the Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

King Saul was rejected by God and was replaced by David because he was a “man after My own heart”.

If we make that decision to live a life of continual disobedience, God will find someone else. That doesn’t mean you’re replaceable but what it does mean, is that God is seeking after people who will do His will and not their own. Those that will allow God to use them and will always say “yes” even when they don’t understand.

So if you’re reading this and you know that God is instructing you to do something but you’re worried about “what will they think”, remember that God is with you and whatever He asks you to do will always bring Him glory as long as you depend on Him and not yourself.

God desires our obedience and if we love Him, we will obey Him.

I pray for God’s grace upon your lives, that you will respond immediately and for peace that surpasses all understanding as you step out in faith. Seek God, ask for wisdom and lean not on your own understanding.

God bless,

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