August 9, 2000 (9/9/84)

1 Samuel 15

Two years into his reign, God puts Saul to the test – will he rule by God's law-word or by his own will? He fails the test, blames others for his failure, and the kingdom departs from his family.

Part of Keil's introduction to the chapter is worth repeating:

But when Saul had smitten them, he not only left Agag the king alive, but spared the best of the cattle that he had taken as booty, and merely executed the ban upon such animals as were worthless (vers. 4-9). He was rejected by the Lord for this disobedience, so that he was to be no longer king over Israel. His rejection was announced to him by Samuel (vers. 10-23), and was not retracted in spite of his prayer for the forgiveness of his sin (vers. 24-35). In fact, Saul had no excuse for this breach of the divine command; it was nothing but open rebellion against the sovereignty of God in Israel; and if Jehovah would continue King of Israel, He must punish it by the rejection of the rebel. For Saul no longer desired to be the medium of the sovereignty of Jehovah, or the executor of the commands of the God-king, but simply wanted to reign according to his own arbitrary will. Nevertheless this rejection was not followed by his outward deposition. The Lord merely took away His Spirit, had David anointed king by Samuel, and thenceforward so directed the steps of Saul and David, that as time advanced the hearts of the people were turned away more and more from Saul to David; and on the death of Saul, the attempt of the ambitious Abner to raise his son Ishbosheth to the throne could not possibly have any lasting success. (Keil.)

1) Saul only executed God's divine command upon what he considered worthless in his eyes.

How like human nature – we follow God's word as it fits into our own plans and desires.

2) For his disobedience, he was rejected by God as God's king.

As mentioned previously, clearly the purpose of civil authority is to represent God on earth, which, as the Creator, is his kingdom. Civil authority is to exalt good and punish evil, and good and evil must be defined by God's word.

My mind continually returns to question what is in store for America, and the other nations of the world, for all have turned from God and his word.

3) His prayer for pardon was rejected by the Lord.

8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Cor. 7:9.)

As mentioned above, Saul's sorrow was not a godly sorrow, for Samuel had to kill Agag, when Saul should have.

4) There was no excuse for Saul's disobedience; it was nothing but open rebellion against the sovereignty of God in Israel, for which he had to be punished.

There must be punishment coming for the nations of the world, as they have all clearly rebelled against the sovereignty of God, to which they are all subject.

5) Saul did not want to be God's representative on earth, but wanted to be his own king, reigning according to his own will.

Again, the time when civil authorities saw themselves as God's representatives on earth has long ago passed into history. I noticed though with Bob Cosby's boy, Rob, and the driver's licence issue, civil authorities know they are God's representatives, but only at their convince. The answer he got was that he must get a license because civil authority, as God's representative, told him he needed one. In other words, civil authorities only want to be God's representatives when it strengthens their own power, not in order to properly represent God on earth.

6) Though God rejected Saul, he did not remove him immediately. Rather, "The Lord merely took away His Spirit, had David anointed king", and turned the heart of Israel to David a little at a time.

The worse thing that can happen to a person is to lose the presence of God. Though a Christian can not lose the Holy Spirit, he can certainly lose the wonderful work of the Spirit in his life.

Vv. 1-9

V. 1, Samuel reminds Saul that he did not lift himself up to be king, but the Lord placed him there. Therefore, Saul is accountable to the Lord; he is required to obey the Lord.

Note, God's favours to us lay strong obligations upon us to be obedient to him. This we must render, #Ps 116:12. (MH)

Vv. 2, 3, Saul's authority to command Israel to battle was from the Lord God himself. Thus he was to obey completely the word of the Lord in this (and every) matter. (See Joshua 5:14.)

The Lord remembers what Amalek did to Israel as Israel came out of Egypt. (Ex. 17:8ff, Deut. 25:18.) The situation with Amalek took place about five hundred years previous, and the Lord is just now seeking vengeance against Amalek. The Lord does not get in a hurry for vengeance, nor does he forget.

Note: It may take a while for sins to catch up with a nation (or individual), but they will when the time is right in God's eyes. And that time is usually at the worse possible time.

We must also point out that God remembers the injuries done to his people, the church:

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zech. 2:8.)

It may take some time before God deals with those who persecute the bride of Christ, the church, but he will. A reason the Lord waits so long is to give sinners plenty of opportunity to repent. (Rom. 1:1-16.) Divine justice may strike slowly, but it will strike surely; the longer it waits, the harsher it is. (MH)

V. 3, Saul is given to command to utterly destroy Amalek and all he has:

That this might be an example of God's vengeance against those who deal cruelly with his people. (Genva)

Note: The purpose of civil government is to reward good and punish evil. God now requires Saul to fulfill a purpose of his government – that is, to punish Amalek's evil.

Saul does not follow that command, and an Amalekite kills Saul 38 years latter (2 Sam. 1:8).

Note: The civil government that does not fulfil its purpose against evil will itself be destroyed by the evil it refuses to deal with as God requires.

Note: God chooses the instrument and the manner to bring about his judgment. And this was going to be a bloody judgment, for the command was to utterly destroy all. All living creatures, men and animals. At times, God uses people (e.g., King Saul), and other times, he uses nature (e.g., storms). The choice is always his as to what he will use to deal with man.

Note: As all living creatures were to rest in man's obedience (e.g., Exo. 20:10), so all living creatures paid the price for man's rebellion against God.

V. 4, Saul eagerly takes the proper steps to carry out the Lord's command as though he were going to carry it out to the fullest. Judah, for some reason, is numbered separately, and the number is short – 200,000 from the other 11 tribes, and only 10,000 from Judah.

V. 6, the Kenites, Go, depart... Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, was a Kenite, who gave good counsel to Moses. (Ex. 18:19, Jud. 1:16.) Though Jethro might not have accepted Moses' invitation to go with Israel to Canaan, the Kenites did go with them, attached to the tribe of Judah.

Note: Though intermingled with the Amalekites, evidently the Kenites remained separate from Amalek's sins. Thus though we live "intermingled" with a very corrupt society, there is no reason we must unite with that societies' evil.

Note: The Kenites were warned of the coming destruction of Amalek, so they could remove themselves, and thus avoid the destruction. Accordingly, Amalek had to be aware of the warning, and also have time to escape. Amalek did not heed the warning, and was thus destroyed, or should have been, that is.

Note: In the midst of his wrath and vengeance against sin and a sinful nation, God also remembers for good those who fear him — God warned the Kenites who were intermingled with the Amalekites.

Note: It is dangerous to be found in the company of God's enemies:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Rev. 18:4.)

I believe there is a terrible judgment and vengeance due against America, and not only America, but the world in general as the nations, world-wide, thumb their nose at God. But we see here that God will warn his people and make for them a way of escape.

1. He acknowledges the kindness of their ancestors to Israel, when they came out of Egypt. Jethro and his family had been very helpful and serviceable to them in their passage through the wilderness, had been to them instead of eyes, and this is remembered to their posterity many ages after. Thus a good man leaves the divine blessing for an inheritance to his children's children; those that come after us may be reaping the benefit of our good works when we are in our graves. God is not unrighteous to forget the kindnesses shown to his people; but they shall be remembered another day, at furthest in the great day, and recompensed in the resurrection of the just. I was hungry, and you gave me meat. God's remembering the kindness of the Kenites' ancestors in favour to them, at the same time when he was punishing the injuries done by the ancestors of the Amalekites, helped to clear the righteousness of God in that dispensation. If he entail favours, why may he not entail frowns? He espouses his people's cause, so as to bless those that bless them; and therefore so as to curse those that curse them, #Nu 24:9; #Ge 12:3. They cannot themselves requite the kindnesses nor avenge the injuries done them, but God will do both. (MH)

V. 7, And Saul smote... God was with Saul, and his military campaign against the Amalekites was just as successful as Saul wanted it to be. He had been given by God total power over the Amalekites for the purpose of destroying every living things.

The victory is attributed to Saul, though the army was Israel.

V. 8, And he (Saul) took Agag alive. (This was the common title of the Amalekite kings. JFB) Though the command to make war was from God, Saul fought according to his own rules. The success given by the Lord over Amalek probably caused Saul to be lifted up with pride, so he spared Agag as a "trophy" to his own power:

30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. (Dan. 4.)

Saul no doubt said to himself, "Is this not King Agag that I have captured by the might of my power as King over Israel. I will spare him as a trophy of my power." And in the next section, he loses the kingdom.

Note: The action of spearing King Agag is attributed to Saul, as is the victory in v. 7. In other words, though the people carried out the commands, Saul, as the king, is the one accountable to God for what took place.

V. 9, But Saul and the people spared.

Agag – Haman of Esther was an Agagite. The sin of disobedience is paid for all the way down to Hezakiah.
The best.. Sheep, oxen, failings, lambs, all that was good. Amaleck was a picture of the flesh, and as Gods' people, we do the same thing. We spare the best of the flesh. We keep around the things we enjoy, even though God has told us to deal with it.

The best of what was to be dedicated to God in total destruction was kept by Saul and the people for their own uses.

Note: How like human nature to retain the best for self. As I have been around churches for 30 years, I have found that, more often than not, the Lord gets the left-overs instead of the best.

August 15, 2000

Vv. 10-23

V. 11, It repenteth me... Saul did not repent – that is, change his mind enough to change his actions and kill the best and kill Agag. We identify repent with what Saul failed to do – change his mind. However, is that what repent means in reference to God?

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (Gen. 6:6.)

CALVIN: [And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the] [earth.] The repentance which is here ascribed to God does not properly belong to him, but has reference to our understanding of him. For since we cannot comprehend him as he is, it is necessary that, for our sake, he should, in a certain sense, transform himself. That repentance cannot take place in God, easily appears from this single consideration, that nothing happens which is by him unexpected or unforeseen. The same reasoning, and remark, applies to what follows, that God was affected with grief. Certainly God is not sorrowful or sad; but remains for ever like himself in his celestial and happy repose: yet, because it could not otherwise be known how great is God's hatred and detestation of sin, therefore the Spirit accommodates himself to our capacity. Therefore, there is no need for us to involve ourselves in thorny and difficult questions, when it is obvious to what end these words of repentance and grief are applied; namely, to teach us, that from the time when man was so greatly corrupted, God would not reckon him among his creatures; as if he would say, ‘This is not my workmanship; this is not that man who was formed in my image, and whom I had adorned with such excellent gifts: I do not deign now to acknowledge this degenerate and defiled creature as mine.' Similar to this is what he says, in the second place, concerning grief; that God was so offended by the atrocious wickedness of men, as if they had wounded his heart with mortal grief. There is here, therefore, an unexpressed antithesis between that upright nature which had been created by God, and that corruption which sprung from sin. Meanwhile, unless we wish to provoke God, and to put him to grief, let us learn to abhor and to flee from sin. Moreover, this paternal goodness and tenderness ought, in no slight degree, to subdue in us the love of sin; since God, in order more effectually to pierce our hearts, clothes himself with our affections. This figure, which represents God as transferring to himself what is peculiar to human nature, is called [anthropopatheia].

Geneva cuts through the smoke:

(g) God never repents, but he speaks in human terms, because he destroyed him, and in a way denied him as his creature.

Matthew Pool:

Properly God cannot repent, # Nu 23:19 1Sa 15:11,29, because he is unchangeable in his nature and counsels, #Mal 3:6 Jas 1:17, and perfectly wise, and constantly happy, and therefore not liable to any grief or disappointment. But this is spoken of God after the manner of man, by a common figure called anthropopathia, whereby also eyes, ears, hands, nose, &c. are ascribed to God; and it signifies an alienation of God's heart and affections from men for their wickedness, whereby God carries himself towards them like one that is truly penitent and grieved, destroying the work of his own hands.

Matthew Henry:

1. God determines Saul's rejection, and acquaints Samuel with it: It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king. Repentance in God is not, as it is in us, a change of his mind, but a change of his method or dispensation. He does not alter his will, but wills an alteration. The change was in Saul: He has turned back from following me; this construction God put upon the partiality of his obedience, and the prevalency of his covetousness. And hereby he did himself make God his enemy. God repented that he had given Saul the kingdom and the honour and power that belonged to it: but he never repented that he had given any man wisdom and grace, and his fear and love; these gifts and callings of God are without repentance.

God cannot change his mind:

But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. (Job 23:13.)

However, God is presented to us in form that we can understand. Calvin said it well:

Therefore, there is no need for us to involve ourselves in thorny and difficult questions, when it is obvious to what end these words of repentance and grief are applied; namely, to teach us, that from the time when man was so greatly corrupted, God would not reckon him among his creatures; as if he would say, ‘This is not my workmanship; this is not that man who was formed in my image, and whom I had adorned with such excellent gifts: I do not deign now to acknowledge this degenerate and defiled creature as mine.'

God repents! This is a thorny and difficult statement to understand, but we can understand the obvious end of such that statement – and that is, to show us how utterly God despises sin.

V. 11, Samuel cried unto the LORD all night. It did no good because Saul's mind was set.

Saul had replaced Samuel over the people. But rather than rejoicing that Saul had fallen, he spent the night pleading with the Lord to restore Saul. God does not delight in the death of the wicked, nor should we. (MH)

No doubt Samuel was hurt to see the fruit of his ministry go to his own way apart from the Lord.

Note: Samuel prayed all night for Saul that God would forgive him, or that Saul's heart would be changed. However, his prayer was unanswered by God.

How many nights have I spent in prayer over matters, with no apparent results?

Question: Why did Samuel show more concern for Saul than he did his own children? Why are men, many times, better able to show concern for other people and other things (e.g., occupations) than for their own families? Over the years, I have met a great many parents who have spent more time, energy and money on their pets (training, &c.) than on their own children. And then they wonder why their children went to the devil. Again, the things that concern God the most concern us the least, and the least concern to him is the most concern to us. Our sinful nature gets it all backwards.

V. 12, Saul is parading around the country side with great pomp, exhibiting his triumph:

he set him up a place—that is, a pillar (#2Sa 18:18); literally, a hand, indicating that whatever was the form of the monument, it was surmounted, according to the ancient fashion, by the figure of a hand, the symbol of power and energy. The erection of this vainglorious trophy was an additional act of disobedience. His pride had overborne his sense of duty in first raising this monument to his own honor, and then going to Gilgal to offer sacrifice to God. (JFB)

A great victory was accomplished, so the first thing Saul does is erect a memorial or monument to himself and to his own strength. His thoughts are not on the Lord, but on how great he is; he takes all the credit for the victory.

And human nature has not changed a bit as fallen man is busy erecting monuments to himself and his own strength. I believe many religious "church" buildings are erected as monuments to leaders who have a very high opinion of themselves.

V. 13, Saul met Samuel with a bold faced lie, his guilt covered with smooth words. Did Saul really think he had done right? Sin has a way of convincing us we are in the right.

Did Saul boldly lie, or did he really believe he had followed the word of the Lord? Saul's bold statement here makes me think that he really though he had obeyed the Lord. Sinners will loudly profess their godliness, though all facts deny what they are saying. I have spoken with those whose sins are quite obvious, but they are totally convinced that they are above those sins:

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Ja. 1:22.)

So Saul could have easily been deceived into believing he had followed the word of the Lord.

V. 14, Samuel confronted him with facts, and Saul excuses his sin.

Why do we think our sins can be hidden from God or from God's men, particularly when those sins are so open for others to see? MH well said it like this:

Many boast of their obedience to the command of God; but what mean then their indulgence of the flesh, their love of the world, their passion and uncharitableness, and their neglect of holy duties, which witness against them? (MH)

A very pointed statement, especially when taken with v. 23 – the wonderful "worship services" stop at the door, as the people go do their own thing in their daily walk.

V. 15, Saul's "reason" would be good, if it was not in direct violation of the Word of God.

Those that are willing to justify themselves are commonly very forward to condemn others, and to lay the blame upon any rather than take it to themselves. Sin is a brat that nobody cares to have laid at his doors. (MH)

This was a false plea, for both Saul and the people designed their own profit in sparing the cattle. But, if it had been true, it would still have been frivolous, for God hates robbery for burnt-offering. God appointed these cattle to be sacrificed to him in the field, and therefore will give those no thanks that bring them to be sacrificed at his altar; for he will be served in his own way, and according to the rule he himself has prescribed. Nor will a good intention justify a bad action. (MH)

"He will be served in his own way, and according to the rule he himself as prescribed." This is one of the more difficult things for human nature to overcome, for it wants to think that if the motives are right, then that is all God cares about. However, it is clear here that motives will not justify actions; only the word of God can justify actions.

In other words, even if Saul was telling the truth and the motives were actually to sacrifice to the Lord, he was at war against God because he disobeyed God's word to make the sacrifice.

V. 16, again, Samuel establishes his authority to say these things to King Saul – a minister's authority to say "harsh" things to his people must also be established from God. And he will not like to say them any more than Samuel wanted to say these things to Saul. He pleaded all night the night before with God, so he would not have to say these things.

"Saul, stand still, and listen to what the Lord told me about you." Saul seemed willing to listen, no doubt thinking the Lord was going to complement him for the victory and for what he said he was going to do with the spoil.

Vv. 17-19, Samuel reminds Saul that when he was little in his own opinion, the Lord raised him up.

Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. (Isa. 51:1.)

We should keep in mind from where the Lord has brought us, particularly when the Lord starts to bless us in the endeavors he has directed us into.

Saul's true character was revealed when he was placed in authority. He was proud and lifted up with his own powers.

And authority will reveal a person's character.

Pride arising from the consciousness of his own strength, led him astray to break the command of God. (Keil)

And so it has for all time – as fallen man gains strength, he departs from God.

Note: in 14:24, 28, Saul troubled Israel with an unjust order, pronouncing a curse upon anyone who even touched food from the spoil. Here he encouraged the taking of the spoil that was strictly forbidden by God.

Chapter 14, he did it on his own.
Chapter 15, God commanded him. In 14, Saul said, "Don't touch anything." In 15, God said, "Don't touch anything." And the people were willing to starve in 14 in order to obey Saul's voice. (One must wonder how much the people knew about the "authority" behind each "Don't touch." Did they know it was not God's word in 14? Did they know it was God's word in 15?)

Again the natural law of wanting to do just the opposite of what God desires.

It is strange how much more willing we are to submit and obey man's standards than we are God's, even when man's words are much more stringent than God's. Mormons are expanding like crazy, yet they are far more strict than Christianity.

Example: A person might be as consistent as clock work to go to the health spa to work out, but that same person cannot be consistent in church. Nor would they miss a ball game for the world, yet the same person is unable to get to church on time. (Corey will drive to Cinci for a ball game instead of church.)

V. 18, the success was so certain that the Lord calls Saul's efforts against Amalek a journey rather than a war. So how foolish for Saul to take credit for the victory himself.

V. 20, even after God's man pointed out the sin, Saul denies the charge of sin. (Again, I believe Saul thought he had indeed done what God told him to do – he was sorely deceived by his own pride and sin.)

Very seldom will those involved in sin own up to their sin.

Here is where the Spirit must inter into the picture. If the Spirit does not open the eyes, the eyes will not be opened. And those of us who feel we need to confront someone about his sins must be very sensitive to the Spirit's leading, or matters can be made worse:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Gal. 6:1.)

Question: how active should one be in confronting the unsaved about their sins? I suppose only as it effects us personally. Of course, all unsaved should be confronted about salvation. I suppose a general statement could be that those who will not attend church probably will not listen to any confrontation about sin.

V. 21, should have been utterly destroyed... Saul knew what was expected of him, yet he excused his sin, and denies the charge. He blames the failure on The people. I must say that this is a legitimate excuse for those with no back bone: We are a socialist state today because the people have voted that way. The people have voted into office those who promise the most benefit.

Note how easily the carnal, deceitful heart comes up with excuses and reasons to justify disobedience.

Ver. 21. Even the sparing of the cattle he endeavoured to defend as the fulfilment of a religious duty. The people had taken sheep and oxen from the booty, "as firstlings of the ban," to sacrifice to Jehovah. Sacrificing the best of the booty taken in war as an offering of first-fruits to the Lord, was not indeed prescribed in the law, but was a praiseworthy sign of piety, by which all honour was rendered to the Lord as the giver of the victory (see Num. xxxi. 48 sqq.). This, Saul meant to say, was what the people had done on the present occasion, only he overlooked the fact, that what was banned to the Lord could not be offered to Him as a burnt-offering, because, being most holy, it belonged to Him already (Lev. xxvii. 29), and according to Deut. xiii. 16, was to be put to death, as Samuel had expressly said to Saul (v. 3) (Keil)

In other words, even if Saul were telling the truth and they were indeed going to offer to the Lord, the offering would not be accepted because, being under the ban, it already belonged to the Lord.

I might also mention that it seemed the right thing to do. Rather than leaving the best of the cattle on the field to rot and be eaten by the wild animals and birds, why not put them to good use? But the people, with the approval of their king, made the decision and not God. Therefore, it was rebellion.

V. 22, the Lord cares not about great "offerings" of time, money nor service. The Lord cares about obeying his word.

It is much easier to bring a bullock or lamb to be burnt upon the altar than to bring every high thought into obedience to God and the will subject to his will. Obedience is the glory of angels (#Ps 103:20), and it will be ours. (MH)

V. 23, Samuel's response to Saul's excuse, witchcraft.

Samuel defines two sins here:

1) rebellion against God's word is witchcraft.
2) stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. (Stubbornness – to push or press. That is, to push against lawful orders or laws.)

Those that are governed by their own corrupt inclinations, in opposition to the command of God, do, in effect, consult the teraphim (as the word here is for idolatry) or the diviners. (MH)

The whole world seems to have gone after "their own corrupt inclinations," both those inside and outside of the church. Is it any wonder that witchcraft is making such huge inroads into every area of society, particularly in the government education system. Even the TV is run over with women offering free "readings." Saul gets a free "reading," and it said that his kingdom was departed from him, and given to his neighbour.

Note that the judgment came against King Saul not against the people for his disobedience.

God did not speak against sacrifice; rather, he makes it clear "that the sum and substance of divine worship consists in obedience." (Calvin) Sacrifice without obedience to the command word of God is utterly worthless. I must say, however, that sacrifice of money to the Lord's work despite obedience will keep the bills paid. It does lose any reward or recognition from the Lord.

Bible puts it, "in sacrifices a man offers only the strange flesh of irrational animals, whereas in obedience he offers his own will, which is rational or spiritual worship" Rom. xii. 8). (Keil)

True worship of the Lord God is offering the will to him, which is what Paul said in Romans 12:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The thing that seems to draw people to "church" today is a "worship" service, e.g., singing "worship"songs, and even having a "worship" leader, who can be either a man or a woman. People gather together to "worship" the Lord, when, actually, they should be gathering to learn how to worship the Lord daily – that is, how to obey his word in every thought and action.

The "worship churches" I am familiar with make have very little emphasis on daily holy living (car wash on Sunday; women in bathing suits, &c., in "worship" services).

Moreover, "All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god." (Keil)

(i) God hates nothing more than the disobedience of his commandment, even though the intent seems good to man. (Geneva)

In other words, God hates the idea that "the end justifies the means," when those means violate the word of God.

V. 23, Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (V. 26 also.)

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Saul rejected the law of God, so God rejected him. The rest of the book of 1 Samuel is a sad account of God replacing Saul with David.

Vv. 24-31

Confronted with the loss of the kingdom, Saul "confesses" his sin, and finds "religion." Yet he still blames the sin on the people – I feared the people. "I did this because I was afraid of what the people would do if I didn't."

But this is a different excuse than he gave in v. 14 – there he spared the best to offer to the Lord. Now he blames the people. In other words, he kept "sounding out" Samuel to find an excuse that would work.

Moreover, notice who he repented to: Samuel; he asked Samuel to forgive his sin. He placed Samuel in the place of the Lord. David sinned, and when confronted by God's prophet, he confessed his sin to the Lord, and cast himself upon God's mercy, not Nathan's.

Sadly, the Roman religion places men in the place of God, and the people go to the men for forgiveness rather than to the Lord God through Jesus Christ.

True repentance must fully accept blame for sin, BEFORE GOD and then before men. Sin is against the Lord, and he is the one who must grant forgiveness.

The devil did not make us do it; I did it. The people – my family, &c. – did not make me do it; I did it. And the list is endless. Our enemy – the world, flesh and the devil – will provide an endless list of people and things to blame for our sins.

We also live in a day when the world does offer us an endless list of excuses – low self-esteem, our parents, society in general, poverty, &c.

V. 25, pardon my sin though the people made me do it. This kind of repentance has no pardon.

V. 26, Saul rejected the word of the Lord, and then the Lord rejected him, but the Lord left him in office for another 38 years. God rejected Saul, so Samuel refuses to return with him.

V. 28, four times Saul is told he is rejected by the Lord, 13:13, 14; 23, 26 and 28. And now Saul gets very humble as he tries to retain his authority before the people.

Note: in this case, he really did fear the people; he feared that they would no longer follow him as their king.

We must note that at the prospect of losing something dear to people, they will find religion. Few keep their religion once things work out, either for the good or for the bad.

V. 29, the Strength of Israel, or the strong arm behind Israel's victory.

Will not repent seems to counter v. 11, It repenteth me... Again, God is speaking in human terms that we can understand. However, God's mind and purpose does not change. In v. 29, the Lord seems to say that no matter how much pleading Saul did, the Lord would not change. Question – I wonder what would have happened if Saul would have repented in v. 25 as David repented in Psalms 51:4?

V. 30, Samuel turned with Saul for the sake of public appearance, which was Saul's plea.

Note: How many people remain on the good side of the preacher or of the church strictly for appearance sake? They hate both in their hearts, but they must keep up their own interest and reputation.

Election year 2000 — the politicians are searching high and low for what will give them the best public appearance. Clinton has "ruled" according to public opinion (polls), and the present candidates are trying to fit into what appears best in public.

V. 31, Samuel turned again after Saul, but why did he turn? Did he turn to keep from the people fleeing from Saul? Or did he turn to deal with Agag, which he does in the next verse?

It is obvious that Saul did not repent, and he had no intention of repenting. It was all a show, yet Samuel seemed to publically support him in the show. God left Saul in this place until he raised up another to replace him. David was 40 when he took the throne, so David was only about 2 years old at this point.

Vv. 32-35.

V. 32, Samuel called for Agag, who came thinking that his danger was over.

V. 33, Agag died in the same manner as he had lived – his sword had made many women childless, and now his mother will be childless.

Note that even kings must give account to the King of kings. (MH)

V. 33 shows us how real Saul's repentance was, I have sinned, v. 24. It was not real enough for him to deal with the sin, for Samuel had to kill Agag, where Saul should have killed him back in v. 24 when he "repented." "I repent over the results of my sin" not over the sin itself.

This is a very real problem with human nature. Remember that Agag was the best (v. 15). And Saul's failure in this area cost him the kingdom and his relationship with the Lord for the next 38 years. He just lived through those years with Samuel never again going to see Saul, v. 35. Repentance over the lost communion with God will not restore fellowship. Only by going back and dealing with the sin that caused the lost fellowship will restore fellowship.

V. 35, the chapter ends on a low note: Saul did not want the Lord's man around, so Samuel leaves him alone for the rest of his reign. Yet Samuel continued to mourn for Saul.

We also should mourn for those who have rejected the Lord's authority over themselves.

Someone asked me the other day (8/14/2000, at Darbaro's office) how much we should separate from "sinners." I believe Samuel gives us the answer here — if the sinner has no desire to turn from his sin, we should not go out of our way to see him. However, if we happen to meet the sinner, we should not really go out of our way to avoid him, and we should be "civil" to him.

And the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel. V. 35 & 11, with v. 29 between the two, the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent...

[T]hough he repented he made Saul king, he never repents of his making his saints kings and priests for himself; his outward gifts he sometimes takes away, as an earthly crown and kingdom; but his gifts and calling, which are of special grace, are without repentance, see Gill on "Ge 6:6". (Gill on v. 11)

In other words, the Lord may repent that he placed someone in a particular position before men, and remove him, but he does not remove the special graces he gives.

See Rejected the Word of The Lord, ch. 18.