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    • June 29, 2016 1:38 AM EDT
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      1 SAMUEL 15

      1 SAMUEL 15
       
      OPENS WITH...GOD REJECTS SAUL AS KING
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us of the Battle against the Amalekites. God gives a clear, radical command: destroy Amalek.
       
      "Samuel also said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"
       
      Samuel also said to Saul...
       
      This was a message FROM ALMIGHTY GOD'S CHOSEN spiritual leader of Israel to THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL'S CHOSEN political and military leader of Israel. The message was clear: punish what Amalek did to Israel … go and attack Amalek, and UTTERLY DESTROY ALL that they have, and DO NOT spare them.
       
      GOD'S JUDGMENT Israel was to bring against Amalek was frighteningly complete: Kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. God clearly told Samuel to tell Saul to bring a TOTAL JUDGMENT against the Amalekites.
       
      DID YOU KNOW....Utterly destroy...This Hebrew verb (heherim) is used SEVEN times in this account. The idea of total, complete judgment is certainly stressed.
       
      Why?
       
      SOME ASK...What did the Amalekites do that was so bad?
       
      Samuel EXPLAINED THE WHYS OF IT to Saul also: how he laid wait for him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Centuries before this, the Amalekites were the FIRST peoples to attack Israel after their ESCAPE from Egypt told to us in Exodus 17.
       
      HUNDREDS of years before, the LORD said He would bring this kind of judgment against Amalek.
       
      WHERE IS THIS WRITTEN?
       
      EXODUS 17: 14-16..."Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Deuteronomy 25:17-19 repeats the point: "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore, it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget."
       
      The Amalekites committed a TERRIBLE SIN against Israel. When the nation was weak and vulnerable, the Amalekites attacked the weakest and most vulnerable of the nation (attacked your rear ranks, all the strangers at your rear, when you were tired and weary). They did this with NO provocation, NO reason EXCEPT BLOOD LUST, GREED, & VIOLENCE.
       
      THE BIBLE CLEARLY SHOWS US DOWN THROUGH TIME THAT God hates it when the strong take cruel advantage over the weak, especially when the weak are HIS PEOPLE.
       
      So God PROMISED to bring judgment against the Amalekites.
       
      BUT SOME POINT OUT, WAIT A MINUTE....ALL THIS HAPPENED MORE THAN 400 HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER!!
       
      WHY did God hold it against the Amalekites?
       
      This shows us an IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE OF OUR TRIUNE GOD!
      TIME DOES NOT ERASE UNREPENTED SIN BEFORE GOD.
       
      MANKIND SAYS...TIME FORGETS AND TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS, RIGHT?
       
      But before God, time cannot atone for sin.
      Only the blood of Jesus Christ can ERASE sin, not time.
       
      In fact, the time was time that the Amalekites were mercifully given opportunity to repent. And they did not repent! The hundreds of years of hardened unrepentant hearts made them MORE guilty, NOT LESS guilty!
       
      CLARKE SAYS IT WELL...."Nothing could justify such an exterminating decree but the absolute authority of God. This was given: all the reasons of it we do not know; but this we know well, The Judge of all the earth doth right. This war was NOT for plunder, for God commanded that all the property as well as the people should be destroyed."
       
      AND SOME ASK....WELL IF God wanted to judge the Amalekites, why didn't He just do it Himself?
       
      REMEMBER GOD COMPLETELY DESTROYED the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and its surrounding villages WITHOUT any help from man. Why not just do the same here?
       
      BUT WE KNOW, God had a SPECIAL purpose in this for His special nation, Israel. He wanted it to be a TEST OF OBEDIENCE FOR KING SAUL and all of Israel.
       
      Plus, since Amalek's sin against Israel was a military attack, God wanted to make the judgment fit the sin.
       
      Would God call His people today to fight such a war of judgment?
       
      Many today are afraid that this is the real agenda of the "religious right," and they imagine that they want to rule the world according to the Bible, and at the end of a gun.
       
      BUT WE KNOW, God has a completely DIFFERENT call for Christians under the NEW Covenant than He did for Israel under the Old Covenant.
       
      HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
       
      REMEMBER JOHN 18:36?
       
      Jesus said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."
       
      Jesus made it clear that He was establishing a SPIRITUAL kingdom, not a POLITICAL OR MILITARY kingdom.
       
      AND EPHESIANS 6:12, Paul made it clear that the enemies of the church were not material, but spiritual.
       
      "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
       
      Through the centuries, whenever the church has TRIED to rule the world politically or militarily, it has run into ENORMOUS trouble.
       
      We want to win the world for Jesus Christ, but we want to do it through the influence of individual lives, transformed one at a time by the spiritual power of Jesus Christ.
       
      MEYER SAYS IT WELL, "Though God no longer calls His people to take up arms as instruments of His judgment, it does not mean that God has stopped judging the nations. "But we cannot suppose, for a single moment, that the judgment of the nations is to be altogether relegated to that final day. Throughout the history of the world the nations have been standing before Christ's bar. Nineveh stood there, Babylon stood there, Greece and Rome stood there, Spain and France stood there, and Great Britain is standing there to-day. One after another has had the solemn word - depart, and they have passed into a destruction which has been absolute and terrible."
       
      Verses 4-6 tells us Saul prepares for the attack on the Amalekites.
       
      "So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites."
       
      So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them...
       
      Saul was certainly a capable military leader. He shows he has the ability to gather and organize a large army. He also knew how to time his attack properly; he lay in wait in the valley.
       
      Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart"...
       
      Here, Saul shows wisdom and mercy in letting the Kenites go. God's judgment was not upon them, so he did not want to destroy them with the Amalekites.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...
       
      The Kenites "were the posterity of Jethro, told to us in Judges 1:6, who, thought he went not with Israel, yet some of his children did, and were helpful."
       
      Verses 7-9 tells us Saul attacks the Amalekites.
       
      "And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed."
       
      Saul attacked the Amalekites...
       
      This was good, and in obedience to the LORD.
       
      But it was a SELECTIVE & INCOMPLETE obedience.
       
      WHY?
       
      First, Saul took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
       
      God commanded Saul to bring His judgment on ALL THE PEOPLE, including the king.
       
      Why did Saul take Agag king of the Amalekites alive?
       
      MOST AGREE KING SAUL DID IT, BECAUSE HE PERCEIVED THAT ROYALTY WAS EXEMPT FROM GOD'S JUDGMENT & TO GLORY IN HIS PERSONAL TRIUMPH OVER KING AGAG!
       
      As well, Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them.
       
      God had clearly commanded in 1 Samuel 15:3, that EVERY ox and sheep, camel and donkey was to be destroyed also, and Saul didn't do this.
       
      HISTORY TELLS US...In a normal war in the ancient world, armies were freely permitted to plunder their conquered foes. This is how the army was often paid. WE HAVE ALL HEARD THE ANCIENT ADAGE...TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS OF MAN, WOMAN, AND BEAST.
       
      SO WHY was it wrong here?
       
      It was wrong for anyone in Israel to benefit from the war against the Amalekites, because it was an appointed judgment from God. This was just as wrong if a hangman were to empty the pockets of the man he has just executed for murder.
       
      As well, they were careful to KEEP WHAT THEY PERCEIVED THE BEST themselves, but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. They took the care to make sure that they took home the best, and we can imagine they were all pleased with what they had gained after the battle.
       
      This perhaps was worst of all, because Israel was NOT reflecting God's heart in His judgment. When they came home happy and excited because of what they gained from the battle, they implied there was something JOYFUL, HAPPY, & WEALTH GAINING in the midst of God's judgment.
       
      This dishonored God, who brings His judgment reluctantly and WITHOUT pleasure, LONGING that men would have repented instead.
       
      MACLAREN says it well, "Partial obedience is complete disobedience. Saul and his men obeyed as far as suited them; that is to say, they did not obey God at all, but their own inclinations, both in sparing the good and destroying the worthless. What was not worth carrying off was destroyed, - not because of the command, but to save trouble."
       
      MEYER reminds us..."But an even deeper reading of this story is permissible. Throughout the Bible Amalek stands for the flesh, having sprung from the stock of Esau, who, for a morsel of meat, steaming fragrantly in the air, sold his birthright. To spare the best of Amalek is surely equivalent to sparing some root of evil, some plausible indulgence, some favourite sin. For us, Agag must stand for that evil propensity, which exists in all of us, for self-gratification; and to spare Agag is to be merciful to ourselves, to exonerate and palliate our failures, and to condone our besetting sin."
       
      Verses 10-11 tells us God's word to Samuel.
       
      "Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night."
       
      I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king...
       
      God's heart was broken over Saul's disobedience. The man who started out humble and submissive to God was now boldly going his own way in disobedience to God.
       
      How can God say, "I greatly regret"?
       
      Does this mean that God did not know what would happen?
       
      That God wanted things to happen a certain way, but was powerless to make them come to pass?
       
      Not at all. This is the use of anthropomorphism, when God explains Himself to man in human terms, so man can have some understanding of God's heart.
       
      GOD KNEW from the beginning Saul's heart, and Saul's ways, and Saul's destiny.
       
      GOD KNEW that He had already sought for Himself a man after His own heart told to us in 1 Samuel 13:14.
       
      Yet, as all this unfolded, God's heart was NOT emotionless.
       
      GOD DID NOT AND DOES NOT sit in heaven with a clipboard, checking off boxes, coldly saying, "All according to plan."
       
      Saul's disobedience HURT God, and since we couldn't understand what was really happening in God's heart, the closest that we could come is for God to express it in the human terms of saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king."
       
      And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night...
       
      Samuel shows that he has God's heart. It hurt God to reject Saul, and it hurt God's prophet to see him rejected. We are close to God's heart when the things that grieve Him grieve us, and the things that please God please us.
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us Saul greets Samuel.
       
      "So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, "Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal." Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul...
       
      Reluctantly, Samuel (who had anointed Saul as king years before) now comes to discipline the disobedient king.
       
      Was Saul grieved over his sin?
       
      Not at all. Instead, he set up a monument for himself.
       
      THIS TELLS US THAT KING SAUL was quite pleased with himself! He felt he had done something good, and he believed he was totally justified in what he had done.
       
      YOU NOTICE....There is not the slightest bit of shame or guilt in Saul, even though he had directly disobeyed the LORD.
       
      In coming chapters, God will raise up another man to replace Saul as king.
       
      David, in contrast to Saul:
       
      David was known as a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
       
      Even though David, as king of Israel, would also disobey God, the difference between him and Saul was great.
       
      HOW?
       
      David felt the guilt and shame one should feel when they sin.
      Saul didn't feel it. His conscience was dead to shame and his heart was dead to God. Saul's heart was so dead he could directly disobey God and set up a monument for himself on the occasion!
       
      He set up a monument for himself also shows that Saul is not the same humble man who once had a humble opinion of himself in 1 Samuel 9:21 and who once hid among the equipment out of shyness told to us in 1 Samuel 10:22.
       
      The years, the military victories, and prestige of the throne of Israel have all revealed the PRIDE in Saul's heart.
       
      But the truth is, SAUL was zealous for SAUL'S own honor and interest, but lukewarm where God only was concerned.
       
      Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      HOW could Saul do this?
       
      How could he come to the prophet of God with such boldness, such confidence, and boast of his obedience?
       
      Because of his pride, Saul is self-deceived. He probably really believed what he told Samuel. He probably believed, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      BUT THEN THE BIBLE AND HISTORY TELLS US CLEAR AS CRYSTAL THAT Pride always leads us into self-deception!
       
      Verses 14-16 tells us Saul "EXPLAINS" his sin to Samuel.
       
      "But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" And Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Then Samuel said to Saul, "Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night." And he said to him, "Speak on."
       
      What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
       
      Saul had been proud of his accomplishments. He set up a monument for himself. He could openly - and in his own mind, honestly - say "I have performed the commandment of the LORD." At the same time, the evidence of his disobedience was could be heard, even as he spoke! The livestock that God clearly commanded to be killed could be heard, seen, and even smelt even as Saul said, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      Pride and disobedience make us blind - or deaf - to our sin.
       
      What was completely obvious to Samuel was invisible to Saul.
       
      We all have BLIND SPOTS of sin in our lives, and we need to constantly ask God to show them to us. We need to sincerely pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
       
      I have heard people say to another over this passage, "If you only knew how obvious it was to everyone else that you are in the flesh, you would be terribly embarrassed."
       
      That could be said of almost any Christian at some time or another. We need to plead with God to reveal our blind spots to us!
       
      Saul's excuses are revealing.
       
      FIRST...SAUL blames the people, NOT himself (They have brought them … the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen).
       
      SECOND...SAUL includes himself in the obedience (the rest we have utterly destroyed).
       
      THIRD...SAUL justifies what he has kept because of its fine quality (the best of the sheep and the oxen).
       
      FOURTH...SAUL claims to have done it for a spiritual reason (to sacrifice to the LORD your God).
       
      Of course, while all this made perfect sense to Saul (in his proud self-deception), it meant NOTHING to God and Samuel.
       
      In fact, it was WORSE than nothing - it showed that Saul was desperately trying to excuse his sin by word games and half-truths.
       
      But even in his excuse, Saul REVEALS the real problem: he has a poor relationship with God.
       
      WE NOTICE how he speaks of God to Samuel: "to sacrifice to the LORD your God."
      The LORD was not Saul's God. Saul was Saul's God. The LORD was the God of Samuel, not Saul. In his pride, Saul has removed the LORD God from the throne of his heart.
       
      The rest we have utterly destroyed...
       
      BUT WE KNOW...As it turned out, this was not even true.
       
      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
       
      Saul, in fact, did not even do what he said he did.
       
      There were still Amalekites he left alive. HOW DO WE KNOW THIS...BECAUSE David later had to deal with the Amalekites told to us in 1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12.
       
      REMEMBER Haman, the evil man who tried to wipe out all the Jewish people in the days of Esther, was in fact a descendant of Agag!, CONFIRMED TO US IN Esther 3:1.
       
      Most ironic of all, when Saul was killed on the field of battle, the final thrust of the sword was from the hand of an Amalekite told to us in 2 Samuel 1:8-10.
       
      When we don't obey God completely, the "left over" portion will surely come back and trouble us, if not kill us!
       
      Then Samuel said to Saul, "Be quiet!"
       
      Samuel has had enough. He will listen to NO MORE from Saul. The excuse was revealed for what it was - just a LAME excuse. Now it is time for Saul to be quiet, and to listen to the word of the LORD through Samuel.
       
      But even in this, Saul can't shut up. He shows his proud desire to retain some control by replying, "Speak on."
       
      As if the prophet of God Samuel NEEDED Saul's permission! He would speak on, but not because Saul had given him permission. He would speak on because he was a MESSENGER OF ALMIGHTY GOD.
       
       
      Verses 17-21 tells us GOD'S charge against Saul, and his feeble defense.
       
      "So Samuel said, "When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, 'Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.' Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?" And Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal."
       
      Now the LORD sent you on a mission … Why did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?
       
      This was the most apparent of Saul's sins. God had given him a specific command, and he had directly disobeyed it.
       
      Though the disobedience was the most apparent sin, the root of Saul's disobedience was far worse: SELF PRIDE.
       
      Samuel refers to this when he remembers when things were different with Saul: When you were little in your own eyes, were you not the head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now, it could no longer be said of Saul, you are little in your own eyes. He was big in his own eyes, and that made the LORD small in his eyes!
       
      But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD...
       
      Saul first insists that he is innocent. But he is so self-deceived, that he can say, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD and then immediately describe how he did not obey the voice of the LORD! (Saul admits that he brought back Agag king of Amalek).
       
      Saul's claim, I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites is plain evidence of the power and depth of his self-deception.
       
      WHY?
       
      FIRST...SAUL admits that he brought back Agag king of Amalek. There was an Amalekite right in front of him whom was not utterly destroyed!
       
      SECOND...the Biblical record makes it clear that Saul had not even utterly destroyed the Amalekites, because:
       
      LATER DAVID fought them (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12),
      LATER ESTHER fought them (Esther 3:1)
      LATER SAUL was killed by an Amalekite! (2 Samuel 1:8-10).
       
      Yet, Saul can "honestly" say, "I have obeyed the voice of the LORD" and "I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites" because he is self-deceived.
       
      But the people took of the plunder...
       
      After insisting he is innocent, Saul then BLAMES the people for the sin. His statement is a half-truth that is a whole lie. It is true that the people took of the plunder. But they did so by following Saul's example (he spared Agag king of Amalek), and with Saul's allowance (he did nothing to stop or discourage them).
       
      Saul certainly could be zealous in commanding his army when it suited him to be so.
       
      REMEMBER...In the previous chapter, he commanded a death sentence on anyone who ate anything on the day of battle. He was willing to execute his own son in his zeal to have his command obeyed.
       
      Saul was full of fire and zeal when it came to HIS OWN WILL, but not when it came to the will of God.
       
      AND SADLY, THEN AND NOW, THIS STATEMENT SPEAKS TO SELF-DECEIVED, SELF-PRIDE AND SELF-CENTERED PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE GOD'S SHEPHERDS, GOD'S VOICE, GOD'S MESSENGER IN MANY CULTIC RELIGIOSITIES TODAY...WHO ARE FULL OF ZEAL AND ADAMANCE ABOUT THEIR PREACHINGS AND TEACHINGS THAT HAVE NO BASIS IN THE WORD OF GOD....IT IS NOT THE WORD OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST THEY ARE SPEAKING, PROCLAIMING, AND COMMANDING...IT IS THEIR OWN SELFISH, SELF-CENTERED, PRIDEFUL ZEAL FOR THEMSELVES AND FURTHERING AND ELEVATING THEMSELVES...AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS CHRIST, ALMIGHTY GOD, AND HIS WORD.
       
      THIS IS A WORD AND A WARNING STRAIGHT FROM ALMIGHTY GOD....I DO NOT DOUBT THAT MANY WHO CALL THEMSELVES CALLED OF GOD, SPEAK TO GOD AND FOR GOD, AND PROCLAIM ALL THEY HAVE DONE FOR GOD...WILL BE JUST AS SHOCKED AS SAUL WAS TO FIND THEMSELVES AT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT, INSTEAD OF THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST...AND FIND THEMSELVES THROUGH THEIR OWN LIPS, WORDS, SELF-DECEPTIONS AND DECEIVING OTHERS TO FIND THEMSELVES TOLD BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF...DEPART FROM ME...I NEVER KNEW YOU...AND WILL FIND THEMSELVES SPENDING ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE...INSTEAD OF WITH OUR JESUS FOR ETERNITY.
       
      Verses 22-23 tells us Samuel prophesies God's judgment against King Saul.
       
      "Then Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."
       
      Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
       
      Religious observance without obedience is empty before God. The best sacrificial offering we could bring to God is a REPENTANT HEART (Psalm 51:16-17), and our bodies SURRENDERED to His service for obedience (Romans 12:1).
       
      One could make a thousand sacrifices unto God; work a thousand hours for God's service; or give millions of dollars to His work. But all of those sacrifices mean NOTHING TO JESUS CHRIST AND ALMIGHTY GOD if there is not a surrendered heart to God, shown by simple obedience.
       
      THEN AND NOW, RELIGIOSITIES PLACE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE, OBEYING THE RITUALS, CEREMONIES CREATED BY MAN, NOT THE LORD GOD, AND CONCERN THEMSELVES WITH DECEPTIVE PRACTICES, SACRIFICES, RITUALS AS PROOF OF THEIR HOLINESS AND WORTHINESS...WHEN IN THE EYES OF THE LORD GOD THEY ARE IDOLATRY AND BLASPHEMIES AGAINST HIM.
       
      THEN AND NOW THE LORD GOD WANTS FAR MORE A REPENTANT, HUMBLE HEART AND A WILLING SURRENDER TO HIS WILL, IN HIS WORD, NOT MAN'S EDITTED, RE-CREATED, OR ALTERNATIVES TO HIS COMMANDS AND HIS WORDS FOUND IN THE BIBLE.
       
      For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry: A rebellious, stubborn heart rejects God just as certainly as someone rejects God by occult practices or idolatry.
       
      AND WE LEARN SOMETHING ELSE HERE TOO...
       
      Saul's problem WAS NOT just that he NEGLECTED some ceremony. That is how Saul thought of obedience to God. In today's world, he might have said, "What? So God wants me to go to church more? All right, I'll go." But religious observance was not Saul's problem; the problem was that his heart had become rebellious and stubborn against God. If religious observance was not helping that problem, then it was no good.
       
      AND WE ARE REMINDED AGAIN OF JESUS WORDS...COME OUT OF HER OH MY PEOPLE...JESUS WANTS YOU FAR FAR AWAY FROM RELIGIOUS POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE...JESUS WAS, IS AND ALWAYS SHALL BE ABOUT ONE ON ONE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM THROUGH A HUMBLE HEART AND LIFE AND A REPENTANT AND SURRENDERED WILL.
       
      It would have been easy for Saul to point his finger at the Amalekites or the Philistines and say, "Look at those Godless idolaters. They don't worship the true God like I do." But Saul didn't worship the true God either, because the real worship of God begins with surrender.
       
      KEIL SAYS IT WELL, "All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god."
       
      Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king...
       
      In his empty religious practice, rebellion, and stubbornness against God, Saul was rejecting God's word. So God rightly rejected him as king over Israel.
       
      It would be easy to say, "What, Saul will be rejected as king because he spared a king and a few sheep and oxen?
       
      BUT WE KNOW...Later kings of Israel would do far worse, and not be rejected as king. Why is God being so tough on Saul?" But God saw Saul's heart, and saw how rebellious and stubborn it was. Saul's condition was like an iceberg: what was visible might be managable in size, but there was far more under the surface that couldn't be seen. God could see it.
       
      So Saul was rejected … from being king...
       
      Yet, it would be almost 25 years before there was another king enthroned in Israel. Saul's rejection was final, but it was not immediate. God needed almost 25 years to train up the right replacement for Saul!
       
      Verses 24-25 tells us Saul's weak attempt to repent.
       
      "Then 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. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD."
       
      I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words...
       
      So far, so good. Saul's statement begins like a GENUINE confession, reflecting a genuinely repentant heart. But that changes as he continues: because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. In this, Saul refuses to own up to his sin; instead he blames the people who "made him" do it.
       
      Again, on the surface, this isn't such a bad statement of repentance. It is better than most the confessions of sin one hears today! Yet, at the same time, these were only words for Saul. His heart wasn't in them at all.
       
      WHEN WE ARE TRULY REPENTANT...WE STRIVE TO CHANGE...WE STRIVE TO HEAR AND OBEY THE BIBLE AND OUR JESUS TEACHINGS AND COMMANDS...
       
      SAUL MAY HAVE SAID WHAT HE THOUGHT HE NEEDED TO SAY, BUT HIS HEART WAS NOT IN IT...AND HIS LIFE PROVED IT.
       
      Worst of all, he tries to justify one sin with another. Because I feared the people makes that clear. "This was to excuse one sin with another. He should have trusted in God, done his duty, and not feared what man could do."
       
      CLARKE says it well, "This was the best excuse he could make for himself; but had he feared GOD more, he need have feared the PEOPLE less."
       
      Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD...
       
      Instead of dealing with the deep issue of his heart of rebellion and stubbornness against God, Saul thinks that with a word from Samuel, everything can be fixed. But a word or two from Samuel will not change the settled nature of Saul's heart.
       
      God knew Saul's heart.
       
      Not only did He know it was full of rebellion and stubbornness, but it was SETTLED in that condition. That is something that no man could know with certainty, looking from the outside.
       
      But God knew it, and God had told Samuel the prophet this was the settled state of Saul's heart. A simple "please pardon my sin" would not do when one's heart is settled in rebellion and sin against the LORD.
       
      Verses 26-31 tells us God's rejection of Saul as king over Israel is final.
       
      "But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel." And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent." Then he said, "I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God." So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD."
       
      I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel...
       
      Samuel has nothing more to say on this matter, other than what the LORD has already said through him previously (1 Samuel 15:23). That was all there was to talk about.
       
      Why would Samuel say, "I will not return with you" when Saul just wanted him to worship with him? Because that worship would have no doubt also included sacrifices, and sacrifices of the animals that Saul and wickedly spared from the Amalekites. "This was a politic device of Saul's that Samuel might at least seem to countenance his design, in reserving the cattle for sacrifice; which Samuel seeing, refused to do it."
       
      AND YOU NOTICE...SAUL WANTED SAMUEL WITH HIM, SO THAT THE ELDERS AND LEADERS OF ISRAEL WOULD THINK ALL WAS FINE AND THAT SAUL WOULD NOT HAVE TO EXPLAIN THE WORDS OF SAMUEL, GOD'S JUDGMENT, AND SAMUEL'S ABSENSE FROM HIM.
       
      Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today"...
       
      Saul's desperate action provides a vivid object lesson on how the kingdom was torn away from him.
       
      As useless as the torn piece of robe was in his hand, so now his leadership of the nation was futile. Now he was ruling AGAINST God, not FOR THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL. And just as much as the robe tore because Saul grasped it too tightly, so his tight grip on his pride and stubbornness meant the kingdom would be taken away from him.
       
      In this respect, Saul was the OPPOSITE of Jesus, of whom it is said He had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God's Equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as a mortal man (Philippians 2:6-7).
       
      Jesus was willing to let go, but Saul insisted in clinging on. So Saul lost all, while Jesus gained all!
       
      The Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent...
       
      Saul might have thought there was a way out of this. He was thinking of what he could do to "fix" this. Samuel let him know there was NOTHING he could do. This was PERMANENT.
       
      Samuel uses a title for the LORD found ONLY HERE IN THE ENTIRE BIBLE: The Strength of Israel.
       
      This reminds Saul that the LORD is determined in His purpose, and is strong in His will. There will be NO change.
       
      The title The Strength of Israel was also important, because at that time, Saul probably thought of HIMSELF as the strength of Israel.
       
      After all, 1 Samuel 14:47 says, So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side. Saul was a mighty warrior, and it was easy for him to think, "I'm the strength of Israel." But he wasn't. The LORD God was The Strength of Israel!
       
      I have sinned, yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel...
       
      Saul's desperate plea shows the depths of his pride. He is far more concerned with his image than his soul and pleasing & obeying the Lord God.
       
      POOLE says it well, "Here he plainly discovers his hypocrisy, and the true motive of this and his former confession; he was not solicitous for the favor of God, but for his honour and power with Israel."
       
      So Samuel turned back after Saul...
       
      WHY did Samuel do this? Why didn't he lead an immediate rebellion against Saul, since God had rejected him as king?
       
      Because God had not raised up Saul's replacement yet, and Saul was better than the anarchy that would come with no king.
       
      So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD...
       
      Did this do any good?
       
      NO...It did no "good" in gaining the kingdom back for Saul. That was a decision God had made, and He made it finally. But it may have done Saul good in moving his proud, stubborn heart closer to God for the sake of saving his soul. At least it had that opportunity, so Samuel allowed Saul to come with him and worship the LORD.
       
      Verses 32-33 tells us Samuel carries out God's will.
       
      "Then Samuel said, "Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me." So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past." But Samuel said, "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal."
       
      Then Samuel said, "Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me."
       
      WE NOTICE...For Samuel, the issue is NOT yet resolved. There is still the matter of Saul's incomplete obedience. God's command to utterly destroy all of Amalek still stood, even if Saul had not obeyed it.
       
      And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past."
       
      As Agag came to the old prophet, he thought, "We will let bygones be bygones. I guess this old prophet will let me go home now." The Living Bible expresses the thought well: Agag arrived all full of smiles, for he thought "surely the worst is over and I have been spared."
       
      As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women...
       
      Samuel makes it clear that Agag was NOT some innocent bystander when it came to the atrocities the Amalekites inflicted on Israel. Agag was the wicked, violent leader of a wicked, violent people. God's judgment against him and the Amalekites was just.
       
      And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal...
       
      Samuel was a priest, and had officiated at hundreds of animal sacrifices. He knew what it was like for the blade to cut into flesh; but he had never killed another person. Now, without hesitation, this old prophet raises a sword - or probably, a large knife, because that is what Samuel would have used in sacrifices - and brings it down upon this proud, violent king. Samuel hacked Agag in pieces.
       
      DO YOU NOTICE, AS I DID, SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE....Samuel did it before the LORD. This was not before Saul, to show him how weak and proud he was. This was not before Israel, to show them how strong and tough Samuel was. No; this was before the LORD, in tough obedience to the LORD God. This scene must have been shockingly violent; the stomachs of those watching must have turned. Yet Samuel did it all before the LORD.
       
      Verses 34-35 tells us The tragic split between Samuel and Saul.
       
      "Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel."
       
      And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death...
       
      Samuel knew that it wasn't his place to see Saul. It was Saul's place to come to him in humble repentance before the LORD. If he did, it probably would not have restored the kingdom to Saul; but it COULD HAVE RESTORED his heart before God. But Saul NEVER CAME to see Samuel. Ramah and Gibeah were less than ten miles apart, but they never saw each other again.
       
      The next time Saul and Samuel "meet" will be a strange situation in itself! IN 1 Samuel 28...when Saul visits the witch of Endor.
       
      Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul: Samuel was not a cold, dispassionate messenger of God's word. He hurt for Saul. "For the hardness of his heart, and the hazard of his soul."
       
      SAMUEL HAD JESUS HEART FOR LOST AND REJECTING MANKIND...HE CAME TO SERVE NOT BE SERVED AND JUST AS JESUS CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE THOSE THAT ARE LOST...SO THAT THROUGH JESUS CHRIST ALONE, THEY MIGHT BE SAVED.

       

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