Holy God, cause me to listen carefully, ponder thoughtfully, and commit wholeheartedly to you. I want to please you.
Read 1 Samuel 15:17-35
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”
27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”
Agag came to him in chains.[a] And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”
33 But Samuel said,
“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”
And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:32 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectNothing is as sweet as the voice of a loved one, particularly after a period of absence or silence. In this moment, I wait on the Lord and listen for his voice. The voice that brings cheer, encouragement, and hope.
Even though this chapter marks the end of God’s endorsement of Saul as king, it’s not the end of Saul’s story. The remaining 16 chapters of this book chronicle his reign and his decline. But these chapters will also introduce us to David, one of the most captivating figures in the Bible. And the contrast between the two men is perplexing.
David also will experience his own crushing moral failure, yet will continue as God’s anointed king. Saul, for an apparently lesser offense, is censured and rejected. Maybe the answer lies in Samuel’s beautiful piece of poetry found in verses 22 and 23. Confronted by his failure to follow God’s order to destroy all that belonged to the Amalekites, Saul gives an inventory of his correct behavior, but Samuel’s response goes to the heart of the matter.
Obeying the voice of the Lord is the requirement rather than keeping a tally of proper conduct. This seems to have been the reason for Saul’s blighted reign; he didn’t love God’s voice and act accordingly. He may have been a head and shoulders man, but he lacked heart.
In what ways can you be more consistent listening to God in his word, in prayer, in worship, through others?
Lord, walking with you can be a struggle. Remind me that I battle not for victory but from victory, a victory won by you at Calvary.
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