Saul Fails and is Rejected: Bible Survey for New Christians

March 9th, 2009

1 Samuel 15:17–23

Samuel denounces unto Saul God's rejection of him for his disobedience

 15:17.  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?
 15:18.  "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.'
 15:19.  "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?''
 15:20.  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.
 15:21.  "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.''
 15:22.  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.
 15:23.  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.''


Saul was a tall man. He is said to have stood head and shoulders above the rest. Yet when he was first appointed king, he considered himself small. He was afraid and hid himself. From that humble beginning, he was now king. He had been taking charge, unified the kingdom, won battles, and was beginning to establish Israel's identity as a nation.

God had allowed Saul to be king. God had set him out with specific instructions. Saul was to utterly destroy the enemies. That means no survivors. He was to leave the property alone. No plundering.

Saul denied any wrongdoing. He tried to justify his actions. He did wipe out the enemy, but he showed mercy on their king. Not what he was commanded to do.

He says it was "the people" who took the spoils, and that they used the bounty to offer sacrifices. Noble, but not what God had commanded. God didn't ask for a sacrifice, he asked that the spoils of war just not be touched. Leave it all alone.

Well, that makes no sense. kill all the people and just leave all those goodies just laying around? Surely God will need some help in cleaning up the aftermath. It seems like such a waste... People will think we are some kind of wierd, strange people or something.

Saul tried to justify his decisions about how he dealt with the plundered goods. He claims to have sacrificed them. Good intention, but not what God had commanded. They were to utterly destroy everything. It may seem like a minor difference to us, but the problem was that the word of God was not fully carried out.

Samuel called Saul's stubbornness and rebellion the same as idolatry and witchcraft. Pretty hefty sins against God. Ultimately, the liberties Saul has taken would be the thing that removes him from God's favor, and removes him from being king.

Everybody fails God at sometime or other. Even the next king, who was chosen by God, had times where he fell short. The lesson to be learned is how you deal with that shortcoming. Saul went into denial mode. David faced his sin and always came back to God. God's promises are always there. His mercies are new each day. Earthly rulers and society may fail and lead us astray, but God never will.

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