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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 15

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-35

1 Samuel 15:1-35 God Rejects Saul for not Destroying the Amalekites - The story of King Saul encroaching upon the priestly office in 1 Samuel 15:1-35 is an example of what happens to many ministers of God today. They begin their calling in the ministry with zeal and a clean heart. After some time, the doctrines of man override the Word in God in their faith. They reject the full Gospel message in order to please their colleagues in the ministry. They stop pursuing the heart of God, and begin to serve an organization, or denomination, made by man. They never fulfil the calling of God in their lives because they can no longer hear the voice of God. The Scriptures become too difficult to understand. Other written books become their source of theology. This type of minister has, in fact, despised and taken lightly the call of God in his life. He cannot find the right path from a Word from God, because he has left his path, or plan, for his life.

In 1 Samuel 15:10-11 Saul comes short of God's commandment for him. So will a minister come short of God's plan for his life if he does not embrace the Scriptures fully, and not just a part of the Holy Bible? In 1 Samuel 15:13, Saul had deceived himself into thinking that he was in God's will, when, in fact, he was far from the will of the Lord. So do ministers today deceive themselves about God's direction in their lives.

When Samuel confronts Saul with his sins, Saul repents before Samuel. In contrast, when David is confronted by the prophet Nathan for his sins with Bathsheba, David repents before God from his heart. Thus, Saul’s repentance in this passage of Scripture appears shallow and not genuinely from the heart.

1 Samuel 15:1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:1 Comments - It is like the Lord gives Saul another chance at obedience.

1 Samuel 15:6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 15:6 “And Saul said unto the Kenites” Comments - The Kenite are thought to be skilled in metal works. [29] Note that Moses' father-in-law was related to them. See:

[29] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Kenites.”

Exodus 18:10, “And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.”

Numbers 10:29, “And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law , We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.”

Judges 1:16, “And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law , went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.”

Judges 4:11, “Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses , had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.”

1 Samuel 15:9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

1 Samuel 15:9 Comments - Saul was going to do it his way. The people coveted these things, and Saul was going to please them rather than the Lord.

1 Samuel 15:11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.

1 Samuel 15:11 “and he cried unto the Lord all night” Comments - Perhaps it was Samuel’s intercession which moved God to give Saul another opportunity of obedience (note 1 Samuel 12:23)

1 Samuel 12:23, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:”

The word “cried” is the same word referring to prayer and intercession in 1 Samuel 7:9.

1 Samuel 7:9, “And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.”

Note in 1 Samuel 15:16, we see that God also spoke to Samuel in this night of prayer.

1 Samuel 15:16, “Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.”

1 Samuel 15:11 Comments - Samuel had not yet went out to meet Saul and the word of the Lord came to him telling him about Saul’s disobedience. A clear sign of someone who has forgotten God the fact that he is disobeying God’s Words.

1 Samuel 15:12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

1 Samuel 15:12 Saul came to Carmel” Comments - Carmel was a city near Hebron (Joshua 15:54-55).

Joshua 15:54-55, “And Humtah, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron , and Zior; nine cities with their villages: Maon, Carmel , and Ziph, and Juttah,”

1 Samuel 15:12 “and, behold, he set him up a place Comments Saul was apparently making a monument to glorify his recent victory of the Amalekites, something not uncommon for kings to do to remember historic events.

1 Samuel 15:12 “and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal” - Comments - It is at Gilgal that Samuel anointed Saul as king (1 Samuel 11:14-15).

1 Samuel 11:14-15, “Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there. And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.”

1 Samuel 15:13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:13 Comments - Saul had waited for Samuel to come this time.

1 Samuel 15:14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

1 Samuel 15:14 Comments - Saul had disobeyed.

1 Samuel 15:15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

1 Samuel 15:15 “to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God” - Comments - Note that Saul does not acknowledge any personal relationship to the Lord. In contrast, he sees Samuel as a person who does know and serve the Lord.

1 Samuel 15:15 Comments - Saul justifies his sin.

1 Samuel 15:16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

1 Samuel 15:16 “Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay” Comments - Samuel tells Saul to wait.

1 Samuel 15:16 “and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night Comments - The phrase “this night” means, “last night.” Samuel had spent the night in prayer (1 Samuel 15:11). In the African language of Luganda, a person refers to the previous night in this manner if it is before noon. However, in the afternoon, the phrase, “this night” will refer to the upcoming night.

1 Samuel 15:11, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.”

1 Samuel 15:16 “And he said unto him, Say on.” - Comments - Saul said, “Speak on.”

1 Samuel 15:17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

1 Samuel 15:17 “When thou wast little in thine own sight” Comments - This reveals a humility that Saul once had.

1 Samuel 15:19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?

1 Samuel 15:19 “but didst fly upon the spoil” - Comments - This was the sin that Achan committed out of the covetousness of his heart (Joshua 7:21). So was covetousness a motive in act of taking the spoil and disobeying the commandment of God?

Joshua 7:21, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them , and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.”

1 Samuel 15:20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 15:21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

1 Samuel 15:20-21 Comments Saul Justifies His Sin - Saul reasons his sin away, although Samuel condemns him; Saul justifies himself.

1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22 “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” - Comments - Joyce Meyer gives a simple illustration of 1 Samuel 15:22 by saying that if God tells you to give a certain amount of money in an offering, and you give less, it means that you made a sacrifice, but you were not obedient. [30]

[30] Joyce Meyer, Life in the Word (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

1 Samuel 15:23 “he hath also rejected thee from being king” - Comments - Saul would never again receive a word from the Lord. He would spend the rest of his office as king walking in the imagination of his own wicked heart. The Lord neither spoke to him by the prophets nor the priests (1 Samuel 15:35; 1 Samuel 28:6).

1 Samuel 15:35, “And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.”

1 Samuel 28:6, “And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”

1 Samuel 15:24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

1 Samuel 15:24 “I have sinned” - Comments - Saul twice told Samuel that he had obeyed the Lord (1 Samuel 15:13; 1 Samuel 15:20). When Samuel exposed Saul's heart under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, for these words of Samuel are the inspired Word of God recorded in Scripture, Saul openly acknowledges the true motive of his sinful heart (Proverbs 14:12).

Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

1 Samuel 15:24 Comments - Saul was more concerned about what the people thought about him than what God thought about him.

1 Samuel 15:25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:25 Comments - Saul seems to take it lightly and be more concerned about his image as a king (2 Corinthians 7:10).

2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

1 Samuel 15:26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

1 Samuel 15:26 Comments - Samuel was serious.

1 Samuel 15:27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

1 Samuel 15:27 Comments - Saul grabbed Samuel’s garment.

1 Samuel 15:28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

1 Samuel 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

1 Samuel 15:29 “And also the Strength of Israel” Comments - Saul had been giving himself glory and honour (1 Samuel 13:3-4). Therefore, Samuel was reminding King Saul who is all-powerful.

1 Samuel 13:3-4, “And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines , and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.”

1 Samuel 15:29 “will not lie nor repent” Scripture References - Note:

Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy .”

Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent : hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

1 Samuel 15:30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.

1 Samuel 15:30 “Then he said, I have sinned” Comments However, there was no broken heart or contrite spirit in his confession.

1 Samuel 15:30 “yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel” Scripture References - Note:

Psalms 49:20, “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.”

John 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

1 Samuel 15:30 A major battle had just been won, and Saul wants to be honoured, as if receiving the credit due to God Almighty, who was the true “Strength of Israel” (1 Samuel 15:29).

1 Samuel 15:31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:31 “Samuel turned again after Saul” - Comments - Samuel was being longsuffering with Saul and honouring the office of the king.

1 Samuel 15:31 “Saul worshiped the Lord” - Comments - It is possible to still come to church, pray and read our Bibles when we have not repented and humbled ourselves before God. We want every one to see how religious we are, but in reality, this is religious hypocrisy.

1 Samuel 15:32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.

1 Samuel 15:32 Word Study on “delicately” Strong says the Hebrew word “delicately” ( מַעֲדָן ) (H4574) used as an adverb means, “cheerfully.”

1 Samuel 15:33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

1 Samuel 15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.

1 Samuel 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

1 Samuel 15:35 “Samuel came no more to see Saul” Comments - Why did Samuel never come to see Saul again? It was because the Lord had no more to say to Saul.

1 Samuel 15:35 Comments - One major difference between King Saul and King David was that David never rejected or disobeyed the prophet of the Lord, while Saul rejected the office of the prophet and priest. For example, in the midst of David’s sin with Bathsheba, he humbled himself at the voice of Nathan the prophet. In contrast, Saul disobeyed the voice of Samuel, and because Saul did not repent, God never sent Samuel back to Saul with a word from God. (Perhaps this is because the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will not impose Himself upon us.) In addition, Saul killed the Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob, and their families (1 Samuel 22:6-19). At this point Saul’s heart was hardened so that God could no longer speak to him. When he was facing death, he sought a word from Samuel through the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-19).

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-samuel-15.html. 2013.
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