1 Samuel 15

Listen to 1 Samuel 15

The Lord Rejects Saul

1 And Samuel said to Saul, 1"The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD.
2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I have noted what Amalek did to Israel 2in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt.
3 Now go and strike Amalek and 3devote to destruction[a] all that they have. Do not spare them, 4but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"
4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah.
5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley.
6 Then Saul said to 5the Kenites, "Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. 6For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 7And Saul defeated the Amalekites from 8Havilah as far as 9Shur, which is east of Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive 10and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 11But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves[b] and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
10 The word of the LORD came to Samuel:
11 12"I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and 13has not performed my commandments." And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.
12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, "Saul came to 14Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal."
13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, 15"Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
14 And Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?"
15 Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, 16for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction."
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, "Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night." And he said to him, "Speak."
17 And Samuel said, 17"Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.
18 And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, 'Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.'
19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? 18Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?"
20 And Saul said to Samuel, 19"I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction.
21 20But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal."
22 And Samuel said, 21"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, 22to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and 23idolatry. Because 24you have rejected the word of the LORD, 25he has also rejected you from being king."
24 Saul said to Samuel, 26"I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and 27return with me that I may worship the LORD."
26 And Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you. 28For you have rejected the word of the LORD, 29and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel."
27 30As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore.
28 And Samuel said to him, 31"The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.
29 And also the Glory of Israel 32will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret."
30 Then he said, "I have sinned; yet 33honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, 34and return with me, that I may bow before the LORD your God."
31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the LORD.
32 Then Samuel said, "Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites." And Agag came to him cheerfully.[c] Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past."
33 And Samuel said, 35"As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD 36in Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went 37to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in 38Gibeah of Saul.
35 39And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, 40but Samuel grieved over Saul. 41And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

1 Samuel 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

Saul sent to destroy Amalek. (1-9) Saul excuses and commends himself. (10-23) Saul's imperfect humiliation. (24-31) Agag put to death, Samuel and Saul part. (32-35)

Verses 1-9 The sentence of condemnation against the Amalekites had gone forth long before, ( Exodus17:14 , Deuteronomy 25:19 ) , but they had been spared till they filled up the measure of their sins. We are sure that the righteous Lord does no injustice to any. The remembering the kindness of the ancestors of the Kenites, in favour to them, at the time God was punishing the injuries done by the ancestors of the Amalekites, tended to clear the righteousness of God in this dispensation. It is dangerous to be found in the company of God's enemies, and it is our duty and interest to come out from among them, lest we share in their sins and plagues, ( Revelation 18:4 ) . As the commandment had been express, and a test of Saul's obedience, his conduct evidently was the effect of a proud, rebellious spirit. He destroyed only the refuse, that was good for little. That which was now destroyed was sacrificed to the justice of God.

Verses 10-23 Repentance in God is not a change of mind, as it is in us, but a change of method. The change was in Saul; "He is turned back from following me." Hereby he made God his enemy. Samuel spent a whole night in pleading for Saul. The rejection of sinners is the grief of believers: God delights not in their death, nor should we. Saul boasts to Samuel of his obedience. Thus sinners think, by justifying themselves, to escape being judged of the Lord. The noise the cattle made, like the rust of the silver, ( James 5:3 ) , witnessed against him. Many boast of obedience to the command of God; but what means then their indulgence of the flesh, their love of the world, their angry and unkind spirit, and their neglect of holy duties, which witness against them? See of what evil covetousness is the root; and see what is the sinfulness of sin, and notice that in it which above any thing else makes it evil in the sight of the Lord; it is disobedience: "Thou didst not obey the voice of the Lord." Carnal, deceitful hearts, like Saul, think to excuse themselves from God's commandments by what pleases themselves. It is hard to convince the children of disobedience. But humble, sincere, and conscientious obedience to the will of God, is more pleasing and acceptable to him than all burnt-offering and sacrifices. God is more glorified and self more denied, by obedience than by sacrifice. It is much easier to bring a bullock or lamb to be burned upon the altar, than to bring every high thought into obedience to God, and to make our will subject to his will. Those are unfit and unworthy to rule over men, who are not willing that God should rule over them.

Verses 24-31 There were several signs of hypocrisy in Saul's repentance. 1. He besought Samuel only, and seemed most anxious to stand right in his opinion, and to gain his favour. 2. He excuses his fault, even when confessing it; that is never the way of a true penitent. 3. All his care was to save his credit, and preserve his interest in the people. Men are fickle and alter their minds, feeble and cannot effect their purposes; something happens they could not foresee, by which their measures are broken; but with God it is not so. The Strength of Israel will not lie.

Verses 32-35 Many think the bitterness of death is past when it is not gone by; they put that evil day far from them, which is very near. Samuel calls Agag to account for his own sins. He followed the example of his ancestors' cruelty, justly therefore is all the righteous blood shed by Amalek required. Saul seems unconcerned at the token of God's displeasure which he lay under, yet Samuel mourns day and night for him. Jerusalem was carnally secure while Christ wept over it. Do we desire to do the whole will of God? Turn to him, not in form and appearance, but with sincerity.

Cross References 41

  • 1. 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 2. See Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19
  • 3. Leviticus 27:28, 29; Joshua 6:17, 21
  • 4. [1 Samuel 22:19]
  • 5. 1 Samuel 27:10; Judges 1:16
  • 6. [Exodus 18:10, 19; Numbers 10:29, 32]
  • 7. 1 Samuel 14:48
  • 8. Genesis 2:11; Genesis 25:18
  • 9. 1 Samuel 27:8; [Genesis 16:7; Exodus 15:22]
  • 10. [1 Samuel 27:8, 9; 1 Samuel 30:1]
  • 11. ver. 15, 21; [1 Samuel 28:18]
  • 12. ver. 35; [ver. 29]; See Genesis 6:6
  • 13. ver. 3, 9; [1 Samuel 13:13]
  • 14. Joshua 15:55
  • 15. See Ruth 2:20
  • 16. ver. 9, 21
  • 17. [1 Samuel 9:21]
  • 18. 1 Samuel 14:32
  • 19. ver. 13
  • 20. ver. 15
  • 21. Psalms 40:6-8; Psalms 50:8, 9; Proverbs 21:3; Isa. 1:11-13, 16, 17; Jeremiah 7:22, 23; Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 10:6-9
  • 22. Ecclesiastes 5:1; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7; Mark 12:33
  • 23. See Genesis 31:19, 34
  • 24. ver. 26
  • 25. 1 Samuel 13:14
  • 26. [2 Samuel 12:13]
  • 27. ver. 30
  • 28. ver. 23
  • 29. 1 Samuel 16:1
  • 30. [1 Kings 11:30, 31]
  • 31. 1 Samuel 28:17, 18
  • 32. Numbers 23:19; [Ezekiel 24:14]
  • 33. [John 5:44; John 12:43]
  • 34. ver. 25
  • 35. [Judges 1:7]
  • 36. ver. 12, 21
  • 37. [1 Samuel 1:19]
  • 38. 1 Samuel 11:4
  • 39. [1 Samuel 19:24]
  • 40. 1 Samuel 16:1
  • 41. ver. 11

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. That is, set apart (devote) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction); also verses 8, 9, 15, 18, 20, 21
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew term is uncertain
  • [c]. Or haltingly (compare Septuagint); the Hebrew is uncertain

Chapter Summary


In this chapter are recorded the order Saul had from the Lord to destroy Amalek utterly, 1Sa 15:1-3 the preparation he made to put it in execution, and the success thereof, 1Sa 15:4-9 the offence the Lord took at his not obeying his order thoroughly, with which Samuel was made acquainted, and which grieved him, 1Sa 15:10,11, upon which he went out to meet Saul, and reprove him; and a long discourse upon the subject passed between them, the issue of which was, that by an irrevocable decree he was rejected from being king, 1Sa 15:12-31 and the chapter is concluded with an account of Samuel's hewing in pieces Agag king of Amalek, and of his final departure from Saul, 1Sa 15:32-35.

1 Samuel 15 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.