1 Samuel 15

Saul's Disobedience

1 Then Samuel said to Saul, "1The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD.
2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek 2for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt.
3 'Now go and strike Amalek and 3utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but 4put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' "
4 Then Saul summoned the people and numbered them in 5Telaim, 200,000 * foot soldiers and 10,000 * men of Judah.
5 Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley.
6 Saul said to 6the Kenites, "Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you with them; for 7you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 So 8Saul defeated the Amalekites, from 9Havilah as you go to 10Shur, which is east * of Egypt.
8 He captured 11Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and 12utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people 13spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything * despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

Samuel Rebukes Saul

10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying,
11 "14I regret that I have made Saul king, for 15he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands." And Samuel was distressed and 16cried out to the LORD all night.
12 Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, "Saul came to 17Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to 18Gilgal."
13 Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, "19Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD."
14 But Samuel said, "20What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"
15 Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for 21the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed."
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, "Wait, and let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." And he said to him, "Speak!"
17 Samuel said, "Is it not true, 22though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel,
18 and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, '23Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.'
19 "Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, 24but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?"
20 Then Saul said to Samuel, "25I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 "But 26the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal."
22 Samuel said, "27Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, 28to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 "For rebellion is as the sin of 29divination, And insubordination is as 30iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, 31He has also rejected you from being king."
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, "32I have sinned; 33I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.
25 "Now therefore, 34please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the LORD."
26 But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you; for 35you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel."
27 As Samuel turned to go, 36Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore.
28 So Samuel said to him, "37The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.
29 "Also the 38Glory of Israel 39will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind."
30 Then he said, "I have sinned; 40but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, 41that I may worship the LORD your God."
31 So Samuel went back following Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.
32 Then Samuel said, "Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites." And Agag came to him cheerfully. And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past."
33 But Samuel said, "42As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to 43Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at 44Gibeah of Saul.
35 45Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel 46grieved over Saul. And 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 46

  • 1. 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1
  • 2. Exodus 17:8-16; Numbers 24:20; Deuteronomy 25:17-19
  • 3. Numbers 24:20; Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Joshua 6:17-21
  • 4. 1 Samuel 22:19
  • 5. Joshua 15:24
  • 6. Numbers 24:21; Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11
  • 7. Exodus 18:9, 10; Numbers 10:29-32
  • 8. 1 Samuel 14:48
  • 9. Genesis 25:18
  • 10. Genesis 16:7; Exodus 15:22; 1 Samuel 27:8
  • 11. Numbers 24:7; 1 Samuel 15:20; Esther 3:1
  • 12. 1 Samuel 27:8, 9; 1 Samuel 30:1; 2 Samuel 8:12
  • 13. 1 Sam 15:3, 15, 19
  • 14. Genesis 6:6, 7; Exodus 32:14; 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 24:16
  • 15. Joshua 22:16; 1 Samuel 13:13; 1 Kings 9:6, 7
  • 16. Exodus 32:11-13; Luke 6:12
  • 17. Joshua 15:55; 1 Samuel 25:2
  • 18. 1 Samuel 13:12, 15
  • 19. Genesis 14:19; Judges 17:2; Ruth 3:10; 2 Samuel 2:5
  • 20. Exodus 32:21-24
  • 21. Genesis 3:12, 13; Exodus 32:22, 23; 1 Samuel 15:9, 21
  • 22. 1 Samuel 9:21; 1 Samuel 10:22
  • 23. 1 Samuel 15:3
  • 24. 1 Samuel 14:32
  • 25. 1 Samuel 15:13
  • 26. Exodus 32:22, 23; 1 Samuel 15:15
  • 27. Psalms 40:6-8; Psalms 51:16, 17; Isaiah 1:11-15; Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 10:6-9
  • 28. Jeremiah 7:22, 23; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7; Mark 12:33
  • 29. Deuteronomy 18:10
  • 30. Genesis 31:19, 34
  • 31. 1 Samuel 13:14
  • 32. Numbers 22:34; 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalms 51:4
  • 33. Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 51:12, 13
  • 34. Exodus 10:17
  • 35. 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 16:1
  • 36. 1 Kings 11:30, 31
  • 37. 1 Samuel 28:17, 18; 1 Kings 11:31
  • 38. 1 Chronicles 29:11
  • 39. Numbers 23:19; Ezekiel 24:14; Titus 1:2
  • 40. John 5:44; John 12:43
  • 41. Isaiah 29:13
  • 42. Genesis 9:6; Judges 1:7; Matthew 7:2
  • 43. 1 Samuel 7:17
  • 44. 1 Samuel 11:4
  • 45. 1 Samuel 19:24
  • 46. 1 Samuel 16:1

Footnotes 14

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

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