Thursday, October 2, 2008

God, Samuel, Saul, Agag

Samuel also said to Saul, "The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' " - 1 Samuel 15:1-3

In an attempt for me to focus on God’s word and will, rather than my own, I wanted to study this story again here briefly. I was reminded of this story a week ago as I prepared myself to teach a group of 4th through 6th graders in Wednesday night Bible class at church. Part of the focus in our class is to cause these impressionable kids to think about doing what their told by God, rather than on what they’d rather do themselves. I need the same lesson. Without spending a lot of time in background research on the reasons why God told king Saul to go and “utterly destroy” the Amalekites, I’m just going to quickly focus on the command, the action, and the result.

So in continuing to read verses 4-9, we see king Saul’s action. He gathered 210,000 men together and took off after the Amalekites and starts the battle. Somewhere and sometime during the day, he captured the king of the Amalekites, Agag. The people also left the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. –v9 Remember, this was after king Saul had been commanded to “utterly destroy” them all – everything. Saul was influenced by the people – not the other way around.

Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night. - 1 Samuel 15:10-11

So the next day, Samuel went to Saul and upon finding him Saul was proud of his accomplishment. "I have performed the commandment of the Lord." Saul said.

This is one of the most profound statements in the Bible for me. I’m certainly not putting myself in Saul’s position because I am not a leader. But I can see this situation from a different perspective because this story is condensed into one single chapter in the Bible. Bottom line for me is that Saul did NOT do God’s will – even though he thought he did. In fact, an almost comical response to Saul by Samuel is paraphrased this way, “Can you speak up Saul, I can’t hear over all these animals! Where did all these animals come from anyway?” And then we have the classic blame game kind of like Adam and Eve. Saul blamed the people for sparing the “best” for themselves. What a king, what a leader…

Samuel then asked king Saul, “Why did you not obey the voice of the Lord?” 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." Do I see the contradiction there? Do I even need to point it out?

Samuel points out the important theme and I paraphrase it this way: “God has more delight in our obedience to His will/word, than in our own great plans. To obey God is better than any other thing that we can creatively come up with. By rejecting God’s will, God will reject us – just as he did king Saul. By us choosing to do our own will, instead of God’s, God will cut us off. Our will, our desires, our plans are to God worthless and sinful in His sight, if they are not according to His will. Our best intentions are an abomination to God, if they are not patterned after His word.”
Am I Listening To What God is Saying in His Word?


  1. Wonderful post and thoughts.
    I really enjoyed it.
    I know when I am extremely busy and loose track of priorities is when I don't listen to God. I think it is important for all believers to slow down and listen for his voice. When He speaks I have found my soul strengthened, bless, encouraged, uplifted, a fire buring with in me that I cannot put out. As David say, "Lord do not cast your spirit from me....Speak to me so that I may walk blameless in your ways..." I am so gald that we serve a God who listens to us, who cares about us, desires a personal relationship with us and communicates to us what we need to hear. Thank you for dealing with this great topic brother. I hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend. I'm cooking out this weekend. 100 is going to be high here in deep south Tx. Agian you do a fantastic job with your blog. Definatley one of my favorites.

  2. So true Paul, if we're not seeking His will by listening to His Word, we are simply fading away from the truths that powerfully transform our hearts. Good reading and I enjoyed our time together this week Brother.

  3. Great post, Paul! I love your paraphrase on Samuel pointing out the animals Saul had spared. What a good reminder for all of us!