First Samuel 15 Commentary.
Saul sets up a monument in his own honor. This would be a fitting title to this chapter. But it’s not the most important moment.
“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” These words from the LORD are what made Samuel angry and cry all night.
The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Genesis 6 verse 6. No one wants to hear these words. No wonder the great prophet cried all night. For both cases the result is the same: the Spirit departs.
See how Saul thinks of God – the LORD, your God. He is the God of Samuel and not exactly the God of Saul. We should be very worried about this man. He combines both pride and arrogance. His understanding of the God of his father Abraham is very raw. He doesn’t just care. He seeks to please and pacify an angry Samuel by claiming that the spared animals were meant for the LORD. Thanks, Saul, we have this very important injunction:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”
Again, it’s out of calamitous Saul’s moment of sin that we hear yet another colossus statement about the character of the LORD: He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
Saul’s mind is set in rebellion. He lies. The soldiers couldn’t have gone against his word had he instructed them correctly. Proud to the end, he insists on being honored by Samuel at a cold and lifeless religious ceremony. It should be very strange that Saul can be thinking about personal honor, exactly at the time when he should be in sackcloth and on his knees in repentance. It is a lesson we all have to learn: the all-knowing God doesn’t need explanations. Genuine repentance is a moment of brokenness and not a moment for explanations.
An aged priest, leader, judge, prophet, and father in the nation departs, never to see Saul again. He would spend his remaining days mourning for Saul. This parting is indeed one of the saddest partings in the entire scripture.
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