1 Samuel 15:28
And Samuel said to him, The LORD has rent the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, that is better than you.
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(28) The Lord hath rent the kingdom.—The prophet at once looks upon the garment torn by the passionate vehemence of the king, as an omen for the future, and uses the rent vesture as a symbol, to show Saul that thus had the Lord on that day rent the kingdom from him.

A neighbour of thine.—It had not yet been revealed to the seer who was to replace the rebellious king, so he simply refers to the future anointed one quite indefinitely as “a neighbour.”

1 Samuel 15:28-29. The Lord hath rent the kingdom from thee — Hath declared his firm resolution of laying aside thy family, and will soon actually take away thy life and thy kingly power. Also the Strength of Israel — Who is perfectly able to bring to pass all his purposes, and to make good all his declarations; will not lie — He gives God his title, to show the reason why he neither can nor will lie. For lying generally proceeds from a man’s weakness and inability to accomplish his designs, as he thinks, without it. But God needs no such artifices: he can do whatsoever he pleaseth by his absolute power. Nor repent — Change his counsel and purpose, which is also an effect of weakness and imperfection, either of wisdom or power. So that this word is not here used in the sense it is 1 Samuel 15:11, and in several other passages, as Genesis 6:6; Exodus 32:14; 2 Samuel 24:16; Jeremiah 26:19; in all which, and many others, it signifies a change of God’s proceedings, and of his method of dealing with persons.15:24-31 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.I have sinned - Compare 1 Samuel 15:25, 1 Samuel 15:30. How was it that these repeated confessions were unavailing to obtain forgiveness, when David's was? (See the marginal reference.) Because Saul only shrank from the punishment of his sin. David shrank in abhorrence from the sin itself Psalm 51:4. 27, 28. he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle—the moil, upper tunic, official robe. In an agony of mental excitement, he took hold of the prophet's dress to detain him; the rending of the mantle [1Sa 15:27] was adroitly pointed to as a significant and mystical representation of his severance from the throne. Samuel makes use of the emergent occasion, as a sign, to signify and confirm his former prediction.

A neighbour of thine; either another man, or another Israelite; for the word neighbour is used both ways; or rather, one of the neighbouring tribe, even Judah, whose inheritance did not only join to that of Benjamin, but was partly mixed with it. And Samuel said unto him, the Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day,.... Seeing his mantle rent by Saul, he took occasion from thence to predict, and no doubt it was impressed on his mind by the Spirit of God, that his kingdom should be in a like manner rent from him, on account of his own evil conduct and behaviour; and from this day forward he might expect it; the sentence was gone forth from God, and it would not be reversed; and by a like sign was signified the rending of the ten tribes from the kingdom of Solomon in his son Rehoboam, 1 Kings 11:30,

and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou; who was David, a man after God's own heart, that would fulfil his will, who was more holy, just, and wise than Saul; whose works were better and righter than his, as the Targum; who was an Israelite, of the same nation and religion as he, and so his neighbour; and though he was not of the same tribe, yet of a neighbouring tribe; Benjamin, and Judah, of which tribe David was, joining closely to one another. It is highly probable that at this time Samuel knew not personally who he was that was designed to be made king in his room, though under the direction of the Spirit of God he thus describes him; for after this he is bid to go to Jesse's family, from thence to anoint a king, and several passed before him ere the Lord pointed out the proper person to him.

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

(l) That is, to David.

Without entering, therefore, into any discussion of the meaning of the ban, as Saul only wanted to cover over his own wrong-doings by giving this turn to the affair, Samuel put a stop to any further excuses, by saying, "Hath Jehovah delight in burnt-offerings and slain-offerings as in hearkening to the voice of Jehovah? (i.e., in obedience to His word.) Behold, hearing (obeying) is better than slain-offerings, attending better than fat of rams." By saying this, Samuel did not reject sacrifices as worthless; he did not say that God took no pleasure in burnt-offerings and slain-offerings, but simply compared sacrifice with obedience to the command of God, and pronounced the latter of greater worth than the former. "It was as much as to say that the sum and substance of divine worship consisted in obedience, with which it should always begin, and that sacrifices were, so to speak, simple appendices, the force and worth of which were not so great as of obedience to the precepts of God" (Calvin). But it necessarily follows that sacrifices without obedience to the commandments of God are utterly worthless; in fact, are displeasing to God, as Psalm 50:8., Isaiah 1:11., Isaiah 66:3, Jeremiah 6:20, and all the prophets, distinctly affirm. There was no necessity, however, to carry out this truth any further. To tear off the cloak of hypocrisy, with which Saul hoped to cover his disobedience, it was quite enough to affirm that God's first demand was obedience, and that observing His word was better than sacrifice; because, as the Berleb. Bible puts it, "in sacrifices a man offers only the strange flesh of irrational animals, whereas in obedience he offers his own will, which is rational or spiritual worship" (Romans 12:8). This spiritual worship was shadowed forth in the sacrificial worship of the Old Testament. In the sacrificial animal the Israelite was to give up and sanctify his own person and life to the Lord. (For an examination of the meaning of the different sacrifices, see Pent. pp. 505ff., and Keil's Bibl Archol. 41ff.) But if this were the design of the sacrifices, it was clear enough that God did not desire the animal sacrifice in itself, but first and chiefly obedience to His own word. In 1 Samuel 15:22, טּוב is not to be connected as an adjective with זבח, "more than good sacrifice," as the Sept. and Thenius render it; it is rather to be taken as a predicate, "better than slain-offerings," and מזּבח is placed first simply for the sake of emphasis. Any contrast between good and bad sacrifices, such as the former construction would introduce into the words, is not only foreign to the context, but also opposed to the parallelism. For אילים חלב does not mean fat rams, but the fat of rams; the fat portions taken from the ram, which were placed upon the altar in the case of the slain-offerings, and for which חלב is the technical expression (compare Leviticus 3:9, Leviticus 3:16, with Leviticus 3:4, Leviticus 3:11, etc.). "For," continued Samuel (1 Samuel 15:23), "rebellion is the sin of soothsaying, and opposition is heathenism and idolatry." מרי and הפצר are the subjects, and synonymous in their meaning. קסם חטּאת, the sin of soothsaying, i.e., of divination in connection with the worship of idolatrous and demoniacal powers. In the second clause idols are mentioned instead of idolatry, and compared to resistance, but without any particle of comparison. Opposition is keeping idols and teraphim, i.e., it is like worshipping idols and teraphim. און, nothingness, then an idol or image (vid., Isaiah 66:3; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:5, Hosea 10:8). On the teraphim as domestic and oracular deities, see at Genesis 31:19. Opposition to God is compared by Samuel to soothsaying and oracles, because idolatry was manifested in both of them. All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god. So that all manifest opposition to the word and commandment of God is, like idolatry, a rejection of the true God. "Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, He hath rejected thee, that thou mayst be no longer king." ממּלך equals מלך מהיוה (1 Samuel 15:26), away from being king.
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