1 Samuel 15
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:10-23

Obedience is a sacrifice—better, because more profound than any other sacrifice can be. 'It is much easier,' Matthew Henry remarks, 'to bring a bullock or a lamb to be burnt upon the altar than to bring every high thought into obedience to God, and make the will subject to His will.' Sacrifice is as the presents which Hiram sent to Solomon; but obedience is like the artist whom he sent to remain in Jerusalem and do the finest work of the Temple—for obedience is a living power, which returns from every altar stronger than when it went.

When an officer of Engineers urged that the directions he had received were impossible to execute, the Duke of Wellington replied: 'Sir, I did not ask your opinion; I gave you my orders, and I expect them to be obeyed'.

References.—XV. 16.—J. Bowstead, Practical Sermons, vol. i. p. 73. XV. 22.—H. Alford, Pudsea Chapel Sermons, vol. iii. p. 390. XV. 23.—Ibid. Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. ii. p. 44. XV. 24.—J. Keble, Sermons for Sundays after Trinity, part i. p. 105. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 113.

Saul's 'I Have Sinned'

1 Samuel 15:24; 1 Samuel 15:30

Saul said 'I have sinned' oftener than any other person in the Bible. Was he, therefore, the truest penitent? Was he a penitent at all?

His was the case of a backsliding man; backsliding still at the moment when he said them; on the decline—going down the slope of sin—at the same time that those godly words were on his lips. That is the characteristic, and there lies the bane of Saul's 'I have sinned'. He was on the incline; going further and further; lower and lower; and the words, spiritless and untrue, only precipitated him farther. Why was his 'I have sinned' so barren?

I. A Lack of Reality.—His words had no reality. There was no religion in them. They failed all the tests of a true confession. It was simply remorse, the child of fear. It curried favour with man, and it sought to appease God for a temporal end.

II. He Implicated Others.—Now observe, for your warning, some of the marks of a spurious and false confession. Saul's did not isolate itself. True repentance always does isolate itself. The penitent is alone with God in the matter of his sin. It is 'myself. He implicates no other. Saul said, 'I and the people'; and 'we'. Saul did more. He did what, from the time of Adam, a convicted but unhumbled heart always does, he skulked: he acknowledged the fact; but he transmitted the blame. 'I feared the people, and I obeyed their voice.' It is the very opposite to confession. Confession is always generous.

III. Would Stand Well with Men.—It is plain, also, that Saul thought more of how he should stand with man than how he stood with God. 'Yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God.' For man to honour him is just what the real penitent thinks nothing of. What is all that man can say to a mind sensible of God's regard, and that is dealing with God and eternity? What an impertinence! Rather is not human honour, at such a moment, always distasteful to a man?

IV. No Relationship to God.—And observe that 'Thy God'. The Christian always says, 'My God'. 'Notwithstanding all I have done, my God.' The appropriation is as necessary to the faith as the faith is necessary to the grace. However you have sinned, always say, 'My God'.

V. Clave a Religious Cloak to his Sin.—And what was the worst of all? Though Saul said, 'I have sinned,' he gave a religious cloak to his sin! 'We did it to sacrifice to the Lord.' Pious phraseology is very often the bane of a good faith.

References.—XVI. 1-13.—W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 1. XVI. 2.—F. Corbett, Preacher's Year, p. 125. XVI. 4—J. Aspinall, Parish Sermons (2nd Series), p. 71. XVI. 6, 7.—James Moffatt, The Second Things of Life, p. 48. XVI. 6-13.—C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p. 188. XVI. 7.—S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 84. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Common Life Religion, p. 197. XVI. 11.—A. P. Stanley, Sermons for Children, p. 32. XVI. 11, 12.—J. Vaughan, Sermons to Children (5th Series), p. 1. XVI. 13.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 39. Bishop How, Plain Words to Children, p. 68. XVI. 14.—Phillips Brooks, Twenty Sermons, p. 297. I. Williams, Characters of the Old Testament, p. 171. R. D. B. Rawnsley, A Course of Sermons for the Christian Year, p. 281. XVI. 14-23.—W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 13.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.
Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

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