1 Samuel 15:26
"I will not return with you," Samuel replied. "For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and He has rejected you as king over Israel."
One Sin Too ManyC. S. Robinson, D. D.1 Samuel 15:26
Samuel Declaring the Deposition of SaulE. Horne, M. D.1 Samuel 15:26
Insincere Confession of SinB. Dale 1 Samuel 15:24-31
I have sinned (vers. 24, 30). On hearing the sentence of his rejection, Saul at length confesses his sin. The words of Samuel have some effect upon him, but not the full effect they should have had. For his confession does not proceed from a truly penitent heart (see 1 Samuel 7:6), and it is not followed either by the reversal of his sentence or the forgiveness of his sin. It was like that of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27), of Balaam (Numbers 22:34), and of Judas (Matthew 27:4) - springing from "the sorrow of the world, which worketh death" (2 Corinthians 7:10). Notice -


1. Under the pressure of circumstances, rather than as the free expression of conviction. Confession comes too late when it is extorted by the demonstration of sin which can no longer be denied. Some men, like Saul, conceal their sin so long as they can, and confess it only when they are compelled.

2. From the fear of consequences (vers. 23, 26), and not from a sense of the essential evil of sin. This is the most common characteristic of insincerity. As Saul confessed his sin from the fear of losing his kingdom, so do multitudes from fear of death, and live to prove their insincerity by their return to disobedience. "There are two views of sin: in one it is looked upon as a wrong; in the other as producing loss - loss, for example, of character. In such cases, if character could be preserved before the world, grief would not come; but the paroxysms of misery fall upon our proud spirit when our guilt is made public. The most distinct instance we have of this is in the life of Saul. In the midst of his apparent grief, the thing still uppermost was that he had forfeited his kingly character; almost the only longing was that Samuel should honour him before the people. And hence it comes to pass that often remorse and anguish only begin with exposure" (Robertson).

3. To the servant of God, and to gain his approval, and not to God, and to obtain his favour. "Thy words" (ver. 24). "Now therefore" (as if on the ground of his confession he could justly claim pardon), "I pray thee, pardon my sin" (ver. 25). Many confess their sin to men without confessing it to God, and attach to their confession a worth that does not belong to it.

4. With an extenuation of guilt, rather than with a full acknowledgment of its enormity. "I feared the people, and obeyed their voice" (vers. 24, 15). He returns to his first excuse, which he puts in a different form. If what he said was true, what he had done was wrong (Exodus 23:2). There is a higher law than the clamour of a multitude. True penitents do not seek to palliate their sin, but make mention of its greatness as a plea for Divine mercy (Psalm 25:11).

5. With an entreaty for public honour, rather than in deep humiliation before God and man. "Honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of the people, and before Israel" (ver. 30) "If Saul had been really penitent, he would have prayed to be humbled rather than to be honoured" (Gregory).

6. With repeated promises of rendering worship before the Lord, rather than a serious purpose to obey his voice (vers. 25, 30). He does not seem even yet to have laid to heart the truth which had been declared by the prophet; and he probably looked upon public worship by sacrifice as something peculiarly praiseworthy, and sought, by urging Samuel to remain and offer it, to promote his own honour in the sight of the people, and not as the expression of penitence and the means of forgiveness "The most prominent feature in the character of Saul was his insincerity." And yet, in his repeated promises to worship the Lord, and his urgent entreaties of Samuel, there was doubtless an element of good that might not be despised (1 Kings 21:29).

"The blackest night that veils the sky,
Of beauty hath a share;
The darkest heart hath signs to tell
That God still lingers there."

II. ITS CONSEQUENCES. In the language and conduct of Samuel there was -

1. A reiteration of the sentence of rejection. Thrice it was declared that Jehovah had determined that Saul should no longer reign under his sanction and by his aid (vers. 26, 28). Although he may not have known all that the sentence involved, he felt that its import was alarming. An insincere confession of sin darkens the gathering cloud instead of dispersing it.

2. A confirmation of it by an impressive sign, the occasion of which is afforded by the sinner himself (ver. 27). Thereby it comes home to him with greater force.

3. An intimation of the transfer to a better man of the dignity which has been forfeited by sin. This was the second time that an announcement of a truly theocratic king was given (1 Samuel 12:14); and whilst it showed that the Divine purpose could not be defeated, however it might be striven against, it must have been peculiarly painful to Saul. The dreadful secret was a constant burden to him, and when he recognised the man in whom the prediction was about to be fulfilled, it excited his envy and hatred toward him. When any one is not right with God, every favour shown to another fills him with grief and wrath (Genesis 4:5).

4. A declaration of the unchangeable purpose of God. "The Strength" (Prerpetuity, Confidence, Refuge, Victory) "of Israel will not lie nor repent," etc. (ver. 29). Saul evidently thought of him as capable of acting in an arbitrary, capricious, and inconstant manner, like himself; but, inasmuch as he formed his purposes with perfect knowledge, and acted on immutable principles, and there was no real change In the heart of the transgressor, there could be no reversal of his sentence. "He cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:12). If in some things his purposes toward men appear to change because men alter their relative position toward him (as the sun appears to change by the rotation of the earth, causing day and night), in others they abide the same forever, and he who sets himself against them must be overthrown. It is now certain that he cannot again be a theocratic king; but his renewed importunity, in which, perchance, notwithstanding its apparent selfishness, the prophet sees a gleam of hope, is followed by -

5. An indication of pity toward the foolish and fallen king. "And Samuel returned after Saul; and Saul worshipped Jehovah" (ver. 31). May he not even yet be led to true repentance? Although the birthright is given to another, there is a blessing for him who weeps and prays (Genesis 27:38-40). His request is granted. He has what he desires and is prepared to receive. He is still the king after the people's heart. He shall continue such. The sentence shall not be published, nor any special effort be put forth for his dethronement. It would result in general confusion. The just and merciful purposes of God toward the people in giving him for their king are not yet fulfilled, and they will slowly ripen to their accomplishment.

6. An exhibition of judgment upon an obstinate offender (ver. 32). One of the reasons, doubtless, why Samuel "turned again after Saul" was that he might execute on Agag the Divine sentence which he had faithlessly remitted. "The terrible vengeanca executed on the fallen monarch by Samuel is a measure of Saul's delinquency." It is also a solemn warning to him of the doom which sooner or later comes upon every impenitent and persistent transgressor. Observations: -

1. It is not confession of sin, but the spirit in which it is made, that renders it acceptable to God.

2. Sincerity is the foundation of a truly religious character.

3. Though mercy long lingers over the sinner, yet if it be despised doom comes at last. - D.

Thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee.
The whole story affords an extensive illustration of sin in almost all of its phases of manifestation as judged by the righteous law of God.

1. We discover the simple nature of sin: it is disobedience of a Divine command.

2. We learn, likewise, a lesson concerning the wide reach of sin. Saul felt quite independent in his disobedience It is not possible for any man to keep his sin all to himself. This universe is balanced with great nicety. It cannot endure a sinner's perversity without suffering any more than an oarsman can tolerate a perverse boy in a boat; every time the self-willed creature steps across the thwart he rocks the vessel, and makes it uncomfortable and perilous for each one who has anything to do with him.

3. Next to this, we discover an illustration of the bold effrontery of sin. Iniquity often tries to carry off shame with a show of daring, and attempts to restore its self-confidence with a complacency of self-congratulation.

4. Now comes a lesson concerning the certain discovery of sin. Guilt always feels lonely; and yet, curiously enough, always imagines that everybody knows about the crime. Conscience keeps the culprit excited, for he understands that nature positively abhors transgression of law.

5. Once more: the story gives us an illustration of the evasive meanness of sin.

6. Then we have a lesson concerning the hypocritical excuses offered for sin.

7. Now just at this point we receive a lesson concerning the just condemnation of sin.

8. There is likewise here an illustration of the aggregating force of sin. It is hardly worth while to attempt to enumerate the acts of wickedness which followed directly upon this first dereliction of Saul: treachery, lying, vanity, covetousness, hypocrisy — these were among them. There are degrees of depravity, no doubt; but all sin is bad, and tends to what is worse.

9. Still another lesson meets us here, and now it is concerning the inevitable result of sin. Saul had reached the limit of Divine forbearance. Indeed, he had already committed one sin too many. It was of no use for him to plead for pardon any more. There is something very strange in the subsequent career of this monarch; he seems bewildered and off his balance. All sin left to itself is hopeless. The kingdom was taken from this man so that he should not injure anyone else any more. Even heathen people know that is lust. When we were at school we used to declaim this sentence from Demosthenes' oration: "It is not possible, O Athenians! that a power should be permanent which is marked with injustice, perjury, and falsehood." Hence, finally, sin becomes massed and destructive. It is an Arab saying that we so often quote: "The last straw breaks the camel's back." No; it is the whole load that kills the camel, but it is the last straw which makes the load complete and intolerable. When the fall of the beast comes, all the burden tells. A time arrives at the last when just one more little act of rebellion against God discharges all the violence of Divine wrath in an absolute reprobation.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Few characters more blameless than that of Samuel.

I. HIS OFFICE. This was to declare the will of God. He was not called to decide or to adjudicate, but to declare. When Saul was called to the kingdom, Samuel was employed to declare to him the call of God (1 Samuel 9:17, 20): He did not select, but declare God's selection. So when Saul was to be set aside. Samuel was employed to declare his deposition (1 Samuel 15:28). He did not depose, but declared God's deposition


1. He was faithful to the Lord who sent him. He faithfully convicted Saul of his disobedience (ver. 14, 17). He showed him the hollowness of his vain excuses (vers. 22, 23). He fearlessly and faithfully told him that the Lord had that day rent the kingdom from him (ver. 26). Learn that those who have a message from God must give it faithfully.

2. He was most tender to the sinner to whom he was sent. Had he given way to personal jealousy, he might have been pleased at the fall of Saul; for when he was old the people had asked for a king in a most ungrateful spirit.But he showed no such mean jealousy.

1. When he heard of Saul's fault he was grieved and spent the whole night in prayer (ver. 11). He did not give his reproof in a hard and unfeeling spirit, but with a sorrowing heart. The lips that seemed so severe in declaring judgment had been employed all night in pleading for mercy.

2. When the sentence of God was announced, he did all he could to mitigate the pain. It is the duty of the minister faithfully to denounce sin; but if he would do so effectually, he must prepare the way by tenderness, tears, and prayers; and he must accompany his painful message by a clear evidence of sorrowful tenderness towards the sinner. Nothing tends more to harden sinners than hard denunciation.

(E. Horne, M. D.)

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