Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.
But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs-everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. “Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!” 1 Samuel 15:7-11; 19; 26
The Lord’s instructions to Saul, through his prophet, had been very specific. He was to totally destroy the Amalekites. Nothing, including their livestock, was to be spared.
Although Saul destroyed their civilization and slaughtered their army, he spared the life of Agag, their king, and also kept the finest livestock for sacrifices to the Lord. Surely the Lord would be pleased with him, Saul thought to himself. This, however, was not to be the case.
When Samuel arrived and saw Saul’s disobedience, he was both heartbroken and angry. “Why didn’t you obey the Lord?” he asked Saul.
“I accomplished my mission,” Saul replied.
“If your mission was accomplished, there would be nothing left alive,” Samuel grimly stated.
“I thought God would be pleased with my sacrifices,” Saul whimpered.
“God wants your obedience more than your sacrifice,” Samuel retorted.
By now, Saul was frantic; although he pleaded with Samuel to forgive him, Samuel would not relent. With his eyes burning like fire and the anointing of the Lord pulsating through his being, he told Saul that God had rejected him as king over Israel.
When he tried to leave, Saul grabbed him so forcibly that the hem of his robe was torn. Turning once again toward Saul, Samuel released God’s prophetic judgment like an arrow into Saul’s rebellious heart: “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors.”
Although there are many lessons we can learn from this tragic tale of rebellion and divine judgment, we will only concentrate on one of them.
According to verse 9, Saul spared the best of the livestock because he was only willing to kill that which was despised and weak. Spiritually speaking, I have seen Christian after Christian make this same tragic mistake.
Although they are willing to repent of the things in their lives which they loathe, many times they are unwilling to bring equally dangerous areas of their lives to the cross. They live this way because they, like Saul, want to be the final arbitrator of what is right and wrong in their life.
They may turn from things such as depression, addiction, or sexual bondage; after all, these types of problems make them feel weak and defiled. On the other hand, when it comes to that wonderful unbeliever in their life or their prideful, unbroken will, they are not as willing to repent.
If anyone, including God, dares to touch these areas, they are going to have a fight on their hands.
Do you understand? If you have made yourself the final arbitrator on what is right and wrong in your life, sooner or later it will bring death to your soul.
Even as Saul deceived himself, through his rebellion, into believing he was pleasing God, so you and I also the same perils.
God, through His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, are the final authority over what is right and wrong in our lives. Sometimes, however, I have found it takes another human to break through my self-deception; I am so thankful for the men God has used to lovingly confront me with the truth.
May He begin the work of freeing you from self-deception as you ponder the serious message of this story today.
© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon