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1 Samuel 15:32-35
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1 Samuel 15:24-31 The Confession: Reveals his Superficial Heart is part 6/7 of The Bible Teacher's Commentary on 1 Samuel 15 which shows how Saul did not repent but only gave two 'polite' confessions. Reflection on God's immutability is also included with reference to 1 Samuel 15:29.
“Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites” (And Agag came to him cheerfully. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past” (But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women” (And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:32-35).
Improvements can occur, but resistance to the needed changes negates the improvements. Superficial adjustments are a sign that one does not in his heart believe God’s ways as best. Notice how things changed for the long term because of Saul’s hardened and unrepentant heart.
Disconnected from God: Saul did not obey God (no repentance 32-33).
Disconnected from God’s people: Samuel’s relationship with Saul went bad (34-35a).
Disconnected from life purpose: God regretted the kingship position that He gave to Saul (35).
Changes can occur, but we resist the critical changes that need to make significant differences. We much prefer superficial adjustments because we do not really believe God’s ways as best. Notice several things that are said happens because of Saul’s hardened heart.
We do not at all see that Saul changed his ways even after seeing his evil. He did not even take the sword and finish Agag off. He just did not care. Samuel had to do this. All the greed that the people just committed would perpetuate serious problems among God’s people. They will think, “We can disobey God and get something even better.”
After all, they got to keep the stolen animals. Saul never repented and this leaves him and God in a perpetual stalemate that only worsened. Saul really never humbled himself. He could have but he did not. His recent victory would give him enough earthly power to keep the kingdom securely in his hand for a good while. He didn’t really believe he needed God.
Check out your life for areas in which in the past you made compromises and did not properly handle. Did you only make superficial confessions? How did you repent? How should have Saul repented here? The key is to value a right relationship with God over any embarrassment one might experience while straightening things out. If one has stolen, goods need to be returned. If one has lied, the truth needs to be brought forth.
It is quite unfortunate that this confrontation brought about a loss of relationship. Unrepentant hearts, however, often do impact church relationships for the worse.
Earlier on, Samuel was revered. Now Saul would merely tolerate him if he stayed out of his way (cf. 16:2). By Saul’s not seeing Samuel, the whole kingdom of Israel would no longer receive God’s gracious insights and help. The victory thrusted Saul so high in the people’s eyes, that he felt he no longer needed Samuel or the grace of God through the priesthood and prophetic roles Samuel played. This is such a sad description of a hardened man.
Notice that an explanation for Samuel’s unwillingness to see Saul was due to how Samuel grieved over Saul. He mourned over Saul. There was a great desire that Saul would change, but Saul never came back with that humble heart.
Saul would lose his kingship. It would be taken from his family. This did not happen in a moment. God does not seem in a hurry that it has to immediately happen.
This whole scene was not unforeseen. God warned about this whole matter earlier through Samuel even before Saul became king (1 Samuel 8) or upon his installation (1 Samuel 12). These previous announcements do make things any easier. It is like a parent who warns a grown child, but the son doesn't pay heed and destroys his life and others through not paying close attention to the warning.
We do not make the decisions of others. We can shape them. God did. He put Samuel right next to Saul from day one. But he rejected that life. His heart was not really there.
Two times in 1 Samuel 15 it says that the Lord regretted making Saul king.
“I regret that I have made Saul king” (15:11).
“The Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel” (15:35)
This raises questions because God earlier stated that He did not want to have kings in Israel. The question goes back to the original one, “If God did not want other kings in Israel, why did He allow them at all?” If He didn’t want them, then why allow them? God in His mysterious ways allows man to run their course even when it is not best. He will judge them and intervene at times but at others such as in this case allow Saul to make foolish decisions.
More importantly, these phrases are put in to help us understand how God views all this. 1 Samuel 15:35 was written to convince us of the Lord’s absolute purpose to do good to Israel. He really wanted the greatest blessing for them but because of their stubborn ways (of which He forewarned them), there would not be any real chance for that. Even when the Lord made Saul king, He wonderfully worked in Saul’s life with many prophecies to establish his kingship and even provided the best of mentors in Samuel. God was present to do good but Saul chose to do evil. God unashamedly speaks of his grief over the whole situation.
Was there any hope for Saul? If so, how?
Samuel’s heart was on the Lord. He grieved over the whole situation. Think back over Samuel’s whole life, especially with the kind of leadership that Israel had. Describe the different stages. Why would that intensify Samuel’s grief?
Disaster awaits any of us who are willing to trivialize any of God’s commands. What are the steps of backsliding that we see here in Saul’s life? At any point Saul could have repented. He refused and became a broken and sad man in authority which became the means of moral decay among God’s people.
He focused on the present to the exclusion of the future.
He believed God was happy over His victory even though he neglected other issues.
He thought that good intention (sacrifice) offset small compromises.
He believed that God was just part of his life rather than being His life.
He was convinced success was more important than right relationship with God and man.