1 Samuel 15:10-35 - The Sins of Saul and His Failure to Obey God
Review of last week:
A. The Clear Command of God to Totally Destroy the Amalekites (v.1-9).
1. The source of the command (v.1-2).
a) Heed the voice of the Words of the Lord (v.2).
2. The reason for God's judgment (v.2).
a) The behavior of the Amalekites-were beyond repentance, change.
3. The History of Amalek.
a) Where did the Amalakites come from?
b) The Amalekites attacked Israel shortly after they had come out of Egypt (Ex.17:8-16).
c) Amalek – A Type of the Flesh. His name literally means “I will overcome”!
d) Man is either ruled by the flesh or by the spirit.
(1) I Must Rule Over My Bodily Appetites, Not My Bodily Appetites Ruling Over Me.
4. The command (v.3).
a) To totally destroy everything-not sparing anything (v.3).
5. The refusal of Saul and his army to destroy everything (v.8-9).
a) An unwillingness to completely obey God (v.9)
6. The story of Esther and the almost eradication of the Jews (Esther 3:1-6).
a) Haman was a descendant of Agag.
b) If you do not crucify your flesh, your flesh will destroy you.
A. The Sins of Saul and His Failure to Obey God (v.10-21)
1. The message of God (v.10-11a).
a) Saul's disobedience grieved, broke the heart of God (v.11a).
(1) Disobedience grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
(2) Grieving can lead to quenching (1Thess. 5:19).
(3) He can be tested (Acts 5:9), lied to (Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), insulted (Heb. 10:29), and blasphemed (Matt. 12:31–32).
b) God regretted having made Saul king (v.11a cf. v.35)
(1) Saul had turned back from following the Lord.
(2) Saul had not performed the commandments of the Lord.
(3) Saul had rejected the Word of the Lord (v.26).
2. The agonizing prayer of Samuel (v.11b-12a)
a) Cried out all night to God (v.11b)
(1) Samuel shows that he has God’s heart. It hurt God to reject Saul, and it hurt Samuel to see him rejected.
(2) When the things that grieve God, grieve us, and the things that please God pleas us, then we know that we are close to the heart of God.
b) Arose early in the morning to go find Saul (v.12a)
(1) Samuel wanted to find Saul to tell him the message of God. The prophet that anointed Saul as king, is now coming to discipline the disobedient king.
3. The terrible sins of Saul (v.12b-21)
a) The sin of pride (v.12b)
(1) Built a monument in his own honor (v.12b). Instead of Saul being grieved over his disobedience to God, he was actually pleased with himself. As we will see later, God will raise up another man to replace Saul.
(a) David, in contrast to Saul, was a man after God’s own heart (1Sam.13:14). Even though David sinned against God as king of Israel, David felt the guilt and shame we should feel when we sin.
(b) Saul didn’t feel it. His conscience was dead to shame and his heart was dead to God.
(2) Built at Carmel (v.12b). Apparently, the monument was to commemorate the recent victory he had achieved over the Amalekites. Note that this monument was not built to honor the Lord but Saul. Saul was taking credit for the victory over the Amalekites. He was not giving credit to the Lord! The Lord warns us against such pride.
Jesus said that "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12, NKJV)
John wrote about the pride of life saying "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16, NKJV)
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. “ (Proverbs 16:18; cf. Prov. 11:2; Obadiah 4)
b) The sin of boasting (v.13)
(1) Samuel reached Saul (v.13a).
(2) Saul greeted him with a boast of obedience (v.13b).
(a) Spiritual jargon, “Christianese”, watch out for people who speak like this!
(b) Saul’s pride had led to self-deception.
c) The sin of blaming others: Seeking to justify oneself (v.14-15a)
(1) Samuel asked about the animal noise he heard (v.14)
(2) Saul blamed the soldiers (v.15a see also v.21).
(3) Saul’s excuses are revealing:
(a) First he blames the people, not himself… they have brought them… the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen
(b) Second he includes himself in the obedience… the rest we have utterly destroyed.
(c) Third he justifies what he has kept because of its fine quality… the best of the sheep and oxen.
(d) Fourth he claims to have done it for a spiritual reason… to sacrifice to the Lord your God.
d) The sin of deception, lying (v.15b-16)
(1) Saul claimed the best animals were spared so they could be sacrificed to the LORD (v.15b)
(a) Pride and disobedience make us blind-or deaf-to our sin. What was completely obvious to Samuel was invisible to Saul.
(b) We all have blind spots in our lives and we need to constantly ask God to show them to us.
We need to sincerely pray the prayer of David "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB95)
(2) Samuel interrupted and commanded Saul to stop making excuses, to stop lying and trying to deceive: Saul must hear the Word of the LORD (v.16)
e) The sin of losing the spirit of humility (v.17)
(1) Saul was now arrogant (v.17).
(2) In the beginning Saul was a great man of humility.
(a) 1 Samuel 9:15-24 Saul couldn’t understand why he was being chosen!
(b) 1 Samuel 10:22 Saul was hiding among the equipment.
(i) Saul shows a healthy embarrassment and humility. He was not looking forward to being “center stage” in front of the nation; he seems to be dreading it. Saul was not made king because of his own personal ambition, or to gratify a desire for the limelight.
(ii) Spurgeon, in his sermon Hiding Among the Stuff, shows how both believers and unbelievers can be hidden among the equipment, avoiding the crown God has for them.
(c) Luke 17:7-14 Jesus Speaks of this Humility.
(i) Humility brings about productivity (James 4:10).
(3) Saul had forgotten that it was the LORD who had appointed him king (v.17)
(a) Many today take pride in their economic status. They boast about their riches and trust their money, thinking they must be great for acquiring all they have.
(b) But remember what Moses said to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land: “You may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (Deut. 8:17–18).
(c) Everything you have, God gave to you. Don’t parade your possessions as if you obtained them through your self-created abilities.
(d) We might imagine that Samuel was very interested to see how Saul would react when he was honored this way.
(e) Often, the way one reacts when they are honored shows what kind of person they really are.
(i) If they receive the honor humbly, without regarding it too much or becoming proud about it, it says something good about them.
(ii) But if they show a false humility or a proud heart in the way they receive the honor, it shows something bad in their character.
(f) The years, the military victories and prestige of the throne of Israel have all revealed the pride in Saul’s heart.
f) The sin of disobedience (v.18-19a)
(1) The LORD had sent Saul on a very special mission: To totally destroy the Amalekites (v.18)
(a) Saul said back in (v.15) the rest we have utterly destroyed… but he did not!
(b) David later had to deal with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12).
(c) Haman, the evil man who tried to wipe out all the Jewish people in the days of Esther, was in fact a descendant of Agag! (Esther 3:1).
(d) Most ironic of all, when Saul was killed on the field of battle, the final thrust of the sword was from the hand of an Amalekite! (2 Samuel 1:8-10). When we don’t obey God completely, the “left over” portion will surely come back and trouble us, if not kill us!
(e) Sin not only affects us but others as well, even after we are dead!
(2) Saul disobeyed (v.19a)
g) The sin of covetousness: Lusted, grasped after the plunder (v.19b)
h) The sin of an argumentative, stubborn, unrepentant heart (v.20-21)
(1) Saul insisted he had obeyed the LORD (v.20)
(2) Saul again insisted the best animals had been spared to offer as a sacrifice to God (v.21)
B. The Weak, Inadequate Confession Of Sin (v.22-25)
1. The supreme demand of God's Word: Obedience (v.22)
a) To obey is better than sacrifice (v.22a)
b) To obey is better than the most choice gift (v.22b)
(1) More important than giving by far is obeying. Many will give to cover up a guilty conscience or to justify their own evil.
2. The seriousness of disobedience (v.23)
a) Rebellion is as bad as witchcraft (v.23a) your marginal note says “divination”
(1) The practice of divination is associated with Deut.18:10-11 "“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “ (Deuteronomy 18:10-11, NASB95)
(2) Saul’s sins are on the same level as idolatry and witchcraft, sins that are worthy of death.
(3) Saul, as he persisted in rebelling against God, ended his career by consulting with a woman who would bring up the dead in order to find out the future because God was no longer answering Saul (1 Samuel 28:7-19)
(4) (v.10) Saul sounds like the serpent in saying, “God did not say that.” He denies that Word of God!
(5) Basically what I am saying is “Lord, I will divine, I will determine what’s best for me”.
(6) Arrogance is as bad as idolatry (v.23b)
(7) Disobedience results in judgment and rejection (v.23c)
3. The weak, inadequate confession of Saul: He fell to his knees (v.24-25)
a) He confessed his sinful disobedience (v.24).
(1) He had feared the people, their covetousness.
b) What role does confession play in forgiveness?
(1) Confession Transliterated: homologeo; Pronounced: hom-ol-og-eh’-o; to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent.
(2) Recognizing the truth—and agreeing with it—is called confession. Confession is vital to our receiving forgiveness. To confess involves our thinking and admitting to God, “You’re right, I’ve sinned. I’m a sinner. I have not only wronged other people and myself, but I have wronged heaven” (1 John 1:9). Your forgiveness begins when you confess your sins!
(3) As long as you refuse to admit that you have done wrong, you can’t be forgiven. Oh, God is willing to forgive you. But if you refuse to admit you have done wrong, you won’t turn to Him and receive His forgiveness.
(4) Now, the fact of the matter is, God already knows you have done wrong. He knows what you did the moment you did it. He knows your thoughts, your motivations, your intent, and your will. The sins you confess aren’t news to God.
(5) Furthermore, if you are a Christian and you sin, God has already forgiven you.
Romans 8:1 is an important verse for every Christian to memorize: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
(a) In other words, your confession doesn’t cause God to forgive you. In confessing, you aren’t talking God into forgiveness. He has already forgiven you.
(6) Anytime Paul referred to forgiveness in his letters, he put forgiveness in the past tense.
He reminded the Ephesians that Christ “forgave” them and they were “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. (See Eph. 4:30–32.)
He reminded the Colossians that they were the elect of God and “raised” with Christ. (See Col. 3.)
(7) God has already forgiven you. No amount of confessing can talk God into something that is already His desire.
(8) What is the purpose, then, of confession if God already knows you have sinned, and God is willing to forgive you? The purpose is for you to come to grips with what you have done and the sorry position you are in. Confession is a reality check. And it’s the key to your receiving forgiveness into your own life and experiencing the freedom that forgiveness brings.
(9) If you do not admit to yourself and to God what you have done, you will not be able to experience what God so desires to give you—release from guilt and shame, and new freedom to walk boldly in your relationship with Him. You confess so you can experience the forgiveness that has been available to you all along, so you can enter fully into relationship with God, and so you can make moves to correct your behavior.
c) The role of Repentance (Luke 15:11-24).
(1) To repent means to “change your mind and behavior.” Repentance is an act of the will. It involves follow-through behavior.
(2) Confession is an admission; it is saying, “I have sinned.” Repentance takes that confession and puts it into action. It is declaring, “I am changing my mind and my behavior so that I will not sin again.” Repentance involves the actual doing of what we say we are going to do.
(3) The prodigal son said, “I will arise and go to my father,” and two verses later we read, “He arose and came to his father” (vv. 18, 20). The prodigal son changed his mind, he made a decision about a change in his behavior (which included a change in his circumstances and location), and then he acted on that decision. That’s repentance.
(4) Repentance doesn’t bring you into a forgiven, free-of-guilt relationship with the Father. (Confession and asking God to forgive you do that.) Repentance keeps you there.
(5) Too many people believe that they must repent of their sins before God will forgive them. No! We repent of our sins because the Father forgives us and as the Father forgives us and enables us by the presence of His Holy Spirit.
(6) Our change of behavior doesn’t happen before we come to God and receive His forgiveness. If that was the case, repentance would be filled with all sorts of works—good deeds to do, points to earn, obstacles to overcome. Our declaration that we intend to change our behavior and not sin again may be part of our confession—our recognition of the truth of our situation before God—but the real change in our behavior comes after we have received God’s forgiveness.
(7) Honest confession admits sin and asks for God’s forgiveness, and repentance defines a necessary change in behavior to live a righteous life, makes a declaration that one is going to pursue that change, and then follows through with actual change. To confess without repentance is to say, “I’m sorry,” without any effort to sin no more. Genuine repentance—the desire and action not to sin again—validates confession. The two are inseparable for any person who desires to walk in close fellowship with God.
d) He called upon Samuel, not God, to forgive his sin (v.25)
(1) Only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12):
Jesus said in Matthew 26, "Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28, NKJV)
The Lord says in Isaiah "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. “ (Isaiah 43:25, NKJV)
The prophet Micah declares "Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. (Micah 7:18, NKJV)
(2) What did Jesus means when He said “if you forgive the sins of any” (John 20:20-23)?
(3) “the Lord your God” (see 1 Samuel 15:15, 21, 30).
(4) Saul reveals his real problem: he has a poor relationship with God.
(5) Is He your God?
C. The Irrevocable, Unchanging Judgment Of God (v.26-29)
1. The verdict, judgment upon Saul restated: The LORD had rejected him as king (v.26-28)
a) The desperation of Saul: Caught and tore Samuel's robe (v.27).
b) The symbolism of the torn robe declared by Samuel: The kingdom had been torn from Saul and given to someone else-a better person than Saul (v.28)
(1) By "better" was meant that the person would obey God & keep His commandments. This is a reference to David (1 Samuel 16:11-13; 2 Samuel 7:11-16).
(2) David was a man “after God’s heart” (13:14; 16:1).
2. The irrevocable nature and judgment of God who is "the Strength or Glory of Israel".
a) He does not lie nor change His mind (v.29).
(1) God does not say one thing and then do another or change His mind like man does.
(2) Once God has pronounced judgment, the judgment is irrevocable. Saul was going to bear the judgment of God.
(3) The Lesson For Us: judgment is irrevocable & cannot be altered. It is predestined and predetermined.
(4) Five Passages Dealing With Judgment: (Heb.9:27; Matt.25:31-33, 41-46; 2Pet.2:9; Jude 14-15; Rev.20:11-15).
D. The Sharp Contrast Of Samuel's Faithfulness With Saul's Unfaithfulness (v.30-35)
1. Samuel's faithfulness to Saul (v.30-31).
a) Saul begged Samuel to return with him to lead in worship (v.30).
(1) That is a result of Saul fearing people (v.24) and being a man pleaser (Gal.1:10).
(2) Saul is now only concerned about his image and reputation. He is very concerned what others think about him.
Paul says to the Romans "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Romans 12:3, NKJV)
Proverbs says that "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, NKJV)
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8, NKJV)