Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1 Samuel 15: A Second Chance

Gustave Doré, The Death of Agag. "Agag&qu...Image via Wikipedia

Years earlier, when Saul was disobedient to God’s express command about offering sacrifices in Gilgal, the prophet Samuel left him after he gave God’s judgment upon Saul stating that his kingdom would not be established. Since that time, Saul was busy fighting Philistines and trying to consolidate his kingship over Israel.  So, I imagine that he must have been surprised when Samuel returned to him with a message from God.  

God wanted Saul to attack the Amalekites and to totally destroy all that belonged to them.  I find this to be an interesting command in that the Amalekites were portrayed as the consummate enemy of God and of Israel since Genesis17:14 where God is on record for stating that He intended to eliminate them from the face of the earth. God was calling Saul to align himself with the God of Israel and so to testify publicly his priority of obeying God, no matter what the cost.

Up until this point, Saul’s battles were obvious engagements which any leader of Israel would have fought.  God’s order to attack the Amalekites, on the other hand, was God’s call for Israel to do His will.  It would seem that Saul was being given a second chance to obey God.

Saul set out to do God’s will, but in the process took his eyes off of God.  Instead of destroying everything, Saul focused on how good the best of the sheep, cattle, lambs, etc. were.  In his eyes, as they became more attractive than obedience to God’s command, he spared the best of the livestock   inexplicably, he also spared the the king of the Amalekites, Agag.

All of Saul’s disobedience ultimately testified of how little he thought of God.  Even though Samuel, God’s spokesperson to Israel, spoke God’s commands clearly to Saul, he didn’t take them completely to heart.

Thought he mustered together his warriors and attacked the Amalekites, he spared their best livestock because he disagreed with God’s order to destroy them.  Saul trusted in his own perceptions rather then in God’s revealed will.  Saul spared the life of the Amalekite king.  When Samuel questioned Saul about the plunder he took, Saul lied, blamed his soldiers, and then attempted to put a righteous spin on his actions by saying that the livestock were spared in order to be sacrificed to God.

Underlying this was Saul’s heart which completely failed to recognize that God knows everything and sees everything and is absolutely just.  Saul thought he could trick God with a lie!  How little he really thought of God – how much he failed to understand that God is the Sovereign King of the universe, Creator of all that is. 

With this very foundational understanding of God missing, Saul could never be the King of Israel that God sought to establish.  After this blatant act of disobedience, Samuel proclaimed that God rejected Saul as king of Israel and that the kingdom would be torn from him.  Though Samuel mourned over Saul, he never went back to him either on his own or as God’s representative.

In so many ways, this is like God speaking to us today.  Through His Word, God’s commands are clear.  If we accept God for who He Is, who He says He is, then we have no alternative but to honor His will.  But if we regard His Word as myth and malarkey, then each individual can do as he sees fit, live in his own wisdom, but outside of God’s blessing.

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