In this week, our pastors have preached a number of times on this scripture and I believe it would be a blessing to you too! I have inserted a link so that you can read the chapter for yourself, but I’m going to tell it in a story…
God had spoken to Samuel and instructed him to let King Saul know what God expected of him—to COMPLETELY destroy the Amalekites. Samuel did his duty by passing the message on to King Saul. Saul started making preparations for the attack – gathering his army and sending the Kenites away so that they won’t be destroyed along with the Amalekites. Saul then made his attack on the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. They put to death every person, EXCEPT King Agag. They also totally destroyed all the animals and livestock, EXCEPT the best of the sheep, the fat calves and the best lambs to sacrifice unto the Lord. They were unwilling to destroy these completely as the Lord had instructed them to do.
Then the Lord came to Samuel once again and told him that He was grieved that Saul had not carried out His commands to the fullest extent. Samuel was troubled by this message because he didn’t know about all the livestock and the King that Saul had brought back alive so Samuel went to see Saul but he was told that the King had gone to Carmel to erect a monument in his honor!
As soon as King Saul saw Samuel, he hurried up to meet him and said: “The Lord bless you! I had done what He commanded me to do!”
Samuel was asked: “If so, what is this lowing of cattle and bleating of lambs that I hear?” Saul tried to justify his sin by saying: “The soldiers brought back the best of the animals to sacrifice to the Lord YOUR GOD but we destroyed the rest completely!” Here already, Saul was shifting the blame to his soldiers but if you read the chapter carefully, it says that “Saul and his men…” brought them back alive.
When Saul said this in reply, Samuel exclaimed: “Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night! ‘Although you were once small in your own eyes, you became the head of all the tribes of Israel. I, the Lord, sent you on a mission to destroy the sinful Amalekites but he did not follow My orders completely! Why did you pounce on the plunder?'”
Saul protested and said: “But I did obey the Lord. I went on the mission and completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back their King. THE SOLDIERS took sheep and cattle from the plunder to devote to God so that we can sacrifice them to Him at Gilgal!”
Samuel was not at all happy with Israel’s king who had gotten a big head and told him, “The Lord doesn’t delight as much in burnt offerings as He does in obedience. To obey is better than sacrifice and to listen is better than sacrificing the best of lambs to the Lord. For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft and arrogance like the sin of idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, he has rejected you as King!”
Saul saw Samuel’s anger and that the Lord was no longer on his side so his said, “I see my sin and that I have disobeyed the Lord. Because of my fear of the people, I gave in. Now I beg you to forgive my sin and come with me to worship the Lord.”
Samuel refused to go back with Saul so Saul grabbed Samuel’s hem and it tore. Samuel told him that in the same way his kingdom is torn form him and given to one of his neighbors. Saul again confessed that he had sinned but asked Samuel to honor him before his elders and before Israel – he still had a great deal of pride to overcome…
Samuel agreed and went back with him to worship the Lord and he commanded Agag to come before him. Samuel spoke to Agag, saying, “As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.” And he killed him before the Lord at Gilgal, thus fulfilling the command given to King Saul.
Samuel then left for Ramah and Saul went up to his home is Gibeah – Saul had no real repentance so he just went back home and life continued for him.
Until the day Samuel died, he never went to see Saul again but he wept for him. And the Lord was sorry that He had appointed Saul as King over Israel.
The verse I’d like us to concentrate on this weekend is 1 Samuel 15:22b: “To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”