1 Samuel 15-16
Chapter 15: Saul Disobeys
Samuel comes to Saul and tells him that he was the one that the Lord had sent to anoint him as king over the Israelites. Samuel tells him that he has a message from the Lord and that he should listen to him. The message from the Lord tells Saul that the Amalekites are evil and that they must be punished for what they have done to Israel, even saying;
“…utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Samuel 15:3)
This is a very interesting point about God. At times he commands someone to “utterly destroy everyone” (See Judges 21:11) and at times God tells people to “not kill” (See Exodus 20:13). What is the reasoning for this? Well in Isaiah 55:8/28:10 the Lord tells us that his thoughts are not the same as our thoughts. This is an important principles to remember with anything that happens. God knows best, even if we don’t understand why something is happening, eventually we will know and understand and be grateful for the master plan that the Lord has for each and every one of us.
So with this commandment from God, Saul doesn’t hesitate in mustering up his men to prepare an attack on the Amalekites. Before he goes to attack the Amalekites, he sends a warning to the Kenites who live nearby that Saul will spare them. So Saul and his men do what the Lord asked and utterly destroy everyone and everything except, they spare the best livestock as plunder and the king Agag of the Amalekites. The Lord is displeased with their ignorance to his commandment. The Lord tells Samuel that he is disappointed in Saul, Samuel prays all night crying out for Saul.
The next day Samuel goes on a search to find Saul and talk with him, but cannot find him, because he had been moving around. But Samuel does find a statue that was made to honor Saul. Finally when Samuel meets up with Saul, Saul explains that he doesn’t think he disobeyed the Lord.
So Samuel asks him why he can hear animals in the background if he “utterly destroyed everything”. Samuel tells him that he essentially thought it would be ok to take the best animals and spare the king, completing most of what the Lord had asked. After talking with him some more, Saul admits that he was afraid of the people and gave into their demands of plunder. He tells Samuel that he has sinned and asks Samuel to go with him to worship the Lord. Samuel refuses and walks away, but Saul grabs his robe and it rips. Samuel takes the opportunity to teach and object lesson; just as his robe has ripped, so has the kingdom torn from the hands of Saul. But still Saul practically begs for forgiveness and yet again Samuel uses this opportunity as a teaching moment.
Samuel tells Saul;
“…Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices , as in obeying the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22)
Obeying is better than sacrifice. Maybe you have heard the phrase “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission”? This is a very common and I would think widely used phrase in its literal meaning in today’s world. We see this happening everywhere! But in the world of the Lord, Asking for permission is better than asking for forgiveness. It is much easier to do the right thing the first time, instead of having to make things right and living with the guilt and pain of your bad decisions for the rest of your life.
Samuel leaves and goes to put Agag to death, then leaves to go home in Gibeah. Samuel never sees Saul again and the Lord is grieved that he has made Saul king of Israel.
Chapter 16: Saul Chooses David
This chapter introduces King David. The Lord comes to Samuel and tells him that he should not mourn for Saul, but instead for to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint the new king. Samuel is a little worried about this, because he thinks that if Saul finds out that he is doing this, that he might be killed by Saul. So God tells Samuel that he should just claim he is making an offering sacrifice and inviting Jesse to go with him.
Samuel goes to Bethlehem and has the town elders there to meet him. Samuel meets up with the elders and tells them that he has come in peace and that he must go and consecrate the sons of Jesse. Samuel goes to a feast and meets Jesse’s son Eliab, who he thinks (by his appearance) is the one that the Lord has chosen. But the Lord tells Samuel that he should not consider his appearance of height, because the Lord does not look at the same qualities in man as men do. The Lord looks at a man’s heart, whereas the natural man looks at his appearance on the outside.
Jesse introduces Samuel to seven of his sons, but the Lord rejects them all. Samuel asks Jesse if he has more sons. Jesse tells Samuel that his youngest is out tending to the sheep. Jesse sends for David and tells everyone that they will not sit down to eat until he arrives. David comes and Samuel anoints him in front of everyone, and from that day on David is filled with the Spirit of the Lord and his power.
Saul doesn’t find out that David has been anointed (but not yet crowned king), and as soon as the Spirit of the Lord entered David, an evil spirit of the Lord entered into Saul. So one of his servants suggests that they find someone to play the harp to soothe him. The servant suggests the youngest son of Jesse, who is David!
David travels to see Saul and begins serving him. Saul likes David so much that he has him become his armour-bearer and has him play the harp to soothe the evil spirit when it comes.