Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 15:1-3 (NIV)
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
1 Samuel 15:1-3(MSG)
Samuel said to Saul, “God sent me to anoint you king over his people, Israel. Now, listen again to what God says. This is the God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking: “‘I’m about to get even with Amalek for ambushing Israel when Israel came up out of Egypt. Here’s what you are to do: Go to war against Amalek. Put everything connected with Amalek under a holy ban. And no exceptions! This is to be total destruction—men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys—the works.’”
“Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now listen and pay close attention to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts (armies), ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way when Israel came up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and completely destroy everything that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” -AMPLIFIED
In our text today we find God giving Saul another opportunity to prove his allegiance to Him and demonstrate his leadership skills. We will see that Saul once again fails miserably.
We ended chapter 14 with this bit of information, “Saul assumed control of the kingdom of Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side: Moab, the sons (descendants) of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment. He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and rescued Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.” -1 Samuel 14:47-48 (AMP)
We also learn this bit of info about the new king, “Now the war against the Philistines was severe (brutal, relentless) all the days of Saul; and whenever Saul saw any mighty or courageous man, he recruited him for his staff.” -1 Samuel 14:52 (AMP)
So Samuel comes to Saul and informs him that Jehovah is about to use him (Saul) to punish the Amalekites for what they had done to Israel; God’s chosen people. This was God’s directive and plan, “I want you to go down against Amalek and destroy them, everything they have. Do not allow anything to survive; destroy them all—man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” -(VOICE)
God said, “Destroy these wicked people and everything that belongs to them. All of it!” This was a direct order of the Most High. The sentence of condemnation against the Amalekites had been long in coming. Their time for repentance and recompense was over. The consequences of their sins were about to come to them.
Saul started out with a great show of obedience, but we will see that his obedience did not carry on through the completion of the task which had been assigned to him. “So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine.” -1 Samuel 15:4-5 (NIV)
We are told that Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, up and down the eastern border of Egypt. This was as it should have been; he was obeying God’s orders. BUT….then we read of where he chose to do something totally against what God had directed. “He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.” -1 Samuel 15:8-9 (NIV)
Why would he choose to disobey God’s direct order? Possibly he wanted, “…to enjoy the glory of displaying so distinguished a captive, and, in like manner, the most valuable portions of the booty, as the cattle. By this willful and partial obedience to a positive command, complying with it in some parts and violating it in others, as suited his own taste and humor, Saul showed his selfish, arbitrary temper, and his love of despotic power, and his utter unfitness to perform the duties of a delegated king in Israel.” -Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible
Once again Saul’s pride, selfishness and poor leadership is displayed. He thought not of what God expected of him; nor of what his followers would think (His subordinates would have heard of God’s directives.); he thought only of what he desired and what would make him look good. When confronted with the evidence of his choices by Samuel all he could do is come up with sorry excuses.
“Carnal, deceitful hearts, like Saul, think to excuse themselves from God’s commandments by what pleases themselves. It is hard to convince the children of disobedience. But humble, sincere, and conscientious obedience to the will of God, is more pleasing and acceptable to him than all burnt-offering and sacrifices. God is more glorified and self more denied, by obedience than by sacrifice. It is much easier to bring a bullock or lamb to be burned upon the altar, than to bring every high thought into obedience to God, and to make our will subject to his will. Those are unfit and unworthy to rule over men, who are not willing that God should rule over them.” -Matthew Henry
Lord, may I carefully obey what you have called me to do for you. You expect whole and complete obedience; this I know. Let my intentions be pleasing to you in obeying your every command. I know you need to have top priority in my life; may it be so, I pray.