1 samuel 15 22 commentary

1 samuel 15 22 commentary DEFAULT

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

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1 Samuel 15

Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
New American Standard Version

Jump to: Adam Clarke CommentaryBridgeway Bible CommentaryAlbert Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleChuck Smith Bible CommentaryExpository Notes of Dr. Thomas ConstableJohn Gill's Exposition of the Whole BibleMatthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amalekites;   Church and State;   Falsehood;   Formalism;   Gilgal;   Minister, Christian;   Obedience;   Offerings;   Presumption;   Repentance;   Reproof;   Rulers;   Saul;   Self-Righteousness;   Self-Will;   Thompson Chain Reference - Formalism;   Obedience;   Obedience-Disobedience;   Offerings;   Religion;   Religion, True-False;   Sacrifices;   Samuel;   Saul, King of Israel;   Service;   The Topic Concordance - Delight;   Desire;   Obedience;   Requirements;   Sacrifice;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amalekites, the;   Burnt Offering, the;   Obedience to God;   Sacrifices;   Self-Will and Stubbornness;   Sheep;  

Dictionaries:

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary- Amalekites;   Sacrifice;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary- Amalekites;   Gilgal;   Obedience;   Samuel;   Saul, king of israel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology- Delight;   Devote, Devoted;   Hebrews, Theology of;   Legalism;   Mediator, Mediation;   Paul the Apostle;   Prayer;   Samuel, First and Second, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary- Messiah;   Prayer;   Fausset Bible Dictionary- Burnt Offering;   Hosea;   Law;   Sacrifice;   Holman Bible Dictionary- Faith;   Obedience;   Samuel, Books of;   Saul;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible- Agag;   Amalek, Amalekites;   Ban;   Israel;   Obedience;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament- Sacrifice;   Morrish Bible Dictionary- Agag ;   Amalek, Amalekites ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary- Mordecai;   People's Dictionary of the Bible- Agag;   Amalek;   Saul;   Smith Bible Dictionary- Teraphim;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types- Ram;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary- Government of the Hebrews;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 1 Samuel 15:22. Hath the Lord as great delight, &c. — This was a very proper answer to, and refutation of Saul's excuse. Is not obedience to the will of God the end of all religion, of its rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices?

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These files are public domain.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-15.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

War against the Amalekites (15:1-35)

The Amalekites came under the same curse as those Canaanite nations that were to be destroyed (15:1-3; cf. Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Again Saul’s obedience was tested, and again he failed. His kingly power gave him no right to alter God-given instructions to suit himself (4-9).

God sent Samuel to tell Saul of the consequences of his disobedience (10-16; cf. 13:13-14). Religious sacrifices and military victories were no substitute for obedience. Samuel had given Saul God’s instructions, but Saul, by acting independently of those instructions, had rebelled against God. He had proved himself unfit to be king of God’s people (17-23). No appeal from Saul could alter the fact that God was going to replace him as king of Israel (24-29). The most that Samuel could do for him was to accompany him in a final act of public worship (30-33). Although not removed immediately from the kingship, Saul lost for ever the services of Samuel (34-35).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-samuel-15.html. 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Hath the Lord ... - A grand example of the moral and spiritual teaching of the prophets (see the marginal references). The tension of Samuel’s spirit, as he is about to pronounce the sentence of rejection, produces a lyrical turn of thought and language.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-15.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 15

Now as we get into chapter fifteen,

Samuel came to Saul, and said, The Lord sent me to anoint you to be king over his people, over Israel: now hearken unto the voice of the words of the Lord ( 1 Samuel 15:1 ).

Now he has shown a pattern of disobedience up to this point. He has become self-willed, doing his own thing. So the prophet is coming and warning him. This to me is very significant, because God does seek to warn us from our self-willed path of destruction. God doesn't just let you trip off into the path of destruction, without coming and giving you fair warning, oftentimes, repeated warnings.

The Bible said, "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck"( Proverbs 29:1 ). So God is faithful and God comes and He warns you, "Hey the path you're choosing, the way of self-will is destroying you. Don't do it." Now listen to God, pay attention, obey the voice of the Lord.

So Samuel is coming with a warning for him and telling him of a mission that God is sending him on. "Now hearken to the voice of the words of the Lord."

For the Lord said, I remember the Amaleks that when you were trying to come into the land, they withstood you. And therefore God wants you to go down and utterly wipe out the Amaleks; every man, woman, child, animal. [Don't take anything back alive, utterly slay everything] ( 1 Samuel 15:2-3 ).

In order that God might be avenged against the Amaleks. Now you think, "Oh that's a horrible command of God." You would think so until historically you would study the practices and all of the Amaleks. They were so corrupt. They were going to wipe out themselves. God was just ordering really the eradication of a cancer within the society. They were like mad dogs. If you don't destroy them, they're gonna hurt innocent people. So God ordered the utter destruction of the Amaleks.

Now another factor here is that the Amaleks are always a type of the flesh in the scripture. The Amaleks being a type of the flesh; God is ordering the utter destruction of the flesh. "Wipe it out completely, don't give any place for the flesh."

The Bible says, "to fulfill the desires thereof. Crucify the old man, the old nature. If you by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, put it to death" ( Romans 8:13 ). God says, "don't give place for it, utterly wipe it out."

Now Saul went down with the armies, and God gave victory over the Amaleks. However, they saw some of the cattle and some of the sheep were really good stock, and so they set them aside. He spared the king alive, but the sickly sheep, the sickly cows they really hacked them to pieces, didn't give them a chance. That which was sickly and that which is not so good, they just utterly destroyed that, but the good, the healthy, the strong, they preserved them.

Now whatever this is, it is disobedience to the command of God. It is again another opportunity for Saul to redeem himself in obeying the command of the Lord. But it is disobedient, his failure to utterly wipe out the Amaleks, all of their cattle, and all of their sheep and so forth.

Now as we progress in history, and we're gonna go into the time machine now, and we're gonna go ahead in history a few hundred years. The story that is familiar with many of you, all of you have read the Bible, how that when Ester was chosen queen in Persia, there was one man in the kingdom of Persia that was seeking to destroy all the Jews because he could not stand this Jew "Mordecai", who refused to bow to him. He had such a hatred for this man, he perpetrated a scheme whereby all of the Jews were to be wiped out and he had the king sign a decree that on a given day, all the Jews would be wiped out in all the kingdom of Persia.

This wicked man's name was Haman. Now soon the Jews are gonna have, I think March second, the feast of Purim. The feast of Purim is in celebration of God's delivering them from the hand of this wicked "Haman".

Now in Israel, it is like Halloween almost, in that the little children dress in costumes. The boys dress in the costumes of the villain Haman, ugly mask, and their costumes. The little girls dress up like Ester, and all the little girls are so beautiful, and of course they have their masks and their little wands and everything else. It is like a Halloween. They'll gather together and they have a sort of a party actually. They have the cookies and so forth, the Haman's hat, cookies, and all of this, and it's quite a thing over there. It's actually a Holiday, the feast of Purim.

But the thing I want to point out is the nationality of Haman. He was a descendant of the king of the Amaleks, "Agag". He was an Agagite. A descendant from Agag, so that Saul failing to completely obey God, almost cost Israel its whole national existence later on because he failed to completely obey the command of God. It almost cost the Jews in later history their very existence. This Haman the Agagite almost wiped them out completely.

Which if you do not bring your flesh to the cross, if you do not mortify the deeds of the flesh, if you seek to make allowances and tolerances, and say, "Well, that's a pretty good part of me, it isn't too bad," your flesh will come back to destroy you. We must bring the old man to the cross. We must not give place to the flesh to fulfill its desires. We must reckon the old man to be dead, and failure to do so can create real problems down the line. Your flesh will come back to haunt you and it will come back to destroy your relationship with God. God wants you to bring your flesh to the cross and there reckon the flesh, the old man to be dead.

Saul failed to obey the command of God keeping the best cattle and sheep and so forth. So as he came back with the spoils of war. Old Samuel, who is now an old man, can't see very well, he comes out to meet Saul.

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said to him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord ( 1 Samuel 15:13 ).

Liar. But notice the spiritual language. "Blessed be thou of the Lord." Now a lot of people can use spiritual jargon, but it really doesn't mean anything. They go around saying, "Oh, praise the Lord. Oh bless God." while they're picking your pocket.

That's right. There's a young boy in Israel. He meets us always at the-he's an Arab boy, and he meets us always when we're coming down the path of the Mount of Olives. "Oh, Christians. America. Oh praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah, hallelujah. Oh, Christians from California? Oh yes. Brother, brother." Watch out. Your wallet or your pen or something will be gone after his embrace. "Praise God. Hallelujah." "Fat wallet, praise the Lord." Spiritual jargon, it doesn't prove anything. You can be a crook and use spiritual language. Often it is used as a disguise. "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I've done everything, I've performed all the Lord commanded me."

Oh Samuel was not deceived, he said,

[If you've done everything that the Lord commanded you,] then what means the bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the cows that I hear? ["Don't give me that business."] And Saul said, Oh they brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed ( 1 Samuel 15:14-15 ).

Now again remember Saul has developed a pattern of making excuses. When faced with his wrong, rather than repenting, when he offered the sacrifices in disobedience to God and Samuel called him for it, he said, "Oh, the people, you know, they were scattered and I forced myself. It was because of the people." Now again faced "What do you mean that you've done everything? If you have, how come I hear the sheep and the cattle?"

"Oh well, the people, they kept the best. They brought them back to sacrifice." Religious excuses are the most damnable of all.

And Samuel said unto Saul, [Just wait a minute pal,] I'm going to tell you what the Lord said to me tonight. [And Saul said,] Say on. And Samuel said, When you were little in your own sight, you were made the head over the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed you to be king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, [Notice the sinners, the Amalekites.] and fight against them until they be consumed. Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but you did fly upon the spoil, and you did evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and I've gone the way which the Lord sent me, and I've brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 15:16-20 ).

He was lying; he was not repenting. But you see when he was little in his own sight, there was a difference then, but now he's become puffed up. Pride has filled his life and it's about to destroy him.

Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken to God is better than the fat of rams [which is burned in the sacrifices] ( 1 Samuel 15:22 ).

Flimsy excuse. God isn't interested in the sacrifices from a disobedient heart and life. God would much rather you obey Him than offer sacrifices. Many times people are giving to God in order to cover their feelings of guilt. Giving to God is not a sign necessarily of great spirituality. People can feel very guilty, "Oh, I'm gonna make a sacrifice unto God" because they feel so guilty for their disobedience. God would rather have your obedience than your sacrifice. "To hearken to the voice of God is better than to offer the fat of rams upon the altar."

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry ( 1 Samuel 15:23 ).

In other words, if you're rebelling against God, that's just as bad as if you were into witchcraft. If you have a stubborn spirit, you're no better off than the person who is worshiping an idol. This business of rebellion and stubbornness is something that God is not pleased with in our lives. Rebellion is just as bad as witchcraft. Stubbornness is just as bad as idolatry.

And because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king. [The official rejection, "That's it God has rejected your kingship"] And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: [But notice it isn't a full repentance.] because [he said] I feared the people, and obeyed their voice ( 1 Samuel 15:23-24 ).

Oh, he didn't fear the people. Again he's just offering a lame excuse for his disobedience. God would rather have just a straight, frank confession. "God, I blew it. I was wrong. I sinned. God, I'm sorry, I repent." God wants-there's no sign of repentance in this at all. Some people think it's cute to say, "Oh, I'm a sinner." That isn't repentance, it's only a declaration of a blasphemous truth. "Oh, I sinned." Doesn't make anything out of you, forsaking the sin is what is important. Turning from the sin, the repentance is what God is seeking.

Now therefore, [he said] I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that we might worship the Lord. And Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you: for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being the king over Israel. And Samuel turned to go away, and he grabbed hold of him, and tore his coat. And Samuel said unto him, The Lord has torn the kingdom from you this day, and has given it to a neighbour that is better than you are. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent ( 1 Samuel 15:25-29 ).

Now the "Strength of Israel", here being a reference to God. Notice, "The Strength of Israel will not lie or repent." Now in Numbers we read, "For God is not a man that He should repent. Hath He not spoken? Shall He not make it good?" But in just a few verses we're gonna read where he says, "God repented that He made you king." How come this kind of a dichotomy? "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent, for He is not a man that He should repent."

Then Saul again said, I have sinned, yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, [In other words, "Make me look good in front of the people, I've sinned."] and before Israel, turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God. [Notice not the Lord my God, the Lord thy God.] So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord. Then said Samuel, Bring hither Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is passed. And Samuel said, As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. Then Samuel went back to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah. And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel ( 1 Samuel 15:30-35 ).

So God there "the Strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent." Then what does it mean it repented the Lord that He made Saul king over Israel? There is always a difficulty in expressing God and the characteristics of God and the actions of God in human language, but all we have is human language.

Now God has characteristics, abilities, that we have no human language for, for we have no way of experiencing these things. I cannot even think how God thinks, because He knows everything. How does He even think when He knows everything to begin with? Now how can I even express the way that God thinks? How can I express the actions of God? I can only express them with human terms, as they appear to be from my human standpoint, but yet I am bound with human language.

Now I'm certain that there is a vocabulary of heaven that is far broader, and capable of expressing these things in languages, that if we heard it, we wouldn't know it because we have nothing that will equal it in human experience. So we are seeking to describe now an action of God, and that is the action of turning away His favor from Saul, the change of God's attitude towards Saul.

Now the word "repent," meaning change, God is changing now His attitude towards Saul. We have only one word to describe that change, "repent." But yet we have just read in a true sense, "God is not a man that He lies, or repents." But yet we have this human language barrier. So we have to express the activities of God with human language. The only word we have to express this particular action of God's obvious change in attitude towards Saul, the only word we have to express this obvious change is "repent." Yet because it is God's action, it isn't a "repentance" as we think of repent in our human minds. But it is the only vocabulary word that we have to express this change of attitude, so we use the word. But it isn't "repent" in the same way that a man repents from his decisions or his doings. I hope I've helped you. I don't know. "





Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-samuel-15.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

5. Yahweh’s final rejection of Saul ch. 15

"In the short pericope 1 Samuel 13:7-15a obedience was the stone on which Saul stumbled; here it is the rock that crushes him." [Note: Ibid., p. 142.]

Chapter 15 records one of the battles Saul fought with the Amalekites, Israel’s enemy to the south (cf. 1 Samuel 14:48). The Amalekites were descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:12; 1 Chronicles 1:36) and, therefore, linked with the Edomites. They were nomads who lived principally in southern Canaan and the Sinai Peninsula. This battle evidently happened about 25 years after Saul began reigning, which was 23 years after God rejected Saul’s dynasty following Saul’s disobedience at Gilgal (1 Samuel 13:1-15). [Note: Wood, Israel’s United . . ., p. 138.] Thus Saul apparently served as king about 23 years between God’s rejection of his dynasty (ch. 13) and God’s rejection of him personally (ch. 15).

Most scholars are sure Saul attacked the Amalekites who lived in the southern Judah Negev, though some feel he attacked an enclave of them in western Samaria. [Note: E.g., Diane Edelmann, "Saul’s Battle Against Amaleq (1 Samuel 15)," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 35 (June 1986):74-81.] Saul did not destroy all the Amalekites at this time (1 Samuel 27:8; 1 Samuel 30:1; 2 Samuel 8:12). King Hezekiah completely annihilated them years later (1 Chronicles 4:43).

God directed Saul through Samuel (1 Samuel 14:1-3). Consequently for Saul to disobey what Samuel said was tantamount to disobeying God. Samuel reminded Saul that Yahweh was the Lord of hosts (1 Samuel 14:2), his commander-in-chief. Saul’s mission was to annihilate the Amalekites plus their animals completely (1 Samuel 14:3; cf. Deuteronomy 7:2-6; Deuteronomy 12:2-3; Deuteronomy 20:16-18). God had commanded Joshua to do the same to Jericho; every breathing thing was to die (Joshua 6:17-21; cf. Deuteronomy 20:16-18). Saul was now to put the Amalekites under the ban (Heb. herem). This practice was not unique to Israel; the Moabites and presumably other ancient Near Eastern nations also put cities and groups of people under the ban. [Note: See Gordon, pp. 143, 147-48.] God had plainly commanded this destruction of the Amalekites through Moses (Exodus 17:16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19; cf. Numbers 24:20; Genesis 12:3). Thus there was no question what the will of God involved. The phrase "utterly destroy" (Heb. heherim) occurs seven times in this account (1 Samuel 14:3; 1 Samuel 14:8-9 [twice], 15, 18, 20), showing that God’s will was clear and that Saul’s disobedience was not an oversight.

"The agent of divine judgment can be impersonal (e.g., the Flood or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah) or personal (as here), and in his sovereign purpose God often permits entire families or nations to be destroyed if their corporate representatives are willfully and incorrigibly wicked (cf. Joshua 7:1; Joshua 7:10-13; Joshua 7:24-26)." [Note: Youngblood, p. 673. On the problem of God’s goodness and His severe treatment of sinners, and even their animals, in the Old Testament, see Peter C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament; and John W. Wenham, The Enigma of Evil: Can We Believe in the Goodness of God?]

The Amalekites (1 Samuel 14:6) were descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:12), whereas the Kenites traced their ancestry from Midian, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah (Genesis 25:2). The Kenites had been friendly to Israel (Exodus 18:9-10; Exodus 18:19; Numbers 10:29-32), whereas the Amalekites had not. There may have been a treaty between the Israelites and the Kenites. [Note: See F. Charles Fensham, "Did a Treaty Between the Israelites and the Kenites Exist?" Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 175 (October 1964):51-54.]

Saul’s criterion for what he put to death was not part of God’s command but his own judgment (1 Samuel 14:9). Again, Saul’s defective view of his role under Yahweh’s sovereign rule is obvious. God had earlier revealed through Balaam that Israel’s king "shall be higher than Agag" (Numbers 24:7). As Achan had done, Saul misused some of what God had devoted to another purpose. Clearly Saul set his will against the orders of his Commander; he was "not willing" to destroy everything that breathed (1 Samuel 14:9). His obedience was selective and partial.

The phrase "the word of the Lord came to" occurs only three times in 1 and 2 Samuel (1 Samuel 14:10; cf. 2 Samuel 7:4; 2 Samuel 24:11). In all cases it refers to an important message of judgment that God sent Israel’s king through a prophet. God regretted that He had made Saul king (1 Samuel 14:11) because of Saul’s actions, not because God felt He had made a mistake in calling Saul. Saul’s failure to follow God faithfully also broke Samuel’s heart. The disobedience of leaders always grieves the hearts of God’s faithful servants. Samuel foresaw the consequences of Saul’s actions. The village of Carmel (lit. vineyard) stood about 8 miles south and a little east of Hebron. The monument Saul set up honored himself, not God who gave him the victory. When Moses defeated the Amalekites, he built an altar (Exodus 17:15-16); but when Saul defeated them, he erected a stele, a monument commemorating a victory (cf. 2 Samuel 18:18).

Consistent with his view of his own behavior, Saul claimed to have obeyed God (1 Samuel 14:13). Nevertheless he had only been partially obedient. God regards incomplete obedience as disobedience (1 Samuel 14:19). Rather than confessing his sin, Saul sought to justify his disobedience (1 Samuel 14:15; cf. Genesis 3:12; Exodus 32:22-23). He believed it was for a worthy purpose, and he failed to take responsibility for his actions and blamed the people instead (1 Samuel 14:15).

"Samuel now realized that Saul was not a leader, but the tool and slave of the people." [Note: Young, p. 285.]

Samuel had earlier delivered a message of doom to Eli in the morning (1 Samuel 3:15-18). Now he delivered one to Saul on another morning (1 Samuel 14:16).

"There is in all of us an inclination to resent being told what to do; but those in positions of authority and power are all the more reluctant to acknowledge anyone else’s superior authority." [Note: David Payne, pp. 77-78.]

Since Saul returned to Gilgal to offer sacrifices, it is possible that this was the site of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 14:12; 1 Samuel 14:15; cf. 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 13:8-10). If this was the Gilgal in the Jordan Valley, it was where the Israelites had pitched the tabernacle first in Canaan after they crossed the Jordan River in Joshua’s day (Joshua 4:19). On the other hand, the Israelites offered sacrifices at places other than the tabernacle after they entered the Promised Land. We cannot say for sure that Saul went to Gilgal because the tabernacle was there.

Saul had formerly been genuinely humble. He had realistically evaluated himself before his anointing (1 Samuel 14:17; cf. 1 Samuel 9:21). Yet when he became king he viewed himself as the ultimate authority in Israel, a view common among ancient Near Eastern monarchs. This attitude led him to disobey the Law of God. God had sent Saul on a mission (1 Samuel 14:18; cf. Matthew 28:19-20), which involved the total extermination of the Amalekites. The Hebrew word translated "sinners" means habitually wicked people (cf. Psalms 1:1; Psalms 1:5), like the Canaanites.

"That Haman the ’Agagite’ (Esther 3:1; Esther 3:10; Esther 8:3; Esther 8:5; Esther 9:24) was an Amalekite is taken for granted by Josephus, who states that Haman’s determination to destroy all the Jews in Persia was in retaliation for Israel’s previous destruction of all his ancestors (Antiq. XI, 211 [vi.5])." [Note: Youngblood, p. 674.]

However, there is good reason to believe that Agag was the name of an area in Media that had become part of the Persian Empire. [Note: See Archer, p. 421.] If Josephus was correct, Saul’s total obedience to God would have precluded Haman’s attempt to annihilate the Jews in Esther’s day.

Saul persisted in calling partial obedience total obedience (1 Samuel 14:20). He again placed responsibility for sparing some of the spoils taken in the battle on the people (1 Samuel 14:21), but as king he was responsible for the people’s actions. Saul sometimes took too much responsibility on himself and at other times too little. He tried to justify his actions by claiming that he did what he had done to honor God. He betrayed his lack of allegiance by referring to Yahweh as "your" God, not "our" God or "my" God, twice (cf. 1 Samuel 14:30).

Samuel spoke what the writer recorded in 1 Samuel 14:22-23 in poetic form, indicating to all that God had inspired what he was saying. God frequently communicated oracles through the prophets in such exalted speech (cf. Genesis 49; Deuteronomy 33; et al.). These classic verses prioritize total obedience and worship ritual for all time. God desires reality above ritual. Sacrificing things to God is good, but obedience is "better" because it involves sacrificing ourselves to Him. The spared animals Saul offered to God were voluntary sacrifices.

"The issue here is not a question of either/or but of both/and. Practically speaking, this means that sacrifice must be offered to the Lord on his terms, not ours." [Note: Youngblood, p. 677.]

What is the difference between obedience and sacrifice? Sacrifice is one aspect of obedience, but obedience involves more than just sacrifice. We should never think that we can compensate for our lack of obedience to some of God’s commands by making other sacrifices for Him.

Suppose one Saturday morning a father asks his teenage son to mow the lawn for him since he has to work that Saturday and cannot do it himself. Company is coming and he wants it to look good. The son decides that his dad’s car needs washing more than the grass needs cutting. Besides, the boy plans to use the car on a date that night. When the father comes home, he finds that his son has not cut the grass. "I decided to wash your car instead," the boy explains. "Aren’t you pleased with me?" His father replies, "I appreciate your washing the car, but that’s not what I asked you to do. I would have preferred that you mow the lawn, as I told you."

The failure of Israel’s king to follow his Commander-in-Chief’s orders was much more serious than the son’s disobedience in the illustration above. Departure from God’s will (rebellion) presumes to control the future course of events, as divination does (1 Samuel 14:23). Failure to carry out God’s will (insubordination) is wicked (iniquity) and puts the insubordinate person in God’s place. This is a form of idolatry. God would now begin to terminate Saul’s rule as Israel’s king (1 Samuel 14:23; cf. Exodus 34:7). Previously God had told him that his kingdom (dynasty) would not endure (1 Samuel 13:14).

"Saul’s loss of kingship and kingdom are irrevocable; the rest of 1 Samuel details how in fact he does lose it all." [Note: Peter D. Miscall, 1 Samuel: A Literary Reading, p. 98.]

Saul’s confession was superficial. The Hebrew word translated "transgressed" (abarti) means "overlooked." Saul only admitted that he had overlooked some small and relatively unimportant part of what God had commanded (1 Samuel 14:24). What God called rebellion Saul called an oversight. Saul’s greater sin was putting himself in God’s place. He was guilty of a kind of treason, namely, trying to usurp the ultimate authority in Israel. Samuel refused to accompany Saul because Saul had refused to accompany God (1 Samuel 14:26).

"Most of us like to think that however serious our disobedience, once we repent of that sin, we are forgiven and experience no real loss. The Scripture teaches that genuine repentance always meets forgiveness, but it does not teach that there are no losses. Actually, every reflective Christian knows of permanent losses that are the result of our failure to live up to God’s ideals for our lives." [Note: Chafin, p. 130.]

When Saul seized Samuel’s robe, he was making an earnest appeal. The phrase "to grasp the hem" was a common idiomatic expression in Semitic languages that pictured a gesture of supplication. [Note: See Edward L. Greenstein, "’To Grasp the Hem’ in Ugaritic Literature," Vetus Testamentum 32:2 (April 1982):217, and Ronald A. Brauner, "’To Grasp the Hem’ and 1 Samuel 15:27," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 6 (1974):135-38.] Later, David would cut off the hem of Saul’s robe in a cave while the king slept (1 Samuel 24:4). Since the hem of a garment identified the social status of the person who wore it, [Note: See Jacob Milgrom, "Of Hems and Tassels," Biblical Archaeology Review 9:3 (May-June 1983):61-65.] David was symbolically picturing the transfer of royal authority from Saul to himself when he did this. When Saul tore Samuel’s hem, he symbolically, though perhaps unintentionally, seized the prophet’s authority inappropriately. Samuel interpreted his action as symbolizing the wrenching of the kingdom from Saul (cf. 1 Kings 11:29-33).

1 Samuel 14:29 poses a problem in the light of other passages that say God changed His mind (e.g., Exodus 32:14; Numbers 14:12; Numbers 14:20; 1 Chronicles 25:15). What did Samuel mean? I believe he meant that God is not fickle. [Note: See Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics, p. 250.] God does sometimes relent (change His mind) in response to the prayers of His people or when they repent (cf. Jeremiah 18:7-10; 1 John 1:9). [Note: For a fuller discussion of this subject, see Thomas L. Constable, "What Prayer Will and Will Not Change," in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, pp. 105-6; Robert B. Chisholm Jr., "Does God ’Change His Mind’?" Bibliotheca Sacra 152:608 (October-December 1995):387-99; and idem, "Does God Deceive?" Bibliotheca Sacra 155:617 (January-March 1998):11-28.] However, when He determines to do something, He follows through (cf. Jeremiah 14:11-12). God is initially open to changing His mind about how He will deal with people, but He does not remain open forever. He is patient with people, but His patience has its limit (2 Peter 3:9-10). God allows people time to make their choices, but then He holds them responsible for those choices. The language "changed His mind" or "does not change His mind," when applied to God, is anthropomorphic (describing God in human terms). Obviously God does not have a mind or brain as humans do, since He is a spirit being. Anthropomorphic (human form) and anthropopathic (human feeling) expressions indicate that God is like human beings in these comparisons.

"When God issues a decree that is plainly intended as irrevocable, as in the rejection of Saul, then, says our text, there is no possibility of that decree being rescinded (cf. Numbers 23:19)." [Note: Gordon, p. 146.]

Saul had established a long record of rebellious behavior. God knew that Saul’s confession was not genuine and his repentance was not real. Saul may have thought that he could "con" God, but He could not. He behaved toward God as a manipulative child deals with his or her parents. Rather than having a heart to please God, as David did, Saul only obeyed God when he felt that it was to his advantage to do so. He wanted to maintain control and to receive the glory. Samuel reminded the king that Yahweh was the "Glory of Israel." Saul may have been bowing down in repentance in Samuel’s presence, though the text does not say that, but he was standing up inside. It was that unbending resistance to God’s complete will that made Saul unusable as Israel’s king.

"Saul, as this chapter in particular would have us understand, was a man in contention with Yahweh in a way that David, for all his lurid sins, never was." [Note: Ibid., p. 142.]

Saul’s lack of submission was an even more serious sin than David’s sins of murder and adultery. God did not remove the kingship from David for his sins, but He did from Saul.

"To be king in Israel was . . . quite a different matter from being king in the countries round about. Saul did not understand this distinction, and resented Samuel’s ’interference,’ whereas David appreciated the point that the Lord his God was the focus of authority, and therefore he was willing to submit to the word of his prophet even though, in the eyes of the watching world, it must have seemed that David’s own authority would thereby be weakened. Here lay the crucial distinction between Saul and David. The man after God’s own heart submitted to God’s word, obeyed his prophets, and found acceptance and forgiveness, despite his many glaring faults and failures. Saul obstinately clung to his rights as king, but lost his throne." [Note: Baldwin, p. 35.]

Perhaps Samuel consented to honor Saul by worshipping with him (1 Samuel 14:30-31) because Saul was still the king. It was good that Saul wanted to honor Yahweh in the eyes of the people by worshipping Him. Perhaps Saul’s sincere though shallow contrition moved Samuel to be more cooperative and gracious (cf. 1 Samuel 14:26). Some of the commentators believed Samuel did not sin in returning with Saul. [Note: E.g., Peter N. Greenhow, "Did Samuel Sin?" Grace Journal 11:2 (1970):34-40.] Note Saul’s continuing obsession with external appearances.

Samuel proceeded to obey God, as Saul should have, by slaying Agag (1 Samuel 14:32-33). The departure of Samuel and Saul to their respective hometowns pictures them going their separate ways. They had little in common since their allegiance to Yahweh was quite different, so they saw nothing more of each other (1 Samuel 14:35). [Note: See David M. Gunn, The Fate of King Saul: An Interpretation of a Biblical Story, p. 147.] Saul’s attitude toward Yahweh and its resultant judgment grieved the prophet who felt, as God, sorrow over the king’s fate (1 Samuel 15:35; 1 Samuel 16:1). God has feelings about our responses to Him. He is not a machine but a Person. God regretted that He had made Saul king because of Saul’s decisions, not because God thought He had made a mistake by choosing Saul. This is an anthropopathism. God felt about Saul the way we feel when someone whom we have favored greatly disappoints us greatly. Note that God regretted that He had made Saul king, not that He had made Saul one of His children. Saul did not lose his salvation because he failed to obey God completely, but he did lose his opportunity to serve God by ruling over God’s people (cf. Proverbs 25:19; 1 Corinthians 9:27). [Note: See Terence E. Fretheim, "Divine Foreknowledge, Divine Constancy, and the Rejection of Saul’s Kingship," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 47:4 (October 1985):597.]

Chapters 12-15 present the negative side of Saul’s character, whereas chapters 8-11 emphasize Saul’s positive traits. The writer structured these sections parallel to each other to make the contrast striking.

The motif of fertility continues as the major theological emphasis in this section of 1 Samuel (chs. 7-15). Samuel, the innocent and obedient servant of the Lord, won the privilege of communicating God’s Word by his faithful commitment to God. Saul, the ideal Israelite who personified the hopes and ambitions of Israel, lost his privilege of leading God’s people because he was unfaithful to God.

"Saul was an impetuous person who wanted to take matters into his own hands rather than trusting the Lord. He had the opposite of the proper covenant mentality. His sin was so serious that there could be no atonement for it. This is similar to Eli’s sons, for whose sins no atonement was available. Their sin resulted in a change of order, from Eli to Samuel. In Saul’s case the change in order was from Saul to David." [Note: Martin, p. 35.]

The writer recorded four more conflicts and reversals of fortune in chapters 7-15: the Philistines and Samuel (1 Samuel 7:2-17), the Ammonites and Saul (chs. 8-11), Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 12:1 to 1 Samuel 14:46), and Saul and Samuel (1 Samuel 14:47 to 1 Samuel 15:35). In the first two sections, God’s two anointed servants, Samuel and Saul, defeated Israel’s external enemies by depending on God. They both gave God the credit for their victories (1 Samuel 7:12; 1 Samuel 11:13-15). In the third and fourth sections, because Saul refused to obey God and to acknowledge His victory, Saul replaced the external enemies of Israel as the object of God and Samuel’s anger. Jonathan became Israel’s deliverer when his father failed. The son saw the spiritual significance of events to which the father was blind.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-samuel-15.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Samuel said,.... In reply to Saul:

hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? no, certainly, the one being merely ceremonial, the other moral; the one supposes sin committed, for which sacrifice is offered; the other moral, and is a compliance with the will of God, and is neither sinful, nor supposes anything sinful, and therefore must be the more acceptable:

behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams; which always was claimed by the Lord as his right and due; or the fattest rams or best sacrifices, of whatever sort, whether burnt offerings, or sin offerings, or peace offerings; for had man obeyed the will of God, and not sinned, there would have been no need of sacrifice; and that was only acceptable to God when offered with a heart truly sensible of sin, and penitent for it, and in the faith of the great sacrifice of Christ, of which all sacrifices under the law were typical, and led unto.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-15.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Samuel Reproves Saul; Saul Rejected of God. 1065.

      10 Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,   11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.   12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.   13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.   14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?   15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.   16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.   17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?   18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.   19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?   20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.   21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.   22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.   23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

      Saul is here called to account by Samuel concerning the execution of his commission against the Amalekites; and remarkable instances we are here furnished with of the strictness of the justice of God and the treachery and deceitfulness of the heart of man. We are here told,

      I. What passed between God and Samuel, in secret, upon this occasion, 1 Samuel 15:10; 1 Samuel 15:11. 1. God determines Saul's rejection, and acquaints Samuel with it: It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king. Repentance in God is not, as it is in us, a change of his mind, but a change of his method or dispensation. He does not alter his will, but wills an alteration. The change was in Saul: He has turned back from following me; this construction God put upon the partiality of his obedience, and the prevalency of his covetousness. And hereby he did himself make God his enemy. God repented that he had given Saul the kingdom and the honour and power that belonged to it: but he never repented that he had given any man wisdom and grace, and his fear and love; these gifts and callings of God are without repentance. 2. Samuel laments and deprecates it. It grieved Samuel that Saul had forfeited God's favour, and that God had resolved to cast him off; and he cried unto the Lord all night, spent a whole night in interceding for him, that this decree might not go forth against him. When others were in their beds sleeping, he was upon his knees praying and wrestling with God. He did not thus deprecate his own exclusion from the government; nor was he secretly pleased, as many a one would have been, that Saul, who succeeded him, was so soon laid aside, but on the contrary prayed earnestly for his establishment, so far was he from desiring that woeful day. The rejection of sinners is the grief of good people; God delights not in their death, nor should we.

      II. What passed between Samuel and Saul in public. Samuel, being sent of God to him with these heavy tidings, went, as Ezekiel, in bitterness of soul, to meet him, perhaps according to an appointment when Saul went forth on this expedition, for Saul had come to Gilgal (1 Samuel 15:12; 1 Samuel 15:12), the place where he was made king (1 Samuel 11:15; 1 Samuel 11:15), and were now he would have been confirmed if he had approved himself well in the trial of his obedience. But Samuel was informed that Saul had set up a triumphal arch, or some monument of his victory, at Carmel, a city in the mountains of Judah, seeking his own honour more than the honour of God, for he set up this place (or hand, as the word is) for himself (he had more need to have been repenting of his sin and making his peace with God than boasting of his victory), and also that he had marched in great state to Gilgal, for this seems to be intimated in the manner of expression: He has gone about, and passed on, and gone down, with a great deal of pomp and parade. There Samuel gave him the meeting, and,

      1. Saul makes his boast to Samuel of his obedience, because that was the thing by which he was now to signalize himself (1 Samuel 15:13; 1 Samuel 15:13): "Blessed be thou of the Lord, for thou sendest me upon a good errand, in which I have had great success, and I have performed the commandment of the Lord." It is very likely, if his conscience had now flown in his face at this time and charged him with disobedience, he would not have been so forward to proclaim his disobedience; for by this he hoped to prevent Samuel's reproving him. Thus sinners think, by justifying themselves, to escape being judged of the Lord; whereas the only way to do that is by judging ourselves. Those that boast most of their religion may be suspected of partiality and hypocrisy in it.

      2. Samuel convicts him by a plain demonstration of his disobedience. "Hast thou performed the commandment of the Lord? What means then the bleating of the sheep?" 1 Samuel 15:14; 1 Samuel 15:14. Saul would needs have it thought than God Almighty was wonderfully beholden to him for the good service he had done; but Samuel shows him that God was so far from being a debtor to him that he had just cause of action against him, and produces for evidence the bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the oxen, which perhaps Saul appointed to bring up the rear of his triumph, but Samuel appears to them as witnesses against him. He needed not go far to disprove his professions. The noise the cattle made (like the rust of silver,James 5:3) would be a witness against him. Note, It is no new thing for the plausible professions and protestations of hypocrites to be contradicted and disproved by the most plain and undeniable evidence. Many boast of their obedience to the command of God; but what mean then their indulgence of the flesh, their love of the world, their passion and uncharitableness, and their neglect of holy duties, which witness against them?

      3. Saul insists upon his own justification against this charge, 1 Samuel 15:15; 1 Samuel 15:15. The fact he cannot deny; the sheep and oxen were brought from the Amalekites. But, (1.) It was not his fault, for the people spared them; as if they durst have done it without the express orders of Saul, when they knew it was against the express orders of Samuel. Note, Those that are willing to justify themselves are commonly very forward to condemn others, and to lay the blame upon any rather than take it to themselves. Sin is a brat that nobody cares to have laid at his doors. It is the sorry subterfuge of an impenitent heart, that will not confess its guilt, to lay the blame on those that were tempters, or partners, or only followers in it. (2.) It was with a good intention: "It was to sacrifice to the Lord thy God. He is thy God, and thou wilt not be against any thing that is done, as this is, for his honour." This was a false plea, for both Saul and the people designed their own profit in sparing the cattle. But, if it had been true, it would still have been frivolous, for God hates robbery for burnt-offering. God appointed these cattle to be sacrificed to him in the field, and therefore will give those no thanks that bring them to be sacrificed at his altar; for he will be served in his own way, and according to the rule he himself has prescribed. Nor will a good intention justify a bad action.

      4. Samuel overrules, or rather overlooks, his plea, and proceeds, in God's name, to give judgment against him. He premises his authority. What he was about to say was what the Lord had said to him (1 Samuel 15:16; 1 Samuel 15:16), otherwise he would have been far from passing so severe a censure upon him. Those who complain that their ministers are too harsh with them should remember that, while they keep to the word of God, they are but messengers, and must say as they are bidden, and therefore be willing, as Saul himself here was, that they should say on. Samuel delivers his message faithfully. (1.) He reminds Saul of the honour of God had done him in making him king (1 Samuel 15:17; 1 Samuel 15:17), when he was little in his own sight. God regarded the lowness of his state and rewarded the lowliness of his spirit. Note, Those that are advanced to honour and wealth ought often to remember their mean beginnings, that they may never think highly of themselves, but always study to do great things for the God that had advanced them. (2.) He lays before him the plainness of the orders he was to execute (1 Samuel 15:18; 1 Samuel 15:18): The Lord sent thee on a journey; so easy was the service, and so certain the success, that it was rather to be called a journey than a war. The work was honourable, to destroy the sworn enemies of God and Israel; and had he denied himself, and set aside the consideration of his own profit so far as to have destroyed all that belonged to Amalek, he would have been no loser by it at last, nor have gone this warfare on his own charges. God would no doubt have made it up to him, so that he should have no need of spoil. And therefore, (3.) He shows him how inexcusable he was in aiming to make a profit of this expedition, and to enrich himself by it (1 Samuel 15:19; 1 Samuel 15:19): "Wherefore then didst thou fly upon the spoil, and convert that to thy own use which was to have been destroyed for God's honour?" See what evil the love of money is the root of; but see what is the sinfulness of sin, and that in it which above any thing else makes it evil in the sight of the Lord. It is disobedience: Thou didst not obey the voice of the Lord.

      5. Saul repeats his vindication of himself, as that which, in defiance of conviction, he resolved to abide by, 1 Samuel 15:20; 1 Samuel 15:21. He denies the charge (1 Samuel 15:20; 1 Samuel 15:20): "Yea, I have obeyed, I have done all I should do;" for he had done all which he thought he needed to do, so much wiser was he in his own eyes than God himself. God bade him kill all, and yet he puts in among the instances of his obedience that he brought Agag alive, which he thought was as good as if he had killed him. Thus carnal deceitful hearts think to excuse themselves from God's commandments with their own equivalents. He insists upon it that he has utterly destroyed the Amalekites themselves, which was the main thing intended; but, as to the spoil, he owns it should have been utterly destroyed; so that he knew his Lord's will, and was under no mistake about the command. But he thought that would be wilful waste; the cattle of the Midianites was taken for a prey in Moses's time (Numbers 31:32-34, c.), and why not the cattle of the Amalekites now? Better it should be prey to the Israelites than to the fowls of the air and the wild beasts and therefore he connived at the people's carrying it away. But it was their doing and not his; and, besides, it was for sacrifice to the Lord here at Gilgal, whither they were now bringing them. See what a hard thing it is to convince the children of disobedience of their sin and to strip them of their fig-leaves.

      6. Samuel gives a full answer to his apology, since he did insist upon it, 1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Samuel 15:23. He appeals to his own conscience: Has the Lord as great delight in sacrifices as in obedience? Though Saul was not a man of any great acquaintance with religion, yet he could not but know this, (1.) That nothing is so pleasing to God as obedience, no, not sacrifice and offering, and the fat of rams. See here what we should seek and aim at in all the exercises of religion, even acceptance with God, that he may delight in what we do. If God be well pleased with us and our services, we are happy, we have gained our point, but otherwise to what purpose is it?Isaiah 1:11. Now here we are plainly told that humble, sincere, and conscientious obedience to the will of God, is more pleasing and acceptable to him than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices. A careful conformity to moral precepts recommends us to God more than all ceremonial observances, Micah 6:6-8; Hosea 6:6. Obedience is enjoyed by the eternal law of nature, but sacrifice only by a positive law. Obedience was the law of innocency, but sacrifice supposes sin come into the world, and is but a feeble attempt to take that away which obedience would have prevented. 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 burnt upon the altar than to bring every high thought into obedience to God and the will subject to his will. Obedience is the glory of angels (Psalms 103:20), and it will be ours. (2.) That nothing is so provoking to God as disobedience, setting up our wills in competition with his. This is here called rebellion and stubbornness, and is said to be as bad as witchcraft and idolatry,1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 15:23. It is as bad to set up other gods as to live in disobedience to the true God. Those that are governed by their own corrupt inclinations, in opposition to the command of God, do, in effect, consult the teraphim (as the word here is for idolatry) or the diviners. It was disobedience that made us all sinners (Romans 5:19), and this is the malignity of sin, that it is the transgression of the law, and consequently it is enmity to God,Romans 8:7. Saul was a king, but if he disobey the command of God, his royal dignity and power will not excuse him from the guilt of rebellion and stubbornness. It is not the rebellion of the people against their prince, but of a prince against God, that this text speaks of.

      7. He reads his doom: in short, "Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, hast despised it (so the Chaldee), hast made nothing of it (so the LXX.), hast cast off the government of it, therefore he has rejected thee, despised and made nothing of thee, but cast thee off from being king. He that made thee king has determined to unmake thee again." Those are unfit and unworthy to rule over men who are not willing that God should rule over them.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Samuel 15:22". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-samuel-15.html. 1706.

Sours: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-samuel/15-22.html

1 Samuel 15:22-23 – To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice (Teaching Outline)

Note: Begin reading the passage at verse 1 in order to grasp the immediate context.

Introduction: A mother is said to have once told this story about her little boy:

My son, Michael, was four years old the night I found him sobbing uncontrollably in the hallway. Concerned, I knelt next to him and drew him close.

“What’s the matter, sweetheart? Are you hurt?” He shook his head and turned to me, but I was unprepared for his response.

“Daddy said a bad word to me!” he sobbed. I almost laughed out loud. I had known my husband 12 years and had rarely heard him raise his voice. But Michael had heard him say something, and I was curious enough to want to know what it was.

“Honey, what bad word did Daddy say?” And seeing a chance for sympathy, my sensitive four-year-old stopped crying and blurted out – “Obey!”

I never think of that incident now without asking my Heavenly Father to keep me from believing, as my son did, that ‘obey’ is a bad word. (2000+ Bible Illustrations, e-Sword)

Today we will take a look at a grown man who seemed to view obey as a bad word, and that man is King Saul. We will focus our attention on verses 22-23 of our text, in which Samuel confronts Saul for having disobeyed God. We will examine the text under three headings: 1) Samuel’s rhetorical question, 2) Samuel’s rebuke, and 3) the reasons for Samuel’s rebuke.

I. Samuel’s Rhetorical Question

We find Samuel’s question in the first part of verse 22:

NKJ  1 Samuel 15:22a Then Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?”

As we have already seen in our reading of the context, Saul claims to have obeyed the Lord, but he has really only partially obeyed the Lord. He has not killed Agag, the king of Amalek, and he has allowed the people to take spoils that they were not supposed to take. His excuse was that they were going to use some of the captured livestock for sacrifices to the Lord. Thus Saul clearly thought that going through the motions of religious observance would somehow make up for the fact that he had not completely obeyed the Lord.

So, when Samuel asked, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?,” he was asking Saul whether he really thought that going through the religious motions of worship could make up for the fact that he had disobeyed what God had commanded him to do.

Application Questions: Before we move any further in the passage, then, perhaps we could each one of us ask ourselves a similar question this morning. For example, do we sometimes think that we can make up for failing to obey God throughout the week by coming to church on Sunday? Do we sometimes think that because we read the Bible on a regular basis we can somehow make up for the fact that we do not really live according to the Bible as we should? Do we sometimes think that sharing the Gospel once in a while will somehow make up for all the missed opportunities the Lord has brought our way? Do we sometimes think that certain acts of obedience are better than others and can thus somehow make up for any lack of obedience in what we might consider to be less important areas? Do we sometimes fall into the same trap as Saul, thinking that somehow partial obedience is just as good as complete obedience, so long as that partial obedience is something that we think is really important?

These are the kinds of things we should think about as we consider Samuel’s question. But now let’s look at Samuel’s answer, in which he drives the point home by way of a rebuke.

II. Samuel’s Rebuke

We find Samuel’s rebuke in the second part of verse 22:

NKJ  1 Samuel 15:22b Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

Of course, there can be only one answer to Samuel’s question, the answer which he immediately provides, namely that obedience and really listening to God is better than sacrifice. Nothing can substitute for full, heartfelt obedience. Sadly, there are many today who seem to dismiss any need for complete obedience. For example, many professing Christians claim to hold to the doctrine of eternal security, yet they do not see obedience as all that important. They seem to think that, since they have their “fire insurance” – so to speak – they can live as they please and are assured of everlasting life despite their lack of concern for obeying God. As A.W. Tozer has aptly stated, “To escape the error of salvation by works, we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience” (Paths to Power, p. 51).

But listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians:

NKJ  Romans 6:15-19 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

Someone has rightly said, “When Christ takes the burden of guilt off a sinner’s shoulders, He places the yoke of obedience upon his neck.” But we must remember that our Lord Jesus’ yoke is pleasant:

NKJ  Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

We must also remember that, as we follow Jesus in obedience, we gain assurance:

NKJ  1 John 2:3-5 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

Obedience really is the very best thing for us, isn’t it? And we should allow this to motivate us to obey our Lord Jesus Christ in all that He commands. But Samuel, remember, is rebuking Saul, so he gives some negative reasons for his answer.

III. The Reasons for Samuel’s Rebuke

Now we will focus upon the reasons why Samuel says that complete obedience is better than sacrifice. These reasons are found in verse 23. Here it becomes clear that partial obedience – which is really disobedience – is the worst kind of sin! For the source of such sin is 1) rebellion, 2) stubbornness, and 3) rejection of God’s Word.

First, disobedience is rebellion against God as the source of wisdom for our lives.

We see this in the first part of verse 23:

NKJ  1 Samuel 15:23a For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft [קֶסֶם, qesemdivination]

The Hebrew word for witchcraft here is qesem, which denotes divination (BDB #8634, BibleWorks) or “prediction, the survey of future events” (HALOT #8435, BibleWorks). Divination could encompass a number of practices, such as seeking to communicate with the dead, the examination of animal entrails, or astrology. Such practices were strictly forbidden by God:

NKJ  Deuteronomy 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft [קֶסֶם, qesem, divination], or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.

So, Saul’s partial obedience was really rebellion against God as the true source of wisdom. Such partial obedience, which does not see complete obedience to God as important, actually rejects God’s wisdom and cries, “I know better!” In this way, it is just like divination, which seeks after wisdom in a source other than God.

Sadly, this tendency actually later led to Saul’s literal practice of divination – and to his ultimate demise – when he visited the witch of En Dor (1 Sam. 28:3-25). This should serve as a warning to us, since it shows us how easily partial disobedience ultimately leads to complete disobedience.

Second, disobedience is stubbornness toward God that is the same kind of sin as idolatry.

We see this in the second part of verse 23:

NKJ 1 Samuel 15:23b and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

John Piper has described this point well:

When God says one thing and we consult the little wizard of our own wisdom and then stubbornly choose to go our own way we are idolaters. We have not only chosen to consult ourselves as an alternative to God, and thus become guilty of divination, but we go beyond that and actually esteem the direction of our own mind over God’s direction and become guilty of idolatry. And worst of all, the idol is our own self.

So it stands to reason that God will be displeased with disobedience because at every point it is an attack on his glory.

It puts the fear of man in the place of the fear of God.

It elevates pleasure in things above pleasure in God.

It seeks a name for itself instead of a name for God.

It consults the wisdom of self instead of being satisfied with the will of God.

And it sets more value on the dictates of self than on the dictates of God and thus attempts to dethrone God by giving allegiance to the idol of the human will. (The Pleasure of God in Obedience)

This is the nature of the sin committed by Saul, and it is the nature of all sin that ignores the commands of the LORD.

Third, disobedience is a rejection of God’s Word.

We see this in the third part of verse 23:

NKJ  1 Samuel 15:23c Because you have rejected [מָאַס, mā’as] the word of the LORD, He also has rejected [מָאַס, mā’as] you from being king.

Saul claimed that he really allowed the people to keep the cattle they should have destroyed because he wanted to give them as sacrifices to God. He claimed, therefore, to be interested in worshiping the Lord and bringing Him glory. But Samuel showed him that he could not claim to worship God while at the same time he rejected His Word. And because he rejected God’s word and refused to obey it, he was rejected as a servant of God. Any opportunity he had to truly do good for God was therefore lost due to his disobedience.

Application: What about us? Do we have the same tendency as Saul to blind ourselves to the true motives for our disobedience? Do we try to rationalize our disobedience, rather than admit that it amounts to outright rebellion against God? Do we sometimes tell ourselves that partial obedience is good enough, rather than admit that we are just too stubborn and selfish to put God’s will first?

Perhaps we would all do well to remember the words of a little poem that is said to be inscribed in the cathedral of Lübeck in Germany:

‘Ye call Me Master and obey Me not;

Ye call Me Light and see Me not;

Ye call Me Way and walk Me not;

Ye call Me Life and desire Me not;

Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not;

Ye call Me Fair and love Me not;

Ye call Me Rich and ask Me not;

Ye call Me Eternal and seek Me not;

Ye call Me Gracious and trust Me not;

Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not;

Ye call Me Mighty and honour Me not;

Ye call Me Just and fear Me not;

If I condemn YOU, blame Me not’.

Let each one of us resolve today to obey God more completely and to refuse to rationalize away our disobedience and thus fail to see it for what it really is – an affront to God, a rejection of His loving, sovereign will in favor of our own stubborn, sinful desires.

Let us also remember that we cannot truly worship the LORD apart from heeding his word. We must always look to His word as the source of the wisdom we need to truly serve and worship Him. As the Apostle Paul again teaches us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Conclusion: As someone once wrote, “One of the reasons people find it hard to be obedient to the commands of Christ, is that they are uncomfortable taking orders from a stranger.”

This really hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it? It highlights the fact that when we continually struggle to obey, it is because we have grown distant in our relationship to Christ. But remember what Jesus said:

NKJ  John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

We can never obey as we should without a close relationship to our Lord Jesus Christ, without the strength of our Lord enabling us. As the Apostle Paul so wonderfully put it:

NKJ  Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

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Published by Keith Throop

I am currently serving as the primary teaching elder of Immanuel Baptist Church in Bloomington, Illinois, where I have been since 1993. My fellow-elders are George Drye, Brent Flint, and Ben Murphy, each of whom also resides in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Together, by the grace of God, we make up one pretty good pastor! I received my B.A. in Biblical Studies from Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) in Columbia, South Carolina. And I received my M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. And, by the way, my last name has a silent 'h' and is pronounced 'troop.' View all posts by Keith Throop

Sours: https://reformedbaptistblog.com/2015/12/18/1-samuel-1522-23-to-obey-is-better-than-sacrifice-teaching-outline/
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1 Samuel 15 – God Rejects Saul as King

A. Battle against the Amalekites.

1. (1-3) A clear, radical command: destroy Amalek.

Samuel also said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

a. Samuel also said to Saul: This was a message from the spiritual leader of Israel to the political and military leader of Israel. The message was clear: punish what Amalek did to Israel… utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. God clearly told Samuel to tell Saul to bring a total judgment against the Amalekites.

i. Utterly destroy: This Hebrew verb (heherim) is used seven times in this account. The idea of total, complete judgment is certainly stressed.

b. How he laid wait for him on the way when he came up from Egypt: This explains why the Amalekites should be judged so completely. Centuries before this the Amalekites were the first people to attack Israel after their escape from Egypt (Exodus 17).

i. Hundreds of years before, the LORD said He would bring this kind of judgment against Amalek: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:14-16) Deuteronomy 25:17-19 repeats this idea.

ii. The Amalekites committed a terrible sin against Israel. When the nation was weak and vulnerable the Amalekites attacked the weakest and most vulnerable of the nation (Deuteronomy 25:18). They did this for no reasons except violence and greed. God hates it when the strong take cruel advantage over the weak, especially when the weak are His people.

iii. Though this happened more than 400 years before, God still held it against the Amalekites because time does not erase sin before God. Among men time should erase sin and the years should make us more forgiving to one another. But before God, time cannot atone for sin. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can erase sin, not time. In fact, it was time that the Amalekites were mercifully given opportunity to repent and they did not repent. The hundreds of years of hardened unrepentant hearts made them guiltier, not less guilty.

c. Now go and attack Amalek: God could have judged Amalek directly as He did against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But God had a special purpose in this for His special nation, Israel. He wanted it to be a test of obedience for Saul and all of Israel. Plus, since Amalek’s sin against Israel was a military attack, God wanted to make the judgment fit the sin.

i. Would God call His people today to fight such a war of judgment? God has a completely different call for Christians under the New Covenant than He did for Israel under the Old Covenant (John 18:36).

ii. Though God no longer calls His people to take up arms as instruments of His judgment, it does not mean that God has stopped judging the nations. “But we cannot suppose, for a single moment, that the judgment of the nations is to be altogether relegated [appointed] to that final day. Throughout the history of the world the nations have been standing before Christ’s bar. Nineveh stood there, Babylon stood there, Greece and Rome stood there, Spain and France stood there, and Great Britain is standing there to-day. One after another has had the solemn word – depart, and they have passed into a destruction which has been absolute and terrible.” (Meyer)

2. (4-6) Saul prepares for the attack on the Amalekites.

So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

a. So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them: Saul was certainly a capable military leader. He could gather and organize a large army. He also knew how to time his attack properly; and he lay in wait in the valley.

b. Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart”: Here, Saul shows wisdom and mercy in letting the Kenites go. God’s judgment was not upon them, so he did not want to destroy them with the Amalekites.

3. (7-9) Saul attacks the Amalekites.

And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

a. Saul attacked the Amalekites: This was good and in obedience to the LORD. But it was a selective, incomplete obedience. First, Saul took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. God commanded Saul to bring His judgment on all the people, including the king.

i. Why did Saul take Agag king of the Amalekites alive? “Saul spared Agag, either out of a foolish pity for the goodliness of his person, which Josephus notes; or for his respect to his royal majesty, in the preservation of which he thought himself concerned; or for the glory of his triumph.” (Poole)

ii. “If Saul spare Agag, the people will take liberty to spare the best of the spoil… the sins of the great command imitation.” (Trapp)

b. Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them: God clearly commanded in 1 Samuel 15:3 that every ox and sheep, camel and donkey was to be destroyed and Saul didn’t do this.

i. In a normal war in the ancient world, armies were freely permitted to plunder their conquered foes. This was often how the army was paid. But it was wrong for anyone in Israel to benefit from the war against the Amalekites because it was an appointed judgment from God. This was just as wrong as a hangman emptying the pockets of the man he just executed for murder.

c. Everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed: They were careful to keep the best for themselves. We can imagine they were all pleased with what they gained after the battle.

i. This perhaps was worst of all because Israel did not show God’s heart in judgment. When they came home happy and excited because of what they gained from the battle, they implied there was something joyful or happy about God’s judgment. This dishonored God, who brings His judgment reluctantly and without pleasure, longing that men would repent instead.

ii. “Partial obedience is complete disobedience. Saul and his men obeyed as far as suited them; that is to say, they did not obey God at all, but their own inclinations, both in sparing the good and destroying the worthless. What was not worth carrying off was destroyed, – not because of the command, but to save trouble.” (Maclaren)

iii. “To spare the best of Amalek is surely equivalent to sparing some root of evil, some plausible indulgence, some favourite sin. For us, Agag must stand for that evil propensity, which exists in all of us, for self-gratification; and to spare Agag is to be merciful to ourselves, to exonerate and palliate [excuse] our failures, and to condone our besetting sin.” (Meyer)

4. (10-11) God’s word to Samuel.

Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.

a. I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king: God’s heart was broken over Saul’s disobedience. The man who started out humble and submitted to God eventually went his own way in disobedience.

i. I greatly regret: This is the use of anthropomorphism, when God explains Himself to man in human terms, so man can have some understanding of God’s heart. God knew from the beginning Saul’s heart, ways, and destiny. God already sought for Himself a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Yet as all this unfolded, God’s heart was not emotionless. He didn’t sit in heaven with a clipboard, checking off boxes, coldly saying, “All according to plan.” Saul’s disobedience hurt God, and since we can’t grasp all what happens in God’s heart, the closest that we can come is for God to express it in the human terms of saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king.”

b. And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night: Samuel had God’s heart. It hurt God to reject Saul, and it hurt God’s prophet to see him rejected. We are close to God’s heart when the things that grieve Him grieve us, and the things that please God please us.

5. (12-13) Saul greets Samuel.

So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”

a. Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul: Reluctantly, Samuel (who anointed Saul as king years before) now came to discipline the disobedient king.

b. He set up a monument for himself: Saul wasn’t grieved over his sin. Saul was quite pleased with himself! There is not the slightest bit of shame or guilt in Saul, even though he directly disobeyed the LORD.

i. In coming chapters, God will raise up another man to replace Saul as king. David, in contrast to Saul, was known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Even though David would also disobey God, the difference between him and Saul was great. David felt the guilt and shame one should feel when they sin. Saul didn’t feel it. His conscience was dead to shame, and his heart was dead to God. Saul’s heart was so dead he could directly disobey God and still set up a monument for himself on the occasion.

c. He set up a monument for himself: This also shows that Saul was not the same humble man who once had a humble opinion of himself (1 Samuel 9:21) and who once hid among the equipment out of shyness (1 Samuel 10:22). The years, the military victories, and prestige of the throne of Israel all revealed the pride in Saul’s heart.

i. “But the truth is, he was zealous for his own honour and interest, but lukewarm where God only was concerned.” (Poole)

d. Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD”: Saul can come to the prophet of God with such boldness, boasting of his obedience because of his pride. Saul is self-deceived. He probably really believed what he told Samuel. He probably believed, “I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” Pride always leads us into self-deception.

i. Maclaren has an insightful comment on Saul’s statement, “I have performed the commandment of the LORD”: “That is more than true obedience is quick to say. If Saul had done it, he would have been slower to boast of it.”

6. (14-16) Saul “explains” his sin to Samuel.

But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.”

a. What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear: The livestock that God clearly commanded to be killed could be heard, seen, and smelled even as Saul said, “I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”

i. Pride and disobedience make us blind – or deaf – to our sin. What was completely obvious to Samuel was invisible to Saul. We all have blind spots of sin in our lives, and we need to constantly ask God to show them to us. We need to sincerely pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24: Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

b. They have brought them… the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen: This is the first of a series of excuses from Saul – he blamed the people, not himself. Second, he included himself in the obedience (the rest we have utterly destroyed). Third, he justified what he kept because of its fine quality (the best of the sheep and the oxen). Fourth, he claimed to do it for a spiritual reason (to sacrifice to the LORD your God).

i. In his pride and self-deception, this all made perfect sense to Saul, but it meant nothing to God and Samuel. In fact, it was worse than nothing – it showed that Saul was desperately trying to excuse his sin by word games and half-truths.

ii. But even in his excuse, Saul revealed the real problem: he had a poor relationship with God. Notice how he spoke of God to Samuel: “to sacrifice to the LORD your God.” The LORD was not Saul’s God. Saul was Saul’s God. The LORD was the God of Samuel, not Saul. In his pride, Saul removed the LORD God from the throne of his heart.

iii. “O sinners, you do miscalculate fearfully when you give to God’s servants such false explanations of your sins!” (Blaikie)

c. The rest we have utterly destroyed: As it turned out, not even this was true. There were still Amalekites left alive. David later had to deal with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12). Haman, the evil man who tried to wipe out all the Jewish people in the days of Esther, was a descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1). Most ironic of all, when Saul was killed on the field of battle, an Amalekite claimed to deliver the final thrust of the sword (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.

d. Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet”: Samuel has had enough. He will listen to no more from Saul. The excuse was revealed for what it was – just a lame excuse. Now it is time for Saul to be quiet, and to listen to the word of the LORD through Samuel.

i. But even in this, Saul can’t shut up. He shows his proud desire to retain some control by replying, “Speak on” as if the prophet of God needed Saul’s permission. He would speak on, but not because Saul gave him permission. He would speak on because he was a messenger of God.

B. Saul is rejected as king.

1. (17-21) The charge against Saul, and his feeble defense.

So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?” And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”

a. Now the LORD sent you on a mission… Why did you not obey the voice of the LORD:This was the most apparent of Saul’s sins. God gave him a specific command and he directly disobeyed it.

i. Though the disobedience was the most apparent sin, the root of Saul’s disobedience was far worse: pride. Samuel refers to this when he remembers when things were different with Saul: When you were little in your own eyes, were you not the head of the tribes of Israel? It could no longer be said of Saul, “you are little in your own eyes.” He was big in his own eyes and that made God small in his eyes.

b. But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD: Saul first insists that he is innocent. But he is so self-deceived he can say, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD and then immediately describe how he did not obey the voice of the LORD saying that he brought back Agag king of Amalek.

i. Saul’s claim, “I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites” is plain evidence of the power and depth of his self-deception. There was an Amalekite right in front of him whom was not utterly destroyed.

c. But the people took of the plunder: After insisting he is innocent, Saul then blamed the people for the sin. His statement was a half-truth that was actually a whole lie. It was true that the people took of the plunder. But they did so by following Saul’s example (he spared Agag king of Amalek), and with Saul’s allowance (because he did nothing to stop or discourage them).

i. Saul was certainly zealous in commanding his army when it suited him to be so. In the previous chapter, he commanded a death sentence on anyone who ate anything on the day of battle. He was willing to execute his own son in his zeal to have his command obeyed. Saul was full of fire and zeal when it came to his own will, but not when it came to the will of God.

2. (22-23) Samuel prophesies God’s judgment against King Saul.

Then Samuel said:

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion
is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness
is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from
being king.”

a. Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams: Religious observance without obedience is empty before God. The best sacrifice we can bring to God is a repentant heart (Psalm 51:16-17) and our bodies surrendered to His service for obedience (Romans 12:1).

i. One could make a thousand sacrifices unto God, work a thousand hours for God’s service, or give millions of dollars to His work. But all these sacrifices mean little if there is not a surrendered heart to God, shown by simple obedience.

ii. In sacrifice we offer the flesh of another creature; in obedience we offer our own will before God. Luther said, “I had rather be obedient, than able to work miracles.” (Cited in Trapp)

b. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry: A rebellious, stubborn heart rejects God just as certainly as someone rejects God by occult practices or idolatry.

i. Saul’s problem wasn’t just that he neglected some ceremony. That is how Saul thought of obedience to God. In today’s world he might say, “What? So God wants me to go to church more? All right, I’ll go.” But religious observance was not Saul’s problem; the problem was that his heart became rebellious and stubborn against God. If religious observance did not help that problem, then it was no good.

ii. It would be easy for Saul to point his finger at the Amalekites or the Philistines and say, “Look at those Godless idolaters. They don’t worship the true God like I do.” But Saul didn’t worship the true God either because the real worship of God begins with surrender.

iii. “All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god.” (Keil and Delitszch)

c. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king: In his empty religious practice, rebellion, and stubbornness against God, Saul rejected God’s word. So, God rightly rejected him as king over Israel.

i. It would be easy to say, “What, Saul will be rejected as king because he spared a king and a few sheep and oxen? Later kings of Israel would do far worse, and not be rejected as king. Why is God being so tough on Saul?” But God saw Saul’s heart, and saw how rebellious and stubborn it was. Saul’s condition was like an iceberg: what was visible might be a manageable size, but there was far more under the surface that couldn’t be seen. God could see it.

ii. So Saul was rejected… from being king. Yet it would be almost 25 years before there was another king enthroned in Israel. Saul’s rejection was final, but it was not immediate. God used almost 25 years to train up the right replacement for Saul.

3. (24-25) Saul’s weak effort towards repentance.

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.”

a. I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words: Saul’s statement begins like a genuine confession but that changes as he continues and said, “because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Saul refused to own up to his sin and instead blamed the people who “made him” do it.

i. “When he could deny it no longer, at length he maketh a forced and feigned confession; drawn thereto, more by the danger and damage of his sin, than by the offence; mincing and making the best of an ill matter.” (Trapp)

ii. To say, “because I feared the people” tries to justify one sin with another. “Had he feared GOD more, he need have feared the PEOPLE less.” (Clarke)

b. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD: Instead of dealing with the deep issue of his heart of rebellion and stubbornness against God, Saul thought that a word from Samuel could fix everything. But a word or two from Samuel would not change the settled nature of Saul’s heart.

i. God knew that Saul’s heart was full of rebellion and stubbornness and that it was settled in that condition. That is something that no man could know with certainty, looking from the outside. But God knew it and He told Samuel. A simple “please pardon my sin” would not do when the heart is settled in rebellion and sin against the LORD.

4. (26-31) God’s rejection of Saul as king over Israel is final.

But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.” Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.” So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD.

a. I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel: Samuel has nothing more to say on this matter, other than what the LORD already said through him (1 Samuel 15:23). There was nothing more to talk about.

i. Why would Samuel say, “I will not return with you” when Saul just wanted him to worship with him? Because that worship would no doubt include sacrifice and offering some of the animals that Saul wickedly spared from the Amalekites.

b. Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today”: Saul’s desperate action provides a vivid object lesson on how the kingdom was torn away from him.

i. As useless as the torn piece of robe was in his hand, so now his leadership of the nation was futile. Now he ruled against God, not for Him. Just as the robe tore because Saul grasped it too tightly, so his tight grip on pride and stubbornness meant the kingdom would be taken away from him. In this respect Saul was the opposite of Jesus, of whom it is said He had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God’s Equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as a mortal man (Philippians 2:6-7, J.B. Phillips translation). Jesus was willing to let go, but Saul insisted in clinging on. So Saul lost all, while Jesus gained all.

c. The Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent: Saul might have thought there was a way out of this. He wondered what he could do to “fix” this. Samuel let him know there was nothing he could do. This was permanent.

i. Samuel uses a title for the LORD found only here in the whole Bible: The Strength of Israel. This reminds Saul that the LORD is determined in His purpose and is strong in His will. There will be no change.

ii. The title Strength of Israel was also important because at that time Saul probably thought of himself as the strength of Israel. But the LORD God was The Strength of Israel and Saul needed to hear it.

d. I have sinned, yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel: Saul’s desperate plea shows the depths of his pride. He is far more concerned with his image than his soul.

i. “Here he plainly discovers his hypocrisy, and the true motive of this and his former confession; he was not solicitous for the favour of God, but for his honour and power with Israel.” (Poole)

e. So Samuel turned back after Saul: Samuel did not lead an immediate rebellion against Saul because God had not raised up Saul’s replacement yet and Saul was better than the anarchy that would come with no king.

f. So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD: Did this do any good? It did no “good” in gaining the kingdom back for Saul. That was a decision God had made and it was final. But it may have done Saul good in moving his proud, stubborn heart closer to God for the sake of saving his soul. At least it had that opportunity, so Samuel allowed Saul to come with him and worship the LORD.

5. (32-33) Samuel carries out God’s will.

Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

a. Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me”: The issue was not yet resolved for Samuel – there was still the matter of Saul’s incomplete obedience. God’s command to utterly destroy all of Amalek still stood, even if Saul didn’t obey it.

b. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past”: As Agag came to the old prophet he thought, “We will let bygones be bygones. I guess this old prophet will let me go home now.” The Living Bible expresses the thought well: Agag arrived all full of smiles, for he thought “surely the worst is over and I have been spared.”

i. “I who have escaped death from the hands of a warlike prince in the fury of battle, shall certainly never suffer death from an old prophet in time of peace.” (Poole)

c. As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women: Samuel makes it clear that Agag was not an innocent bystander when it came to the atrocities the Amalekites inflicted on Israel. Agag was the wicked and violent leader of a wicked and violent people. God’s judgment against him and the Amalekites was just.

d. And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal: Samuel was a priest and had officiated at hundreds of animal sacrifices. He knew how it felt when the blade cut into flesh, but he had never killed another person. Now, without hesitation, this old prophet raises a sword – or probably a large knife, as he would use in sacrifices – and brought it down upon this proud, violent king. Samuel hacked Agag in pieces.

i. Notably, Samuel did it before the LORD. This was not before Saul, to show him how weak and proud he was. This was not before Israel, to show them how strong and tough Samuel was. This was before the LORD, in tough obedience to the LORD God. This scene must have been shockingly violent; the stomachs of those watching must have turned. Yet Samuel did it all before the LORD.

ii. “But these are no precedents for private persons to take the sword of justice into their hands; for we must live by the laws of God, and not by extraordinary examples.” (Poole)

6. (34-35) The tragic split between Samuel and Saul.

Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

a. And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death: Samuel knew that it wasn’t his place to see Saul. It was Saul’s place to come to him in humble repentance before the LORD. This probably would not restore the kingdom to Saul but it could restore his heart before God. Sadly, Saul never came to see Samuel. Ramah and Gibeah were less than ten miles apart, but they never saw each other again.

i. “But we read, chap. xix. 22-24, that Saul went to see Samuel at Naioth, but this does not affect what is said here. From this time Samuel had no connection with Saul; he never more acknowledged him as king; he mourned and prayed for him.” (Clarke)

b. Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul: Samuel was not a cold, dispassionate messenger of God’s word. He hurt for Saul, “For the hardness of his heart, and the hazard of his soul.” (Trapp)

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Sours: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/1-samuel-15/
1 Samuel 15 22 Obedience is Better than Sacrifice

1 Samuel 15:22

1 Samuel 15:22

And Samuel said
In reply to Saul:

hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in
obeying the voice of the Lord?
no, certainly, the one being merely ceremonial, the other moral; the one supposes sin committed, for which sacrifice is offered; the other moral, and is a compliance with the will of God, and is neither sinful, nor supposes anything sinful, and therefore must be the more acceptable:

behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat
of rams;
which always was claimed by the Lord as his right and due; or the fattest rams or best sacrifices, of whatever sort, whether burnt offerings, or sin offerings, or peace offerings; for had man obeyed the will of God, and not sinned, there would have been no need of sacrifice; and that was only acceptable to God when offered with a heart truly sensible of sin, and penitent for it, and in the faith of the great sacrifice of Christ, of which all sacrifices under the law were typical, and led unto.

Sours: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/1-samuel-15-22.html

15 1 commentary samuel 22

Sin and Self-Deceit

Explore Sermons By Dr. Lloyd-Jones

A Sermon on 1 Samuel 15:22-23

And Samuel said,

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has also rejected you from being king.” (ESV)

Read more

The story of Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22–23 is the story of someone who rationalizes and explains away their own sin. Saul was God’s chosen king over Israel, yet he disobeyed God and followed his own desires. Saul is a picture for how everyone rationalizes sin and their own rebellion; everyone feigns ignorance of their own wrongdoing and sinful desires. The answer is never found in more law-keeping because the Bible is clear that no person can keep the law but instead is called to trust in Jesus Christ as the only way to be saved and overcome sin. “To obey is better than sacrifice” Samuel declares to Saul. Christians are those that are not like Saul in that they truly repent of their sin and seek God’s grace. Christians are those that believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him alone for salvation. The message of the gospel is that humanity does not have to suffer for their sins because Christ died in their place and took sin upon Himself so that all can be saved and made righteous.


Additional Scripture Translations

1 Samuel 15:22-23, New American Standard Bible

22Samuel said,

“Does the Lord have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

As in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than a sacrifice,

And to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.

23For rebellion is as reprehensible as the sin of divination,

And insubordination is as reprehensible as false religion and idolatry.

Since you have rejected the word of the Lord,

He has also rejected you from being king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23, King James Version

22And Samuel said, Hath the LORDas great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.


About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.

Sours: https://www.mljtrust.org/sermons-online/1-samuel-15-22-23/sin-and-self-deceit/
1st Samuel 15: Saul Rejected

What Does 1 Samuel 15:22 Mean?

Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Saul was a man who was chosen by God to be the first king of Israel. Saul had a form of godliness, but chose to disobey God by reinterpreting scripture. He set out to fulfil his own selfish ends, rather than obeying God's word, and relying on the Lord to lead and guide him, in the governance of His people, Israel.

Saul had been specifically ordered by God to destroy the Amalakites. Every man, every woman, every child and every animal they possessed, was to be put to the sword. God knew that this nation has been so grossly corrupted (probably genetically), that nothing must remain of them. Everything was to be utterly consumed, so that their evil ways, demonic practices and satanic influence would not infect the nation of Israelites.

Saul obeyed part of God's instruction, but kept king Agag alive, to honour his own victory over the Amalakites. It was for his own glory that Saul spared Agag, the fierce king of the Amalekites - so that a monument could be set up to glorify Saul's name. Saul was more interested in his own honour than obeying the word of the Lord.

He spared the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings and lambs, as his own selfish prize. However, he pretended that these animals had been spared as an offering to the Lord, when his selfish motive was challenged by Samuel, the prophet.

Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? was the prophets stern rebuke to this cowardly and deceitful king. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. To heed the voice of the Lord is better than offering the fat of rams.

Samuel was the one who had anointed Saul as king, at God's instruction, yet he was the one that was to deliver the strongest rebuke to this disobedient king,. for Saul was to be removed from his high position as God's anointed servant, over His people, Israel. He was to be replaced with a man after God's own heart - a man who reverenced the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

As with so much that is recorded in Jewish history, there are many lessons to learn and much reason to honour the Lord, listen to His voice and obey His word. And Samuel teaches us an important lesson with the simple truth, that to obey the word of the Lord our God, is better than offering Him sacrifices, and to heed the voice of the Spirit of God is more important than offering the fat of rams.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the many lessons that I can learn from the history of the people and kings of Israel. Help me to listen to Your voice and pay heed to Your word - for it is my desire to honour You in thought, word, deed and motive - through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit - this I ask in Jesus name AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(22) Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.—In this answer it would seem that the Spirit of the Lord descended upon Samuel, and that he here gave utterance to one of those rapt expressions which now and again in the course of each of these Hebrew prophets’ lives these famous men were commissioned by the Divine power to give out to their fellows. The words of Samuel here were reproduced, or at least referred to, by other prophets and teachers of the old dispensation; for example, see Psalm 50:8-14; Psalm 51:16-17; Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Micah 6:6-8; Hosea 6:6. Our Lord himself, in His words recorded in Matt. ix, 13, if not actually referring to this passage, makes substantially the same declaration.

Irenæus, Haer. 4:32 (quoted by Wordsworth), sees in this great saving of Samuel’s a plain intimation that the day would come when the burnt offerings enjoined on Israel would give place to a simple worship of the heart. Wordsworth also quotes a weighty comment from St. Gregory (Moral. 35:10): “In sacrifices (per victimas) a man offers only strange flesh, whereas in obedience he offers his own will.”

Benson Commentary

1 Samuel 15:22. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice — A most divine admonition this, and inculcated by all the following inspired writers, by David, Solomon, and the prophets; as the reader may see by consulting the margin. Obedience to God is a moral duty, constantly and indispensably necessary; but sacrifice is but a ceremonial institution, sometimes unnecessary, as it was in the wilderness; and sometimes sinful, when it is offered by a polluted hand, or in an irregular manner. Therefore thy gross disobedience to God’s express command is not to be compensated with sacrifice. To hearken — That is, to obey. The fat of rams — Then the choicest part of all the sacrifice.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

15:10-23 Repentance in God is not a change of mind, as it is in us, but a change of method. The change was in Saul; He is turned back from following me. Hereby he made God his enemy. Samuel spent a whole night in pleading for Saul. The rejection of sinners is the grief of believers: God delights not in their death, nor should we. Saul boasts to Samuel of his obedience. Thus sinners think, by justifying themselves, to escape being judged of the Lord. The noise the cattle made, like the rust of the silver, Jas 5:3, witnessed against him. Many boast of obedience to the command of God; but what means then their indulgence of the flesh, their love of the world, their angry and unkind spirit, and their neglect of holy duties, which witness against them? See of what evil covetousness is the root; and see what is the sinfulness of sin, and notice that in it which above any thing else makes it evil in the sight of the Lord; it is disobedience: Thou didst not obey the voice of the Lord. 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.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Hath the Lord ... - A grand example of the moral and spiritual teaching of the prophets (see the marginal references). The tension of Samuel's spirit, as he is about to pronounce the sentence of rejection, produces a lyrical turn of thought and language.

1 Samuel 15:22.To what purpose shall frankincense be brought unto me from Sabah?

Or the rich aromatic reed from a far country?

Your burnt-offerings are not acceptable,

continued...

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

13-23. Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord—Saul was either blinded by a partial and delusive self-love, or he was, in his declaration to Samuel, acting the part of a bold and artful hypocrite. He professed to have fulfilled the divine command, and that the blame of any defects in the execution lay with the people. Samuel saw the real state of the case, and in discharge of the commission he had received before setting out, proceeded to denounce his conduct as characterized by pride, rebellion, and obstinate disobedience. When Saul persisted in declaring that he had obeyed, alleging that the animals, whose bleating was heard, had been reserved for a liberal sacrifice of thanksgiving to God, his shuffling, prevaricating answer called forth a stern rebuke from the prophet. It well deserved it—for the destination of the spoil to the altar was a flimsy pretext—a gross deception, an attempt to conceal the selfishness of the original motive under the cloak of religious zeal and gratitude.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

To obey is better than sacrifice, because obedience to God is a moral duty, constantly and indispensably necessary; but sacrifice is but a ceremonial institution, sometimes unnecessary, as it was in the wilderness; and sometimes sinful, when it is offered by a polluted hand, or in an irregular manner; therefore thy gross disobedience to God’s express command is not to be compensated with sacrifice.

To hearken, i.e. to obey, as hearing is oft used in Scripture. Than the fat of rams; than the choicest part of all the sacrifice, to wit, the fat, which was appropriated to God, Leviticus 3:16; whereas the offerer might partake of other parts of it.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And Samuel said,.... In reply to Saul:

hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? no, certainly, the one being merely ceremonial, the other moral; the one supposes sin committed, for which sacrifice is offered; the other moral, and is a compliance with the will of God, and is neither sinful, nor supposes anything sinful, and therefore must be the more acceptable:

behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams; which always was claimed by the Lord as his right and due; or the fattest rams or best sacrifices, of whatever sort, whether burnt offerings, or sin offerings, or peace offerings; for had man obeyed the will of God, and not sinned, there would have been no need of sacrifice; and that was only acceptable to God when offered with a heart truly sensible of sin, and penitent for it, and in the faith of the great sacrifice of Christ, of which all sacrifices under the law were typical, and led unto.

Geneva Study Bible

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

22. With a burst of prophetic inspiration Samuel rends asunder Saul’s tissue of excuses, and lays bare his sin. His words are the key-note of the long remonstrance of the prophets in subsequent ages against the too common error of supposing that external ceremonial can be of any value in the sight of God when separated from the true devotion of the worshipper’s heart which it symbolizes. See Psalm 40:6-8; Psalm 50:8ff; Psalm 51:16-17; Isaiah 1:11-15; Jeremiah 6:20; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7. The rhythmical form of the original adds force and solemnity.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 22, 23.- The rebuke of Samuel contains one of those pregnant sayings which mark the high moral tone of the teaching of the prophets, and soon became a fundamental principle with them. To obey is better than sacrificeis a dictum reproduced by Hosea (Hosea 6:6), the most ancient of those prophets of Israel whose lessons have been preserved in writing; it is referred to in still earlier psalms (see Psalm 50:13-14; Psalm 51:16, 17); by other prophets (Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Micah 6:6, 8); and finally received our Lord's special approbation (Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7). It asserts in the clearest terms the superiority of moral to ritual worship, and that God can only be really served with the heart. Witchcraftis in the Hebrew divination, a sin always strongly condemned in the Old Testament. Iniquityliterally means nothingness, and so is constantly used for "an idol;" and this must be its signification here, as the word coupled with it, and rendered idolatry, is really teraphim.These were the Hebrew household gods, answering to the Roman Lares, and were supposed to bring good luck. Their worship, we see from this place, was strictly forbidden. The verse, therefore, means, "For rebellion is the sin of divination (i.e.is equal to it in wickedness), and obstinacy (i.e.intractableness) is an idol and teraphim." Samuel thus accuses Saul of resistance to Jehovah's will, and of the determination at all hazards to be his own master. With this temper of mind he could be no fit representative of Jehovah, and therefore Samuel dethrones him. Henceforward he reigns only as a temporal, and no longer as the theocratic, king. 1 Samuel 15:22

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

Without entering, therefore, into any discussion of the meaning of the ban, as Saul only wanted to cover over his own wrong-doings by giving this turn to the affair, Samuel put a stop to any further excuses, by saying, "Hath Jehovah delight in burnt-offerings and slain-offerings as in hearkening to the voice of Jehovah? (i.e., in obedience to His word.) Behold, hearing (obeying) is better than slain-offerings, attending better than fat of rams." By saying this, Samuel did not reject sacrifices as worthless; he did not say that God took no pleasure in burnt-offerings and slain-offerings, but simply compared sacrifice with obedience to the command of God, and pronounced the latter of greater worth than the former. "It was as much as to say that the sum and substance of divine worship consisted in obedience, with which it should always begin, and that sacrifices were, so to speak, simple appendices, the force and worth of which were not so great as of obedience to the precepts of God" (Calvin). But it necessarily follows that sacrifices without obedience to the commandments of God are utterly worthless; in fact, are displeasing to God, as Psalm 50:8., Isaiah 1:11., Isaiah 66:3, Jeremiah 6:20, and all the prophets, distinctly affirm. There was no necessity, however, to carry out this truth any further. To tear off the cloak of hypocrisy, with which Saul hoped to cover his disobedience, it was quite enough to affirm that God's first demand was obedience, and that observing His word was better than sacrifice; because, as the Berleb. Bible puts it, "in sacrifices a man offers only the strange flesh of irrational animals, whereas in obedience he offers his own will, which is rational or spiritual worship" (Romans 12:8). This spiritual worship was shadowed forth in the sacrificial worship of the Old Testament. In the sacrificial animal the Israelite was to give up and sanctify his own person and life to the Lord. (For an examination of the meaning of the different sacrifices, see Pent. pp. 505ff., and Keil's Bibl Archol. 41ff.) But if this were the design of the sacrifices, it was clear enough that God did not desire the animal sacrifice in itself, but first and chiefly obedience to His own word. In 1 Samuel 15:22, טּוב is not to be connected as an adjective with זבח, "more than good sacrifice," as the Sept. and Thenius render it; it is rather to be taken as a predicate, "better than slain-offerings," and מזּבח is placed first simply for the sake of emphasis. Any contrast between good and bad sacrifices, such as the former construction would introduce into the words, is not only foreign to the context, but also opposed to the parallelism. For אילים חלב does not mean fat rams, but the fat of rams; the fat portions taken from the ram, which were placed upon the altar in the case of the slain-offerings, and for which חלב is the technical expression (compare Leviticus 3:9, Leviticus 3:16, with Leviticus 3:4, Leviticus 3:11, etc.). "For," continued Samuel (1 Samuel 15:23), "rebellion is the sin of soothsaying, and opposition is heathenism and idolatry." מרי and הפצר are the subjects, and synonymous in their meaning. קסם חטּאת, the sin of soothsaying, i.e., of divination in connection with the worship of idolatrous and demoniacal powers. In the second clause idols are mentioned instead of idolatry, and compared to resistance, but without any particle of comparison. Opposition is keeping idols and teraphim, i.e., it is like worshipping idols and teraphim. און, nothingness, then an idol or image (vid., Isaiah 66:3; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:5, Hosea 10:8). On the teraphim as domestic and oracular deities, see at Genesis 31:19. Opposition to God is compared by Samuel to soothsaying and oracles, because idolatry was manifested in both of them. All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god. So that all manifest opposition to the word and commandment of God is, like idolatry, a rejection of the true God. "Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, He hath rejected thee, that thou mayst be no longer king." ממּלך equals מלך מהיוה (1 Samuel 15:26), away from being king.

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