|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.
Verse 11. - It repenteth me. By the law of man's free will his concurrence is necessary in carrying out the Divine purpose, and consequently every man called to the execution of any such purpose undergoes a probation. God's purpose will be finally carried out, but each special instrument, if it prove unworthy, will be laid aside. This change of administration is always described in Scriptural language as God's repentance, possibly because the phrase contains also the idea of the Divine grief over the rebellious sinner. But though Saul and his dynasty were thus put aside, and no longer represented Jehovah, still Saul remained the actual king, because God works slowly by the natural sequence of cause and effect. Saul's ill-governed temper, and his hatred and malice towards David, were the means of bringing about his ruin. It grieved Samuel. Hebrew, "it burned to Samuel," i.e. he was angry and displeased. The same phrase occurs in Jonah 4:1, where it is rendered "he was very angry." But with whom was Samuel vexed? Generally at the whole course of events, but especially with Saul. In choosing him he had hoped that, in addition to high military qualities, he would possess a religious and obedient heart. He had now obtained for him a second trial, and if, warned by his earlier failure, he had proved trustworthy all might have been well. Saul had too many noble gifts for Samuel to feel indifferent at the perversion of so great an intellect and so heroic a heart. But he was of a despotic temperament, and would bend to no will but his own; and so he had saved the best of the plunder to enrich the people, and Agag possibly as a proof of his personal triumph. And he cried unto Jehovah all night. I.e. he offered an earnest prayer for forgiveness for Saul, and for a change in his heart. As Abravanel says, Samuel no doubt loved Saul for his beauty and heroism, and therefore prayed for him; but no change came in answer to his prayer, and as forgiveness is conditional upon man's repentance, Saul was not forgiven. It is remarkable how often Samuel is represented as "crying" unto God (see 1 Samuel 7:8, 9; 1 Samuel 12:18).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king,.... Which is not to be understood of any change of mind, counsel, purpose, or decree in God, which is not consistent with his unchangeable nature; but of a change of dispensation, and outward dealings, and is spoken after the manner of men, who, when they repent of anything, change the course of their conduct and behaviour; and so the Lord does without any change of his mind and will, which alters not; and though he changes the outward dispensations of his providence, yet he never changes and alters in the matters and methods of his grace; though he repented he made Saul king, he never repents of his making his saints kings and priests for himself; his outward gifts he sometimes takes away, as an earthly crown and kingdom; but his gifts and calling, which are of special grace, are without repentance; see Gill on Genesis 6:6.
for he is turned back from following me; from after my worship, as the Targum, from doing his will and work:
and hath not performed my commandments: particularly in this affair relating to Amalek:
and it grieved Samuel; that Saul should so soon be rejected from being king, and that he should do anything to deserve it; and whom Samuel had anointed king, and for whom he had a cordial respect, and to whom he wished well, both for his own personal good, and for the good of the people of Israel; so far was he from rejoicing at his fall, who came in his stead, and to whom he gave way in the affair of government:
and he cried unto the Lord all night; or prayed, as the Targum; either that the Lord would inform him of the particulars wherein Saul had done amiss, or that he would forgive his sin, and not reject him from the kingdom.
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