1 Samuel 15:1
Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
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(1Samuel 15:1-3) Samuel also said unto Saul . . .—The compiler of the history, selecting, no doubt, from ancient state records, chose to illustrate the story of the reign and rejection of Saul by certain memorable incidents as good examples of the king’s general life and conduct. The incidents were also selected to show the rapid development of the power and resources of Israel at this period.

The sacred war with Amalek is thus introduced without any “note of time.”

The Lord sent me to anoint thee.—The account of the Amalekite war is prefaced by the solemn words used by the seer when he came to announce the Eternal’s will to Saul. They are quoted to show that the war was enjoined upon Israel in a general official way by the accredited prophet-messenger of the Most High.

1 Samuel 15:1-2. Hearken thou unto the voice of the Lord — Thou hast erred already; now regain God’s favour by thy exact obedience to what he commands. Thus saith the Lord, I remember, &c. — Now I will avenge those old injuries of the Amalekites on their children, who continue in their parents’ practices. God here refers to that most notorious instance of cruelty, inhumanity, and impiety, their invading and destroying, as far as in them lay, by treachery and surprise, and that uninjured and unprovoked, the people of Israel, when they were coming out of Egypt, and were manifestly under the immediate and miraculous protection of Almighty God. “This was a sin,” says Dr. Delaney, “at once so inhuman and so atheistical, as perhaps cannot be paralleled in any one instance from the foundation of the world, and therefore it is no wonder if this flagrant act of villany and impiety produced that dreadful decree against them, recorded Exodus 17:14, I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven: and again, 1 Samuel 15:16, The Lord hath sworn that he will have war with Amalek, from generation to generation. To reconcile this severe decree with the principles of justice, and God’s own declaration, (Ezekiel 18.,) of his limiting the vengeance of guilt to the person of the offender, we need only to reflect upon one plain observation, with which every day’s experience sufficiently furnishes us, that nothing is more common than for children to be unrepentant, and, it may be, improved and inveterate in the sins of their ancestors: and that nothing is more easy to the divine prescience than to foresee this, and to pronounce upon it. And that this was the case of the Amalekites, sufficiently appears from their history. For, as their fathers attempted upon the Israelites, when under the manifest protection of God, their sons continued to do the same upon every occasion, though the same protection became every day more and more conspicuous by many and repeated instances.” When he came out of Egypt When he was newly come out of cruel and long bondage, and was now weak, and weary, and faint, and hungry, Deuteronomy 25:18; and therefore it was barbarous, instead of that pity which even nature prompted them to afford, to add affliction to the afflicted; it was also horrid impiety to fight against God himself, and to lift up their hand in a manner, against the Lord’s throne, while they struck at that people which God had brought forth in so stupendous a way.

15:1-9 The sentence of condemnation against the Amalekites had gone forth long before, Ex 17:14; De 25:19, but they had been spared till they filled up the measure of their sins. We are sure that the righteous Lord does no injustice to any. The remembering the kindness of the ancestors of the Kenites, in favour to them, at the time God was punishing the injuries done by the ancestors of the Amalekites, tended to clear the righteousness of God in this dispensation. It is dangerous to be found in the company of God's enemies, and it is our duty and interest to come out from among them, lest we share in their sins and plagues, Re 18:4. As the commandment had been express, and a test of Saul's obedience, his conduct evidently was the effect of a proud, rebellious spirit. He destroyed only the refuse, that was good for little. That which was now destroyed was sacrificed to the justice of God.The absence of all chronology or note of time is remarkable. CHAPTER 15

1Sa 15:1-6. Saul Sent to Destroy Amalek.

1. Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee …: now therefore hearken thou unto … the Lord—Several years had been passed in successful military operations against troublesome neighbors. During these Saul had been left to act in a great measure at his own discretion as an independent prince. Now a second test is proposed of his possessing the character of a theocratic monarch in Israel; and in announcing the duty required of him, Samuel brought before him his official station as the Lord's vicegerent, and the peculiar obligation under which he was laid to act in that capacity. He had formerly done wrong, for which a severe rebuke and threatening were administered to him (1Sa 13:13, 14). Now an opportunity was afforded him of retrieving that error by an exact obedience to the divine command.Samuel sendeth Saul to destroy the Amalekites: his army, 1 Samuel 15:1-5. He favoureth the Kenites; spareth Agag, and the best of the spoil: God rejects Saul from being king, 1 Samuel 15:6-11. This Samuel declares to Saul; he commendeth, excuseth, at last humbleth himself, 1 Samuel 15:12:25. Samuel is unmoved herewith; his mantle rent is a sign to Saul of his ruin: God cannot lie, 1 Samuel 15:26-29. Samuel killeth Agag; goeth from Saul, and mourneth for him, 1 Samuel 15:30-35.

The Lord made thee king, and therefore thou art highly obliged to serve and obey him. Thou hast committed one error already, for which God hath severely rebuked and threatened; now therefore make amends for thy former error, and regain God’s favour by thy exact obedience to what he now commands.

Samuel also said unto Saul,.... When and where he said to him what follows, it is not easy to determine, perhaps at Gilgal, where they after met again:

the Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel; that is, he gave him orders to anoint him king of Israel, otherwise Saul was in providence sent to Samuel to be anointed, and not Samuel to Saul:

now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord; for so great a favour, and such high honour he had conferred on him, laid him under great obligation to obey the commands of the Lord; and whereas he had been deficient in one instance before, for which he had been reproved, he suggests, that now he should take care to observe and do, particularly and punctually, what should be enjoined him.

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore {a} hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

(a) Because he has preferred you to this honour, you are bound to obey him.

Ch. 1 Samuel 15:1-9. Saul’s commission to destroy Amalek

1. Samuel also said] And Samuel said. How long after the repulse of the Philistines this happened, we are not told. Some years at least must be allowed for the evident development of that wilfulness which was Saul’s ruin.

The Lord sent me] Me did Jehovah send. The pronoun stands emphatically at the head of the sentence. The prophet appeals to his former commission to anoint Saul as accrediting him to be God’s messenger on the present occasion. “The note of special warning” with which he prefaces the command indicates that he felt that “the discipline of Saul’s life was gathering itself up into a special trial,” and that this would be “a crisis in that life-history, with which by God’s own hand his own had been so strangely intertwined.” Wilberforce’s Heroes of Hebrew History, p. 219.

Verse 1. - Samuel also said. Better literally, "And Samuel said." There is no note of time, but probably a considerable interval elapsed before this second trial of Saul was made. God does not finally reject a man until, after repeated opportunities for repentance, he finally proves obdurate. David committed worse crimes than Saul, but he had a tender conscience, and each fall was followed by deep and earnest sorrow. Saul sinned and repented not. Just, then, as Eli had a first warning, which, though apparently unconditional in its terms (1 Samuel 2:27-36), was really a call to repentance, and was only made irrevocable by his persistence for many years in the same sins (1 Samuel 3:11-14), so was it with Saul. The prophet's words in 1 Samuel 13:13, 14 were a stern warning, and had Saul taken them to heart, God would have forgiven him his sin. He repented not, but repeated the offence, and so the sentence was confirmed. When, then, critics say that we have two accounts of Saul's rejection, and that he is represented as having been set aside first for one reason and then for another, their objection arises entirely from a false view of God's dealings with mankind. Alike promises and threatenings, blessings and punishments are conditional; for there is no heathen fatalism in Holy Scripture, but mercy waiting to triumph over justice. God, then, was not willing lightly to cast away so noble an instrument as Saul. His first sin too had been committed when he was new in the kingdom, and in a position of danger and difficulty. He waits, therefore, till Saul has had some years of success and power, and his character has developed itself, and is taking its permanent form; and then again gives him a trial in order to test his fitness to be a theocratic king. The interest, then, of this chapter lies in the unfolding of Saul's character, and so it follows immediately upon ch. 14, which was occupied with the same subject, without any note of chronology, because the historical narrative is subservient to the personal. Hence, too, Samuel's solemn address, reminding Saul that he was Jehovah's anointed one, and therefore had special duties towards him; that he had also been anointed by Samuel's instrumentality, and after earnest instruction as to his duties; and, finally, that Israel was Jehovah's people, and their king, therefore, bound to obey Jehovah's commands. 1 Samuel 15:1The account of the war against the Amalekites is a very condensed one, and is restricted to a description of the conduct of Saul on that occasion. Without mentioning either the time or the immediate occasion of the war, the narrative commences with the command of God which Samuel solemnly communicated to Saul, to go and exterminate that people. Samuel commenced with the words, "Jehovah sent me to anoint thee to be king over His people, over Israel," in order to show to Saul the obligation which rested upon him to receive his commission as coming from God, and to proceed at once to fulfil it. The allusion to the anointing points back not to 1 Samuel 11:15, but to 1 Samuel 10:1.
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