1 Samuel 15:11
It repents me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried to the LORD all night.
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(11) It repenteth me . . . —“God does not feel the pain of remorse (says St. Augustine in Psalms 131), nor is He ever deceived, so as to desire to correct anything in which He has erred. But as a man desires to make a change when he repents, so when God is said in Scripture to repent, we may expect a change from Him. He changed Saul’s kingdom when it is said He repented of making him king.”—Bishop Wordsworth.

And it grieved Samuel—“Many grave thoughts seem to have presented themselves at once to Samuel, and to have disturbed his mind when he reflected on the dishonour which would be inflicted upon the name of God, and the occasion which the rejection and deposition of Saul would furnish to wicked men for blaspheming the invisible King of Israel . . . For Saul had been chosen by God Himself from all the people, and called by Him to the throne; if, therefore, he was deposed, it seemed likely that the worship of God would be overturned, and the greatest disturbance ensue.”—Calvin, quoted by Keil. Abarbanel tells us respecting Samuel’s grief that he was angry and displeased, because he loved Saul for his beauty and heroism, and as his own creature whom he had made king; and that he prayed all night because God had not revealed to him Saul’s sin, and he wished to know why sentence was pronounced against him.

And he cried unto the Lord all night.—This was, no doubt, that “piercing shrill cry” peculiar to Samuel. With this strange cry he seems to have on many a solemn occasion spoken with his God. He is often in this book represented as thus “crying unto God.” (See Stanley’s Lectures on the Jewish Church, Vol. I., 1 Samuel 18)

1 Samuel 15:11. It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king — Repentance, properly speaking, implies grief of heart, and a change of counsels. Understood in which sense, it can have no place in God. But it is often ascribed to him in the Scriptures when he alters his method of dealing with persons, and treats them as if he did indeed repent of the kindness he had shown them. He is turned back from following me — Therefore he did once follow God, otherwise it would have been impossible he should turn back from following him. He cried unto the Lord all night — To implore his pardoning mercy for Saul and for the people.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.It grieved Samuel - "Samuel was angry, or displeased," as Jonah was Jonah 4:1, and for a similar reason. Samuel was displeased that the king whom he had anointed should be set aside. It seemed a slur on his prophetic office.

He cried unto the Lord - With the wild scream or shriek of supplication. (See 1 Samuel 7:8-9; 1 Samuel 12:18.) The phrase and the action mark Samuel's fervent, earnest character.

1Sa 15:10, 11. God Rejects His for Disobedience.

10, 11. Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul—Repentance is attributed in Scripture to Him when bad men give Him cause to alter His course and method of procedure, and to treat them as if He did "repent" of kindness shown. To the heart of a man like Samuel, who was above all envious considerations, and really attached to the king, so painful an announcement moved all his pity and led him to pass a sleepless night of earnest intercession.

It repenteth me: repentance properly notes grief of heart, and change of counsels, and therefore cannot be in God, who is unchangeable, most wise, and most blessed; but it is ascribed to God in such cases, when men give God cause to repent, and when God alters his course and method of dealing, and treats a person as if he did indeed repent of all the kindness he had showed to him.

He cried unto the Lord all night, to implore his pardoning mercy for Saul, and for the people; so far was he from rejoicing in their calamities, as an envious and self-seeking person would have done. 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.

It {e} 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.

(e) God in his eternal counsel never changes or repents, as in 1Sa 15:29, though he seems to us to repent when anything goes contrary to his temporal election.

10–23. Saul’s disobedience and its penalty

11. It repenteth me] “God’s repentance is the change of His dispensation.” In the language of the O. T. God is said to repent when a change in the character and conduct of those with whom He is dealing leads to a corresponding change in His plans and purposes towards them. Thus (a) upon man’s penitence God repents and withdraws a threatened punishment (Exodus 32:14; 2 Samuel 24:16): (b) upon man’s faithlessness and disobedience He cancels a promise or revokes a blessing which He had given. The opposite is also true, “God is not a man that he should repent” (1 Samuel 15:29). His repentance is not to be understood as though He who foreknows all things regretted His action, nor is it a sign of mutability. A change in the attitude of man to God necessarily involves a corresponding change in the attitude of God to man.

it grieved Samuel] This rendering is probably right, though the word more commonly means “to be angry.” Samuel was grieved at the failure of one from whom he had hoped for so much advantage to the nation.

he cried unto the Lord all night] Interceding for Saul if perchance he might he forgiven. For Samuel’s intercessions see ch. 1 Samuel 7:5, and compare Moses’ pleading for Israel (Exodus 32:11-13). Our Lord “continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).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). He then advanced as far as the city of the Amalekites, the situation of which is altogether unknown, and placed an ambush in the valley. ויּרב does not come from ריב, to fight, i.e., to quarrel, not to give battle, but was understood even by the early translators as a contracted form of ויּארב, the Hiphil of ארב. And modern commentators have generally understood it in the same way; but Olshausen (Hebr. Gramm. p. 572) questions the correctness of the reading, and Thenius proposes to alter בּנּחל ויּרב into מלחמה ויּערך. נחל refers to a valley in the neighbourhood of the city of the Amalekites.
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