1 Samuel 15:24
And 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.
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(24) I have sinned.—The grave condemnation of the prophet appalled the king. The grounds of the Divine rejection evidently sank deep into Saul’s heart. Such a thought as that, in the eyes of the Invisible and Eternal, he ranked with the idolators and heathen sinners around, was, even for one sunk so low as Saul, terrible.

Because I feared the people.—He, with stammering lips, while deprecating the Divine sentence, still seeks to justify himself; but all that he could allege in excuse only more plainly marked out his unfitness for his high post. He could, after all, only plead that he loved the praise of men more than the approval of his God; that he preferred—as so many of earth’s great ones have since done—the sweets of transient popular applause to the solitary consciousness that he was a faithful servant of the Highest.

1 Samuel 15:24-25. I have sinned — It does by no means appear that Saul acts the hypocrite herein, in assigning a false cause of his disobedience. Rather, he nakedly declares the thing as it was. Pardon my sin — Neither can it be proved that there was any hypocrisy in this. Rather, charity requires us to believe, that he sincerely desired pardon, both from God and man, as he now knew he had sinned against both.15:24-31 There were several signs of hypocrisy in Saul's repentance. 1. He besought Samuel only, and seemed most anxious to stand right in his opinion, and to gain his favour. 2. He excuses his fault, even when confessing it; that is never the way of a true penitent. 3. All his care was to save his credit, and preserve his interest in the people. Men are fickle and alter their minds, feeble and cannot effect their purposes; something happens they could not foresee, by which their measures are broken; but with God it is not so. The Strength of Israel will not lie.I have sinned - Compare 1 Samuel 15:25, 1 Samuel 15:30. How was it that these repeated confessions were unavailing to obtain forgiveness, when David's was? (See the marginal reference.) Because Saul only shrank from the punishment of his sin. David shrank in abhorrence from the sin itself Psalm 51:4. 24-26. I have sinned … turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord—The erring, but proud and obstinate monarch was now humbled. He was conscience-smitten for the moment, but his confession proceeded not from sincere repentance, but from a sense of danger and desire of averting the sentence denounced against him. For the sake of public appearance, he besought Samuel not to allow their serious differences to transpire, but to join with him in a public act of worship. Under the influence of his painfully agitated feelings, he designed to offer sacrifice, partly to express his gratitude for the recent victory, and partly to implore mercy and a reversal of his doom. It was, from another angle, a politic scheme, that Samuel might be betrayed into a countenancing of his design in reserving the cattle for sacrificing. Samuel declined to accompany him.

I feared the people, and obeyed their voice—This was a different reason from the former he had assigned. It was the language of a man driven to extremities, and even had it been true, the principles expounded by Samuel showed that it could have been no extenuation of the offense. The prophet then pronounced the irreversible sentence of the rejection of Saul and his family. He was judicially cut off for his disobedience.

I have sinned; which confession proceeded not from true repentance, but from the sense of his great danger, and from a desire of recalling that dreadful sentence denounced against him.

The commandment of the Lord, and thy words, i.e. the commandment of the Lord delivered to me by thy words; another hendiadis. I feared the people; who, as thou knowest, are set upon mischief, and would probably have broken forth into a mutiny or rebellion, had I done otherwise. But how little he feared the people, may be seen by 1 Samuel 11:7 14:24. But this was a false cause; nor doth he acknowledge the true cause, which was his covetousness, and because he did not fear God. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned,.... This confession of his sin does not appear to be ingenuous, cordial, and sincere, and was made chiefly for the sake of getting the sentence of rejecting him from being king reversed:

for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words; which last seems to be added to collogue with Samuel, and to ingratiate himself with him; and Abarbinel thinks that Saul suspected that Samuel had aggravated the matter of himself, and that he did not really transgress the words of the Lord, but as the words of Samuel; and therefore according to the words of Samuel he had sinned, but not according to the words of the Lord only:

because I feared the people; Doeg the Edomite, who was reckoned as all of them, Jarchi says: this was a mere excuse of Saul's, he stood in no fear of the people, he kept them in awe, and did as he would with them, as a sovereign prince:

and obeyed their voice; in sparing the best of the cattle; so be pretended, when it was his own will, and the effect of his covetousness.

And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
24–31. The rejection of Saul

24. I have sinned] Though a formal confession of his sin is extorted from Saul, he does not humble himself before God in genuine penitence. He still tries to shift the blame on to the people, and his chief anxiety is lest the breach between Samuel and himself should become a public scandal and weaken his authority (1 Samuel 15:30). Contrast David’s heart-felt repentance (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51:4).Verse 24. - The words of Samuel struck Saul with terror. The same authority which had first given him the kingdom now withdraws it from him, and pronounces his offence as equal in God's sight to crimes which Saul himself held in great abhorrence. He humbles himself, therefore, before Samuel, acknowledges his sin, and frankly confesses that the cause of it had been his unwillingness to act in a manner contrary to the wishes of the people; and we must fairly conclude that the sparing of the spoil had been the people's doing. But was it not the king's duty to make the people obedient to Jehovah's voice? As the theocratic king, he was Jehovah's minister, and in preferring popularity to duty he showed himself unworthy of his position. Nor can we suppose that his confession of sin arose from penitence. It was the result simply of vexation at having his victory crossed by reproaches and disapproval from the only power capable of holding him in check. It seems, too, as if it were Samuel whom he feared more than Jehovah; for he speaks of thy words, and asks Samuel to pardon his sin, and to grant him the favour of his public presence with him at the sacrifice which was about to be celebrated in honour of their triumph. Samuel therefore bade him be silent. הרף, "leave off," excusing thyself any further. "I will tell thee what Jehovah hath said to me this night." (The Chethibh ויּאמרוּ is evidently a copyist's error for ויּאמר.) "Is it not true, when thou wast little in thine eyes (a reference to Saul's own words, 1 Samuel 9:21), thou didst become head of the tribes of Israel? and Jehovah anointed thee king over Israel, and Jehovah sent thee on the way, and said, Go and ban the sinners, the Amalekites, and make war against them, until thou exterminatest them. And wherefore hast thou nor hearkened to the voice of Jehovah, and hast fallen upon the booty," etc.? (תּעט, see at 1 Samuel 14:32.)

Even after this Saul wanted to justify himself, and to throw the blame of sparing the cattle upon the people.

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