James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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.1 Samuel 15:1-16:13
THE MAN AFTER GOD’S HEART
ANOTHER COMMISSION FOR SAMUEL (1 Samuel 15:1-9)
How long a time elapsed since the last chapter is indeterminable. Saul’s victory seems to have driven the Philistines out of Israel’s territory, and to have been followed by successful sallies against other enemies.
He had been warned of God that because of his presumption at Gilgal (chap. 13), the kingdom would be taken from him and given to another; but God seems willing to allow him another chance, or at least another test of his quality to be His vice-regent in Israel before God executes His purpose (1 Samuel 15:1).
For an explanation of 1 Samuel 15:2, look up Exodus 17:8-14; Numbers 24:20; and Deuteronomy 25:17-19. We have seen the reason for God’s anger against such nations as Amalek in that they represented the powers of darkness, and sought as the instruments of Satan to frustrate His purpose of redemption of the world through Israel.
SAUL’S REJECTION FROM THE KINGDOM (1 Samuel 15:10-31)
This part of the chapter requires little comment. Notice Saul’s falsehood (1 Samuel 15:13), and his self-justifying spirit (1 Samuel 15:15; 1 Samuel 15:21). Notice the principle in verse 22, and the final rejection of him in 1 Samuel 15:23. Nor is his repentance sincere, inasmuch as he is still trying to excuse himself (1 Samuel 15:24), and desires to make a good showing before the people (1 Samuel 15:30).
God’s Repenting and Not Repenting
Here is a seeming contradiction which needs a word of explanation. Twice is it said that it repented the Lord that He made Saul king (1 Samuel 15:11; 1 Samuel 15:35), and in another place that “He is not a man that He should repent” (1 Samuel 15:20). In the last case, “repent” is to be taken in the positive sense that God’s decrees are unchangeable, which is necessary to be believed of the divine nature.
But in the former case it is to be taken in the figurative sense, as explaining in terms capable of human understanding why He was about to act as He did.
He intends to alter His purpose with Saul because of the latter’s wickedness. It would not have been altered but for this, and yet He foreknew in choosing Saul that this would take place. In the larger sense, He did not repent or change His mind at all, while in the narrower sense He did. But since the narrower was included in the larger, it is to be regarded as part of His original decree, from which point of view God did not repent, but carried out His purpose as from the beginning.
THE CHOICE OF DAVID (1 Samuel 16:1-13)
When in chapter 13 it was said that the Lord sought Him a man after His own heart, the reference was to David. But it is not to be supposed that David was a perfect man in the natural and moral sense, for we know to the contrary. It will be found, however, that while he was a sinner like Saul, he was a regenerated sinner while Saul was not, so far as man can judge. With all his sin, David loved God supremely, and his underlying motive was to do His will. His history, checkered as it is, establishes this fact, and the sense in which he was a man after God’s own heart is seen by a comparison of his history with that of Saul.
There is nothing of difficulty in this section of Scripture.
1. How extensive does the conquest of the Philistines seem to have been?
2. What further opportunity does God afford Saul?
3. Have you refreshed your memory concerning the history of the Amalekites?
4. Have you located them on the map?
5. Can you quote the principle in verse 22?
6. What indicates the insincerity of Saul?
7. How would you explain the apparent contradiction about God’s repenting?
8. In what sense could David be said to be a man after God’s heart?