1 Samuel 15:11-23
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…
Saul has thrown away his last chance, and Samuel mourns for him in the bitterness of his soul. Rationalistic writers, who would fain remove the miraculous out of Scripture, and explain the currents of its history by the play of human passions, have maintained, in strange inconsistency with the facts before them, that it was Samuel who compassed Baal's misfortunes. They argue that, displeased with the king for supplanting him in the rule and the affections of the people, he had secretly wrought his fall. How utterly inconsistent such a view is with the facts of Baal's history, especially how utterly inconsistent it is with the true relation of Samuel to Saul, as disclosed in the history, need hardly be stated. So we read that Samuel, when be bad heard of Saul's transgression, "cried unto the Lord all night." and again in the last verse of the chapter, that "Samuel mourned for Saul." The prophet's tears and entreaties could not avert the doom that was inevitable. Saul had sinned away his last, chance, and he was finally rejected. Saul, after setting up a monument, commemorative of his victory, at Carmel, had gone down to Gilgal. Samuel having learned of his movements, proceeded thither to meet him. An interview followed. "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord." The refutation of Saul's falsehood is not far to seek. It comes from the sheep and the oxen, the very spoils which he has spared. The veil of his false piety is in a moment rent off, and his true position before God revealed. The fearful nature of that position flashes upon him; Saul must face the sad reality. The act of disobedience which had caused his rejection betrayed his whole character as carnal and estranged from God. We are struck here with the cowardice of his self-vindication. "They have brought them from the Amalekites;" "the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen." He himself has had no share in the sin — the transgression is the act of the army! In their obedience, however, be will claim a part, "The rest we have utterly destroyed." We blame our circumstances, we blame others, we blame God; how slow we are to blame ourselves! The first symptom of a right state of mind is when the sinner, in self-condemnation and sorrow, acknowledges his guilt as his own. Saul, so brave in the battlefield, so generous when his better nature was called into play, roils his guilt on others. The people did it; he himself was innocent. What moral cowardice! But his reply is not more cowardly and mean than it is false. They did it, he declares, "to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God." Who can for a moment believe that Saul spoke what was true? The assumed motive of sacrifice was a hollow falsehood, an afterthought, as flimsy as it was false. Further, one is struck with the profane daring of Saul's reply. The spoils were spared, he says to sacrifice, unto the Lord; it is as if the mention of such a motive would so gratify the Lord am to lead Him to compound with him for his transgression. Let us mark finally the spirit of estrangement from God which breathes in Saul's reply The people spared the spoils," he says, "to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God" It is not "the, Lord my God," for, alas! Seal's guilt has estranged him from God. A great barrier has arisen between him and the Lord. God is no longer his, but Samuel's God. How cad the fall!
(Henry W. Bell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: It 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.