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…
The intoxication of power is upon him, impelling him directly in the teeth of the Divine warning. He is occupying dangerous ground. Our passage shows the turning point in Saul's history.
I. LET US OBSERVE THE OCCASION WHICH BROUGHT ABOUT THE CRISIS. God had given him a commission to ban the Amalekites, the ancient enemies of Israel. The crisis in Saul's life had come. He fails to meet it, in the spirit of a true man of God. His soul finds temptation in a moment when power and success and human adulation have intoxicated him; he yields to the snare, and falls to rise no more. At the turning point of his life he is weighed in the balances and found wanting. The whole sad transaction and all its terrible consequences are summed up in one word — disobedience to positive Divine command. It breaks upon us at once. It is complete and fully manifested in a single transaction. But definite steps led up to it. It can be accounted for. It should have been avoided.
II. AS THE DISOBEDIENCE WAS COMPLETE AND INEXCUSABLE, SO THE PUNISHMENT WAS PROMPT, DEFINITE, AND FINAL. "God hath rejected thee from being king over Israel." Successive steps led to its accomplishment. God caused Samuel to withdraw from him. He took his good Spirit away, and allowed an evil spirit to come upon him. He was left to his own rash, self-willed, and self-pleasing nature. He was allowed to work out his own destruction and the ruin of his dynasty, while God quietly but diligently prepared a better man to take his place on the throne of Israel. A great and solemn principle emerges here — the basis-principle upon which all right and enduring relations to God must rest, — to wit, obedience. There can be no happy relations between a sovereign Creator and dependent creatures upon any other scheme, even though that sovereign Creator be properly viewed as a tender Father. The whole question needs to be restated with firmness. The sentimentality of a spurious faith, which claims heaven and yet the right to please self, is a travesty upon the word of God and upon every serious utterance of human consciousness. And yet this sentimentality is seeking to interpret the preaching of salvation by the cross in the interest of selfish indulgence, and is going far to justify the sneer of the enemy, "that morals are divorced from religion;" for what are any Christian morals worth that do not mean obedience to the living God? Let Saul's sad fall by reason of disobedience warn us at thin point. In conclusion we may draw out a few brief lessons.
1. The danger of a halfway surrender to God, a consecration which has its reservations. Such a course is an insult to God. It is the very worst spirit of bargain making. It marks off a section of our individuality, into which God has no right to come with His demands. Saul was willing to serve God in being a king if he would have his way when the spoil was at hand. He was quite willing to fellowship Samuel and have his endorsement if he could sacrifice when he pleased. But this spirit brought him to a bad end.
2. See how disobedience demoralises the spirit and sets it upon unworthy shifts His character drooped lower and lower as he sought his way out from the consequences of disobedience by unworthy shifts. When we have sinned it is better to be open and ingenuous with God and man, and. while sorrowing for the sin, meekly receive the consequences in the full purpose of immediate amendment.
3. The folly of those in authority, as parents, pastors or teachers, yielding to the tastes and entreaties of the young, the wayward, or the undisciplined for the privilege of doing that which is wrong either in itself or in its tendency. Saul pleaded that he yielded to the wishes of the people when he saved the best of the spoil. So with many now in the place of solemn and responsible authority. But this is simple weakness where we have the right to expect strength. This weakness does not lesson the guilt before God.
(W. G. Craig, D. D.)
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.