I Samuel 15
Several years ago, Simon nearly died from huffing a common compressed gas. He was a well-educated professional individual, a member of an evangelical church, married, and had a family of several children. Unfortunately, like Saul (15:17), when “he was little in own eyes,” God blessed him with the opportunity to be educated and become a professional man. Yet, he never accepted whom God enabled him to become, and hence turn to one addictive idol after another. Recently, he engaged once again in huffing the gas that nearly killed him. This time his foolishness killed him.
Praise the Lord, fool can be transformed, but in many cases, they tend to practice the same foolishness until it ruins them and incapacitates them from fulfilling their potential.
God’s Assignment 1-6
Perhaps it is conjecture, but Samuel’s communication sounds like when he appeals to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now, therefore, listen to the words of the Lord” (15:1). If we could hear the tone of his voice, it would likely come across to Saul as “Saul, God made you king, now you better pay attention and do exactly what God is telling you to do. Do you get my drift?”
In other words, Samuel would be giving him the message, “I do not have much confidence in you, so I am prompting you to pay attention.
The assignment is very unpleasant, and it is very specific. “Now go (don’t delay) and strike Amalek,” annihilate him and everything associated with him: man, woman, child, infant, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey (3). In an earlier lesson, such harsh judgment by God was examined. Suffice it to say; it was the execution of justice (6). The current western culture trembles at such a command. Why? This is because the knowledge of God is so desperate, and the sense of righteous justice has been so watered down that such judgment is unconscionable.
Saul’s Execution of the Assignment 4, 7-8
- Assembles an army 4
When God appoints a man to a task, He either gifts him the personal abilities necessary to accomplish the task or provides others in his support who can supply the deficit. Verse four suggests that God gave Saul the ability to take charge, manage, and execute. His methods, at times, were a bit crude (11:7), but he could lead. The summoning of a 230,000-man army took an administrative plan, and the numbering of the people took organizational skill.
- Almost annihilated Amalek 7-9
Remember, Saul is a man of intimidating size with a significant army on a direct mission assignment from God. His capacity is seen in that he accomplished the mission with two exceptions (9). These exceptions were not the result of being unable but of choosing “to do it my way.” Note, “But Saul and the people” spared Agag and the best of the animals. Compare this with Saul’s response in verse fifteen, “They have brought….”
- After action report 10-11
Saul, the commanding officer, does not provide this after-action report, but God, the commander and chief of Israel. Verse nine is the writer’s summary of the report. Verses ten and eleven are God’s perspective and Samuel’s response.
It behooves every person, especially believers, to keep in mind that God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12) and omniscient (Proverbs 15:3, Job 28:24), and God is sovereign (Isaiah 46:10).
Put yourself in the shoes of Samuel. You did as the people requested and sought the Lord regarding appointing a king. God warned the people who still insisted upon a king. God reminded you that they were rejecting Him, not you. God directed you to the man of his choosing. He performed brilliantly. Yet, he already had two failures. God tasks him with this mission with the guarantee of success, “I will punish Amalek (15:2).
Samuel’s experience is like that of the Pastor, who wisely counsels a father on disciplining his nine-year-old son. The dad has wept over his previous familiars to do so correctly. The Pastor sends him home with a particular plan and a commitment to implement it, only to be called the Sherriff to come to the jail because the dad has beaten his son.
Samuel went home to rest, thinking, “All right, God is allowing Saul to serve effectively, though not able to sustain his kingly line,” only to be awakened by God with this after-action report.
The pastor and Samuel respond similarly: “Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night” (11b). The role of being called to be God’s shepherd of his people has always been filled with distress and cries for understanding, followed by obediently following through with the call.
- Arrogance of the fool 12
Self-memorials are always an act of arrogance and demonstrate that one is a fool. Monuments are after-death markers erected by grateful people. Awards such as diplomas or certificates of excellence are signed by those who have evaluated one’s performance. A medical degree signed by the man to whom it was issued is worthless. So is Saul’s self-erected monument! Arrogance and foolishness!
Dressing Down the King 13-31
- Saul’s greeting, “Hail, Samuel, let me tell how good a king I have been.”
“I have carried out the command of the Lord,” however, he failed to add, “I did it my way” (13). Read this account to any supervisor of people, and he will likely respond, “Oh, yea, that is the old look and duck response of one who has failed to follow instructions and knows it.” Look at what I accomplished is intended to duck responsibility for not following directions.
- Samuel’s response is to address the failure immediately. We can paraphrase it this way. “I know you did it your way; I hear evidence (14)
- There is a good management and counseling lesson for us here that is precisely opposite to the psychology of our day. It is this. When there is a direct failure to follow instructions or to complete counseling homework, do not commend the person for the accomplished but immediately focus on the failure to follow instructions. Then, if appropriate, the commendation may follow.
In most cases, the failure to follow the instructions will not be as they were here, failure to follow instructions directly from God. So, in day-to-day management or counseling, if there has also been good accomplished, it is appropriate to recognize it and thereby encourage the person.
- Oh, that, let me tell you about it (15)
- From the garden of Eden forward, humanity has followed the model of our first parents. Fear, hide, and blameshift. This writer suggests that all three are operating in the life of Saul. However, what is most important here is his refusal to repent and pose a lame excuse to justify his actions.
As previously noted, this behavior is symptomatic of RSIFS (Random Self-Inflated Foolishness Syndrome)
- STOP! You need to hear God’s after-action report 16-19
Samuel’s confrontation is pointed. Saul, be quiet! You need to hear God’s after-action report.”
People object to such confrontation in our “more enlightened day.” However, it is incredible how few of our modern politicians and others in places of power forget this mantra of contemporary psychology, as often exemplified by even our President.
Evil demands confrontation in God’s moral world, and He does not hesitate to confront it. As God’s servants, we cannot afford to shrink from it or become complicit. However, confrontation does not mean being unkind. The Apostle Paul best describes it as “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).