Friday, November 9, 2007

Observations from 1 Samuel, Number 5

The Emotions of Samuel, in 1 Samuel 15
"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." (vs. 11)
Samuel has just been informed that God is unhappy concerning the choice of Saul as king. Samuel already knew that God intended to replace Saul (see 1 Sam. 13:13-14). But if I were Samuel, I know what I'd be thinking in my flesh: "You know, I never thought this idea of a king was a good idea in the first place. If only the people had followed my advice...."

Yes, despite the facts that Samuel did not originally want a king, warned the people accurately about what a king would do, and knew that the king would be replaced, he still..."cried unto the Lord"! Would we be so saddened by the sin of others that we did as Samuel did?
"22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. 24 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. 25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. 26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou."
And so Samuel confronts Saul. Despite Samuel's sorrow for Saul, he pulls no punches; he firmly and strongly pronounces God's judgment. He is clear, and he accurately conveys God's words, despite his own sorrows and despite the very real possibility of physical harm (reading on in 1 Samuel gives us several examples of what happened to those who made Saul mad).
"32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. 33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal."
A few observations should be noticed here. First of all, Samuel is an old man; he is not young and strong, like the David we encounter in the rest of the book. Second, he "hews Agag in pieces." Apparently a single sword thrust to the heart was not what God wanted to convey to everyone! Here an old man, conveying what God intended to happen, does something that Saul and his strong, younger army should have done earlier (No, there was no Geneva Convention back then). Would we be as willing to do something bold and just as "politically incorrect," if that were what God wanted us to do?
"And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel." (vs. 35)
Samuel knew that Saul was a failure in God's eyes and thought Saul a "mistake" in his own, and yet he mourns for the one who has fallen from God's favor! Herein lies a lesson for us. We have probably all known Christians, whether leaders or laypeople, who have "fallen from God's favor" through sin. Do we mourn for them?

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