The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Samuel

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1 Samuel 15

1Sa 15:2

THE AMALEKITES: See Lesson, Amalek.

1Sa 15:3

ATTACK THE AMALEKITES AND TOTALLY DESTROY...: The iniquity of the Amorites is NOW full (ct Gen 15:16).

1Sa 15:4

TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND..: Two hundred "officers" (cp figures, 1Sa 13:2,15). See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.

1Sa 15:8

AGAG: A title -- prob a common name of all their kings (CBTEL) -- and not a name (cp "Gog"). Earlier, an Agag had been mentioned in the prophecy of Balaam, who declared that Israel's king would be higher than Agag (Num 24:7).

1Sa 15:9

BUT SAUL... SPARED... THE BEST: Pride at success. And covetousness also (v 19).

"The story of Saul is one of the great tragedies of the Bible. He was a man of great promise, a handsome man with great abilities. But the story of this man's life is the peril of seeking the favor of man. The defeat of Saul came about as a result of his expedition against the Amalekites. He was told by God to kill all the Amalekites. But he refused and saved King Agag. Why did he do it? Because he felt this would find him favor in the eyes of the people. So the awful tragedy of Saul's life was the peril of a divided allegiance. He was quite content to serve God so long as it pleased those around him. The secret failure in this man's life was his continual hungering after the affection and honor and favor of other people" (RS).

1Sa 15:11

I AM GRIEVED THAT I HAVE MADE SAUL KING: "It repenteth me" (KJV), ie, 'I have changed my mind, and determined to replace Saul as king.'

1Sa 15:14

Saul is convicted by the noise of the beasts he should have slain.

1Sa 15:15

THE SOLDIERS... THEY: "Passing the buck" -- "playing the blame game": cp Adam, Eve, serpent; and Aaron with golden calf.

1Sa 15:16

"STOP!": Saul has prob attempted to leave, avoiding a further rebuke.

1Sa 15:17

YOU WERE ONCE SMALL: Saul, once a humble man, had now changed. His orig perspective of himself was the divine one.

1Sa 15:22

Obedience and/or mercy equated with sacrifice: Psa 50:7-14; Isa 1:10-20; Hos 6:6; Mat 9:13; 12:7.

1Sa 15:23

DIVINATION: Was Saul claiming (by divination) to know God's will better than did Samuel, God's prophet?

1Sa 15:24

I HAVE SINNED: There is a radical distinction between natural regret and God-given repentance. The flesh can feel remorse, acknowledge its evil deeds, and be ashamed of itself. However, this sort of disgust with past actions can be quickly shrugged off, and the individual can soon go back to his old wicked ways. None of the marks of true repentance described in 2Co 7:11 are found in his behavior. Out of a list of 11 men in the Bible who said, "I have sinned," poss only five actually repented. They were David (2Sa 12:13; 24:10; 1Ch 21:8; Psa 41:4), Nehemiah (Neh 1:6), Job (Job 42:5,6), Micah (Mic 7:9), and the prodigal son (Luk 15:18). The other (poss less sincere) instances? Pharaoh in Exo 9:27; 10:16; Balaam in Num 22:34; Achan in Jos 7:20; Saul in 1Sa 15:24,30; 26:21; Shimei in 2Sa 19:20; Judas in Mat 27:4.

I WAS AFRAID OF THE PEOPLE AND SO I GAVE IN TO THEM: Saul is still trying to justify himself (placing blame elsewhere), even while repenting!

1Sa 15:25

Saul's repentance is like Esau's and Pharaoh's.

1Sa 15:27

Saul tries to restrain Samuel from leaving, and accidentally tears Samuel's garment.

1Sa 15:28

THE LORD HAS TORN THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL FROM YOU TODAY: "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit" (Mat 21:43).

ONE BETTER THAN YOU: Although Saul did not know his identity yet (1Sa 16).

1Sa 15:31

SO SAMUEL WENT BACK WITH SAUL: Not to honor Saul, but to maintain stability in nation.

1Sa 15:32

CONFIDENTLY: Or "cheerfully" (RV), or "trembling", or "in bonds". "The MT reading ma'adannot (lit, 'bonds', used here adverbially, 'in bonds') is difficult. The word is found only here and in Job 38:31. Part of the problem lies in determining the root of the word. Some scholars have taken it to be from the root 'nd ('to bind around'), but this assumes a metathesis [switching] of two of the letters of the root. Others take it from the root 'dn with the meaning 'voluptuously', but this does not seem to fit the context. It seems better to understand the word to be from the root m'd ('to totter' or 'shake'). In that case it describes the fear that Agag experienced in realizing the mortal danger that he faced as he approached Samuel. This is the way that the LXX translators understood the word, rendering it by the Greek participle 'tremon' (trembling)" (NET notes).

"Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigor of God's inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use. We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is" (AWT).

1Sa 15:33

AS YOUR SWORD HAS MADE WOMEN CHILDLESS, SO WILL YOUR MOTHER BE CHILDLESS AMONG WOMEN: The Israeli court's answer to Adolph Eichmann's last appeal for mercy, before being hanged in 1962.

AND SAMUEL PUT AGAG TO DEATH: Literally, and significantly, he "hewed Agag in pieces" (AV). Perhaps based on ritual of the death of the covenant-victim: see Lesson, Covenant-victim, the.

1Sa 15:35


SAMUEL MOURNED FOR HIM: Personally, but not as king.

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