1 Samuel 15 Partial Obedience Is Disobedience

by | Oct 5, 2023 | 1 Samuel, Old Testament

I. The Setting

A. Recent History

1. In chapter 14, we saw more of King Saul’s failures.

a. He selfishly took credit for his son Jonathan’s victory over the Philistine garrison.

b. He sinfully offered the sacrifice of the burnt offering and peace offering.

c. He refused to admit his sin to Samuel regarding making the sacrifice.

d. He demanded that his army not eat until he was avenged of his enemies.

e. He was willing to put his own son to death rather than admit he was wrong.

B. Saul Had Previously Been Disqualified From Being King

1. Samuel had told Saul that God would remove him from being king. (1 Samuel 13:13,14)

2. God’s kingdom would not be ruled by Saul’s descendants because of his sin.

3. In chapter 15, several years have passed.

II. Saul’s Disobedience Regarding Agag Vs. 1-9

A. Samuel Instructs Saul About The Amalekites Vs. 1-3

1. V. 1 Samuel reminded Saul that before he had been anointed as King, that Samuel had been the spiritual leader over Israel. It was probably easy for Saul to imagine that he was the leader over all Israel. Samuel was there to remind him that he had been called to be king, but that God was leading Israel spiritually through the leadership of Samuel.

2. V. 2 Deuteronomy 25:17-19 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.

a. The Amalekites attacked Israel when they were very vulnerable. Just out of Egypt.

b. They had no fighting experience. Unprovoked attack; driven by greed and hatred.

c. It was a case of the strong attacking the weakest of the weak.

d. Amalek continued to be a brutal enemy of Israel. Even into the days of King Saul, they were plundering the Israelites (1 Samuel 14).

3. V. 3 The nation of the Amalekites was to be totally wiped out.

a. The men were warriors. The women could have children who would be half Amalekite and seek revenge. The children would grow up to seek revenge. The animals because they were not to profit from the Amalekites.

b. This was the commandment of God. This was a final judgment upon a nation that had become so wicked that God gave them no more chances to repent. They were completely immoral as a race of people.

B. Saul Attacks The Amalekites Vs. 4-9

1. Vs. 4-6 Saul was a capable military leader. The Kenites had shown mercy to Israel.

2. Vs. 7-9 Saul and the Hebrews were disobedient regarding destroying the Amalekites.

a. They decided that some things were useless, so they destroyed those things.

b. They enriched themselves with the valuable things, but they were disobedient.

c. Normally, soldiers could plunder the enemy and enrich themselves.

d. However, this was a judgment from God, not an opportunity to enrich oneself.

e. They were joyful and greedy regarding the judgment of God.

3. APPLICATION-This shows us how God wants us to deal with sin, and how we often compromise. We get rid of that which, in our view, is more obviously and more clearly sinful. But we keep some of those things that we have decided are “not that bad”.

III. Saul Rejected as King

A. Samuel Goes To See Saul Vs. 10-12

1. Vs. 10, 11 In Saul’s mind, he had been completely obedient to God. Saul was able to justify all his actions in his own mind. How sad that he didn’t realize much he had sinned. Both Samuel and God were grieving over the fact that Saul had been made king.

2. V. 12 Saul did “something spiritual” for God, but it was only partial obedience (disobedience), and then he took the credit and made a monument for himself.

B. Saul’s Excuses And Samuel’s Rebuke Vs. 13-21

1. Vs. 13-15 Saul was deceived, thinking he had obeyed God. Sinful pragmatism & denial.

a. Saul justified his sin and shifted the blame to the people. (They…the people)

b. Saul was familiar with religion, but he was not walking with God


c. He spoke like a spiritual man but thought and lived as a carnal man.

d. God will use carnal people for his own purposes, but you don’t want to be carnal!

2. Vs. 16-21 Samuel and Saul had very different points of view. Spiritual versus carnal.

a. Samuel reminded Saul of God’s favor towards him at the first.

b. He challenged Saul on his failure to obey God.

c. Once again, Saul justified his sin, used pragmatism, and shifted the blame.

d. Saul defended his actions and explained why they were better than God’s plan.

e. Saul even spiritualized his disobedience and made it sound holy.

f. Saul was full of zeal concerning his own will, even to the killing of his son.

g. He was only halfhearted concerning the will of God.

IV. Samuel’s Responses

A. Samuel’s Words With Saul Vs. 22-31

1. V. 22 Saul’s excuse was that he saved some of the animals to offer as sacrifices to God.

a. Samuel explained that obedience (love, honor, respect) is what God wants.

2. V. 23 All true because it de-thrones God and enthrones man. Rebellion & stubbornness.

3. V. 23 Saul rejected God, so God rejected Saul. “Spiritual”rebellion & stubbornness.

4. V. 24 Finally, Saul confesses that he has sinned.

a. He disobeyed God because he was a man pleaser, not a God pleaser.

b. This statement of Saul shows us that at least now, he can see his wrongdoing.

c. Clarke- had he feared GOD more, he would have feared the PEOPLE less.

5. V. 25 This is an insincere request, as we shall see.

a. His motivation is not that he might worship God, but that he wouldn’t be shamed before the people. He is still more concerned with man’s opinion than with God’s.

6. Vs. 26-29 Saul has confessed his sin, but it isn’t a true confession accompanied by godly sorrow. We know that reading on and watching the rest of Saul’s life.

a. He has confessed his sin, but he hasn’t repented of his sin.

b. The Strength of Israel- Samuel reminds Saul who is really the strength of Israel.

c. It will still be 25 years before David is enthroned, but Saul has been judged.

7. Vs 30, 31 Here we see the plague of Saul’s heart: pride. He wanted to be recognized.

a. He was unwilling to be humble and accept whatever God brings his way.

b. NOTE- True repentance doesn’t demand anything from God.

c. It quietly accepts whatever God decides to do.

d. V. 31 Saul went through the motions of worshipping God, but only for himself.

B. Samuel’s Actions Vs. 32-35

1. V. 33 Before the Lord… It wasn’t done to shame Saul or impress Israel. It was done in obedience to God. This was extreme.

2. Samuel had butchered animals but had never cut up a man. Done… before the Lord.