*Good Wednesday morning! Let's get started with today's study.
"Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned. I violated the Lord's commandment and your instructions. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord. But Samuel said to him, 'I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!" (I Samuel 15:24-26)
Poor Saul! I have to feel for the poor guy. Saul's slogan could have very well been; "I didn't sign up for this!" Remember, he was just out chasing the family donkeys when Saul grabbed him and said, "You're It! King that is." Saul couldn't handle the power allotted him. He disobeyed God's instructions and even performed sacrifices, presuming the role of the priest. God has rejected Saul. Even repentance can not return Saul to the good graces of the Lord. My question is, "Why?" We have been told that God was sorry that he made Saul king over Israel (15:10). Saul even went so far as to make a statue of himself. Perhaps the "straw that broke the camel's back" was the fact that Saul had the opportunity to destroy once and for all Israel's longest-running enemy, the Amalekites. In a comical situation Saul approaches Samuel and says "The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord's instructions." (I Samuel 15:13) In other words, Saul says: "Good News! Good News! I have wiped out the Amalekites! I did it! Yay Me!" But, then Samuel asks; "Um...then why am I hearing the bleating of the sheep and lowing of cattle?" (Saul did not destroy everything as instructed.) This scene reminds me of a situation that happened long ago at the feed mill I worked at for ten years. There was a cat that hung around for a long time. One day the cat got into a tangle with something that got the better of it. The cat's face was badly injured. The boss instructed one of the employees to take the cat out and "put it out of its misery." (meaning in hillbilly talk, "shoot it." We didn't utilize the vets much in the Ozarks) Well, the poor fellow took the cat out and when he returned we knew by the look on his face that the deed was done and the cat was dead. Then three days later, I kid you not, the cat returned...with a hole in its left ear. The guy had aimed at the cat and closed his eyes while firing and shot the cat in the top of its ear. We decided the cat should live.
Why did God not forgive Saul? This will be a question I raise for quite some time as we go through this study. Poor Saul even reaches for the hem of Samuel's garment. He grabs it and it tears. Samuel is unmoved by this act of supplication and uses it to prophesy: "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors-to one better than you." (I Samuel 15:28) Just as Saul tore Samuel's robe the kingdom has been torn from Saul. Then, Samuel says: "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man that he should change his mind." (I Samuel 15:29) Wow! Is this true? Will God never change God's mind? Well, there is evidence all through the Bible that God will change God's mind. Remember, Abraham asking the angel that if they can find fifty righteous people in Sodom if they will spare the city. The angel (the Lord?) answered: "Yes." Then, when we get to the book of Jonah we will discover that God changes God's mind in that situation. So, this makes me wonder, "Is Samuel speaking for God or himself?" I can't help but think that Samuel is still troubled by the fact the people asked for a king in the first place. Now, we know that God has rejected Saul. That is clear. But, to further prove my point about Samuel and Saul we are told: "Until the day Samuel died, he did not go see Saul again..." (I Samuel 15:35a)
Now, keep in mind that Saul is still king. He just does not have the blessing of the Lord. He is still in power. Saul has also been told that God has someone else who will take the kingdom. This has to be weighing heavily on Saul's mind. Saul is now a man without the hope of redemption. How sad is that? This story allows us to see the picture of a man with whom the Lord has rejected. Earlier we discovered Saul repented, but to no avail. Saul was begging Samuel to forgive him. But, now, as chapter sixteen begins we discover a different Saul.
"The Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.' But Samuel said, 'How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me." (I Samuel 16:1-2)
As Samuel is sent out to find and anoint the new king he is troubled. He understands that Saul is now perhaps vindictive. The Saul who once honored Samuel now would be willing to kill Samuel. Why? Because Saul knows that there is a new king coming. He also knows that Samuel will perhaps be the one to anoint the new king. The kingdom of Israel is not Saul's much longer. Saul is now a king looking over his shoulder at all times. When will this new king emerge? Who will he be? We will find out...tomorrow. -Pastor Rick