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1 Samuel 15 - Holy Regret

God sovereignly controls all things, but even so your sin causes Him regret.

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1 Samuel 15 Summary

We're skipping ahead a few chapters today as we come to the end of our time in 1 Samuel. In the intervening chapters, the newly crowned King Saul demonstrates his true colors by making rash decisions, exercising poor leadership skills and a preference to take things into his own hands rather than waiting on the Lord.

In today's chapter, God gives King Saul a final assignment: totally destroy the Amalekites, the descendants of Esau who treated God's people harshly. God told Saul to devote to destruction all that they have (v3).

But Saul's army didn't follow these harsh instructions. It probably started small - a few trinkets were pocketed, and then some useful tools, and then some of the pack animals to help do the work. But it escalated to the point where not only did they keep all that was good, they also spared wicked king Agag. In fact, the only things that were destroyed were the things that were despised and worthless (v8-9). Do you see how quickly little sins evolve into big sins?

In defending himself, Saul claims that these good things were kept to sacrifice to God (v21). Even if that were true, Saul's intentions likely weren't to display his gratitude for what God had done, but rather to manipulate God.

John Walton puts it this way:

Food and gifts were presented to the gods so that the gods would be obliged to grant requests or bestow blessings. Samuel is suggesting that that is exactly the activity Saul intends to engage in as he plans to present all of these cattle to the Lord. Saul was attempting to manipulate with gifts in the same way that idol worshipers did.

Dig Deeper

The last verse of this chapter is one of the trickiest in the Bible:

And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel (v35).

Certainly this concept deserves much more discussion than what there's room for, but suffice it to say that it does not mean that God was taken by surprise when Saul didn't work out as king.

Understand that even though God knows about ahead of time and even allows the sins you will commit, it still causes Him sorrow and regret when your sins finally occur.

Learn from Saul's mistakes and half hearted repentance, which was focused on the consequences he would face rather than the regret he caused God to experience.

Fully confess your sins to the Lord, and know that all of God's regret was poured out on Jesus for your sake.

AAA Prayer:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Holy Father, who regrets our sin and disobedience;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength to fear & obey God, and not popularity (v24).




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