The Eyes of People

Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the LORD.”

1 Samuel 15:24-25

A friend of mine referred me to 1 Samuel 15 earlier this week, and having gone through a lot of the Old Testament last year (and the year before that), I decided to go back to that chapter and take another look at what’s going on here in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Samuel.

My friend is right when she says that there is a lot going on in the chapter that I would say demonstrates a lot about the character of God and the character of sinful people. At first glance, it’s easy to look at this chapter and say that the grace of God seems mysteriously absent.

Now, what’s going on with the Amalekites in this chapter goes back to Moses’ time in Exodus 17. According to this chapter in Exodus, the Amalekites had raised a fist toward God by attacking the Israelites while they were coming out of Egypt. So here in 1 Samuel, God is making good on His promise in Exodus.

Another interesting aspect is God’s rejection of Saul, and something tells me that Saul would have made an excellent politician.

If you look at the entire chapter, you’ll notice how Saul flip-flops his allegiance. He makes excuses, and he does eventually ask for forgiveness.

Saul initially tries to cover up the fact that he did not obey the LORD’s command by stating that what was left alive was going to be an offering to God, but Samuel easy calls him out by saying that God desires obedience more that sacrifice (v. 20-23). So, Saul has been proven wrong, and he finally concedes that he had sinned (v. 24-25). What he says during his admission is key to revealing what was in Saul’s heart. He wanted to please the people, to look good in the eyes of the people.

Saul’s motivation came from his desire to please people, and that motivation does not change here in this chapter. He asks Samuel to go back with him under the guise that they will go to worship God, but when Samuel refuses, Saul reaches out in anger and tears Samuel’s robe (v. 25-27). Samuel then makes another proclamation that the LORD has rejected him, but that doesn’t even seem to bother Saul. Instead, Saul pleads with Samuel that he would go back with him so that he would be honored before the elders of his people (v. 30).

The fact that God had rejected him seems to mean nothing to him, but the idea that he might be disgraced before the people? That seems unbearable to him. Saul’s heart pursued the opinions of people and seemingly could have cared less about the LORD’s opinion of him.

Seems like a dangerous place to for the heart to be.

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