SAUL'S GREAT SIN AND HIS GREAT LOSS
I Samuel xv: 1 to 35.
FTER the great victory over the Philistines, Saul led his
men against the enemies of Israel on every side of the
land. He drove back the Moabites to their country east
of the Dead Sea, and the Ammonites to the desert
regions across the Jordan. He fought the Edomites on
the south and the kings of Zobah in the far north. For
a time the land of Israel was free from its oppressors.
On the south of the land, in the desert where the
Israelites had journeyed for forty years, were living
the wild and wandering Amalekites, a people who had
sought to harm the Israelites soon after they came out
of Egypt, and had killed many of their people when they
were helpless on their journey. (See Story
25.) For this God had said that Israel should
have war against the Amalekites until they were
The time had now come for God's word against the
Amalekites to be fulfilled, and Samuel said to Saul,
"Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, go down and make
war against the Amalekites, and destroy them utterly."
Then Saul called out the men of war in all the tribes,
and they marched southward into the desert where many
years before their fathers had lived for forty years.
There Saul made war on the Amalekites, and took their
city and destroyed it. But he did not do what God had
commanded him. He brought Agag, the king of the
Amalekites, and many of his people as prisoners, and a
great train of their sheep and oxen, intending to keep
Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, "It
would have been better never to have chosen Saul as
king, for he does not obey my commands."
All that night Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the next
day he went to meet Saul. When Saul saw him, he said,
 blessing of the Lord be upon you. I have done what the
Lord commanded me to do."
Then said Samuel, "If you have obeyed God's command
and destroyed all the Amalekites and all that they
possessed, what is the meaning of this bleating of the
sheep and the bellowing of the oxen which I hear?"
"They have bought them from the Amalekites," answered
Saul, "for the people spared the best of the sheep and
of the oxen, to offer in sacrifice to the Lord your
God. All the rest we have utterly destroyed." This he
said to excuse his wrong-doing and to put the blame for
his disobedience to God's command on the people.
Then Samuel said, "I will tell you what God said to me
last night. When you were humble in your own sight, God
chose you to be king over Israel. He sent you on a long
journey to the southward into the desert and said to
you, 'Go and utterly destroy the Amalekites and leave
nothing of them.' Why did you
 not obey God's word but did seize their oxen and sheep
and save many of their people alive, disobeying God's
And Saul said, "I have done as God commanded, and have
destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some
things that should have been destroyed, to offer in
sacrifice to the Lord."
And Samuel said, "Is the Lord as well pleased with
offerings as he is with obeying his words? To obey is
better than sacrifice, and to listen to God's word is
more precious than to place offerings on his altar. To
disobey God's word is as evil as to worship idols. You
have refused to obey the voice of the Lord, and the
Lord will take away your kingdom from you."
Saul saw now how great was the harm that he had done,
and he said, "I have sinned in not obeying God's word;
but I was afraid of the people, and yielded to them.
Now forgive my sin. Come with me, and I will worship
"No," said Samuel, "I will not go with you, for God
will refuse you as king."
As Samuel turned away, Saul took hold of his garment,
and it tore in his hand. And Samuel said, "Even so has
God torn the kingdom away from you; and he will give it
to a man that is better than you are. And God is not
like a man, to say one thing and do another. What God
has said shall surely come to pass."
Saul begged Samuel so hard not to leave him, but to
give him honor in presence of the people, that Samuel
went with Saul, and Saul worshipped the Lord with
After this Samuel went to his house at Ramah, and he
never again met Saul as long as he lived; but he
mourned and wept for Saul, because he had disobeyed the
Lord, and the Lord had rejected him as king.
SAMUEL TURNS AWAY FROM SAUL