Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, by Witness Lee

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Verses 10 through 31 are concerned with the matter of Saul’s disobedience.

A. Jehovah Repenting of Saul’s Kingship
because of His Disobedience,
and Samuel Being Angry

Jehovah told Samuel that He repented of appointing Saul as king, for he did not fulfill His words. Samuel became angry and cried to Jehovah all night long (vv. 10-11).

B. Samuel’s Dealing with Saul

In verses 12 through 31 we see Samuel’s dealing with Saul.

1. Coming to Meet Saul Early in the Morning

Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. It was told Samuel that Saul had gone to Carmel and had set up a monument for himself (v. 12). Saul built this monument not for the kingdom of God but for the remembrance of himself because of the victory that made both him and his monarchy rich. This was a strong indication that Saul’s intention was to build up his monarchy.

2. The Conversation between Samuel and Saul
after Samuel Came to Saul

Verses 13 through 23 are a record of the conversation between Samuel and Saul after Samuel came to Saul. When Saul declared that he had fulfilled the word of Jehovah, Samuel asked, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears and the lowing of oxen that I hear?" (vv. 13-14). Saul explained that they had been brought from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to Jehovah and destroyed the rest. Samuel then told Saul to stop and he would tell him what Jehovah had spoken to him the night before. Then he went on to say, "Though you are small in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? And Jehovah has anointed you as king over Israel. And Jehovah sent you on a journey and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed. Why then did you not obey the voice of Jehovah, but flew upon the spoil and did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah?" (vv. 17-19). Saul responded by claiming that he did obey the voice of Jehovah, but that the people took sheep and oxen of the spoil to sacrifice to Jehovah (vv. 20-21).

In verses 22 and 23 Samuel continued by speaking a very strong word to Saul: "Does Jehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices/As much as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? /Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,/And to heed, than the fat of rams./For rebellion is like the sin of divination,/And insubordination is like idolatry and teraphim." Here Samuel seemed to be saying, "Saul, you say that you spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to Jehovah, my God. But God prefers that you obey His word. He told you to utterly destroy the Amalekites and all that they have. Instead of obeying this word, you kept some of the sheep and oxen for yourself. This morning you raised up a monument for yourself. You did not raise up anything for God. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed, to take care of, God’s speaking is better than the fat of rams. Saul, you have rebelled against God, and rebellion is like the sin of divination, like the sin of witchcraft. What you did was just as evil as contacting an evil spirit for the purpose of carrying out the intention of that spirit, not God’s intention. You did not subordinate yourself to God as your Head but acted presumptuously, according to your ways and by your will. Now your kingship is over. Because you have rejected the word of Jehovah, He has rejected you from being king." Saul was thus exposed as being a rebel against God and an enemy of God.

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)