Read 1 Samuel 15:1–31
The fruit of the tree was . . . desirable for gaining wisdom.Genesis 3:6
When the margins of political victory are wide and leaders are elected handily, politicians feel entitled to drive forward their particular political agenda. They use the word mandate to refer to that broad-ranging power they have been granted by the will of the people.
As king of Israel, Saul had no political mandate to do as he pleased. He was not democratically elected but divinely appointed by God. The Lord had given to him his position of power. The nation of Israel belonged to God, and God expected the king to act as His appointed servant and co-regent, executing His orders.
In our passage today, Samuel relayed a set of orders to Saul: destroy every human and animal among the Amalekites. This may seem unnecessarily severe, but God is making good on a promise that he made generations earlier to Moses. When the Amalekites had made war on the Israelites as they fled out of Egypt, God had declared, “I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven” (Ex. 17:14).
But Saul did not obey these divine orders fully. Instead, he spared Agag, the Amalekite king, along with the best of the Amalekite herds and flocks. What’s especially troubling as we read this account is Saul’s persistent inability to see his actions as sin. Three times he defended himself, insisting that he had fully obeyed God’s commands.
Just like Eve in the Garden who was tempted to obtain for herself wisdom apart from God, Saul also jettisoned God’s commands in favor of what he considered better and more strategic solutions. Whether he was motivated by fear or pride, it’s clear that Saul failed to recognize his role and responsibilities as God’s servant.
Apply the Word
After the defeat of the Amalekites, common sense told Saul to destroy what was worthless and keep what was good. It takes great courage to overcome temptation: courage to obey what seems foolish and courage to withstand the pressure of peers. It also takes the humble willingness to assume the identity of God’s servant.
Pray with Us
Pray for the Christians facing persecution around the globe.