1 Samuel Chapters 15 and 16

by Linda Claassen Mitchell

When enough is enough: Day 1

I Samuel 15:2 (IEB) Samuel says to Saul: “This is what Yahweh of the armies of heaven says: When the Israelites came up out of Egypt, the Amalekites (b) tried to block their way to Canaan.(c) I will punish the Amalekites for what they did.”

Following the footnotes:
(b) They were Bedouin nomads who had descended from Esau and lived mostly in the Negev. See Genesis 36:12,16.
Genesis 36:12,16 (IEB): “12) Eliphaz (Esau’s son) also had a concubine – Timna. She gave birth to Amalek for Eliphaz. These were the grandsons of Esau’s wife. 16) Korah, Gatam, and Amalek. These were the chiefs who descended from Eliphaz in the land of Edom; they were the grandsons of Adah.”
Following the footnotes:
(c) See Numbers 14:43,45; Deuteronomy 25:17-19. Also compare Judges 3:13; 6:3-5, 33; 7:12; 10:12 which chronicle the Israelite’s battles against the Amalekites.
Numbers 14:43, 45 (IEB): “43) The Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you and they will kill you with their swords. Why? Because you have already turned away from the Always-Present One: you are not following Him anymore. The Always-Present One will not be with you! 45) Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those mountains came down and they attacked the Israelites. They beat the Israelites back all the way to Hormah. (c)”
Following the footnotes (c) The meaning of this name is “the place of the ban” ( = total destruction). It was located somewhere in the southeastern frontier of Canaan.
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (IEB): “Moses continued, ‘Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. They met you people on your journey. You were tired and worn out when they attacked you from the rear, against all those who were lagging behind. The Amalekites had no fear of God! The Always-Present One, your God, will give you rest from all your enemies who will surround you in the land which He is giving to you to possess. You must destroy any memory of the Amalekites on the earth. You must not forget!”

I Samuel 15:3 (IEB): Now go, attack the Amalekites! Totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Don’t pity them. Put to death the men, the women, the children, and even the nursing babies! Kill all the cattle and the sheep, the camels, and the donkeys!”

My thoughts: God was very specific in His instructions. He wanted to leave no memory of the Amalekites on the earth. This was God’s punishment to the Amalekites – total annihilation. God is capable of incredible vengeance against those who do not honor Him. As I leave my study today it is clear that “God is Love” for those who choose to serve Him, but He is also to be feared by those who do not.

My prayer today is that I will keep my focus on serving Him.

When enough is enough: Day 2

God no longer wanted Saul to be King.

God had told Saul to annihilate the Amalekites, every man, woman and child; all the cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys. Everything belonging to them was to be destroyed!

I Samuel 15:7-21 (IEB): “Then Saul attacked the Amalekites. He fought them from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is at the eastern border of Egypt. He captured Agag (“Agag” like “Pharaoh”, was a title, not a proper name) alive, the king of the Amalekites. But he wiped out all of Agag’s army with the edge of the sword. But Saul and his army allowed Agag to live. They also kept alive the best of the flocks, the fat cattle, and the rams. They kept every good animal alive. They did not want to destroy them all. But whenever they found an animal that was weak or useless, they killed it.
Then Yahweh spoke His Word to Samuel: ‘Saul has turned completely away from following Me. And I am sorry that I ever made him king. He has not obeyed My commands.’ Samuel was upset, and he cried out to Yahweh all night long. Early in the morning, Samuel got up to go meet Saul. But someone told Samuel, ‘Saul has gone to Carmel. And, look, he has put up a monument in his own honor! Then Saul crossed over and went down to Gilgal.’
Then Samuel came to Saul. And Saul said to Samuel, ‘May Yahweh bless you! I have obeyed Yahweh’s commands!’
But Samuel said, ‘Then why do I hear sheep baaing and cattle mooing?’
Saul answered, ‘The soldiers got them from the Amalekites. They saved the best sheep, goats, and cattle to offer them as sacrifices to Yahweh, your God. But we totally destroyed all the other animals!’
“Stop!” said Samuel to Saul, ‘Let me tell you what Yahweh said to me last night.’ Saul answered Samuel, ‘Tell me.’ Samuel said, ‘Once you did not think much of yourself. But now, you have become the head of all the tribes of Israel. Yahweh anointed you to be king over Israel. Yahweh sent you on a mission. He said, “Go and completely destroy those evil people, the Amalekites. Make war on them until all of them are dead.” Why didn’t you obey Yahweh!? Why did you take the best things!? Why did you do what Yahweh said was wrong!?’
Saul said to Samuel, “But I did obey Yahweh! O did what Yahweh told me to do. I destroyed all the Amalekites. And I brought back Agag, their king. It was the soldiers who took the best sheep, goats, and cattle – the best of what was devoted to God – to sacrifice them to Yahweh, your God, at Gilgal!”

Saul clearly disobeyed God’s command – but he doesn’t see it that way. Twice he referred to Yahweh as “your God”, not “My God”. He doesn’t acknowledge God’s authority over him. And finally, he put up a monument in his own honor, claiming the victory as his own, not honoring God at all! The success that Saul has experienced because of God’s intervention has made him arrogant!

As I leave my study today, I have to ask myself: am I giving God the credit He deserves? Do I think of Him as “My” God, the one behind every good thing there is?

When enough is enough: Day 3

It is better to obey God in the first place.

In yesterday’s study Saul attacked the Amalekites as God had commanded, but failed to follow God’s instructions to kill every Amalekite and all of their livestock. Samuel called Saul on this and Saul claimed that he did follow God’s commands, (although he brought Agag their leader back alive). Then he blamed his soldiers for keeping the best livestock “to sacrifice them to Yahweh, your God, at Gilgal!” Saul was trying to put a good spin on what he did, but God knew the true story.

1 Samuel 15_22 Image

1 Samuel 15:22-29 (IEB): “But Samuel answered, ‘What pleases Yahweh more- burnt-offerings and sacrifices? Or, obedience to His voice!? Listen, it is better to obey God than to offer a sacrifice! It is better to pay attention to God than to offer the fat of rams! Refusing to obey is just as bad as the sin of witchcraft. Being stubborn is just as bad as the sin of worshiping idols. Because you have rejected Yahweh’s command, He now rejects you from being king!’
Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned! I did not obey Yahweh’s commands. I did not do what you told me because I was afraid of the army. I did what they said instead. Now, I beg you, forgive
(lift up) my sin. Come back with me, so that I may give worship to Yahweh.’
But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not go back with you because you rejected the Word of Yahweh! And now He rejects you from being king over Israel.’
As Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed Samuel’s robe, and it tore. Then Samuel said to him, ‘Yahweh has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today! And, He has given it to one of your countrymen, to someone better than you! Yahweh is the Glorious One of Israel. He does not lie or change His mind on a whim. He is not a human being. So He doesn’t change His mind like people do.”

Saul realizes he is in big trouble! If Samuel doesn’t back him in front of the people it is over for him!

1 Samuel 15:30-33 (IEB): “Saul said, ‘I have sinned! But please show me honor in front of the elders of my people. Please honor me in front of the nation of Israel. Return with me, so that I may give worship to Yahweh, your God!’ Samuel finally decided to reconcile with Saul, and Saul did worship Yahweh.
Then Samuel said, ‘Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites.’ Agag was in a good mood when he came to Samuel. Agag thought: ‘Surely the bitterness of death is gone.’ But Samuel said to Agag, ‘Your sword has caused mothers to live without their children. Now your mother will be without her son!’ Then Samuel cut Agag to pieces in the presence of Yahweh at Gilgal.”

I leave my study today reminded that partial obedience isn’t an option. I am either obedient or I’m disobedient. And there are consequences or rewards depending on what I choose. Samuel killed Agag in obedience to God’s command that all of the Amalekites be wiped from the face of the earth, and God communicated with him. Saul chose to be disobedient and lost favor with God and his place as king over the Israelites.

When enough is enough: Day 4

Samuel follows God’s instructions.

Samuel left Saul in Gilgal and went to Ramah while Saul went up to his home in Gibeah-Saul. Samuel never saw Saul again, but he cried for him.

1 Samuel 16:1-3 (IEB): “Then Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘How long will you continue to feel sorry for Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your small container (literally, “your horn”) with olive oil and go! I am sending you to Jesse, (c) who lives in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be a king for Me.’
But Samuel said, ‘How can I go? When Saul hears about it, he will try to kill me!’ (d) Then Yahweh said, ‘Take a young calf with you. Say this: “I have come to offer a sacrifice to Yahweh.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice. Then I will show you what to do. You must anoint for Me the one I tell you to anoint.’ ”
Following the footnotes:
(c) Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:13-22)
(d) It is possible that King Saul had warned Samuel that he would kill him, if he tried to promote a rival to Saul’s throne. Look back at 1 Samuel 13:14 and15:28. Samuel tells Saul that Yahweh is replacing him as king although Saul’s response was not recorded.

Saul has been told that Yahweh is replacing him, but Saul is defiant and continues to act as king. Samuel is mourning Saul’s disobedience but at the same time is afraid of Saul. Even so He does what God commands.

1 Samuel 16:4 (IEB): “Samuel did what Yahweh told him to do. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town were afraid. They met him and asked, ‘Are you coming in peace?’ (a)
Samuel answered, ‘Yes, I come in peace. I have come to make a sacrifice to Yahweh. Make yourselves holy for God and come with me to the sacrifice’ (b) Then Samuel purified Jesse and his sons. And, he invited them to come to the sacrifice.”
Following the footnotes:
(a) The elders were apprehensive about exactly why Samuel had come to their obscure village. It was not on Samuel’s normal circuit. They were worried about any negative consequences which might befall them if King Saul found out about this visit. Note Saul’s massacre of the priests at Nob (1 Samuel 22:6-19) They had good reason to worry.
(b) Compare Exodus 19:10,14; Lev. 15; Num. 19:11-22
Exodus 19:10,14 (IEB) 10) “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and purify them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes. 14) So, Moses went down the mountain to the people and purified them. They washed their clothes. (b)
Following the footnotes:
(b) Compare
Hebrews 10:22 (IEB) “So, let us come with a true heart and be sure of our faith. Our hearts should be made pure from a guilty conscience. And, our bodies should be washed with pure water.”

My prayer today is for the courage to do what God commands even when I am afraid.

When enough is enough: Day 5

God looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:6-13 (IEB): “When they (Jesse and his sons) arrived, Samuel saw Eliab (Jesse’s oldest son) Samuel thought: ‘Surely Yahweh has chosen this man standing here before Him to be His anointed king!’
But Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his outward appearance. (d) Do not look at how tall he is. I have not chosen him. I do not see the same way that a human being sees. People look at the outside of a person, but I look at the heart. (e)’

Following the footnotes:
(d) Compare Isaiah 31:1,3; Psalms 147:10; Ezekiel 16:52; Matt. 7:1-5; John 7:24; 2 Cor. 10:7.
Isaiah 31:1,3 (IEB): “…because they are very strong. They don’t look to God, the Holy One of Israel. They don’t ask Yahweh for help.”
Psalms 147:10 (IEB): “He does not relish in the strength of a horse, nor does He take delight in the power of a man. Yahweh takes delight in those who revere Him, with those who trust His constant love.”
(e) God sees where no one can possible see. Compare 1 Chr. 28:9; Ps 7:9; 26:2; 139:1,2,23,24; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; 20:12; John 2:25; Acts 1:24; Heb. 4:13.
1 Chr. 28:9 (IEB): “And you, O Solomon, my son, accept the God of your father. Serve God completely. Be glad to serve Him. Do this because Yahweh knows what is in every person’s mind. He understands everything you think …”
Psalms 7:9 (IEB): “O God, You do what is right. You know our thoughts and feelings…”
Psalms 26:2 (IEB): “O Yahweh, cross-examine me and test me. Look closely into my heart and mind.”
Psalms 139:2, 3 (IEB): “O Yahweh, You have examined me. You know everything there is about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. From a distance, You understand my thoughts. (23, 24) O God, examine me and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious feelings. See if there is any bad trait in me. Lead me in the everlasting way.”
Acts 1:24 (IEB): “The apostles prayed, ‘Lord, You know the hearts of all people. Show us which one of these two men You choose ‘ …”

1 Samuel 16:10-13 (IEB): “Jesse had seven of his sons pass by in front of Samuel. But Samuel said to him, ‘Yahweh has not chosen any of these!’ Then Samuel asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the boys you have?’ Jesse answered, I still have the youngest son, but, look, he is out there taking care of the flock (h).”

Following the footnotes: (h) David was a shepherd. God expected David to be the shepherd of His people. Yahweh is the chief shepherd of Israel.

As I leave my study today I am reminded that God sees everything I have in my heart and mind. I need to be careful what I put in there!

When enough is enough: Day 6

God chooses David to lead His people:

Samuel has gone on a secret mission to choose the new king. God gave him the plan to offer a sacrifice to Yahweh in Bethlehem where Jesse lives. Samuel has looked at seven of Jesse’s sons but God has said “not this one” to each one.
1 Samuel 16:11-13 (IEB): “Then Samuel asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the boys your have?’ Jesse answered, I still have the youngest son, but, look, he is out there taking care of the flock. (h) Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him. Bring him here. We will not sit down to eat the sacrifice until he arrives.’
So Jesse sent someone to get David. He was a fine-looking young man – all tan and handsome.
Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘Go, anoint him with olive oil. He is the one!
So, Samuel took the small container of olive oil. Then he poured the oil on David to anoint him among his brothers. From that day onward, Yahweh’s Spirit came over David. Then Samuel got up and went to Ramah.”
Following the footnotes:(h)
David was a shepherd (compare 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalms 23:1-6; Psalms 78:70-72.)
2 Samuel 7:8 (IEB): “God continued speaking to Nathan, ‘You must tell My servant David: “This is what Yahweh of the armies of heaven says: ‘I took you from the pasture, when you were following the flock. I took you to become the leader over My people, over Israel.’ ”
Psalms 23:1-6 (IEB): Yahweh is my Shepherd. I have everything I need. He gives me rest in green pastures. (c) He leads me beside calm waters. He gives me new strength. (d) For the sake of His Name, He guides me in paths that are right. (e) Even if I walk through a very dark valley, (f) I will not be afraid of anything bad, because You are with me. (g) Your rod (h) and Your walking-stick (i) comfort me. (j) You prepare a banquet for me in front of my enemies. You pour oil on (k) my head. You bless me abundantly. Surely Your goodness and love will be with me all of my life. And I will dwell in the House of the Yahweh forever!”
Following the footnotes for Psalms 23:1-6
(c) literally, “He causes me to lie down in green pastures” using the metaphor of tending sheep. After the sheep are completely satisfied with their grazing, they will lie down contentedly.
(d) literally, ‘He restores (= refreshes) my soul” (= my life) after exhaustion.
(e) or, “righteous ways”, not in the direction of ruination.
(f) literally, ‘through the valley of the shadow of death,” = the deepest darkness; severe crises.
(g) See 1 Samuel 17:34-36. You may seem to be alone, but God is with you; and, He will never abandon you.
(h) = a symbol of God’s authority
(j) or, “reassure me.” The rod and the walking-stick show that the Shepherd is always there for them.
(k) or, “anoint” = symbolic of hospitality and gladness.
As I leave my study today I have a better understanding of what it means to have God as my Shepherd. His plan is always for my good.

When enough is enough: Day 7

All things are under God’s control.

Saul has lost favor with God because of his disobedience. David has been anointed by Samuel in secret. He is God’s choice of king to shepherd His people.

1 Samuel 16:14-16 (IEB): “But the Spirit of Yahweh had gone out of Saul. Yahweh sent an evil spirit that tormented Saul. (b) So Saul’s servants said to him, ‘Look, now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Give us the command. We will search for someone who knows how to play the harp. Whenever the depression (c) comes over you, he will play music, and you will feel better!’

Following the footnotes:
(b) All things are under Almighty God’s control. Scripture amply shows that evil spirits are completely subject to God’s dominion and they can operate only within divinely determined limits. (See Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:19-23; Job 1:12; Job 2:6)
Judges 9:23 (IEB): “Then God sent an evil spirit to cause trouble between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. The lords of Shechem double-crossed Abimelech.”
1 Kings 22:19-23 (IEB): “But Micaiah continued to speak: ‘Listen to the Word of Yahweh: I saw Yahweh sitting on His throne. His entire, heavenly army was standing near Him on His right side and on His left. Yahweh said, ‘who will trick Ahab so that he will attack Ramoth-Gilead and get killed?’ The spirits did not agree about what they should do. Then one spirit came and stood in the presence of the Always-Present One. He said, ‘I will trick him.’ Yahweh asked him, ‘How would you trick Ahab?’ The spirit answered, ‘I would go out to Ahab’s prophets, and I would cause all of them to tell lies.’ “Then Yahweh said, ‘you will succeed in deceiving Ahab. Go out and do that.’ Micaiah said, ‘Ahab, listen, this has now happened! Yahweh has caused all of these prophets of yours to lie to you. Yahweh has decided that a disaster will happen to you.”
Job 1:12 (IEB): “Yahweh said to Satan, ‘Look, everything that Job has is in your power, but you must not touch Job himself.’ Then Satan left the presence of Yahweh.”
Mark 1:27 (IEB):
Jesus had just commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man. “All the people were shocked. They started asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching? With authority Jesus even commands evil spirits and they obey him!’ ”
(c) literally, “the bad spirit from God.”

As I leave my study today it is clear that God has complete control of everything, even Satan. God was allowing Saul to be tormented because he had been disobedient; God already had David waiting in the wings to replace him at the appropriate time. God also allows good people to be tested as the story of Job shows us. Either way, God is the one in control.

My prayer today is one of thanksgiving for God’s complete control over everything.

When enough is enough: Day 8

God puts David just where He wants him:

In yesterday’s study, God sent an evil spirit to torment Saul with depression because Saul had been disobedient to God. Saul had sent his servants to find someone to play music so he would feel better.

1 Samuel 16: 17-23 (IEB): “So Saul said to his servants, ‘Find someone who plays well. Bring him to me!’
One of the servant boys spoke up, ‘Listen, Jesse, the man from Bethlehem, has a son who plays the harp very well! I have seen him play it. He is a strong warrior, and he fights well too. He is skillful with lyrics, and he’s good-looking. And, Yahweh is with him.’
Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse. The message said: ‘Send me your son, David, who is with your flock.’ So Jesse loaded a donkey with bread and a leather bag full of wine. He also got a young goat. He sent all of this to Saul, along with his son David.
When David came to Saul, he stood in his presence. Saul liked David very much. And David became the one who carried Saul’s armor. Later, (d) Saul sent a message to Jesse: ‘Permit David to remain here and serve me. I like him.’
And whenever the depression hit Saul, David would get his harp and play it. Then the depression would leave Saul. Saul got relief; he felt better again.”
Following the footnotes: (d) David probably made several trips back and forth between Bethlehem and Saul (1 Samuel 17:15). Apparently, David entered the service of Saul on a permanent basis in 1 Samuel 18:2.
1 Samuel 17:15 (IEB): “But David used to go back and forth from King Saul to Bethlehem. There David took care of his flocks.”
1 Samuel 18:2 (IEB): “From that day onward, Saul kept David with him. He did not permit David to go back home to his father’s house.”

As I leave my study today, I am impressed by how complete God’s plan is. First he chooses David, a young man of God who plays the harp and makes up songs praising Yahweh. He has him anointed by Samuel to show that he was God’s choice of king (1 Samuel 16:12). David didn’t immediately become king, he went back to tending sheep. Next God sends an evil spirit to Saul which causes him to be depressed. His servants suggest that music would help. Who do the servants recommend as a musician? David of course! Just as God had planned it! This puts David right in Saul’s inner circle, at Saul’s invitation! God’s timing may not make sense to me at the time, but it is always right.
It is interesting to me that David’s songs relieved Saul’s depression. It’s something to remember – singing songs praising God will lift my spirits. I may not have the world’s greatest voice, but it not how well I sing, but what I sing – praises to God – that matters.

My prayer today is one of gratitude for God’s plan, and for His patience with me. I want my actions to be pleasing to Him. When Christ returns, I want to be ready. I don’t want to hear, “enough is enough”!