1 Samuel 15

Saul does not obey God completely

1 Samuel said to Saul, ‘The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over his people, the Israelites. So now listen to this message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says. “Israel's people came out of the country called Egypt and they went to the country called Canaan. But the Amalekites did not want to let them go into Canaan. So I will punish the Amalekites. 3 Go and attack the Amalekites. Completely destroy everything that they have. Do not save anything. Kill the men and women, children and babies. Kill their cows and sheep. Kill their camels and donkeys”.’

15:3The Amalekites lived in the land that was between southern Israel and the country of Egypt. They did not build many towns. Instead, they lived in tents and wandered about the land.

4 So Saul called his army together. They met at Telaim and he counted his men. There were 200,000 soldiers and 10,000 men from the tribe of Judah. 5 Saul and his army went to a town in the country of Amalek. They waited in a valley to catch their enemy. 6 Saul said to the people from the Kenite tribe, ‘Go away. Leave the Amalekites. I will kill the Amalekites. But I do not want to kill you. You were kind to the Israelites when they came out from the country called Egypt.’ So the Kenites left the Amalekites.

15:6The Kenite tribe probably lived near or with the Amalekites.

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites. He fought them all the way from Havilah to Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he beat them. 8 Saul brought back their king, Agag, alive. Saul's soldiers killed all the people with their swords. 9 But Saul and the people let Agag live. They did not kill the best old and young sheep or the fat cows. They let all the good animals live. They did not want to kill all the animals. But they killed all the animals that were weak or worth nothing.

10 Then the Lord said to Samuel, 11 ‘I am sorry that I made Saul king. He has stopped doing the things that cause me pleasure. He has not obeyed my words.’ Samuel was very sad. He prayed aloud to the Lord all that night.

12 Samuel got up early the next morning. He went to meet Saul. Someone told Samuel, ‘Saul went to the town called Carmel. He put up a tall stone to give honour to himself. Then he went to the town called Gilgal.’

13 Samuel went to find Saul. Saul said to Samuel, ‘I ask the Lord to be good to you. I have obeyed the Lord's words.’

14 But Samuel said, ‘Why can I hear the noises of sheep and cows?’

15 Saul answered, ‘The people took them from the Amalekites. They saved the best sheep and cows. They will sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We killed all the other animals.’

16 Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop talking. I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’

Saul said, ‘Tell me.’

17 Samuel said, ‘In past days you thought that you were not an important person. Now you are the leader of all of the Israelite tribes. The Lord anointed you as king of Israel. 18 The Lord gave to you special work to do. He said to you, “Go and kill all the Amalekites. They are evil people. Fight against them until they are all dead.” 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you keep the best things? Why did you do what God did not want?’

20 Saul said, ‘I did obey the Lord. I did what the Lord said. I did what he asked me to do. I killed all the Amalekites. I brought back Agag their king. 21 But the people did not kill the best sheep and cows. They brought them to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.’

22 But Samuel replied,

‘Is the Lord most happy when people give offerings and sacrifices to him? Or is he most happy when people obey him?

The Lord is most happy when people obey him. That is better than when they sacrifice the best sheep to him.

23 You sin if you refuse to obey the Lord. This sin is as bad as to do evil magic.

You think that you know better than God. That is a sin which is like the worship of idols.

You refused to obey what the Lord said. Now the Lord has refused you as king.’

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned. I did not obey the Lord or your words. I was afraid of the people. I did what they wanted. 25 Now I am asking you to forgive my sin. Return with me so that I can worship the Lord.’

26 But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you. You refused to do what the Lord said. Now the Lord refuses you as king of Israel.’

27 Samuel turned away from Saul and left. But Saul pulled the edge of Samuel's coat and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today. He has given it to someone near to you who is better than you. 29 The Lord is the glory of Israel. He does not say things that are not true. He does not change his mind. He is not like a man who decides to change.’

30 Saul replied, ‘I have sinned. But please give honour to me in front of the leaders and people in Israel. Return with me so that I can worship the Lord your God.’ 31 So Samuel returned with Saul. And Saul worshipped the Lord.

32 Then Samuel said, ‘Bring Agag, king of the Amalekites, to me.’

Agag came to Samuel. Agag was happy because he thought, ‘I am sure that now I will not feel the strong pain of death.’

33 But Samuel said, ‘You have killed many people. Now some mothers do not have any children that are still alive. Now your mother will have no children.’ And Samuel cut Agag into pieces in front of the Lord at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel left Gilgal and he went to his home in Ramah. But Saul went to his home in Gibeah. 35 Until Samuel died, he never saw Saul again. But Samuel was very sad about Saul. And the Lord was very sorry that he had made Saul king of Israel.