Summary: A sermon for pastors and church leaders. It is a message on leadership illustrated from the interactions between Samuel and Saul.
After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.
Saul was a fighting King. He was a great general. He dealt all kinds of misery to Israel’s enemies from the day he took charge…. It’s not unusual for God to use gifted people when He has a job to be done. Saul’s talent was making the enemies of Israel dead. He was good at it!
God had a job that needed to be done, and don’t you know it was right up Saul’s alley… We read about it beginning in Chapter 15…
1. Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD.
2. This is what the LORD Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.
3. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys….
It’s come-uppance time for the Amalekites. The word that is translated "destroy" here in verse 3 means to "Give up to God irrevocably"… Deal with it in such a way that no human hand can take it back… If it lives—don’t just kill it – burn it. If it can’t be burned, smash it, crush it until no one will ever know what it was used for…Turn everything to dust, ashes and garbage.
… 7. Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt.
8. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.
9. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs--everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Saul and his army are doing their version of Sherman’s march to the sea…burning everything in sight, cutting down the enemies of Israel with the sword of the Lord…when suddenly some sergeant in Israel’s army tugs on the sleeve of his commanding officer and says, "Hey captain…these are some mighty fine sheep…I’ve been checking and those cows are real healthy… seems such a waste…"
The Captain shares the idea with his General…who whispers in Saul’s ear…
"You know, if we just kept the best of the flocks and herds, think how we could improve our own livestock…think what that would mean to the Israeli economy…
"Yeah but God said…"
"Look Saul, I’m not telling you how to run your country – but I don’t think God really meant everything. I mean, look at them! Keep them for your Kingdom! We’re entitled to the spoils of war! Just give a tithe off the top for sacrifice and distribute the rest of these fine animals around the officers…"
"Well, I do try to keep the men happy…"
10. Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:
11. "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
Folks…Make no mistake. God is still God. It is high time we remembered exactly who He is and where we stand in relationship to Him. When the scripture says that God repented or grieved that he made man or that He made Saul king—he doesn’t mean that he’s changed his mind or altered his will. It simply means that God wills an alteration. God’s will is sovereign. The fickleness of man can’t stop Him. We are like spark plugs in the engine of God’s will. When one goes bad, he doesn’t change engines or buy a new car…He just replaces the bad plug. Saul is on the verge of being replaced. And this upsets Samuel.
The original language says that Samuel burned. Why? Because Samuel had the heart of a great pastor. Samuel has been Saul’s spiritual guide since the day he was anointed King. Time and again, Saul breaks the Mosaic Law and disregards the explicit instructions of God. Time and again, Samuel continues to pour himself into this young man. Samuel hopes against all hope that Saul, who possesses high military qualities, will begin to demonstrate a religious mind… that he will develop an obedient heart…
But today, Saul has pushed the limits of God’s patience. And Samuel. Samuel, like any pastor, is just a man. The honest fact is, if Saul fails, Samuel believes he has failed as well….