Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

1 Samuel 15:1-23

Samuel told Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over his people Israel. Now, listen to the words of the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD of Armies says: ‘I witnessed what the Amalekites did to the Israelites when they opposed them along the way as they were coming out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, infants and nursing babies, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

4 Then Saul summoned the troops and counted them at Telaim: two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah. 5 Saul came to the city of Amalek and set up an ambush in the wadi. 6 He warned the Kenites, “Since you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came out of Egypt, go on and leave! Get away from the Amalekites, or I’ll sweep you away with them.” So the Kenites withdrew from the Amalekites.

7 Then Saul struck down the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is next to Egypt. 8 He captured King Agag of Amalek alive, but he completely destroyed all the rest of the people with the sword. 9 Saul and the troops spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and choice animals, as well as the young rams and the best of everything else. They were not willing to destroy them, but they did destroy all the worthless and unwanted things.

10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, 11 “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following me and has not carried out my instructions.” So Samuel became angry and cried out to the LORD all night.

12 Early in the morning Samuel got up to confront Saul, but it was reported to Samuel, “Saul went to Carmel where he set up a monument for himself. Then he turned around and went down to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel came to him, Saul said, “May the LORD bless you. I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” 14 Samuel replied, “Then what is this sound of sheep, goats, and cattle I hear?” 15 Saul answered, “The troops brought them from the Amalekites and spared the best sheep, goats, and cattle in order to offer a sacrifice to the LORD your God, but the rest we destroyed.”

16 “Stop!” exclaimed Samuel. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” “Tell me,” he replied.

17 Samuel continued, “Although you once considered yourself unimportant, haven’t you become the leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel 18 and then sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinful Amalekites. Fight against them until you have annihilated them.’ 19 So why didn’t you obey the LORD? Why did you rush on the plunder and do what was evil in the LORD’s sight?”

20 “But I did obey the LORD!” Saul answered. “I went on the mission the LORD gave me: I brought back King Agag of Amalek, and I completely destroyed the Amalekites. 21 The troops took sheep, goats, and cattle from the plunder—the best of what was set apart for destruction—to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”

22 Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.

The Original Intent

1) What are we meant to understand about God through His command to kill the Amalekites? (verses 1-3)

One of the biggest mistakes readers of Scripture make is plucking a scene away from its context of the chapter, the book, and the whole narrative of the Bible, and then begin scrutinizing it according to the many lenses they wear. We each come to Scripture wearing different lenses based on what we already know, or think we know, about God, which can be either beneficial or harmful depending on how much of our understanding of God is truly derived from rightly understanding of His Word.

We also wear cultural lenses derived from what is morally acceptable, politically correct, or incorrect, and the norms of our region. All of these factors heavily influence our minds when we approach the reading of God’s Word. It is impossible for us to fully remove these lenses, which is why it’s absolutely imperative we read Scripture aware of our lenses and armed with a readiness to be re-shaped and influenced by Scripture alone. This is a high challenge, but it’s why we zealously study “Original Intent” before “Everyday Application” at Gracefully Truthful!

For this scene, we must remember the greater purpose behind God’s instruction to King Saul. We are given a hint in verse one that alerts us to pay attention to the bigger story. “Samuel told Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people Israel. Now, listen to the words of the Lord.” Saul was not an independent king, he was given his rule from THE King, Yahweh. The LORD (Yahweh) had sent Samuel as His agent to accomplish His mission and anoint Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you[…]”. Saul was to act as Yahweh’s representative over HIS people, “king over His people Israel.” Saul was meant to do exactly as the Lord directed, “Now, listen to the words of the Lord.” The first reader and the modern reader is meant to understand God’s authority as righteous ruler.

The Everyday Application

1) What are we meant to understand about God through His command to kill the Amalekites? (verses 1-3)

To understand God’s mission, we must return all the way to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1-2, for here is where He instituted His rightful rule and reign. Here is where it was being lived out perfectly before even one blot of sin. This is the proper lens through which to read the command Yahweh gave to Saul. God Rules All. Apart from His reign, sin’s chaos runs rampant and death and destruction are in its wake. Under Yahweh’s rule, righteousness is restored, and life flows abundantly.

When we understand the culture Israel lived within and then examine our own, the centuries fall away as we see pull of idolatry in our own time. The destruction of our idols is just as imperative for us as it was to Israel because the stakes are so high: our hearts’ devotion. We spend hours on a screen every week, but the screen will never love us back. We spend hundreds of dollars on small things that add up over time, but none of those small purchases will ever return the love we invest so diligently in them.

Idolatry shows up in more places than where our money goes. Follow your time, your dollars, your screen time, and your calendar, and you will find your idols. Are you willing to ruthlessly eliminate them for the sake of Christ or will you justify keeping them around as Israel eventually did in many instances?

Every time Israel didn’t follow the Lord’s command to entirely remove an idolatrous nation, guess what happened? That nation turned their hearts against the Lord. Every. Single. Time. I don’t need to write out the words for our application here, the Spirit of God has made it plain. Idolatry must be torn down in our hearts at all costs. Are we willing to rip them out, or would we rather settle for the penalty of stealing worship from the Only One Worthy of worship?

The Original Intent

2) Why was it so bad for King Saul to spare King Agag, the best of the spoils, and the animals? (verses 4-9)

Ancient Israel was a relatively small nation inundated with a culture that rejected righteousness; even worshipping a singular Deity was absolutely unheard of. One God with all the power? Impossible! So, every nation around Israel crafted many idols who supposedly “controlled” every aspect of life from birth to death to crops, sun, rain, and sexuality.

The culture around Israel was thick with idol worship, nothing was left untouched from idol worship. Animals, family life, meals, the rhythms of eating and drinking and even sexual relations were all centered around idol worship. Every aspect of cultural life, for every nation but Israel (supposedly), rebelled against giving the Lord honor. Only the Lord God was worthy of this kind of whole-hearted devotion that encapsulated every aspect of life.

He ordered the removal of the Amalekites for two reasons. One, they refused to worship the Lord God and honor Yahweh, the God of Israel; they wouldn’t even give Israel passage through their land. (verse 2) Two, their idol worship would turn the hearts of God’s people away from Him and condemn them to separation from God as well. (Deuteronomy 7:4) It was out of vast love for His people and His mission to make His good, lovely character known to the world that you gave His order to destroy the Amalekites.

Not only was King Saul’s decision to keep Agag alive and not destroy the animals or burn the best spoils of war a direct violation of God’s command, revealing that Saul loved Saul the best, but his decision also led all of Israel into sin and increased their temptation to sidestep God and His ways. There are no small sins in God’s eyes. Every deviation from His holiness leads to death and destruction.

The Everyday Application

2) Why was it so bad for King Saul to spare King Agag, the best of the spoils, and the animals? (verses 4-9)

Perfect harmony between God and mankind was wonderfully enjoyed in the Garden until the single moment sin entered the world and began woefully destroying all things. (Genesis 3) Sin’s destruction constantly lures us away from worshipping the One True God, whether we choose to be aware or not.

With this original context understanding in place, we are now equipped to make a right application to our everyday lives. How are we meant to apply this scene to us in the 21st century? The reality is that Chris IS King, whether we submit to His rule and reign or not, but, right now while we wait for Christ to return, we have the same choice Saul and Samuel were faced with.

Will we surrender to his Lordship or not? Will we dethrone ourselves each day, with each decision, and submit to the Spirit who willingly leads us or will we grab the reigns and pretend we know better?

Whether the decisions are big or seemingly insignificant, there are zero, read that zero, times when it is “acceptable” to allow ourselves to reign instead of King Jesus. If we keep on rebelling without repenting, have no doubt, what we think we rule over will one day be torn away from us, eaten up and consumed by the same sickly sin that has plagued humanity since the Garden, Love of Self.

What sins are we selfishly “keeping alive” that God is clear must be sacrificed in order to fully worship Him? Are you willing to ask Him to reveal these to you? Does your walk with Him and your desire to honor Him rule over your desire to justify your actions and keep your favorite sins “in control” of Self?

The Original Intent

3) How does the rule of Self make us think we can fool God? (verses 10-23)

Reading 1 Samuel 15:10-23 is like watching a 4 year-old write her name on the wall in sharpie, then asking her if she wrote her name on the wall, only to hear her reply, “I didn’t write my name on the wall.”

God gave Saul kingly rule and authority as an extension of His reign. God included Saul in His righteous mission to punish sin and eradicate idolatry. God gave Saul an army to accomplish this mission and provided perfectly clear commands on how to be victorious.

Still, Saul acted according to the Ruler of Self, decided he knew better, and then lived out his arrogance in real life decisions.

Saul said in his heart, along with all who act with arrogant rebellion against the Lord and His ways, “The Lord doesn’t see it. The God of Jacob doesn’t pay attention.” (Psalm 94:7) We like to imagine our “small sins” are actually improvements on God’s plan, which is precisely what Saul’s justification led him to believe. (verses 20-21)

How Saul and Samuel chose to steward their lives were radically different from one another. One esteemed the rule and reign of Yahweh with lips and life, while the other appeared to honor Him with his words, but in reality, his heart was far from submitting to the rule and reign of Yahweh. (Titus 1:16) For Saul, Self was firmly seated on the throne of his life and he was altogether unwilling to dethrone himself in surrender to the King of All.

What a foolish and tragic choice for Saul! Eventually, everything he had been entrusted to steward was ripped away from him. “For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”
(verse 23)

The Everyday Application

3) How does the rule of Self make us think we can fool God? (verses 10-23)

Ever since Eden, God has been about His mission of redemption as He strategically works through ordinary people and circumstance to make His glory known to the world. He desires all to repent of their sin, trust in His ways, and be restored to Him through the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed hundreds of years after King Saul. (2 Peter 3:9)

Our call to surrender to Jesus in regular, everyday life choices is part of that restorative plan of redemption. When we live according to His rule, we reflect His good, lovely character to the world around us by living according to a different standard, a righteous one.

Either we can surrender to this call and live in obedience to Christ’s rule and reign in our lives, or we can allow temptation to win its battle over us, leading us so far astray that we welcome Deception to sit and eat with us at the table of our hearts. When we embrace enemy lies, we open the door to all manner of sin to flow out from us, manifesting itself in everything from the words we say, to whether we insist on having regular time with the Lord, or in bigger things like how to spend our money, whether we take that job, or if we will be generous with our time.

Saul’s story proves we can justify any sin, it’s just a matter of the authenticity of our worship. When we are entirely devoted to Christ, justification simply won’t be found on our lips and our life choices will prove the genuine quality of our worship. But if Self reigns, lies and inconsistencies will be made abundantly clear through our everyday life patterns.

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