4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them at Telaim—200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah. 5 Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley. 6 Saul said to the [a]Kenites, “Go, leave, go down from the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they went up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, though he totally destroyed all [the rest of] the people with the sword. 9 Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and everything that was good, and they were not willing to destroy them entirely; but everything that was undesirable or worthless they destroyed completely.
Samuel Rebukes Saul
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” Samuel was angry [over Saul’s failure] and he cried out to the Lord all night. 12 When Samuel got up early in the morning to meet Saul, he was told, “Saul came to [b]Carmel, and behold, he set up for himself a monument [commemorating his victory], then he turned and went on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 So Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord. I have carried out the command of the Lord.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen [c]to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have destroyed completely.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” Saul said to him, “Speak.”
17 Samuel said, “Is it not true that even though you were small (insignificant) in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, 18 and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, totally destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are eliminated.’ 19 Why did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but [instead] swooped down on the plunder [with shouts of victory] and did evil in the sight of the Lord?”
20 Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have completely destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things [that were] to be totally destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” 22 Samuel said,
As in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed [is better] than the fat of rams.
“For rebellion is as [serious as] the sin of divination (fortune-telling),
And disobedience is as [serious as] false religion and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected [d]you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now, please, pardon my sin and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go [away], Saul grabbed the hem of his robe [to stop him], and it tore. 28 So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. 29 Also the Splendor and Glory and Eminence of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 30 Saul said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back following Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him [e]cheerfully. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death has come to an end.” 33 Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel cut Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:6 Moses’ father-in-law and his wife were Kenites. The Kenites were a nomadic people related to the Midianites and they had traditionally been friendly with the children of Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:12 A city located about seven miles south of Hebron.
- 1 Samuel 15:15 This lie was a thinly-disguised attempt to justify disobedience to God.
- 1 Samuel 15:23 The passage does not say that God rejected Saul, the man, but rejected his being king of Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:32 Or in chains.