Today’s reading begins with Samuel telling Saul to strike dead every single living thing–human beings and animals and concludes with David being a servant to Saul in his home.
In the previous reading, Samuel announced to Saul that the LORD had determined that his kingdom would not continue. In the reading for today, the LORD confirmed to Saul that this was true.
The LORD commanded Saul through Samuel that he was to go to battle against the Amalekites and destroy every single living thing in their land. This was to include every man, woman, child, and all the livestock. When Saul went into battle against the Amalekites, the LORD gave him victory over them and for whatever reasons Saul had at the time, he decided not to obey the word of the LORD and spared the king of the Amalekites and also to spare the most choice of the livestock.
When Samuel came to Saul after his victory he saw that Saul had not obeyed the Word of the LORD and instead chose to do as he wished and kept alive the king and all of the choice livestock of the Amalekites. Samuel was greatly angered by this and instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, Saul instead tried to blame ‘the people’ for having violated the Word of the LORD. It was ‘their’ fault that not all the living things were destroyed. He told Samuel that ‘the people’ had spared the best of the livestock as a sacrifice to the LORD.
Samuel would have none of this and told Saul that the LORD takes more delight in obedience than all of the sacrifices that he could offer. Saul then admitted to Samuel that he had sinned and begged Samuel to forgive him and go before the LORD with him to worship the LORD. Samuel rejected this offer and as Samuel was leaving, Saul reached out and grabbed Samuel’s robe and tore off a piece of the fabric. Samuel then proclaimed to Saul that the LORD on that day had torn the kingdom away from him.
Samuel then called for the king of the Amalekites, Agag, to be brought before him and Samuel took a sword and finished the job that Saul should have done and as the text reads ‘hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.’
Samuel was a man of God and even though Saul had not been willing to keep the Word of the LORD Samuel was determined to do so. It wasn’t long after this time that the LORD spoke to Samuel and told him to go the sons of Jesse to find and anoint the man who would be the next king of Israel. When Samuel went to Jesse and told him his purpose for being there, Jesse brought his sons before Samuel. As each son passed before Samuel, the LORD told Samuel that son was not God’s chosen, until there were no sons left to bring before him. Samuel then asked Jesse if he had anymore sons, and Jesse told him that his youngest son was still in the fields tending to the sheep. When Jesse’s youngest son was brought before Samuel, the LORD told him that this son was to be the next king of Israel and at that time, Samuel anointed David the next king of Israel.