Through Samuel the prophet (and former judge of Israel), God told Saul “completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation” (I Samuel 15:3a, NLT).
Instead, though, “Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs – everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality” (I Samuel 15:9).
Samuel was already well aware of what Saul had done. The Lord had told him, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to Me and has refused to obey My command.’ Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night” (I Samuel 15:11).
As Samuel agonized over God’s rejection of Saul, what was Saul doing? He was commending himself for his performance. “Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, ‘Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal’” (I Samuel 15:12).
Saul, having blatantly disobeyed the Lord by sparing the lives of Amalek’s king, Agag, and the best of their livestock, stopped off in Carmel to erect a “monument to himself.” At Gilgal, Saul greeted Samuel as if he’d done nothing wrong whatsoever: “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” (I Samuel 15:13b).
“‘Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?’ Samuel demanded.
‘It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,’ Saul admitted. ‘But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.’
Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop!’” (I Samuel 15:14-16a).
“Stop!” Samuel was sick of Saul’s excuses. More importantly, the Lord was fed up with them. Look carefully at Saul’s explanation to Samuel: “The army spared…” “They are going to sacrifice them…” Saul was throwing the blame on his men who had undoubtedly carried out Saul’s direct orders not to kill Agag or the very best animals. The only place where Saul puts his own name into the mix is in his attempt at a disclaimer: “We have destroyed everything else.”
Ever been around a blame-thrower? Isn’t it exhausting? These folks can’t admit to doing anything wrong. From “The dog ate my homework” to “He told me to do it,” they’re always prepared to point out someone other than themselves as being at fault.
If that doesn’t even fly with us simple humans, how could anyone possibly think such excuse-making will work with God? It didn’t for Saul, and it won’t work for anyone nowadays, either.
Saul was called to lead the people of Israel and his own example set the precedent for the nation. Likewise, we as individual believers set examples in our homes, schools, communities, workplaces, and churches. Never compromise the truth. Never make excuses. Sometimes the best thing you can say is a truthful “I blew it.”
“You can never truly understand or help others, even in your own family, unless you first look thoroughly into your own life and deal with your own sins without compromise, excuses, or evasion.” (John C. Broger)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates