Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 1 Samuel
Book: 1 Samuel
Chapter: 15

Saul sent to destroy Amalek. (1-9) Saul excuses and commends
himself. (10-23) Saul's imperfect humiliation. (24-31) Agag Put
to Death, Samuel and Saul part. (32-35)

1-9 The sentence of condemnation against the Amalekites had
gone forth long before, Ex 17:14; De 25:19, but they had been
spared till they filled up the Measure of their sins. We are
sure that the righteous Lord does No injustice to any. The
remembering the kindness of the ancestors of the Kenites, in
favour to them, at the time God was punishing the injuries done
By the ancestors of the Amalekites, tended to clear the
Righteousness of God in this Dispensation. It is dangerous to be
found in the company of God's enemies, and it is our duty and
interest to come out from among them, lest we share in their
sins and plagues, Re 18:4. As the commandment had been
express, and a test of Saul's obedience, his conduct evidently
was the effect of a proud, rebellious Spirit. He destroyed only
the refuse, that was good for little. That which was now
destroyed was sacrificed to the Justice of God.

10-23 Repentance in God is not a change of mind, as it is in
us, but a change of method. The change was in Saul; "He is
turned back from following me." Hereby he made God his enemy.
Samuel spent a whole night in pleading for Saul. The rejection
of sinners is the grief of believers: God delights not in their
Death, nor should we. Saul boasts to Samuel of his obedience.
Thus sinners think, By justifying themselves, to escape being
judged of the Lord. The noise the Cattle made, like the rust of
the Silver, Jas 5:3, witnessed against him. Many boast of
obedience to the command of God; but what means then their
indulgence of the Flesh, their Love of the world, their angry
and unkind Spirit, and their neglect of holy duties, which
Witness against them? See of what evil Covetousness is the root;
and see what is the sinfulness of Sin, and notice that in it
which above any thing else makes it evil in the sight of the
Lord; it is disobedience: "Thou didst not obey the voice of the
Lord." Carnal, deceitful hearts, like Saul, think to excuse
themselves from God's Commandments By what pleases themselves.
It is hard to convince the children of disobedience. But humble,
sincere, and conscientious obedience to the will of God, is more
pleasing and acceptable to him than all burnt-Offering and
sacrifices. God is more glorified and self more denied, By
obedience than By Sacrifice. It is much easier to bring a
Bullock or Lamb to be burned upon the Altar, than to bring every
high thought into obedience to God, and to make our will subject
to his will. Those are unfit and unworthy to rule over men, who
are not willing that God should rule over them.

24-31 There were several signs of hypocrisy in Saul's
Repentance. 1. He besought Samuel only, and seemed most anxious
to stand right in his opinion, and to gain his favour. 2. He
excuses his fault, even when confessing it; that is never the
way of a true penitent. 3. All his care was to save his credit,
and preserve his interest in the people. Men are fickle and
alter their minds, feeble and cannot effect their purposes;
something happens they could not foresee, By which their
measures are broken; but with God it is not So. The Strength of
Israel will not Lie.

32-35 Many think the bitterness of Death is past when it is not
gone By; they Put that evil Day far from them, which is very
near. Samuel calls Agag to account for his own sins. He followed
the Example of his ancestors' cruelty, justly therefore is all
the righteous Blood shed By Amalek required. Saul seems
unconcerned at the token of God's displeasure which he lay
under, yet Samuel mourns Day and night for him. Jerusalem was
carnally secure while Christ wept over it. Do we desire to do
the whole will of God? Turn to him, not in form and appearance,
but with sincerity.