1 Samuel 15-16: Obey God

Devotionals > Old Testament > 1 Samuel > 1 Samuel 15-16: Obey God

1 Samuel 15-16: Obey God

May 7, 2024


1 Samuel 15-16,  Psalm 101,  Mark 11:27-33,  2 Corinthians 6

1 Samuel 15-16:

Samuel gives Saul fresh instructions from God (15:1-3). Saul performs these instructions—to a point. But then he and the people keep back the best of the spoil along with Agag, the king (15:7-9). Was Agag spared because he cut some kind of deal which led to more spoil? At any rate, God’s people as an agent of divine vengeance in this Old Testament theocratic system did not act according to what God had commanded (15:10-11). 

Saul blames the people (15:15). He excuses his action by the fact that he is going to have a sacrificial feast to God. Samuel, warned already by God, and having spent a night interceding for Saul, cannot believe his ears and replies with the famous words: “to obey is better than sacrifice” (15:22). Saul says, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (15:24). Saul’s characteristic fear of people rather than fear of God proves over and over again to be his undoing. Despite Saul’s pleas, Samuel announces that God’s mind is set (15:25-31). When Samuel does go with Saul to sacrifice, he himself kills Agag (15:32-33). 

Samuel is now sent by God to anoint another king (16:1). This is dangerous stuff—if Saul hears about it, he will kill Samuel (16:2). There can only be one king at a time or else civil war will ensue. In the well-known scene, all of Jesse’s sons pass before Samuel until the youngest, unnamed until the final moment in the dramatic story, appears. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (16:7). David is anointed king, and God’s Spirit rushes upon him (16:13). 

In a strange turn of events, Saul, now with a “harmful spirit” is suffering greatly (16:14), and his servants look for a musician to provide him relief (16:15-16). One of them has heard that David is the man for the job (16:18), and so David enters Saul’s service, and his playing of the lyre soothes Saul’s troubled mind (16:21-23). 

The message of this part of the Bible is clear: obey God. 


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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