An Unhappy God

The LORD told Samuel, “Saul has stopped obeying me, and I’m sorry that I made him king.”

Samuel was angry, and he cried out in prayer to the LORD all night. Early the next morning he went to talk with Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to Carmel, where he had a monument built so everyone would remember his victory. Then he left for Gilgal.”

Samuel finally caught up with Saul, and Saul told him, “I hope the LORD will bless you! I have done what the LORD told me.”

“Then why,” Samuel asked, “do I hear sheep and cattle?”

“The army took them from the Amalekites,” Saul explained. “They kept the best sheep and cattle, so they could sacrifice them to the LORD your God. But we destroyed everything else.”

“Stop!” Samuel said. “Let me tell you what the LORD told me last night.”

“All right,” Saul answered.

Samuel continued, “You may not think you’re very important, but the LORD chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel. When the LORD sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites. Why didn’t you listen to the LORD? Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?” (1 Samuel 15:10-19)

Just as God became sorry in the time of Noah that he had made the human race, so the day came when he became sorry he had made Saul Israel’s first king. God told Samuel about his disappointment and sent Samuel to confront Saul.

Rather than acknowledging that he had disobeyed the commandment of God, Saul offered excuses and justifications. In essence, Saul told God, “you just don’t understand my special circumstances.” Neither Samuel nor God would have any of it.

God had needed Saul to wipe out the Amalekites. He hadn’t asked for a sacrifice of some of the animals, he hadn’t asked that certain individuals among the Amalekites be spared. Besides, it wasn’t about sacrifice in the first place. It was, instead, all about lining Saul’s pockets and the pockets of his favorites. He had succumbed to political expediency and greed. Saul’s behavior exemplified the whole reason God hadn’t wanted the Israelites to have a king in the first place.

If you love God; if it’s really not all just about you; then just do what God has asked. Don’t try to find ways out of it to satisfy what you think is best for you, as if God doesn’t really have your best interests in mind. You either love him or you don’t. Saul didn’t.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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