15:9 Saul and the people spared. They went against the Lord’s command (v. 3). A desire to profit from the victory may underlie the unwillingness to destroy anything that was good. Achan kept back goods that were devoted to destruction, apparently because he was greedy (Josh. 7:1). The reader is not told Saul’s motive for sparing Agag, whether political, like Ahab’s mercy to Ben-hadad (1 Kin. 20:30–34), or pride, a desire to parade his captive as a trophy of war. Saul did set up a victory monument “for himself” (v. 12).
turned back. This is a serious indictment in view of 12:14, where obedience and following the Lord are named as the essential requirements for a successful reign.
Samuel was angry. The same Hebrew expression is used in 18:8 and 2 Sam. 6:8.
he cried to the Lord all night. Clearly Samuel takes no pleasure in Saul’s rejection (v. 35; 16:1).