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Saul Disobeys the Lord

15 One day, Samuel told Saul:

The Lord had me choose you to be king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord: “When the Israelites were on their way out of Egypt, the nation of Amalek attacked them. I am the Lord All-Powerful, and now I am going to make Amalek pay!

“Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don’t have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”

Saul sent messengers who told every town and village to send men to join the army at Telaim. There were two hundred ten thousand troops in all, and ten thousand of these were from Judah. Saul organized them, then led them to a valley near one of the towns in[a] Amalek, where they got ready to make a surprise attack. Some Kenites lived nearby, and Saul told them, “Your people were kind to our nation when we left Egypt, and I don’t want you to get killed when I wipe out the Amalekites. Leave here and stay away from them.”

The Kenites left, and Saul attacked the Amalekites from Havilah[b] to Shur, which is just east of Egypt. Every Amalekite was killed except King Agag. Saul and his army let Agag live, and they also spared the best sheep and cattle. They didn’t want to destroy anything of value, so they only killed the animals that were worthless or weak.[c]

The Lord Rejects Saul

10 The Lord told Samuel, 11 “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. 12 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.”

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

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

15 “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.”

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

“All right,” Saul answered.

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Footnotes

  1. 15.5 one. . . in: Or “the town of.”
  2. 15.7 from Havilah: Or “from the valley” (see 15.5).
  3. 15.9 animals. . . weak: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 15.13 Saul: One ancient translation adds “Saul had sacrificed to the Lord the best animals they had taken from Amalek, when Samuel came up to him. . .”

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