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1 Samuel 15Contemporary English Version (CEV)

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.

17 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. 18 When the Lord sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites. 19 Why didn’t you listen to the Lord? Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?”

20 “But I did listen to the Lord!” Saul answered. “He sent me on a mission, and I went. I captured King Agag and destroyed his nation. 21 All the animals were going to be destroyed[e] anyway. That’s why the army brought the best sheep and cattle to Gilgal as sacrifices to the Lord your God.”

22 “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. 23 Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can’t be king.”

24 “I have sinned,” Saul admitted. “I disobeyed both you and the Lord. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead. 25 Please forgive me and come back with me so I can worship the Lord.”

26 “No!” Samuel replied, “You disobeyed the Lord, and I won’t go back with you. Now the Lord has said that you can’t be king of Israel any longer.”

27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the edge of Samuel’s robe. It tore! 28 Samuel said, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today, and he will give it to someone who is better than you. 29 Besides, the eternal[f] God of Israel isn’t a human being. He doesn’t tell lies or change his mind.”

30 Saul said, “I did sin, but please honor me in front of the leaders of the army and the people of Israel. Come back with me, so I can worship the Lord your God.”

31 Samuel followed Saul back, and Saul worshiped the Lord. 32 Then Samuel shouted, “Bring me King Agag of Amalek!”

Agag came in chains,[g] and he was saying to himself, “Surely they won’t kill me now.”[h]

33 But Samuel said, “Agag, you have snatched children from their mothers' arms and killed them. Now your mother will be without children.” Then Samuel chopped Agag to pieces at the place of worship in Gilgal.

34 Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his home in Gibeah. 35 Even though Samuel felt sad about Saul, Samuel never saw him again.

The Lord Chooses David To Be King

The Lord was sorry he had made Saul the king of Israel.

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. . .”
  5. 15.21 animals. . . destroyed: The Hebrew means things that were set aside for God. They could not be used for anything else, so they had to be destroyed.
  6. 15.29 eternal: Or “glorious.”
  7. 15.32 in chains: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  8. 15.32 Surely. . . now: Hebrew; one ancient translation “It would have been better to die in battle!”

1 Samuel 15New International Version (NIV)

The Lord Rejects Saul as King

15 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.

Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves[b] and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.

12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”

14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”

“Tell me,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”

Agag came to him in chains.[c] And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”

33 But Samuel said,

“As your sword has made women childless,
    so will your mother be childless among women.”

And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 15:3 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verses 8, 9, 15, 18, 20 and 21.
  2. 1 Samuel 15:9 Or the grown bulls; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  3. 1 Samuel 15:32 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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