Add parallel Print Page Options

Saul Disobeys the Lord

15 Samuel told Saul, “Yahweh sent me to anoint you king of his people Israel. Now listen to Yahweh’s words. This is what Yahweh Tsebaoth says: I will punish Amalek for what they did to Israel. They blocked Israel’s way after the Israelites came from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek. Claim everything they have for God by destroying it. Don’t spare them, but kill men and women, infants and children, cows and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Saul organized the troops, and he counted them at Telaim: 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Get away from the Amalekites so that I won’t destroy you with them. You were kind to all the Israelites when they came from Egypt.” So the Kenites left the Amalekites.

Saul attacked the Amalekites from Havilah to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured King Agag of Amalek alive. But he claimed all the people for God by destroying them. Saul and the army spared Agag and the best sheep and cows, the fattened animals, the lambs, and all the best property. The army refused to claim them for God by destroying them. But everything that was worthless and weak the army did claim for God and destroy.

The Lord Rejects Saul

10 Then Yahweh spoke to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I made Saul king. He turned away from me and did not carry out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he prayed to Yahweh all night. 12 Early in the morning he got up to meet Saul. Samuel was told, “Saul went to Carmel to set up a monument in his honor. Then he left there and went to Gilgal.”

13 Samuel came to Saul, who said, “Yahweh bless you. I carried out Yahweh’s instructions.”

14 However, Samuel asked,

“But what is this sound of sheep in my ears
    and this sound of cows that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The army brought them from the Amalekites. They spared the best sheep and cows to sacrifice to Yahweh your Elohim. But the rest they claimed for God and destroyed.”

16 “Be quiet,” Samuel told Saul, “and let me tell you what Yahweh told me last night.”

“Speak,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “Even though you don’t consider yourself great, you were the head of Israel’s tribes. Yahweh anointed you king of Israel. 18 And Yahweh sent you on a mission. He said, ‘Claim those sinners, the Amalekites, for me by destroying them. Wage war against them until they’re wiped out.’ 19 Why didn’t you obey Yahweh? Why have you taken their belongings and done what Yahweh considers evil?”

20 “But I did obey Yahweh,” Saul told Samuel. “I went where Yahweh sent me, brought back King Agag of Amalek, and claimed the Amalekites for God. 21 The army took some of their belongings—the best sheep and cows were claimed for God—in order to sacrifice to Yahweh your Elohim in Gilgal.”

22 Then Samuel said,

“Is Yahweh as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as he would be with your obedience?
To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice.
To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams.
23 The sin of black magic is rebellion.
    Wickedness and idolatry are arrogance.
Because you rejected the word of Yahweh,
    he rejects you as king.”

24 Then Saul told Samuel, “I have sinned by not following Yahweh’s command or your instructions. I was afraid of the people and listened to them. 25 Now please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship Yahweh.”

26 Samuel told Saul, “I will not go back with you because you rejected what Yahweh told you. So Yahweh rejects you as king of Israel.” 27 When Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel told him, “Yahweh has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today. He has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. 29 In addition, the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind, because he is not a mortal who changes his mind.”

30 Saul replied, “I have sinned! Now please honor me in front of the leaders of my people and in front of Israel. Come back with me, and let me worship Yahweh your Elohim.” 31 Then Samuel turned and followed Saul, and Saul worshiped Yahweh.

32 “Bring me King Agag of Amalek,” Samuel said.

Agag came to him trembling.[a] “Surely, the bitterness of death is past,”[b] Agag said.

33 But Samuel said, “As your sword made women childless, so your mother will be made childless among women.” And Samuel cut Agag in pieces in the presence of Yahweh at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went to his home at Gibeah. 35 Samuel didn’t see Saul again before he died, though Samuel mourned over Saul. And Yahweh regretted that he had made Saul king of Israel.


  1. 1 Samuel 15:32 Or “Agag came to him in shackles.”
  2. 1 Samuel 15:32 Hebrew meaning uncertain.