There are two hard truths we encounter in 1 Samuel 15. One deals with judgment, the other, with those who attack His chosen people.
First, God as Creator has the right, even the responsibility, to judge evil. He decides who gets judged, who does not, and when to execute judgment. We, as humans, have no heavenly right judge others outside of the legal requirements of a court of law.
Jesus discussed this in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew 7:1-2 (NKJV)
We are not to judge others, but at the same time, we demand justice for ourselves and for our loved ones. God is the rightful keeper of that judgment. When we judge others, we are putting ourselves in position to face our own manner of criticism.
Few enjoy being judged. We are independent people and have freedom under God to be our own person and to make our own choices and decisions. But there are heavenly boundaries, and we sometimes do cross them, with full knowledge of our actions in our conscience.
When we do wrong, it is essential that we judge ourselves to recognize our own sin. When we review and confess our unworthiness before God, He will extend His mercy and forgiveness, having granted us the precious jewel of salvation through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us on the cross to bear the penalty for our sin, and rose again to lead us into eternal life. It is far from anything we deserve, but a glorious gift from God.
A friend of mine put it this way: When a jeweler lays out a fine diamond, he places it on a black velvet background to show off its radiance. When God grants us the precious gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, that valuable gift shines as it is laid upon the dark background of our past.
The second hard truth we see in this chapter is that, if a nation attacks His people, Israel, God will judge them with a severe price. It may not happen until later, maybe much later, but judgment will always come and come down hard.
God chose the people of Israel. They were His “first born”. We, as Christians, have been grafted onto that choice root throughout eternity only by His grace and mercy. (See this explained in Romans 11).
King Saul did not follow through in executing God’s judgment against the Amalekites, who had mercilessly attacked Israel as they were leaving Egypt during the Exodus many years prior. Whether Saul liked it or not, God ordered it, and it was up to Saul to fully execute it. He did not.
The prophet Samuel let Saul know that, once again, he had failed. When God gives us an order, we be wise to follow it. There are often eternal implications at stake that we are not in a position to understand. By failing to judge the Amalekites, they would later come back to haunt the Jewish people in Esther’s time, threatening to eliminate Israel from the earth through Haman, a descendent of the Amalekite king, Agag. But God intervened to save Israel at that time, as well, through the brave action of Esther.
Samuel reinforced God’s earlier judgment against Saul, confirming that the kingdom would be taken away from him and his family line and given to another.
22 So Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NKJV)
Samuel was about to be sent on a mission to make that happen, to change the kingly line to the tribe of Judah forever.
Where am I tempted to inflict judgment on others? This may be in the form of words spoken to someone or behind their back, or it can even be in my thoughts, as well.
The concept that I will be judged using the same measure I use to judge others is a frightening one. God is much more merciful to us than we deserve, and extending this same level of mercy to others is quite difficult. We seek to be changed in our hearts to better reflect the nature of the God Who lives within us through the Holy Spirit.
Lord, help me to show mercy to others the way You do, and help my attitude to reflect to them the pure love that You have for me. We all ask this together in Jesus’ name, Amen.