Monarchy Part 2 – A Difficult Text…for Saul and Us

The Monarchy – Part 2 A Difficult Text…for Saul and Us. I Sam. 15:1-35 September 18, 2016


I. A STORY that UNSETTLES. (v.1-35)
A. God’s COMMAND…Saul’s RESPONSE. (v.2-3,8-9,12-13,21)
B. Samuel’s CHALLENGE to SAUL. (v.14,15-19,22-23)
C. Once again, FEAR and CONTROL. (v.12,17,24)

This is one text that I had hoped to avoid in this series on the Monarchy, but one of the beauties of the Bible is that it doesn’t sugar coat anything. It tells you things that you don’t want to hear, or don’t know how to resolve. It’s a difficult text, for Saul and for us. We can see that Saul listens to God and then modifies the orders. We know that’s not a good idea when it comes to God. But what kind of God wipes out an entire people group? How do we deal with that?

1. What stands out to you the most about this text? Why?
2. In what situations today could we apply, “To obey is better than sacrifice”? Why and in what way?
3. In what ways, if any, can you identify with Saul, in this story?

II. Does GOD command GENOCIDE? (v.3)
A. The HISTORY behind the COMMAND. (Ex. 17:8-16; Dt. 25:17-19)
B. And THAT’S not ALL… (Num. 14:45; Judges 3:13; 6:3ff; Esther 3:1)
C. And YET…it still feels CHALLENGING. (v.11,29,32-33)

There are several “thorny” issues in this text. Why would God, who knows everything, appoint Saul as king and then later be sad that he had done it? If He does not change His mind, as it says in v.29, then why does He change His mind about Saul? But the toughest one has to do with wiping out an entire people group. We call it genocide. How do we reconcile that with Jesus, who loves the world and wants all to come to repentance? This is a challenge for us…and there is a reason that the text does that.

4. Does the history behind the command to annihilate the Amalekites help to resolve the tensions in this text for you? Why or why not?
5. How do you handle these types of issues in the OT Avoid/ignore them? Dismiss them? Wrestle with them? How is that going for you?
6. Why do you think God doesn’t explain Himself and His actions in texts like these?

III. The TEXT forces us into Saul’s SANDALS… (Rom. 15:4)
A. The IDOLATRY of SELF. (v.12)
B. BLINDNESS to the TRUTH. (v.13,20-21)
C. Our CONCERN for other’s APPROVAL. (v.24,30)
D. The DIFFICULTY of real SURRENDER. (v.20-21; Mark 8:35; Rom. 12:1)

One of my theories is that the text is left as it is to force us to surrender to a God who we don’t fully understand. It is one way that we practice trusting beyond our own understanding of how things are. Saul is confronted with a decision…will he obey and trust what God says, or will he change things to something he is more comfortable with? The text confronts us with the same question…

7. In what ways does our low image of ourselves lead to idolatry? What are some practical ways we see this in life?
8. When have you been blind to the truth in your own life? What can you do to avoid that in the future?
9. On a scale of 1-10, how important is what others think of you to you? What role should the approval and acceptance of others play in our lives and how can we make sure we keep that where it should be?
10.What is God saying to you through this passage? What will you do to respond to that?

For more insight on the Amalekite Genocide there is a great article at this website If you don’t have internet access and would like the office to print you a copy of the article please let Deb Flynn know.