Monday, March 31, 2014

1 Samuel 15-17 Bleating of sheep and lowing of oxen

From 1 Samuel 15-17


1 Sam 15.1-35; Story; The LORD Rejects Saul
1 Sam 16.1-13; Story; David Anointed King
1 Sam 16.14-23; Story; David in Saul’s Service
1 Sam 17.1-58; Story; David and Goliath

Passage and Comments

Saul hasn't been making many friends with some of his commands. He makes a vow to the LORD preventing most of his men from eating. Not a good idea when they are exhausted and have to fight. The vow almost costs Jonathan his life. But Saul reneges and breaks his vow to the LORD (1 Sam 14.24-46).

A bit later Samuel passes on an instruction from the LORD that Saul and his army are to devote the Amalekites to destruction (1 Sam 15.1-3). In practical terms, kill everyone, destroy everything, so nothing remains. In a sense, give it all back to God. But as we have been seeing with Saul, he gets swayed easily by the people. He doesn't lead, he doesnt obey.
10 The word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night. (1 Sam 15:10–11 ESV)
Its not often the LORD is described as regretting something. The term may imply God is admitting he made a mistake. But this obviously clashes with his sovereignty. So most prefer to say he was grieved. He deliberately chose a difficult path in choosing Saul that will accomplish his purposes yet still caused him pain to do so. Samuel is angry. Frustration might also describe his attitude towards Saul. He's got no sleep because of his passionate prayer. Its fairly significant that the first king chosen by the LORD in Israel's history blew it.
12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” (1 Sam 15:12–15 ESV)
Saul set up a monument for himself. Oops.
Saul claims he performed the commandment of the LORD. Not.
Samuel has a good grasp of sarcasm.
Saul is auditioning for fail blog - 'excuse fail'.
Samuel cant stand it any longer.
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night.” And he [Saul] said to him, “Speak.” 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?” (1 Sam 15:16–19 ESV)
Samuel comments on Sauls opinion of his role. 'You are little in your own eyes'. Essentially Samuel is saying Saul does not respect his role and example as King. Before the LORD and before Israel. He is the LORD's ambassador. Samuel calls him out on his sin and Saul is pinned.
20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” (1 Sam 15:20-21 ESV)
Saul squirms and tries to evade. The people did it, not me. Saul does not take responsibility as leader of the people for the people's actions or his own (compare Daniel in Dan 9.4-20).
22 And 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 listen than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam 15:20–23 ESV)
Saul rebelled against the LORD's command and presumed he would prefer the sacrifice. Consequently the LORD will not establish his kingdom through his family line.

Story of Israel

Its interesting to note the LORD places more value on obedience and listening than on sacrifices. This is actually a recurring theme through Israel's history (Ps 51:13–19; Hos 8:11–14; Amos 5:21–24). Unfortunately Israel kept disobeying and rejecting the LORD, while still offering up offerings and sacrifices.

Story of Jesus

Jesus alludes to this problem a couple times in the Gospel. He quotes from Hos 6.6 saying;
7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Mt 12:7 ESV)
In doing so he lays down the groundwork for exempting Gentiles who believe him to be the crucified and then risen Christ from having to observe these Jewish works.