18 December 2014

1 Samuel 15:34-35

“Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (v. 35)

Psalm: Psalm 30


There's something energising about seeing potential in a person and watching as they explore the new possibilities opening up before them: a career or ministry that they had never thought of suddenly becomes imaginable.

Then, occasionally, it comes crashing down - because of a stupid error or because a weakness took control - and all the possibilities are lost, maybe forever.

At the end of 1 Samuel 15 we leave Saul as a broken man. He is still king because he wears the trappings of office, but he has lost the blessing of God. It has been torn from him with the prophet's robe (1 Samuel 15:27) and for all the years remaining to him he is in power but without God's authority.

And we read that Samuel grieved. More seriously, we read that the Lord was sorry he had made Saul king. For the Creator to have regrets is a big deal.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Saul's strengths were also his weaknesses. His daring in battle won him astonishing victories but also made him dangerously unpredictable: conducting a sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel (1 Samuel 13:9); making a rash oath that almost got his son Jonathan killed (1 Samuel 14:24-30).

It had been a turbulent time in Israel's history and Samuel had found himself both rejected by the people and still required by God to keep the king on track. In the end he was left with a rejected Saul whose kingdom had been torn away from him and a God who was regretting what he had done.

To Ponder

  • Jesus says, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12: 32). How do you live up to the responsibility?
  • Is a God who might regret a decision less almighty? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.