1 Samuel 15
Pulpit Commentary
Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
Verse 1. - Samuel also said. Better literally, "And Samuel said." There is no note of time, but probably a considerable interval elapsed before this second trial of Saul was made. God does not finally reject a man until, after repeated opportunities for repentance, he finally proves obdurate. David committed worse crimes than Saul, but he had a tender conscience, and each fall was followed by deep and earnest sorrow. Saul sinned and repented not. Just, then, as Eli had a first warning, which, though apparently unconditional in its terms (1 Samuel 2:27-36), was really a call to repentance, and was only made irrevocable by his persistence for many years in the same sins (1 Samuel 3:11-14), so was it with Saul. The prophet's words in 1 Samuel 13:13, 14 were a stern warning, and had Saul taken them to heart, God would have forgiven him his sin. He repented not, but repeated the offence, and so the sentence was confirmed. When, then, critics say that we have two accounts of Saul's rejection, and that he is represented as having been set aside first for one reason and then for another, their objection arises entirely from a false view of God's dealings with mankind. Alike promises and threatenings, blessings and punishments are conditional; for there is no heathen fatalism in Holy Scripture, but mercy waiting to triumph over justice. God, then, was not willing lightly to cast away so noble an instrument as Saul. His first sin too had been committed when he was new in the kingdom, and in a position of danger and difficulty. He waits, therefore, till Saul has had some years of success and power, and his character has developed itself, and is taking its permanent form; and then again gives him a trial in order to test his fitness to be a theocratic king. The interest, then, of this chapter lies in the unfolding of Saul's character, and so it follows immediately upon ch. 14, which was occupied with the same subject, without any note of chronology, because the historical narrative is subservient to the personal. Hence, too, Samuel's solemn address, reminding Saul that he was Jehovah's anointed one, and therefore had special duties towards him; that he had also been anointed by Samuel's instrumentality, and after earnest instruction as to his duties; and, finally, that Israel was Jehovah's people, and their king, therefore, bound to obey Jehovah's commands.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
Verse 2. - Amalek. The Amalekites were a fierce race of nomads who inhabited the desert to the south of Judaea towards Egypt. They were, and still continue to be in their descendants, the Bedouins, an untamable race of savages, whose delight is in robbery and plunder. Between them and Israel there was bitter hostility occasioned by their having attacked the people immediately after the Exodus (Exodus 17:8-16), and the command there given to exterminate them is repeated now, probably in consequence of their raids having become more numerous and sanguinary under their present king, as we gather from ver. 33. The reference to a war with the Amalektes in 1 Samuel 14:48 no doubt refers to this expedition, as we have there a mere summary of Saul's military enterprises. I remember. Literally, "I have visited;" but the sense of remembering seems confirmed by such passages as Genesis 21:1; Genesis 1:24; Isaiah 23:17; Isaiah 26:16. The Septuagint, however, and Aquila, give a very good sense: "I have considered, "thought over." How he laid wait for him in the way. There is no idea in the Hebrew of ambuscade or treachery. It is simply, "How he set himself in the way against him," i.e. opposed, withstood him, tried to bar his progress.
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Verse 3. - Utterly destroy. Hebrew, "put under the ban." The word herem, ban, properly signifies a thing set apart, especially one devoted to God; and whatever was so devoted could not be redeemed, but must be slain. When a country was put under the ban, all living things, men and cattle, were to be killed; no spoil might be taken, but it was to be burnt, and things indestructible by fire, as silver and gold, were to be brought into the treasury. Everything, in short, belonging to such a nation was looked upon as accursed (see Numbers 21:2, 3).
And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
Verse 4. - Telaim. Kimchi identifies this with Telem (Joshua 15:24), a place on the southern border of Judah near the country of the Amalekites. But as telaim means "lambs," more probably beth, "house," is to be understood; and so it was no town, but the "place of lambs," i.e. some open spot where at the proper season the lambs were collected from the pastures in the wilderness. Ten thousand men of Judah. A very small number compared with the hosts of Israel, especially as Judah was most exposed to the Amalekite, raids (but see on 1 Samuel 11:8. A large army was necessary, because the Bedouin race, though offering little direct resistance, would be very difficult to overtake
And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
Verse 5. - A city of Amalek. More probably Ir-Amalek, the name of their one town. Laid wait. Many commentators follow the Syriac in rendering this verb contended, strove; others, like the A.V., with the Septuagint and Vulgate, regard it as a contracted form of a verb signifying to lay an ambuscade. It is not, however, a valley, but a "torrent bed," which was more fit for an ambush than for a strife or dispute. Rashi explains the verb as signifying "contended with himself," and quotes from the Talmud an opinion that when Saul reached the torrent he called to mind the command in Deuteronomy 21:4, to slay a heifer at a torrent in expiation of a murder, and had misgivings whether a slaughter so indiscriminate as that on which he was engaged could be justified. The law of the Herem was soon softened down, but we find David in several of his wars guilty of fearful cruelty. The translation of the A.V. is the more probable.
And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
Verse 6. - Saul said unto the Kenites. Not while he was lying in ambush in the torrent bed, but after smiting Ir-Amalek. The Kenites were always friendly to the Israelites, but seem, like the Amalekites, to have been a Bedouin nation, ever wandering about without a settled home. In Abraham's time they were a powerful people (Genesis 15:19), but, for some reason or other, broke up into small tribes, some, as those here spoken of, choosing the wilderness of Judah for their home (Judges 1:16), others living far to the north in Naphtali (Judges 4:11, 17), others among the rocks of Arabia Petraea. Of these last we know but little, but the rest continued to be on friendly terms with David (1 Samuel 30:29).
And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
Verse 7. - From Havilah until thou comest to Shur. Hebrew, "from Havilah as thou goest towards Shur." It seems impossible that this Havilah can be the northwestern portion of Yemen, called Chawlan, and identified with the Havilah of Genesis 10:7, 29, as this would make Saul smite them from southeast to northwest. Shur, which means wall, is, as Wellhausen (Text 1 samuel 9:7) observes, originally the name of the wall which ran from Pelusium past Migdol to Hero, and which gave to Egypt, as Ebers thinks, its name Mizraim, the enclosed or fortified. Shur is again mentioned in 1 Samuel 27:8 as indicating the direction towards Egypt of the region occupied by the Amalekites. Havilah, which means circle, must have been some spot on the route to the isthmus of Suez, lying on the edge of the wilderness to the south of Judah, where Saul commenced his foray. Beginning thus upon the borders of Judaea, Saul continued his devastations up to the limits of Egypt.
And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
Verse 8. - He took Agag. This was the official name of the Amalekite kings (see Numbers 24:7), as Pharaoh was that of the kings of Egypt. For its meaning we must wait till we know more about the language of this race. Agag, however, from ver. 32, seems to have been able to speak Hebrew. He utterly destroyed - i.e. put under the ban - all the people. They appear, however, again in 1 Samuel 27:8, and with so vast a wilderness in which to take refuge, it would be impossible really to exterminate a people used to lead a wandering life. Moreover, as soon as Israel began to lay hands on the spoil the pursuit would flag, as the cattle would be killed by over driving.
But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Verse 9. - The fatlings. So the Syriac and Chaldee render the word, but the Hebrew literally means "the second best." Kimchi and Tanchum give perhaps a preferable rendering, "the second born," such animals being considered superior to the first born, as the dams had by that time arrived at their full strength. REJECTION OF SAUL AND HIS DYNASTY (vers. 10-23).
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
Verse 11. - It repenteth me. By the law of man's free will his concurrence is necessary in carrying out the Divine purpose, and consequently every man called to the execution of any such purpose undergoes a probation. God's purpose will be finally carried out, but each special instrument, if it prove unworthy, will be laid aside. This change of administration is always described in Scriptural language as God's repentance, possibly because the phrase contains also the idea of the Divine grief over the rebellious sinner. But though Saul and his dynasty were thus put aside, and no longer represented Jehovah, still Saul remained the actual king, because God works slowly by the natural sequence of cause and effect. Saul's ill-governed temper, and his hatred and malice towards David, were the means of bringing about his ruin. It grieved Samuel. Hebrew, "it burned to Samuel," i.e. he was angry and displeased. The same phrase occurs in Jonah 4:1, where it is rendered "he was very angry." But with whom was Samuel vexed? Generally at the whole course of events, but especially with Saul. In choosing him he had hoped that, in addition to high military qualities, he would possess a religious and obedient heart. He had now obtained for him a second trial, and if, warned by his earlier failure, he had proved trustworthy all might have been well. Saul had too many noble gifts for Samuel to feel indifferent at the perversion of so great an intellect and so heroic a heart. But he was of a despotic temperament, and would bend to no will but his own; and so he had saved the best of the plunder to enrich the people, and Agag possibly as a proof of his personal triumph. And he cried unto Jehovah all night. I.e. he offered an earnest prayer for forgiveness for Saul, and for a change in his heart. As Abravanel says, Samuel no doubt loved Saul for his beauty and heroism, and therefore prayed for him; but no change came in answer to his prayer, and as forgiveness is conditional upon man's repentance, Saul was not forgiven. It is remarkable how often Samuel is represented as "crying" unto God (see 1 Samuel 7:8, 9; 1 Samuel 12:18).
And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
Verse 12. - Samuel rose early. If Samuel was at home at Ramah, he would have a journey of several days before reaching Carmel, the city mentioned in Joshua 15:55, on the road from Arad, on the borders of the wilderness of Judah, about ten miles southeast of Hebron. The words in the morning should be joined with rose early. Before setting out, however, Samuel learned that Saul had already marched northward towards Gilgal, having first set him up a place - Hebrew, "a hand," i.e. a monument, something to call attention to his victory. In 2 Samuel 18:18 Absalom's pillar is styled "Absalom's hand." A Hebrew trophy in honour of a victory possibly had a hand carved upon it. Gilgal was the city in the Jordan valley near Jericho, whither Samuel now followed Saul.
And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
Verse 13. - Blessed be thou of Jehovah. Saul meets Samuel with all external respect, and seems even to expect his approval, saying, I have performed the commandment of Jehovah. And so he had in the half way in which men generally keep God's commandments, doing that part which is agreeable to themselves, and leaving that part undone which gives them neither pleasure nor profit. Saul probably had thought very little about the exact terms of the command given him, and having successfully accomplished the main point of carrying out a vast foray against the Amalekites, regarded the captive king and the plundered cattle as proofs of his victory. The trophy at Carmel is a token of his own self satisfaction.
And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
Verse 14. - What meaneth then this bleating? etc. Literally, "What is this voice of sheep in my ears, and the voice of oxen?" While Saul's own conscience was silent they were proclaiming his disobedience.
And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Verse 15. - They have brought them. No doubt this was verbally true, and very probably the excuse of holding a great sacrifice to Jehovah had been put prominently forward. But reasons are never wanting when men have made up their minds, and the people who so readily obeyed Saul before (1 Samuel 14:24, 34, 40) would have obeyed him now, had he really wished it. For a king so wilful and imperious as Saul thus to seek for excuses, and try to throw the blame on others, marks, as has been well observed, a thorough break down of his moral character.
Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
Verse 16. - Stay. Samuel will hear no more. Long as he had striven for him in prayer (ver. 11), he now feels that Saul has fallen too low for recovery to be possible. This night. It is plain from this that Samuel had not gone to meet Saul at Carmel, but on receiving information of his movements had proceeded straight to Gilgal, distant from Ramah about fifteen miles.
And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
Verse 17. - When - rather, Though - thou wast little in thine own sight. Before his elevation to the royal dignity Saul had deemed himself altogether unequal to so heavy a task (1 Samuel 9:21); now, after great military successes, he is filled with arrogance, and will rule in open defiance of the conditions upon which Jehovah had appointed him to the office
And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
Verse 18. - The sinners. The Amalekites were a race of robbers, and the command "to devote them" was the consequence of the robbery and murder practised by them on the Israelite borders.
Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
Verses 20, 21. - Saul's justifcation of himself is remarkable, as he seems entirely unconscious of having done anything wrong. His education had no doubt been defective (1 Samuel 10:12), and his knowledge of the law was probably very small; but he must have listened to Samuel's injunctions in a very off hand way, and have troubled himself about very little more than that he was to make war upon the Amalekites. There may even have been the wish in his mind to let Samuel know that he was now king, and would carry on affairs after his own fashion. The very form of his answer requires notice; for the word rendered yea is literally in that, or because, and may be paraphrased as follows: Do you reproach me thus because I have obeyed you? See, there is Agag in proof of our victory; and if the people have spared the cattle, it was with the best of intentions. The next clause, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, reads in the A.V. like an ironical parenthesis. It is not so, but an important part of Saul's defence. These sheep and oxen were "the best of the devoted things," selected as the first fruits for sacrifice. Saul may not have known that such a sacrifice was forbidden (Deuteronomy 13:15-17). The words, to sacrifice unto Jehovah thy God, imply that Samuel ought to be pleased at the victorious army doing this public homage to the Deity whose prophet he was. It was virtually a compliment to himself, and is very much in accordance with the notions of the generality of people now, who consider that attendance at a place of worship, or sending their children to school, is a favour to the clergyman.
But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.
Verses 22, 23. - The rebuke of Samuel contains one of those pregnant sayings which mark the high moral tone of the teaching of the prophets, and soon became a fundamental principle with them. To obey is better than sacrifice is a dictum reproduced by Hosea (Hosea 6:6), the most ancient of those prophets of Israel whose lessons have been preserved in writing; it is referred to in still earlier psalms (see Psalm 50:13-14; Psalm 51:16, 17); by other prophets (Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Micah 6:6, 8); and finally received our Lord's special approbation (Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7). It asserts in the clearest terms the superiority of moral to ritual worship, and that God can only be really served with the heart. Witchcraft is in the Hebrew divination, a sin always strongly condemned in the Old Testament. Iniquity literally means nothingness, and so is constantly used for "an idol;" and this must be its signification here, as the word coupled with it, and rendered idolatry, is really teraphim. These were the Hebrew household gods, answering to the Roman Lares, and were supposed to bring good luck. Their worship, we see from this place, was strictly forbidden. The verse, therefore, means, "For rebellion is the sin of divination (i.e. is equal to it in wickedness), and obstinacy (i.e. intractableness) is an idol and teraphim." Samuel thus accuses Saul of resistance to Jehovah's will, and of the determination at all hazards to be his own master. With this temper of mind he could be no fit representative of Jehovah, and therefore Samuel dethrones him. Henceforward he reigns only as a temporal, and no longer as the theocratic, king.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
Verse 24. - The words of Samuel struck Saul with terror. The same authority which had first given him the kingdom now withdraws it from him, and pronounces his offence as equal in God's sight to crimes which Saul himself held in great abhorrence. He humbles himself, therefore, before Samuel, acknowledges his sin, and frankly confesses that the cause of it had been his unwillingness to act in a manner contrary to the wishes of the people; and we must fairly conclude that the sparing of the spoil had been the people's doing. But was it not the king's duty to make the people obedient to Jehovah's voice? As the theocratic king, he was Jehovah's minister, and in preferring popularity to duty he showed himself unworthy of his position. Nor can we suppose that his confession of sin arose from penitence. It was the result simply of vexation at having his victory crossed by reproaches and disapproval from the only power capable of holding him in check. It seems, too, as if it were Samuel whom he feared more than Jehovah; for he speaks of thy words, and asks Samuel to pardon his sin, and to grant him the favour of his public presence with him at the sacrifice which was about to be celebrated in honour of their triumph.
Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
Verses 26, 27, 28. - At first the prophet refuses the king's request. Saul had dishonoured God, and, therefore, had no claim to public homage from God's minister. He turns, therefore, to go away, and Saul in his eagerness seizes hold of Samuel's mantle. The A.V. is very careless about the exact rendering of words of this description, and seems guided in its choice of terms simply by the ear. Now the mantle, addereth, though used of the Shinar shawl stolen by Achan (Joshua 7:21, 24), was the distinctive dress of the prophets, but naturally was never worn by Samuel himself. Special dresses come into use only gradually, and Elijah is the first person described as being thus clad. Long before his time the schools of the prophets had grown into a national institution, and a loose wrapper of coarse cloth made of camel's hair, fastened round the body at the waist by a leathern girdle, had become the usual prophetic dress, and continued so to be until the arrival of Israel's last prophet, John the Baptist (Matthew 3:4). The garment here spoken of is the meil, on which see 1 Samuel 2:19, where it was shown to be the ordinary dress of people of various classes in easy circumstances. Now the meil was not a loosely flowing garment, but fitted rather closely to the body, and, therefore, the tearing of it implies a considerable amount of violence on Saul's part. Skirt, moreover, gives a wrong idea. What Saul took hold of was the hem, the outer border of the garment, probably at Samuel's neck or shoulder, as he turned to go away. He seized him, as we should say, by the collar, and endeavoured by main force to retain him, and in the struggle the hem rent. And Samuel, using it as an omen, said, Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. Neighbour is used in Hebrew in a very indefinite manner, and here means generally "some one, whoever it may be," but one who will discharge the duties of thy office better than thou hast done (comp. Luke 10:36).
And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
Verse 29. - The Strength - better, as in the margin, the Victory or Triumph - of Israel. He who is Israel's Victory, or He in whom Israel has victory, will not repent. In ver. 11 God was said to repent, because there was what appeared to be a change in the Divine counsels. "God gave Israel a king in his anger, and took him away in his wrath" (Hosea 13:11). But such modes of speaking are in condescension to human weakness. Absolutely with God there is no change. He is the Eternal Present, with whom all things that were, and are, and shall be are one. But even looked at from below, as this finite creature man looks at his Maker's acts, there is no change in the Divine counsels, because, amidst all the vicissitudes of human events, God's will moves calmly forward without let or hindrance. No lower or secondary motives influence him, no rival power thwarts him. One instrument may be laid aside, and another chosen, because God ordains that the instruments by which he works shall be beings endowed with free will. Saul was the very counterpart of the Jewish people - highly endowed with noble qualities, but headstrong, self-willed, disobedient. Nevertheless, he laid the foundation for the throne of David, who in so many points was the ideal of the theocratic king; and Israel in like manner prepared the way for the coming of the true Messianic King, and gave mankind the one Catholic, i.e. universal, religion. "He who is Israel's Victory does not repent."
Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
Verses 30, 31. - Then he said, I have sinned. We have here no real confession of guilt. Even in ver. 24 the words were rather an expression of vexation at the strictness with which he was held to the letter of the command, than an acknowledgment that he really had done wrong. Here Saul's meaning seems to be, Well, granting that I have sinned, and that this sentence of exclusion kern the kingdom is passed upon me, yet at least pay me the honor due to the rank which I still continue to hold. And to this request Samuel accedes. Saul was de facto king, and would continue to be so during his lifetime. The anointing, once bestowed, was a consecration for life, and so generally it was in the days of the son that the consequences of the father's sin came fully to pass (1 Kings 11:34, 35; 1 Kings 14:13, etc.). Had Samuel refused the public honour due to Saul's rank, it would have given an occasion for intrigue and resistance to all who were disaffected with Saul's government, and been a step towards bringing back the old anarchy. Jehovah thy God. See on ver. 13.
So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.
Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
Verse 32. - Delicately. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate this word trembling, and the Syriac omits, probably from inability to give its meaning. Most commentators render cheerfully, joyfully, forming it from the same root as Eden, the garden of joy (comp. Psalm 36:8, where Eden is translated pleasure). The very word, however, occurs in Job 38:31, where the A.V. renders it bands, and this seems the right sense: "Agag came unto him in fetters." The idea that Agag came cheerfully is contradicted by the next clause - Surely the bitterness of death is passed. Though put affirmatively, there is underlying doubt. It is no expression of heroic contempt for death, nor of real confidence that, as Saul had spared him hitherto, his life was in no danger. He had been brought to the national sanctuary, and a great festival in honour of the success of the army was to be held. It was entirely in accordance with the customs of ancient times that his execution should be the central feature of the spectacle. Agag's words show that this fear was present in his mind, though they are put in such a form as to be a protest against his life being taken after so long delay. Samuel's reply treats Agag's assertion as being thus at once a question and a protest. The bitterness of death has still to be borne, and the cruelty of Agag's past life makes the shedding of his own blood just. The Syriac translates, "Surely death is bitter;" the Septuagint, "If death be so bitter," with which the Vulgate agrees. Thus they all understood that Agag came trembling for his life.
And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
Verse 33. - As thy sword hath made women childless. Agag's life had been spent in freebooting expeditions, in which he had shed blood ruthlessly, and so justice required his execution in requital of his deeds to others. Samuel hewed Agag in pieces. The verb occurs only here, and probably refers to some particular method of execution, like the quartering of the middle ages. Being in the Piel conjugation, it would mean not so much that Samuel put Agag to death himself as that he commanded it to be done.
Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Verse 35. - Samuel came no more to see Saul. The friendly intercourse which had previously existed was now broken off, and though they met again (1 Samuel 19:24), it was neither in an amicable manner, nor was their interview of Samuel's seeking. But the words have a higher meaning than the mere seeing or meeting one with the other. They involve the cessation of that relation in which Samuel and Saul had previously stood to one another as respectively the prophet and king of the same Jehovah Saul was no longer the representative of Jehovah, and consequently Samuel no more came to him, bearing messages and commands, and giving him counsel and guidance from God. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul. There was so much in him that was good and admirable, and he had wrought such brave services in delivering Israel from its many enemies, that Samuel loved him. Now he saw all his high qualities perverted, the man fallen, his powers of usefulness destroyed. Already, too, there was probably the beginning of that darkening of Saul's intellect which filled so many of his future years with melancholy, bursting out from time to time into fits of madness. All this would end in the expulsion of himself and his dynasty from the throne, for Jehovah repented that he had made Saul king over Israel. See on ver. 11

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