Memory verse: 1 Samuel 15:22. Which does the Lord prefer, obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey Him.
Samuel had anointed Saul as king of Israel. Saul was a very tall and strong man and he built a great army of men who fought under him in war. There were a lot of other countries around that wanted to come and raid Israel – but Saul and his army were victorious every time. There was a group of people called the Amalekites. They had regularly tried to destroy God chosen people Israel, and God told Saul they needed to be destroyed.
Remember when Samuel was a young boy and God had spoken to him? Well God often spoke to Samuel, and then Samuel spoke to the people to tell them what God said. This time God had a message for King Saul. So Samuel traveled to see the king to tell him what God had said.
“Saul,” said Samuel, “I am the one who anointed you king of Israel. Now I want to tell you what the Lord God says to you. God is going to punish the people of Amalek because of what they did. You are to go and attack them. But you must destroy everything they have. Don’t leave anything. ALL the people and ALL their animals and possessions – destroy them.”
Who knows what Chernobyl was about? (a city destroyed by nuclear meltdown in Russia). The people there died of radiation overdoses. Others had to leave their homes and possessions, but I guess some of them took some things with them. They should have left everything behind – because they were all contaminated with radiation. Even 1 bit of it can continue to destroy. And that is why many folk kept dying at an early age as they had the radiation in their bodies.
Maybe it was similar for Saul. If anything was left of the Amalekites it would continue to destroy. Maybe they were riddled with a disease – but whatever the reason, God told king Saul to destroy everything.
So, Saul called his army together. He inspected them all (210,000 of them). And then they set an ambush in a dry river bed. And that’s all we know except that they fought and king Saul won the war.
King Saul captured their King Agag and then killed everyone else. He also destroyed all the things that were useless and worthless. Did he do well? (NO!)
Why not? (he was told to destroy everything – not just what was useless and worthless)
You know, king Saul was busy celebrating his victory with all his men when God spoke to Samuel again. And guess what God said…
“Samuel I am very sorry I made Saul king. He has turned away from me and disobeyed my commands. “
God told Samuel what Saul had done which made Samuel very sad and angry. So early next morning Samuel set off to find King Saul. It could have been many miles that
Samuel had to either walk or ride a donkey until he could find the army. When he found them Samuel went up to king Saul…
We will have 2 leaders acting out this part of the story now…. (2 leaders with scripts- you may like to use props - a crown for King Saul, a shawl over his head and a staff in his hand for Samuel)
Saul: Hey, here’s the prophet Samuel. The Lord bless you Samuel. I have obeyed God’s command.
Samuel: Well then, how come I hear sheep bleating and cows mooing.
Saul: Oh them. Well my men wanted to offer sacrifices to God so they kept the best of the animals and then destroyed the rest.
Samuel: Stop! I have heard enough! And now I will tell you what God said to me last night.
Saul: Oh yes. Please tell me.
Samuel: God anointed you as king of Israel. He sent you out to kill the wicked people of Amalek. God told you to destroy everyone and everything. Why did you not obey him?
Saul: But I did. I brought back king Agag and killed all the others. My men only kept the best of the sheep and cows to sacrifice to God and we killed all the others.
Samuel: And which do you think God prefers? Obedience or sacrifices? Let me tell you – It is better to obey God than to sacrifice even the best of sheep to him. Rebelling against God is as bad as witchcraft. And now, because you rejected God’s command, God has rejected you as king. He will give Israel to another man.
Saul: Oh, I’m so sorry. Yes, I have done wrong. I disobeyed God because I was afraid of my men. They wanted to keep the best of the loot. Please Samuel, come with me now to worship God and maybe all will be ok.
Samuel: No, I will not. You rejected God and now he has rejected you.
Thank the leaders…
Saul was pretty upset. He knew now that his disobedience to God meant he would lose all the benefits and privileges of being king – and maybe even his life. So he was rather scared. If only he could get Samuel to change his mind and help mend things with God….. so as Samuel turned away from him, king Saul grabbed at Samuels cloak and it ripped. Samuel turned around to king Saul and said, “As you ripped my cloak, so has God ripped away the kingdom from you and given it to someone else who is better than you.”
Saul did continue to reign as king for a while longer, but God had another person in mind for king now. And Samuel never saw Saul again.
So next week we will see who this next king would be and how Samuel found him.