The consequences of disobedience always produce regret and sorrow.
The Israelites desired a king to rule over them to be like the pagan nations. Although God disagreed with their demands, He gave in, and Saul was appointed their first king. But Saul was haughty and disobedient, always doing as he pleased.
When we read a book, the unpredictable plot and characters pull us into the story. We can immerse ourselves without prior knowledge of the events or the ending. And when the story gives us an unexpected twist, making us crave for more, it is then that we agree the writer has authored a great book.
“Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not performed My commandments. And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night” (1 Samuel 15:10-11).
The Unexpected Twist: Although Samuel was aware that King Saul had a history of continuous rebellion against God, it is apparent that the prophet did not expect God to end Saul’s reign as king. Verse 11 tells us that Samuel cried all night when God told him the consequences of Saul’s actions.
Historically, God used prophets to communicate His commands to the anointed kings and the nation of Israel. Yet, it appears that Samuel loved Saul as if he was his son. Why do we make that assumption? Because prophets knew their spiritual assignment as God’s messengers, they knew that disobedience to God brings consequences. Samuel was fully aware of God’s laws and His requirements of obedience. God is merciful, yet His justice is steadfast.
Despite being an anointed prophet, human emotions prevailed. With tears and prayers, Samuel interceded all night for a rebellious, unrepentant king. God did not change his mind. Justice said, “Enough is Enough!” God was aware of Saul’s stony heart of irreverent disregard and his rebellious nature. Then God reveals two more acts of Saul’s abject disobedience. In verses 12-23 of 1 Samuel chapter 15, there is a dialogue between Samuel and Saul regarding the king’s disobedience to both of God’s commands concerning the battle between Israel and the Amalekites.
Blaming Circumstances: Once exposed, Saul did what many of us do. He admitted his sin but blamed circumstances for his inability to obey God. “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now, therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord'” (1 Samuel 15:24-25).
Abusing God’s Grace: Saul abused God’s grace. Yes, he confessed with words by admitting that he transgressed, but his heart was one of a prideful transgressor. “But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel'” (1 Samuel 15:26).
Samuel’s response appears stern and final, but in verse 35, we read of Samuel’s lingering sorrow: “And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:35).
This story is filled with God’s regret, Saul’s confession by mouth, but possessing an unrepentant heart, which produced desensitization to sin, and the prophet Samuel’s dysfunctional emotional state of lingering sorrow.
Daily we are presented with temptations from Satan. Sometimes God allows us to pursue our disobedient desires without His intervention. We become comfortable in our sinful state and persuade ourselves that all is well because God has withheld the consequences of our disobedience. Yet, there is a quote, “You can do as you like, but not for as long as you like.” And God tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” From Adam and Eve, we recognize that physical death did not come immediately, but their loss is incomprehensible.
For the wayward believer, know that the consequences of disobedience will eventually arise. In God’s mercy, He attempts to bring us back to our senses. Our loving Father does not want us to perish. All-is-well suddenly changes into a significant loss. Throughout the Bible, we read about humanity’s disobedience, God’s warnings ignored, and the earth-shattering punishment that brings remorse and lingering sorrow.
Jesus gave us a priceless gift–His life for the perfect plan of Redemption. We do not have to continue in sin. Daily, we should pray King David’s prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Prayer: Father God, thank you for reaching out to save us from ourselves. We repent of our disobedience, not because we fear suffering consequences, but because we love You and are thankful for Your grace and mercy. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.