1 Samuel 15:34-34 Honor & Respect is Built On the Foundation of Truth
1 Samuel 15:34-34
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” 26 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.” 27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28 So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. 29 Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back following Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 But Samuel said, “ As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
Saul appeared to have relented upon hearing God’s rejection of him from being king. Saul’s fragmented character showed shallow remorse, deception and half-truths even in this short conversation with Samuel. Saul wanted respect from his people, but a respect that is not built on truth but on deception and manipulation. Saul in his pursuit of personal gain and glory lost the revelationary voice of God; the very key to accomplishing his calling as king of Israel. This passage teaches that one who walks in the truth will be respected by people and honored by God. But one who manipulates by deception will soon grow to fear his own people and lose everything he owns.
Because I feared the people and listened to their voice – Saul could not exercise the rule of God over the people, he could not walk in the ways of truth because he feared the people. Saul’s fear of the people drowns out the fear of God and his steadfast faith towards God’s promises. It is likely that Saul is accustomed to ruling by manipulation and by deception. Hence, as he manipulated others, he was also being manipulated by them. However, the realization of his sin is only skin deep, which was probably why Samuel did not respond to his “act” of repentance. Saul presented an impression that his sin was due to a “weakness”: a paralyzing fear for his people. As we know it, this “weakness” runs much deeper, which in fact is the lack of fear of God.
The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you – As Samuel turned to go, Saul instinctively reached out and grabbed the corner of Samuel’s robe and tore it. Samuel took occasion and delivered a prophetic word that fatefully ended his rule over Israel. Saul’s action carried a hint of disrespect for the man of God that is very telling of his domineering character.
I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel – Saul appeared to relent not to reconcile with God but to save his own face. Saul wanted Samuel’s presence before the people to “endorse” his leadership and victory over the Amalekites; he wanted to appear “in sync” with God and for them to think that he still had God’s backing. However, Samuel not wanting to play into Saul’s game finished the job by killing Agag in front of the people.
Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death – Saul from that day onwards was completely cut off from the presence of God. He no longer is able to hear godly counsel and the revelation of God is forever cut off even by the sacred lots (see 1 Samuel 28:6).
1. True respect comes from speaking the truth and walking in it – True respect is given to one who speaks the truth and acts upon it. Respect is given to one who is a reflection of the Holy One of heaven, who is the Word to whom all creation bow in fear and trembling. Saul demanded respect from his people, on the contrary he grew to fear them, because he did not walk in the truth. Hence, much of Saul’s leadership is built on manipulation and deception, as opposed to godly counsel that is based on truth. Leadership credibility must not be built on titles, power, or favoritism. Young aspiring leaders have a tendency to gain respect by flaunting their talents and by going out of their way to offer help. Although love is part of God’s attributes; sometimes, being accessible all the time may cause people to disrespect you. That is one reason why God sometimes seems far away. However, if truth becomes your constant heartbeat, people will give themselves unreservedly for your course. If you ever have to choose between being respected or being loved, choose respect.
2. The voice of God is revelationary to solving difficult problems and to succeed in our endeavors. Much of Saul’s initial successes in the battlefield comes through the strategic consultation of the divine oracle (Urim and Thummim). Similarly, believers’ success comes from the truths harvested by meditating on the solid food of the word. The deeper the truths you kept hidden in your heart, the more readily God will speak to you concerning your particular situation. Therefore, in order to grow in being more sensitive to God’s voice, you must do the following:
a. You must read and meditate on the Word systematically from cover to cover and asking the question: How has my mindset changed today by the truths? What must I do in response to the revelation of the truths?
b. You must be ready to obey before God speaks. The more ready you are to obey God’s instructions, the more sensitive you become towards Him. God’s voice is not a dash of opinion but a divine edict. If you treat His words as mere opinions, then God will not speak because He has no opinions, only commands. Saul treated God’s commands as mere suggestions because he saw himself as the Ruler of Israel. Hence, God cut off his voice of revelations from him. Without revelations from God, there is no direction or safety and destruction is certain. Believers who exercise God-centered living in all areas of their lives will hear God consistently and with clarity. Those that practice self-centered living, who choose to concur only in certain areas of their lives in exchange for a margin of freedom will not hear Him.
c. Keep your mind focused on being Jesus “in character”. In other words, to conscientiously play the role and character of Jesus as you go through the day. By being Jesus “in-character”, you endeavor to think what Jesus would be thinking, speak, and do what Jesus would be doing in your every situation. You then ask the question: Would Jesus be bothered about this? Would Jesus retaliate in this manner? How would Jesus spend His time? How would Jesus respond to this unjust situation?
- Do you sometimes find it difficult to speak the truth because you are afraid of disappointing others or you are afraid of being rejected for what you stand for? Are you contented to stand on the premise of half-truth? Or to be accepted and later to be rejected when the truth is revealed? Perhaps, you should make a resolution to speak the truth without massaging or packaging it, and you will find a new freedom and being perpetually at peace. You will also be respected albeit disliked at times.
- Make it a personal discipline to pause at every hour and remind yourself to be Jesus “in-character”. Discover how your day would pan out? Be filled with the Spirit of Jesus by yielding your thoughts, emotions and body to God.
Dear Lord, I trust in your sovereignty, that in your time, you will vindicate the righteous. Help me speak the truth and walk in it because I want to be respected by people and most of all be honored by you. Help me to be Jesus “in character” and be filled with your Spirit in all situations. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.