18th October 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 15:24-35 (focus v24-29)
Message Alan Burke
Sorry seems to be the hardest word, that’s what Elton John thinks and there is an element of truth in it but as we pick up in effect Saul had said sorry, finally he had admitted his transgression, his sin and now things would be different. They would wouldn’t they, sure admitting our guilt and saying sorry fixes everything doesn’t it, just like a sticky plaster when you’ve got a wee cut when you’re a wain or a kiss to make it better. Well when I say that Saul said he was sorry, that he admitted his transgression and his sin he still hadn’t got it, he was only saying these things as a get out of jail free card because he got caught (not that any of you would ever do that). Yet Saul is not really sorry, he does what Adam did in the garden and plays the blame game, I was afraid of the people, it wasn’t really his fault, it was them.
Also notice that in all of this Saul is more concerned of his own honour, for he begs Samuel to come back with him so that he would worship the Lord (v25). Again Saul is showing that just as he had admitted that he was afraid of the people that he is mearly concerned with loosing the acclaim of the people. While we may be tempted to accept Saul’s confession as real Samuel doesn’t. His confession was all about excusing his own behaviour and saving face. He’s like a child saying sorry because they know that will appease there grown up quicker than if they deny it, Saul in all of this wants to pretend that it’s business as usual, he might have sinned but he wanted to pretend that everything was ok, so that no one would know that God had rejected him.
The crux of the matter (27-29) in all of this is that Saul for all that he was saying was unrepentant. Saul had been rebuked but had been unmoved and instead of being filled with sorry for his sin he had tried to excuse it. Saul had rejected God’s word and his rule and he was being rejected, as Samuel turns to leave Saul grasp out, he tears his robe. To this Samuel uses what Saul has done by grasping and tearing his robe to what has happened him, makes the consequences for his action, clear. Saul was being rejected and God’s decision was final for as verse 29 reminds us; 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.” (1 Sa 15:29).
Look back to verse 11 and forward to verse 35, in verse 11 we are told that the Lord was ‘grieved’ and in verse 35 we are told again that the Lord was ‘grieved’. Some of you will read the word regret if you are using the ESV or the KJV, the Hebrew word is better conveyed by regret. When we think of regret, we are sorrowful over something that has happened. We are told that the Lord regretted making Saul king, also in Genesis 6 that we thought about briefly last week that the Lord regretted making mankind. Some would use such passages and argue that God does change his mind, using such passages to try and discredit the reliability of scripture, claiming that these are contradictory passages that show the bible is nothing more than a fallible book and that while we have an infallible God the bible is the fallible word of man.
What do we make of this, how do we understand it, is this really contradictory, is God like a fickle parent that makes one decision and then changes his mind making another. Well no, scripture is clear about the immutable character of God, that he is unchanging, so then what is going on here in 1 Samuel. God has not changed but Saul his and his sin has continued, just as in Genesis 6 when God regretted it was because of the sin of the people, when the Lord regrets it points that God feels sorrow for contemplating the sin before him. In this instance it was Saul, he regretted Saul’s sin, and when the Lord regrets it is a final pronouncement, he will not relent from the judgement that he has made. Let us be those who learn from Saul, a superficial repentance wont work, we must repent of our sin and trust in the Saviour completely, using sorry as a get out of jail free card doesn’t cut it, it didn’t for Saul and it wont for us.
Q73 Which is the eighth commandment?
The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal. (Exod. 20:15)