It is important that we jump in and try to understand each man’s personal response. King Saul and King David responded to their rebuke in entirely different ways. One man was humble and contrite; the other was proud and arrogant. One man was repentant; the other wasn’t even remorseful. These varying responses are the very key to understanding why God chose to deal with them in such unique ways. Their responses were polar opposites, and ultimately, so were the results. Today we will discuss King Saul's response and tomorrow we will discuss King David's.
Let’s begin by looking at Saul’s reaction. When Samuel presented his rebuke to the king, Saul responded in four ways.
King Saul Deferred the Blame.
“And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen...But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen...” I Samuel 15:15,21
At this point in our story, Saul makes it obvious that he must have learned at the feet of the famed Psychologist, Dr. Freud. He juggles through his mind thinking of his parents, of his friends, of Samuel, and finally settles the blame on the people. His sin is their fault…not his.
Saul's first response is a shocking revelation of his true character, or lack thereof. Rather than manning-up and accepting the responsibility for his actions, he tries to defer the blame to the people around him. He blames his followers for saving the animals, he blames them for taking the spoils of war, and ultimately he blames them for his sinful rebellion. It must not have occurred to him that if this strategy hadn't worked for Adam, it wasn't going to work for him!
This was Saul's first response: Blame someone else!
King Saul Denied the Blame
“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.” I Samuel 15:20
While King Saul had been enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous, he must have relapsed and been out drinking on the night they taught the principle that ‘the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit that you have a problem.’
After Saul realized that shifting the blame wasn't holding any weight in Samuel's eyes, he shifted gears and entered into outright denial. “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord!” I can hear him angrily shouting back at the prophet. In his eyes and in his logic, he did nothing wrong and nobody, not even the prophet of God, was going to tell him otherwise. He would not stand to be corrected by the facts, by the evidence, or by God himself!
This was Saul's second response: Deny! Deny! Deny!
King Saul Described the Blame
“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.” I Samuel 15:24
When Saul was a young boy, if he had ever wronged his sister, his parents would make him stand in front of her and apologize. He would hang his head down and stare at his shoes, but realizing that this was his only way of escape, he would finally blurt out, “I’m sorry.” His sister would cross her arms and with all the audacity in the world she would ask, “Did you mean that?” Of course, he didn’t mean it. He just wanted to get the embarrassing situation over with so that he could get back to playing with his Lincoln Logs…err, his Moses Logs.
At this point in our story, Saul is dangerously close to getting right with God. Samuel has finally beaten him back into a corner and Saul is forced to admit that he had failed to obey God's command. Of course, this confession only came after Samuel announced that Saul would lose his kingdom, but let's keep on topic. Saul finally confessed and announced his guilt but he failed in one major area. He remembered the strategy that he had used on his sister so many times as a child and forgot, if I may sarcastically use that word, to actually repent!
This was Saul's third response: Confession without repentance!
King Saul Defied the Blame
“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.” I Samuel 15:30
After Samuel's brow beating Saul with God's message, Saul was finally backed into the corner. He admitted his sin. But instead of lowering his head in shame and in humility and making things right, he cocked his head back defiantly. He looked at Samuel and in his pride, he commanded him to recognize him before the elders and the people. He may have done wrong, but nobody else was going to know about it.
This was Saul's fourth and final response: Ignoring his Conscience!
The principle that we need to remain focused on is this: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So let me put it to you this way: will you learn from Saul's poor example or will you repeat it?