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From Eternity Past

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    King Saul Gets Another Chance

    On receiving the commission against the Amalekites, Saul at once proclaimed war. At the call to battle the men of Israel flocked to his standard. The Israelites were not to receive either the honor of the conquest or the spoils of their enemies; they were to engage in the war solely as an act of obedience to God. God intended that all nations should behold the doom of that people that had defied His sovereignty.EP 456.2

    “Saul smote the Amalekites... . and took Agag the king... . But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”EP 456.3

    This victory served to rekindle the pride that was Saul's greatest peril. Ambitious to heighten the honor of his triumphal return, Saul ventured to imitate the customs of the nations around him, and spared Agag. The people reserved for themselves the finest of the flocks, herds, and beasts of burden, excusing their sin on the ground that the cattle were to be offered as sacrifice to the Lord. It was their purpose, however, to use these merely as a substitute, to save their own cattle.EP 456.4

    Saul's presumptuous disregard of the will of God proved that he could not be trusted with royal power as the vicegerent of the Lord. While Saul and his army were marching home in the flush of victory, there was anguish in the home of Samuel. He had received a message from the Lord: “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments.” The prophet wept and prayed all night for a reversal of the terrible sentence.EP 457.1

    God's repentance is not like man's repentance. Man's repentance implies a change of mind. God's repentance implies a change of circumstances and relations. Man may change his relation to God by complying with the conditions upon which he may be brought into the divine favor, or he may, by his own action, place himself outside the favoring condition. Saul's disobedience changed his relation to God; but the conditions of acceptance with God were unaltered, for with Him there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17.EP 457.2

    With an aching heart the prophet set forth the next morning to meet the erring king. Samuel cherished a hope that Saul might, by repentance, be restored to the divine favor. But Saul, debased by his disobedience, came to meet Samuel with a lie upon his lips: “Blessed be thou of the Lord; I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”EP 457.3

    To the prophet's pointed question, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Saul answered, “They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” In order to shield himself, he was willing to charge upon the people the sin of his disobedience.EP 457.4

    The message of Saul's rejection had to be delivered before the army of Israel when they were filled with pride over a victory accredited to the valor and generalship of their king, for Saul had not associated God with the success of Israel in this conflict. When the prophet saw the evidence of Saul's rebellion, he was stirred with indignation that he should lead Israel into sin. With mingled grief and indignation he declared, “I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night... . When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?” He repeated the command of the Lord concerning Amalek and demanded the reason of the king's disobedience.EP 457.5

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