And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”
And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”
Comment: You’ve probably heard the phrase – ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’, as a natural projection. The phrase is meant to mean that you can fiddle with statistics to prove your even repeated lies. Here the animals are real statistics which put a lie to Saul’s half truth. Saul tells a half truth and seeks to cover it with a religiously acceptable excuse -‘we did it for your God’. Samuel challenges him to hear what God has in fact spoken. Saul seems to interject with a royal permission to ‘speak’. The King talking to a lesser person – okay, I’ll let God speak!
Samuel repeats the command which Saul had been given by God to the God appointed king. Samuel requests the truth. Saul repeats his damn lie but now adds a further excuse, saying that it was not his, but the people’s fault. But Agag, the sheep and the oxen are the true statistics which God will use to make His point.
Prayer: Teach me to speak the truth to You and to all people, O God.