1 Kings xv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Lord, in gratitude for so great an honour. (Haydock)

Ver. 2. Reckoned up. God speaks in a human manner, as if he had been reading the history of ancient times, Exodus xvii. 14. (Menochius) — The Amalecites had treated Israel with inhumanity, above 400 years before. God’s vengeance is often slow, but only so much the more terrible. (Calmet) — Hebrew pakadti, I have visited, or will punish and remember.

Ver. 3. Destroy, as a thing accursed. (Haydock) — Child. The great master of life and death (who cuts off one half of mankind whilst they are children) has been pleased sometimes to ordain that children should be put to the sword, in detestation of the crimes of their parents, and that they might not live to follow the same wicked ways. But without such ordinance of God, it is not allowable in any wars, how just soever, to kill children. (Challoner) — The Israelites were now to execute God’s orders with blind obedience, as he cannot be guilty of injustice. — Nor covet….his, is omitted in Hebrew, &c. (Calmet) — Amalec is stricken when the flesh is chastised—He is destroyed when we repress evil thoughts. (St. Gregory) (Worthington)

Ver. 4. As lambs. This comparison is very common, Isaias xl. 11., and Ezechiel xxxiv. 2. But many translate the Hebrew “in Telaim.” St. Jerome reads Hebrew c, as, instead of b, in, with greater propriety. Septuagint and Josephus, “in Galgal,” which in effect would have been the most proper place for rendezvous. (Calmet) — Footmen. Vatican Septuagint, “400,000 ranks or standards, (Josephus, men) and Juda 30,000.”

Ver. 5. Amelac. The people dwelt in tents, and removed from one place to another. So in Ethiopia there are properly no cities, the place where the prince encamps is deemed the capital. (Calmet) — Torrent. Hebrew, or “valley.”

Ver. 6. Egypt. See Judges i. 16., Exodus xviii. 12., and Numbers x. 31., and xxiv. 21. Saul gave private instructions to the Cinite, who had been settled at Arad, and had mixed with Amalec, to depart. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. Sur. See Genesis ii. 11., and xvi. 7., and xxv. 18., and Exodus xv. 22. (Menochius) — These people had occupied a great part of the country, from the Persian Gulf to Egypt. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Garments. Hebrew is commonly rendered, “fatlings.” Septuagint, “eatables.” (Calmet) — Avarice seems to have actuated Saul, (Lyranus) or a false pity, (Josephus) or a desire to grace his triumph, ver. 12. (Glossa.) (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Repenteth. God cannot change: but he often acts exteriorly as one who repents. He alters his conduct when men prove rebellious. (St. Justin Martyr, p. 22.) — Grieved. Hebrew, “indignant.” (Calmet) — He was sorry to think that Saul would now lose his temporal, and perhaps his eternal crown. (Salien) — “The choice of Judas and of Saul, do not prove that God is ignorant of future events, but rather that he is a Judge of the present.” (St. Jerome in Ezechiel ii.)

Ver. 12. Arch. Here we behold what a change prosperity makes in the manners of those who before shewed the greatest humility. Saul erects a monument to his own vanity. Hebrew, “he has set him up a hand,” (as Absalom did, 2 Kings xviii. 18.) or “a place” to divide the booty, (Jonathan) or “a garrison,” to keep the country in subjection. (Calmet) — Perhaps he erected the figure of “a hand,” as an emblem of strength, and in honour of Benjamin, “the son of the right hand,” of whose tribe he was. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Hear, and which manifestly prove, that God’s order has not been put in execution. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Thy God. This was probably a falsehood, like the rest. (Salien)

Ver. 17. Eyes. God rejects the proud, and gives his grace to the humble. See Luke i. 52. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. Lord. Septuagint, “of the people.”

Ver. 21. First-fruits, or the best. — Slain. Hebrew, “of the anathema.”

Ver. 22. Rams. Can God be pleased with victims which he has cursed? (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Obey. Hebrew, “Rebellion is the sin of divination or witchcraft, and resistance is iniquity, and the Theraphim.” Symmachus, “the injustice of idols.” Theraphim here designate idolatrous representations, Genesis xxxi. 19. They were probably of Chaldean origin, in honour of the sun and fire, (Calmet) and were venerated like the Penates, and supposed to be the sources of prosperity, from the Arabic Taraph, “to give abundance.” Hence Laban was so solicitous to recover what Rachel had taken away. (Louis de Dieu) — By sacrifices we give our goods, or another’s flesh is immolated; (Mor. xxxiii. 10.; Du Hamel) by obedience, we give ourselves to God. (St. Gregory) (Worthington)

Ver. 24. Voice: miserable excuse for a king, who ought to prevent the sins of his people! (Calmet) — Saul’s transgression seems less than David’s; but the one repents, and the other proudly defends what he had done. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 25. Bear, or take away. Pardon my fault. Do not expose me in public. — The Lord, by offering sacrifices, ver. 31. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Rent: a dreadful prognostic that Saul was cast away. (Haydock)

Ver. 29. Triumpher. Some suppose that he speaks ironically of Saul. A prince, like you, will not repent. (Calmet) — But it more probably refers to God, who would not fail to execute his threats against the king. (Haydock) — Hebrew, “the victor in Israel will not lie, he will not repent.” Septuagint, “and Israel shall be split in two, and the holy one of Israel shall not turn nor repent.” Saul’s rejection became now inevitable. (Calmet)

Ver. 30. Israel. He is wholly solicitous to shun disgrace in this world. (Haydock) — His confession was not actuated by such contrition as that he might deserve to hear, the Lord has removed thy sin. He begins by falsehood; continues making idle excuses, and throwing the blame on others, and concludes, by shewing that he is more concerned for what his subjects may think and do against him, than for the displeasure of God. He boldly ventures to offer victims. But Samuel joins not with him in prayer, looking upon him as a person excommunicated; and he only attends that he may see the word of the Lord fulfilled, and Agag treated as he deserved. (Salien, the year of the world 2965.)

Ver. 32. Trembling. Hebrew, “and Agag came to him delicately.” Septuagint, “trembling,” (Haydock) or walking with a soft step, or “with bands or chains;” mahadannoth. See Pagnin. (Menochius) — Some think that he presented himself boldly, like a king, fearing nothing. (Vatable) — Manner. Hebrew, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” I have obtained pardon from Saul. But the sense of the Vulgate seems preferable, as he must have perceived, from the looks of the prophet, that death was hanging over him. Hence others translate, “is pouring upon me,” instead of, is past. Septuagint, “Is death thus bitter?” Chaldean, “I pray my Lord: the bitterness of death.” (Haydock) — O death! how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that hath peace in his possessions, &c., Ecclesiasticus xli. 1. So Aristotle (Nicom. iii. 6.) says, “Death is most terrible, (peras gar) for it is a passage,” or separation, from all the things which could attach a man to this world. (Calmet) — This catastrophe of Agag and Saul, had been long before predicted, Numbers xxiv. 7. (Haydock)

Ver. 33. Pieces. Josephus adds, by the hand of others. (Menochius) — But zeal put the sword into his own hand; and he imitated the Levites and Phinees, (Exodus xxxii. 27.) to shew Saul how preposterous had been his pity, when the Lord had spoken plainly. (Calmet) — Lord, as a sort of victim, Isaias xxxiv. 6. (Menochius)

Ver. 35. Saw Saul no more till the day of his death. That is, he went no more to see him: he visited him no more. (Challoner) — He looked upon him as one who had lost the right to the kingdom, though he was suffered for a time to hold the reins of government, as a lieutenant to David. He might afterwards see Saul passing, but never to visit him, (Salien) or to consult with him about the affairs of state; (Menochius) nor perhaps did he even see him, when Saul came to Najoth, chap. xix. 19, 24. His spirit came to announce destruction to Saul, the night preceding the death of that unfortunate king, chap. xxxviii. (Haydock) — Repented. God is said, improperly, to repent when he alters what he had appointed. (St. Ambrose de Noe, chap. iv.) (Worthington)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Saul is sent to destroy Amalec: he spareth their king and the best of their cattle: for which disobedience he is cast off by the Lord.

1 And Samuel said to Saul: The Lord sent me to anoint thee king over his people Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the Lord:

2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts: I have reckoned up all that Amalec hath done to Israel: *how he opposed them in the way when they came up out of Egypt.

3 Now therefore go, and smite Amalec, and utterly destroy all that he hath: spare him not, nor covet any thing that is his: but slay both man and woman, child and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

4 So Saul commanded the people, and numbered them as lambs: two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand of the men of Juda.

5 And when Saul was come to the city of Amalec, he laid ambushes in the torrent.

6 And Saul said to the Cinite: Go, depart, and get ye down from Amalec: lest I destroy thee with him. For thou hast shewn kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. And the Cinite departed from the midst of Amalec.

7 And Saul smote Amalec from Hevila, until thou comest to Sur, which is over-against Egypt.

8 And he took Agag, the king of Amalec, alive: but all the common people he slew with the edge of the sword.

9 And Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the flocks of sheep, and of the herds, and the garments and the rams, and all that was beautiful, and would not destroy them: but every thing that was vile, and good for nothing, that they destroyed.

10 And the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying:

11 It repenteth me that I have made Saul king: for he hath forsaken me, and hath not executed my commandments. And Samuel was grieved, and he cried unto the Lord all night.

12 And when Samuel rose early, to go to Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel that Saul was come to Carmel, and had erected for himself a triumphant arch, and returning had passed on, and gone down to Galgal. And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul was offering a holocaust to the Lord out of the choicest of the spoils, which he had brought from Amalec.

13 And when Samuel was come to Saul, Saul said to him: Blessed be thou of the Lord, I have fulfilled the word of the Lord.

14 And Samuel said: What meaneth then this bleating of the flocks, which soundeth in my ears, and the lowing of the herds, which I hear?

15 And Saul said: They have brought them from Amalec: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the herds, that they might be sacrificed to the Lord thy God, but the rest we have slain.

16 And Samuel said to Saul: Suffer me, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said to him: Speak.

17 And Samuel said: When thou wast a little one in thy own eyes, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed thee to be king over Israel.

18 And the Lord sent thee on the way, and said: Go, and kill the sinners of Amalec, and thou shalt fight against them until thou hast utterly destroyed them.

19 Why then didst thou not hearken to the voice of the Lord: but hast turned to the prey, and hast done evil in the eyes of the Lord?

20 And Saul said to Samuel: Yea, I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and have walked in the way by which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag, the king of Amalec, and Amalec I have slain.

21 But the people took of the spoils, sheep and oxen, as the first-fruits of those things that were slain, to offer sacrifice to the Lord their God in Galgal.

22 And Samuel said: *Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices: and to hearken rather than to offer the fat of rams.

23 Because it is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey. For as much, therefore, as thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord hath also rejected thee from being king.

24 And Saul said to Samuel: I have sinned, because I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words, fearing the people, and obeying their voice.

25 But now bear, I beseech thee, my sin, and return with me, that I may adore the Lord.

26 And Samuel said to Saul: I will not return with thee, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

27 And Samuel turned about to go away: but he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

28 And Samuel said to him: *The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to thy neighbour who is better than thee.

29 But the Triumpher in Israel will not spare, and will not be moved to repentance: for he is not a man that he should repent.

30 Then he said: I have sinned: yet honour me now before the ancients of my people, and before Israel, and return with me, that I may adore the Lord thy God.

31 So Samuel turned again after Saul: and Saul adored the Lord.

32 And Samuel said: Bring hither to me Agag, the king of Amalec. And Agag was presented to him very fat, and trembling. And Agag said: Doth bitter death separate in this manner?

33 And Samuel said: As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed him in pieces before the Lord in Galgal.

34 And Samuel departed to Ramatha: but Saul went up to his house in Gabaa.

35 And Samuel saw Saul no more till the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul, because the Lord repented that he had made him king over Israel.



2: Exodus xvii. 8.

22: Ecclesiastes iv. 17.; Osee vi. 6.; Matthew ix. 13. and xii. 7.

28: 1 Kings xxviii. 17.