Judged - 1 Samuel 15:1-23

1.      When you are looking for someone to hire to do a particular job what qualities do you look for in that person? (A person who will do the job exactly as I want it done. They may have their own idea of how to do it but I have reasons for doing it the way I want it done.)

2.      When God seeks someone to fulfill a task or role, what qualities does He desire? (Willingness to work, integrity, teachable, humility, faithfulness, obedience.)

3.      The Israelites asked for a king. Did they get what they asked for? (Yes! King Saul led them into military battles and won many victories over their enemies. Read 1 Sam. 14:47-48.)

4.      When someone mentions King Saul’s name what are the first thoughts that come to your mind, successful warrior king or utter failure?


Saul’s son, Jonathan was a great hero of Israel. In a remarkable Israelite victory over the Philistines near Michmash, Jonathan proved to be a great warrior, almost singlehandedly striking panic into the hearts of the Philistines. His complete confidence was in the Lord, evidenced by his bold declaration: “Nothing can keep the Lord from saving whether by many or by few.” (1 Sam. 14:6) Would that Saul had that faith and character.

            God entrusted Saul with leading the Israelite people. However, just as Saul ascended quickly to the throne, he also descended quickly because of his disobedient actions.

The Amalekites had been the proverbial “thorn in the side” of Israel ever since they came out of Egypt. They now threatened to divide the western half of Israel right in the middle so that the north and south would find it difficult banding together in battle against the Amalekites.

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-6 to set the situation.

Note: Some might question why everything—men, women, children, animals—had to be destroyed. The Amalekites, nomadic tribesmen and descendants of Esau, had been enemies of Israel since the time of the exodus from Egypt. They had continued to wage war with the people of Israel using barbaric methods. God had been patient with the Amalekites for a long time while they continued to reject Him. Their promised punishment had finally come due. Any of them left would be like a person keeping back a little sin in their lives; it would always be a hindrance to moving forward with God.

Saul’s Disobedience! Read 1 Samuel 15:7-9


1.      What compromises did Saul make?

2.      Keeping the best animals after the battle was won seems like a smart idea, so why was it wrong? (God had commanded Saul to destroy everything and everyone! Saul thought he knew what was best, not God.)

3.      What makes settling for partial obedience so tempting?

4.      In what ways could a believer keep the “best” back for themselves in his or her obedience to God? (Tithes, time, total effort in a task, etc.)

5.      Is partial obedience really obedience? Why? Or Why not? (Some might argue a little obedience is better than no obedience at all. For the Israelites, destroying “all the worthless and unwanted things” required no great sacrifice on their part. Saul decided that they could pick and choose what they wanted to obey.)

Partial obedience is disobedience!


Samuel’s Confrontation! Read 1 Samuel 15:10-11


1.      What do we learn about Samuel from these verses? (Samuel’s heart was broken by Saul’s disobedience. He laid his burden before the Lord all night, perhaps because he knew what he would have to do in the morning.)

2.      When has your heart been broken because of another’s disobedience? What did you do?


Read 1 Samuel 15:12-15

3.      What do you find astonishing here about Saul’s actions? (See 1 Sam. 10:21-22. What had happened to Saul?)

4.      When Saul said he had followed God commands, what was Samuel’s response?

5.      How did Saul attempt to justify his disobedience? (He tried to blame it on the troops first. Then he tried to justify his disobedience by saying he kept the best animals to sacrifice them to God.)

6.      In what ways do we try to justify our disobedience? (Sometimes our disobedience is simply an unplanned wandering down a slippery slope away from God. Other times it is a deliberate choice toward disobedience. Both are wrong.)

7.      What makes confronting someone about his or her disobedience a challenge?

8.      What risks are involved when confronting someone?

9.      What risks are involved when we don’t confront someone?

10.  When we see a fellow believer choosing disobedience, how can we approach that person redemptively, showing them grace? (God did not appoint us a judge or critic over each other. We should be models of God’s grace in approaching someone living in disobedience. That person must know, beyond question, that we love them unconditionally, that we have their best interest at heart and desire only God’s best for them!)

1 John 1:9 was written to believers! God’s desire is that everyone repent and turn to Him in obedience—that should be our goal in all our conversations and actions.


Read 1 Samuel 15:16-21


God’s Rejection! Read 1 Samuel 15:22-23


Greed is a terrible taskmaster!

1.      How does accepting partial obedience or religious practice as a substitute for full obedience show disrespect for God? (We either ignore what God says or we simply think we know best and either is deadly spiritually.)

2.      The original language of verse 22 could be translated “obedience surpasses sacrifice”. Why does God want our obedience more than our sacrifices? (The greatest evidence of our obedience to God is a life lived by His commands. Your tithe on Sunday doesn’t cover your disobedience Monday through Saturday!)

3.      What is the connection between disobedience and idolatry?

4.      What was the result of Saul’s disobedience? (God had rejected Saul as king.)

5.      How does our disobedience contribute to our being set aside by God? (We did nothing to earn our salvation, and we cannot lose it. Yet our disobedience can result in our being removed from useful service to God. We discard our usefulness through our disobedience.)

People who struggle with repeated, ongoing disobedience against God and His people should evaluate whether they ever really made a true commitment to God in the first place. Read 1 John 3:9 and 5:18. The best translation is those who continue a life of sin. We all sin but those who belong to God will turn in repentance when we do sin and claim 1 John 1:9, which, by the way is written to believers.


Summarize and Challenge!


First Samuel 15:22-23 essentially summarizes chapter 15. God expects our obedience rather than our partially obeying and offering sacrifices as a substitute.

1.      How do we know what God wants us to do? (Study His Word.)

2.      What are some ways we can choose to fully obey God?

3.      Review your life, looking for areas of partial obedience. What actions do you need to take to complete your obedience to God?

4.      How can we encourage each other toward complete obedience to God in every area of life? (Sometimes we are more inclined to criticism than encouragement in our relationships. Let’s be each other’s best cheerleaders—praying, encouraging, and lifting each other up so we are all stronger in pursuing total obedience to God.)


Personal Challenge: Evaluate your words, thoughts, and actions this week. Ask yourself if God is getting your best. Make total obedience to Him your goal in every situation!


King? - 1 Samuel 8:4-9, 19-22

  Last Sunday we studied 1 Samuel 5 and 6 to understand who or what is worthy of our worship. We found that idols can be physical items worshiped as well as items taking the place of God in a person’s life. When the ark, which represented God’s presence, was placed alongside an idol, God caused the idol to topple. The people understood the event as Dagon being defeated. Because the people of Ashdod failed to recognize God as holy, they experienced a divinely-initiated plague. After 7 months of tumors and rats, the Philistines sought guidance for the return of the ark. When the ark arrived unexpectedly in Beth-shemesh, the people worshiped God by offering sacrifices. Through this lesson we saw (1) that anything we place before or equal to God will fail and topple, with us taking a fall as well. (2) Since God is holy, we should follow His directions completely. (3) God is worthy of our very best in worship.

   Today we move on to 1 Samuel 8 where we find the Israelites have decided they want to be ruled by an earthly king. This desire will transition them from a theocracy (government ruled by God) to a monarchy (government ruled by a king).


Read “A King Demanded” 1 Samuel 8:4-5

   Why did Israel want a king?

   What reasons did the Israelites give Samuel for needing a king?

   Was Samuel’s age and his son’s dereliction of duty reasons or excuses for wanting a king?

   How can wanting to be like the people around you lead to trouble? God wants us to be more like Him in every area of our lives. The people we want to be like may not be trying to be more like God.

   How can peer pressure be a problem? With the Israelites, wanting to have a king like their neighbors was a sinful choice. They were rejecting God’s lordship in their lives.

   Look at the question on pg. 46 of your PSG: How does a desire to be like other people impact a person’s values and character? We all want to “fit in” but sometimes we forget God wants us to “fit in” with Him. Fitting in with others may require us to lower our values from God’s standard.

   What does it mean to live set apart for Jesus while still living as a member of society?


   Moses gave instructions and regulations for future kings in Deuteronomy 17, but having a king was not God’s ideal plan for the Israelites. Israel was privileged in being different from other nations because God was their King. These regulations limited the power and splendor of the future king. He would not be dependent on military power and riches. He was exhorted not to entangle the nation in political alliances that would expose Israel to pagan worship. Instead, he was exhorted to guide the nation into obedience to God’s law. The true king would not be a tyrant, but a king who ruled in accordance with God’s revealed will. By reading and obeying God’s law, the king would be reminded that he was to be a man of the people. He was no different than anyone else, except that God had chosen him to guide the nation in righteousness.
It seems God was anticipating a request for a king by the Israelites and here He is warning them what will happen.

   So, we see the Israelites wanting to take matters into their own hands.

Do we ever want to take matters into our own hands instead of letting God lead? Patience! When will we learn to wait and listen for God to speak to us? God’s timing and directions are worth waiting for.


Read “Rejection Declared” 1 Samuel 8:6-9

   What was the Israelites’ request? “Give us a king to judge us”.

   What did Samuel think of their demand and what was his response? He thought it was sinful so he prayed to the Lord.

   What did God think of their desire to be like their neighbors? God saw this as a rejection of His lordship and Samuel’s leadership in their lives.

   Do you think God acted with grace in verse 9? He did give them a warning.

   How can we distinguish between God’s perfect will and His permissive will? We know God’s will for our lives by studying His Word, praying and seeking the counsel of mature believers. God causes some things to happen. Some things He allows to happen. Nothing happens apart from God’s will.

God is willing to allow His people to make their own decisions, even if those choices are poor and lead to pain and regret.


Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 to see Samuel’s warning of what would happen if a king ruled over the people.

   Basically the king would have the power to confiscate persons and their wealth, as well as the power to give favors to some people while crushing others. The end result was that the Israelites would discover they had no rights at all. Obviously, not every king would follow the principles governing kings as we just reviewed in Deuteronomy.

   Pg. 48 of PSG has an intriguing question: What does a believer lose by relying on a human authority more than Christ? How does this relate to today’s world?


Read “Rebellion Determined” 1 Samuel 8:19-22

   What was Samuel’s role in Israel’s demand for a king? Samuel was faithful to seek the Lord’s guidance and delivered an unpopular warning. Remember he gave an unpopular warning to Eli a few Sundays ago.

   What is the people’s response in verse 19? The people heard Samuel’s warning describing what life would be like with a king instead of God as a leader. Still, they refused to take the next step and heed Samuel’s warning. They were determined to have their own king. What about the times we are determined to have our own way?

   What do the descriptions of the desired king reveal about their hearts?

   What does God’s allowing Israel to have a king teach us about God? We can hear God’s instructions for living but neglect to take the next step and follow those instructions in daily living.



·         God desires His people to be distinct from others, trusting Him in all matters.

·         When we reject God’s leaders and their warnings, we are rejecting God in the process.

·         We can trust God to provide godly leaders even when we are tempted to take matters into our own hands.

·         Ask yourself what is keeping you from giving God full control of your life today.


Close with prayer asking God to bring all areas of your life under His control. Pray for our government leaders to have God’s wisdom in decision making.