“Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.” I Sam. 15:10-11 NLT
Saul is having a great day! In his mind, everything is great! He woke up early, probably had a good breakfast and started his day feeling good about himself. He is all happy as he is greeting Samuel saying, "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord."
Saul is loudly proclaiming that he did just what the Lord told him to do, which is an outright lie. So while Samuel spent the night grieving and crying to the Lord over Saul's disobedience, Saul happily slept like a baby -- proud of his accomplishments and deceiving himself into thinking he did good.
The thing about being disobedient and sinning is that after a while, your heart gets to a place where you do not even see sin as sin. You start lying to yourself. You begin to think that you are okay and that it's God who has the problem.
God had clearly commanded in I Samuel 15:3, that every man, woman, child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey were to be destroyed and Saul did not do this.
They were careful to keep the best for themselves, but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. They took the care to make sure that they took home the best, and we can imagine they were all pleased with what they had gained after the battle.
This perhaps was worst of all, because Israel was not reflecting God’s heart in His judgment. When they came home happy and excited because of what they gained from the battle, they implied there was something joyful or happy in the midst of God’s judgment. This dishonored God, who brings His judgment reluctantly and without pleasure, longing that man would have repented instead.
Partial obedience is COMPLETE disobedience. Saul and his men obeyed as far as it suited them; that is to say, they did not obey God at all.
“I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king”: God’s heart was broken over Saul’s disobedience. The man who started out humble and submissive to God was now boldly going his own way in disobedience to God.
God knew from the beginning Saul’s heart, and Saul’s ways, and Saul’s destiny. He knew that He had already sought for Himself a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
“.….it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night”: Samuel shows that he has God’s heart. It hurt God to reject Saul and it hurt God’s prophet to see him rejected. We are close to God’s heart when the things that grieve Him grieve us, and the things that please God please us.
Reluctantly, Samuel now comes to discipline the disobedient king.
So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” (I Sam. 15:12)
Was Saul grieved over his sin? Not at all! Instead, he set up a monument for himself because he was quite pleased with himself! He felt he had done something good, and he believed he was totally justified in what he had done. There is not the slightest bit of shame or guilt in Saul, even though he had directly disobeyed the Lord.
God will raise up another man to replace Saul as king. David, in contrast to Saul, was known as a man after God’s own heart. Even though David, as king of Israel, would also disobey God, the difference between him and Saul was great.
David felt the guilt and shame one should feel when they sin. Saul did not feel it. His conscience was dead to shame and his heart was dead to God. Saul’s heart was so dead he could directly disobey God and set up a monument for himself on the occasion!
When he set up a monument for himself it also showed that Saul was not the same humble man who once had a humble opinion of himself (1 Samuel 9:21) and who once hid among the equipment out of shyness (1 Samuel 10:22). The years, the military victories, and prestige of the throne of Israel have all revealed the pride in Saul’s heart.
Saul said to Samuel, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” How could Saul do this? How could he come to the prophet of God with such boldness, such confidence, and boast of his obedience? Because of his pride……… Saul is self-deceived. He probably really believed what he told Samuel. He probably believed, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”
Pride always leads us into self-deception!