I have probably read this passage dozens of times, but today I noticed something new.
It’s always been there, of course, but I never noticed it until now.
Three times, Saul talks about offering sacrifices to God or worshiping God. Three times, he says “the Lord your (Samuel’s) God,” rather than, “the Lord my God.”
I don’t know if Saul meant anything deep in those words, but they strike me as the very heart of his problem.
Not once can I find one place in the Bible where Saul calls God, “My God.” Though Saul from time to time invokes God’s name, no where can I find any real sense of true love or allegiance toward God.
You see this in how quick he was to turn from God’s commands. You also see it in his “repentance.” When he finally asked for forgiveness, it was for Samuel’s forgiveness he asked, not the Lord’s. (15:25)
It was almost as if Saul didn’t notice or care that the one he sinned against most was not Samuel, but God.
And so even when it says that he worshiped the Lord in verse 31, the words ring very hollow, particularly when you see the Lord’s and Samuel’s reaction in verse 35.
Contrast that to David who time and again, acknowledged God as his God, particularly in the Psalms (Psalm 18, for example). Who, when he was confronted with his sin, cried out,
Against you—you alone—I have sinned
and done this evil in your sight. (Psalm 51:4)
How about us? Can we honestly say, “the Lord my God”? Do we have such a strong sense of love and loyalty toward him that we obey him? When we sin, do we immediately realize that it is to him first and foremost that we need to repent.
If not, all our pious words, all our pious deeds, and all our pious service in his name will always ring hollow in his sight.