Then came the word of the Lord to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I have set up Saul to be king because he has turned back from following Me, and he has not carried out My words.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried to the Lord all night.1 Samuel 15:10–11 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Is it surprising to know that God has regrets?
It is hard to understand the reality, God says, “I regret.” I mean, God knows all things. This didn’t blindside Him. He had to know this event when He chose Saul. Time doesn’t restrict God.
What is clear is God can be disappointed or grieved when we don’t trust Him. When we do not do what He asks of us, we turn our back on Him.
Samuel spent much time in intercession. He understood the task at hand. He went to Saul. Saul set up a monument for himself. Imagine that.
Samuel came to Saul. And Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord. I have carried out the word of the Lord.”1 Samuel 15:13 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Look at Saul’s perspective. He did what he thought was the word of the Lord. Samuel asks about the bleating of the sheep. Saul insists he did right by God. It was the people who spared the best of the best for sacrifice to God.
Samuel said,1 Samuel 15:22–23 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Obedience is better than sacrifice,
a listening ear than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He has also rejected you from being king.”
One lesson we get from Samuel’s response is clear. Saul’s sin affected his calling from God in a particular office of service. He was rejected from his place as king.
We don’t think much of that, yet it is important. God forgives the sin, yes. But there are consequences.
In this case, Saul’s usage as a vessel of honor was marred by his own disobedience. I am using a specific reference because the clay becomes marred in the Potter’s hands. The Potter then must remold it. It won’t be like it was before (rejected from being king.)
Read the rest of the account. See how Saul confessed his guilt, but God won’t change His mind (the word used is repent.) Eventually, Samuel went with Saul to worship the Lord.
Saul’s sin affected how God would use him, in this case, God could not use him as king anymore. That’s what sin does. It affects how we can be used by God and it can have devastating consequences.
God wanted Saul to succeed. But Saul didn’t follow God, He succumbed to the pressure of the people who wanted to do something seemingly good.