Saul repents of his failure to obey the details of Samuel’s instructions for carrying out the war against Agag and the Amalekites, but like so often is the case with us, Saul’s apology is accompanied by an excuse. He says “I’m sorry, but….” As excuses often do, this one makes the situation worse. It becomes the actual basis for Saul’s removal as king. He says, “I have sinned for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” One commentator observed, “The person (Saul) who had strongly defended his case is made to surrender here as a weak person; he could no longer command his people, but was rather commanded by the people.”

Excuses always diminish our repentance. And at times they, as here, they can become the final straw in breaking a relationship. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is the last verse in this chapter. “Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul.” Saul continued to be king of Israel for the rest of his life, but Samuel never saw him again.

Saul’s story turns south and we see him turn into a miserable, haunted, and paranoid man desperately trying to maintain his role as king.” David, on the other hand, becomes a man after God’s own heart.” Not that he never sins, because David has some serious failures himself, but his confession is without excuse. Ours should be also.