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1 Samuel 15:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry - This is no translation of those difficult words, הפצר ותרפים ואון מרי קסם חטאת כי ki chattath kesem meri veaven utheraphim haphtsar . It appears to me that the three nouns which occur first in the text refer each to the three last in order. Thus, חטאת chattath, Transgression, refers to און aven, Iniquity, which is the principle whence transgression springs. קסם kesem, Divination, refers to תרפים teraphim, consecrated images or telesms, vulgarly talismans, used in incantations. And מרי meri, Rebellion, refers evidently to הפצר haphstar, Stubbornness, whence rebellion springs. The meaning therefore of this difficult place may be the following: As transgression comes from iniquity, divination from teraphim, and rebellion from stubbornness, so, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. All the versions are different.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The meaning is “Rebellion is as bad as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as bad as worshipping false gods (iniquity), and teraphim (idolatry).”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Repentance in God is not a change of mind, as it is in us, but a change of method. The change was in Saul; "He is turned back from following me." Hereby he made God his enemy. Samuel spent a whole night in pleading for Saul. The rejection of sinners is the grief of believers: God delights not in their death, nor should we. Saul boasts to Samuel of his obedience. Thus sinners think, by justifying themselves, to escape being judged of the Lord. The noise the cattle made, like the rust of the silver, Jas 5:3, witnessed against him. Many boast of obedience to the command of God; but what means then their indulgence of the flesh, their love of the world, their angry and unkind spirit, and their neglect of holy duties, which witness against them? See of what evil covetousness is the root; and see what is the sinfulness of sin, and notice that in it which above any thing else makes it evil in the sight of the Lord; it is disobedience: "Thou didst not obey the voice of the Lord." Carnal, deceitful hearts, like Saul, think to excuse themselves from God's commandments by what pleases themselves. It is hard to convince the children of disobedience. But humble, sincere, and conscientious obedience to the will of God, is more pleasing and acceptable to him than all burnt-offering and sacrifices. God is more glorified and self more denied, by obedience than by sacrifice. It is much easier to bring a bullock or lamb to be burned upon the altar, than to bring every high thought into obedience to God, and to make our will subject to his will. Those are unfit and unworthy to rule over men, who are not willing that God should rule over them.
Ellen G. White
Conflict and Courage, 158.1

Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. 1 Samuel 15:23. CC 158.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW), 1114

38, 39 (1 Timothy 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 3:3, 4). Israel's Dress Distinguished Them From Nations—The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God's peculiar people. The people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel for examples. If God gave such definite directions to His ancient people in regard to their dress, will not the dress of His people in this age come under His notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are His peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in point of dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity, and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors? God requires this of His people. Pride is rebuked in His Word (The Health Reformer, February 1872). 1BC 1114.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 357

The day before, all Israel had fled in alarm at the cry of the doomed sinners who went down into the pit; for they said: “Lest the earth swallow us up also.” “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord.” In their indignation they were prepared to lay violent hands upon the men of God's appointment, who they believed had done a great wrong in killing those who were good and holy. 3T 357.1

But the Lord's presence is manifested in His glory over the tabernacle, and rebellious Israel are arrested in their mad, presumptuous course. The voice of the Lord from His terrible glory now speaks to Moses and Aaron in the same words which they were the day before commanded to address to the congregation of Israel: “Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment.” 3T 357.2

Here we find a striking exhibition of the blindness that will compass human minds that turn from light and evidence. Here we see the strength of settled rebellion, and how difficult it is to be subdued. Surely the Hebrews had had the most convincing evidence in the destruction of the men who had deceived them; but they still stood forth boldly and defiantly, and accused Moses and Aaron of killing good and holy men. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 3T 357.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 631

Saul persisted in self-justification: “Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.” PP 631.1

In stern and solemn words the prophet swept away the refuge of lies and pronounced the irrevocable sentence: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” PP 631.2

As the king heard this fearful sentence he cried out, “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” Terrified by the denunciation of the prophet, Saul acknowledged his guilt, which he had before stubbornly denied; but he still persisted in casting blame upon the people, declaring that he had sinned through fear of them. PP 631.3

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