Reading chapter fifteen I’m reminded of a passage in Zechariah 2:8. The context is near the end of the Old Testament. God’s people have been captives in Babylon for 70 years (or so) and have now returned to their homeland. It’s a struggle. Not only is it a struggle to simply resettle a land desolate for over half a century, they face opposition from foreign elements who have moved in to take the land as their own – as well as oppressor nations who would prey on the weak and take the land for themselves.
God speaks of a time when he will avenge the oppression of His people. Concerning their attackers God says “I will surely raise my hand against them so that their own slaves will plunder them” because whoever touches Israel “touches the apple of my eye” – in other words, God’s favored people.
The promise of 1 Samuel 15 is that God has not forgotten the cowardly attack of the Amalekites of 400 years previous when Israel was in the Exodus. The Amalekites attacked Israel from behind. God so favors His people (don’t forget this) that he never forgets a slight against them and attack is a capital offense. The Amalekites are to be devoted to the Lord – in other words, decimated.
Saul, however, sees things differently. Rather than kill everybody and everything (what a waste! he must have thought), he preserved the best for himself and his men.
The disobedience would cost Saul his kingdom.
God means what he says. To treat His words with disrespect by disobedience will not win you His favor, but bring you his wrath.