I find it interesting that Samuel prayed to God all night in behalf of Saul. What was going through his mind?
Remember that when Israel had cried out for a king, Samuel had been stubbornly opposed. In fact, he took it personally. God had to assure him that it was not a personal affront to Samuel, but to God Himself.
But over the years, Samuel and Saul had evidently grown close. Whatever Saul’s failings, Samuel saw him as the great hope of Israel – empowered by God of course. But Samuel could not see past Saul. He too lacked faith. He could not conceive of a better king for Israel and, unable to believe God could do better, he wanted God to make allowances.
Saul’s failure to destroy the Amalekites was the final straw with God, and in the end, the final one with Samuel. As the story ends, Samuel seems Saul for who he truly is: a self-centered person more interested in acceptance by the people than obedience to God.
Sometimes we too bargain with God, doing what He specifically tells us not to do, but trying to do it in a way that will, at least in our own eyes, honor him.
But it doesn’t.
“To obey is better than sacrifice.”