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The verses in question read as follows:

23 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.

28 And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. 1 Sam. 15:23, 28.

God rejects and the kingdom is torn from Saul that day and given to his neighbour. This process took many years. How do we interpret/understand the language in these verses? Why does it sound like Samuel's words would go into effect the following day when it clearly did not?

2 Answers 2

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The fact that a divine prophecy, such as the one in 1 Sam 15:28, takes some years to be fulfilled, does not alter the certainty of the outcome. However, in this case, the future king David was anointed in the very next chapter despite the fact that he would not occupy the actual throne for more than 10 years.

There are many other prophecies that took many years to be fulfilled. Here is a sample:

  • when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, it was prophesied that they would die (Gen 2:17). This prophecy took more than 900 years to be fulfilled.
  • When Abraham was promised the land of Canaan in Gen 12:1-3 and to become a great nation, it took 430 years to be fulfilled.
  • When God promised Abraham a son in Gen 15:4-7, it took another 20 years before Abraham even had a son.
  • When God effectively told David that he would have four of his sons die as a result of the incident with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11, 12), it took 20 years for all four sons to be killed.
  • When Joseph dreamed that his brothers would bow down to him (Gen 37:5-11) it was another 22 years before this occurred.
  • When God promised the future Messiah who would destroy the serpent in Gen 3:14, 15, it would take another 4000 years before Messiah dealt the fatal blow to Satan. It will take even longer to finally solve the sin problem.

Thus, just as in 1 Sam 15:28, the many non-time dependent prophecies may take some years before God's divine timetable decrees that they be fulfilled.

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Why does it sound like Samuel's words would go into effect the following day in verse 1 Samuel 15:28 ?

Early in 1 Samuel 13:14, Samuel had prophesized Saul's kingdom would not endure due to his disobedience.

14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (NIV)

It was Saul's 2nd year of his reign. Acts 13:21 told us Saul total reign was 40 years. Therefore at that time David had not been borne. Soon after the words in 1 Samuel 15:28, the chapter 16 recorded "Samuel anoints David", and David was calling in Saul's Service.

Therefore my interpretation is, the word "today" did not mean to Saul, it was "today" God had determined David as His chosen one.

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