1 Samuel 15: The Importance of Obedience

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 95–96


Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest” (Mormon Doctrine, 2d. ed. [1966], 539). As you read 1 Samuel 15, consider what it teaches about the principle of obedience.

Understanding the Scriptures

1 Samuel 15

Laid wait (vv. 2, 5)Hid in preparation for attack 
Spare (v. 3)Save 
Fatlings (v. 9)The secondborn of animals 
Vile and refuse (v. 9)Worthless and unclean according to the law of Moses 
Fly upon the spoil (v. 19)Rushed to take all the good things 
Delicately (v. 32)Humbly 

1 Samuel 15:2–3—Why Completely Destroy the Amalekites?

There are very few times in scripture that God commanded a people be destroyed. The Amalekites were extremely cruel to the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt (see Deuteronomy 25:17–19). They picked out the weak, sick, and elderly that struggled along at the back of the march and killed these stragglers.

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 1 Samuel 15.

Activity A iconMake a Comparison

Compare what Samuel told Saul to do (see 1 Samuel 15:1–3) with what Saul actually did (see 1 Samuel 15:4–9).

Activity B iconExcuses

  1. 1.

    What excuses did Saul give for what he did instead of being obedient to what he was commanded to do?

  2. 2.

    Write a letter to Saul explaining why his excuses for disobedience are not acceptable. Make sure you respond to each of his excuses.

Samuel challenging Saul

Activity C iconThe Real Reason

  1. 1.

    Finally, in 1 Samuel 15:24, Saul confessed why he did what he did. Identify some reasons people give today for their acts of disobedience. How are they similar to Saul’s response?

  2. 2.

    What do you think can help strengthen us from falling into the temptation to justify our actions?