15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the [a]words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will [b]punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
4 Then Saul summoned the people and [c]numbered them in Telaim, 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah. 5 Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley. 6 Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 So Saul [d]defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, which is [e]east of Egypt. 8 He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
It’s not as if Samuel was unclear when conveying God’s instructions, but somehow Saul and the people decided they wanted to keep the spoils and only destroy the worthless stuff.
This would have been standard fare for any other battle, but for God’s instructions. We may not always understand why God asks us to do something, but He always has a plan in mind. Disobeying God is risky business, and while Saul would never know the full consequences of his actions, the Israelites would face multiple trials as a result of their failure on this day.
While our finite minds don’t always grasp it, the God who created everything, who knows all of time, He knows what is best for us!