Saul: The Judas King, Part 3 - A Matter of Rebellion
It is a grievous task to consider the teachings of the Bible because it proclaims a grim tale concerning the condition of mankind's soul. Please understand my concern because I am thankful for the truth declared by God's word. However, when we consider our soul's wretchedness, we should sorrow over how we must grieve our redeemer. It was His Son who carried our sins upon the cross and grievous sins they were. I hope we do not repeat them.
When God allowed kings in Israel, He gave men over to their heart's desires. (Romans 1) In this way, men harden their heart because, as the scriptures say, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." (Ecclesiastes 8:1) In His grace, God does not punish sin but allows men time to repent, but instead of repenting, they harden their hearts and become even more wicked. Such sinfulness is very grievous to the righteous.
In my last article, I wrote about Saul's evil behavior by entering into the priesthood reserved for Jesus Christ alone. He was not punished and ejected from the kingship of Israel immediately, and as a result, he hardened his heart and continued to exalt himself over God.
The Necessity of Amalek's Destruction
Therefore, God sent Samuel to instruct Saul to destroy Amalek because of what they did to Israel when coming out of Egypt. They were to utterly destroy the Amalekites and leave none living.
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. '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.'" (1 Samuel 15:2,3 )
It is all too easy to overlook the more profound teachings of God's word. Study surpasses reading. God does not miss the small details; neither does He fail to report them. Let us follow the teaching of scripture carefully.
We learn from Genesis 36:12, "And Timna was a concubine of Esau's son Eliphaz, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz." Therefore, Amalek is the seed of Esau. Then in Genesis 36:16, we find that Amalek was among the chiefs. "These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. ...chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek." Amalek intermingled with the children of Israel as stated in Judges 5:14, "From Ephraim, those whose root is in Amalek came down, Following you, Benjamin, with your peoples;"
Finally, among the Old Testament references to Amalek, we learn of the war that God makes with them in Exodus 17:14-16, "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; and he said, "The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation." The war, as stated by God, is an ongoing war that continues throughout all generations. This is serious!
The Necessity for Us to Not Love the World
Finally, in the New Testament, in Hebrews 12:14-17, we read of this war's seriousness and how it applies to the Christian and his community. "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears."
Did you get the point? The fruit of Essau is Amalek, which makes war with Israel. Consider the seriousness of this war. "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?" (James 4:1-4)
The just shall live by faith, and the evidence of faith is dependence upon God through prayer.
The very context of God's conflict with Amalek in Exodus 17 is Moses's conflict with Israel. They quarreled with him over their need for water. They were ready to stone Moses, so God caused him to strike a rock and brought forth water for the people. The people said to Moses, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" Their grumbling represents their heart attitude toward God.
Is the Church in America today ready to grumble, or is it prepared to be persecuted for its faith in Christ against the flood of immorality coming against a post-Christian (in name only) society?
When Samuel returned to Saul following the battle and hearing from God that Saul had erected a monument to himself, he heard Saul say, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD." Liar! It is then we read of very familiar words by Samuel, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Partial obedience in the economy of God equals total disobedience - a reality that is too often missed by God's children. The righteous are often misunderstood because of this unalterable reality.
Saul's first response was to shift the blame to the people by saying, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep..." And He continues to justify himself by saying, "...but the rest WE have utterly destroyed" (15:15). What a miserable wretch he was; I hope we are not behaving in the same way.
When Samuel is not willing to hear Saul's excuses, Saul doubled down on his innocence, "I did obey the voice of the LORD ... "But the people took some of the spoil ...to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal." O', so the spoils of war were for sacrificial purposes to God. Notice Saul said, "...to the LORD YOUR God." He places emphasis on Samuel's God supposing that will make it all well with Samuel.
Then comes another familiar and revelatory statement by Samuel," "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams" (15:22). What is the point in sacrifice as a result of disobedience? It's like killing a man and then taking half the money stolen and putting it in the offering plate. Such a sacrifice is going to appease God? Really? It didn't work really well for Judas. He went out and hung himself.
Samuel's Response and Ours
Samuel's response to such folly is found in verse 23, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king." When God went against Amalek in 1 Samuel 15, His name used is the LORD of Hosts (V.2). That is, the God of the heavenly army, which denotes spiritual warfare. This sin is the sin of divination or consorting with demon spirits. This sin is grave! Let me show you how grave Samuel thought it to be.
"Then Samuel said, "Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites." And Agag came to him cheerfully. And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past." But Samuel said, "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal." (1 Samuel 15:32, 33)
Yes, we read the Bible correctly; this righteous prophet and saint of God chopped this king to bits. Samuel would not compromise regarding Amalek's destruction, as did Saul. We need desperately to do the same! Compromise always leads to death, one way or another. At the very least, compromising Amalek's end or the character of Essau by extension (placing a solitary meal over eternal joys) will mean the end of the joys of our spiritual life.