I was reading this week in 1st Samuel 15, where YHVH commanded King Saul to completely annihilate the Amalekites. Saul was told to not even keep any spoil that belonged to them. Saul, however, disobeyed. “And he captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 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” (1 Samuel 15:8-9 my emphases). When Samuel came to Saul to enquire as to why he did not kill Agag and destroy everything that YHVH had commanded him, Saul’s answer was seemingly very honorable and religious: “I have carried out the command of YHVH" (1 Samuel 15:13). But did he? This was a distortion of the truth, preceding the excuse: "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to YHVH your Elohim” (1 Samuel 15:15 my emphases). In this statement Saul disconnects himself from his disobedience, and blatantly sheds off all responsibility: “they, the people did this (hear the echo: “the woman that You gave me, she…” Gen. 3:12?)… for your Elohim”. Why not our Elohim?
What does this scene and its ramifications have to do with us today? We too have an enemy who hates us, and a command from YHVH to destroy, cut off, tear down and eliminate any evidence of Satan’s influence and rule in our new creation life: “don’t let Sin rule you!” (Romans 6:12). “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness” (Romans 6:11-13). “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of Elohim” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Saul’s biggest problem was his pride, coupled with greed that was covered up by a self-righteous attitude that typically denies culpability, thus leading to a critical compromise. Preserving Agag’s life and all the things that appeared to be of value, was really a sacrifice to his prideful self-righteousness and greed, followed by an inability to come to grips with his actions and heart motivations.
Pride is the king that sits on the throne of men’s hearts and the most difficult to discern, as it is cloaked in false humility. But what exposes pride is its own greed. Like sheol, it can never be satisfied (ref. Proverbs 30:16).
With the festival of Purim right around the corner, we have here an example of how one generation’s critical compromise (in this case by Saul), can cause catastrophic consequences way down the line (Haman, a descendant of Agag, persecuted Sauls’s descendant – Mordechai - and ultimately all the Jewish people in the kingdom of that day).
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