10 June 2022
You may recall that the Amalekites harassed Israel during the Exodus. They would attack the rear of the convoy where the pregnant women, children and old folks were riding, unable to walk that much. It was the same wagons that carried the baggage, which the Amalekites would plunder. God promised that He would have war against Amalek forever.
He saved this up for a future opportunity. That opportunity was to test Saul again, to see if he would obey. The Amalekites were in a vulnerable position, and it was God's time to strike them. Samuel relayed to Saul that this was a test, and what was required. His words indicate this was Saul's last change to restore and keep his anointing from God.
Once again, Saul showed his true loyalty. He was more interested in the people's respect than God's. He wanted to be seen as a real king like those who ruled the nations around him. He treated Jehovah like a third-rate deity who could be tricked, someone who was as corrupt and petty as humans. Saul didn't see God as God, but as roughly equivalent to the likes of Dagon or Chemosh, or maybe just another of the Baals already worshiped in the land.
So he captured King Agag alive. It was the manner of Ancient Near Eastern kings to keep their conquered kings as jesters in the court, trophies to their own greatness as kings. Sometimes these captured kings were maimed to keep them dependent. We can imagine Saul was thinking along those lines when he failed to execute Agag. Meanwhile, Saul's troops were also unfaithful. They saw how much fine livestock the Amalekites had stolen from everyone else, and decided to keep it. Saul rationalized that it was for a proper offering to the Lord; Jehovah would get His cut of the action.
Samuel reproached him for this. There were a few moments of debate, but Samuel lowered the boom. It's not that God needs our sacrifices, but that we need to sacrifice. Did Saul imagine that Jehovah was as petty and shallow as he was himself? God is the true King of Israel, and His commands must be obeyed, regardless whether Saul could grasp the reasons. God has priorities that don't always register with our minds, but that doesn't excuse falling short of His demands. Saul followed the rules, instead of the God behind the rules. The anointing was gone forever.
From that day on, we see Saul as a man who slides farther and farther into madness. Without the anointing, he had no protection from the demons. And the demonic attacks on kings are substantial. He was allowed to decline into complete madness and failure, until he took his own life from cowardice in battle.
God has priorities we may not always understand, but He speaks in our convictions if we will listen. It's not about following all the rules we can understand, but to understand that the rules reflect something of God's moral character; the rules are not God. The Pharisees had made their legalistic reason their god. This is why they never understood Jesus, nor the exceptions to the rules He cited from time to time.
God is not bound by His laws for us. Just because you know the rules, it doesn't mean you know God. Get to know Him in your heart.
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