Tuesday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 14:47—15:9 (NKJV)
14:47 So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them. 48 And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them. 49 The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui and Malchishua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal. 50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. 52 Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself.
15:1 Samuel also said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'”
4 So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 He also took Agag 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 unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
We learn in today’s reading that partial obedience to the Lord’s Word is no obedience at all. God had given strict orders for the utter destruction of the Amalekites—an order so harsh that human reason stumbles over it. Saul’s reason told him that the Amalekite king would make a fine prize and that it would be a waste simply to slaughter all the animals. Surely the Lord didn’t actually mean what He had said!
Do some of God’s Commandments seem too harsh, too unreasonable, too unloving to obey? Do we think we know better than God, or that His commands should fit into our own judgment of right and wrong? Of course we balk at God’s commands by nature! Deep down in the depths of our sinful flesh, we all want to determine right from wrong. Deep down, we all think we could do a better job than God at running the universe.
But our reason is a false god. The Lord alone is God. He is good. What He does is the definition of right. He doesn’t ask us for our opinion, nor does He give command and then let us change His Commandments as we see fit. Partial obedience is complete rebellion. Therefore, God calls the rebels to repentance, for Christ has suffered for all the rebellion of men, that we might be set free from punishment by faith in Him, and that we might be renewed by His Spirit to walk in His commands, turning aside neither to the right nor to the left. For “this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 Jn. 6).