4th October 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 15:1-9
Message Alan Burke
I suspect that as I write this devotion that it will be the least liked devotion I have ever written, I may of course be proved wrong but I know that we don’t like to talk about the reality of God’s judgment, we much prefer a god who is like that senile old grandfather figure who is more like the fella in the red suit that comes in December than the Lord God of the scriptures. As we come to this passage I think it’s fair to say that it isn’t easy reading for many of us, we read how Samuel comes to Saul and gives him the word of the LORD (1). The opening verses are really Samuel saying to Saul remember who I am, remember who you are, remember who the Lord is and as you do act accordingly for these are not your people but God’s people. It is what comes next that is striking as Saul is told what is required of him as the Lord has deemed it right to punish the Amelekites.
We will get to what the Lord commands in a moment or two but it is also important that we know who the Amelekites were. They were the descendants of Esau who had sold his birthright to his bother Jacob and, Amelek was a grandson Esau (Gen 36:12). After the account of the Exodus from Egypt, after the plagues, the plundering and then the crossing of the Red Sea the people of God reach Sinai, they were faint, weary, spread out, vulnerable and rather than running to their aid, the people of Amalek attacked Israel, attacking them in their time off need. Because of what they had done, the Lord had promised that Amalekites were to be wiped out, blotted out and the reason was for their attack was against God himself (Ex. 18:14). What we have recored in Samuel is now around three hundred years since those events but throughout the years since the Amelekites continued to attack the people of God (Judges 3:12-14; 6:3-5, 33; 7:12).
What the Lord requires of Saul is that he v3 is to “go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ” These words are striking, this seems like an unnecessarily sever command, that in God’s divine judgement that there would be no one who was to be spared and nothing left living, there was to be no escape, from the oldest man and woman to the youngest infant. It seems barbarous, severe, unloving, it seems to have come out of the blue. How can these be the words of the God whose compassion is over all that he as made as the Psalmist says 145:9, how “the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made”?
I will respond by saying that this is horrifying, awful, I am distressed when I read this, but the Lord contends that his vengeance on Amalekites is just, this is the righteous judgement of God. Today we come before the Judge of all the earth, the one who rules and reigns, he is gracious and compassionate, long-suffering and yet there comes a time that those who have rebelled against him will give account, each and every person who has ever lived will stand before his appointed judge. While we may recoil at what took place here, yet all of us will stand before the judgement seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) and give an account.
Perhaps we do not understand this as we should but it is a reality that all people, from all nations will one day face. It should spur us as his people to tell of the free offer of salvation, to tell of the means of escape of the judgement that awaits and that is to trust in Jesus Christ. Our God, the God of Creation, is a Holy God, a consuming fire and any sin, any transgression of his law deserves not his grace but his wrath. The Amalekites experienced God’s wrath for their sin at the hands of Saul and his army but they will also experience the wrath of the Almighty through Christ at the final judgement (Rev 19:15). Many want to deny the divine judgement that will come and Jesus has been appointed to bring but we do no one any favours for in Jesus Christ there is salvation from the wrath to come. In what lies ahead we should be those who have zeal to see people saved from their sin, who have a concern for the lost, a burden for them, that they might be placing their trust in Jesus Christ so that they may escape the judgement that we all deserve.
Q61 What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, (Amos 8:5, Mal. 1:13) and the profaning the day by idleness, (Acts 20:7,9) or doing that which is in itself sinful, (Ezek. 23:38) or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations. (Jer. 17:24–26, Isa. 58:13)