In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel told King Saul to destroy the worthless Amalekites. Although genocide is generally not a good idea today, the principle revealed in the story is a great test of Christian leadership. Who do your Christian leaders honor? The popular and powerful or the weak, undeserved nobodies?

Amalekite History

Who were these condemned people?

When Moses delivered the enslaved Jews from Egypt, the Amalekites picked off the weak and defenseless separated from the group. This action revealed that they did not fear God. This is the reason God gave for his deadly mission.

I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. (Deut 25)

God swore to blot them off the face of the earth. God would be at war with not only those who attacked Israel, but with their children and grandchildren.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” Ex 18

God, as He is apt to do, gave the task to the Israelites to complete as they began to settle in Canaan.

 When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

Now it is time for Saul to deliver.

Saul reveals his own Amalekite heart

Saul goes to war with Israel’s bitter enemies, and he begins the slaughter.

But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

Oh the irony. By sparing the rich and powerful and abusing the poor and weak, Saul was inviting the enmity of God. Did he not see that? I wonder if he had emancipated the weak and despised people under the dictator king Agag, if God would have judged him with grace? But it didn’t happen that way.

Destroying the weak and honoring the powerful revealed his heart had no reverence for the just God. He was guilty of the very sin he was sent to judge.

A test of the heart

Although we cannot know the heart of a person, we can discern much by a study of how they treat the weak, the defenseless, the victims in our society. Does a leader honor the powerful by sparing him/her from scrutiny? Do they name drop? Do they point to the “little guy” with fault? Do they spare the despised?

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Jesus understood.

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