What a severe sentence for Amalek, which indicates here his descendants, the Amalekites.  Who were these people and why was the Lord so harsh in dealing with them?  Let us look briefly at Amalek.  We read in Genesis 36:12, “And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau’s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek…”  We see that Amalek was a grandson of Esau, who had sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob.  The Amalekites were a harsh and warlike people. Briefly after the Israelites left Egypt, we read, “Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” (Exodus 17:8).  We read of no provocation of the Israelites…it seems that the Amalekites simply attacked.  Being the off spring of Israel, it seems these people had a deep seated grudge against the Israelites.  I encourage you to read of this battle in Exodus 17:9-12.  It culminated in verse 13, where we read, “And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”  So, the Amalekites were defeated, but not eradicated.  We then read in verse 14, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”  The Lord’s desire was for the complete elimination of these enemies of the Lord’s people.

We read in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt BLOT OUT THE REMEMBRANCE OF AMALEK from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.”  This describes the dastardly work of Amalek.  They “smote the hindmost” of Israel.  In other words, they snuck up from behind and attacked the feeble ones of the Israelites.

Now let’s read 1 Samuel 15:1-3, “Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

Yes, as harsh as it may sound, the Lord ordered the death of ALL the Amalekites…men, women, children, and even the livestock.  Nothing could justify such an killing but the absolute authority of God. What may seem terribly harsh, was really ordered for the protection and health of Israel.  Was it wrong?  Absolutely not!  We have the rhetorical question in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  Indeed, the Judge of all the earth always does what is right! Alas, for his own selfish reasons, Saul did not obey the Lord.  We read in 1 Samuel 15:8-9, “And he took 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, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”  Determining what was good and what was vile, Saul decided to go against the order of the Lord and spared Agag and the best of the animals.  Saul, in effect, determined that the Lord was wrong and made his own choices.  How dare we determine that we know better than the Lord and make decisions that are against His perfect will.  May we be so careful as to simply obey the Lord and seek to do HIS will. 

Samuel chastised Saul and said to him in verse 22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”  Better to simply obey God. It was obvious that Saul did not destroy Amalek for we read later in 1 Samuel 27:8, “And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the AMALEKITES: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.” 

Upon the death of Saul, we see that an Amalekites took credit for killing him. (Read 2 Samuel 1:1-10).  If only Saul had obeyed the Lord and destroyed ALL the Amalekites as the Lord commanded him, this would not have happened.  It was much later, during the reign of King Hezekiah that the ‘sons of Simeon’, “…smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day.” (1 Chronicles 4:43).  (CC)  (518.4)