In your question you referred to Exodus 20:13 which should read, “You shall not murder” (NASB). I point this out because you had added the word “kill” and there is an important difference between the words “kill” and “murder.” To “kill” is to “take a life” and to “murder” is “the unlawful and premeditated taking of a life.” One may kill another person without it being premeditated or unlawful and I believe in every case that God took a person’s life it was “lawful,” for God is a righteous God and everything He does is “just.”

Let’s consider two Biblical accounts where God took the lives of men, women and children. In Genesis 6:5-8 we read, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earthBut Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Later, in verse 11 it says, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth.” If we were to read on, we would see that God did indeed destroy everything that had the breath of life with a universal flood except for Noah and his family. Why did He do this? Was He guilty of murder in doing so? We believe God was completely justified in this act, for God is holy and righteous and man had “corrupted His way upon the earth.” Thus it was NOT “murder,” which is “unlawful,” for God was acting justly by condemning wicked sinners and ending their life in the flood.

In 1 Samuel 15:1-3 it reads, “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 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.” Here is a case where a nation had, without mercy, ambushed the children of Israel as they journeyed to Canaan. They were the avowed enemies of Israel and because of this God had already foretold their destruction in Exodus 17:14 and 16, “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 heavenFor He said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Amalek was relentless in their opposition to Israel and because of their persistent persecution of God’s chosen people the Lord righteously destroyed them. Their sin had reached such a height that there was no other recourse but to “put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” Again, this was NOT a case of unlawful murder, but a case of righteous judgment.

The biggest difficultly in these accounts is that even children and infants were put to death. Why would God allow them to be killed? I would suggest three possible reasons:

1) Even children and infants deserve to die because they were born in sin. Psalm 58:3 states, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

2) Whether we think of the children in Noah’s day or the children born to Amalek, they would no doubt have grown up as wicked as their parents, practicing their evil religion and their corrupt ways.

3) In taking their lives, God, in grace, would take them to heaven, thus sparing them from growing up and dying later as lost sinners.

We would encourage you to read 2 Samuel 12:15-23 and Matthew 18:1-14 to see that small children go to heaven when they die. (166.1) (DO)