6 July 1 Samuel 14:47-15:9

6 July.  Saul defeats the enemies of Israel

“When Saul became king over Israel, he fought against Israel’s enemies all around. He fought Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the king of Zobah and the Philistines. Everywhere Saul went he defeated Israel’s enemies... He saved the Israelites from their enemies who had robbed them…”

“Samuel said to Saul, ‘The LORD sent me to appoint you king over Israel. Now listen to his message. This is what the LORD All-powerful says: “When the Israelites came out of Egypt, the Amalekites tried to stop them from going to Canaan. So I will punish them. Now go, attack the Amalekites and destroy everything they own as an offering to the LORD. Don’t let anything live. Put to death men and women, children and small babies, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”’”

“So Saul called the army together at Telaim. There were 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men from Judah. Then Saul went to the city of Amalek and set up an ambush in the ravine. He said to the Kenites, ‘Go away. Leave the Amalekites so that I won’t destroy you with them, because you showed kindness to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.’ So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.”

“Then Saul defeated the Amalekites. He fought them all the way from Havilah to Shur, at the border of Egypt. He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but he killed all of Agag’s army with the sword. Saul and the army let Agag live, along with the best sheep, fat cattle and lambs. They let every good animal live, because they did not want to destroy them. But when they found an animal that was weak or useless, they killed it.”

          (1 Samuel 14:47 – 15:9)

 

 

This is another Old Testament passage that you don’t hear read very often in church services. It is horribly violent and bloodthirsty, and presents God as a monster who demands the slaughter of innocent men, women and children.

When Christians say they “believe the Bible”, we wonder whether they have read this passage from 1 Samuel? It clearly illustrates to us that, as Christians, what we really believe in is Jesus Christ and the loving heavenly Father he taught us about in the New Testament, and it reminds us that Jesus often criticised the picture of a cruel and vengeful God which is so often portrayed in the Old Testament (see, for example, Jesus’s criticism of the Old Testament teachings in Matthew 15:3-9, 16:12, 18:21-22 & 19:1-9).

The Old Testament God presented in today’s passage is a God who punishes not only those who oppose his ‘chosen people’, but also punishes their descendants (1 Samuel 15:2). He is painted as the God who orders the death of innocent men and women, children and small babies (1 Samuel 15:3). He is pictured as a god who requires blood-drenched sacrifices in order to placate his wrath (1 Samuel 15:3).

Thankfully, this is not the God of the New Testament that Jesus taught us about; the God who is like the man who ran to embrace his son who had squandered his father’s wealth (see Luke 15:20-24); the God who forgives those who have broken the Ten Commandments (see Luke 8:36-50); who brings dead people back to life (see Luke 7:11-16); and the God who delights in healing the sick (see Luke 9:37-43).

Next time, before you answer “Yes” to the question “Do you believe the Bible?” make sure you understand what a simplistic and unqualified answer really implies.

The photo (by Pete Unseth) shows an entire scroll set of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible on which the Old Testament is based.

You can read more about the origin and message of the Old Testament @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/22-the-world-of-the-old-testament-journeys/the-message-of-the-old-testament/


Printer Printable Version