Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prophet Samuel (9) - Death of Agag

Samuel asked for Agag the king of the Amalekites to be brought to him. Agag thought this was good news, but Samuel had a different attitude.

And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal (1 Sam 15:33).
Most commentators applaud Samuel for doing what God commanded, whereas Saul is condemned. I am not sure that we have got this right. Saul had certainly lost touch with God (1 Sam 15:11), but there is no evidence from the scriptures of God commanding Samuel to slaughter Agag.

The impression I get is that Samuel acted on his own initiative. The expression “before the Lord” could be translated “against the Lord”. This would confirm that Samuel was not acting in obedience to the Lord.

Even if God did want Saul to kill Agag, that did not make it right for Samuel to do it. A prophet must not act as judge or military commander. A true prophet should be totally separated to God, so they should not be acting as the executioner of criminals or military prisoners. Samuel went beyond his calling as a prophet by executing Agag.

These events are a serious warning to all prophets. They must be careful stay within there calling. When a prophet thinks they are being ignored, they can be tempted to fulfil their own prophecies. This is a dangerous thing for any prophet.

Many people are disturbed by the description of Samuel hacking Agag into pieces. They say that a God who would order this is not very nice. I agree with this view, but I am also certain that God did not order this violent death. The scriptures do not say that God commanded that Agag be hacked to hamburger.

This paints Samuel in a lesser light, but we should not cast aspersions on God just to protect Samuel’s reputation. Samuel did not have the benefit of knowing Jesus, so it is not surprised that he was influenced by the culture of the time. On the other hand, we cannot condemn him by Christian standards, because he did not have the benefits of the life and teaching of Jesus.


Anonymous said...

If as you say 'utterly destory' should have been translated 'drive out'. The cannanite nations would have spilt out into the surrounding nations right? From which according to Deuteronomy 20:14 women, children, spoil animals and spoil where allowed to be kept so in this way cannanite women could have been wives or concubines and thereby break Gods word that Israel should be kept pure.

Ron McK said...

God did not require racial purity. He required moral and spiritual purity. Canaanite woman and children would not contaminate the Israelites, if they submitted to Yahweh and his covenant.