Katherine Hershey, David: A Man After God’s Heart (2011)
Scene 1: The day Saul is coronated, Samuel calls down a thunderstorm to terrify the Israelites, rebukes the Israelites for their evil choice, and warns them to “obey” God and “not rebel against his commands.” I Sam. 12:12-25.
Scene 2: Later, Samuel visits Saul and delivers him a divine imperative to commit genocide: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants….” I Sam. 15:3
“That was pretty clear, wasn’t it? The Amalekites had heard about Israel’s true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in Him…. Their sinful unbelief caused them to do wicked things…. Because God is pure and holy—separate from sin—He must punish sin.”
Scene 3: Saul partially obeys by attacking the Amalekites as instructed and killing every living thing. However, he disobeys by sparing King Agag and a few choice animals.
God had His people kill the Amalekites because the Amalekites “refused to believe God”: “God is pure and holy so He must punish sin. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God has promised punishment. Now was God’s time for punishment….” But by sparing King Agag, Saul only “partly obeyed”: “By only partly obeying, Saul had actually disobeyed. Could Saul have decided he would obey God completely? (Allow response.) Yes…. But Saul was more interested in doing things his way. If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey.”
God’s genocidal imperative was good; seek God’s strength to obey completely:
“When God gives a command, He expects His children to obey completely. Our memory verse says “’To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin’ (James 4:17)…. It’s not always easy to obey completely. You need to seek God’s strength when you’re tempted to disobey.”
Scene 4: Samuel confronts Saul over his disobedience: “The Lord annointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the Lord?” I Sam. 15:17-19 (NIV)
Doing good means obeying God completely, even if it involves genocide:
“Remember what our memory verse says, ’To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin’ (James 4:17). If you are to be a person after God’s heart, He expects your complete obedience…. Be careful to listen to God’s commands, then count on His strength to help you obey Him….”
Scene 5: God rejects Saul as king because of his disobedience. “Samuel finished the job God had commanded Saul to do, killing wicked King Agag.”
Always obey God completely:
“Being a person after God’s heart means obeying God completely… [r]emember what our memory verse says, ’To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin’ (James 4:17)…. Stop and ask God for the strength and ‘want to’ to obey completely.”
“The first step in obeying God is to trust the Lord Jesus to be your Savior from sin. Remember, you deserve to be punished for your sin, but because the Lord Jesus took your punishment, you can be forgiven…. If you believe what God’s Word says about your sin and that Jesus died and rose again for you, you can have His forever life today….”