Agag, Saul, and the Church in Politics
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.What western mind doesn't recoil in horror at such a command from the Lord as this one delivered to Saul? We see it as a primitive and barbaric command. And we may be right.
-- 1 Samuel 15:3
Perhaps, upon receiving such a command, any of us would refuse the order from the assumed safety of our moral high ground.
Of course we realize that Saul didn't fully obey the commandment either. Probably not for the same reasons that you or I might be reluctant to do so, but he failed to obey nevertheless. Saul was supposed to kill all of the Amalekites, but he didn't. He saved (at least) the king of the people alive. That king was Agag.
Perhaps Saul thought of a dozen reasons for preserving the life of the king. Perhaps he recognized the morale booster it would be for his people to see their enemy in captivity. Perhaps Saul was respecting the customs of his people. Perhaps he saw future political advantage in dealing with other nations by saving Agag alive. We don't really know all the reasons why Saul didn't obey. We just know that God wasn't happy.
Samuel the prophet comes in and kills Agag himself.
Years later the story gets more interesting. Fast forward to Esther 3:1. In this verse we meet Haman and we learn that Haman is a descendant of Agag. That is supposed to cause you to do a double take. Isn't this the same Agag who wasn't supposed to have any descendants?
If you're halfway up with the times, you've seen the VeggieTales version of this story and you know who Haman is. (How did anybody know Old Testament stories before they invented VeggieTales?) Haman nearly succeeded in orchestrating the massacre of the Jews in that kingdom. Only the heroic Queen Esther saved the day.
If only the earlier command of the Lord had been followed! How did a descendant of Haman survive? We don't know, but it seems clear that the Israelites didn't do a very good job with their earlier assignment under Saul. Even though it creeps me out to think that such a command to end the lives of women and children could ever be right, it appears that the Lord might have a higher and more merciful purpose in mind. (I suppose it goes without saying that you had better be darn sure you're getting your revelation from the right source before you carry out a command of this magnitude.)
My thoughts are definitely not God's thoughts. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out where I could be headed with the title of this post.