1 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. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 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.” (1 Sam. 15:1-3)
Many people have a problem with God on account of such scriptures. They cannot reconcile how a loving and merciful God can at the same time be so unforgiving and brutal. God told Saul through Samuel,
“I remember that which Amalek did to Israel…”
‘I thought He was quick to forget’, you say.
Forget about forgetting.
What we do not realize is that the Old Testament is a shadow of the New Covenant, which is the real thing. Hebrews 10:1 says,
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” (Heb. 10:1)
Yes, the entire Old Testament, upon which the law rests, was a shadow. The Bible states it right there. The real thing is the New Covenant.
I am glad the Bible uses the word “shadow”. Now, we all know what a shadow is. A shadow is less than a dead thing. It is not even comparable like, say, with vapor to water. A shadow is not the real thing; rather, it is simply an indicator of the thing that is there. And therefore here, in Hebrews, the Bible talks of:
“a shadow”; and
“the very image of the things”.
Two very different things: one real; the other, unreal.
All that happened under the Old Testament – that is, before Jesus came to earth – was a shadow.
So, under the Old Testament, the Amalekites were a shadow. What, pray, were they a shadow of?
The Amalekites and all the other enemies of the nation of Israel were a shadow of our fleshly lusts. Yes, the real thing that the Bible is referring to when it talks about the Amalekites here is the flesh. The Amalekites were a shadow of the same bodily lusts that you and I are subject to as men and women of the flesh. In other words, you and I have Amalekites living inside us! And, believe it or not, these Amalekites are more real than the ones King Saul went to deal with.
The enemy under the New Covenant is more real and deadlier than the enemies the Israelites encountered during the Old Testament times. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is about crucifying the flesh.
God is so merciful and loving, but when it comes to the flesh, He gives no quarter. “Giving no quarter” means no mercy. God has only one word for the flesh: extermination.
Once again, we reference the Amalekites.
“… he laid wait for him in the way”.
I have only one instinctive response to a snake, and that is to kill it. Any other response will come looong after I have killed the snake.
The Amalekites ambushed the Israelites along the way. They were determined to not let them pass and go on to inherit the good land that the Lord had promised them.
In the same way, the flesh – our fleshly desires – are determined to hinder us from inheriting the many good things that God has for us in the Spirit and even from making it to heaven.
“And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.” (1 Sam. 14:48)
Notice that the Amalekites “spoiled” the Israelites. They plundered them, they killed them; they were hell-bent on wiping them completely off the face of the earth.
In the same way, the flesh is bent on destroying us spiritually.
We see this also in 1 Pet. 2:11.
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”.
Our fleshly lusts war against our souls. To what end? It is to the end that they might destroy us spiritually.
Need we ask any more why God would tell Saul,
“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.”
Need we any more reason to understand why Paul would preach no other gospel other than
“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).
The revelation of “Christ crucified” to the church is the revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, for it enables us to wage war against the flesh.
And, finally, need we any more reason on why we should go out and wage war against the flesh – our own flesh and its lusts – bearing in mind that this was the same charge that God gave to King Saul?
But we are to do it through crucifying the flesh.