Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. (1 Samuel 15:32-33)
It Was His Just Due
The king of the Amalekites was a ruthless killer. His expeditions against Israel and unsuspecting travelers in the region were fierce, cruel, and without mercy. None were spared the barbarous murder of the Amalekites. Women with child were ripped open. Children were slaughtered. Men tortured to the pleasure of the horde. Virgins raped and killed. The atrocities of the Amalekites were well known and feared. God had sent Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites. He told the king to completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys. Nothing was to be spared. Amalek had ambushed Israel after they left Egypt and continued to spread a reign of terror with their murderous exploits.
Saul took 210,000 soldiers and defeated the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. His conquest of the people of Amalek was nearly complete, with thousands killed. The instructions of the Lord were quite clear. There was no doubt what Saul was to do. His job was to annihilate the Amalekites where none would remain. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, and instead of killing him, spared the king his life. Refusing to follow the command of God, Saul and his men kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs. They could not see the purpose of destroying everything, so they kept what appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality. Together with King Agag and the bounty of war, Saul went to Carmel, set up a monument for himself, and then traveled to Gilgal near Jericho.
The Lord came to Samuel, the prophet, telling him what Saul had done. Grieved at the continued disobedience of the king, Samuel met Saul in Gilgal. He told the king that God had rejected him from being the Anointed one of Israel, and the kingdom would be taken away from him. Before leaving, Samuel demanded Agag be brought before him. Saul had repented for his actions, but a very serious matter remained. King Agag was supposed to die, and Saul did not carry out the will of the Lord. Samuel carried out the will of the Lord. It seems Agag sought pity from Samuel, but no sympathy would be given. The king of the Amalekites would die in the manner he had slaughtered so many thousands, but his execution would be at the hand of a righteous God. Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.
There will always be justice against those who live apart from the will of the Lord. Two kings received their due that day. Saul had his kingdom taken away because he had a rebellious heart. Agag lost his kingdom and his life from his reckless abandon of righteousness, reigning terror on others. God’s hand is against those who do evil. Judgment may not always be found in this life, but a fate worse than being hacked to death lay in store for Agag in hell. His death may have been swift, but his eternal death will never end. The justice of God is found against those who are filled with wickedness. Agag received his just due, meaning that righteousness was carried out against him.
All men stand before God accused and guilty and should receive that which is due to them. Only through the blood of Christ is the wrath of God abated. Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all men would stand spiritually before the Father as Agag. Thank God for the grace and love of God that offers redemption, joy, and forgiveness to those who deserve the wrath of God (their due) – but grace abounds. It was right what Samuel did because it was the will of God.