What was Saul motivation to keep Agag King alive?

(Babang ) #1

1 Samuel 15 : 7 - 10

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur,near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves[b] and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.

One of that rare moments when God “regret” something was to make Saul King. This incident where Saul disobeyed direct order from God triggered His disappointment.

But I still don’t understand what was Saul motivation to keel Agag King alive? I probably can understand why he kept the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves, but not the king.

Someone please enlighten me please?

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(Oliver Hunter) #2

I’m not sure why Saul kept Agag alive. In 1 Samuel 15 it says he feared the people. It’s very clear that Saul never really trusted God, he always mostly obeyed but not completely. The sad thing is that most of us do not receive as clear complete instructions as Saul did yet he lacked the confidence to do exactly as he was told.

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(SeanO) #3

@MrB The Biblical text does not specify why Saul left Agag alive. However, I think the two best explanations I have heard are:

  • the King was a kind of prize over which you could boast
  • professional courtesy - a favor to someone in the same role as you

It appears based on Biblical evidence it was not uncommon to leave the rulers of conquered nations alive… Even if we cannot know the exact motivation.

Judges 1:7 - Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

2 Kings 24:15 - Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land.

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(Babang ) #4

I wonder if Saul lack of obedience came with his lack of understanding why God wanted Agag King alive? Anyway, what did Agag King did so bad that God wanted him die?

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(Dennis Gladden) #5

@MrB The Hebrew word that is translated “spared” in 1 Samuel 15:9 means to commiserate, or to have pity. It is the same word that describes the feelings that Pharaoh’s daughter had toward the infant Moses when she found him in a basket, floating on the Nile (Exodus 2:6).

I think this helps us understand why Saul spared Agag. A king himself, Saul could see himself in Agag. Moved by sympathy and understanding Agag’s fear, Saul could not bring himself to kill his counterpart.

The passage also distinguishes what Saul spared from what he destroyed. He spared “the best” and “all that was good” but he destroyed “everything despised and worthless.” In that Saul spared Agag, it seems he considered Agag to be good and of more worth than God thought. As any of us might do, Saul kept the best of the bad, convinced that God would be pleased.

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