War and Refuge

Haftarah Reading: Tetzaveh (1 Samuel 15:1-34)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:40-42
Commentary by: Chris Franke

Right out of the gate in 1 Samuel 15:1-3 Samuel goes to Saul and explains that the Lord has sent him to anoint Saul the king over Israel. Saul is charged with striking Amalek and bringing complete destruction to them. So Saul summoned the army and went to complete the mission he was called to.

Living inside the group of Amalekites was a group of people called the Kenites. True to form God remembered the good deeds of the Kenites towards Israel and gave them an opportunity to leave before the battle began. I believe this is a foreshadow of the return of Messiah. Those who may not have chosen to bless the Lord through obedience in their lives to Torah still showed kindness and mercy to the people of the Lord and by doing so the Lord remembered them and spared their life. By sparing their life they then have the opportunity to repent and turn to the ways of the Lord. We also see this grace helping to clarify the common misplaced Old Testament God’s judgment vs. the New Testament God’s grace argument that is ever prevalent in most anti-messianic circles. If Messiah is truly God in whatever forms or traits we say He is, this is just one of many witnesses of where the grace and mercy Yeshua showed was something he learned from His Father’s previous actions.  

So Saul decided to continue a common theme throughout Scripture. He didn’t fully listen to God. I know this is a human thing, a trait started way back in the garden thanks to that age old free will. Yet Saul decided that rather than killing all of the Amalekites he would keep the King and some of their best livestock. So let me get this straight: Kill the Amalekites is the order, specifically due to the evilness that is within their people and Saul decides to keep the King of Evil and their greatest livestock? If you have the knowledge of good, as in obedience to the Lord, and you choose to do evil, is this not the same thing that happened in the garden?

We are not smarter than the Lord! Thankfully even in our disobedience the Lord is faithful. We see again the Lord returned to Samuel to inform him of the lack of obedience by Saul to His command. Samuel was furious and cried out to the Lord all night long. Someone sins and another intercedes on behalf of that individual before the Lord. Here we see another parallel to the workings of Messiah. Samuel then went down to confront Saul. Just like with sin in our own lives, Saul attempted to try to justify why he made an adjustment rather than simply following a simple direction. To clarify this from the Modern Midwest context, Samuel went to Saul to tell him that he done messed up and he had nothing but blah blah blah. After attempting to justify and plead for forgiveness Saul ends up having to face the consequences of his actions. He could no longer be the leader over Israel. He opened the camp up to the same idolatry that happened at the base of Sinai.

After being removed as the King of Israel and being confronted with his sin, Saul then repented and asked for forgiveness. Without this Samuel would have had nothing to do with Saul and just like God showed Saul mercy, Samuel also showed mercy to Saul. Samuel was a man after God’s heart and was going to make sure he obeyed the Lord. So Samuel took Agag the King of the Amalekites, who should have been killed for his sins in the battle, and chopped him to pieces with his sword. The will of the Lord prevailed even when the one the Lord had intended to fulfill it did not comply.

This is the Gospel. How to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. This was the very purpose of Messiah. Messiah is and will be the final King over Israel. He won’t make the same mistakes as Saul, and there will be one final war for Him to wage, and nothing will be left undone. This is the reason why the disciples were told to go into the world preaching the good news and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So that any who hears can make a free will decision on whether or not they want to be a part of His kingdom. Isn’t that what we want? To see all of creation be restored to His kingdom in perfection? Saul messed up and had to repent, we have all messed up and have had to repent. However, this is the beauty of the Gospel, that there is grace and mercy for our shortcomings. The Lord had sent Samuel to help make things right. The Lord sent us Yeshua to help make things right. Just like Saul we cannot do it on our own.

In the end it really is this simple. So today I ask you will you be like Saul and trust yourself or like Samuel and trust the Lord?