Agag was a murderer who had led a nation of cruel robbers. God had sent Saul to punish both Agag and his nation but, somehow, Agag escaped. That is, he persuaded Saul to take him back to Israel as his prisoner. However, God had told Saul that Agag must die.
God has appointed kings, rulers and judges in this world to carry out his punishments against evil people (Romans 13:1-4). If people with authority refuse to do that, they themselves are guilty. That was what happened to Saul. Saul knew clearly the judgement that God had issued against Agag and his nation (15:2-3). However, Saul refused to obey God.
Leviticus 5:14 to 6:7 explains how a guilty person could offer a gift to God. We think that Saul did that in 1 Samuel 15:31. Such a person had to hand back anything that he had taken wrongly (Leviticus 6:4). So Samuel told Saul to hand Agag over.
The Bible says that Agag came ‘delicately’. We are not sure what that word really means. Perhaps he felt afraid of Samuel, although he still hoped to avoid death. Perhaps he came in a very proud manner. He had persuaded Saul to save him; maybe he was trying to control Samuel in the same way.
It was very rare for holy men in the Bible to carry out God’s judgements. As we have said, that was usually the duty of rulers and judges. However, God might tell a holy man to do such a thing when other people neglected their duties (1 Kings 19:17).
Of course we feel a sense of shock to read how Samuel, a very holy man, killed Agag. We are sure that Agag, a very wicked man, deserved to die in such a terrible manner. We know that, in the end, God - and not any man - was Agag’s judge. All God’s judgements are right and proper.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.