|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:1-9 The sentence of condemnation against the Amalekites had gone forth long before, Ex 17:14; De 25:19, but they had been spared till they filled up the measure of their sins. We are sure that the righteous Lord does no injustice to any. The remembering the kindness of the ancestors of the Kenites, in favour to them, at the time God was punishing the injuries done by the ancestors of the Amalekites, tended to clear the righteousness of God in this dispensation. It is dangerous to be found in the company of God's enemies, and it is our duty and interest to come out from among them, lest we share in their sins and plagues, Re 18:4. As the commandment had been express, and a test of Saul's obedience, his conduct evidently was the effect of a proud, rebellious spirit. He destroyed only the refuse, that was good for little. That which was now destroyed was sacrificed to the justice of God.
Verse 8. - He took Agag. This was the official name of the Amalekite kings (see Numbers 24:7), as Pharaoh was that of the kings of Egypt. For its meaning we must wait till we know more about the language of this race. Agag, however, from ver. 32, seems to have been able to speak Hebrew. He utterly destroyed - i.e. put under the ban - all the people. They appear, however, again in 1 Samuel 27:8, and with so vast a wilderness in which to take refuge, it would be impossible really to exterminate a people used to lead a wandering life. Moreover, as soon as Israel began to lay hands on the spoil the pursuit would flag, as the cattle would be killed by over driving.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive,.... This name seems to be a common name of the kings of these people, as Pharaoh was of the Egyptians, see Numbers 24:2. When this king fell into the hands of Saul, he did not put him to death, as he should have done, but preserved him; for what reasons, see in the following verse:
and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword; that is, all that came in his way, or fell into his hands; all between Havilah and Shur; all excepting those that made their escape, for we after read of Amalekites, and that in large bodies, 1 Samuel 27:8.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8, 9. he took Agag … alive—This was the common title of the Amalekite kings. He had no scruple about the apparent cruelty of it, for he made fierce and indiscriminate havoc of the people. But he spared Agag, probably to enjoy the glory of displaying so distinguished a captive, and, in like manner, the most valuable portions of the booty, as the cattle. By this wilful and partial obedience to a positive command [1Sa 15:3], complying with it in some parts and violating it in others, as suited his own taste and humor, Saul showed his selfish, arbitrary temper, and his love of despotic power, and his utter unfitness to perform the duties of a delegated king in Israel.
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