King Agag

There was war with the princes of the Philistines as long as Saul lived, and in his last dark days, when his kingdom was divided, he himself, wounded and in flight with his sons, and pursued by their archers and charioteers, died a miserable death. And his body was hung on the wall of Beth-shan.

But for many years he remained undisputed king over Israel, and proved his valour and leadership. He led the armies of Israel against their enemies on every side, against Moab, whose king Barak in years long gone by endeavoured in vain to bribe Balaam with his divinations to curse Israel. These were the people, worshippers of Chemosh, whose king Eglon had been slain by Ehud, judge of Israel, with his own hand, two hundred and fifty years before.

Saul warred also against the wandering tribes of the Ammonites, whom he had defeated at Jabesh; and against Edom, whose territory was far south towards the desert of Sinai, and in the north he defeated the King of Zoba.

And his sons, Jonathan and Ishbaal, fought with him. The names of his daughters were Merab and Michal. And Michal, the younger of them, was very fair and beautiful and of a quick, resolute spirit. The name of the captain who was commander-in-chief of the army under Saul himself, was Abner. He was a cousin of the king’s, the son of his father’s brother.

During the first few years of his reign Samuel remained the king’s chief counsellor. In matters of moment Saul sought and followed his advice, and did him honour. So far also as his great age admitted, Samuel continued to administer justice, and he was feared and reverenced throughout Israel as the prophet chosen of God to reveal his will to the people. But as Saul waxed in power and his conquests won his renown, even the thought of any authority to which he himself must bow began to vex and burden him. His confidence in his own wisdom increased; he became wayward and despotic, and the desire to amass riches had entered into his soul.

Now of the ancient enemies of Israel there was none they hated more bitterly than the Amalekites. Even when, four hundred years gone, the Israelites were but a host of wandering and fugitive tribesmen in the Arabian desert, Amalek had been their unrelenting and treacherous foe. They had harassed Israel without mercy, cutting off and massacring any feeble stragglers they found lost and helpless in the wilderness.

At Rephidim in the wilderness, after a long and stubborn conflict, Joshua had defeated them in battle, and Moses had watched and prayed on a hill-top the whole day long, the vantage now going to the one side, now to the other—the staff of God in his hand. But the Amalekites, one of the oldest races of man on earth, were of a fierce and untamable spirit, and they had recovered their strength. In the days of the Judges they had allied themselves with King Eglon of Moab; and, afterwards, with the Midianites they had raided the southern borders of Canaan, destroying the people’s crops, their flocks and their herds, and had spared no living thing.

Moses himself had made written record for a memorial that there would be no enduring peace in Israel until the power of Amalek had been finally broken, and they had been blotted out.

When Saul had established himself in his kingdom, and Israel was at peace, there came a day when Samuel set out to visit him at his house in Gibeah. Long time had passed since they had met. The king had neglected and ignored him. But to all outward appearance he greeted the prophet graciously and with the reverence due to his age and office. He dismissed his attendants and led him into an inner chamber where they could converse alone.

And Samuel announced to Saul that he had come before him with a message from the Lord. ‘I would first recall to thy mind,’ he said, ‘the day when I was sent to anoint thee to be king over his people. Thou wast then, even in thine own sight, of little account in Israel. Is it truth that I have spoken? Dost thou still acknowledge his authority as it is made manifest through me, his prophet; for apart from him, I ask nothing of thee, nor claim any right to intervene between thyself and thy people?’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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