1 Samuel 15:32
(32) Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.--But in the public service of thanksgiving there was one stern act of judgment still to be done. The King of the Amalekites had been sentenced to die. Saul had spared him for selfish reasons of his own; we need not discuss here the apparent harshness of the doom. There were, no doubt, amply sufficient reasons for the seemingly hard sentence on the people of Amalek: such as their past crimes, their evil example, the unhappy influence which they probably exercised on the surrounding nations. Weighed in the balance of the Divine justice, Amalek had been found wanting; and perhaps--we speak in all reverence--this death which was the doom of Amalek was sent in mercy rather than in punishment: mercy to those whom their evil lives might have corrupted with deep corruption--mercy to themselves, in calling them off from greater evils yet to come, had they been permitted still to live on in sin. Their king, whom Saul had, in defiance of the Divine command, spared, could not be permitted to live. From Samuel's words in 1Samuel 15:33 he seems, even among a wicked race, to have been pre-eminent. in wickedness. Ewald suggests a curious, but not wholly improbable, reason for Saul's preserving him alive: "kings, for the honour of their craft, must spare each other." There are other instances in the Sacred Book of prophets and priests acting as the executioners of the Divine decrees: for instance, Phinehas, when he slew Zimri and Cozbi before all Israel (Numbers 25:8-15); and Elijah, in the case of the slaughter of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1Kings 18:40). It has been suggested that Samuel did not perform the terrible act of Divine justice with his own hand, but simply handed over Agag to the officers of justice to put to death; but it is far more in harmony with other similar scenes in Hebrew story, and with the stern unflinching character of these devoted servants of the God of Israel, to understand the recital in its literal sense, which certainly leaves the impression on the reader that Samuel himself slew the King of Amalek.

The Hebrew word rendered "delicately" is apparently derived from the same root as "Eden," the garden of joy; the meaning then would probably be "cheerfully, gladly;" another derivation, however, would enable us to render it "in bands or in fetters." This would give a very good sense, but most expositors prefer the idea of "cheerfulness" or "gladness." The LXX. must have found another word altogether in their copies, for they render it "trembling." The Syriac Version omits it--strangely enough--altogether. Another view of the tragical incident is suggested in Excursus G at the end of this Book.

Verse 32. - Delicately. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate this word trembling, and the Syriac omits, probably from inability to give its meaning. Most commentators render cheerfully, joyfully, forming it from the same root as Eden, the garden of joy (comp. Psalm 36:8, where Eden is translated pleasure). The very word, however, occurs in Job 38:31, where the A.V. renders it bands, and this seems the right sense: "Agag came unto him in fetters." The idea that Agag came cheerfully is contradicted by the next clause - Surely the bitterness of death is passed. Though put affirmatively, there is underlying doubt. It is no expression of heroic contempt for death, nor of real confidence that, as Saul had spared him hitherto, his life was in no danger. He had been brought to the national sanctuary, and a great festival in honour of the success of the army was to be held. It was entirely in accordance with the customs of ancient times that his execution should be the central feature of the spectacle. Agag's words show that this fear was present in his mind, though they are put in such a form as to be a protest against his life being taken after so long delay. Samuel's reply treats Agag's assertion as being thus at once a question and a protest. The bitterness of death has still to be borne, and the cruelty of Agag's past life makes the shedding of his own blood just. The Syriac translates, "Surely death is bitter;" the Septuagint, "If death be so bitter," with which the Vulgate agrees. Thus they all understood that Agag came trembling for his life.

15:32-35 Many think the bitterness of death is past when it is not gone by; they put that evil day far from them, which is very near. Samuel calls Agag to account for his own sins. He followed the example of his ancestors' cruelty, justly therefore is all the righteous blood shed by Amalek required. Saul seems unconcerned at the token of God's displeasure which he lay under, yet Samuel mourns day and night for him. Jerusalem was carnally secure while Christ wept over it. Do we desire to do the whole will of God? Turn to him, not in form and appearance, but with sincerity.Then said Samuel, bring you hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites,.... This he said very probably to some of Saul's officers, and in his presence, and before all the people met together for sacrifice:

and Agag came unto him delicately; fat and plump, as the Vulgate Latin version, and yet trembling, as that and the Septuagint; well dressed, in the garb and habit of a king, and with the air and majesty of one; or with pleasure and joy, as Kimchi, choosing rather to die than to be a captive, and live in such reproach as he did; though R. Isaiah and Ben Gersom give the sense of it, that he came bound in chains, and fetters of iron, according to the use of the word in Job 38:31.

and Agag said, surely the bitterness of death is past; this he said, either as not expecting to die, that since he had been spared by Saul, the king of the nation, a fierce and warlike prince, he had nothing to fear from an ancient man and a prophet, and who now bore not the sword of justice; and especially when he came into his presence, and saw his form, which showed him to be a man of clemency and mercy, as Ben Gersom observes: or as expecting it, and so Kimchi interprets it to this sense, "the bitterness of death is come"; and is near at hand, and will be soon over; or suggesting that that which was bitter, to others grievous and terrible, was to him sweet and desirable; but the former sense seems best by what follows.

1 Samuel 15:31
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