A.B. Simpson (1843-1919) was the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and a tireless speaker and author.
And Samuel said to Saul…”Go now and strike the Amalekites, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them….”
And Saul said, …”The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to Jehovah your God, and the rest we have utterly destroyed….And I have brought Agag the king of the Amalekites and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.”
– 1 Samuel 15:1a,3,15,20b
Agag belonged to the race of Amalek and the family of Esau, who represent through their entire genealogy the life of the flesh. The name Agag is significant. It means ruler and it represents the spirit of self-will, self-assertion, and self-dependence. Its prototype is Lucifer, the prince of light and glory, who, being lifted up with pride and refusing to be controlled, turned from an angel to a fiend and has become the desperate leader of the rebellious hosts of hell.
We see it too in the fall: “You will be like God” (Gen. 3:5)—the desire for supremacy. We see it in the spirit of human ambition, in the despot, in the world conqueror, in high society, and in politics. All belong to the same family—the race of Amalek and the house of Agag.
This spirit is found in every human heart. It may be disguised in many insidious forms and it may call itself by illustrious names and ape the highest ambitions and the noblest pretensions, but it is Agag and Satan every time. The thing in you that wants to rule and to have its own way is wrong in its nature. The first thing you need in order to be of any use anywhere is to be thoroughly broken, completely subjected, and utterly crucified in the core and center of your will. Then you will accept discipline and learn to yield and obey so that God can use you as a flexible and perfectly adjusted instrument. Henceforth you will only do what God wills and choose only what God chooses.
God has determined that the race of Amalek and the house of Agag should be utterly exterminated. They were not to be spared but to be destroyed. It was a case of no compromise. There was nothing good in them. This is God’s decree against the flesh in us. It cannot be cleansed, improved, cultivated, or educated into ideals and principles. It must be exterminated. There is no remedy, no hope. The old life must be laid down and the new creation, wholly born of heaven and baptized with the Spirit of God, must take its place as a resurrected life, as a new creation, as an experience so supernatural and divine that its possessor can truly say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
We see next in this account the attempt of man to compromise with the flesh and to disregard God’s decree for complete extermination. Saul kept the best of the spoil ostensibly so that he might sacrifice them to the Lord. He obeyed God’s command to a certain extent. In a sense he defeated Amalek—Saul did all God told him to do as far as it was agreeable to him, but he took his own way when it served his self-interest. His obedience therefore was not really obedience to God but obedience to self. He returned just enough of the flesh to destroy the whole service.
But we can recognize it for what it is—self pleading for its life, pointing out its refinement, its culture, its graces, the good that it is doing and wants to do, its claim upon our consideration and regard. It will decorate our church buildings with the finest taste; it will sing in our choirs with all the harmonies of classical music; it will bring society to our churches, and it will give us a bright and liberal theology. It is full of humanitarian plans for the relief of the suffering and the uplifting of degradation, and it offers us a Pullman palace car pre-paid to the gates of heaven. Surely such a beautiful, gentle creature should not be rudely slain. But despite self’s disguises and fawnings, the Holy Spirit divulges its true nature—the survival of self and evil.
Agag could not deceive Samuel. The old prophet pierces him through with one glance of the Holy Spirit. Samuel cut through his blandishments and hewed him to pieces before the Lord.
Let us ask God to expose sin in our hearts. All that we need to be delivered from self and sin is to be willing to see it, to call it by its right name, to brand it with its true character, to pass sentence of death upon it, to give God the right to slay it and to stand upon the sentence without compromise. There is power enough in the sword of the Spirit, in the blood of Calvary, in the faithfulness, love, and grace of God, to make us dead indeed to sin but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Adapted from Christ in You, by A.B. Simpson. Christian Publications, Camp Hill, PA, 1997, pp. 50-59.