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1 Samuel 15:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Slay both man and woman - Nothing could justify such an exterminating decree but the absolute authority of God. This was given: all the reasons of it we do not know; but this we know well, The Judge of all the earth doth right. This war was not for plunder, for God commanded that all the property as well as all the people should be destroyed.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Utterly destroy - Rather, “devote to destruction” (Leviticus 27:28 note). When a city or people were thus made cherem, everything living was to be destroyed, and no part of the spoil fall to the conquerors (compare 1 Samuel 15:21). The valuables were put into the sacred treasury.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Conflict and Courage, 155.1

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not. 1 Samuel 15:3. CC 155.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 146

God requires prompt and unquestioning obedience of His law; but men are asleep or paralyzed by the deceptions of Satan, who suggests excuses and subterfuges, and conquers their scruples, saying as he said to Eve in the garden: “Ye shall not surely die.” Disobedience not only hardens the heart and conscience of the guilty one, but it tends to corrupt the faith of others. That which looked very wrong to them at first, gradually loses this appearance by being constantly before them, till finally they question whether it is really sin and unconsciously fall into the same error. 4T 146.1

Through Samuel, God commanded Saul to go and smite the Amalekites and utterly destroy all their possessions. But Saul only partially obeyed the command; he destroyed the inferior cattle, but reserved the best and spared the wicked king. The next day he met the prophet Samuel with flattering self-congratulations. Said he: “Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” But the prophet immediately answered: “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 4T 146.2

Saul was confused and sought to shirk responsibility by answering: “They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” Samuel then reproved the king, reminding him of the explicit command of God directing him to destroy all things belonging to Amalek. He pointed out his transgression and declared that he had disobeyed the Lord. But Saul refused to acknowledge that he had done wrong; he again excused his sin by pleading that he had reserved the best cattle to sacrifice unto the Lord. 4T 146.3

Samuel was grieved to the heart by the persistency with which the king refused to see and confess his sin. He sorrowfully asked: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” 4T 146.4

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 659

He affirmed to his counselors that a conspiracy had been formed against him, and with the offer of rich gifts and positions of honor he bribed them to reveal who among his people had befriended David. Doeg the Edomite turned informer. Moved by ambition and avarice, and by hatred of the priest, who had reproved his sins, Doeg reported David's visit to Ahimelech, representing the matter in such a light as to kindle Saul's anger against the man of God. The words of that mischievous tongue, set on fire of hell, stirred up the worst passions in Saul's heart. Maddened with rage, he declared that the whole family of the priest should perish. And the terrible decree was executed. Not only Ahimelech, but the members of his father's house—“four-score and five persons that did wear a linen ephod”—were slain at the king's command, by the murderous hand of Doeg. PP 659.1

“And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep.” This is what Saul could do under the control of Satan. When God had said that the iniquity of the Amalekites was full, and had commanded him to destroy them utterly, he thought himself too compassionate to execute the divine sentence, and he spared that which was devoted to destruction; but now, without a command from God, under the guidance of Satan, he could slay the priests of the Lord and bring ruin upon the inhabitants of Nob. Such is the perversity of the human heart that has refused the guidance of God. PP 659.2

This deed filled all Israel with horror. It was the king whom they had chosen that had committed this outrage, and he had only done after the manner of the kings of other nations that feared not God. The ark was with them, but the priests of whom they had inquired were slain with the sword. What would come next? PP 659.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (EGW), 1016

44 (Matthew 7:2). The Guilty Are Severe Judges—Those who are most ready to excuse or justify themselves in sin are often most severe in judging and condemning others. There are many today, like Saul, bringing upon themselves the displeasure of God. They reject counsel and despise reproof. Even when convinced that the Lord is not with them, they refuse to see in themselves ... the cause of their trouble. How many cherish a proud, boastful spirit, while they indulge in cruel judgment or severe rebuke of others really better in heart and life than they. Well would it be for such self-constituted judges to ponder those words of Christ: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (The Signs of the Times, August 17, 1882). 2BC 1016.1

45. Danger in Following Blindly—God's people of today are in danger of committing errors no less disastrous. We cannot, we must not, place blind confidence in any man, however high his profession of faith or his position in the church. We must not follow his guidance, unless the Word of God sustains him. The Lord would have His people individually distinguish between sin and righteousness, between the precious and the vile (The Signs of the Times, August 17, 1882). 2BC 1016.2

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