Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14
In the last chapter of 1 Samuel 31, King Saul is struck with an arrow by the Philistines and is severely wounded. Not wanting to be taken captive and abused by the enemy, Saul commits suicide by falling on his own sword. However, as we open Second Samuel we discover in chapter one there is more to the story. A man comes into David’s camp with extraordinary news…
As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.’ 2 Samuel 1:6b-9
Did This Really Happen?
Did the Amalekite finish off Saul? Some say this event truly occurred and others theorize the man just stumbled upon an already dead Saul, stole his stuff, and brought it to David seeking a compensation of some sort. We cannot be dogmatic about either position, but we can be certain of two thing: the Amalekite man was there ~and~ that he should not have been.
We know he was there because he had details of the scene and he had the damming evidence in his possession; King Saul’s royal crown and bracelet. We know he didn’t belong there because of what transpired twenty five years earlier.
Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey…Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek…” 1 Samuel 15:3, 18-20a
Saul failed. He did not completely annihilate the Amalekites and therefore, the one who finished him off should not have even existed. In typology, the Amalekites are a picture of our flesh; or more accurately the sin that continues to plague us from generation to generation. The account in Second Samuel demonstrates effectively how if the flesh is not dealt with, it will come back to destroy us. The Apostle Paul picks up the theme when he writes [that] if we choose to live by the flesh (sin) we will die by the flesh.
When Saul took Agag captive, he thought he had the situation under control. Is that not always the way with the sin we commit; don’t we also believe we have it under control? Saul’s action further demonstrates that the ill effects of sin might not be experienced for years—in his case twenty five years. Far too often we come to believe that because the consequences are not forthright, God must approve of our sin or worse yet, that our sin is not a sin at all. Beware.
The very truth of the matter is that our flesh; our sin; our Amalekites need to be dealt with—they need to be annihilated and utterly destroyed. How do we do that? The first thing we need to do is to recognize our sin as sin; calling it anything else but sin only serves to deny ourselves the remedy found in Christ’s blood. It’s kind of like going to the doctor and denying that you’re sick—if we cannot admit we are sick, the doctor likely won’t see us.
The second thing we need to do it repent of our sin; turn away from it and turns toward God. Thirdly, we must take responsibility for the sin we commit; sure we are forgiven and our salvation is secure, but there are earthly consequences that need to be dealt with. Finally, we need to accept the unmerited favor that our Father desires to bestow upon all who believe in His Son.
Saul failed, but he could have recovered. He didn’t recover because he thought he had his flesh under control.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.