Through the punishment of King Saul for discriminatory execution of judgment against the Amalekites, we learn that Equality Under the Law is important to God for human interactions and relationships. God terminated Saul as king of Israel because he did not execute judgment equally against the Amalekites as God directed him. Instead, Saul captured alive those he considered good but destroyed at sight those he considered despised and weak, in violation of his instructions and the principle of Equality Under the Law. God punished him swiftly for the violation, thereby providing a message of individual responsibility for Equality Under the Law as guiding principle for participation in society.
This bible study is the first of a two-part miniseries to understand the biblical basis for individual responsibility regarding civil rights. We discuss two events from the bible to understand their significance regarding relationships between individuals and society. The first event provides a message regarding the principle of Equality Under the Law, based on the punishment of first king of Israel Saul for discriminatory execution of judgment against the Amalekites. God had instructed Saul to destroy the Amalekites to implement his judgment against them but Saul applied a discriminatory criterion in executing the instruction.
Instead of destroying Amalek totally as God commanded, Saul captured alive whatever he considered good and destroyed at sight whatever he considered despised and worthless. Thus, he violated the principle of Equality Under the Law and disobeyed God’s instruction as a result. God terminated him swiftly as king of Israel, thereby conveying a message of individual responsibility regarding Equality Under the Law.
The second study will be based on a ruling by David, long before he became the second king of Israel, regarding the distribution of battle proceeds among his followers. The current study focuses on Equality Under the Law, based on 1 Samuel 15.
David proclaims basic civil rights principle by recognizing battle proceeds as an example of “what the Lord has given us” and guided us to actualize through combined effort of all. He declared that “all will share alike” irrespective of their roles or contributions. His ruling establishes the principle of equality of access to facilities of society as a fundamental human right. The principle follows from equality under the law, which Saul violated through discriminatory execution of judgment against Amalekites. God terminated Saul as king of Israel for the violation. These events establish civil rights as God’s mandate and any civil rights violation as a departure from Godliness.
David proclaimed a basic principle of civil rights to diffuse a developing dispute among his followers regarding the sharing of battle proceeds. He had led his followers in a successful battle against Amalekites that raided his base in Ziklag: burned and plundered the base and took his and followers’ families captive. David pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a fierce battle, recovered all they had taken including the human captives, and took additional plunder.
When they returned to their base, some of the followers that joined in the battle claimed those that did not join were not entitled to share in the plunder. David rebuked them and explained the battle proceeds were an example of “what the Lord has given us” and must be shared by all irrespective of their roles or contributions [1 Samuel 30:24]: “The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.”
David’s ruling of all will share alike defines a basic principle of civil rights that has far-reaching applications in understanding relationships between individuals and society. To understand the applications, we discuss the expanded meaning of battles and battle proceeds in modern-day societies and the roles and contributions of individuals in such battles. Further, recognizing that the principle of all will share alike derives from the more general principle of equality under the law, we recall a previous study to understand that both principles describe God’s civil rights mandate for governing relationships between individuals and society.