Saul Violates Basic Civil Rights Principle
Saul was terminated as king of Israel for discriminatory execution of God’s judgment against the Amalekites. He was commanded to destroy all. Instead, he spared the “good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Thus, he applied personal criteria to modify the judgment. Based on the termination of his kingship for the violation, we understand that equality under the law is important to God as a fundamental principle of people versus government relationships.
We discuss interactions between Prophet Samuel and King Saul regarding God’s judgment of the Amalekites for total destruction. Saul was commanded to execute the judgment. However, instead of applying the judgment equally to all as commanded, he introduced personal criteria to distinguish between the “good” and the “despised and worthless.” He spared the first but utterly destroyed the other [1 Samuel 15:9]: “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”
Equal execution of the judgment, i.e., equality under the law, required destruction of all Amalekites and their livestock irrespective of any differences or similarities among them. Saul violated the principle by discriminating between the “good” and “despised and worthless.” God terminated his kingship over Israel for the violation: “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments” [1 Samuel 15:11].
Recall that Saul’s kingdom was terminated earlier for violating the principle of separation of state and worship. But he was allowed to remain king. Termination of his kingdom meant his offspring will not succeed him as king. But he would have continued to be king and served out his tenure if not for his violation of the principle of equality under the law. God intended his kingdom to last forever, as we discuss in Punishment of Saul Conveys God’s Promise. However, both the kingdom and his tenure as king ended much sooner because he violated fundamental principles of people versus government relationships.
For the execution of the judgment against Amalekites, equality under the law implied equal application of punishment. However, the principle has broader implications: such as equal protection under the law, which Apostle Paul used in his defense during trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea (Civil Rights and Responsibilities); and equal access to facilities of society, which David enunciated to settle a developing dispute among his followers regarding sharing of battle proceeds (David Proclaims Civil Rights Principle). In this study, we discuss interactions between Samuel and Saul regarding Saul’s execution of judgment against the Amalekites and his termination as king of Israel.