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The History of Bright Ideas

rooted in unbelief.

1 Samuel 15:1–9

Samuel also said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 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.’ ”

So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley.

Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 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.

Saul does the right thing by shooing the Kenites so that they don’t get wiped out along with the Amalekites. But then he doesn’t wipe out the Amalekites—at least not the way he was told to. Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good.

But Samuel specifically said, “Do not spare them.

What could they possibly have been thinking?

Someone should write a book titled, “The History of Bright Ideas.” It’d be a clinic on how things go wrong. Sometimes they go wrong in amusing ways too.

Christopher Columbus had the radius of the earth wrong and thus thought the Far East wasn’t that far west of Spain. He was wrong, but dumb luck (AKA providence) led to a wildly unexpected outcome.

The “bright idea” here was to not “waste” all the good stuff. That’s obviously nuts because God can make all the “stuff” He cares to just by speaking. They’re ignoring His command in favor of a better “idea.”

That’s not chutzpah; it’s unbelief. Their bright idea competes with what the LORD said.

This hints at why God told them to destroy everything in the first place. They need to learn that it’s all about His glory, not their happiness. The spoils of war are tempting; they often motivate war. The Israelites need to avoid that like the plague.

They’re supposed to be under God’s command with God’s agenda—for His glory.

His glory does not depend on sheep.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to the DEEP click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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