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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 32–35
Verses 32–35

Samuel, as a prophet, is here set over kings, Jer. 1:10.

I. He destroys king Agag, doubtless by such special direction from heaven as none now can pretend to. He hewed Agag in pieces. Some think he only ordered it to be done; or perhaps he did it with his own hands, as a sacrifice to God’s injured justice (1 Sam. 15:33), and sacrifices used to be cut in pieces. Now observe in this,

1. How Agag’s present vain hopes were frustrated: He came delicately, in a stately manner, to show that he was a king, and therefore to be treated with respect, or in a soft effeminate manner, as one never used to hardship, that could not set the sole of his foot to the ground for tenderness and delicacy (Deut. 28:56), to move compassion: and he said, “Surely, now that the heat of the battle is over, the bitterness of death is past, 1 Sam. 15:32. Having escaped the sword of Saul,” that man of war, he thought he was in no danger from Samuel, and old prophet, a man of peace. Note, (1.) There is bitterness in death, it is terrible to nature. Surely death is bitter, so divers versions read those words of Agag; as the LXX. read the former clause, He came trembling. Death will dismay the stoutest heart. (2.) Many think the bitterness of death is past when it is not so; they put that evil day far from them which is very near. True believers may, through grace, say this, upon good grounds, though death be not past, the bitterness of it is. O death! where is thy sting?

2. How his former wicked practices were now punished. Samuel calls him to account, not only for the sins of his ancestors, but his own sins: Thy sword has made women childless, 1 Sam. 15:33. He trod in the steps of his ancestors’ cruelty, and those under him, it is likely, did the same; justly therefore is all the righteous blood shed by Amalek required of this generation, Matt. 23:36. Agag, that was delicate and luxurious himself, was cruel and barbarous to others. It is commonly so: those who are indulgent in their appetites are not less indulgent of their passions. But blood will be reckoned for; even kings must account to the King of kings for the guiltless blood they shed or cause to be shed. It was that crime of king Manasseh which the Lord would not pardon, 2 Kgs. 24:4. See Rev. 13:10.

II. He deserts king Saul, takes leave of him (1 Sam. 15:34), and never came any more to see him (1 Sam. 15:35), to advise or assist him in any of his affairs, because Saul did not desire his company nor would he be advised by him. He looked upon him as rejected of God, and therefore he forsook him. Though he might sometimes see him accidentally (as 1 Sam. 19:24), yet he never came to see him out of kindness or respect. Yet he mourned for Saul, thinking it a very lamentable thing that a man who stood so fair for great things should ruin himself so foolishly. He mourned for the bad state of the country, to which Saul was likely to have been so great a blessing, but now would prove a curse and a plague. He mourned for his everlasting state, having no hopes of bringing him to repentance. When he wept for him, it is likely, he made supplication, but the Lord had repented that he had made Saul king, and resolved to undo that work of his, so that Samuel’s prayers prevailed not for him. Observe, We must mourn for the rejection of sinners, 1. Though we withdraw from them, and dare not converse familiarly with them. Thus the prophet determines to leave his people and go from them, and yet to weep day and night for them, Jer. 9:1, 2. 2. Though they do not mourn for themselves. Saul seems unconcerned at the tokens of God’s displeasure which he lay under, and yet Samuel mourns day and night for him. Jerusalem was secure when Christ wept over it.