Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, "Where are you from?" And he replied, "I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land." "Why were you not afraid to kill the LORD's anointed one?" David asked. Then David said to one of his men, "Kill him!" So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. "You have condemned yourself," David said, "for you yourself confessed that you killed the LORD's anointed one." (2 Samuel 1:13-16 NLT)
David just found out that the first and only human king Israel has ever had is now dead. Even with all his faults, Saul was like a father to David for a formative time in his life. David wants to mourn but, instead, he must take a moment to make sure justice is served. Saul’s murder is right in front of him.
Those who fight against the LORD will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven; the LORD judges throughout the earth. He gives power to His king; He increases the strength of His anointed one." (1 Samuel 2:10 NLT)
It may seem like a power play at first. David has already been secretly anointed as the next king of Israel. The king can order the death of anyone he wishes, right? The man admitted to killing the LORD’s anointed one. The next anointed one should protect the office of king, right? There’s more to this story, though. The man is an Amalekite. Remember what the LORD told Saul about the Amalekites?
This is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation--men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys." (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NLT)
The Amalekite nation had attacked the newly-freed Israelites not long after they had left Egypt. The LORD told Saul to wipe them out for this atrocity. Saul did not. Now, Saul dies at the hands of an Amalekite whom Saul left alive. Here are two reasons David has for putting the Amalekite messenger to death. But there’s more.
If anyone takes a human life, that person's life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in His own image. (Genesis 9:6 NLT)
This command was given after Cain murdered his brother, Abel. Cain was not put to death because God had not made and communicated this rule yet. But ever since then, the LORD has held to this law: do not kill other people. People are made in God’s image, so we must not take a person’s life. When we kill a person, the punishment to balance out the scales of justice is death.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice… (Micah 6:8 ESV)
This responsibility rests in the hands of the governments that God establishes here on earth. Balancing the scales of justice gives us all a sense that everything is ok. Evil is punished and good is allowed to flourish. The LORD wants us to experience the good that God has in store for us. This starts with God’s design for our lives and a system of justice that points us all toward that picture.
How about you? Are you fair (just) in your dealings with other people? Do you allow God’s justice to comfort you? Do you allow God’s picture of justice to guide you? Do you live a life of justice?