Introduction: There is never a ‘wait and see’ indecisiveness or timid inaction on God’s part. He is always taking the initiative over all His creatures, not only anticipating their every move but ‘most wisely and powerfully’ bounding and ordaining all their thoughts and actions. Thus we see the nation of Amalek who thought that they held the upper hand in their surprise attack on Israel, surprised to discover that God was ready “to erase Amalek’s memory from under Heaven”, (Exodus 17:14). May we bow in reverent thankfulness as we are spared the fate of Amalek. What joy should fill us to escape their end, and how foolish for us ever to be tempted to think that we can get away with sin without God’s blocking up our path in loving chastisement and correction.
Monday: read Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19. Amalek’s cruelty shows as they mercilessly attack the stragglers – according to Moses’ retelling of the story in Deuteronomy 25:17-19. There Amalek is said to have cruelly attacked “from behind” when thirst and desert fatigue made God’s people most vulnerable. It is such cruelty that becomes the grounds for God’s completely destroying them.
Interestingly, at least one reverent scholar, familiar with the traditions of the Jews going back into the Old Testament, suggests that Amalek’s attack takes place earlier in Exodus 17 when Israel gathers with Moses to slake their thirst at the rock. While the advanced party of the multitude of Israel were beginning to drink and the rear of the line was fainting with thirst, Amalek pounced!
Prayer of reflection: LORD, we are never ready by our own wit to protect ourselves from the enemy’s surprise attacks. Often we are exhausted in this harsh world of unbelief. Sometimes like complaining Israel, through our own carelessness, we lay open and vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. Oh, Jesus: You who prayed for Peter precisely because you knew Satan was springing upon him to try and destroy his faith, please be ready and active to deliver your people in our day by whatever means required. Whether by word, look or mighty deed, subdue and defeat our foes that we might safely drink of the water of life. Amen.
Tuesday: read Exodus 17:14 and 1 Samuel 15:17-33. The infamous cruelty of Amalek was well-known even in the days of Saul King of Israel, who is commanded in 1 Samuel 15:3 to completely destroy them, their king and all they possess. God recognized in the Amalek of Saul’s day the very same enmity which Amalek’s founder Esau first showed against Jacob, and which again reared its ugly head in Exodus 17. Sadly, Saul spares the best of the wealth of the Amalekites and their king Agag, and thereby loses his place as the king of Israel in 1 Samuel 15:17-26. It takes the hand of the prophet Samuel to finally finish the job of executing God’s wrath against the king of Amalek. Samuel pronounces the verdict against Agag in 1 Samuel 15:33: As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.
Meditate and Pray: How we should rejoice that God’s impeccable justice means that He will address, judge, condemn and destroy every act of wickedness perpetrated in this world. Sing about the longing which we have for God’s justice to appear with the words of John Milton in hymn # 367:
The Lord will come and not be slow;
His footsteps cannot err;
Before Him righteousness shall go,
His royal harbinger.
Rise, God, judge Thou the earth in might,
This wicked earth redress;
For Thou art He who shall by right
The nations all possess.
Weds/Thurs: read Exodus 17:14 and Romans 9:17. Lest we are intimidated by the violent hatred of Amalek against God’s people, we must realize that Amalek is ultimately the first in a long line of nations whose only place in biblical history is that of being God-ordained instruments of Divine chastisement used by Him for the good of His people and the glory of His mighty Name! Think of it!
- We would not know who Pilate was if He had not been God’s instrument for the crucifixion of His Son.
- We would not know who Shalmaneser, the Assyrian king, was if God had not raised him up to take the ten disobedient tribes of Israel into exile.
- We would not know who Nebuchadnezzar was if there had not been a Daniel who was taken captive in Babylon under this king.
- We would not know who the Pharoah was if God had not raised him up according to Romans 9:17 in order to display His superiority in the saving of his people out of Egypt!
Thus the wicked are given a place in history only because God has a use for them in refining His people’s character and in demonstrating His power over wickedness. Amalek has a use because God is able to use him to bring His unbelieving people back to Himself and to expose men like Saul’s corruption! How else would we know that Saul should be disqualified from Israel’s kingship and another king named David should be chosen – were it not for the raising up of the vile Amalekites?
Meditate and Pray: Sing about God’s mysterious but essentially glorious use of wickedness with the words of hymn # 128:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
Friday: read Exodus 17:15-16 . Exodus 17 closes with Moses giving God, instead of Joshua, the glory for the victory over Amalek. As Matthew Henry says in his comments on this verse: Instead of setting up a triumphal arch to the honor of Joshua, he builds an altar to the honor of God.
Therefore, this altar is proof that Moses led Israel only by prayerful dependence on God. Every time the forces of sin and evil opposed him and threatened God’s people, Moses was flat on his face: removing himself from the fray in order to give God opportunity to get all the glory of saving and helping His people. Time and again such trials as the war with Amalek compelled Moses to “call upon the Name of the LORD”. We know Moses “called upon the LORD” as he built his altar, because every time an altar is built by a man of faith, it is in order to “call upon the Name of the LORD”, (Genesis 4:26; 12:8, 13:4, 21:33 and 26:25).
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for the privilege of prayer which we can access and use each and every day. Ask the LORD to make you resort to prayer more and more with the words of hymn # 628:
Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay;
Therefore will not say thee nay.
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much;
None can ever ask too much.
With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let Thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt;
Set my conscience free from guilt.
Lord, I come to Thee for rest,
Take possession of my breast;
There Thy blood bought right maintain,
And without a rival reign;
And without a rival reign.