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Deuteronomy 25:17-19 -

Cowardice and cruelty avenged.

The feeling of resentment must be classed "low" among the moral sentiments. But this command to remember and to avenge the conduct of Amalek is not resentment. Abundant time was allowed the Amalekites to abandon evil ways and to cultivate friendly relations with Israel. But they continued, century after century, godless and hostile: hence their extinction.

I. ATHEISM BREEDS IS MEN BOTH CRUELTY AND COWARDICE . Against Amalek the gravest charge is, "he feared not God." This is the root of all his wickedness—the source of his base hostility to Israel. Practical atheism is the prolific parent of hateful vices. There was not a trait of nobleness in Amalek's conduct. It was cowardly and cruel. He attacked Israel in the rear—"smote the hindmost" stragglers—fell upon those already half-dead from fatigue. For a moment he gloried in the inglorious massacre, but only for a moment. The prayer of one man was more than a match for Amalek. In every age it is found that he "who fears not God" has no "regard for man." The influence of a bad man is perilously contagious. The whole tribe is embraced under the character of one man.

II. CRUEL TREATMENT LEAVES AN INDELIBLE IMPRESSION UPON THE MIND . Human nature is so constituted that a wrong done to us or to our fathers is held tenaciously in the memory, and provokes all the feelings to avenge the deed. Herein the Word of God is in accord with our mental nature. Human nature says, "Remember!" The Scripture says, "Remember!" "Thou shalt not forget it." Incidentally, we have here a proof that the Creator of the human mind is also the Author of Scripture. Injustice rouses up all the moral forces in the universe to inflict a fitting retribution; and very often God employs as his ministers of vengeance the victims of former oppression. The increase, the strength, the organization of Israel were to be employed early upon this end, viz. to extinguish Amalek.

III. INHERITANCE FROM GOD CARRIES WITH IT AN OBLIGATION TO DO HIS WILL . Rest is given to prepare for more difficult service. "When the Lord thy God hath given thee rest … thou shalt blot out Amalek." God never gives to men any inheritance for exclusive selfish enjoyment. If we are not disposed for service, and even for warfare, the only consistent course is to decline God's gifts. He has plainly made known to men the conditions of his bequests. Before Israel possessed the Promised Land it was clearly revealed what was expected from the occupants of that inheritance. Nor is the inheritance of heaven a state of indolent repose. The voice that says, "Enter into joy," says also, "Be thou ruler." We read of disputes between Michael and the adversary. Who shall say that God will not employ his ransomed ones to put down rebellion in some outlying province?—D.


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