Is the Order to Kill Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving and Gracious God? Part 1


So here we go, lets see if we can tackle what I think is one of the most controversial and maybe difficult subjects in the Bible. The idea of God commanding the killing of woman, children and infants. I will say in being someone that interacts with Atheist both on line and off. This is one of the subjects that comes back over and over again, and with that being said I had to come to a understanding of “how could a just and loving God command the killing of these people”?

So here is how my quest started. When I was a young Christian and came across these text and sought out council, I would generally just get the “His ways are higher than ours and we can’t understand why God would do these things.” Or occasionally I would get the answer that “God had to protect His people from the heathen influence of these pagan worshipers.” Although neither of these answers really sat well with me I didn’t know where to find the answers or who to ask so I came to the point of just pushing it to the back of my mind.  It seemed almost impossible to reconcile why God would kill especially the little infants, it just made no sense. 

So lets look at one of these texts and talk about it, just in case someone wants to say no God doesn’t say that. Or what he means is young men and not children or infants, It is just not so.

1 Samuel 15:3 So then, go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that is his! You must not spare him, but kill both man and woman, both child and nursing infant, both ox and sheep, both camel and donkey.’” The Lexham English Bible makes it pretty clear as do all the other versions, everyone is to die. 

Normally I would spend a ton of time tying in context and trying to set the stage so people can see what is going on here, And normally this is where people trip up, they don’t understand context. But sot so much here; This is pretty straight forward. There are many amazing things to be gleaned from the story and Saul’s disobedience and crazy choices of who and what he chooses to spare. But God’s command is pretty clear, Kill everything.

So why? Why would God act so cruelly, or better yet have his chosen people act so cruelly? So lets go back to this idea that His thoughts are not our thoughts, they are higher, that God’s thoughts  are elevated and superior. Isaiah 55:8-9. This doesn’t mean that we can’t understand His thoughts, but that we have to reach, that we have to be intentional to have a mind that thinks beyond what we normally would and I don’t mean being so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.

Here is what I mean, So many of you know I have done a ton of  hot topic discussion groups where I would take on these types of issues with no prep and just let it fly. It really helped me over the years in developing a critical thinking process that deals with this type of issue more quickly and effectively. So now I look at this type of text and think hmmm let me look at this from multiple angles. Either God is cruel and vindictive or I am missing something. Let me do an inventory of my thoughts… Let me slow down and question what are my presuppositions, where are my emotions taking me? Am I in a good position to access the text before I start questioning God? So I ask…

#1: Could this be a loving act?

# 2: Do I have a proper perspective on death?

#3: Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived)?

#4: Does this do something for those that do the Killing?

#5: Is this supposed to do something for us?

#6: Why kill the people and the animals? is there something to having these grouped together that I am supposed to see?

There are other question that could be asked of the text but this is a good start to clearing the hurdle of God’s character. 

So #1: Could this be a loving act for everyone involved? Of course it could. Now if it is or not has yet to be determined, But could it be, yes. It has to be said that when we say love we don’t mean affection in the sense of cuddling up in front of the  fire eating chocolates together. But commitment to the affect that the action has on someone. If God is loving then what he does is best for the objects of His Love / action/ commitment. Therefore if we can see that His action is what is best for the individuals being affected then it is loving.  If we start here  this places us in a position to receive with open mind and we can determine if this God is consistent with the God we want to trust with our souls. We will control our thought and not let our thoughts control us.

Our next post we will start to determine if this is a loving action that God has taken. So be ready for  #2 Do I have a proper perspective on death? And let me just say this will get really interesting, this one always forces people to do a double take!


5 thoughts on “Is the Order to Kill Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving and Gracious God? Part 1

  1. My 2 cents 🙂

    Amalekites are a family of people that where decedents of Esau, and brothers of Israel. They attacked an almost defenseless Israel as they came from Egypt. The Amalekites were “nomads” who attacked people in the cruelest of ways; attacking the rear as people traveled, where women, children and the sick were. The Amalekites lived off the spoils (land pirates).

    God gave the order to exterminate the Amalekites, but to understand this we must understand the people as a whole, their lifestyle, and the times in which they lived.

    These are not the sterile times that we live in today. The Amalekites were nomads that would attack travelers; rape and slaughter women and children and the sick. They were a culture steeped in cultic worship of demanding god’s, offering their own children up as sacrifices. Life to them was cheap. In their plundering, raping, and stealing they brought sickness and disease upon themselves, and were spreading their sickness where they went. One can’t appreciate this today, until you study history when a plague killed entire cities and people groups. Entire regions and people groups would be quarantined till all died.

    God gave the Amalekites 400 years to change after their initial attack on Israel. 400 years did them no good, other than to become more evil and more diseased and corrupt. God, in his infinite wisdom, after giving these people 400 years to change, decided to exterminate them – every living thing. This prevented all diseases from spreading. This actually saved many lives. The Amalekites were given grace and mercy and time, but failed to change.

    Today, would God do this? No. The advancement in tactical and surgical military strikes, medical science, and the will of a Nation to stand against a “type” of Amalekite today, would stop them in their tracks safely. Back in the times of the Amalekites, their extermination was the most humane way of protecting all people. Winning a battle over the Amalekites and taking their women and children into your care to help them would be suicide.

    1. I’m glad you get the weight and tension that this would have brought in trying to bring the women and children in to the fold. I look forward to you’r thoughts on my next posts. We really have to wrestle with as you said the is the the most humane way to deal with these people. I am avoiding going to deep in context with the general reader because even without the extreme wickedness of the people a case can be made for God’s orders

  2. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I’m hoping to view the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own website now 😉

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