"But Saul and the people spared Agag." (1 Sam. 15:9)
While there are several figures and characters used in the Holy Scriptures as types of Christ and the Holy Ghost, there are also two special characters used as symbols of carnality – the "old man." One is Ishmael, the son of Hagar (Gen. 21:10; Gal. 4:23-30), and the next is Agag, the subject of our text. If we were permitted to modernize and spiritualize the language of the text it would read as follows: “But Saul and the people excluded and winked at carnality.”
Here in this narration we have a life-sized picture of carnality and also a brief synopsis of a superficial holiness seeker. We will not take time and space, however, to properly explain the subject but will simply mention in brief some of the ways the modern holiness teachers and seekers are sparing Agag.
The first way of sparing him and easing up on carnality is seen in those who live on one side of Jordan and labor on the other. They are like the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh. They are willing to fight in the land of Canaan, i.e., sing, pray, preach, and testify to and about holiness but are not willing to pay the price to live there. There are hundreds who pray, "Thy Kingdom come," who do not want Scriptural holiness. There are also multitudes who sing with great earnestness:
"Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure,"
who do not mean a word of it. They also sing, "Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole," while at the same time they fight holiness and hate the word sanctification.
A second way of sparing Agag is seen in those who excuse and wink at the small uprisings of anger, impatience, jealousy, envy and pride in their hearts and at the same time continue to profess to be sanctified wholly. They go right on professing when they are conscious of daily uprisings. A man who only feels a small riffle of carnality in his heart once a year is as much in need of a clean heart as the one who feels it every hour in the day.
Still another way of winking at carnality and passing it by is when people try to make religious acts and deeds of charity atone for the manifestations of a bad spirit. Sometimes a zealous brother gets his feelings ruffled at the preacher in the official board and manifests a bad spirit. But rather than confess, beg pardon and get carnality cleansed out of his heart, he will present the preacher with a new suit of clothing or a new Bible. When a wife has been having a touchy spell and saying some hard things to husband, rather than confess out, dig out, and get the "old man" cast out, she will bake her husband one of his favorite pies, roast a goose, or make some ice cream. But ah, this is only a unique way of sparing Agag!
A final way of sparing the life of this delicate, troublesome king, is making an allowance for carnality and branding it "infirmity." Some people seem to think they are justified in getting impatient, fretting and grumbling simply because they are suffering with the toothache.
There are others who seem to think because they are getting old and childish, it is sufficient excuse for carnality. Some people, rather than grow sweet and childish, are growing old and devilish. What they stand in need of is the first and second work of grace which will keep a person sweet and blessed in the fiery furnace, den of lions, inner prison and Isle of Patmos.