And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. 1 Samuel 18:6-9
At the time that these events took place, David was a young man who had only recently been chosen and anointed by God. From that moment on, though, he was God's special hero, for the Bible says that "the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward." (1 Samuel 16:12-13)
Saul, too, was impressed with David, especially after seeing him kill the ten foot tall Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4) with just a sling and a stone. But when the dancing girls praised David for killing tens of thousands, while saying that Saul had only killed thousands, it was simply more than he could bear.
It wasn't that Saul couldn't compete with David in the number-of-people-killed category. Saul was one of the all time leading killers. One of his first acts, for example, after being anointed by God (1 Samuel 10:1), was to hack a yoke of oxen into pieces, sending the bloody pieces throughout Israel (1 Samuel 11:6-7). He did this marvelous act after "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him." In this way "the fear of the Lord" came upon all the people.
Well, okay, that was oxen, not people. But Saul could kill people too. In fact, the reason he killed the oxen was to force the Israelites to kill Ammonites. You see, when each tribe got a piece of a dead ox in the mail, they'd know it was a call to war. And if they refused to come, Saul would chop up their oxen - or worse.
And it worked too. Saul got 330,000 soldiers to enlist in his war against the Ammonites. That’s more than twice what Blair and Bush have in Iraq! Maybe they should hack up an ox or something.
Anyway, the war turned out great. It only lasted a few hours or so with the Israelites killing the Ammonites "until the heat of the day." Only a few Ammonites survived the day's slaughter, and although the bible doesn't tell us how many were killed, Saul must have racked up tens of thousands on that glorious day.
The Bible tells us that Saul continued to kill others throughout his reign (1 Samuel 14:47-48). Besides the Ammonites, he killed the people of Moab, Edom, and Zobah. And as for the Philistines, wherever he went "he vexed them." But he really outdid himself with the Amalekites. He killed enough of them to satisfy everyone. Everyone, but God, that is.
For some reason, God really hates Amalekites. Way back in Exodus (17:16) he said, "The Lord has sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." And I guess he meant it, because in 1 Samuel 15:3, hundreds of years later, God orders Saul to kill every last Amalekite, "both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
Now killing women and children was no big deal to a world-class killer like Saul. Yet somehow, in a moment of ungodly weakness, he let the Amalekite king, Agag, and some of the animals, live. He killed everyone else, though - every man, woman, and child, just as God commanded.
God never forgave Saul for that single act of mercy. He had told Saul to "Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites," and yet he did "not obey the voice of the LORD." Because Saul rejected the word of the LORD, God rejected Saul from being king.
Then David came along and God knew he'd finally found his killer-king.
And yet according to one of Donald Rumsfeld's aids, The news out of Haditha is "really, really bad -- as bad or worse than Abu Ghraib." But it was nothing compared to what God commanded Saul to do to the Amalekites.
Aren't Rumsfeld and Bush Bible-believers? Why are they ashamed of killing a couple dozen unarmed civilians? They should remember God's command to Saul and take their inspiration from that. "Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." How many have Rumsfeld and Bush killed lately?