That's right, the Amalekites. You know, the ones that God hates more than any other people, and that's saying something since God hates everyone except for the Israelites (and he hates them sometimes, too).
How much does God hate the Amalekites? Well, just listen to him.
The LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Exodus 17.16
Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it. Deuteronomy 25.19
Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15.2-3So we know for sure that God hates Amalekites. That's why he ordered the Israelites to kill them all. And the Israelites (with God's help, of course) did just that. Twice.
Yet here, just a few years after they were completely killed in two separate God-ordered genocides, they attack the Philistines. I guess sometimes you have to kill people several times to make sure they're not merely dead, but positively, absolutely, undeniably, reliably, and sincerely dead.
What I find especially interesting in this story, though, is that the Amalekites show some mercy to the Philistines. Rather than utterly destroying them, slaying "both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" as God told the Israelites to do to them, they "slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way."
The Amalekites … slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 1 Samuel 30.1-2Yet the most common excuse that believers give for God's genocidal commands on the Amalekites is that the Amalekites were so evil that they all had to be killed -- even their woman, children, infants, and babies.
When David and his merry men return to Ziklag (the Philistine city that the Amalekites destroyed), they wept until they couldn't weep any longer.
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 1 Samuel 30.3-4Then they got up and talked about stoning David to death.
David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him. 1 Samuel 30.6Meanwhile, David asked a priest to use his ephod to ask God what he should do. (An ephod is sort of a biblical version of a magic eight ball or a coin toss. It only works on yes or no questions.)
David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? 1 Samuel 30.7-8aSo God said "Heck Yeah. Go kill the Amalekites (one more time) and get back all your stuff."
He answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. 1 Samuel 30.8bSo that's what they did. David and 400 of his men (he left 200 behind because they were just too tired to kill people) spent the day killing Amalekites. They killed them all, except for 400 guys who escaped on camels.
David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 30.17So David got back all of his stuff, including his two wives.
David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 1 Samuel 30.18And he shared the plunder will his men, even those that were too tired to kill.
David was such a nice guy. I think you can see why God liked him so much.
(The text doesn't say how many Amalekites were killed. I'll just say 1000.)
God's next killing: God kills Saul, his sons, and his men for not killing all the Amalekites