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Q Why is it that, although God is clearly against killing, he commands people in the Old Testament to kill?  For Example, God commands Saul to "go attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them." He told Saul to "put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep..." (1 Sam 15:3). 

A The story is told (and it may be true) of a life-time Bible student who had once had a list of a thousand Bible difficulties or supposed contradictions. Near the end of his life, he made the statement that he had solved 998 of the difficulties on his list, and therefore, figured that the other two would eventually be solved, as well. This is a good illustration, in my mind, of the fact that there are really NO contradictions in the Bible. There are a good many difficult passages and sayings, but the problem is our understanding. A study of the historical contexts in which they occur, or other Bible passages, etc. brings a solution. Do I say this because I have personally solved 998 of them? No, but every one I have tackled has proven to be a matter of just needing more information.

Actually, the problem is in your assumption that "God is against killing." True, He is against murder. Many people bring up the 6th commandment, and quote it from the King James version, "Thou shalt not kill." But there is a difference in translation here. There are a number of Hebrew words for "to kill" but the one in Exod. 20:13, ratsach, is a more technical term which refers to premeditated murder, manslaughter, killing for revenge, and assassination. So God is against murder, killing for spite and out of rage, and so forth.

But when God judges individuals or groups for their sin He often uses killing as a judgment. Deuteronomy 32:39 says, "Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand." Numbers 16:35: "And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense." See Revelation 19:11-21 for a description of the slaughter that Christ accomplishes when He comes back to earth. God is the author of life and has every right to take it away. But even a cursory reading of the Bible shows that He is not capricious--He takes life for a reason. He is always righteous and just. 

Hopefully, this will help you see the balance in God's attitude towards the taking of life.


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