I received the following question:
From Deuteronomy 25:
“when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around“
Why do you think the LORD has NOW (I Samuel 14) decided to wipe out the Amalekites? The frequent wars that Israel is under with the Philistines under Saul does not seem to be “rest from your enemies.” It has been a long time since Moses declared these words. Do you think that Israel needed to “forget” about Amalek to prove that the LORD did not forget?
I think the “rest” referred to was simply a statement of the subjection of the land, which was completed in the days of Joshua. At any time after that, the LORD could have recalled His war against the Amalekites and had them wiped out. However, He chose to wait until the monarchy was in place, which was hundreds of years later. I suppose that several reasons could be suggested for this, and all would be speculation, since He does not state for us His reasons in this case. However, as for myself I would tend to look no further than the very reason He gave for waiting so long to give Abraham’s descendents the land of Canaan. That is, He says to Abraham in Genesis 15:16:
16. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
The LORD was slow to give His people the land because He wanted to wait until the Amorites had more thoroughly passed into wickedness, and thus until they fully deserved the grim punishment He intended for them. This might well be the very reason He waited so long to command His people to carry out His intentions against the Amalekites. He wanted to wait until they had more fully passed into a state of iniquity that would deserve the utter destruction He had pledged them to. Finally, in the days of Saul, He was satisfied that they had reached that state, and now the punishment could fall.
As for the LORD proving that He does not forget, that is indeed another lesson that we can take out of His long patience in carrying out this war He had pledged Himself to. Of course, there are multiple such examples of the longsuffering of the LORD, and of His memory, which never fails, and of His word, which He never fails to bring to pass. Another would be the long curse on the house of Eli, which at last came to its completion in the days of Solomon. Another would be the promise of the destruction of the altar of Bethel by Josiah, which came about many hundreds of years after its prediction. By these examples, we can learn that the LORD never forgets His promises nor fails to carry out His word. Many of His seemingly-long-forgotten promises, such as that to return Israel to the land, and that to bring in His kingdom, though they have been several thousand years waiting for their fulfillment, will never be forgotten, and will come to pass in their time.
Thanks for the great question!