SAUL SHOWS HIS METTLE
Dear Lord, I praise you for leading me into your kingdom, the kingdom of faith, hope, and love.
Read 1 Samuel 11
Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh
11 Nahash[a] the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.”
2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”
3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”
4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.
6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.
9 They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”
11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
Saul Confirmed as King
12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”
13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.”
14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.
- 1 Samuel 11:1 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls gifts. Now Nahash king of the Ammonites oppressed the Gadites and Reubenites severely. He gouged out all their right eyes and struck terror and dread in Israel. Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, except that seven thousand men fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead. About a month later, 1 Nahash
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In the context of some terrible happenings in different parts of the world, ask God how he wants to use you.
What a ghastly scenario for the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead! They assumed that surrender was inevitable and were therefore clearly disheartened, to put it mildly. Evans points out that this episode shows how uncoordinated the Israelite community was. No one had yet realized that things could be different now, with Saul to lead them.1 And where was Saul? Working in his fields! Hardly a typical king! But it was this threat to Jabesh Gilead that galvanized the young leader into action. Can you think back to moments in your life when God clearly called you to action?
I must admit that Saul’s method of sending round a memo to the various territories was a trifle dramatic, but it did the trick! Interestingly, though, Saul brackets his name with Samuel’s (v 7). Did he feel in need of extra clout? It’s not necessarily a bad thing to use someone else’s authority to push through something important. Perhaps we can remember times when we’ve done the same thing. It’s reminiscent of Saul hiding behind the baggage when he was first chosen.2 He needed to take up the mantle of kingship that God had given him (which Samuel helped him do at the end of this chapter) and stop hiding and relying too much on others.
At this point, Saul is functioning well. He is a capable leader, showing good military tactics (dividing the army into three companies, v 11); and he’s still showing appropriate humility, especially in recognizing that the deliverance was from God and refusing to take vengeance on those who had questioned his authority (vs 12,13). He appears at this stage as the right man for the job.
Are you the right person for the job you’re doing? Either secular work or church-related ministry? Do you need to ask God if he wants you to change anything?
Loving Lord, I need afresh the energizing fire of your Holy Spirit. Fill me so that I will have discerning spirit and preparedness for what today and every day brings.
1 Mary Evans, 1 and 2 Samuel, NIBC, Paternoster Press, 2000, p51 2 1 Sam 10:22
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