1 Samuel Chapter 11

Saul was anointed and made king over the Israelite people, because of their wish for a king to rule them. Part of his role as their king, was to lead them in their interactions with other nations, especially to deliver them from enemies, but he had yet to assume this role. This chapter begins to tell us what happened with the Israelites as Saul began to rule.

1 Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh-gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.
3 And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days’ respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee.

The Ammonites, under Nahash, encamped against the people of Jabesh. Jabesh desired to make an agreement with the Ammonites, so that they would not be destroyed. They told Nahash, that they would serve the Ammonites. Nahash said they would agree on the condition that he remove the right eye of all of them, so that this would stand as an example to all of Israel. This was not going to be the kind of agreement that Jabesh wanted to make. They asked for a week of time to prepare themselves with either help from others in Israel, or they would fight against the Ammonites on their own.

4 Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.
5 And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
6 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
7 And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
8 And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
9 And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.
10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you.
11 And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.

Messengers were sent to Saul and they pleaded for his help to save them. Saul was angry upon hearing what had happened. He killed an oxen, cut it, and sent portions to all the parts of the land of Israel, calling for men to join him against the Ammonites. Saul’s call came with a threat that those who did not join him and the prophet Samuel, would have their own oxen destroyed. The men of Israel gathered together to fight against the Ammonites. 300,000 men of Israel, with 30,000 of Judah, prepared to fight. The messengers were given a message that they would have help, which they took back to the men of Jabesh. When Israel came to fight the next day, led by Saul, they destroyed the Ammonites and those that remained were scattered.

12 And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death.
13 And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel.
14 Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.
15 And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

Some of the Israelites wanted to kill those who had doubted Saul’s leadership, but Saul refused to allow it. Instead he put the emphasis and glory of their victory on the Lord. Samuel called the people to go to Gilgal, where the kingdom would be renewed. In Gilgal, Saul was made king, sacrifices and offering were given to the Lord, and the people rejoiced. This victory brought greater confidence in Saul as the king of Israel.

Early in his role as the king of Israel, Saul trusted in the Lord and gave God the glory for protecting Israel. I think that he recognized very much, the hand of the Lord in his life. Not too long before this, he was simply a man doing his duty for his family. He had been raised to his position in humility, and recognized that he could not have done this on his own. I believe that we see later, that this was not always the case for Saul. However, we can learn from this story, to follow his example of giving the glory and credit to the Lord, for the good we do in our callings. We can also have a reminder of the blessings that come from going forward in our duty and calling, with faith in God’s plan for us. Saul was not raised by his family to be a leader of armies, but when the gifts of the spirit were given to him as he accepted his new calling, he was able to do it. He trusted the calling from the Lord, and the Lord blessed him to lead the people to a victory.


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