THE BOOK OF 1 SAMUEL
Proof that this is Godís man
1 Samuel 11:1-11 SCC 12/7/14
Israelís king not only needed to be an admirable individual but he also needed to be an effective military commander. Saulís abilities are seen in this chapter. The nation consequently united behind him because of his success. Saulís right to reign is established in a very public way. Did some wonder how this one who hid among the baggage could lead the Israelites in war? God demonstrated how in chapter 11, when Nahash the Ammonite marched against the city of Jabesh Gilead. It is private confirmation in chp 10 but public affirmation in chp 12.
THREATENING CIRCUMSTANCES ELEVATES GODíS MAN TO TAKE ACTION 11:1-5
1. The Ammonites were Israelís enemies to the east. They were descendants of Lot whom Jephthah had defeated earlier Jdgs 11:12-33. Nahash evidently sought revenge for Jephthahís victory over his nation. Jabesh-gilead lay a few miles east of the Jordan Valley and about 25 miles south of the Sea of Galilee.. The men of Jabesh-gilead offered to surrender and serve the Ammonites provided Nahash would make a covenant with them rather than slaughtering them.
2. Nahashís purpose to put out the right eye of his enemies was not uncommon in that day. This wound made a conquered nation easier to control, and it testified to the conquerorís superior power. Nahash was not willing for these people merely to submit; he wanted to utterly humiliate them. Specifically it made aiming arrows with the right eye impossible and therefore precluded a military revolt.
3. Nahashís willingness to let his enemies appeal for help shows that he had no fear that threatening reinforcements would come. He was sure of his superiority and may even have viewed the delay as an opportunity to insure victory. At this time Israel lacked a central government, national solidarity, and a standing army. However, Saul was now Israelís king. Nahash felt quite confident that they would not be rescued. He may have had the upper hand with the other cities as well with Israelís lack of unity.
4. The announcement of the messengers from Jabesh-gilead led the people in Saulís hometown, as well as elsewhere undoubtedly, to weep. They had again forgotten Godís promises to protect them since they were His people. Their reaction was a result of viewing the situation from the natural perspective only. Caleb and Joshua earlier could have been a reminder to trust the Lord in spite of the odds.
5. Why was Saul at home farming since he was Israelís king? He had not yet received direction from God or Samuel to do anything else, as far as we know. The fact that he, the anointed king, was plowing also shows his humility. He was willing to work hard. Thus he was not self-centered at this time.
GODíS MAN IS EMPOWERED BY GOD TO OVERCOME THREATENING CIRCUMSTANCES 11:6-11
1. Godís Spirit came on Saul in the sense that He stirred up his human spirit. The Spirit of God came upon him powerfully. Saulís response to the messengersí news was appropriate indignation about attacking Godís people. Saul may have had a personal interest in Jabesh-gilead since some of his ancestors came from there. Following the civil war in Israel many Benjamites had died. Many of those who remained alive took wives from the women of Jabesh-gilead and Shiloh Jdgs 21.
2. Saul did something drastic to impress the gravity of the Ammonite siege on his fellow Israelites. He followed the example of the Levite whose concubine had died in Saulís hometown Jdgs 19:29-30. Later another plowman, Elisha, would slaughter a pair of oxen and host a meal for his friends as he began his ministry as a prophet 1 Kgs 19:21. He threatened to slaughter the oxen of anyone who would not come.
3. Saul linked himself with Samuel because Samuel was the recognized spiritual leader of the nation. The Israelites were between both Saulís threatened reprisals for not responding to his summons and the Ammonite threat. In Saulís energetic appeal the people discerned the power of the Lord, which inspired them with fear, and impelled them to immediate obedience v 7.
4. The response of the Israelites constituted the greatest show of military strength since Joshuaís day. Bezek stood about 16 miles west of Jabesh-gilead on the River Jordanís western side v 8. The division of the soldiers into Israelites and Judahites probably reflects the division of the nation that existed when the writer wrote this book. This motivated the entire nation to gather for war: 300,000 Israelites and 30,000 men from Judah.
5. Here is the strategy. The messengers returned to Jabesh-gilead with the promise that their town would be free by noon the next day. The leaders of Jabesh-gilead played with words as they cleverly led the Ammonites into self-confidence, thinking that they would win. The Ammonites threatened to put out the right eyes of the men but now the Ammonites can do whatever seemed good literally in their eyes v 10.
6. Saul wisely divided his troops into three companies. He attacked the besieging Ammonites early in the morning. The morning watch was the last of three night watches, and it lasted from about 2:00 to 6:00 a.m. The only other place in the OT where this phrase occurs is in Ex 14:24. God killed the Egyptian soldiers as they pursued the fleeing Israelites through the Red Sea. This victory is another miraculous deliverance at the beginning of a new phase of Israelís existence. Saul thoroughly surprised and defeated them.
OVERCOMING THREATENING CIRCUMSTANCES INSPIRES CONFIDENCE IN THE LEADERSHIP OF GODS MAN 11:12-15
1. This victory helped the Israelites perceive Saul as their king with the result that they committed themselves to him v 12. Samuel therefore gave the people a solemn charge in view of the change in government. Now it was clear to all that Saul was capable of leading the nation in battle against their enemies. Some even wanted to punish those who questioned Saulís right to rule.
2. Admirably, Saul sought no personal revenge on those who initially had failed to support him v 13. Furthermore he gave God the glory for his victory. He was not self-serving at this time. What Samuel called for was a ceremony to renew the Mosaic Covenant v 14. One similar to that in Joshuaís day (chp 8 & 24) when the nation would dedicate itself afresh to The Lord and His Law as a nation Deut 19.
3. The people now gave united support to Saul as their king at Gilgal. This is the first of three significant meetings of Samuel and Saul at Gilgal. The second was Saul failing to wait for the prophet, offered a sacrifice prematurely, and received the prophetís rebuke 13:7-14. The third meeting was when God rejected Saul as king for his disobedient pride following his victory over the Amalekites 15.
Peace offerings expressed thanks to God for His goodness. This offering also emphasized the unity of the participants in the sacrifice. Saulís ascent to the throne was now complete.
4. In this incident Israel faced a very threatening situation physically and spiritually. The peopleís reaction was to weep v 4. God went into action because He had made promises to protect His people. He provided deliverance when His people thought there was no hope. The result was that Godís people rededicated themselves to following the Lord faithfully. Their weeping gave way to rejoicing.
1. Recognize that threatening situations may be opportunities for God to reveal whom he has prepared to lead. We never know what God is doing but when He does it, it becomes very clear.
2. Expect that this person will be prepared by God in some way or many ways seasoned, empowered, and committed to take charge of the threatening circumstances for Godís glory. A moment does not make Godís man. He is already made but the timing of exposure is Godís.
3. When a prepared leader emerges to take charge the outcome will inspire confidence in Godís people to follow in faith. God will get the credit to be sure and everyone will know it or at least be reminded of it by those who do know it.
4. A godly leader whom God prepares, elevates, and confirms usually:
††††††††† a. Is characterized by humility and hard work. Saul was in the field.
††††††††† b. Is characterized by fearlessness when Godís interests are threatened. Saul was indignant.
††††††††† c. Is characterized by determination to fight Godís fight. Saul declared deliverance.
††††††††† d. Is characterized by mercy when successful. Saul stopped further unnecessary killing.
††††††††† e. Is characterized by recognition of Godís honor. Saul said the Lord delivered them.
††††††††† f. Is characterized by praise to God for His favor to him. Saul rejoiced before the Lord.
Think about it: We learn all of this from King Saul who began so well!