I Samuel 11
Notes by Ivan Ho 26 July 2020
Soon after Saul was made king of Israel, Nahash (meaning “serpent”) king of the Ammonites, who were the descendants of Lot, came and encamped around the Israelites. Nahash was a type of the devil coming to bring destruction to the people of God. Unfortunately, some people in the Israelis camp, when confronted by the enemy from outside, compromised and sought for a peaceful treaty with them, offering to bow and serve them. Wasn’t this a picture of the compromising church who, in face of the presence of demonic powers threatening the cities, would rather bow to them instead of casting them out by the power of God?
Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.” And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.”
Seeing the fear of Jabesh, Nahash threatened to gouge out the right eye of all Israelites. When people compromised with the enemy, they were more or less half blinded anyway.
When we think about king Saul, we are usually only reminded of his wicked ways. Did you realise that Saul did have a great start, was anointed by God, and have glorious victories before his fall from grace? Not only did he not back off from the enemies, he was stirred up by the Spirit of God to rally all the men of Israel to fight the Ammonites, and utterly defeated them.
When our enemies confront us, we all have a choice to make: either compromise and be destroyed or rise up to defeat them. God is on our side, no weapons formed against us shall prosper!
Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.” And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. And they said to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’ ” Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad. Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.” So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.”
I Samuel 11:6-13
Not only was Saul anointed by the Lord and defeated the enemy, he preached a message of mercy and salvation to the Israelites. No one could rubbish Saul’s achievements and messages in his earlier life.
At that moment in history, Saul was at the height of his life and obtained favour and recognition both from God and men.
Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord , and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
However, there were some major character and attitude flaws in Saul’s life which he never dealt with that would later surface in his life. Wasn’t Saul a picture of a once anointed general of God who preached the message of salvation but tragically ended up in hell himself?