Understanding the Old Testament

King Saul Proves Himself

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

As we have previously noted, one of the reasons the Israelites wanted a king was to lead them into battle against the Ammonites, who had invaded the territory east of the Jordan River and besieged the city of Jabesh-gilead. When the leaders of the city sued for peace, the Ammonite leader, Nahash, demanded that he be allowed to gouge out each personís right eye. (1 Samuel 11:2) This would impede their future prowess in battle since the left eye was often blocked by a manís shield. Such savagery is consistent with what Amos 1:13 says about the Ammonites: "they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead."

Understandably reluctant to submit to this condition, the city leaders played for time while they sent out an urgent appeal for help throughout Israel. When the appeal reached Saul in Gibeah, he took swift action. He summoned all of Israel to come to the aid of Jabesh-gilead, threatening them with destruction if they failed to respond. None did.

1 Samuel 11:8 tells us that 300,000 men came from Israel and 30,000 from Judah.

Saul sent word to Jabesh-gilead that help was on the way, no doubt to ensure that they would not surrender before the army could reach them.

Dividing his army into three groups and attacking in the early morning hoursómimicking Gideonís strategy of surrounding and surprising the enemyóSaul routed the Ammonites. (1 Samuel 11:11) Then he showed his mercy by refusing to punish those who had questioned his leadership when he was anointed as king.

At Samuelís urging, the Israelites traveled to Gilgal, where they once again proclaimed Saul king and celebrated with peace offerings to the Lord. (1 Samuel 11:14-15)

Questions to ponder or discuss: Why do you think Samuel led the people to Gilgal, which was the site of the Isralite camp when they invaded Canaan, instead of to Shiloh where the Tabernacle had been set up? Since the Tabernacle was the only place where offerings were supposed to be made, do you think the Israelites transported it to Gilgal for this celebration? Why or why not?

Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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I am a member of Trinity Arts Writers Workshop, in Bedford, Texas.