Nahash the king of the Ammonites tortured the Gadites and Reubenites, the two tribes of Israel, by gouging out all their right eyes. Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, but the few that escaped fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead. However, about a month later, Nahash went up to Jabesh Gilead and besieged them. The men were scared for their lives and wanted to make a treaty with Nahash and serve him as slaves. But he wanted to gouge out their eyes in a similar fashion before he would agree to any treaty.
Gauging out the eye would obviously give the Ammonites control over the Israelites as fighting a war with one bad eye would dampen their chances of success. But it also would serve as a reminder to all the people who were in charge. The men of the entire nation walking around with one good eye would humiliate them and keep them under the control of the Ammonites. The elders were puzzled and were looking for a way to escape from this conundrum. Jabesh Gilead was a remote mountainous village that took help from the other territories of Israel. Israel at this time did not have an army in place and the hopes of the people would have been diminished. They asked for seven days to still and try to summon some form of support. The messengers from Jabesh went to Gibeah the hometown of Saul and reported all that had happened.
Saul To The Rescue
When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.1 Samuel 11:6
When being filled with the Spirit of God, countless men in the Bible did remarkable feats. Gideon, Othniel, Jephthah and the most infamous judge of Israel Samson. He filled His men with His Spirit to perform His works. Judges, prophets, kings and ordinary men, all when filled with the Holy Spirit surrendered their will to the will of God. Anger of God has always burned against the people who disobeyed Him and the same anger consumed some of these men. Loving God and doing His will means we have to hate evil. Another emotion that we do not associate with God but when we are filled with His Spirit, only then can we truly hate evil.
Saul took a pair of oxen and parcelled the pieces of the oxen throughout the land of Israel possible to rile up the men to go to war against the Ammonites. A similar incident is seen in the book of judges when a Levite cut up his concubine into pieces and parcelled her to the twelve tribes of Israel seeking restitution. When Saul sent the cut pieces of the oxen to the men of Israel, the terror of the Lord fell on them and they came together as one numbering three hundred thousand.
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 together1 Samuel 11:11
Impressed by Saul’s conquest of the Ammonites the Israelites had now moved towards crowning him as their official king. Once more, Samuel summoned the people to Gilgal and made Saul king in their presence. They sacrificed fellowship offerings and had a great celebration now that everyone accepted Saul as their king. However, Samuel knew that this was a confirmation of Israel’s divorce from God.
In his farewell speech, Samuel recounted all the good that God had done for His people and how they had always reciprocated His grace on them with betrayal at every corner. He warned them not to test the anger of the Lord and reminded them of all the destruction that came upon them when they walked away from God and held on to their precious idols.
If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.1 Samuel 12:14-15
Samuel knew that the calloused hearts of the Israelites would need a sign to take the above warning seriously and so he called on the Lord to send thunder and rain. Seeing the downpour in the middle of the dry season, the people were awestruck and asked Samuel to pray on their behalf. They now agreed after seeing an act of God that asking for a king was a mistake. Samuel assured them that as a servant of God his job was to pray for the people and continue to teach them what is good and right.
Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.1 Samuel 12:25
- V11:2 – Why is Nahash so particular about gauging out one of the eyes of his subjects?
- V11:6 – Is anger the right response to being filled by the spirit of God?
- V12:23 – Is it a sin against God to not pray for others?