May 2, 2000
This chapter gives us the an account of the beginning of Saul's kingdom. They had victory over the enemy, sowing us God's mercy. The people had rejected him in choosing a king, yet God did not reject his people. It is in God's mercy that we find our hope and help. How many times a day to we reject his Kingship for ours, yet he mercifully watches over and delivers us.
V. 1, Nahash ("serpent") was an Ammonite. The Amonites were displaced by Jephthah, and now, ninety years latter, they renew their claim on the land. (Jud. 11:33.) It was this threat that caused Israel to depart from the Lord as their King and deliverer, and to demand a physical king to deliver them from their enemies, 12:12.
May 4, 2000
I am learning that to say we depend on the Lord to fight the battles for us and then actually depend upon him to do that when the battle is here are two completely different things. Though the Lord had shown himself strong in the past under the judges, the enemy was again breathing down their necks with his threat of death. Dependance upon the Lord is good in theory, but when the enemy is ready to strike you dead, it takes more than theory.
And this is where I am today. Carol's cancer is seemingly uncontrolled. The enemy is breathing down our necks, and the theory of the Lord's mercy, love, sufficiency and care is not enough. The question is, "How do you turn theory into practice?"
My thought is it not a quiet confidence that the Lord is in control, and is working all things for our good and his glory? And this quiet confidence MUST be a work of his grace, for we cannot work it up in our own.
LORD, GIVE US THE QUIETNESS OF SPIRIT THAT ONLY YOU CAN GIVE.
LORD, GIVE US THE WISDOM TO "FIGHT" THIS BATTLE IN THE MANNER THAT IS PLEASING TO YOU.
V. 1, rather than turning to the Lord to deliver them from their enemy and seeing no human aid, Israel wanted to make a deal with him "We will serve you if you will leave us alone."
V. 2, the enemy demanded the right eye of all the man. They thus would be rendered helpless in battle, but remain useful servants.
The enemy demanded they compromise their ability to fight. The left eye was hidden behind the shield in battle, so missing a right eye made them unequipped for war.
Note the enemy will give us peace IF we will allow him to compromise our ability to carry on an effective battle against him. The enemy will allow us to serve God, if we will get the enemy's permission to do so, license.
V. 3, this seems to be a strange manner of warfare they were given the opportunity to gather their forces together to fight. It would seem that the enemy would simply say, "Either you make this deal with us, or here we come." Evidently, the Ammonites were so confident in their strength and Israel's disunity, that they saw no problem offering them this chance to gather their forces.
No doubt the Lord gave this reprieve, so the people could prepare for battle.
V. 4, it is interesting that they did sent messengers unto all the costs of Israel, but not to Saul, their newly elected king. Evidently, he was not seen as a prince; rather word came to his town. The people did not say "Saul is the king we wanted to lead us into battle. Go get him," nor did they prepare for battle. Rather, they lifted up their voices and wept.
How typical rather than people making plans, uniting and moving ahead for God against the enemy, more often than not, they lift up their voices and complain.
V. 5, Saul was in the field working. He was not puffed up with pride that he had been chosen as king, and continued supporting his own self.
It was too bad that he did not retain this attitude after his great victory. When we leave doing what we were before God wrought a great victory though us, we are on our way down.
A great bus director spend many hours a week visiting and working bus routs. God blessed in a mighty way. He started a bus director's school. He started many speaking engagements, and left doing what he had been doing that brought him into prominence. Now we do not even hear of him. (Gartner Gentry, Beth Haven BC. Slick Goodman, &c.)
If Saul would have remembered he came out of the fields to fight the battle in the Lord's strength, then had gone back to the fields, and waited again for God to call, then there would have been no telling what he could have done for the Lord in the next 40 years.
We should read and heed, if we want to be empowered by God to do the impossible.
He saw the people weeping, and was moved with genuine concern. He enquired as to what the problem was, and took action. He was upset over the fact that the enemy was moving to destroy his people.
We should see the concerns of people, join them in their concerns, and then take godly action where possible. We should be sensitive to the distresses of people, and move to godly action.
V. 6, Sauls anger was kindled greatly. Anger is listed after the spirit of the Lord came upon him. Thus, it is the right kind of anger, for God invoked it, and it invoked proper action. (Eph. 4:26.) We need some angry people today who will get angry enough at evil to take godly action declare war against wickedness.
V. 7, the summons to war seems to us to be quite gory, but it would have been typical in a rural economy as they had. Note the threat was not against the men who might fail to come, but it was against their oxen.
Saul invoked Samuel's name to show he was not acting alone. He did not forget at this point that the Lord was needed if he would have victory.
Note that the Lord moved the people to join Saul and Samuel in the battle, the fear of the Lord fell on the people. It was the fear of the Lord that moved the people, not fear of Saul or of Samuel. Only the fear of the Lord will make people faithful to their duties. Accordingly, God must,
prepare a leader, Saul, 11:6.
prepare a people, 11:7.
prepare a victory, 11:13.
And God united the people with one consent to join in the battle. May 10, 2000, my, how I need the fear of the Lord to fall upon the people, so they will join in one consent against sin (evangelism). It was all of the Lord, and Saul forgot this quickly, as we all do.
V. 8, Saul numbered his army so he might know his own strength; he counted the cost before he went to war. Judah was under represented, but Saul wisely makes no notice of it.
V. 9, Saul is confident the Lord is on his side. The good news of deliverance is sent to the Gileadites that help will be there before the time expires.
V. 10, the Gileadites were confident that help was on the way, so they send a message to their adversaries, implying that they were surrendering. And thus the Ammonites felt safe, and set out no guards.
V. 11, Saul had wisely divided his army into three companies, and the next morning, they attacked the enemy. The enemy had expected surrender, and they were thoroughly defeated.
Note the change in attitude of the people toward Saul. They would not even speak to him previously, not sending any message to him about the enemy, and now they want to put those to death who resisted his rule as king. Thus we see how "fickle" people are, based upon circumstances rather than upon what is right.
Vv. 12, 13, the motion was made to put the "bad" men to death, but Saul stopped it immediately. It was a time of rejoicing over the salvation of the Lord, not a time of death and destruction.
V. 14, 15, renew the kingdom. God had given them a king back in 10:24, but the people did not establish him nor recognize him properly. Now after this victory, they correct that failure, and rejoice over the victory and their new king.
1) there that there is noting like a good victory to unite the hearts of people. However, I should point out that unity should be around the command word of God, and not around a victory nor a man, for when the victory and-or the man is gone, so is the unity.
2) they had great victories under the judges, yet they still wanted a king. In other words, their confidence was in human leadership rather than the Lord. They believed that man could save them.
3) they wanted to kill the ones who resisted Saul, but Saul said no. "And all good princes consider that their power is for edification, not for destruction." (MH.)
4) while feelings were high, Samuel reminded them from where the victory came, and moved them to offer proper thanksgiving. Remember, however, that "vows" made in the height of emotion are just as binding as was Samuel's mother's that were made in the depths of dispar.