Saul had gone back to his home to continue working in the fields, and in Jabesh-gilead the Ammonites came to take over their territory. They make a deal with the Ammonites to try to get help or let the Ammonites enslave them and cut out all of their right eyes to humiliate them. They send messengers through Israel and those they tell in Gibeah (where Saul lives) are grieved by this plan, and Saul finds out about it leaving his field. The Spirit of God comes upon him again, and this time he does something about it in the form of taking action against the Ammonites. He cuts up oxen to send all over Israel as a sign of what he will do to the oxen of any who do not join him in the fight. This sounds a lot like what Samuel said would happen. Men come with Saul and Samuel and they attack the Ammonites thoroughly, leaving no two together afterwards. Quite the excitement happening here in these eleven verses.
Nahash the Ammonite, the men of Jabesh, the elders of Jabesh, messengers of Jabesh, the people of Gibeah, Saul, the Spirit of God, messengers of Gibeah, the people of Israel (three hundred thousand of them), the men of Judah (thirty thousand more), the Ammonites
Verse 6 “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.”
1 Samuel 10:6, 10 “Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man…When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them.”
Déjà vu it seems in our new verse of the previous chapter. Except this time he does something about it by taking on the Ammonites and destroying them. Saul didn’t seem to be chasing after God from the time of his prophesying in chapter 10, or even after being proclaimed king. Instead he has returned to farming. If I was the new king I would hope I would start off by trying to reconcile at least myself with God since choosing a king has shown that my people are against God being the king. Instead Saul just goes on with his life as though nothing is happening new within him. Perhaps there is nothing new in his heart and he did not want to pursue the Spirit of God in his life. There are many people in my life who have had an experience with God or Jesus Christ and have not wanted to pursue. For me, I can’t live without Him and one taste is not enough. I hope that you can say that, too, that you are desperate for more of God in your life than just one taste. If you feel convicted by Saul’s pattern of behavior, perhaps this study is your beginning of chasing the Spirit of God for yourself.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“…Saul, in neglect of his calling to lead Israel, has returned to farming (v. 5) but also that the coming of the divine spirit on Saul effects an outward change of behavior but not necessarily inward transformation (cf. similar incidents at 10:10; 18:10; 19:23-24).”*
1 Samuel 18:10
1 Samuel 19:23-24
There have been people I have watched have an experience with God and even begin attending church, getting involved, volunteering, pursuing the activities, and it is exciting to see. Yet, what matters most is the heart. Is this outward change for the relationships around or is there an inward change as well with a growing relationship inside with our Savior? This is not something that can be judged except between me and God, you and God, and each person and God. I know that I am destined for Heaven, that I have a relationship with God, have been forgiven, and the internal changes are happening.
“The heart of the gospel is about the state of the heart. Paul’s prayer for believers is that God “may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,” so that you may “know the love Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-17, 19). Overwhelmed by an external working of God’s Spirit, Saul on this occasion does the right thing, but his heart is not right with God.”*
This Ephesians text is a perfect prayer for anyone who you have been praying for to grow in or enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior:
Ephesians 3:14-19 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Here it is put into a prayer for you, fill in the name(s) on the blank spots.
I bow my knees before You, the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory You may grant _________ to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in ________’s inner being, so that Christ may dwell in his/her heart(s) through faith—that ________, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that __________ may be filled with all the fullness of God. Amen.
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 11:12—12:25
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