9. So Saul sent the messengers back to Jabesh-gilead to say, “We will rescue you by noontime tomorrow!” There was great joy throughout the town when that message arrived!
10. The men of Jabesh then told their enemies, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you can do to us whatever you wish.”
11. But before dawn the next morning, Saul arrived, having divided his army into three detachments. He launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites and slaughtered them the whole morning. The remnant of their army was so badly scattered that no two of them were left together.
1 Samuel 11: 9–11 NLT
Today’s Passage ushers in another episode in The Story of Samuel, and if you’ve been following along, it’s leading up to a significant plot point in The Story. Saul, the new inaugural King of Israel, is establishing himself as Judge and Ruler over God’s people with this one decisive move.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Episode’s conclusion comes in Tomorrow’s Passage, but before we get to that, let’s look at what Saul is doing here and how it flows into the coalescence of his power.
King Saul has recently been coronated the First King of Israel, and though most people accept and embrace him, not everyone in the burgeoning Kingdom is on board with his installment. Leave it to the Israelites to ask for something and then turn their noses up at it once God Delivers it.
Saul was awarded what seemed like a comfortable position. But given who he had the task of ruling, their history of noncompliance, and the lowly standing of the Benjamite tribe he hailed from, it shouldn’t be any wonder he faced resistance.
Saul knew he had a challenging undertaking ahead of him, and he had to have known many people rejected his authority. But considering how they refused God as their ruler, he couldn’t have been too surprised at their denunciation. The proof that he knew about their condemnation is in Verse Seven.
Saul threatened every house in Israel that if they didn’t join the fight, he would slaughter all of their livestock! He demanded compliance or remuneration; the latter would have denoted poverty and shame. Saul understood the people’s reticence and did what had to be done to motivate them. Fear was his choice.
Saul knew that if he had asked the people to respond, he’d likely have encountered intense resistance. So he went directly for the throat from square one! No one was shirking their duties after applying that kind of pressure, and all the better for the people of Jabesh-Gilead.
Imagine the people’s shock had Saul not made his threat. They’d have come looking for help and found only a hot poker to remove their right eyes. But instead, they told their attackers they could do whatever they wanted with them, baiting them into a false sense of security.
The Ammonites paid dearly for their arrogance, and Saul established himself as King once and for all. The victory cemented him as sovereign and buttressed his position as Judge and protector. But there were still those detractors. How will they react to this decisive victory? We’ll cover that Tomorrow.
Until then, Today’s Lesson is about Logistics. A lot happens in Today’s Passage that is not covered in the Text. The Ammonite threat comes. Saul is alerted, kills the ox, and delivers his ultimatum. Then the people of Jabesh are given hope. The message of deception is furnished to the Ammonites, and Saul’s army is dispatched in three companies.
All that mobilization and organization took coordination and time to undertake. They had a week to comply before the hammer dropped, and the residents of Jabesh Gilead lost their eyes and freedom. But Saul got it done in less.
His decisive action saved the people of Jabesh and verified Saul’s reputation. He was now King in deed as well as presentation. There were now teeth behind his growl, a bite to his bark. Saul bared his fangs, and the people responded with organized focus.
Today’s Lesson is that progress often requires blood, sweat, and tears. Though Today’s Passage glosses over the Work involved, mobilizing an army of 300,000 in 7 days is no small task, but Saul did it. He was a rancher Called to be King, and it took the efforts of all the people to achieve their victory.
God’s Work requires the labor of an entire community to effect change. It is never one individual’s toil that bolsters a Communal Hope. It is the efforts of the village that create the change Strong Leadership provides. You are not in this alone! If you are Leading God’s people, never forget the logistics of your governance and what it takes behind the scenes to accomplish His Call.
Have A Terrific Tuesday, And Remember, It Takes A Village To Create A Strong Leader!