Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 10-11

1 Samuel 9 introduced us to Saul, a physically imposing man (9:2; 10:23-24), and one whom the LORD directed Samuel to anoint as Israel’s king (9:15-16; 10:1). After anointing Saul with a vial of oil, Samuel “kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain [ruler] over his inheritance [Israel]?” (10:1)

Samuel then revealed three signs to Saul that were to affirm he was the man whom the LORD had chosen to rule Israel. 

The first sign, Saul would encounter two men, and they would tell him his father had recovered the donkeys, and was worried about him (10:2). A second sign would be three men, bearing three baby goats, three loaves of bread, and a bottle of wine, and they would salute him and give him two loaves of bread. The third sign would follow as Saul neared a Philistine garrison, and there he would “meet a company of prophets…[and] the Spirit of the Lord [would] come upon [him], and [he would] prophesy with them, and…be turned into another man” (10:5-6).

When Saul turned from Samuel, “God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day” (10:9). When the people saw Saul prophesying, they were astounded, and “said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?…[and] it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?” (10:11-12)

Samuel gathered the children of Israel at Mizpeh (a military outpost), and rehearsed all the LORD had done for Israel, and how they had rejected Him as King, and demanded a king to rule over them (10:17-19). Though knowing the LORD’S will in the matter, Samuel nevertheless cast lots beginning with the tribes, and the lot fell upon the smallest tribe, Benjamin (10:20); then by clans, and finally by families (10:21). When Samuel sought for Saul, he was found hiding (10:22), and the people ran and brought him, “and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward” (10:23).

Samuel then declared, “See ye him [Saul] whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king” (10:24).

1 Samuel 10 closes with a revelation that all was not well in Israel (10:27).  Though the people had demanded a king, there were wicked, immoral men, “the children of Belial” who scoffed at Saul, saying, “How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he [Saul] held his peace” (10:27).

1 Samuel 11 – A Summons to War in Israel

Israel soon faced its first test under Saul’s leadership when the Ammonites “came up, and encamped against Jabesh-gilead” (11:1). All the men of Jabesh-gilead sought a covenant of peace with the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1); however, they demanded every man of Jabesh-gilead would seal the peace covenant with the sacrifice of his right eye (11:2). Dismayed at the demand, the people appealed for seven days reprieve to see if any men of Israel would come to their aid (11:3).

Messengers were sent, and word came to Saul, who after he was presented as Israel’s king, had returned to his father’s fields and flocks. When the news of the calamity facing the people of Jabesh-gilead reached him (11:4-5), “the Spirit of God [came] upon [Saul]…and his anger” stirred him to action (11:6). Taking two oxen, and cutting them in pieces, Saul “sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent” (11:7).

Three hundred, thirty thousand men gathered for war against the Ammonites (11:8). Saul divided the army into three companies, and Israel achieved a great victory over their enemy, and they were scattered (11:9-11). Exulting over their first victory under Saul, the people rallied together, and all Israel acknowledged him as king (11:12-15).

Israel has gathered at Gilgal to renew the nation’s relationship with the LORD (11:14-15), and our next devotion will consider Samuel’s closing challenge, as he resigns the governing of the nation to Saul (1 Samuel 12).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith