The Spirit's at work in all sorts of people, even those who will ultimately reject Him.
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1 Samuel 11 (ESV)
1 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead,
and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.”
2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them,
“On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes,
and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.”
3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel.
Then, if there is no one to save us,
we will give ourselves up to you.”
4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul,
they reported the matter in the ears of the people,
and all the people wept aloud.
5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen.
And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?”
So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh.
6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words,
and his anger was greatly kindled.
7 He took a yoke of oxen
and cut them in pieces
and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying,
“Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel,
so shall it be done to his oxen!”
Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man.
8 When he mustered them at Bezek,
the people of Israel were three hundred thousand,
and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
9 And they said to the messengers who had come,
“Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’ ”
When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad.
10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said,
“Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you,
and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.”
11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies.
And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day.
And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
12 Then the people said to Samuel,
“Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’
Bring the men, that we may put them to death.”
13 But Saul said,
“Not a man shall be put to death this day,
for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.”
14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.”
15 So all the people went to Gilgal,
they made Saul king
before the Lord in Gilgal.
they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord,
and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
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1 Samuel 11 Summary
Yesterday's chapter closed this way:
But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man [Saul] save us?” (v27)
It's easy to see why so many Israelites were skeptical of Saul being named their new king. Although he was tall and handsome, everything we've read about him so far indicates that he was an incompetent shepherd and a bumbling fool.
Now Saul has an opportunity to galvanize support for his fledgling monarchy, and he takes it. A neighboring village has come under attack by the Ammonites, who were cousins of the Israelites (descendants of Lot) who wanted to assert their superiority by humiliating the men of the village.
Saul immediately springs to action, graphically asserting his leadership by threating to destroy the livelihood of anyone who doesn't follow him by sending around a cut up pair of oxen.
Saul's motivation worked, and a large contingent of Israelites responds to their neighbor's pleas and routs the enemy.
Saul reaches what will end up being the pinnacle of his kingship when he extends mercy to those who had previously mocked him. Rather than stringing them up as the crowd wanted, Saul demonstrated forgiveness and by doing so brought unity to his people as he reminds them that it was not Saul, but the Lord has worked salvation in Israel (v13).
We often associate God pouring out His Spirit on people by bringing them to salvation, because that's how we see it the most. But as we learned yesterday, sometimes God spiritually empowers people for temporal reasons rather than eternal salvation.
Such seems to be the case with Saul. Once again we read that the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul (v6), yet we know that Saul will ultimately reject God.
This helps us understand that when we see ungodly people doing godly things, we can - must - support them. You certainly should pray that the Spirit works salvation in their hearts, but celebrate every instance you see the Spirit working, even if it just seems temporary.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God is our Lord who works salvation in His people (v13)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the wisdom to recognize the Spirit's work and to support those who are doing it.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: