THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7
SCRIPTURE:1 SAMUEL 11
BY: Josh Boles
We have spent a good deal of time the last few days discussing the fact the God uses us even in spite of sin, and rebellion. We see this all throughout the history of Israel. We see it again in chapter 11 as we look at Saul’s first conquest. This is one of the main reasons that the Israelites asked for a king. They wanted a king so they would have a better chance at defeating their enemies.
The Lord reached down to their level of unbelief and gave them a king who had the appearance of a natural warrior. How sad is it though that they trusted a man made of clay instead of trusting in the Lord who had delivered them from their enemies countless times.
It is easy for us to rail on the Israelites for their unbelief, but today we get a small glimpse into what drove their fears. Israel’s demand for a king was not on a whim for no apparent reason. They faced real pressure and danger from their Transjordanian neighbors. Transjordan is the region east of Israel, across the Jordan river. We need to realize that these were not enemies from far away, in fact they were related to the Israelites. This means the threats they were facing were an imminent, constant danger the Israelites had faced for a long time.
Let’s take this a step further. At the beginning of the chapter we are introduced to Nahash, an Ammonite. The Ammonites were descendants from Abraham’s nephew Lot. If you remember back in Genesis, Lot was greedy and took all the good land, while Abraham was humble and let his nephew take all the prosperous land. Abraham was abundantly blessed and thrived. Lot did not, thus began the tension that would never end.
This helps us to understand the fear of the Israelites a little more. If we think about it, how many of us can say that when we are faced with abundant fear, and trials, that we trust completely in the Lord? A couple of the other Transjordan neighbors were Moab, and Edom. So again, they had constant fear that they would be devoured by their enemies, and eventually their fears were realized.
I am not going to go over the story in great detail, but lets go over some highlights. The Ammonites laid siege to Jabesh-gilead. The men of the city offered themselves in servanthood to the Ammonites, and petitioned Nahash to make a treaty with them. He agreed to do so, but only if he could gouge their eyes out, Ouch. The only reason for this was to shame Israel. This indicated the hate they have towards the Israelites. After a week had been given to them to figure things out, they organized a secret war plan with Saul, which lead to the demise of the Ammonite army, establishing Saul as the kinsmen redeemer of the people of Jabesh-gilead.
This theme of kinsmen redeemer is a major plot in Old Testament theology. Many times throughout history, Israel renewed kinship with many nations. What we have to understand is that this can teach us a lot about God, and how he loves His people. Jesus serves as the ultimate kinsman redeemer. Even in the Old Testament the Israelites may have thought Saul was their ultimate warrior, but ultimately it was the grace of God working through him. Just go read verse 6 for proof. The grace go God is truly a miraculous thing, woven into the very fabric of the universe. It is sufficient for all of our needs. So, the next time you are faced with fear, don't settle for the worldly answer, or the quick fix. Focus on the saving grace of the Lord, for he truly wants to be your kinsmen redeemer!