Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611


First Samuel

First Samuel was taught by Dr. James Modlish


Chapter Eleven


The chapter begins with "Then..." No sooner had Saul been declared king, than he is put to his first test. It is important to remember that Israel at this time is very loosely joined together. The period of the Judges was characterized by anarchy. The spiritual progress of the nation was but temporary and short lived. Although Samuel was a prophet, judge and man of God, his counsel was not consistently taken, and in the matter of the king, was flatly refused. In chapter eleven, Saul begins to draw together Israel in a spirit of nationalism through his decisive take charge leadership.







The Ammonites historically and biblically have their roots in Lot, (Gen. 13,19). Ammon and Moab were the two illegitimate children born through his post-Sodom incestuous relationship with his daughters, (Gen. 19:38). The Ammonites are called by the name "Ben'Ammi," which means "son of my people," i.e., relatives. Hence we find that the Israelites are commanded to avoid conflict with them on their march to the promised land, (Deut. 2:19). Their dwelling place was on the east side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River, between Arnon and Jabbok, but, before the advance of the Hebrews, they had been dispossessed of a portion of their land by the Amorites, who founded, along the east side of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, the Kingdom of Sihon, (Num. 21:21-31).

In the days of Jephthah they oppressed the Israelites east of the Jordan, claiming that the latter had deprived them of their territory when they came from Egypt, whereas it was the possessions of the Ammorites they took, (Judg. 11:1-28). They were defeated, but their hostility did not cease, and their conduct toward the Israelites was particularly shameful, as in the days of Saul here in I Samuel eleven, and of David, II Samuel (10). This may account for the cruel treatment meted out to them in the war that followed, (2 Sam. 12:26-31). They seem to have been completely subdued by David and their capital was taken, and we find a better spirit manifested afterward, for Nahash of Rabbah showed kindness to him when a fugitive, (2 Sam. 17:27-29).

Their religion was a degrading and cruel superstition. Their chief god was Molech, or Moloch, to whom they offered human sacrifices, (1 Kings 11:7), against which Israel was especially warned, (Lev. 20:2-5). This worship was common to other tribes for we find it mentioned among the Phoenicians.

Nahash is the Hebrew word for serpent, it's the same word used for the Devil in Genesis three.

The Ammonites threaten the men of Jabesh-gilead. They seek to make a covenant in which the Israelites, for protection, would lose their right eyes. The men of Jabesh ask for a seven day grace period to make their decision. These men are almost quick to sellout, for Israel had at one time sold them out; see (Judg. 21) for the background material, specifically (vss. 10,12,14).



The people did not look to Saul, as of yet, for leadership. He was untested. Note the messengers that bring the bad news do not go to Saul, for they are not confident, that he can, or will, do anything about it. A leader cannot expect the ""follow-ship"" of his people until he has proven himself.

"...The Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul," this is the second time (10:10). The first time was to prophesy, this second occurrence, for the purpose of decisive action. Saul uses an "object lesson" to help everyone get the picture. He takes a yoke of oxen, chops them up in little pieces, and threatens all those that will not support him with a similar fate. "And the fear of the Lord fell on the people,." The people took Saul seriously, "they came out with one consent." A godly leader should evoke the fear of God in his people. Saul had gained the respect, attention and cooperation of the Israelites in but a moment. The ball now lands in Saul's court. He must make the next move and it must be the right one, for all respect and confidence now rides on the outcome of his decisions.

The Ammonites are baited in a method very common in the Scriptures. It's the ol'' "yes we'll cooperate ambush trick." The move is reminiscent of the sons of Jacob setting up Hamor, Shechem and the Hivites after the defilement of Dinah in (Gen. 34).

This was Saul's first great test as king, and he passed with flying colors. "...the Ammonites ... were scattered, so that two of them were not left together."



As you will recall, chapter ten ended with a group of dissidents who questioned Saul and his ability to be a savior. "...How shall this man save us?" Saul's actions vindicated himself. He did not meet the opposition with rhetoric, "he delivered the goods." Saul was not the only one who remembered the words of the opposition, the people request that the discontent's lives be taken. Saul could have consented to the "lynching party," but he not only exhibits his grace and mercy, but once again shows his humility by crediting the Lord with the victory, "...for today the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel." Saul's great potential as a leader begins to be revealed and in this, perhaps, a most sobering lesson is learned; ... natural talent and ability, God's blessing and power, a man's wisdom and might, do not guarantee success. One must fight the battle one day at a time.

Although it had been prophesied that Saul would be king, and Saul was publicly chosen before the people, he is not generally accepted, until he passes his first test. Saul is brought to Gilgal and there he is made "king before the Lord," Samuel officiating at the coronation ceremonies. It was a great day of rejoicing, unfortunately to be short lived.

Gilgal holds a very prominent place in Israelite history. It was the place of the first camp of Israel after the crossing of Jordan (Josh. 4:19; 5:9,10; 9:6; etc.). According to (Josh. 15:7) it lay to the North of the valley of Achor, which formed the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here 12 memorial stones taken from the bed of the river were set up by Joshua after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan; and here (Josh. 5:5ff) the people were circumcised preparatory to the possession of the land, when it is said in Joshua, with a play upon the word, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you." Whereupon the Passover was celebrated and the manna ceased. To Gilgal the ark returned every day after having compassed the city of Jericho during its siege. There are numerous other facts that reaffirm the traditional and historical importance of coronating Saul at Gilgal.

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