28th August 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 11
Message Alan Burke
It has been almost two years since we last focused on the book of 1 Samuel, we concluded at chapter 10 with Saul anointed as king. The LORD had given the people what they wanted but they would find out in time it wasn’t really want they wanted and it wasn’t really what they needed, they needed God and the true king not a king to be like the other nations. God gave Saul all he needed for what lay ahead, to rule the people well, God had called him, anointed him, equips him, he had everything he needed, he was set up for success, but Saul would eventually fail. Here though as we turn to chapter 11 there is little sign of the failure that would come, this is really the high point in Saul’s reign. Two thing to note, we don’t know if these events are happening consecutively, simultaneously (although this is unlikely) or that there was a gap between the events of chapter 10 and 11. The other thing to note is that the Ammonites here were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew who if we didn’t rely know were enemies of God’s people.
Nahash the King of the Ammonites lays siege to the city of Jabesh-Gilead. The Long and short of it is that from what was unfolding that even though all Israel had wanted a king like the nations around them (1 Sam 8:18-20) but here it seems like for the people of Jabesh-Gilead that it would be one of the kings of the nations around them that would rule over them. Nahash offers Jabesh-Gilead a peace treaty, but the treaty on the table but it would come at a cost, the cost you might think isn’t too sever, live and lose an eye, or keep your eyes and die. And at first glance we may miss what is going on but there is a reason for the right eye, it was a way of ensuring that the people of Jabesh-gilead could not wage war against the Ammonites in battle.
The loss of the right eye would have made military service impossible, since the sight of the left eye would be hindered by the shield. We even have from historical records at the time that this was often carried out against captured Israelite soldiers. There were no rules of war at the time. If this treaty took place, if the people of Jabesh-Gilead made Nahash their king, if the people lost their right eyes it would bring disgrace on the whole nation for they failed to step in to prevent it when they had previously subdued the Ammonites. This would have been a win win for Nashah, Jabesh-gilead for they would have been unable to put up any fight against him, they would be a disgrace to the people of Israel, meanwhile the people would have been able to live and exist, paying tribute to Nashah their king, but they would have lived.
The elders seek time to try and muster some help, a weeks respite, seven days to attempt to rouse Isreal to come to its defence. Nahash was confident or cocky enough to give it to them, all the while the people of Jabesh-Gilead would face the agonising wait to see if any would need come to their aid. Again history is important, for Jabesh-Gilead were in a dire situation and they would have known themselves how unlikely anyone coming to their aid. While they sought aid the failure of the people of Jabesh-Gilead in seeking aid is clear.
The reason is that the did not turn to God nor did they turn to God’s king, they wanted deliverance, but they failed to turn to the only one who could provide that deliverance through the King he had given them. They didn’t cry out to their God nor did they cry out to his anointed King. What we are confronted of here is the human disposition to try to do it their own way, in their own strength, they sought in the midst of their distress for a treaty with their enemy, when they felt the cost was too great they sought help but not from the place they should have sought it. For all of us there is but one way of deliverance for the situation that we find ourselves, we are not besieged by Nashash but we are by sin and the devil, and the only one who can provide escape is God, the only one who can provide us escape from the judgement that is due to us is God himself through his son, the true King. Jesus Christ who came that if we repent and believe, putting our trust in him and not the rulers of this world then we will be saved eternally.
Q29 How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us, (John 1:11–12) by his Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5–6)