1 Samuel: Saul the warrior

1 Samuel 11:1–15

If you’re going to be a king, you better act like one.

Here, yet again, we hear echoes of the book of Judges. A neighboring country oppresses the people, the Spirit of God inspires an ordinary dude, and he leads the people to military victory. In this instance, the Israelite town of Jabesh-gilead is under attack from the Ammonites, who threaten to gouge out everybody’s right eyes in seven days. Those guys sound pretty mean.

Word spreads through the countryside. Saul is out working the field with his oxen when he hears the news. What Saul does in response, shows us some things about leadership:

What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?

1) Saul notices pain.

He has empathy. He’s not solely motivated by his own needs or survival. Maybe that sounds like a no-brainer, but our human tendency is to default into “Hey, pay attention to why my life sucks!” When was the last time you saw a Facebook status of “How was your day?”

A good leader, like Saul, notices and listens to the hurts of others.

The Spirit of God rushed upon Saul.

2) Saul is inspired and animated by God’s Spirit.

Every time we hear the Spirit of God mentioned in these stories our ears should perk up. Pay attention. This is important. When Saul first met Samuel, we’re told that “God gave him another heart.” And immediately he encounters a posse of prophets and we’re told that “the Spirit of God rushed upon him.” The very same words here. This is not Saul’s idea to do something. It’s God’s.

The dread of the LORD fell upon the people, and the came out as one man.

3) The people respond to God in a spirit of unity.

Again, an interesting choice of language. This is different from the “fear of the LORD” seen elsewhere in the Old Testament. But it definitely communicates that the people are responding to God and not to Saul, and it drives them to work together as one team.

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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