Introduction: 1 Samuel 11 recounts a spiritual high point in the life of Saul. In his humility, the Holy Spirit transformed him into first a prophet and then into Israel’s first king. Here, again powered by the Holy Spirit in his humility, he united the 12 tribes to deliver their wayward brothers in modern Jordan from the oppression of the Ammonites. These lost brothers symbolized God’s lost sheep. From Saul’s spirit-led leadership, God reveals seven lessons on the role every believer should play in helping to free and restore His lost sheep.
First, the people of Jabesh-Gilead lived outside the Promised Land and rejected their
Jewish brothers’ prior cries for help. They lived by the flesh and were part of God’s lost sheep of Israel. They were tormented by an Ammonite king named Nahash who symbolized the devil. His name means “serpent” or “snake.” From this, God reveals that His lost sheep are under Satan’s spiritual attack. Second, the people of Jabesh-Gilead were unable to defeat King Nahash and tried to become his subjects to obtain peace. King Nahash would only agree to this if he could blind every member of this city in one eye. From this, God reveals that His lost sheep are helpless from Satan’s torment without Jesus to protect them. Third, the people of Jabesh-Gilead sent out messengers to advise the twelve tribes that their eyes would be gorged out in seven days if no one could deliver them. This caused great sadness and weeping amongst the Jews. From this, God reveals that His lost sheep should cause you to grieve for their oppression. If you don’t care about God’s sheep, you are less likely to want to help them in a meaningful way. Fourth, As his first Spirit-led act as king, Saul sent out a call for the Jews to unite to save their lost brothers and sisters. From this, God reveals that His lost sheep need your help and should prompt you to action. Fifth, through the power of the Spirit, Saul’s united army of Israel defeated the Ammonites and freed the people of Jabesh-Gilead. Today, the battle we fight is spiritual and not physical. From this, God reveals that His lost sheep need the Body of Christ to unite as prayer warriors for their deliverance. Sixth, when some of the Jews called upon Saul to execute those who opposed his coronation, Saul showed them mercy and forgiveness. These rebels were also amongst God’s lost sheep. From this, God reveals that His lost sheep need your mercy and forgiveness for their sins. Finally, Samuel led the nation under Saul to seek spiritual renewal and God’s fellowship. God’s lost sheep also need spiritual renewal and His fellowship.
The besieged Jews in Jabesh-Gilead offer a covenant of service to their tormentor. Saul’s first test as king came outside of Israel when an Ammonite king attacked the tribe of God in modern day Jordan: “1 Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, ‘Make a covenant with us and we will serve you.’” (1 Sam. 11:1). The people of Jabesh-Gilead made no attempt to seek God’s help. Nor did they at first call upon the other tribes for help. They instead were ready to trade their God-given freedoms for a covenant of servitude to the Ammonites.
Satan constantly attacks God’s people. King Nahash (whose name meant “serpent” or “snake”) symbolized the devil. Satan shares the same title: “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;” (Rev. 20:2). Like King Nahash, Satan attacks God’s people. Although his days are numbered, Jesus referred to him as “the ruler of this world.” (Jo. 12:31). Paul also called him both the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). He has real power to deceive others. Yet, he provides no refuge for those who submit to him. He can only offer them more evil. Just as Satan is the long-term enemy of God’s people, the Ammonites were long-term enemies of the Jews and the people of Gilead. God previously showed His mercy and grace by empowering an unworthy judge name Jephthah with the Holy Spirit to gather an army of Jewish soldiers to defeat a prior Ammonite army in battle: “29 Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.” (Jdgs. 11:29). “32 So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.” (Jdgs. 11:32-33). Proving himself no better than Satan, Jephthah later sought to pay tribute to God with an evil act of sacrificing his daughter to give thanks for his victory in battle (Jdgs. 11:34-40).
The people of Jabesh-Gilead symbolized the people of the flesh. The name “Jabesh- Gilead” referred to a tribe of Gad in the territory of the Jordan (Josh. 13:24-28). Gad was the son of Zilpah, Leah’s maid, Jacob’s seventh son (Gen 30:11). Gad was a child of the flesh, not of God’s promise. Leah had Jacob sleep with her maid Zilpah out of jealousy to have more children than her sister Rachel. Gad, like his other brothers, was also guilty of selling Joseph into slavery out of jealousy. Gad’s tribe also kept bad company, and it stumbled in its walk. Gad guarded behind Reuben on the southern flank of the Tabernacle and became influenced by its sins (Nu. 2:14-15). While in the wilderness, the fighting men of Gad declined from 45,650 to 40,500 (Nu. 1:25; 26:18). This was a decrease of 5,150 or 11.28%. By their decline, they likely participated with Reuben in Korah’s rebellion (Nu. 16:41-50), the complaints about the lack of water at Meribah (Nu. 20:2-5), the complaints against God’s manna (Nu. 21:5), and the Jews’ acts of temple prostitution (Nu. 25:1-9). God protected the Jews by conquering the lands of the Amorite Kings Sihon and Og east of the river Jordan. The tribes of Reuben and Gad then became filled with covetousness as they noticed that God had given them “an exceedingly large number of livestock.” (Nu. 32:1). They then became slothful when they saw that the conquered land of Jordan “was indeed a suitable place for livestock.” (Nu. 32:1, 4). After realizing the comfort of God’s blessings, the tribes of Gad and Reuben pleaded with Moses: “do not take us across the Jordan.” (Nu. 32:5). They only sought after their own interests. Moses then chastised both tribes. In exchange for their agreement to help with the conquest of the Promised Land, Moses granted Gad and Reuben the lands of the Amorite Kings Sihon and Og east of the river Jordan (Nu. 32:16-27). This tribe chose not to live inside the Promised Land. Their hearts were in the world. Hundreds of years later, God reveals that the tribe of Gad refused to contribute to a critical fight against the Canaanites. “17 ‘Gilead remained across the Jordan; . ..’” (Jdgs. 5:17(a)). The Jews later punished the people from this same city of Jabesh-Gilead when they refused to fight in the Jews’ civil war against the tribe of Benjamin. In a misguided effort to correct their own sins, the Jews decided to murder an entire clan from this same city and take their virgin daughters for the 600 Benjamite men who remained after the civil war: “8 And they said, ‘What one is there of the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the Lord at Mizpah?’ And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-Gilead to the assembly. 9 For when the people were numbered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 And the congregation sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, ‘Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11 This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every man and every woman who has lain with a man.’ 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.” (Jdgs. 21:6-12). Centuries later after the tribes returned to Israel from Babylon, there was no land for the people of Gad to return to because Jordan was not part of the Promised Land. They became a lost tribe. The lesson is not to choose the world over the things of God. When you choose the world over God, you live outside of His protections.
Satan attacks the lost sheep who are separated from God’s flock. The people from Jabesh Gilead initially did not turn to the other tribes of Israel for help. They most likely concluded the other tribes would not come to their protection because they did come to their aid in the past. Because of their prior actions, they were isolated from the larger body of believers. This also made them vulnerable. Satan is referred to as a predator who seeks to attack the weak or the vulnerable. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8). God further reveals that believers are like sheep, without any means of protection when stranded from the shepherd: ‘“He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I ‘love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’” (Jo. 21:16). Jesus is the ultimate Shepherd (Matt. 2:6). Yet, He may not protect the sheep who refuse His help.
King Nahash demands to partially blind the besieged Jews. The people of Jabesh-Gilead soon learned that they could not simply pay tribute to King Nahash to obtain peace. They would also need to be shamed with each person agreeing to being blinded in one eye. “2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, ‘I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel.’” (1 Sam. 11:2). Under God’s Law, Nahash was required to offer the Jews terms of peace before attacking: “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace.” (Dt. 20:10). But this kind of mutilation violates God’s Law. King Nahash wanted their tribute while ensuring that they could never fight him again.
Satan uses your flesh to wage war against you and tries to blind and shame you. One commentator observes: “We can see in this account a similarity between Satan, our spiritual enemy, and Nahash, the enemy of Israel. Satan attacks us but cannot do anything against us without our agreement. He asks for, and requires our surrender. Satan wants us to serve him and will attempt to intimidate us into giving in to him. Satan wants to humiliate us and exalt himself over us. Through humiliating one saint, Satan wants to bring reproach on all God’s people. Satan wants to take away our ability to effectively fight against him. Satan wants to blind us and if he cannot blind us completely, he will blind us partially.” (David Guzik on 1 Sam. 11).1 Through Satan, your flesh is likewise at war with the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). Just as the Jews learned in Jabesh-Gilead you cannot make peace with Satan or the desires of your flesh. In relation to the things of the flesh, God warns: “You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.” (Dt. 23:6). Yet, Satan does not have the power to spiritually blind you. That is something that God allows to happen when a believer turns from Him. All who walk by sight are spiritually blinded: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4; Matt. 13:22). “Be delayed and wait, blind yourselves and be blind; they become drunk, but not with wine, they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers.” (Is. 29:9-10; 42:16). For example, Samson’s loss of his physical sight was the outward manifestation of what had happened to his lack of spiritual sight (Jdgs. 16:19-24). Likewise, Saul was spiritually blind to his persecution of Jesus’ followers until Jesus removed the scales from his eyes (Acts 9:8-9, 18). Satan also does not have the power to make you a reproach to others. A believer does that to him or herself when he or she turns away from God: “You make us a reproach to our neighbors, a scoffing and a derision to those around us.” (Ps. 44:13).
Satan cannot be defeated without Christ. Just like the people of Jabesh-Gilead, you also cannot break free from him without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why you are warned to flee Satan’s temptations (2 Tim. 2:22). Yet, if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need not fear Satan’s power. The Bible promises: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” (1 Jo. 2:13). Are you trying to face Satan alone?
The Jews yoked in oppression cry out for someone to save them. In an act of arrogant pride, King Nahasah gave the people of Jabesh-Gilead seven days to call for help. “3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, ‘Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you.’ 4 Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and spoke these words in the hearing of the people, and all the people lifted up their voices and wept.” (1 Sam. 11:3-4). King Nahasah may have believed that the Jews would abandon the people of Jabesh-Gilead because they had previously abandoned the Jews. Or, he may have viewed the Jews as weak and that he could defeat them all by luring them into a trap.
God will rescue you when you call upon Him in your time of trouble. Like the people of Jabesh-Gilead, God will also rescue you when you call to Him in faith: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (Ps. 50:15). “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.” (Ja. 5:13). “But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God;” (Job 5:8). “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.” (Ps. 50:15). “Rescue me and deliver me out of the hand of aliens, whose mouth speaks deceit and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” (Ps. 114:11). These protections are also available to you. If you are trapped in despair, have you called upon Him to help you?
Be patient for your deliverance. God does not abandon His people. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6). Yet, just as Saul had to patiently wait in submission seven days to become king (1 Sam. 10:8), the Jews would need to wait seven days to be saved. God also tells you to be patient for your deliverance. “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps. 37:7). “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1(b)). “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps. 130:5). Do you patiently wait for the Lord’s timing?
Led by the Spirit, Saul rallied Israel to free the besieged Jews in Jordan. While in a state of humility, God’s Holy Spirit was able to come upon Saul and empower him to unite the tribes of Israel together to free their wayward brothers in Jordan. “5 Now behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen, and he said, ‘What is the matter with the people that they weep?’ So they related to him the words of the men of Jabesh. 6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, ‘Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen.’ Then the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one man. 8 He numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000.” (1 Sam. 11:5-8). Saul would not always walk with God. Yet, he initially walked in humility by farming to support himself before the institutions of the monarchy could be established. His humility allowed God to exalt him (Matt. 23:12). His first Spirit-led act was to unite Israel.
Unite others in the Body of Christ. Like the Spirit-led Saul, you are called upon to unite others in the Body of Christ. “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12). “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Cor. 12:20-21). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4). Do your words unify others for God’s glory? Or, do your words cause pain and division?
Saul sacrifices two oxen as a warning to the Jews who refused to help their brethren2
Be angry at sin without sinning. Many assume that anger is always sinful. It isn’t. There is an appointed time for everything, including anger and war. “A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecc. 3:8). Paul tells us to be angry at sin without sinning by making the anger about yourself: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (Eph. 4:26). Saul was angry at the plight of his brothers and sisters. He was not angry because of some personal insult. Society’s war on God’s morality should cause every believer to be angry. Yet, believers should not make their anger personal. They should instead channel their anger into prayer. Instead of fighting physical battles like Saul did, our battles today are spiritual. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). If you are angered at the attack on the authority of God’s Word and at the unchecked sin in society, have you turned to God in prayer for His intervention?
Free a brother or sister who is trapped in spiritual bondage. Like the Spirit-led Saul, you are called upon to free your brothers and sisters who are trapped in spiritual bondage: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:1-2). “and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” (Heb. 12:13). Jesus will also reward those who help to restore a brother or sister who has fallen into sin: “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (Ja. 5:19-20). When you learn of a brother or sister trapped in bondage, do you judge them and spread gossip about them? Or, do you seek to restore them in a spirit of gentleness?
Empowered by the Spirit, the Jews defeat the Ammonites. Saul first gave hope to the oppressed. He then allowed God to crush the enemy of His people. “9 They said to the messengers who had come, ‘Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh-gilead, ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will have deliverance.’’ So the messengers went and told the men of Jabesh; and they were glad. 10 Then the men of Jabesh said, ‘Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.’ 11 The next morning Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp at the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.” (1 Sam. 11:9-11). The Ammonites would only be the first of many enemies that Saul would fight. “Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, the sons of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines; and wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment.” (1 Sam. 14:47).
God empowered Saul to free Israel’s lost sheep3
Map of Saul’s first conquest4
God’s mercy and grace in using Saul to free the Jews. Saul did not deserve to be king. Indeed, he would later fail as king. Yet, God did not want him to fail. Out of mercy and grace for His people, God gave Saul every blessing of the Holy Spirit that he needed to succeed: “(1) Saul is a gracious gift of God to His people, in spite of their sinful demand to have a king. God gives Saul to Israel as her king out of mercy and compassion, because He has noted the nation’s calamities and distresses, and has sent Saul to deliver His people, just as He has done since the exodus (9:16; 10:18). (2) Saul is not given to Israel because God wants this man to fail, and therefore picks the worst possible specimen of humanity to give the nation as their king. God picks a physically superior man, whose appearance and stature seem to perfectly suit the task he is being given. (3) God supernaturally empowers Saul, putting his Spirit on him to enable him to judge and to lead with wisdom and power. Whatever weaknesses Saul has as a man, God deals with supernaturally, so that he became “another man” (see 10:6, 9). (4) And finally, God identifies Saul in such a way that no one but a worthless fool would deny that he is the appointed king. God is not trying to sabotage the reign of Saul, though He surely knows his kingdom will fail. The failures of Saul are not due to God’s undermining, but to Saul’s personal failure to walk in the ways of God, in his failure to trust and obey God.” Robert L. (Bob) Deffinbaugh, 7. The Making of Israel’s First King (1 Samuel 9:1-11:13).
God uses the meek and the humble as His servants. Through Saul, God reveals that He uses the meek and humble servants who respond in faith to receive His honors: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23; Prov. 16:19; Jam. 4:6, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5). Do you walk with humility and faith to allow God to honor you?
Cling to Jesus and He will bless you with protection. When you are faithful and obedient, God promises to be an enemy to your enemies: “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7; Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17; Gen. 22:17). Joshua also promised the Jews that those who cling to God would see their enemies flee (Josh. 23:10). For those who are obedient and take refuge in Him in the face of the enemy, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). He used Gideon’s small army of 300 soldiers to kill 120,000 enemy Midianites (Jdgs. 7:16-22; 8:10). With His help, Jonathon later killed 20 enemy soldiers (1 Sam. 14:14). Likewise, it was He who allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58). Are you clinging to Jesus when you need protection?
God will judge the evil one during the end times. The prophet Ezekiel later prophesied about God’s judgment against the Ammonites: “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the sons of Ammon and concerning their reproach,’ and say: ‘A sword, a sword is drawn, polished for the slaughter, to cause it to consume, that it may be like lightning—”’ (Ezek. 21:28). The prophet Zephaniah also gave God’s prophecy of judgment against them: “I have heard the taunting of Moab and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, with which they have taunted My people and become arrogant against their territory.” (Zeph. 2:8). The Jews’ defeat of the enemy kingdoms on the edge of the Promised Land also foreshadowed Jesus’ judgment during the end times when He will drive out the ruler of this world: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (Jo. 12:31). “and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (Jo. 16:11). During the end times, Jesus will bring death to the unrighteous in a battle at the valley of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-21). He will also punish, with eternal death, those who refuse to submit to Him after a trial at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). God does not want any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). Nevertheless, because He is just, He must eventually judge sin. No individual or nation is exempt from being judged for their sins. Faith in Jesus is the only means to be saved (Acts 4:12). If the death of the unsaved causes you sorrow, are you motivated to tell them the good news so that they can be saved? (Matt. 28:16-20). If not, will you support a missionary who is willing to warn others about His future judgment?
Saul shows mercy and forgiveness and reveals that God is their true deliverer. Saul’s victory allowed him the chance to seek vengeance against his enemies. Yet, he showed mercy and forgiveness by revealing that God was their true deliverer. “12 Then the people said to Samuel, ‘Who is he 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 accomplished deliverance in Israel.’” (1 Sam. 11:12-13). When Saul was selected as king, Saul stayed quiet when some opposed him (1 Sam. 10:27). These rebels were also part of God’s lost sheep. At this point in his walk, Saul was an example to others. You as well should show mercy and forgiveness to your enemies.
Forgive those who have hurt you. As a role model for all believers, Jesus forgave those who crucified Him while He hung on the cross dying a painful death. ‘But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Lk. 23:24(a)). Just as Saul and later Jesus forgave those who attacked them, you too are called upon to forgive those who have attacked you: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7). “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Lk. 6:37). “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). Is there anyone you need to forgive?
Trust in God and not in strong leaders to deliver you. The people celebrated Saul for their deliverance. Yet, Saul wisely pointed out that it was God who delivered them. Believers are warned not to place their trust in their leaders for deliverance. “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (Ps. 118:9; 60:11). Have you placed your trust in governments or God to deliver you from poverty, oppression, and fear?
Don’t reject Jesus as your Lord. In one of His parables, Jesus quoted from these rebels to reveal that those who reject His reign will one day be judged. “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Lk. 19:27). Is Jesus Lord over every aspect of your life?
God offers spiritual renewal to the Jews in the Jordan, and they seek His fellowship. Under Samuel’s Spirit-led guidance, he urged the Jews to use their freedom to seek a higher walk through spiritual renewal. “14 Then Samuel said to the people, ‘Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.’ 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.” (1 Sam. 11:14-15). Gilgal is a place to the west of the Jordan river. It was at this place where the Jews renewed their covenant with God by circumcising the men who had not been circumcised. “9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.” (Josh. 5:9). Gilgal was also the place where Samuel told Saul to wait seven days for his anointing as king (1 Sam. 10:8). It was also one of the places where Samuel went each year to judge Israel (1 Sam. 7:16). Although Saul was already anointed king (1 Sam. 10:1), at Gilgal the nation as a whole would recognize Saul as their earthly king. Part of their spiritual renewal also involved submitting to Yahweh as the King of Kings.
Praise God for your deliverance. Like the Jews, you are called upon to praise God for your deliverance: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15). David, for example, regularly thanked God through songs of praise (e.g., Ps. 18:49; 26:7; 30:4, 12; 50:14; 69:30; 75:1; 79:13; 92:1; 95:2; 97:12; 100:4; 106:1; 107:1, 8; 116:17; 118:1; 119:62; 140:13; 147:7). Another way to be thankful is to offer your life as a living sacrifice of gratitude: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23). “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, . . .” (Ro. 12:1-2). Is your life a living sacrifice of gratitude?
Use your deliverance to walk in God’s fellowship. It is not enough to simply be freed from bondage. The highest use of freedom is to walk in God’s holy fellowship. This is what Samuel showed Israel. When their relationship with God was proper, “Abraham and Isaac walked with God.” (Gen. 48:15). Both Enoch and Noah also “walked with God.” (Gen. 5:22, 24; 6:9). Before his fall, Adam also walked with God. This suggested not just piety, but also fellowship. Sin broke the fellowship between God and mankind. Yet, through Christ’s blood, you too can “walk” with Him in fellowship (Dt. 5:33; 8:6). When you sin, you don’t lose your salvation. Yet, you can fall out of fellowship.
Jesus also wants you to desire His fellowship. Like the Jews, you too are called to seek fellowship with Jesus: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). Christ also offered believers spiritual intimacy with Him, symbolized by dining together with Him: ‘“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”’ (Rev. 3:20). He offered this so that you could find both fellowship and peace through Him (Jo. 16:33). Without His fellowship, your peace will be only temporary and easily broken (Eph. 2:13-15; Ro. 5:1). When you are in fellowship with Him, He offers the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil 4:7). Sadly, many believers have been led to believe that being saved is the end all be all of being a Christian. Yet, it is only the first step in a person’s walk with Christ. If you want fellowship with Him, you must accept His knock on the door of your heart. Are you using your freedom to seek Christ’s fellowship?