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Monday, November 26, 2018

Saul's First Battle


          Even though Saul was not God’s choice of king over His people, He will use Saul to work out His plan of salvation even through man’s failure. God’s love is everlasting, but He cannot bless sin and rebellion. Even so, out of His love and mercy for His people, God anointed Saul, gave him the power of the Holy Spirit and a changed heart. Samuel, God’s faithful prophet, priest and king, will speak God’s Word to Saul. It will be up to Saul to continue in his anointing and change of heart by obeying God and His Word through His faithful prophet. The people will soon see that Saul does not have the heart of God. He is weak in the flesh. David, God’s choice for King over His people, was praised for being a “man after God’s own heart.”  God will show His people the error of their ways and the subsequent consequences.
            After being anointed by Samuel and being shown the regulations of kingship, Saul went to his home in Gibeah. Israel’s king was to be distinctly different from the kings of other nations. They were to be led by the Lord. Saul went to his home because there was no palace for a king at that time since Israel had never had an earthly king before. God was their King!

Natural vs Spiritual
          For those of you who have not read my teachings before, God uses me to show that He used the “natural” to paint a picture of the “spiritual” – both of Jesus and of Satan. Nanash, the leader of the Ammonites, is a type and shadow of the devil. His name means “serpent.” God revealed that the serpent of old is the devil in Revelation 20:2. When studying scripture, we must follow scripture from the beginning to the end to get the fullness of Truth.

Saul’s First Battle – Samuel 11
Soon Nanash the Ammonite besieged Jabesh Gilead. Nanash means “serpent.” Nanash is controlled by the spiritual serpent – the devil – who is the enemy of God’s people. Nanash shows how Satan works to weaken and discourage God’s people. Jabesh means “dry or dried up” – no life.
Nanash intimidates and puts fear in God’s people by threatening to “gouge out the right eye of every one of the men” of Israel to bring disgrace on all Israel and exalt himself. In biblical times, warriors would hold their shield with their left hand and fight with their right hand. If the right eye is taken out, the soldiers would be virtually blind and weakened. Satan too wants to humiliate and blind us to the truth so Jesus’ soldiers will be weakened against him and his demonic army.
The elders of Jabesh Gilead asked Nanash to give them seven days to see if they can find someone to save them. The elders were horrified at Nanash's threat, but they had no faith in themselves or in God to defeat their enemy. If they can't find a savior, they will have to surrender to Nanash. Satan can attack us, but he can’t do anything to us unless we lack faith in God and surrender our will to the devil. If the devil can’t blind us wholly, he will partially blind us to get his way. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the devil will twist scripture and even leave some words out to deceive and get us to do his will instead of the will of God. Unfortunately, the flesh is weak and often God’s people do surrender their will to the devil. A lack of knowledge and understanding of God’s Word will make it easier for a believer to be deceived. The Pharisees in the New Testament are an example of this. Jesus often called them a brood of vipers (serpents) and blind leaders of the blind because they were not accepting His words as truth.

Seeking a Savior – 1 Samuel 11:3
            Messengers of God’s people went throughout the land seeking a savior. When they came to Saul’s hometown and reported that Nanash had threatened to blind them, the people all wept aloud. They were full of fear and defeat. Our spiritual adversary – the devil – works in this way. He wants to fill us with fear and hopelessness instead of being full of faith and hope in God. When Saul saw God’s people weeping, he asked them why. When Saul heard the reason, “the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.” 1 Samuel 11:6 The Spirit of God came upon Saul to equip and empower him for the battle ahead. Righteous indignation rose up within Saul. Saul took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they turned out as one man. 1 Samuel 11:7 Saul ruled through fear instead of faith in God. The fear of Saul’s threat united God’s army of Israelites as one man. David, on the other hand, accepted, taught and trained the misfits who came to him in the cave of Adullam. These became David’s mighty men who fought many a battle to victory with David.

Victory and Deliverance
            When the messengers returned to Jabesh Gilead, they told the men of Jabesh that by noon the next day they will be delivered from the Ammonites and their evil leader. God had fired Saul up. He would lead God’s people into victory. The men of Jabesh fooled the Ammonites into believing that God’s people would surrender to them the next day, and they can do whatever seems good to them. This made the Ammonites overly confident. Then Saul separated his men into three divisions. During the last watch of the night, they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 1 Samuel 11:11 Those who were scattered were rendered ineffective. God works in unity, so His people are to work in unity. We must be united in the understanding and knowledge of His Word and Will. Otherwise, we are weakened. There is a lot of varying truth being spoken from Jesus’ Church. It is the Pure Truth that unites. Jesus spoke only pure Truth because He is Truth. He wants us to seek pure Truth. This cannot happen by just hearing the Word at Church on Sunday. We must meditate on the Word daily and seek the Truth.

Saul Confirmed as King by God’s People
            Saul led God’s people to victory. It was after this battle that the Israelites publicly confirmed Saul as king in the presence of the Lord. Prior to this, Samuel had anointed Saul as king privately. After the battle, the Israelites offered a peace offering to the Lord and celebrated. They thought they had a victorious king. Eventually, Saul will reveal his true nature and downfall.

                                     (Next week: Samuel’s Farewell Speech)
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