I Sam. 11:1- 14:46
The Philistines were Israel’s enemies on their western side and the Ammonites were a threat east of them. As the Ammonite king, Nahash prepared to attack the people of Jabesh Gilead, they proposed that he make a covenant and they would serve them. The condition of surrender was that the Ammonites would put out all of their right eyes—a disgrace and sign of weakness. A period of seven days was given in order to notify all of Israel of the proposition and to prepare an answer.
Saul, who was not yet recognized as their king acted more as a judge. The Holy Spirit led him as his hastily assembled army soundly defeated the Ammonites. That victory confirmed his qualifications in the eyes of the people. They called for the deaths of the men who had rebelled against Saul’s selection as king. He refused their request and stated that, “Today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.” The kingdom was then renewed and Saul was made king in Gilgal with great rejoicing.
As Samuel began his farewell speech, he stated that if he had taken anything from them, he would restore it. They stated that he had not misused his position in any way.
Samuel continued by reminding the people of their historic heritage and the sins that they had committed along the way. He especially rebuked them for asking for a king to lead them instead of trusting in God for their deliverance. He admonished them to follow the Lord and to serve Him with all their heart. Rebellion would bring destruction. We should follow that same admonition today.
Saul began his reign as king of Israel in humility, but as time passed, pride began to overshadow his humility. His son, Jonathan seemed to be his “right hand man” or at least a close officer. Jonathan and a thousand poorly equipped men, by the power of God defeated a garrison of the seemingly ever-present Philistines. After that, the Philistines gathered an immense force against Saul’s meager army. Seeing their dangerous position, the men of Israel scattered and hid from their enemy.
The first of a series of mistakes that Saul committed occurred when Samuel failed to meet him at the time he had expected. Saul took it upon himself to offer a burnt offering to God. That seemed to him to be an appropriate action under the circumstances, BUT Saul was not a priest or even of the Levitical tribe which was to offer sacrifices. Samuel informed him of his foolish deed and said, “But now your kingdom shall not continue.”
Sometime later, Jonathan took his armor bearer and approached another garrison of the Philistines. Thinking that they were Israelites coming out of hiding, the Philistines called for them to, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” That was their sign that God was with them. Again, by the power of God they attacked and defeated those Philistines.
During Jonathan’s absence, Saul had mistakenly placed a curse on anyone who ate that day before he had taken vengeance on his enemies. Jonathan being unaware of the curse had eaten some honey that he had found. Saul was ready to kill his own son because of the curse but the people rescued him.