Saul is the new king of Israel and, almost immediately, he has a crisis on his hands. A relatively small out-post town was threatened by Nahash (his name means snake), and so over-confident was he that he gave the Israelite town a week’s preparation for protection. With Israel in an uproar Saul takes an army and travels to Jabesh-Gilead and delivers them from their enemy (11:1-11). Chapters 10 and 11 end with a word about Saul’s peaceful approach to what was an actual threat to the king and his reign (cf. 10:27; 11:12-15). Jewish theologians are not so sympathetic to Saul’s actions. They commend Saul for his humility, but they criticize him for it also. “It is ironic that Saul, who was chosen in great measure because of his humility, eventually lost his throne because he displayed humility when strength was called for” (ArtScroll, p. 69).
Application: Is the no compatibility between humility and strength? Considering the above remark you might wonder. To be of a humble spirit, in fact, is quite compatible with strength. Strength is not associated with verbal demonstration or physical demonstration. It is associated with what one has confidence in; if confidence is misplaced that strength will soon be exposed. On the other hand, if confidence is squarely placed on the proper throne (of God) then a whole different world opens up. Paul said, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, ESV). Moses was called the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3); will anyone actually declare that Moses was not a strong man doing what he did? Interestingly enough the NET uses the word humble rather than meek.
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