Wednesday, August 2, 2017

EmmDev 2017-08-02 [Lessons from Samuel] At his best

At his best

BACKGROUND: Jabesh Gilead was a frontier town east of the Jordan. It was being besieged by the Ammonites and when they offered to surrender because of the overwhelming odds, the Ammonites set gouging out the right eye of every citizen as the condition of peaceful surrender... (The elders of Jabesh Gilead sent out a cry for help.)
When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, "What is wrong with the people? Why are they weeping?" Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.
6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger. 7 He 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 terror of the LORD fell on the people, and they turned out as one man. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and the men of Judah thirty thousand.      (1Samuel11:4-8)
It's a striking picture: The King of Israel coming out from ploughing his fields... Is it humility - being simple king, or is it a denial of his kingly responsibilities? I'd like to think it is the former...

But when a need is brought to his attention, Saul doesn't hesitate.
He is filled with Divine indignation.

Earlier in the chapter we are told that there were some citizens who did not support Saul - they despised him and didn't send gifts. Saul was aware of them but took no immediate action.

Now Saul's actions are decisive.
He acts firmly and resolutely.
To our modern sensibilities his actions may seem extreme and excessive, but in the situation it was what was needed and the Israelites turned out in force and defeated the Amalekites.

After the victory, the people are ready to execute Saul's critics but look at how Saul responds: "No one shall be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel."

This is Saul at his best:

  1. Keeping things simple (he's still looking after his farm himself)
  2. Moved by the needs of his people
  3. Empowered for action by the Holy Spirit
  4. Gracious to his critics
  5. Giving the glory to God.

In the light of Saul's subsequent failures, these leadership principles are thought-provoking. When we are young or new in leadership, these principles should be a priority.

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