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- Bible Text: 1 Samuel 11:1-7 (ESV)
1 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.
5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man.
- Reflection & Application: 1 Samuel 11:1-3
The question that plagues the minds of the elders of Jabesh Gilead is whether there is anyone to “deliver” (NIV “rescue”) them… This passage is especially reminiscent of Judges 19-21. In the earlier tragic episode … when the tribes joined to take action against Benjamin … the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead had not participated in the battles (Jud. 21:8). Reprisals were swift and severe (21:10-14). As a result, the inhabitants of the city probably have little reason now to hope that the tribes on the western side of the Jordan River will join together in order to defend them from the Ammonites.
- Given the historical betrayal on the part of the people of Jabesh-gilead, what is notable about them sending out messengers throughout Israel?
- How do I relate to people whom I have wronged in the past?
- Are there ways in which I am reluctant to ask for help out of guilt from the past, or some complicated mixture of shame, awkwardness, expectation of rejection, or sense of resignation?
1 Samuel 11:1-7
- Contrast the two responses described in v. 4 and vv. 6-7.
- What can I learn from the fact that “they came out as one man” when “the dread of the LORD fell upon the people”?
- What happens to a group’s unity if the members of that group begin to give into their individual fears? In what way is proper fear of God an appropriate unifying factor for Christians?
- To what extent am I “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27)?
 Wilson, Bill T., NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Samuel. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003. 175-185.