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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 11

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This Chapter opens with an account of Israel's distress, by reason Of the Ammonites' daring encampment against Jabesh-Gilead. The Gileadites are disposed to submit to the Ammonites, but their terms are both insolent and cruel. Saul being made acquainted with the circumstances of the case, commands all Israel to assemble for the relief of the Gileadites. He routs the Ammonites in battle, and makes a very great slaughter of them. All Israel rejoice, in consequence thereof, and are full of praises of their new king.

1 Samuel 11:1

(1) ¶ Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.

These Ammonites were relations to Israel, being the descendants of Lot. And if the Reader will consult Deuteronomy 2:19 , he will find how graciously the Lord dealt with them on that account. This was but a poor requital to Gilead. But when sin weakens, every enemy takes advantage.

Verse 2

(2) And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.

Observe, what fear must have taken possession of the minds of Israel, when the people are ready to submit to the yoke of Gentile nations, and to be tributaries to them. But reader, depend upon it, the same is in every instance. Guilt breeds fear.

Verses 3-4

(3) And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days' respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee. (4) Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.

We do not hear of prayer, or supplication to the Lord, put up. No fast. No day of public humiliation. The people lifted up their voices, and wept indeed, but it is not said, that they cried unto the Lord. Oh! how sweet is it to recollect, in the distresses of the soul, that the Lord waits to be gracious. See those promises; Isa_30:18; Isa_65:24 .

Verses 5-7

(5) ¶ And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh. (6) And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. (7) And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

We here see the effect of what was said in a former chapter, concerning Saul, that he should be turned into another man. Though he had retired, after his election to be king, to his father's house, yet he only waited an opportunity to testify that he was changed. But I beg the reader to observe, both what is said of Saul in these verses, and what is said of the people, that the whole is ascribed to the Lord. It was the Spirit of the Lord that stirred him up; and it was from the same source, that put his fear in the people. Precious in all instances, to trace our mercies to the fountain head!

Verses 8-11

(8) And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. (9) And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabeshgilead, Tomorrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad. (10) Therefore the men of Jabesh said, Tomorrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you. (11) And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.

The reader will have a better idea of Saul's enterprizing spirit, when he is informed, that from Bezek, to the scene of action, was near 60 miles, and the army had to cross Jordan also, in the accomplishment of it. Therefore he must not only have levied this army by day, but marched by night, in order to have done what he did. But principally let us behold the hand of the Lord in it. If God be for us, who can be against us? And my brother, amidst all the threats, and besiegings of the enemy, never forget how soon the Captain of our salvation can hasten to our rescue. Day and night he is at hand, and no distance, no Jordan, no fire, or water, can separate us from his love, and his powerful assistance. What a blessed recollection, amidst all the hosts of the believer's foes?

Verse 12

(12) ¶ And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death.

The zeal of the Israelites for Saul, after so complete a victory, is not to be wondered at. They would have sacrificed, no doubt, anything at the moment, to show their loyalty. But we do not hear a word of ascribing the work to the Lord. Alas! what an everlasting backwardness there is in our nature, to do this!

Verse 13

(13) And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for today the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel.

This conduct in Saul, was both generous, and becoming. David felt similar affections towards Shimei, his sworn enemy. 2 Samuel 19:21-23 .

Verses 14-15

(14) Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there. (15) And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

How beautiful Samuel appears in this. He directs the minds of the people to be looking unto the Lord, and where to ascribe the praise. But oh! what rejoicings are in the soul, when Jesus is crowned King, and our sacrifices, and peace-offerings, are all found in him.

Verse 15


MY soul! in those Ammorites behold the sworn foes, not of Israel of old only, but of the Israel of God, in all ages. How alive are they to harrass, and afflict believers. The reproach of Israel is their delight. To put out their right eyes would be their highest joy. And how hast thou, my soul, been ready to serve them, like the men of , Jabesh-Gilead, and to make any covenant with them, if they would but be easy in their government. Dearest Jesus! be thou everlastingly praised, that thou wouldst not let me rest in this yoke of sin, but didst come to my rescue, and hast gotten thyself the victory, and brought down thine, and my enemies under thy feet. Oh! grant, heavenly Lord, that I may never more, after so complete a deliverance, be brought under the dominion of the enemy, nor meanly seek peace with thine, and my sworn foes. Give me grace and strength, openly, and boldly in thy great name, to wage war with sin, Satan, and the world. And in all my spiritual warfare, do thou as the great Captain of thy little army, go on before me, and make me more than conqueror, through thee, who hast loved me! Let this be my every day song; the Lord is my light, and my salvation, whom then shall I fear; the Lord is my strength, and my song, and he is become my salvation.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/1-samuel-11.html. 1828.
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