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1 Samuel 11:1-2. Then Nahash the Ammonite— Saul had not long to wait for an occasion to shew himself worthy of the kingdom of Israel. Nahash, a king or general of the Ammonites, came against Israel. This was one of the pretences which the Israelites made use of for a change of government, ch. 1 Samuel 12:12.; and it seems that they had sufficient grounds for a fear of this invasion, as Nahash appears to have been a man of a most cruel and insolent disposition, from the terms which he proposed to the men of Jabesh, which were no less disgraceful than barbarous. See Psalmanazar's last Essay.
1 Samuel 11:7. Took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces— See the note on Judges 19:29. Bochart Hieroz. pars 1: lib. 2 cap. 33 and Martin's Explic. des Textes.
1 Samuel 11:12. And the people said unto Samuel— We have here a fine picture of the capricious disposition of the common people, and of the prodigious alteration which great success makes in their affections. The moderation of Saul, 1Sa 11:13 deserves as much praise, as their precipitate thirst for revenge deserves condemnation.
1 Samuel 11:15. There they made Saul king— The meaning is, that there they proclaimed and publicly acknowledged Saul for their king. The Targum expresses it very well, they made Saul to reign.
REFLECTIONS.—The sons of Belial now shall see whether Saul is able to save them, or not.
1. Saul was in the field, tending his cattle, when the message came. Though chosen to be a king, yet returning to his old employment till God should call him out to action, as he followed his cattle home, the cry of the people excited his inquiry; and when he heard the cause, anger against the inhuman Ammonite kindled in his bosom; he felt his spirit moved with unusual ardour, and instantly resolved the rescue of Jabesh-gilead. Note; (1.) We must not hear the sorrows of the afflicted without kind inquiries, and proffering ready help to alleviate their miseries. (2.) A holy indignation against deeds of cruelty and wickedness is highly commendable.
2. The method that he took to raise the forces of Israel; He hewed a yoke of oxen in pieces, and sent these by the messengers into all the coasts, threatening so to do by their oxen who should be absent from the general rendezvous; and joined Samuel's name with his own, both to pay him honour, and to engage the readier submission. The effect produced was great; God put his fear upon the people, and they instantly assembled from every quarter, to the number of three hundred thousand men of Israel, besides thirty thousand of Judah; whose proportion, though apparently smaller than might be expected, may easily be accounted for, as the Philistines lay on their borders, against whom they must be guarded. Note; Where the fear of God is in the heart, there men will make conscience of their duty in every station, and be, on principle, good subjects, good soldiers, and good servants.
3. Confident of success, Saul sends the messengers back with assurance of immediate relief: he doubted not but on the morrow he should be with them, which filled the city with joy. To perform his promise, he marches instantly in three bodies; and though the distance was sixty miles, and all on foot, on the third day before the morning-watch, he broke into the camp of the Ammonites, lulled into security with the message which the men of Jabeth-gilead had sent them on the return of the messengers, that they would come out to them the next day. A general route ensued; till mid-day, they made havock of the flying Ammonites; and so dispersed and destroyed them, that not two of all their numerous hosts were left together. Note; When we go out. dependant upon God, we shall return crowned with victory.
4. Samuel, it seems, had either accompanied them in the expedition, or met them on their return: and, jealous now for the honour of their king, endeared to them by his victory, though they had before taken notice of the insult, the people apply to him, as judge in Israel, for the death of these sons of Belial, who had despised the anointed of the Lord. Saul, like a good king, taking more pleasure in exercising his clemency, than executing the offenders, interposes, and will not have that day stained with Israelitish blood, in which God had wrought so great a salvation for them. Note; All our successes must be ascribed to God; for it is his arm alone that obtains the victory for us over our enemies spiritual and temporal. Samuel now seizes the favourable disposition of the people, to confirm the kingdom to Saul: he led them to Gilgal; and, amidst the joyful sacrifices for their past victory, Saul is solemnly invested with the supreme power by universal consent, and with great solemnity. Note; It is good to make use of a favourable gale while it blows.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 11". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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