What’s the difference between a ruler and a leader?
I asked myself this question as I read through chapter 11 of 1 Samuel.
Although Saul was anointed king of Israel by Samuel and accepted by the people, he had not yet proven his ability as a leader.
But, we’ll discover that God can turn anyone into a true leader.
I’m including the full chapter below because it’s not very long. And, I believe it speaks for itself what God can do.
Let’s study how Saul steps up and defends his fellow Israelites in this Scripture passage.
Saul – True Leader of Israel by God’s Hand
“Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us and we will serve you.”
But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel.”
The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you.”
Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and spoke these words in the hearing of the people, and all the people lifted up their voices and wept.
Now behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen, and he said, “What is the matter with the people that they weep?”
So they related to him the words of the men of Jabesh.
Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry.
He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen.”
Then the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one man.
He numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000.
They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh-gilead, ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will have deliverance.’”
So the messengers went and told the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.
Then the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.”
The next morning Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp at the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day.
Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.”
But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished deliverance in Israel.”
Then Samuel said to the people, “Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.”
So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal.
There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.” – 1 Samuel 11
In this battle against the Ammonites, Saul proved himself as a military leader. This is a far cry from the tall, lanky boy who hid among the baggage when called to be king.
All through the Bible, we find God working through unlikely people. Even Moses was an unwilling messenger when God commissioned him to go to Egypt.
Most of us fall short when asked to do God’s will too, don’t we?
But, even though he was unwilling to serve in the beginning, Saul stepped up and delivered Israel from certain capture and death.
The side note is, He spared those who criticized him as king. Yes, Saul was also compassionate in his beginning years as leader.
Saul’s Anger – A Strong Emotion Redirected
Psychologically speaking (sorry for that long word), anger can harbor more than one outcome.
Truth is, there are two types of anger – good and bad.
Of course, the ‘bad‘ is obvious. We get angry when things don’t go our way.
At the time of this writing, this is happening in our nation today. Because of an action of one bad person who made a mistake; innocent people are now being terrorized and even killed.
I didn’t intend to become political with this but, it gives a good example of where anger can lead.
Just as there is a dark side to anger, it can be used for positive change.
In the case of Saul, he “burned with anger” because his people were being threatened.
Now, I admit that battles in ancient times were brutal. And, they still are today, aren’t they?
That aside, when anger is directed toward sin or the mistreatment of others, it can sometimes be justified.
Saul and the Holy Spirit
In the book of 1 Samuel, Saul was directed by the Holy Spirit to right a wrong.
And, his anger was used to take care of his people – God’s chosen people.
So, the next time you or I feel angry about something, let’s first ask ourselves two questions…
- Am I angry at a particular person because I didn’t get my way?
- Or, am I angry because someone is being hurt by sin or mistreatment?
Once we clarify the answer lies in the second question, let’s ask God what we can do to channel that anger into a positive outcome.
We can do it – God can help!
Love in Christ,
If you would like to discover how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to see John 3:16 here.