“When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, 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 came out together as one. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.” 1 Samuel 11.6-8
The Israelites were forever fighting against their neighbors. This stemmed from when Caleb and Joshua came into the land of Canaan and those tribes who were spared and made treaties with the Israelites, would forever be a thorn in their side (see Joshua 9). Because of this, Israel would always be in turmoil.
In this passage the Ammonites had just threatened the men of Israel in Jabesh. They wanted these men to surrender to them in exchange for an eye to be gouged out of each man. This would have brought shame on all of Israel. So the people of Jabesh had seven days to summon help or they would be humiliated in front of the whole nation.
Word of this was brought to the new king Saul. When he heard this the “Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.” God’s anger was filling Saul with righteousness and fury. God’s anger burned through him and he summoned three hundred thousand troops from around the nation. They effectually descended upon the Ammonites and utter destroyed them saving Jabesh from humiliation and slavery (v.11).
When Saul heard the news of the treatment of his people, it wasn’t only his decision to muster an army and attack the enemy, it was the Lord’s. It was in Saul’s nature to be strong and courageous, leading men into battle was not in his experience but it was in God’s. The very nature of Saul changed when the Spirit of God came upon him and he responded not as a man but as one filled with the power of God.
The question I want to raise is “how are we made different by God’s Spirit?” Is our life a reflection of his purposes? Do we act in accordance with his will? Are our actions like God? Do we imitate Jesus? Or are we just mediocre and secular people who claim to be Christians? How has God’s Spirit impacted us to act on his behalf?
In the famous book by Charles Sheldon, “In His Steps,” written in the 1896, he writes about a pastor who is convicted to do what Jesus would do in each and every circumstance of life. The pastor in his fictional story inspires and encourages his congregation to follow suite. They come up with the phrase, “What would Jesus Do?” Ultimately their town is transformed by the Spirit of God working through ordinary Christians committed to God’s cause.
Could someone say the same of us? Are we his vessels? Are we his clay? Why not submit to the Lord? Allow him to rescue us from the pain of sin and death so we might imitate him and be filled with his Spirit in word, deed and action.
“O Lord God, you are good and without I am nothing. My desire and will would lead me along the path to destruction if left to my own devices. But with your Spirit guiding me, I can help partner in building your Kingdom. Guide me, dear Lord, lead me along paths of righteous for your names sake. I praise you for your unending love and steadfast compassion. Come now, Holy Spirit of God, fill me with your power and love. Help me be who you have called me to be. By your grace and for your glory. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen