1 Samuel 11 paints a very different picture of Saul than we see in chapter 10. In chapter 10 you get the impression that Saul was dealing with insecurities and a low self-image, and that he wasn’t entirely sure he could handle leading the nation of Israel.
But then his moment comes.
Messengers from Jabesh Gilead arrive in Saul’s hometown with the news that Nahash the Ammonite is threatening to do some pretty awful things to the inhabitants of that city. When Saul hears the news, the spirit of the LORD comes upon him, and in righteous anger he is moved to action against the threat.
An interesting side-note is that his method of calling the people together for war (cutting up his oxen and sending the pieces throughout the country) is very similar to the call to action in the book of Judges that ultimately led to Saul’s own tribe being nearly wiped out.
The method worked, and 330,000 of the people came together of one accord to Saul and Samuel. The next morning they went out to battle and struck the Ammonites so that few were left. The threat was extinguished!
After the great victory, the people’s loyalty to Saul grew immensely; they were ready to kill anyone who had ever expressed disloyalty.
But Saul was gracious. No one would die that day, because it was a day of celebration. It was the day that the LORD had saved Israel.
So Samuel suggested that instead they go back to Gilgal and “renew the kingdom” (vs. 14). Which they did. They got together, re-declared Saul as king, and spent time making sacrifices and offerings to the LORD.
So we see that the focus at this point was still very much on the LORD. I think the people were starting to look to Saul as their deliverer, but both Saul and Samuel directed the praise back to God. It was the LORD who had accomplished the victory through Saul.
That’s something that we all need to remember. That it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves (Psalm 100:3). We are the paintbrush in the hand of the Artist, the hammer in the hand of the Carpenter, the pen in the hand of the Author.
Do we allow Him to use us, or do we try to fight against the hand that holds us?
Do we humbly recognize that it is God who works in us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13)?
Do we truly live by the command, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD” (2 Cor. 10:17)?