Terror of the Lord

1 Samuel 11:1-7

1Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.”

2But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”

4When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

6When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7He 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.

Tribe

A student from countryside town went to college in the city. It was his first time experience to be separated from his parents. He heard of gang wars and violence from other students. His older relatives who studied in the city assured him, “Just inform us when someone threatens you and we will rally our tribe!”

No threat and no tribal reprisal. It was just a boastful display of serious concern but not necessarily and actually executed in this present generation.

Gang wars had been a community problem in the past that still recurring at present time. There are also personal, family, and even church problems that we just cannot ignore or set aside. Safe driving is not very sure during winter and at anytime. Burglar occurrence is unpredictable. Criminals may victimize residential or commercial establishment. Attacks at church buildings are becoming frequent.

It says in Matthew 10:28-31, 28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Originally, the Lord Jesus warned his disciples. And, all believers should trust the Lord for safety and other practical needs. If Christ is concerned of our spiritual life, He won’t ignore our physical life. What we do or how we live our life on earth will translate to our life in eternity. So, if we can trust Christ for eternal life, it is more proper that we should trust Him now with our practical life.

No threat should stop us from trusting our Lord. As we often say, God allows problems to test faith in Him. What problem have you experienced lately?

After Samuel presented Saul as king of Israel, he dismissed the people and each person went home. No grand celebration! Some people opposed Saul as king but brave men whose hearts the Lord touched accompanied Saul.

Then one day, the Ammonites threatened the Israelites in Jabesh Gilead.

1. Threat

1Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.” 2But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”

The men of Jabesh offered a treaty as subjects to Nahash the Ammonites.

Nahash threatened to bring disgrace on all Israel as requirement to the treaty. Nahash the Ammonite agreed when the elders of Jabesh negotiated for seven days before they may surrender, why? Can we interpret it as God’s intervention?

It says in 2 Corinthians 1:10, 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.

The Israelite narratives exemplify God’s continuing grace to all who trust in Him. They had no ideal godly lifestyle but God showed His love for the Israelites when they sought Him. Similarly, Christians can be wicked from time to time. And as believers, we can still have our share of unbelief and disobedience.

When we behave in non-Christian lifestyle, people may comment, “That’s not how Christians behave!” Are you offended when you hear such comments? We should accept that we’re limited and accept that our behavior is unpleasant to God. Such comments remind us to be aware of our ways and behavior. Believers are not exempted from committing mistakes until Christ takes us to His heaven. But, we should not intentionally behave against the will of God.

It says in Colossians 1:22-23, 22He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.

What does it mean to have Christ as Lord? If by godly effort, we behave, it show Christ performs His lordship over us. He presents us holy before God, and implies that He make us holy. The Holy Spirit in us guarantees that we become holy in the Lord’s eyes and not before humans. Humans can easily notice our mistakes but God sees holiness in us because the Spirit of Christ is in/with us.

Troubles that we may encounter are testing if we really have faith in God.

2. Test

4When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

6When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7He 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. 

The Israelites wanted to have a king like other nations. The Lord gave Saul as their king. Was it God’s plan for the Ammonites to invade Israel? If so why?  Interestingly, the Israelites did not ask Samuel to lead them. Did they expect that Samuel may rebuke them and point them to the king they asked for?

When Saul heard about the attack and the outcry of the people, it signaled the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and Saul was consumed with anger.

Why did Saul get angry when the Spirit of God came upon Him? Should he not love his enemies just as the Lord Jesus has taught to love our enemies?

Interestingly, Saul warned the Israelites of possible punishment if they did not follow Saul and Samuel, and the Israelites sensed the terror of the Lord so that they responded in one accord to be united as one. Why did Saul have to mention the name of Samuel, when he challenged the Israelites?

Saul may have reminded the Israelites that they asked Samuel to give them a king, and that Samuel anointed him king as instructed by the Lord.

When the Israelites came out together as one after the terror of the Lord fell on them, it exhibits the power of the Lord. He made their hearts respond to the instruction of Saul, their king. It may have helped Saul to confirm that he was really the Lord’s chosen king of the Israelites, and he had to lead them.

Elected Church Leaders

When we elect church leaders, we trust that those who responded and elected as leaders were chosen by the Lord. Yet, we observed that some leaders are hesitant to lead, why? The hesitancy of Saul as king may help us understand.

After Saul was presented as king of Israel, some people opposed him, and he went home quietly. But when the Holy Spirit empowered him, Saul did not act alone and attack their enemy. He challenged the Israelites to follow his lead.

Similarly, elected Church Leaders are not expected to lead, decide and do thing on their own. To be effective in the ministry, we all need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Truly, it is challenging to wait upon the Lord’s timing, especially when there are oppositions, but we’ve got to focus and wait for the Lord patiently.

Most often, we want now. We want to succeed now. We want our dreams to be fulfilled now. It’s tough to wait. But when the Holy Spirit bears fruit in us, we’ve got peace and patience to expectantly hope and look beyond our timeline. To expect godly result, we need to pray to God’s proper and right timing.

After the Lord Jesus went up to heaven, the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit to fill and empower them. It says in Acts 2:4, 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

And in Acts 1:46-47, 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying. the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

We can expect godly results when the Holy Spirit of God empowers us. To wait for God’s timing is hard but the fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace and patience.

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