“Old and gray,” (1 Samuel 12:2), Samuel the prophet, Israel’s long-time national leader, introduced Israel’s newly anointed king: “Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population.” ... “When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else.” ... “And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’ ” (1 Samuel 10:23-24, CSB).
Israel had never had a king. There wasn’t a palace for the king’s residence and “How to be a King - for Dummies” wasn’t in print. So, what did Saul do after being anointed king? He went back to his daddy’s house and returned to the fields to plow and plant (1 Samuel 11:5).
When the evil Ammonites prepared to besiege the eastern city of Jabesh in Gilead, word reached the ears of the new king. Finally, Saul would have an opportunity to earn his stripes and to be recognized as the nation’s military and governmental leader and king.
When Saul heard about the potential disaster, “the Spirit of God suddenly came powerfully on him, and his anger burned furiously. He took a team of oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by messengers who said, ‘This is what will be done to the ox of anyone who doesn’t march behind Saul and Samuel.’ As a result, the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they went out united” (1 Samuel 11:6–7, CSB).
Who was going to lead the Hebrew warriors into battle? Not just the new king. Shoulder-to-shoulder, “Saul and Samuel” led three hundred, thirty thousand men across the Jordan River and out against the marauding Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:8).
With the Spirit of God empowering, equipping and directing the old prophet and the new king, the victory was decisive! Saul was wise enough, and still humble enough, to give credit to the Almighty! “Today the Lord has provided deliverance in Israel” (1 Samuel 11:13, CSB).
Back in Gibeah, Saul’s hometown, Samuel again gathered the people. Speaking to the people and their king, Samuel warned, “If you fear the Lord, worship and obey him, and if you don’t rebel against the Lord’s command, then both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. However, if you disobey the Lord and rebel against his command, the Lord’s hand will be against you as it was against your ancestors” (1 Samuel 12:13–15, CSB).
With the nation still congregated at Gibeah, “Samuel called on the Lord, and on that day the Lord sent thunder and rain. As a result, all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel”(1 Samuel 12:18, CSB).
Samuel proclaimed, “Don’t be afraid ... don’t turn away from following the Lord. Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart. Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or rescue you; they are worthless. The Lord will not abandon his people, because of his great name and because he has determined to make you his own people” (1 Samuel 12:20–22, CSB).
That’s good advice today! Don’t fear and fret. And don’t turn away from the One who loves us and leads us. “Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart!”