Read – 1 Samuel 11
Focus v. 6-7
What defines a leader is how they act under pressure. Our nation currently has a leader whose reaction under pressure is to press back. He is often accused of being childish in the way he responds, yet he has met more campaign promises in his first year than any president in my lifetime. I am not certaian I would call him a great leader — he is certainly a radical leader. Dispite bitter opposition from the press, his political opponents, and even many of his own party members, he seems to be able to get things accomplished. Some would argue that the things he is accomplishing are not good things, but more and more are beginning to appreciate how his leadership is affecting the economy and therefore, the nation. Time alone will reveal whether he succeeds in somehow bringing our very divided nation back together in the next three years.
In today’s reading we see Saul, emboldened by the Spirit of God upon him, use a regional crisis to galvanize the tribes of Israel together against a common enemy.
When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger. 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 turned out as one man. (v. 6-7)
When God gives them victory over the Ammonites the result is a nation that rallies around Saul’s leadership… to some extent because he chopped up his oxen in a fit of anger and sent them to all the tribe leaders with a bold and frightening message? To a greater extent because God used what Saul did to bring the nation together.
There are times when leaders must take bold measures to rally people together to accomplish a common goal. Without strong leadership people tend to behave the way they did in the days of the Judges…everyone just does what is right in their own eyes… just kinda doing their own thing! With the tribes fractured in this manner, any wandering band of marauders could easily walk in and loot and pillage at their leisure as the Ammonites did in the beginning of this chapter. With the tribes now united and organized around the leadership of king Saul the game is changed and the surrounding tribes and peoples soon discover that Israel is becoming a significant force in the region. In the decades that follow, under the great leadership of King David and after him King Solomon — Israel would become the dominating force in the Middle East for a season.