Thursday, July 31, 2014

That's Not Fair! - Part 1 of 3

Why did God take the kingdom away from Saul? 

The next few weeks we will look at why Saul, a seemingly good guy, loses his kingship over Israel. I will include excerpts from The Presence of Shadows. Keep in mind that this is a young adult fantasy so, Samuel is a dragon and Melek is the name that I chose for God; it is Hebrew for “King.”

 The history of Yisra’el (Israel) is told by Brehane’s uncle, Mihret. So let’s see how Saul started out his reign.

The Presence of Shadows

Copyright ©2014 by Kara Howell

When Uncle Mihret finished his dinner, he said, “I will tell you why the town was in an uproar when Saul reached it. Let’s see… ah, now I remember.

“An elder of the city stomped up to Saul. Anguished and enraged, he said, ‘Nahash the Ammonite has besieged Jabesh-gilead. When the men of Jabesh requested a treaty, they were told a treaty would be made on one condition, that every man would have his right eye put out with a hot poker. They will be ashamed among us.’

“The women burst into a new wave of cries.

“‘The men of Jabesh have been given seven days to seek help from us before the Ammonites take the city,’ an older man explained.

“Saul felt the Spirit of Melek surge up within him. His eyes blazed with anger. He took the yoke off his oxen, cut it into pieces, and sent it throughout the territories. This message accompanied it: ‘Anyone who does not join with me to aid Jabesh-gilead will be cut into pieces like this yoke.’

“A messenger was also sent to Jabesh-gilead to inform them that help would arrive the next day.

“The dread of Melek fell on the people so that they came to Saul as if they had one mind. They met at Bezek where Saul numbered the men. They were 330,000 strong. Saul saw the fire of battle in their eyes. Their allies had been threatened and they were all ready to come to their defense. Stomachs were sick and jaws were clenched when they thought of the terrible threat to put out the eyes of their neighbors.

“When the men of Jabesh-gilead listened to the message from Saul, they went out to the Ammonites and proclaimed, ‘Tomorrow we will come out to face you in battle. You may do whatever you want to us.’

“They were confident that they would be spared from the threat before them. However, the Ammonites believed they had already won the battle.

“The Yisra’elites were not a trained army. They were only farmers, herdsmen, winemakers, and weavers. They had only the tools of their respective trades to fight with. The Ammonites might wonder if the Yisra’elites thought they were ogres, with all of the pitchforks pointed at them.

“At first light the next morning, Saul split the men into three companies and gave them these instructions: ‘Do not kill any man who surrenders or is captured alive.’

“The Yisra’elites fought the Ammonites with a ferocity that surprised their enemy. Yisra’el slaughtered them until the sun was high in the sky. Saul, mounted on horseback, was a fearless commander who charged into battle without hesitation and called his men to do the same. No foe could stand before his sickle as he swung it at neck level. Any man who had been afraid that their new king would faint in battle was glad to be proven wrong. Saul had the ability to rally the men’s morale while he mowed down any threat in his way.

“By midday the Ammonites ran for their lives! In the confusion, they scattered in all directions.

“After the survivors were gathered, they were brought before Samuel.

“Some of the men under Saul’s command wondered why they had been instructed not to kill all of the Ammonites. ‘Who is this Saul who pretends to reign over us?’ some of them spat with contempt. ‘Let us kill all of the captives!’

“From behind them Saul spoke in a loud voice. ‘Not one man will die today, because Melek has given us this victory over our enemies!’ His intense gaze showed his conviction.

“The men raised eyebrows in surprise at his nerve. Had they looked closely they would have seen the mark on Saul’s forehead glow brighter than usual.

“Samuel stood just behind Saul. He spoke with pride in his deep voice. ‘Everyone must return to Gilgal so that we may affirm Saul as king, for he has shown his ability today.’ When he spoke, his hot breath washed over those who would have denied Saul the kingship. They decided it was best for them to do as he suggested.

“Saul succeeded in winning the allegiance of most of the people by his leadership in the battle at Jabesh-gilead.”

Now, if you must be king, that’s not a bad way to start out. So far, Saul is listening to the Holy Spirit and leading the nation with wisdom. Next week we will look at what Saul did to lose the kingship. His sons could have ruled Israel forever, but his disobedience changed that. Week three we will discuss why Saul’s choices had such devastating consequences. Since were human, we like to compare people, so we will also look at why God didn’t remove David from the throne when he sinned.

Click here for Part 2  or Part 3

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