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After Samuel sent all the people home, Saul went back home, too. God inspired some valiant men to go with Saul. But some doubting men hated Saul and said, “How can this guy help us?”
One day, Saul was walking back towards town with his oxen. He had just finished some work out in the field. When he got to the town, he saw all the people were crying! “What happened?” he asked. “Why is everyone crying?”
“It’s because of our family in Jabesh!” they answered. “We just heard that the Ammonite enemies have come and are about to attack them. If no one comes to help Jabesh in the next few days, the Ammonite king said he would poke out the right eye of everyone there, and they would become his slaves.”
When Saul heard that, a burning fire filled his bones. Enemies should not be able to do that to people in God’s Family! God’s Spirit came upon Saul and he knew what to do. He killed his oxen and cut them into pieces, sending the pieces with messengers to tell all Israel to come and fight. The message was, “This is what will happen to the oxen of any man who doesn’t come out and follow Saul and Samuel!”
God made everyone so afraid of disobeying that all of Israel came to Saul, united as one huge army. Then Saul sent messengers to the Family in Jabesh and said, “By tomorrow morning, we will come to save you.” All of Jabesh was thrilled to hear that!
Saul divided the army into three groups and the next morning, they attacked the enemies from all sides. They fought until it was late afternoon, and they totally scattered the enemies.
The people were really happy with what Saul had done. They said, “Hey, where are those doubters who said, ‘How can this guy help us?’ Bring them over here so we can kill them.”
But Saul stopped them. “No one will be killed today,” he said, “because the Lord gave us a day of victory.”
“Come on, everyone,” said Samuel, “let’s go officially make Saul the king.” So they had a big celebration to offer sacrifices to God and fully accept Saul as the king.
But Samuel had a few things to say to God’s Children as they all celebrated. “Well, everyone,” he said, “I gave you your king. Now here I am. I’m old and gray now, but I have walked among you all since I was young. Tell me in front of God and His chosen king — have I done anything wrong to any of you? Have I ruled harshly over any of you? Is there any sin I pretended to not see just to gain something for myself? Have I taken anything from anyone?”
The people really liked and respected Samuel, and Samuel had never done any of those things. The people declared aloud, “No, Samuel, No! You’ve never wronged us or taken anything from us! We promise!”
“Alright then,” Samuel went on. “Then stand up and let me tell you about all the Lord has done for you and the people before you — because you have wronged Him!”
“What?” some people thought. “This was supposed to be a fun celebration and a victory party. Why was Samuel scolding them now?”
But Samuel went on to explain: “The Lord is the one who brought this people out of slavery in Egypt and gave them a home in this wonderful Promised Land. But His people kept forgetting Him! So He gave them into the hands of their enemies. Each time they cried, “We’ve been bad! Save us!” And each time God sent judges to help. He sent Gideon, and then Barak, and then Jephthah, and then me! Each time God saved you so that you could live safely again. And now, after all that, you said, ‘No! We want a king to rule over us like the other nations have!’ You asked for this even though the Lord your God is your king!”
The people at the party started to squirm a little. This felt uncomfortable. Saul was standing right there, and this was a party to celebrate the victory with their new king. But Samuel was again telling them that this whole idea of a king was, well… wrong. This party was getting un-com-fort-able.
Samuel continued, “Here’s the king you asked for — Saul. If you and your king follow God, everything will work out well for you. But if you rebel against God, He will be against both you and your king. Stand and watch this great thing the Lord is about to do.”
Samuel went on to explain what he was about to do. “Isn’t this the time of year when it never rains? I’m going to call to the Lord to send thunder and rain. That will help you finally realize what a sinful thing you did to ask for a king.”
The people’s mouths dropped open. The sky was a beautiful, bright blue that day. It was the hot, dry time of year when there was hardly ever any rain.
The people looked up to the sky. Suddenly the beautiful blue sky got black with huge, dark clouds. The wind blew. SPLIT, SPLAT, SPLIT, SPLAT, SPLIT, SPLAT came a few wet drops on the people’s faces.
Then CRACK, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! Lightning cracked and thunder rumbled and rain, rain, rain poured down. Samuel had called to God, and God had sent the rain.
Finally the people realized that it was God and His leading them that they had rejected. “Oh, pray for us, Samuel, please, so that we don’t die!” they said. “We see now that we have added to all our sins by asking for a king.”
“Yeah, you blew it — you sinned,” Samuel agreed. “But don’t be afraid. Just serve the Lord with your whole heart now, and stop turning to empty fake things that can not save you. God’s not going to turn His back on you because He wants to uphold His great reputation. He really was so happy to make you His people.”
“And as for me, it’s the farthest thing from my mind to sin against God by failing to pray for you! I will keep teaching you what is good and right. But you have to follow God with your whole heart! Just look, look, look at the great things He’s done for you. It’s only if you and your king keep doing evil that you will be swept away.”
Samuel told them the truth even though it was uncomfortable, didn’t he? People who are connected to God are always gonna tell ya the truth about what God thinks about something. And no matter how uncomfortable that is, no matter how hard it is to hear that you have done something wrong, it’s important to always love the truth of what someone is saying — even when it means some rain on your parade.