1 Samuel 11 Commentary

Saul’s victory over the Ammonites (11:1-15)

Within a short time Saul had the opportunity to prove to the doubters that he was the man to lead Israel. About a century earlier the Ammonites had exercised control over Israel’s territory of Gilead, east of Jordan, till Jephthah overthrew them (Judg 10:7-8; 11:29-33). Now they attacked again and seemed certain of victory (11:1-3). When he heard the news, Saul called Israel’s fighting men together (using a well recognized local procedure; cf. Judg 19:29) and assured the Gileadites of victory (4-9). The Israelites tricked the Ammonites into thinking they were about to surrender, but the next day Saul launched a surprise attack that smashed the Ammonite army (10-11).

Saul had led Israel to victory in his first battle, and immediately became a national hero. Samuel then arranged for a public ceremony at Gilgal, where Saul was declared king over a now unified people (12- 15).

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