Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
11:1 Then - That is, about that time; for that this happened before, and was the occasion of their desire of a king, may seem from chap.12:12, although it is possible, that Nahash's preparation, might cause that desire, and that he did not actually come 'till their king was chosen. Will serve - The occasion of this offer was, that they saw no likelihood of relief from their brethren in Canaan.
And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.
11:2 Thrust out, and c. - Partly for a reproach, as it here follows; and partly, to disable them. He leaves them one eye, that they might be fit to serve in any mean and base office.
And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days' respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee.
Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.
And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
11:5 After the herd - For being only anointed king, and not publickly inaugurated, nor having yet had opportunity of doing any thing worthy of his place, he thought fit to forbear all royal state, and to retire to his former private life, which, howsoever despised in this latter ages, was anciently in great esteem. Good magistrates are in pain, if their subjects are in tears.
And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
11:7 Sent them - Wisely considering, that the sight of mens eyes does much more affect their hearts, than what they only hear with their ears. Samuel - Whom he joins with himself, both because he was present with him; and that hereby he might gain the more authority. Fear - A fear sent upon them by God, that they should not dare to deny their help. The fear of God will make men good subjects, good soldiers, and good friends to their country. They that fear God will make conscience of their duty to all men, particularly to their rulers.
And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
11:8 Men of Judah - Who are numbered apart to their honour, to shew how readily they, to whom the kingdom was promised, Gen 49:10, submitted to their king, though of another tribe; and how willing they were to hazard themselves for their brethren although they might have excused themselves from the necessity of defending their own country from their dangerous neighbours the Philistines.
And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabeshgilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.
Therefore the men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you.
And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.
And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death.
And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel.
Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.
11:14 Then - While the people were together by Jabesh - gilead, wherein Samuel's great prudence and fidelity to Saul is evident. He suspended the confirmation of Saul at first, whilst the generality of the people were disaffected, and now when he had given such eminent proof of his princely virtues, and when the peoples hearts were eagerly set upon him, he takes this as the fittest season for that work. Renew - That is, confirm our former choice.
And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
11:15 Made - They owned and accepted him for their king.