Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Image from The Ethicalist

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.
1 Samuel 11:12-14

Saul, newly anointed king has led the Israelites to a great victory over the Ammonites, a victory illustrated as especially important due to the horrific consequence of losing: the people of Jabesh had negotiated a peace treaty on condition the Ammonites could gouge out the right eye of each and every citizen. Saul had proven himself worthy of the kingship bestowed upon him, and overcome the doubt expressed at his inauguration, But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought no presents. But he held his peace.1

Saul's loyal supporters now want to identify those who doubted their king, and put them to death. Saul prevents them. The quality of mercy thus shown illustrates Saul's kingliness far more than the victory itself. Saul is making it clear he is king of all Israel, not just the sycophantic section. His will be a kingship of togetherness, not one of civil war. Besides, to kill one's own people on the day the Lord has provided salvation is surely blasphemous. Saul held his peace at the time of doubt, and holds it still at his time of victory. It is an encouraging start to the new kingship of Israel. Sadly, it does not continue in the same way. As always, power corrupts, but this early moment in Saul's reign allows us to see the man he was capable of being: brave, kind and forgiving.

We all have such qualities; they are gifts we need to nurture and protect as they are easily corrupted by the passions of greed and power, turning them into their opposites: cowardice, bitterness and revenge.

1 1 Samuel 10:27