Saul and Samuel had just gotten back to Saul’s home and started to do some fieldwork when they heard someone shouting, “King Saul!” Way out in the distance, they saw an army messenger running as fast as he could directly toward them.
“Oh, good,” thought Samuel. “A test for Saul.” He looked around and smiled. No piles of bags to hide in anywhere.
“King Saul!” he cried when he reached them. “I have terrible news! King Nahash of Ammon has captured the town of Jabesh-gilead! He is threatening to gouge out all of their right eyes for a truce, like he did to all the Israelites east of Jordan!”
Saul was silent for a few minutes. When Samuel looked over at him, his face was completely red, and Samuel swore he could see steam leaking from his ears. Suddenly, he grabbed his two plowing oxen, killed them right there and cut them up, and then gave a bunch of pieces to the messenger.
Samuel was terrified.
“Ew,” said the messenger.
“Suck it up!” yelled Saul. “Take these pieces all over Israel, and tell everyone you see that if they don’t join me against these monsters, they’ll look like my ox too!”
The messenger was so afraid that he picked up the pieces and ran off as fast as he could. Samuel stared at the rage mountain of Saul. “Impressive,” he thought. “Scary, but impressive.”
The next day, Saul traveled to Israel’s barracks in Jerusalem. When he got there, there was 330 000 men waiting for him, but no one would look at him because they were so scared of his anger. With his generals, he devised a sneak attack on the Ammonites and the next morning, secretly marched to the captive down and defeated them with ease. When Samuel heard, he knew that God had caused Saul’s anger and the people’s fear. “Humph,” he sighed. “I guess God knows what he’s doing. Maybe he won’t be so bad after all,” he grumbled.
Then came the Philistines.
The Philistines were very powerful and had for a long time hated Israel, but when they heard that this new king Saul was winning battles and threatening their power, they decided to destroy Israel for good. Saul and his men marched out to battle, but when they saw how many Philistines there were, they panicked and ran and hid in caves and holes and anything else that would fit a trembling soldier.
Samuel had told Saul to wait seven days before they attack so he could get there and offer God a sacrifice to bless the battle, but after 7 days, there was still no Samuel and Saul’s soldiers were beginning to run away. This made Saul mad. He demanded, “Bring me the sacrifice stuff! If Samuel won’t do it, I will!”
Just as Saul finished, Samuel walked up over the hill. Samuel stopped, looked around, and saw the smoldering fire and smell of cooked meat.
“Saul…” he growled. “What…did…you…do?”
“My men were scattering, and you were no where to be seen, so I did the sacrifice and asked for God’s help to save my men, like a good king.”
“You idiot!” screamed Samuel. “You disobeyed God! And to think, I was beginning to like you! Now your kingdom will end and God has even already chosen someone else to take over, a man after his own heart. Not like you!” Then Samuel left the battlefield.
But Saul was determined to fight. “Never mind him!” yelled Saul. “We are ready to fight! Who’s left with us?”
“600, sir! And you and you son have the only swords!”
“How are we going to beat an enemy so big?” asked his soldiers.
“I have no idea,” Saul admitted, “But from now on, no one eats until we get our revenge!”
However, Saul failed to realize that there were only 598 soldiers around him. His son, Jonathan, and his armour bearer, had gone off to spy on the Philistines. While they were hiding, God gave them a sign that they could fight and win, because Jonathan had faith that God could.
Suddenly, the ground shook!
“Earthquake!” cried the soldiers, and they began to panic.
“Wait!” yelled Saul. “Do you hear that?”
In the distance, there was the sound of fighting. The soldiers creeped closer and saw that while they were busy running around, someone had freaked out the Philistines so much that they were killing each other.
“Charge!” cried Saul, and everyone rushed in and scattered the massive Philistine army, saving Israel once again.
At the end of the day, everyone was tired and weak from not eating. Since they hadn't killed ALL the Philistines yet, no one was allowed to eat yet. When Jonathan and his servant got back to the main group, he was confused at why no one was eating. He had found a bunch of honey in the forest and eaten some, but wondered why no one else had.
“Because your dad told us we couldn't until all his enemies were dead.”
Jonathan just shook his head. “Seriously? He’s going to screw over all of Israel with those kind of ideas.”