GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
17 After the Ammonites assembled and camped in Gilead, the Israelites were assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The rulers of Gilead said to each another, “Which man will begin the fight against the Ammonites? He will be the leader of all who live in Gilead.”
Battle lines formed. First the Ammonites appeared in force in Gilead, the highlands to the east of the Jordan. Next, the Israelites gathered together at a place called Mizpah. We don’t know which “Mizpah” (“watchtower”) this was—probably not the city north of Jerusalem (2 Chron. 16:6). This seems to have been a place in Gilead itself, north of the Jabbok (see verse 29 below). So the people of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (all from across the Jordan on the east side) were in danger, and prepared to face that danger together.
Each tribe had its leaders, but there was no one to take over the whole combined force. It is well worth our attention that the words of the Israelites here show that the people were really at a loss. They were all but begging for a leader. They offered to make whoever would take on the responsibility into the leader “of all who live in Gilead.” This was once again something approaching a kingship. They weren’t just looking for a commanding general, but a monarch like the kings that the Ammonites and Philistines all had. Gideon had been offered the kingship over Manasseh, and Abimelech had tried to claim kingship over a couple of villages, but this was different. This was more. This would have been a kingship over all of Israel on the east bank; a Transjordan King.
Sometimes looking for a leader is more of an “I don’t want to do it” attitude than a “who would be best for it?” attitude. Each of us needs to realize that the Lord might just be training me for a certain task or role in his kingdom. What are my gifts? My skills? My strengths? There’s not much point in dwelling on your weaknesses. What God is going to cultivate are the things you’re good at. What you and I need to do is ask, how can I best serve my Savior? Maybe I’ve been avoiding a committee or a choir for too long. Maybe it’s time to roll up my sleeves. Without a doubt, the time to serve your Savior is today.
Would asking for a king have been a wise idea? God had warned his people about asking for a king, but what kind of leader he would be remained to be seen. My estimate is that the year of this Ammonite crisis was about 1086 BC. Within ten years, a boy would be born in Benjamin, who would answer all of the questions that Israel had been chewing over regarding a king. Would he be faithful to the Lord? How would he treat the Lord’s priests and prophets? How would he react if the Lord raised up a worthy successor? Would he make Israel sure that by asking for a king, they had made the right choice? That boy would grow into a remarkably tall, natural leader, the head of a large family. He would prove himself in battle. He would be famous—but would he be a good king? His name was Saul.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Archives by Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel: http://www.wlchapel.org/worship/daily-devotion/
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul's Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota