Undying Loyalty – In Spite of Good Start and a Bad Finish

Posted on August 12, 2022

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I remember Steve Hill of the Brownsville Revival talking about writing books about other revivalist and saying he would only mention people that had passed away and only those that had a great ministry from start to finish. Steve did not wish to write about a living person and then in a few years a scandal of some sort arose around the subject person and have the book’s quality questioned by the behavior of another. Let’s face it there are so many stories of such things happening where a ministry or individual has a great start and then in time a scandal or controversy arises whether about sin or the ministry veering off in questionable doctrines.

If you have been a believer for any amount of time you have witnessed both a ministry or individual that did this, had a good start and a bad finish, and you have witnessed individuals that had an undying loyalty to one of these ministries or individuals in spite of it all.  Well, that would be the people of Jabeshgilead, mentioned the books of Samuel and Chronicles.

In I Samuel during the situation where King Saul and Jonathon, his son are killed in battle, their bodies are carried away by the Philistines and they were fastened to wall to display their victory over the Israelites.

I Samuel 31:9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish [it in] the house of their idols, and among the people. 10  And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.

Then immediately after we are told the valiant men from Jabeshgilead arose in the middle of night and went and recovered the bodies. Over the years and many times, I have read this story I was perplexed, who are these people of Jabeshgilead, and why were they so passionate about doing this thing that they did.  Often in a situation like this, those that would come to the rescue would be noted as companion warriors, like Abner, or some one that was part of the tribe of Benjamin, not unknowns, not even mentioned by name, just the people of Jabeshgilead.

Since this is such a dramatic portion of the history of the kings of Israel and David is about to become king, the people of Jabeshgilead have never been worthy of me stopping right there and figuring out who they are, I also want to push forward to David’s rise as king.  So recently as listening to this portion of scripture, I guess in God’s timing, I immediately knew who these people were, they were the beneficiaries of the first great thing King Saul did.

I Samuel 11:1 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. 2  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.

In the book of I Samuel we find the people of Jabeshgilead in a serious position with an enemy.  In the book of Judges, the people of Jabeshgilead were not on the best terms with all of Israel and now found themselves about to be maimed and to become servants to another nation if they didn’t get help. Saul had just been anointed to be king by Samuel and this is the first serious situation he finds himself in.

I Samuel 11:5 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. 6  And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. 7  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.

After King Saul rallies the people, they go up and defeat the enemy and save the people of Jabeshgilead.  There is not a lot of detail to the story other than let the people of Jabeshgilead know that help was on the way and Ammonites were destroyed and driven away.  The book of Samuel moves on and not clear exactly how many years Saul was king, but it does appear it was for more than twenty years. We are told when Saul was found by Samuel that he was a young man with no mention of wife or children in the beginning and that after his death his son, Ishbosheth, began to reign at the age of forty.  With these pieces of information, we can assume that Saul was king for more than twenty years.  I Samuel 13:1 is translated many ways and is not a good source to determine Saul’s age or time he was king.  The whole point here is that King Saul was around for while and did many things during this time.

Not just the people of Jabeshgilead were impressed with King Saul’s beginning much of Israel was impressed as well.

Obviously we do not know what the talk on the street was like in the days of King Saul but as we read the Bible we can see he began to have serious character issues. I could share many scriptures to support this, but I would suggest you read I Samuel again and just look for them.  He paid people off if he liked them with daughters, lands, and positions.  He did not keep his word with God or man.  He was terribly jealous to the point of murder.  He wanted sympathy from others and needed reinforcement from those around him.  He had spiraled so for out of control that he was willing to and did use occult methods to figure things out. If this was a ministry or spiritual leader today many would have walked away from him.

Most likely all the bad details of King Saul were not necessarily known to the people of Jabeshgilead and if they did know them, they ignored all of it.  What they did remember was this was the man that came on the scene when they had the greatest need and rescued them at no cost or consequences.  So, when the people of Jabeshgilead, this many years later heard of the death of Saul and awful treatment of his remains, they moved into action and showed their gratitude for a mighty dead of the past. This terminology of Jabeshgilead is never mentioned again in the Old or New Testament but the fact that it is shown in this area of Word we must assume God wants us to notice what they did and learn from it.

Blind loyalty, I see this almost every day when I look at social media. It does not matter if is political post or spiritual posts, so often people do little research or frankly, thinking.  This example of the people of Jabeshgilead, is it a good thing or a bad thing.  Today some would say the King Saul got what he deserved after all look at his character and that witchcraft he was involved with.  These people would not lift a finger to help the situation out but only publish the failure. The other extreme is to ignore sin and failure and only concentrate on the history and the great deliverance of the past.  Even if people have a falling away, we can still appreciate the blessing of the good that has happened, but it should not be used as an excuse to cover for current bad behavior.  We also must be careful not to hold historical bad behavior over the head of people that have repented of their mistakes and are trying to move forward once again.

As a mature believer we must be ever so careful to judge and condemn what we see, we don’t always see what is going on from every perspective. If we look to King Ahab, noted as one of the evilest kings of Israel and we would say I would nothing to do with him and anyone that did would be deemed just as evil.  Yet Obadiah was a righthand man to Ahab and because of Obadiah and his position he was able to save the lives of many of the prophets that Jezebel wished to kill. 

Currently there is great controversy with Bill Johnson and Bethel Church of Redding. There really seems to be great evidence of this place going off the rails in many ways, yet I was blessed by this ministry in the past and I do not condone some of their present behavior.  I see people I know and others I don’t defending and promoting them, are they like the people of Jabeshgilead, living in the past and ignoring the present? I see more and more people coming forward to denounce the work in Redding, are they justified and what would these same people do to Obadiah if he were around today.  One thing for sure is that I have witnessed for more than ten years was Bethel Church Redding getting more praise than Jesus and there is a root that has helped bring us and them to where we are today.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

We need wisdom and discernment from above more than anything, this will keep us safe and those around us.