Every Thought Captive

You Shall Have Deliverance

Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, "Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you." But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, "On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel." The elders of Jabesh said to him, "Give us seven days' respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you." When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.

Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, "What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?" So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!" Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.

And they said to the messengers who had come, "Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: 'Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have deliverance.'" When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. Therefore the men of Jabesh said, "Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you." And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

Then the people said to Samuel, "Who is it that said, 'Shall Saul reign over us?' Bring the men, that we may put them to death." But Saul said, "Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel." Then Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom." So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

1 Samuel 11:1-15

It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it produces equal parts confusion and sadness. In the rough and tumble world of an urban Trauma Center, it's especially inscrutable. The patient is usually a man who arrived by ambulance, or a loved one brought by anxious relatives.  The labs are drawn, imaging studies performed, and the diagnosis clear.  There's usually even a plan for treatment. And then it happens.  The patient announces, "I'm leaving!"  It's a stunner every time. Sure enough, after the explaining and the warning and the documenting, off he goes, "Against Medical Advice."

It's hard to watch.  You know they need help, and even they know they need help.  They will probably soon die.  They are leaving the very place that has resources to care for them, and yet they will not receive that help. Why would that ever happen? Why would anyone refuse the rescue offered them?

When Saul came to rescue his kinsmen from the Ammonites, the account has a dramatic and happy ending.  The Israelite town of Jabesh-gilead was surrounded.  The diagnosis was straightforward.  The condition of the townspeople was terminal unless they agreed to a horrible fate.  There were only bad options. They could have an eye gouged out and live as maimed, conquered people, or fight in a battle they would certainly lose. So they cried out for rescue, for some unimaginable other way, for a hero.

The scripture is clear what happens next. Surprised by the whole affair himself,  God's chosen leader, empowered by God's Holy Spirit, musters the people of Israel, and they destroy the feared and hated Ammonites. God saved the people who absolutely could not save themselves. 

That same, steadfast, loving God offers the same kind of rescue today.  Besieged and held captive by sin, by "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions", no one can save themselves.  So God has sent a hero, His only begotten Son.  "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." (1 Timothy 1:15)

But the sad and inscrutable reality is that some who need rescue refuse.  They seem glad to have heard the message of Jesus, even empowered a bit.  They clearly know the therapy their soul desperately needs.  And they announce in word and deed, "I'm leaving!"

If that's you, please don't go. Don’t choose death instead of life. Cling to Christ, and, "you shall have deliverance."

About the Author

Photograph of Mark Fulmer

Mark Fulmer


Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Mark Fulmer is an elder at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, and along with Steve Vanderhill, teaches the New Creations Sunday School class.