Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.4. The King’s First Victory and the Renewal of the Kingdom at Gilgal
1. The victory over Ammon (1Samuel 11:1-11)
2. The kingdom renewed (1Samuel 11:12-15)
Nahash the Ammonite encamped against Jabesh-gilead. Nahash means “the serpent.” This invasion took place before Saul had been made king. From chapter 12:12 we learn that it really was the occasion why Israel demanded a king. In despair the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead offered to make a covenant with this old foe of Israel, whom Jephthah had so successfully fought. Ammon represents typically the enemy of God’s people characterized by evil doctrines and perversions of the truth of God. How often compromise is made with the most subtle errors which emanate from Nahash, the serpent! But he makes his condition, their right eyes are to be plucked out. We speak of the eye of faith, and typically we may apply it in this way. All errors and false doctrines blind the eyes of faith and rob God’s people of their true vision.
Then Saul acts for the first time. However his actions are characteristic of his spiritual condition. We read nothing of prayer; he did not seek the presence of the Lord. It is true, the Spirit of God came upon him, but that does not mean that he was right with God. The Spirit of God came also upon Balaam to prophesy. Even so the Spirit came upon King Saul with external power in the same sense as He came upon the Judges. The anger which he manifested, the methods he employed to stir up the people, the threat he makes and his leaning on Samuel for authority (verse 7) all show again the lack of true faith. He is but the man in the flesh who knows not the Lord.
At Gilgal the kingdom is renewed. The people are united and suggest the killing of the sons of Belial mentioned in the previous chapter. Saul forbids it and acknowledges that the Lord had wrought salvation that day. But there is no real outburst of praise. They were at Gilgal, the place which typifies death to the flesh. Here Saul is made king before the Lord. But while Saul and the people rejoiced nothing is said of Samuel’s joy. The man of God looked deeper, for he knew that all was only skin deep and that the Lord, whom they had rejected from being king over them, could not be pleased with their outward joy.