Bet She'an (2): A Good Deed Remembered
Everytime I read the account of how the brave men of Jabesh-Gilead went by night and climb the city walls to cut down the bodies of Saul and his sons, I cannot help but wonder why would they do that? Infiltrating an enemy fortified city is dangerous work and all these just to ensure four dead bodies has a decent burial? I also wondered why any of King Saul's mighty men did not attempt to salvage their king's honour?
An incident early in 1 Samuel 11 in Saul's life threw some light on the events.
1 Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, "Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you." 2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, "I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel." 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, "Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you." 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, "What is wrong with the people? Why are they weeping?" Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said. 6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, "This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel." Then the terror of the LORD fell on the people, and they turned out as one man. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
Saul and his men defeated the Ammonites and the men of Jabesh Gilead never forgot this deed. I wonder how often we forget the good deeds other people has done for us? We are very adept at remembering the bad 'things' that others have done to us and we never let them or others forget. But we tend to be forgetful of the good others have done us. Our memory are short when it come to this. The men of Jabesh Gilead did not forget how Saul has saved them from being one-eyed and they braved the dangers to repay the deed. May we also never forget the good that others have done us, and by God's grace, one day repay them.