Nahash was the king of Ammon. He and his army went up to Jabesh Gilead. They surrounded it and got ready to attack it. All of the men of Jabesh spoke to Nahash. They said, "Make a peace treaty with us. Then we'll be under your control."
Nahash, the king of Ammon, replied, "I will make a peace treaty with you. But I'll do it only on one condition. You must let me put out the right eye of every one of you. I want to bring shame on the whole nation of Israel."
The elders of Jabesh said to him, "Give us seven days to report back to you. We'll send messengers all through Israel. If no one comes to save us, we'll hand ourselves over to you."
The messengers came to Gibeah of Saul. They reported to the people the terms Nahash had required. Then all of the people sobbed out loud.
Just then Saul was coming in from the fields. He was walking behind his oxen. He asked, "What's wrong with the people? Why are they sobbing?" He was told what the men of Jabesh had said.
When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came on him with power. He burned with anger.
He got a pair of oxen and cut them into pieces. He sent the pieces by messengers all through Israel. They announced, "You must follow Saul and Samuel. If you don't, this is what will happen to your oxen." The terror of the LORD fell on the people. So all of them came together with one purpose in mind.
Saul brought his army together at Bezek. There were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 from Judah.
The messengers who had come were told, "Go back and report to the men of Jabesh Gilead. Tell them, 'By the hottest time of the day tomorrow, you will be saved.' " The messengers went and reported it to the men of Jabesh. It made those men very happy.
They said to the people of Ammon, "Tomorrow we'll hand ourselves over to you. Then you can do to us what seems best to you."
The next day Saul separated his men into three groups. While it was still dark, they broke into the camp of the Ammonite army. They kept killing the men of Ammon until the hottest time of the day. Those who got away alive were scattered. There weren't two of them left together anywhere.
The people said to Samuel, "Who asked, 'Is Saul going to rule over us?' Bring those people to us. We'll put them to death."
But Saul said, "We won't put anyone to death today! After all, this is the day the LORD has saved Israel."
Then Samuel said to the people, "Come on. Let's go to Gilgal. There we'll agree to have Saul as our king."
So all of the people went to Gilgal. There, with the LORD as witness, they agreed to have Saul as their king. There they sacrificed friendship offerings to the Lord. And there Saul and all of the people of Israel celebrated with great joy.