Browsing Tag


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Practical Application’s Always the Hardest Part

The more I study the scriptures, the more acutely aware I become of their authenticity; that is they are what they claim to be. They are, in fact, a revelation of The Creator– of Himself and His eternal Will for the created.  The longer I live on this planet, the more evidence I see, in archeological discoveries, in modern scientific agreement with the ancient texts, in the obvious design of the universe and in the historic fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, that this book we call the Bible is from God. 

As I stand before this mountain of evidence that this book I hold in my hand is the communication of a Supreme Being, I’m stricken with the Book’s simplicity. (I can read and understand the actual words of God.) I’m amazed at its brevity. (I can read it through many times in a lifetime.)  But, most of all, I’m taken with its relevance. It held the secret to hygiene and health for the ancient nomadic nation of Israel.  Many of those “secrets” have been medically substantiated only in recent decades and yet, have practical significance in modern societies. The Bible holds the keys to ancient and, until recently, unknown civilizations; civilizations buried for centuries by the debris of history. But as long as archaeologists keep digging, they will keep finding relics from biblical civilizations. The Bible is relevant to their work. That’s because the Bible is authentic and, frankly, any case against its authenticity is getting harder and harder to argue.

Why is it, then, that intelligent professing Christians, in the twenty-first century, while accepting the fact that the Bible is from God, fail to view it as a conclusive moral compass?  So often, when asked, we freely confess that we believe in Jehovah God. We are confident that the Bible is His revealed will. We confess that Jesus is His Son. But when it comes to the daily decisions we’re called on to make, we find little relevance in its pages. 

A Christian man walks away from his wife and enters an adulterous relationship with a married coworker. This coworker has already committed adultery with three other men during the course of her ten year marriage, literally devastating the little lives of her innocent children.  His families (both his physical family and his family in the Lord) are begging him to stop and think. But he proceeds in this sinful relationship. What is he thinking? Is he blind to the history of this woman and is he naïve enough to think he will be her last conquest?  Most of all, is his claim to believe in the Bible one hundred percent theoretical and zero percent practical?

An alcoholic enters a rehab program, endures excruciating withdrawal symptoms and dutifully follows the program.  He is released to a new and exciting world of fresh opportunities. He finds a job, becomes faithful in the local congregation, and stays clean for seven months, until a friend pressures him to attend a sports event where alcohol will flow freely and all his old friends will congregate. He makes a deliberate decision to go.  What is he thinking?  Has he mentally blocked out the high priced lessons of his personal history? And what about the Biblical admonition to “abstain from the appearance of [this] evil” which can so easily consume him (I Thess. 5:22)?  Is his faith practical when it counts? 

A modern society founded on biblical moral principles, has grown to about three million people, a large number of which could still tell you that the primary reason for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was the sin of homosexuality.  Medical science in this society has made it possible for average people to look at video footage taken from the inside of a woman’s womb and see the viability of preborn life. Geneticists in this society have proven that all genetic information has been assigned to the preborn baby at the time of conception.  It has been determined that babies feel pain in the twentieth week of development.  But major corporations in this society are spending thousands of dollars to celebrate and promote homosexuality and abortion; to protect the rights of those who participate and even sometimes to censure those who object. Abortion remains legal in this society and homosexual unions are recognized as marriages in all states of this country. Respected pollsters tell us that sixty percent of people in this country believe that the Bible is “totally accurate in all of its teachings”. Where are those people of faith?  Is faith relevant in this society?

When faith becomes irrelevant to the daily decision making process, I suggest that it is no longer faith. If there is a “disconnect” between the observation of Biblical history and its application in modern times, the “disconnect” zaps the relevance from any claimed adherence to scriptures. We know the truth, but we are not people of faith.

My kids did not enjoy math. They both have great memories and thus, in their early years they could spit out the theory or equation that solved the problem every time. But it was those “word problems” that they especially loathed, because you had to think about how the equation (the truth given) applied to a particular situation in the real world. Not only did you have to figure out exactly where to plug in the equation (the truth given), you had to remember that superfluous information was often given; information that was not relevant to the solution. This was information that you just had to ignore to get to the bottom line answer.  And at the end you had to remember to identify exactly how the truth affected the outcome of the situation (i.e.…you had to know not only the number that was the answer, but “was it that many unneeded cookies or that many extra students who had no cookie?”).  That’s a lot to deal with:  a truth that is applicable somewhere, extra information or circumstances to try and throw you off, and only one right answer that must be properly identified. That’s why they hated word problems. They were often long and arduous and required some cognitive skills. But isn’t it true that it’s the word problems that gives math relevance in our society? I don’t need to know it if it’s not going to affect real life situations.

And that’s how it is with God’s Word. I can know that the scriptures tell me to flee fornication (I Cor. 6:18), but until I can plug that truth into decisions about entertainment choices and dating behavior, it is really not very useful. Until I plug that truth into a situation and find the answer to a dilemma, I only know the formula. I don’t yet have a practical faith. I can know that the Proverbs writer wrote “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise(Prov.20:1),” but until I am able to recognize that deception when it presents itself in a modern commercial or invitation, I only know. I am not wise or faithful. 

As a Christian, I am familiar with Genesis 19 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I know that homosexuality is called vile affection in Romans 1:26. I understand that murder is the taking of innocent human life and is condemned in scripture.  “But the political process is much more complicated than all of that…..You can’t just plug the Bible into modern America.”  Why not?  If the Bible contains absolute truth, then its formulas are not only acceptable, but necessary in solving the real life situations of any society in any generation.  Jesus, Himself, reached back into the early Old Testament writings and plugged scriptures into His moment of temptation in Matthew four.  Faith is eliminating the superfluous psychobabble inserted into troubling modern scenarios. It’s plugging the Word into the problem solving process. It’s wisely seeing how the Word affects the final outcome. You cannot oversimplify truth and the necessity of its application in problem-solving. Faith is putting the Scriptures into the “word problems”. 

(This article first appeared in THINK magazine, Focus Press, Brentwood, TN)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Can God Use a Wicked Man?

He’s a self-centered womanizer. He’s hired prostitutes. He has chosen women who cannot keep their mouths shut at the right times, and just look at his wife! He has gone to great lengths to secure his secrets, but still, he cannot trust the woman who knows too much about him. She has delivered his secrets to his enemies, where waits, for her, money and fame. He is strong, but so weak. Amazingly, he leads the nation and, at least for a time, intimidates the world around him. But he has won some major victories for the people of God. He is Samson.

Now I know that there is a huge difference between the Old Testament nation of Israel, through which the Messiah was to come, and the nation in which we live. But still we can note that sometimes it’s the most unlikely candidate; sometimes it is not a righteous man that can be used to accomplish some good things. Christians today do not have to endorse the evil (past or present) in the  life of President Trump in order to be glad for ground-breaking  and historic conservatism in the Supreme Court—potential and now possible conservatism that we thought, only a short time ago, would never have been restored. We do not have to uphold immorality in the life of one man in order to be happy, if through his appointments, literally millions of innocent unborn lives might be spared. We do not have to hunt ways in which to criticize his pro-life stances or his “law and order” renewal in our country. While we know that the strength of nations is always temporary and while we know that our primary citizenship is in heaven, it still cannot be wrong for us to be happy when we see some signs that, just perhaps, the America in which our grandchildren will be raised, might be brought, through an administration of political conservatism and constitutional adherence, a bit closer to the freedom and morality upon which she was founded. It is okay for Christians to rejoice in that ray of hope and it is okay for us to see the importance of the choosing of conservative pro-life justices for the scores of cases in the next forty years that will directly relate to the teachings of Scripture (upon which, by the way, our constitution was originally crafted). It is good, in fact, for us to pray for and be glad about the hope of the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, specifically. 

I can understand the ire of the left when it foresees a renewal of adherence to the constitution in the Court. But it’s hard to understand the chagrin of those who should want the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the hope of the restoration of God’s definition of marriage in America. I’m going to keep hoping and rejoicing when there are vacant court seats that might be filled with those who will  potentially vote for life and morality. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Incidental or Intentional?…The Incredibles 2

I’m not going to spell the profanities out for you here, but there are just too many moms who’ve been disappointed by obscenity/profanity in the language of The Incredibles 2 film; too many  exit reports, for the claims to be untrue. Some have said that the movie is definitely geared toward the now-adults who saw and loved the first film as children. But the sad truth is…Disney is, once again, showing Christians that our day to influence is over and our objections are inconsequential. Here are a few observations:

  1. There’s a level at which moms should not be surprised that there’s inappropriate material in the movie. The PG rating almost always means there will be something that’s offensive to someone. (If not Christians, who?) Occasionally, there’s a movie that’s rated PG merely because the theme is, while not offensive or profane, just too complicated or deep for littles. But mostly, the PG rating means there’s objectionable material for followers of Jesus. This is especially true about cartoons or Pixar movies. The PG is probably not going to be assigned in a cartoon because of a deep theme. Just saying here that diligent moms should have probably figured this out before entering the theater.
  2. This kind of language in a major kid-friendly movie is not inserted incidentally. Film-makers deliberated and intentionally pushed the language-line in the face of Christian parents. They are not overlooking our objections. They are aware and they are purposefully defiant of the Biblical parenting agenda. We know this from multiple offensive agendas being promoted by Disney.
  3. If everyone who is offended by the use of profanity would abstain from ever paying for it at the box office, our collective voice would be heard. But we complain privately, while we fork over the ticket prices and then we talk about how amazing the movie was, “except for the language they inserted….Why would they even want to do that?” (The logical response, then… “Why not?”)
  4. Entertainment is optional. If my entertainment choices compromise my holiness, I could just omit the optional altogether. I can go to heaven without ever being entertained. However, most Disney movies that would violate my profession of Christianity, could be watched a few months after release, using ClearPlay or VidAngel without the profanity streaming through. If entertainment is actually optional, couldn’t we at least delay the gratification until it might align with our values? Instant gratification is not always a good thing.
  5. The response of the producers to my boycott of material that should offend Christians should be irrelevant to whether or not I expose myself or my kids to offensive movies. Seven in ten Americans still claim to be Christians. Thus, it is true that, if all people professing Christianity would refrain from watching movies that contain obscenities and profanities, the industry would clean up its act. But that desired result should not be my primary goal in abstaining. Holiness should be my primary goal in staying away from movies that contain cursing, blasphemy and crude language. Philippians 4:8 should be the standard in my decisions about movies. My children will compare what I profess to what I actually do. They will, over time, come to understand whether or not my profession affects my decisions. They will assess whether or not my faith is real based on the decisions I make about things like entertainment, ethics, evangelism and involvement in the church. 
  6. Sacrificial choices are very tangible ways to teach children, Abstaining, because of conviction, from something that you’ve really been looking forward to doing has a far bigger potential for teaching commitment and holiness than does any rhetoric. As the world around us becomes more unholy, our chances to teach the contrast between holiness and this world become more and more plentiful.
  7. We should not let the fact that we’ve made poor choices before keep us from making good choices from now on. I know many have compromised multiple times before. Maybe you just did that very thing in recent weeks by taking your teens (or even your littles) to see The Avengers. (It seems the whole world did.) It’s never too late to start afresh if conviction and holiness is the motivator. Remember, we are talking about a tangible way to show your family Romans 12:1,2.
  8. We should never let the fact that we are imperfect people keep us from pursuing and touting the importance of holiness and sanctification. Our world loves to label any who plead for righteousness in practical ways as being “judgmental” or “holier- than-thou” or even as being arrogant/prideful. “Blessed are you when others…shall utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account,” said Jesus In Matthew 5:12. It’s important to remember that, except for Jesus, everyone who’s ever contemplated holiness and tried to discern practical ways to be set-apart from the world, has also often missed the mark, failed at times, and been in dire need of His mercy. But if we, out of misguided “humility”, all stop trying to be distinctive…if we stop teaching sanctification and fall in line with the ever-digressing culture around us, we really are prideful, because we let our own comfort in conformity take precedence over His will for our lives. 
  9. You might be thinking “Can’t Cindy Colley think of anything worse than a kids’ movie about which to have a rant?” Boy, I sure can. I can think of things like the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), and  the seven things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). But then I notice that in the former list there’s uncleanness and in the latter there’s “feet that make haste to run to mischief “. If you do look up the words in that movie, you will agree there are some that are simply not clean. They are unclean. So why would you want to make haste to get your children over to that mischief/evil? Maybe a little less haste could buy you some time to just wait and watch it with your filters on. That’s what I plan to do.
  10. You can incidentally ingest or let your kids ingest some impurities. You can do it without really thinking. Perhaps your kids won’t notice the language and the damage will not be great and eternal. But being intentional about entertainment choices will have a profound and positive effect. They will notice when you choose not to do the thing that the whole world around them is doing. They will notice and they will want to know all about the “why”. And there’s your big opportunity.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Terica Turner– on the Value of YOU!

At the ripe age of 34, with years of lessons learned, I’ve begun to take a different look at the command of Titus 2:3-4 where older women are instructed to teach what is good so that they may encourage the younger women. While I may be considered relatively young and I wouldn’t dare claim to be as insightful as my wise Christian mentors, I am still older than someone and I’m not exempt from the command. To add to that motivation, I have five young nieces (and a nephew) whom I love dearly, and if I could impart just one thing to them today, it would be this: Know your worth!

I want them to always recognize their value in God’s sight; to see themselves through the eyes of the Lord, and to never allow anyone to make them feel, think or or behave differently than what’s demanded by the worth assigned to their precious lives by God, Himself. I want the same for your nieces (and nephews), for your daughters, for your granddaughters—and for you!

God has declared that we are remarkably and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).While we were formless in our mothers’ wombs, He knew every single thing about us—even each day we would live (vs.13-16). Doesn’t that make you feel special? Before I was born, God was thinking about and planning for my life. That speaks volumes to me. God, the Creator and Maker of the earth, thinks that I am special. What He did, when I was born. was infinitely more than knitting a blanket for a baby shower. He knit ME together in the womb, and then, He went further and planned out all of my days before they even began. God really cares for me. I am important to Him.Your life has great significance to Him, too. As Christian women, we are part of the royal family of God (I Peter 2:9). You and I are queens and and God has promised us a crown (James 1:12). I like to imagine myself walking around wearing mine. It helps me remember that I am royalty. I hope that you know—that you really believe with all of your heart —the same thing and that you will teach it to the younger women in your lives.

We were bought at an expensive price (I Corinthians 7:23): our Lord and Savior’s life. It can, at times, be a difficult concept to grasp. I have grappled with realizing, for myself, my true worth for years and have had to see many-a-therapist for resulting and relating issues. A dear counselor has always said to me that our worth is like a cake. We get the full cake from God. What people contribute is only icing. Whether or not people compliment us, whether or not they are polite to us, whether or not they treat us as respected fellow human beings—none of this dilutes the strength of our significance, because we still have the whole cake. We don’t need icing; our esteem comes from God.

It is crucial that we understand that we are worthy of respect because there are many evil forces set out to deplete us of our vitality. Let’s not allow anyone a foothold to strip us away from the royal family. The influences in our world that are a threat to the realization of our worth are many and ever-present. I can attest to it. There were events in my childhood that have eaten away at my own confidence and sense of self worth. Even still, as an adult, I struggle with rejection that I experienced during my formative years.

So, while I’m no expert on psychology, I am very well acquainted with hardships and challenges. Through all of my troubles, my trust is still anchored in the Lord. I still recognize the value assigned to me and to you by Jesus. That’s because I know that true worth is found in God. He cares for the sparrows and He cares for you and me (Matthew 10:31). Like the apostle Paul admonished in Romans eight: “In all these things, we are more than victorious, through Him who loved us, (verse 37). I know who I am and to Whom I belong. My feet are firmly planted on the Rock (Psalm 18:2).

So here’s what I have learned the hard way, so maybe you can have an easier tutorial for life:

  1. Remember that you’re royalty—a queen! Don’t ever forget it. Put Post-its on your mirror if it helps to remind you.
  2. When you are feeling down, discouraged, or stressed, surround yourself with Christian friends and mentors who can encourage you and pray with and for you. The enemy loves to use those times when we are most vulnerable as opportunities to ensnare us and steal our crowns (John 10:10).
  3. Don’t yield to the temptation to seek assurance from worldly things like drinking socially, overindulging in food, engaging in immoral sex and associating with ungodly people (Galatians 5:19-26).
  4. Study and meditate on the Word of God every chance you get. It will build  your spiritual muscles and secure for you a long (eternal) and prosperous life (Deut. 6:1-9).
  5. Show love and compassion to each other. Help each other feel valued. This will in turn demonstrate your own worth. Paul said it best in Philippians two, verses three and four: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility, consider others as more important than yourselves.” Everyone should look out, not only for his own interests, but also for the best interests of others.
  6. Always behave in a way that’s befitting of your crown. “For there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not to me only, but to all those who love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember and demonstrate the extraordinary value that God has placed on your life. Keep your feet firmly planted on the Rock of Ages, walk with your head held high, and don’t drop your crown!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer, Sami Nicholas: Mothers, Don’t Miss a Beat from this Heart!

Today’s post needs no commentary. It may be my favorite post of all the years of posting. It’s written by my sister (in the flesh), Sami Nicholas, in anticipation of her first grandchild. It was penned by the bedside of our dying father on the day that his weak heart heard our new baby’s healthy one. At that time, we had high hopes that our father would be able to hold this new life in his arms. That was not to be. But he  was already holding this child in his heart. Since this writing, the remnant of that generation of our family has rolled on into eternity.

 I do not need to analyze this letter for you. I just want to emphasize that it’s full of truth for generations rolling on. Although intended for a tiny unborn baby, I’ve never seen truth-in-love written more poignantly for mothers and grandmothers.

November 14, 2017

Dear Pumpkin Seed,

Yesterday, I heard your heart. What an absolute joy it was to know that life-giving blood was moving through your little body.  At the same time that I was relieved and thankful that your heart seems healthy and strong, I sat by the hospital bed of your oldest relative whose heart is not beating quite so strongly. Pie-daddy had already talked about you during the day….about how your Pa and Mama were going to give us a baby. He wondered about whether you would be a boy or girl. When I received the sound of your beating heart, he listened attentively. He already likes you.

As I sat there, amazed at the beauty and strength of your heartbeat, I watched the technicians looking at the ultrasound of Pie-daddy’s less-than-perfect one.  Yet, I knew that the heart that matters eternally in each of you was healthy and strong. One had endured a lot of tests and changes. The other was clean, innocent, and new.  But if God grants our prayers, yours will grow and develop. As you build that eternal heart, there are many ways in which I hope it will become like his.

I hope that your heart always honors and craves God’s Word. I have watched year-upon-year, your Pie-daddy sitting in his chair or on the patio reading his Bible everyday, a part of the routine. I hope your Mama and Daddy will make God’s Word a part of your daily routine as soon as those little eyes open. I hope they share Bible songs and Bible stories. Then, when you get big enough to read, I hope you read and study truths from God everyday. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). I hope you are always hiding.

I hope that your heart will always desire to do the right thing, even if it means changing. There have been many times when I’ve watched Pie-daddy, upon realizing that something he had said or done was not the best Christian course, back up and apologize or change his mind. Sometimes it took a few hours or days, but he wanted to be pliable to God’s will. I hope you always have such a heart. Right now, you have a perfect heart, but as you get older, you, like all of us will slip and stumble. It’s impossible to be perfect, but I pray that you will have a penitent heart that wants to do right and fix wrongs. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). May you always live so He will look.

I hope that your heart always wants to gather with God’s people at every opportunity. Sunday morning, your Pie-daddy had been wrestling with pneumonia, shortness of breath, and general weakness, but the sounds of him getting up at 5:30 to get ready for worship awakened me. You see, he makes that a priority. Even when it takes him 4 hours to prepare to go, he allows the time and begins the process, because he believes that worship “provokes us to good works” and we are “not to forsake” that gathering (Hebrews 10:24,25).

I also hope that your heart genuinely loves other people. Often, Pie-daddy will get tears in his eyes as he talks about another brother or sister in Christ who has shared time with him. He will sniffle as he mentions the struggles someone is going through. His door is always open, and always has been, to visitors. He cares about children. I remember when I was a child and he was struggling to buy groceries and pay the bills with six people in one household, Pie-daddy would, without fail, for years and years, make a small monthly contribution to a children’s home far away. This was in addition to what he normally gave to the church. He cared about little children and wanted them to have what they needed. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). I hope you have a weight-bearing heart.

I hope you have a heart that hates evil. Pie-daddy can get mad. He gets mad every time we pass the liquor store just a couple of miles from his house. He comments on the fact that the man who owns it is sinful. He gets mad at the immorality and language on television. He won’t have that playing in his house. He gets mad at husbands who are not faithful to their wives and refuse to change. He understands that, despite the fact that we love everyone, we must acknowledge that there are bad guys out there. He knows that evil is evil. He believes God when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Have a heart that gets mad.

One last thing…I hope you have a heart that loves your family. Pie-daddy is stellar when it comes to this. I can look across any room of my house and see little projects he made for us…wagons, rocky horses, marble mazes, stilts. When he was 87, he had a basketball court poured, and he got on his hands and knees and painted the lines for the court, so his grandchildren would have a place to play. All of his children and grandchildren have nicknames, their assigned special title from him. If he is able, I know he will have a nickname for you. He would do anything to help his family, and he doesn’t mind telling others how special his family is to him. He doesn’t endorse us if we do wrong, but he encourages us in everything we do that is right. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). Have the heart that passes on a godly inheritance.


I have a lot of dreams for you, little Pumpkin Seed. I want you to be happy. I want you to be blessed. I want you to go to heaven. I know the key to all of this is a healthy heart. May it always keep beating.

Love you immeasurably, 

Doodle (or whatever you decide to call me) 


(Photo is my dad on his last birthday in October.  His gift from the Abel Nicholases was the news of the “pumpkin seed.”)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

For the Diggers: Lessons from Jabesh-Gilead

The town of Jabesh-Gilead was in the half tribe of Manasseh that settled on the east of Jordan. Jabesh was the name of the town and Gilead was the region, that region being partially in Manasseh and partially in Gad. Jabesh-Gilead was in the land belonging to Manasseh. (You will remember Manasseh was one of the sons of Joseph, along with Ephraim.) We remember that one of the stipulations for their being allowed to settle on the east side of the river, before the conquering, was that they would go across the Jordan and help their brethren fight for the promised land, driving out the inhabitants of Canaan. We read about this agreement in Joshua 1: 14,15:

Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

It seems that the two-and-a-half tribes kept that commitment to go in and fight for the whole of Israel as they conquered Canaan. But it was during a later civil war that erupted between Israel and a remarkably immoral tribe of  Benjamin, over an abused concubine, that the men of Jabesh-Gilead went AWOL and failed to defend the honor of the nation against Benjamin. Because they failed to show up in this important and God-sanctioned war, the men and married women of the city of Jabesh were killed in the very last chapter of the book of Judges. A curse had been pronounced on Benjamin, because of their immorality and violence, that no man of Israel would give his daughter in marriage to the Benjamites. So, because of this failure to come to war against the Benjamites, the remaining unmarried women of Jabesh-Gilead were given as wives to the Benjamites who had survived the war.  (After all, this was not technically a violation of the curse, since these virgins had no fathers to give them in marriage. Their fathers had been killed in the punishment on Jabesh-Gilead.) These marriages were performed in order to preserve the tribe of Benjamin, threatened by extinction because the few men who remained had no wives.  Thus began the rebuilding of the tribe of Benjamin (of which Saul, coincidentally, was a son).

Fast forward to I Samuel 11. Though some years had passed, it appears to me that there were some of the men of Judges 21, who may have  been living still by the time of the events of I Samuel 11. (Some commentators put these events in close proximity time-wise. Others believe they may have been some 300 years apart.) The young boys who were left in Jabesh-Gilead had perhaps had time to reach adulthood or even be grandfathers, but the city would have likely been yet vulnerable to attack since its utter destruction had occurred in the not-too-distant past (although the exact date of the civil war is not certain). 

At this point (I Samuel 11), Saul was on the brink of becoming the brand new king of Israel and his first major challenge was when the Ammonites, under King Nahash, attacked the city of Jabesh-Gilead. The vulnerable city attempted to make a league of service to the Ammonites, but the men of Nahash the Ammonite required that the men of Jabesh-Gilead have their right eyes plucked out before coming into their service. The men of Jabesh-Gilead asked for one week, during which they appealed to Israel for help, in order to preserve their eyes and perhaps maintain their liberty. It was Saul, who organized an army and rescued Jabesh from the Ammonites. Lots of questions can emerge from this scenario. 

  1. Was Saul’s mother or grandmother one of those women who came from Jabesh-Gilead in forced marriage to a remaining Benjamite? Was this one reason he was quick to go to the rescue of that city? Did he have relatives who were young boys at the time of the initial destruction? 
  2. Was Saul lacking in character as the first king of Israel because of the fact that the male leaders of his tribe were almost all killed as a result of their immorality? Was this, perhaps, part of God’s purposeful lesson in giving the nation a human king rather than allowing the intended divine system to remain in place? 
  3. Lastly, we see that the bodies of Saul and his sons following their deaths in battle against the Philistines were left on the wall of Bethshan (I Samuel 31:11-13). Who was it that went to get the body of the former king of Israel and bury him? It was the “valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead.” They brought Saul and his sons to Jabesh and buried them under a tree. David later thanked the people of Jabesh for this act of piety (2 Samuel 2:4-6). Why, out of all of Israel, who had served under this the first king of Israel, was it that the men of Jabesh went to get the body?  Was it possibly because the king’s matriarchal ancestor was from Jabesh-Gilead? This is impossible to ascertain, since we cannot be sure of the exact chronology of the events in Judges 21 or the exact identity of Saul’s mother, but it is interesting to ponder. 

What we can know is that, for whatever reason, Saul was quick to defend the people of Jabesh-Gilead even before he became king of Israel. He was not of the judgment that, because of their prior failures to stand with Israel, that Israel should fail to stand for them. 

Finally, it is interesting to note that the attacking people in 2 Samuel 11 was the people of Ammon. The Ammonites, of course, were the Semitic people born of Benammi, who was one of the sons born to Lot after his incestuous relationship with his daughters shortly following his delivery from Sodom. The Ammonites, though related to Israel through Lot, were a constant thorn in the side of God’s people. 

In all of these interwoven accounts, one thing is very clear. Sin has a very progressively negative effect as time goes by. A “vacation” from the battle for Jabesh turned into the massive destruction of the adults of the entire city. (How much destruction do we encounter/cause when we take a break from fighting the spiritual battles of our own environments?) 

A single act of immorality turned into the humbling of an entire tribe of Benjamites. (How often do we fail to see huge consequences of “a little action” that violates the moral code of God? Is this not the 2017 Fox News story we see being replayed over and over this very week?)

An entire nation of wicked people grew from a single incestuous decision/act on the parts of some desperate women. (Do parents today make decisions that may turn into national tragedies? You do not have to look very far into monarchies and other governments of the modern world to see what happens when parents become separated from Biblical moorings.) 

The rejection of God as king never had a chance of being what was best for Israel. (Spiritually, we rob ourselves of our very best happiness in this life and eternal fulfillment when we reject Him as King in our lives.)

The regrowth of Benjamin without the fathers/leaders of that tribe resulted in moral poverty. (Once again, this is the plight of our nation today. It is the catalyst for moral bankruptcy or, at least, one recurring arc of a cycle of moral depravity.)

Saul and his sons were poor and desperate at the time of their deaths. There was no national mourning for the king, no proper burial and no pomp and circumstance. (When we die without His favor, our desperation is inevitable and limitless in both its depth and its eternality.)