Athlete, God Redeems Your Past Failures


Athlete, God Redeems Your Past Failures

Joel Pfahler

1 Samuel 11:13 (ESV)

But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.”

Athlete, have you ever messed up so bad that you doubted God’s forgiveness? 

Or, do you let shame keep you from rebounding back into a restored frame of mind?

1 Samuel 11 is for you. 

The story begins after Saul is made king of Israel. Saul had to overcome his own fear, and some doubted that he could save Israel (see 1 Samuel 10:27).

The Ammonites, a pagan nation that was a distant cousin and enemy to Israel (see Genesis 19:30-38), attacked the Israelite town of Jabesh-gilead. The men of Jabesh were weak and willing to surrender unless someone came to save them (1 Samuel 11:1-3). 

Jabesh-gilead had a wicked and shameful history, and most of its men died because of God’s judgment (see Judges 19-21). In Saul’s day, they were few in number and thought of themselves as hopeless and undeserving, yet in need of a savior (1 Samuel 11:4). 

Saul was the man God used to deliver Israel, though some doubted. But the Spirit of God “rushed upon Saul” (11:6), and he took drastic measures to recruit fighters to defend Jabesh-gilead (11:6-9). 

With the Lord’s help, Saul led Israel to a decisive victory over the Ammonites, “so that no two [survivors] were left together” (11:11).

After the victory, the people wanted to kill the men who doubted Saul, but Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel” (11:13). 

The chapter closes with the people renewing Saul’s kingship and worshiping the Lord for His salvation (11:14-15). 

Perhaps you identify with Jabesh-gilead. You’ve messed up so much and written yourself off as hopeless. But God has provided a King much greater than Saul — Jesus Christ — our Savior with whom you can find hope! 

Or, perhaps you identify with Saul. You’re unworthy, but because of God’s redemptive grace, He wants to use you for His glory. You may feel scared. Other voices tell you you’re incapable. 

Will you ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, trusting that God provides the victory? 

Finally, instead of taking the credit or seeking revenge, give God the glory. It is the Lord who works salvation!


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