Broadly we can fall into one of two categories; abuser or abused. Verbal attacks and threats can quickly escalate to physical attacks. We are often quick to use the term to abuse to mean anything from disagreement to the hurting of a person’s feelings. The root word in the Latin language (abuti) meant to consume. The dictionary definition includes “a corrupt practice or custom; improper or excessive use (like abusing a car or a toaster); language that condemns or vilifies; usually unjustly or intemperately or angrily or physical maltreatment”.
Cruel Threats (vv.1-3) 1 Samuel 11:1 (NKJV) Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you. The Ammonites were the descendants of Lot. By now they were distant relatives from the past.
How do we go from distant relative to enemy? The “Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh” that is they surrounded the city with a massive army. Jabesh Gilead was located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south and east of Bet Shean; about 2 miles east of the Jordan river in the ancient tribal region of Manassah. In the future the men of Jabesh Gilead would remember the kindness of Saul, even after he was slain on Mount Gilboa and rescue his body that was mutilated and on the walls of Bet Shean--take the bodies (of Saul and his sons) and burn them in Jabesh Gilead. Right from the start the men of Jabesh Gilead attempted a truce--a surrender. In their minds the terms of the surrender means they become slaves and subjects of the Ammonites. Abused people often cave in to threats because they see no way out of their situation. When people use intimidation and threat to control you or manipulate you in order to get you to do what they want--against your will--you are in an abusive relationship. 1 Samuel 11:2 (NKJV) And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel. Like many abusers the demands are exceedingly high. The cruel condition included gouging out the right eye of every citizen. The purpose of the condition was to disgrace not only the citizens of the city, but to disgrace all Israel as weak and cowardly. The king also knew that blindness in one eye would also seriously handicap the men and help prevent any future revolt. Partial blindness would almost ensure complete and continued subjection of the people of Jabesh Gilead to the Ammonites. Abusers often think of their victims as cowards. Abusers see their victims as commodities, things to be consumed. An abuser may not gouge out your eye; they may be content to punch you or slap you, or kick you or bite you or pull your hair. Abusers feel justified in their abuse; and have no problems trying to excuse their behavior. 1 Samuel 11:3 (NKJV) Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you. The elders of Jabesh make two appeals to the king of Ammon; give them seven days to consider the conditions; and they be allowed to send out messengers to the territory of Israel to appeal for help from their near relatives. You might think, why would the king agree to such conditions? It could be that the king was unwilling to expend resources at that point; or because of a sense of over-confidence--that is what ever army Israel could mobilize would easily be defeated. If an army came it