Saul’s first recorded royal duty as the new king of Israel was to deal with the siege of Jabesh Gilead (1 Sam. 11). The residents of the city sought a peace treaty with the invading Ammonites. Nahash, the Ammonite commander, agreed. However, he had one condition – the Ammonites would gouge out the right eye of every inhabitant of the city. How did Saul respond to this outrageous proposal? “When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger” (1 Sam. 11:6). He promptly took a pair of oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout Israel with the message, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel” (v. 7).
In this case, Saul used a graphically illustrated threat to get peoples’ attention and mobilize them to take extraordinary action. Now, I wouldn’t recommend threats as a leadership tactic for motivating people. However, sometimes people need to be jolted out of a sense of complacency. Good leaders know how to inspire and incite, as appropriate! Not surprisingly, 330,000 men responded to Saul’s call and they soundly defeated the Ammonites.