Tag Archives: 1 Samuel 10

The Unexpected Role

When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

1 Samuel 10:20-22 (NIV)

Over the past few months, Wendy and I have casually watched a six-part documentary on Netflix about the history of the classic British comedy troupe Monty Python. I found it both interesting and funny.

One of my favorite Monty Python scenes (among many favorites) is in their first movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which King Arthur comes upon some of his “common” subjects. They ask who he is and he tells them “I am your king!” They shrug this off saying “I didn’t vote for you!” and discuss the socialist constructs of their local, communal government system. It’s brilliant.

That scene came to mind this morning as I was pondering the events in today’s chapter. The Hebrew tribes are in process of migrating their system of government from a tribal theocracy to a monarchy. Samuel calls the Hebrew tribes together to give them what they wanted: a king.

In the ancient Near East, studies have shown that there was a common, multi-stage process for the ascension of a person to becoming a king. First, there was a divine designation. Second, the candidate demonstrated their worthiness in some way that drew public attention and support. Since the people’s primary goal for having a king was that of protecting them from threatening enemies and defeating those enemies, the desired “demonstration” was often a military victory of some kind. Finally, there would be a public affirmation or confirmation of the new leader.

The appointment of Saul to become Israel’s first king followed these same general steps. Saul had not led any battles or demonstrated victory over the dreaded Philistines, the casting of lots was used by Samuel to show that Saul was God’s choice along with Samuel pointing out to them that Saul was a head taller than anyone else.

Like the commoners in Monty Python’s sketch, some of the Hebrew people were less than impressed by Saul. He was just some tall kid from the smallest Hebrew tribe whom they never heard of. They begin to grumble and complain that Saul hadn’t proven that he could “save” them. Welcome to politics, Saul! The oil from your anointing hasn’t even dried and your people are already complaining about your leadership.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself thinking about multiple things that stand out to me in this fascinating transition of government.

God makes it clear through Samuel that they are rejecting Him as their king by wanting a human king. One of the metaphors often used among followers of Jesus is that “Jesus sits on the throne of our hearts.” But saying that and living that are two different things. The reality is that my words and actions are often key indicators that I really have something or someone else ruling my desires, choices, actions, and relationships.

Then there is Saul, on whom God’s Spirit descends to “change” him “into a different person.” This foreshadows the transformation of a follower of Jesus in which I, indwelled by God’s Spirit, become “a new creation” in which “old things pass away” and “new things come” (2 Cor 5:17). For Saul, the events and transformation appear not to have a desired effect of strength or confidence. When the lots were cast in his favor he was hiding. It’s no wonder he didn’t make a good first impression on some of his new subjects.

Along my life journey, I have experienced the call to positions and purposes for which I had little self-confidence. I have found myself in Saul’s sandals a time or two. “Really, God?! Me?!” A prophet once gave me a metaphor saying that God had picked out something for me to wear that I never would have chosen myself. I’ve learned along the journey that sometimes God does this and the reasons aren’t always clear. The metaphor that comes to my mind is from theatre. Sometimes I get cast in a role when I had my eyes and heart set on another character I wanted to play. Looking back, not once did I get to the close of the show and regret playing the part I was given. There has always been things for me to discover and learn in that “unwanted” role for which I was grateful.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Unexpected Curves in Life’s Road

And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”
1 Samuel 10:21b-22 (NLT)

I am reminded this morning of a conversation I had with a fellow actor during a production this past year. She had been sharing with bits of the story of her own life journey. Like many people, her life had been marked with some difficulty and we were talking about the struggles and disappointments we experience in life.

I took an informal poll and asked a bunch of people if their lives had turned out the way they had expected when they were young,” my friend told me. “Not one person said ‘yes,'” she explained. “So, I figured that while my life wasn’t what I expected it to be, I’m just like everybody else.”

I recalled this conversation when I read about Saul being unexpectedly anointed king, empowered by God’s spirit, and then choosing to go hide in the baggage. The reality is that we will all face certain events, circumstances, opportunities and callings in this life which we didn’t expect, nor do we feel capable of facing. Like Saul, it’s tempting when experiencing a major curve in life’s road to take a good look at the uncertain path ahead and immediately run for cover.

God makes a habit of throwing unexpected and seemingly tangential waypoints into our journey. Saul experienced it in today’s chapter. Mary experienced it with an unexpected angelic visit and a positive pregnancy test. Paul experienced it on the road to Damascus. Joseph experienced it being sold into slavery by his brothers. Moses experienced it in a conversation with God amidst a burning bush. The twelve disciples experienced it in Jesus’ betrayal and late night arrest, then a few days later in an unexpected appearance of the resurrected Lord.

We cannot control our circumstances, but neither should we be afraid of the road ahead. We who walk by faith are repeatedly told not to fear, not to be anxious, and to choose to rejoice even in the toughest most unexpected stretches of life’s journey. God purposes not the fulfillment of our short-sighted and finite desires but the fulfillment of eternal and divine purposes. God will not call us to walk a path we are incapable of traversing. Even if we stumble and stagger, we can be confident that there is meaning in the struggle which will only be revealed when we later look back with 20-20 hindsight at just how far the journey has brought us.

Now, get out of that steamer trunk and put on your hiking boots. Time is waning and we’ve got a long road ahead of us.