Today’s reading includes 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15, John 6:43-71, Psalm 107:1-43, Proverbs 15:1-3.
Today we enter the phase of the kings of Israel. The first king was Saul. His is a sad story. He was selected by God, and anointed by Samuel at God’s request. Saul had much potential. He stood out and above the crowd. According to 1 Samuel 9:2, Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.
But as we will see in chapter 16, The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1Samuel 16:7)
Saul started out as a humble man. He was humble enough to be guided by God, to go where God said to go. He was humble enough to remember his humble beginnings. When told by Samuel that he was the hope of Israel, he said, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” Sadly, we will soon see that this humility will quickly change, and the Spirit of God upon him will be replaced by an evil spirit.
I think the practical lesson in this sad story involves the heart and mindset of the one God choses to use.
First, there must be a willing spirit. The fact that Saul began his journey towards the kingship is good, but he took it too far. He did not have a willing spirit to arise to the calling. When Samuel brought all the tribes together and it was revealed that the new king would come from the tribe of Benjamin, and Saul’s own family was then chosen out of all the families of Israel to be the royal family, Saul went AWOL. He hid from his calling. When the moment of reveal came, Saul was nowhere to be found. They had to ask the Lord where he was, and of course, the Lord knew. It reminds me of when the Lord asked Adam and Even, “Where are you?” And of course, God knew where they were. He just needed to expose the fact that they were hiding from God because of their sin. And Saul was hiding, too. They found the new king hiding among the baggage. Not a good start to the kingship. But this could have been a great story of God’s redemption, of God raising up the reluctant and insecure Benjaminite to become a great king of Israel. But soon we will see that the reluctant new king will become a disobedient and arrogant king.
Secondly, the heart and mindset of the one God choses to use must include an obedient spirit. We will soon see that Saul’s downfall involved his unwillingness to obey the Lord. He wanted to make his own rules, and obey only part of what God said. But the truth is, partial obedience is really disobedience, and Saul’s disobedience was a sign of arrogance. What an extreme change! How can one chosen by God fall to such extremes? The answers that we can examine are revealed in human nature time and time again.
Saul’s initial humility was not real humility. It was more insecurity. And once he was lauded and applauded, the insecurity went away and was replaced with arrogance. We must be very careful to guard our hearts. We must ask the Lord to soften our hearts, to reveal any arrogance and replace it with true humility. We must be careful to remember our humble beginnings and acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from God, not from any talent or developed giftedness on our part. This is not an easy task when our world is consumed with a “look at me!” mentaltity.
Today, let’s ask the Lord to reveal our arrogance. Let’s ask the Lord to reveal our unwillingness to serve Him. As painful as it will be, let’s ask the Lord to remove that which He reveals, so that we can be made a willing and humble servant of God. Today, pray this prayer of renewal and then be prepared to answer the call of God on your life.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.