Sunday, August 24, 2008

1 Samuel 9

LINK:1 Samuel 9

Chapter 9 is a lead-in to Chapter 10, where Samuel anoints Israel's very first king--an unknown (but physically impressive) young man named Saul from the small tribe of Benjamin. The chapter begins by introducing Saul and telling how his father sends him with a servant on an errand to find some lost donkeys (and some people think God doesn't have a sense of humor--what a perfect picture of Saul's future job as king of rebellious, willful Israel!). Saul searches far and wide with no luck. Finally the servant suggests they go and ask the "man of God" for some help. This man of God turns out to be Samuel, whom God has previously given a heads-up to be on the lookout for the man God has chosen to be king. When Saul appears, the Lord tells Samuel, "This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people." Samuel greets Saul and invites him to supper as the honored guest for whom the meal has been prepared. They spend the evening chatting, and when Saul is ready to leave the next morning, Samuel tells him that he has a message from God. To find out what the message is, you have to keep reading on into Chapter 10.:-)

I can imagine that Saul was quite surprised and bemused by Samuel's attention. What Saul thought was a simple chore of finding his father's wandering donkeys all of a sudden became a party in his honor. Furthermore, Saul knew his family, his tribe, and himself were of no special importance, so why would Samuel say that the "desire of Israel" was turned toward him? Saul is not yet aware that none of this is an accident or coincidence or mistake; it's God at work. Even though the Lord realizes that this change to a monarchy will spell disaster for Israel, he gives them what they ask for, but even in their rebellion he is watching over them and guiding them and providing them with what will ultimately be for their best good. It's noteworthy that God chooses his king from among Israel's humblest tribe; this "raising of the poor" (1 Sam. 2:8) is a theme running throughout the book.

I find this chapter comforting, in sort of an uncomfortable way. Like Israel, so often I try to take matters into my own hands. Like Saul, so often I am simply clueless. And yet, whether I think I've got it covered or am completely confused, God still works. There is no circumstance of my making or situation I stumble into that is outside his care and concern: God leads and preserves his people. Whether they know it or not, whether they want it or not, he still acts on their behalf.

Heavenly Father, thank you that your care and concern extend beyond me; you direct all things according to your good purposes. You don't return evil for evil, but shower me with your grace and mercy and good gifts even when I turn away from you. Thank you so much that you send Jesus after this wandering donkey and bring me back to your tender loving arms. Amen.
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