Summary: Saul, Pt. 1
YOU CANNOT WIN THEM ALL (1 SAMUEL 9:15-10:27)
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
“Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.”
“But I’m starved,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.”
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.” “Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.”
The selection of Saul as king, upon the Israelites’ rude rejection of Samuel the prophet to rule over them, was greeted with suspicion and hostility. Saul was a good choice, but it was never popular. It was a baptism of fire and a candidate’s worst nightmare. The abilities of Saul were not obvious, the support for him was not unanimous and the start of his reign was not smooth.
How does one succeed when others are critical of him? How does a person seek to win over his critics? Do you stoop to their level or do you rise above the criticism?
God Does the Best Evaluation on a Person
17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.” 18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?” 19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family?” 21 Saul answered, “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?” (1 Sam 9:17-21)
A martial arts student was meeting with his master and teacher at a table, having tea. The student said to his master, “I’ve learned all you have to teach me about defending myself. I want to learn one thing more now. Please teach me the ways of God.”
The master took the teakettle and starting pouring the student’s cup full of tea. Soon the cup was full and began to spill over onto the saucer. But the master continued to pour the tea until it spilled over onto the saucer and then onto the floor.
The student finally said, “Stop, stop, the tea is spilling over. The cup can’t take any more.”
The master then looked at the student and said, “You are so full of yourself that there is no room in your life for God. It is not possible for you to learn the ways of God until you learn to empty yourself.” (R. Curtis Fassell, Deadly Sins and Living Virtues, CSS Pub. Co., Inc, 1997)
Most people could only dream of the background, privilege and life Saul had. His family had standing (1 Sam 9:1), livestock and servants, but he benefited little from it. Saul’s inferiority complex could be traced to the low standing of the Benjamites in Israel. His tribe, the tribe of Benjamin, was almost wiped out by other tribes to punish them for a shameful, bizarre and notorious rape incident in Gibeah, Saul’s hometown (Judg 20:46). Saul was not short of any qualities except self-esteem. Physically, he was big, tall and handsome. Relationally, he was well-mannered, well-liked and well-grounded. The servant who traveled with him loved nothing but spent time and sought adventure with him.
Although Saul was capable and charismatic, he was not confident or coordinated. He was also inattentive to detail. Along the way to Zuph (1 Sam 9:5), his servant was the real leader and not Saul. Someone suggested the two even asked directions from girls (1 Sam 9:11)! The inept Saul did not bring any money (1 Sam 9:7) and did not know who Samuel was (1 Sam 9:18) even when Samuel was right under his nose, checking him from head to toe. In some respect, Saul was more comfortable with donkeys than with people, in the country than in the palace, as an adventurer than as a warrior.