1 Samuel 9-10: The Reluctant King

samuelanointssaulAfter Israel asks Samuel to give them a king, which I blogged about last time, we then get introduced to that king: Saul. 1 Samuel 9 is our first introduction to Saul, and at this point he is described as choice, tall, and handsome, and appears to be pretty humble, too. Even though his father Kish is described as a mighty man of power (vs. 1), Saul refers to himself as the least of the least – the least of the families in the least of the tribes. Saul came from the tribe of Benjamin, which was almost entirely wiped out back in Judges after they refused to hand over some immoral and perverted men.

But Samuel treats Saul with honor, and at dawn the following the day, Samuel makes an announcement that would mark the dawn of a new era for Israel.

Chapter 10 records this announcement. Samuel sends Saul’s servant away and privately anoints Saul “commander of [God’s] inheritance” (vs. 1). I wonder if the term “commander” is meaningful, in that it reserved God as the King and made Saul the commander under Him.

Imagine the thoughts that must have been running through Saul’s mind. Here he had just been minding his own business, searching for some missing donkeys, and then the next thing he knows he’s being anointed by a great prophet of Israel and declared commander over the entire nation! Maybe he wondered if Samuel was going a little nuts in his old age!

But Samuel proceeded to give him three, very detailed signs that would come to pass as confirmation of his words. And they did!

The Bible says that as Saul turned to leave Samuel, “God gave him another heart” (vs. 9). I wonder what exactly that meant, and for how long it lasted.

When Saul finally got back home, his uncle asked where he’d disappeared to, and when he heard that Saul had met up with Samuel, he asked what Samuel had said. Saul didn’t tell him the whole truth: only that the prophet had told him the donkeys had been found already. But not a word did he say about the anointing, or the signs that had come to pass afterward – including the prophecies that he himself had uttered (vs. 10). Why didn’t he tell these things? Was he unsure if the kingdom would really belong to him? Did he not want to get his hopes up? Or was he afraid of ridicule from his uncle?

Some time after that, Samuel gathered the people together. He told them again that they had rejected God as their King, but since they’d asked for a king, they would get one. The king would be decided by the casting of lots. When the tribe of Benjamin – the smallest and weakest of the tribes – was chosen, I wonder what the response was. Then lots were cast by families, and Saul’s family was chosen. And lastly, Saul was.

But Saul was nowhere to be found! He was hiding “among the equipment” – which if I understand right, he was (in other words) hiding in the outhouse! Why was he hiding? Apparently he was dealing with some insecurities, and understandably so.

But the people of Israel didn’t seem to mind, and they hailed him as king in spite of his reluctance. There were some rebels who questioned, “How can this man save us?” (vs. 27), but Saul held his peace and didn’t punish them.

Perhaps Saul was asking himself the same question.

In a lot of ways, I can relate to Saul’s apparent struggles. I’ve dealt with the insecurities of wondering if I can really do something well – even when other people assure me that I can. I’m a people-pleaser; I care deeply about what other people think of me. And as a result, I can be slow to step out in faith and do the things that I should – the things that God has called me to do.

Has God ever called me to do something, and I’ve run and “hid in the outhouse,” hoping that no one would notice? How about you?

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2 thoughts on “1 Samuel 9-10: The Reluctant King

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