Well, now that the king has been selected by God, today’s reading is about making the announcement and getting to see the king in action.
The Spirit of God’s role in leadership in the Old Testament
When Saul was anointed, he clearly didn’t quite believe what he had heard. He himself needed a little convincing. So, God gave him a sign that would be seen by others, too, Saul was indeed God’s choice. The sign? A number of predictions for Saul to see fulfilled and then… God’s Spirit inspiring Saul to prophecy!
Even after this sign, however, Saul wasn’t too sure about this honor of leading God’s people. When Samuel gathered all Israel to Mizpah to officially reveal the new king, they found Saul actually hiding among the baggage. On the one hand you could say that his humility was great and all that; but on the other hand we find ourselves saying, “Come on, Saul. God has called you! Don’t hide; just do it!” But then again, we’d have to kind of yell at ourselves a bit, too, wouldn’t we? Do we get called to service positions — it doesn’t have to be to the office of king to be officially called to something, you know. Sometimes it is to Bible class teacher, or elder, or visitor of church visitors, or giver. And sometimes our reticence to answer God’s call is more a matter of selfishness on our own part.
Saul’s “humility” as it turned out, appeared to be more like poor self-esteem issues. Once he realized that he had truly been given the position as king, he became very defensive of it, even abusing the position — believing, it would seem, that it was his possession and entitlement. We, too must be careful. What we have been called to and given is not our possession. God may give and take as He deems necessary and proper. We are mere stewards of anything we “have”, nothing more.
Saul does prove himself as king by rescuing Jabesh-gilead from the Ammonite king. It is a great victory and everyone in Israel recognized Saul as being the legitimate and anointed king — getting behind him as the king. There’s something here for NT Christians to consider here, too. Those whom God has anointed, elders and deacons, need to be recognized and given the proper respect and obedience. I find this an important point preaching in New England for a number of years. This mission field is very heavily socialized in independent democracy — “Live Free or Die” is the defiant state motto in NH, where it is really a constitutional right to revolt. In such a climate, where town meetings can sometimes almost come to blows (actually, some have, I think), going from business meetings of the congregation to an eldership is sometimes a bumpy transition. What God has ordained — elders and deacons — needs to be respected. But it isn’t just to curmudgeonly New Englanders that I’m writing; we live in a world in which other kinds of church organization is preferred to God’s. The world loves a good pyramid, corporate structure; but this is not God’s church organization. We don’t do ourselves any favors by turning our backs on God’s organization.
The last chapter is essentially Samuel’s farewell speech and warning. Samuel is worried that the people will drift away. His firm advice is found in 12:14: fear the Lord, serve the Lord, and listen to the Lord. Not a bad formula for us today — though we would prefer to leave off the fear part, it scares people away (including me!)… and the service part sort of gets in the way of my busy life a lot of times… and “listen” seems to imply that I will actually obey what God says, and don’t you think that’s just a little bit legalistic? Apart from that, it’s… hmmm, well, there’s not much left.
I hope you get what I’m driving at.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.