Thursday, April 10, 2008

Forshadowing of trouble

In 1 Samuel 8 -10 we read about Israel's first King. Saul son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin is the one chosen. The situation is a common one. The people want someone to lead them and fight their battles for them. They want a "king to govern us, like other nations.(1 Samuel 8:5)" On the surface, this does not seem to be too ominous. Who, after all, doesn't want to fit in, to feel like they are normal and part of the "in" group? Unfortunately this choice is a rejection of God. The design of ancient Israel was that God would be their only King and ruler. Samuel explains to the people what a king will do and the burden a royal family will be on the people but the elders and the people insist they want to be like everyone else. Even though it is a rejection of God as their ruler the people persist in their request and God gives them what they want.

Saul is anointed by the prophet Samuel and, when it is time to introduce Saul (1 Samuel 10:17 and following) the tribes and clans are paraded past Samuel until he picks Benjamin, then the family of Kish and finally Saul (1 Samuel 10:17-21). The problem is that when they announce Saul is the chosen one to be king he is no where to be found. When they inquire of God if they have made a mistake God says "he is hiding among the baggage. (1 Samuel 10:22)" This should have been a "heads up" to the people of Israel that Saul might be something of an unstable leader -- reason for caution and second thoughts -- who wants a leader who is hiding among the luggage. But when Saul is dragged out he looks handsome, he is a head taller than everyone else -- in other words he looks the part. At the sight of him the people rejoice and he is declared king.

How many times to we fall for what "looks good" instead of looking deeper and exploring the kind of issues that God explores? We are told in the Bible that though human beings look at the outward appearance "God looks at the heart". God is looking for those of us who are right on the inside regardless of what the outside looks like. The foreshadowing of this story proves true in later chapters (as we shall see) as Saul is not a stable leader or ruler.

Dr. BJ

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