Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 24 2019 - 1 Samuel 9 – Saul meets Samuel

The Israelites wanted to be a powerful nation, just like the other nations round about them. So they told Samuel that they must have a king. But who is able to act as king over the people God has chosen to be his own and to be a light to the nations?

The hidden hand of God is at work through the details of the story in today's chapter. Saul's father, Kish just happens to have lost his donkeys which would have been left to fend for themselves on the sparse pasture of the hill country – as sheep today are let loose on the hills in Wales. Saul, along with one of his father's servants, is sent to search for them and bring them home. They searched the local countryside but could not find the donkeys. Only then does the servant have the bright idea of consulting Samuel, the priest and prophet of Israel who lived in that region.

Meanwhile, the Lord had revealed to Samuel that a man from the tribe of Benjamin was on his way to see him and that this was the man whom he is to anoint as Israel's king. Saul is just the kind of young man whom you might expect to make a good king, even though he is from the smallest tribe in Israel. He stands head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries (v.2), he has the physical characteristics that would make him the kind of king the people would welcome – a king like the nations. The Lord tells Samuel that this is the man who will deliver God's people from the oppression of the Philistines (v.16). He will be a second Samson, perhaps even a better Samson.

Samuel lives up to his reputation as a prophet or seer – one who can see things that are not visible to others. When Saul meets Samuel he is immediately told that he need worry no more about the donkeys, they have been returned safely to his father. Then Samuel utters the enigmatic words, "And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line? (v.20). Saul is puzzled; he does not think that there is anything special about him and his family.

But now Saul is led into the feast that has been prepared in conjunction with the sacrifice and worship planned to take place at the high place above the town. There Saul was given the chief place at the feast and the very best of the food; it must all have seemed very strange to him. After the feast they went down to Samuel's house in the town where they stayed the night. Only in the morning, as Saul is about to leave, does Samuel take him aside to tell him that he is going to be Israel's first king. It must have been very difficult for Saul to take in.

What kind of king does God want to be ruler over his people? It must be one who reflects the character of God himself. Saul looked the right part – head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries – but the events of the following chapters will prove his character.

What a contrast with our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the beautiful images of him in Victorian paintings and Sunday School posters, we are told that, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). It is character, not appearance, that God values and that equips someone for leadership among God's people. Jesus alone is fit to be king over the people of God for he "is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being." He is God incarnate.

Father God, we give you thanks and praise for our precious Saviour and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has conquered all our enemies, will save us from every threat and danger and will bring us safe at last into the place he is preparing for us in glory. We thank you that though we are unworthy of your goodness, you have set aside the best for us and welcome us to feast at your table. Help us to serve you in a spirit of humble faith and of joyful obedience and worship.

Peter Misselbrook