Saul had a problem; he was a little too into himself. As the first King of the Hebrews, Saul took advantage of his situation, making laws and ruling his people often for his own gain. This did not please God!
But let’s step back for a moment. If you remember, before Saul was picked and anointed, the people had a system that centered on God’s use of judges, who like our current judges would rule and make decisions on behalf of God. They did not like that system and wanted to be contemporary to the other kingdoms and have a king, so they petitioned God and God brought them Saul.
Does God make mistakes? Well, it is hard to see Saul and not think that God had not make a mistake, but here in appointing Saul, Saul was able to prepare the way for David, that had someone like David been appointed first, David would not have been able to unite the kingdom and have the political strength he had. But this story picks up soon after God tells Samuel that Saul is no longer to be king.
Samuel is not really pleased with that choice; actually, that always surprises me a little. I figured, knowing what Saul is doing that Samuel would be happy, but God knows where this is going and sets Samuel out to find the new king. Samuel’s expectation is to find someone that would be strong looking, but God speaks to Samuel, reminding him that looks are not everything.
After examining all of David’s brothers and not finding a suitable one, he asks Jesse if there might be another, and they summon the runt, the smallest boy in the family. To everyone’s surprise, God knew this was the one.
This whole story is interesting on many accounts. First, how far ahead God works. Before Saul really goes down into the depths of his power and diversion from God, God already knows how this will end up and seeks to find and train another. Second, how God can see through the initial appearance of someone and see the potential that even someone’s own family cannot see.
This is interesting, because this story gives us a glimpse into the fact that God works in many times simultaneously. People throughout all of history tend to forget this, but God is concerned about the whole world and works not only in the now, but is preparing for what will come in the future. Just as many would not see the depths that Saul would fall nor could they see the glory that would come under David, but God could. For us it becomes a witness of trust. Trusting that God is working in our best interest and doing what needs to be done, not just for now but forever.
It is interesting; looking at Samuel in this passage and seeing his disbelief, even his challenge of God when he is told, but also how in time throughout the rest of the book we see Samuel come to understand the decision. It teaches us that sometimes we may not know why God is calling us to do things, we may not know how God is working, but we can always be assured that God is doing something, and through our faith and trust in God we can begin to see incredible things happen.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen