There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them. When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.” Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?” The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.) “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was. As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?” “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time. – 1 Samuel 9:1-13
In the midst of this seemingly innocuous passage is a tectonic shift in the posture and perspective of the Israelites. They have asked Samuel for a king to rule over them. Partially because Samuel’s sons were putzs, but also because they were unwilling to accept the real king of both Samuel and themselves….God. They wanted to be like all the other nations with a comfortable, tangible, king that will be predictable and “safe”.
The women in this passage are in the process of doing something they likely do once or twice a day –they are drawing water from the well. It is ironic that, spiritually speaking, that is what God was calling on the Israelites to do….draw daily on God’s love and provision so that they can stay connected to the spring and planted by the river. I thought they might be getting it in yesterday’s post about turning back and pouring out….I was wrong.
Even when Samuel warns the Israelites about what having a king will be like they decide that they would rather conform to the world’s model of leadership and following than God’s. God wants followers willing to pour out their water and trust His provision, while the Israelites want someone to tell them what to do and where to go. It seems odd that the Israelites would give up their freedom in this way….yet don’t we do the same sometimes.
As Christians how often do we allow our leaders to become comfortable “kings” over how we follow God? I know that I have allowed complacency to replace being strong and courageous in my efforts to faithfully follow God. It is sometimes easier to allow someone else to do the spiritual “heavy lifting”, after all it is the church staff and pastor’s job right. Pastors and church staff can be very gifted and caring pvoviders, for which I am grateful. However, there is a subtle difference between being a disciple, learning from those who are more spiritually mature, and allowing leaders to follow God for us.
The Israelites, in asking Samuel to choose a king for them, are opting to allow someone else to provide their connection to God. Saul will be chosen as king and will prove to be an imperfect and flawed replacement. Navigating a dynamic relationship with God through the highs and lows which inevitably come is hard and sometimes confusing, but it is well worth the effort.
Prayer: God You are my King, I need no other king. Help me to faithfully follow you with courage and strength.SDG