1 Samuel: The candidate

1 Samuel 9:1–27

Where do you go to find a king? Do you go recruiting? Send out applications? What qualifications do you look for?

These questions are up for grabs in chapter 9, and really, the entire book. What is it that makes for a good king?

At this point in the story, Israel needs a king for a very practical reason: protection from enemies. They have a Philistine problem.

With that in mind, we might start our search among strongest warriors among Israel. Maybe a brilliant strategist. More or less, that’s what happened throughout the book of Judges.

Here we are introduced to the man named Saul, and the biblical writer is quick to give us two details about this Saul. Strength? Nope. Intelligence? Nope. Integrity and faithfulness to God? Nope.

We’re first told he is the son of a wealthy man, and secondly that he’s good-looking. Hmm. Isn’t that interesting? Perhaps the biblical writer has a lesson for us here. What follows is a story about lost donkeys. It’s not the most flattering way to introduce a character, much less the character who will soon become the first king of Israel. It’s not the kind of story you tell to remember a hero.

What if the writer is hinting about the consequences of choosing a leader based on appearances alone?

Then again, remember Hannah’s song in chapter 2, about God turning the world upside down and showing up in every way we don’t expect. Here, the rich kid who can’t even keep his dad’s donkeys from getting lost becomes king of the whole nation.

And so I think we’re led to consider: Just what kind of people do we open up ourselves to influence us and lead us? Like Israel, are we inclined to chase the ones with the pleasant appearance?

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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