Today’s blog is an excerpt from my sermon last Sunday at Highlands Presbyterian Church.
The text used was 1st Samuel Chapters 8-15
My name is Saul. I was the first king of Israel. I served for 40 years. Samuel had warned the Israelites against having a king, telling them a king would only recruit their sons to go to war, tax them and use the money for his own causes, take what belongs to them and give it to his political supporters. It’s not like they hadn’t been warned.
Samuel, God rest his soul, had gotten old. He couldn’t control his corrupt sons and the people didn’t want him to simply turn over the country to those boys. They demanded, “Give us a king to govern us.” God told Samuel to give them what they wanted. The people were about to learn there are consequences when you cannot govern yourself by following the word of God.
Why would I be chosen king? Same old reason…my family was wealthy and well connected and I was tall and handsome. I am not bragging. The Bible says there was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than Saul. 1st Samuel 9:2 says I stood head and shoulders above everyone else.
One day, I was out looking for lost donkeys from my father's herd. I stopped to ask the prophet Samuel where they were. I didn’t know God had placed Samuel in my path. Tell me, does God ever place someone in your path as a way of telling you what God would like you to do?
There he was…between me and my lost donkeys, telling me I was God’s choice for king. Samuel told me I didn’t need to look for those donkeys anymore. They were safe but I never would be again.
It was not long before I was tested. A month into my kingship, Nahash the Ammonite besieged Ja'besh-gil'ead; and all the men were so afraid they immediately begged for mercy…they said to Nahash, "Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you." But Nahash’s drove a hard bargain. He would agree to spare the city only if he could put out the right eyes of all the men, ensuring they could not fight ever again.
When I heard this, I was enraged. I was joined by 330,000 men to attack Nahash. Israel won a mighty victory. Winning military battles is a sure way for kings and politicians to gain favor among the people. My poll numbers went through the roof confirming to the people the Lord was right by anointing me as king of Israel.
My new orders were to avenge an ancient grudge against Am'alek. "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel. Thus says the LORD of hosts, `Go and smite Am'alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'"
I defeated Am'alek handily. But I didn’t kill everything and everybody as I had been ordered. God was unhappy and I lost my kingship. When Samuel came with those instructions, I was thinking more about my standing among the people than about my obligation. That happens with humans. They call it being a team player, going along to get along. It’s hard to do what God wants you to do and always be liked by fellow humans.
We also have a hard time acknowledging God knows history. When God calls us to do something, we assume it all started with us. But God’s been around a while. When God acted in the civil rights movement, some white folks said, “Don’t expect so much so soon.” When gays and lesbians ask for equality, some say, “Wait, you’re moving too fast.” But God knows how long people have waited because God has been waiting with them.
Those who don’t have to wait for freedom and equality often believe others should wait a little longer, go a little slower, quit “shoving it in our faces.” But God waits alongside all those who await freedom and equality, and God waits impatiently, unwilling to wait an eternity. God has other plans for that timeframe.