5.7 1 Samuel -- Saul

Which immediately leads to the question, "If Saul was God's choice, why did God pick such a bad apple?"
       
This is an interesting topic for speculation, but entirely unanswerable.  Most likely, as in many young men, Saul had the potential to be a wise and strong leader.  He was, after all,

           an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites (1 Sam 9:2).

God was giving them a king according to their expectations  -- a man who made a good appearance.  Yet God's choice OF Saul was also an invitation TO him:  "Walk with Me, learn from Me, and I will make something wonderful of your life."  But the fulfilment of this unstated promise was conditional on Saul's response, and Saul proved incapable of looking to the Lord.

          

Chapters 9-15 are concerned with the reign of Saul.  His reign lasted through the end of the first book, but starting in chapter 16 the focus shifts from Saul to David. There is little racial teaching, except the constant hostility with neighboring peoples.

          

Saul started his rise to fame by wandering through the countryside seeking his father's lost donkeys.  The NIV points out that the donkeys Saul was seeking were possibly symbolic of Israel: a rebellious people who had strayed from God in demanding a king to rule them (p. 386 footnote).  In contrast, David was introduced as a shepherd, and becomes a type of the man who cares for the Lord's flock. 

          

Israel's founding kings were unique compared to other nations in that they were not from a military background, they were not tribal leaders, they were not proven successes in anything.  Both Saul and David were called to kingship while they were still young men, probably teenagers.  Both became military leaders, but that was after the Spirit of God came upon them.  It was a consequence, not a cause, of their election as rulers.

         

Saul met Samuel on the road and asked directions to the seer's house.  Samuel knew that Saul was God's choice to be king.  He said to Saul, cryptically,

          "And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father's family?" (1 Sam 9:20). 

The desire of Israel was for a king, and Saul was the fulfilment of that desire.  Saul, understandably, didn't take all this in immediately:

          "Saul answered, "But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?" (1 Sam 9:21).

          This is very similar to Gideon's response to the angel a few generations earlier:

          "How can I save Israel?  My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" (Judg 6:15).

Samuel anointed Saul with oil (1 Sam 10:1), and gave him certain proofs that his words were from God. He was also instructed to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to join him to offer sacrifices.