1Samuel took a small jar of olive oil and poured it on Saul's head. Then he kissed Saul and told him:
The Lord has chosen you to be the leader and ruler of his people. 2When you leave me today, you'll meet two men near Rachel's tomb at Zelzah in the territory of Benjamin. They'll tell you, “The donkeys you've been looking for have been found. Your father has forgotten about them, and now he's worrying about you! He's wondering how he can find you.”
3Go on from there until you reach the big oak tree at Tabor, where you'll meet three men on their way to worship God at Bethel. One of them will be leading three young goats, another will be carrying three round loaves of bread, and the last one will be carrying a clay jar of wine. 4After they greet you, they'll give you two loaves of bread.
5Next, go to Gibeah, where the Philistines have an army camp. As you're going into the town, you'll meet a group of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They'll be going along prophesying while others are walking in front of them, playing small harps, small drums, and flutes.
6The Spirit of the Lord will suddenly take control of you. You'll become a different person and start prophesying right along with them. 7After these things happen, do whatever you think is right! God will help you.
8Then go to Gilgal. I'll come a little later, so wait for me. It may even take a week for me to get there, but when I come, I'll offer sacrifices to please the Lord and to ask for his blessings. I'll also tell you what to do next.
Saul Goes Back Home
9As Saul turned around to leave Samuel, God made Saul feel like a different person. That same day, everything happened just as Samuel had said. 10When Saul arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. The Spirit of God suddenly took control of him, and right there in the middle of the group he began prophesying.
11Some people who had known Saul for a long time saw that he was speaking and behaving like a prophet. They said to each other, “What's happened? How can Saul be a prophet?”
12 “Why not?” one of them answered. “Saul has as much right to be a prophet as anyone else!” That's why everyone started saying, “How can Saul be a prophet?”
13After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the place of worship.
14Later, Saul's uncle asked him, “Where have you been?”
Saul answered, “Looking for the donkeys. We couldn't find them, so we went to talk with Samuel.”
15“And what did he tell you?” Saul's uncle asked.
16Saul answered, “He told us the donkeys had been found.” But Saul didn't mention that Samuel had chosen him to be king.
The Lord Shows Israel
17Samuel sent messengers to tell the Israelites to come to Mizpah and meet with the Lord. 18When everyone had arrived, Samuel said:
The Lord God of Israel told me to remind you that he had rescued you from the Egyptians and from the other nations that abused you.
19God has rescued you from your troubles and hard times. But you have rejected your God and have asked for a king. Now each tribe and clan must come near the place of worship so the Lord can choose a king.
20Samuel brought each tribe, one after the other, to the altar, and the Lord chose the Benjamin tribe. 21Next, Samuel brought each clan of Benjamin there, and the Lord chose the Matri clan. Finally, Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.
22The people prayed, “Our Lord, is Saul here?”
“Yes,” the Lord answered, “he is hiding behind the baggage.”
23The people ran and got Saul and brought him into the middle of the crowd. He was more than a head taller than anyone else. 24“Look closely at the man the Lord has chosen!” Samuel told the crowd. “There is no one like him!”
The crowd shouted, “Long live the king!”
25Samuel explained the rights and duties of a king and wrote them all in a book. He put the book in one of the shrines where the Lord was worshiped. Then Samuel sent everyone home.
26God had encouraged some young men to become followers of Saul, and when he returned to his hometown of Gibeah, they went with him. 27But some worthless fools said, “How can someone like Saul rescue us from our enemies?” They did not want Saul to be their king, and so they didn't bring him any gifts. But Saul kept calm.
It was obvious that God had chosen Saul to be Israel’s first king. Everything Samuel told Saul happened just as he said and right on that same day. All the Israelites gathered so that the Lord could choose a king. Saul was chosen just as God said. It was time for Saul to step forward and be declared king. There was only one problem, they couldn’t find him! The man chosen to be the first king of the Israelites was hiding.
Poor Saul. God had chosen him to enter unknown territory, not only for Saul personally but also for Israel as a nation. There was going to be no training period. There was no template to follow. Nor was there a policy and procedure manual to guide him.
I can relate to Saul. One day he was living his life, minding his own business, looking for the donkeys (v 3). And before he knew it, he was being anointed as a king! No, I’ve never been in a position of royalty, but I have been in situations where I wondered what on earth I was doing. I’ve been in positions that I hadn’t been in before, doing something for the first time – something that God has asked me to do.
Sometimes God asks you to do something and it happens quickly. Other times it seems to take forever. But, either way, you often feel out of your depth. He grows us as his followers, and much of the time it’s painful. Often we’re moved out of our comfort zone and stretched. Not only does it increase our knowledge and experience, but it also cultivates our faith. If we aren’t given opportunities to trust God in different and, at times, bigger ways, how will our faith mature?
Loving God, Thank you that you love me enough to help me grow, and hold my hand through the stretching. Help me not to run and hide when you call, but to trust you enough to team up with you to do your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.