Saul’s day began with lost donkeys and ended with being anointed as Israel’s first king. The Bible tells us that Saul was a terrific guy. He was head and shoulders above everyone else in stature – someone you really had to look up to…
Yet he started out shy and humble. Maybe that was how God was able to choose him to lead His people, Israel. Like David after him, we are introduced to Saul within the environment of livestock. Saul’s father’s donkeys were lost and Saul was sent on the mission to find them. He had a servant heart and so that role was perfectly acceptable to him.
In fact, he is also shown to have a sensitive heart. Not finding the donkeys within a reasonable time, he became concerned that the family would begin to become more worried about him than the donkeys. Had his servant not spoken up and suggested consulting a prophet, Saul would undoubtedly have returned home empty-handed and borne the consequences of a fruitless search.
However, God intervened by making the servant speak up and thus introduce Saul to Samuel. God had already forewarned Samuel that Saul would be approaching him and that he was the one Samuel would anoint as the first king over Israel.
We need to remember that Samuel was not happy about anointing anyone as king. This was because it was Israel’s deliberate rejection of God as their Leader and Protector that they demanded having a king ‘like all the other nations around them’.
They were rejecting their exclusive privilege of being God’s chosen people and choosing to be like everyone else even though that would mean no longer thriving under the blessing and protection of God. Samuel was God’s appointed delegated leader and representative so the people were rejecting him as well.
When Saul met Samuel, Samuel spoke out in welcome and blessing. However, he went on to suggest that Saul’s family was the most favoured in Israel – undoubtedly a foretaste of the anointing to come.
Saul replied that he didn’t understand Samuel’s effusiveness as “am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?”
Even when the time came for him to be proclaimed king he was missing. God had to tell the people where he was – hidden among the baggage!