“Saul replied, ‘Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you speak to me this way?'” (9:21)
Saul met Samuel under potentially embarrassing circumstances. He had been out looking for lost donkeys a concerning amount of time. When he meets this man of God, he is greeted as though he is already an important person, though he feels far from important.
Not long before this, a civil war had broken out in Israel over a horrific incident which happened in Saul’s hometown. The story can be found in Judges 19-21. It’s the “for example” story for which we see just how terribly wrong things had gone during the time of the Judges when there was no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. The eleven other tribes almost wiped out Benjamin, but decided to spare a few as to not render these brothers extinct.
Though Saul was admittedly tall (I’m going to guess dark) and handsome, his culture is honor-shame based and what’s more shameful than the lot for king selection falling to a guy from the most shameful family in Israel?
Perhaps this is why he didn’t tell his uncle that Samuel had anointed him prince–What did Samuel tell you? Just where the donkeys were–He couldn’t believe it himself. I always wondered why Saul was hiding in the baggage when they made the big announcement.
“Certain worthless men said, ‘How can this one deliver us?’ And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.” (10:27)
I think Saul got why people wouldn’t want him as king. I had never considered this before. I thought this story was all about God giving Israel the attractive choice, the one they would have picked for themselves. Reading it today, made me think about how these beginnings explain why he seems to forever be fueled by insecurity. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I know there’s a least a few times when Saul opts to please the people instead of doing things the LORD’s way.
Sometimes we don’t think insecurity is a big deal, but it is. It’s easy to think we’re not hurting anyone with our own low self-esteem, but that my friends is not the case. The world desperately needs people who will walk confidently in their God-given identity and calling.
Although I fancy myself a more confident person, I am all too often guilty of stressing about what people might think of my life. My life, is pretty crazy, sure, but God has also called me into it. He is my LORD. My heart must be after Him.
Ask the LORD if He is calling you into something you’re side-stepping due to insecurity. Confront those insecurities head on, especially if its a position of leadership. There’s a stark difference between leading out of humility and insecurity. David will come along and show us that.
In the meantime, let this story soak in. Its descriptive and easy to imagine. Forget, for now, that Saul is going to fail at this king thing and put yourself in his shoes: flummoxed by the best slice of meat at dinner, surprised by the oil dumped on his head, anxiously watching all the signs promised by Samuel unfold, prophesying for the first time.