1 Samuel 9:1-10:9
Saul went on a mission to find his father's missing donkeys. Instead, he found Samuel, and the course of his life was forever changed.
The people of Israel were demanding a king. They'd been ruled by Judges, men appointed by God to lead them spiritually and judicially, for many years. But the Israelites looked at the nations around them, all ruled under a monarchy, and they wanted the same. Samuel warned them against it, but God had bigger plans.
Verse 9:1 says that Saul's father, Kish, was a "man of standing." He must have known about, and probably even participated in, the cry for a king. Saul knew, as well. They also knew who Samuel was. They would have known his reputation.
On their search for the missing donkeys, Saul began to think about giving up and returning home. He was afraid his family would think he was lost. They had searched far and wide over the course of three days with no luck. Saul was probably discouraged and disappointed. But his servant spoke of a seer, a man of God, "highly respected," and "everything he says comes true" who was in a nearby town. Saul protested that they had nothing to give the seer. They were out of food and money. He doubted the man would speak with them. The servant pulled out a small coin and offered to use that to pay the man. Saul agreed, and they went to the town where Samuel was staying.
When Saul and his servant approached Samuel, Samuel told them about themselves. He already knew who they were and why they were there (God had spoken with him). Upon their first meeting, Samuel hinted at Saul's future in 9:20, saying, "And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father's family?"
Then Samuel began to tell Saul all the things in store for him that day. He would meet two of his father's men out looking for Saul and his servant. He would meet three more men, one of which would give him two loaves of bread. He would meet a procession of prophets and begin prophesying with them, and God would be with him in whatever he set his hand to do. Then he was to wait for Samuel for seven days.
I can't help but wonder what I would have been feeling in Saul's position. I show up here tired, hungry, discouraged. And then I come to a prophet, one who speaks directly with God, to help me find my father's donkeys. And what the prophet says to me... The desire of Israel? Israel wants a king. Why would Israel be looking at me and my family for a king? Are you saying that I'm going to be king? I'm not sure I want that... OF COURSE I want that! Power, wealth, fame beyond imagine... but the responsibility... I don't know how to be a king! And how do you know that I will meet these people exactly where you say I will? I don't know that I want to prophesy with a group of prophets. Won't that look a little strange? Why is this happening to me? But Samuel says that God chose me. I don't know if I want to be chosen... The thoughts and feelings swirling in Saul's heart and mind must have been overwhelming.
But verse 10:9 says, "As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day." Saul was confused and not entirely certain he believed Samuel. He doubted that God would choose him. He was feeling insecure and unsure of himself and what he had just heard. God had a plan for him, but he didn't believe it. But God changed Saul's heart.
God didn't give up on Saul, even when Saul couldn't quite get himself to believe in God's plan for him. God changed his heart.
I know that God has plans for me. Big plans. More than I can even imagine. But, like Saul, I feel unequal to the task of fulfilling those plans. I doubt whether God has really chosen me, if He really knows what He's doing, if He realizes all my flaws and shortcomings. I mean, I know that He created me, which means He also created those flaws and shortcomings. But I doubt whether I can be used by Him and for Him. But God changed Saul's heart. And I know that He can change mine, too.
Lord, change my heart, just like you changed Saul's. Grow me into whoever it is You want me to be. Guide me on Your path for my life, and help me to cling to You through the tough times. Amen.