The young man became his team’s captain. The professional sports squad was now led by a mild-mannered kid who barely needed to shave. His first press conference was underwhelming. He kept deferring to the coach and to his teammates, and mumbled clichés about just trying to do his job. The team performed poorly that season, and by the end of it the young captain had been traded. He didn’t grasp that he’d been entrusted with the authority to lead, or maybe he never believed he could.
Due to his failures, Saul was “small in [his] own eyes” (1 Samuel 15:17)—which is a funny thing to say about a guy who’s described as being tall. He was literally head and shoulders above the rest (9:2). And yet that wasn’t how he saw himself. In fact, his actions in the chapter show him trying to win the approval of the people. He hadn’t fully grasped that God—not people—had chosen him and given him a mission.
But Saul’s mistake is a picture of every human being’s failure: we can miss that we were made in God’s image to reflect His rule, and end up misusing our authority—spreading destruction in the world. To undo this, we need to return to God: to let the Father define us by His love, to let Him fill us with the Spirit, and to let Jesus send us out into the world.
Dear Father, give me eyes to see myself as You see me, and grant me the grace to faithfully carry out the calling You’ve entrusted to me.
Samuel was the last of the judges to rule over the Israelites. When he became old, the people rejected him and instead asked for a king to rule them so they could be like the nations around them (1 Samuel 8:5, 19–20). This request displeased Samuel (v. 6) and God, who had wanted the Israelites to be different from those around them. But God granted their request and acknowledged that the Israelites were rejecting Him, not Samuel (vv. 7–9). Samuel anointed Saul as king (ch. 9; 11:12–15); however, God eventually rejected Saul for disobedience (13:13; ch. 15). He was replaced by David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (13:14).