Today I had one of those “Huh?” moments while reading about the events leading up to the crowning of Israel’s first king, Saul. God’s people grumbled and complained and kept begging for a king, so God finally said, “Okay.” It reminds me of the times that my dad gave in and let me have my way. If I had a fit, his answer was always no. But I quickly learned that if I gracefully accepted his initial “No,” he usually relented later and would agree to let me do whatever it was that I had asked. To this day, I can see him stand in my doorway, arms crossed and head tilted to the side as he sighed deeply and said,
You can do (whatever)…against my better judgment.”
So even though God knows that a king is NOT what is best for Israel, he’s giving in and letting them have one. He chose a man who stood head and shoulders above the rest. Saul was merely going about his business, looking high and low for his father’s lost donkeys, when Samuel the prophet befriended him and honored him at a huge feast. Can you imagine the bewilderment Saul must have felt upon hearing these words:
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance? (from 1 Samuel 10)
Samuel then went on to tell Saul a few prophesies. First, he said that Saul would meet two men near Rachel’s tomb who would tell him that his father’s donkeys had been found. (Remember…we’re going from found donkeys to ruler of Israel, literally overnight!) Then Samuel told him that as he went on his way, he’d meet up with three men. One would be carrying three young goats, one would be carrying three loaves of bread, and another would carry a flask of wine. Samuel told him to accept the bread they would offer him. Finally, Samuel predicted that Saul would come upon prophets and that he himself would become a changed person and would begin prophesying. He instructed Saul to go ahead of him to Gilgal and to do whatever the Lord led him to do.
So Saul went on his way, and, I’m sure to his utter amazement, everything happened the way Samuel said it would happen. When he met with the prophets, the Bible says:
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.
Saul saw his uncle shortly after this, but he did not say anything about what had happened. Maybe his mind was whirling. Maybe God stilled his lips so that he would not say. When Samuel arrived, he assembled the Israelites by tribes and clans in order to select a king (against God’s better judgment). The tribe of Benjamin was selected…and then the clan of Matri.
What happened next is when I hit the Huh? factor in this story.
Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”
Saul, the chosen one, the one who had already been anointed, who had already had the Spirit of God come upon him, who had already prophesied, the one who stood head and shoulders above everyone else, went into hiding! He was afraid!
There are times that I despise myself when my fears strangle me. How is it that one such as me, one who has been saved by grace and is a daughter of the king, could still be shackled with panic and fear? I never realized until today that Saul was just like me in that regard. There have been times that I have wanted to crawl into bed and hide under the covers because I was afraid. I have always felt so weak and…damaged…because of my phobic tendencies. But this passage gives me hope! Everyone faces fears and hides away for a time. Even kings. Even moms.
I recently became the director of a local Classical Conversations group. CC is a homeschooling model and method and functions like a co-op, only with more academics and a focus on the classical model of education (about which I’ll be writing much more later when I have had time to assimilate!) I attended a three-day seminar and training last week and found myself feeling a little like Saul.
What on earth have I taken on? Is the Lord SURE I am the one for this position? Me? The one who is phobic and anxiety-prone? The one who knew absolutely nothing about classical education until about six months ago and is now totally passionate about it? I had a mini-panic attack at the end of the second day that woke me up from sleep.
But now I am reminded of Saul, and of David, and of all those Biblical examples of flawed people working out their faith in real ways. Sometimes they ran away before they got it right. Sometimes they hid. Now I don’t feel so bad about covering up with a blanket and hiding in a book for half the night. Saul’s anxiety must have been sky high, to go from donkey-searcher-outer to king! Kinda makes my anxiety about going from homeschool mom to CC director pale in comparison…and I’m realizing that it’s not necessarily wimpy to hide for a little while. God knows where I am, and, like he did with Saul, he’ll direct others to drag me out when it’s time for me to do the tasks he’s set before me.