The random thought popped into my head this morning: I wonder if there is some irony in God choosing Saul in 1 Samuel and Saul in Acts. Hmmm. Perhaps the reason for the name change. Interesting.
Saul was tall and handsome. The idea that we put people on a pedestal in our modern days is no different than that of our ancestors so many years ago.
Saul and his servant were on a mission: looking for donkeys. Somehow the animals were lost and his job was to find them. He ends up in the town where Samuel is preparing to bless the sacrifice as he makes his rounds.
The meet some women (1 Samuel 9:11) who inform Saul and his servant that Samuel is just about to bless the food. It’s interesting that this one verse is injected to enhance the story; memorable because it’s 9:11.
God spoke to Samuel earlier and told him a man from Benjamin would show himself about this time and here comes Saul. Saul doesn’t know Samuel and asks simply, for directions to the seer. Samuel lets him know, “I am the seer” (1 Samuel 9:19).
Samuel invites the humble Saul to the meal and sets him at the head of the table. The next morning the conversation continues and Samuel tells Saul how his day is about to unfold by giving details such as your donkeys have been returned, your father is concerned about you, two men will greet you here, you will meet a person carrying 3 goats here, etc. Crazy stuff!
Saul will meet a procession of prophets prophesying (reminds me of the Twelve Days of Christmas):
The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 1 Samuel 10:6-7
It was as Samuel said, “God changed Saul’s heart” (1 Samuel 10:9).
Saul returns prophesying and the people immediately recognize the change. Saul’s uncle asked Samuel about his whereabouts, but Saul left out the part about Samuel anointing him and the trivial detail about kingship (!).
Saul in Hiding
Samuel creates an event to announce the Lord’s decision to give Israel a king. He goes through all the tribes before coming to the lowly tribe of Benjamin, then to the small clan of Kish. When he got to Saul’s clan, he asked for Saul,
So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” 1 Samuel 10:22
And so the kings begin in Israel.
Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent. 1 Samuel 10:26-27
Yes, there are always scoundrels.
Chapter 11 provides Saul’s crowning moment. The Israelites were threatened by the Ammonites and Saul came to the rescue.
The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 1 Samuel 11:11
There was great celebration! Some suggested they kill the scoundrels that doubted Saul, but he wisely rejected their advice.
There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration. 1 Samuel 11:15
Good start. Too bad it doesn’t end as well!