I have mixed feelings when I first encounter Saul, the future king of Israel, because I know what is to come. Had I been there alongside Samuel, I would have likely been swept up in the excitement of anointing Saul king as well.
There was a . . . man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.(I Samuel 9:1-2 ESV)
He was tall, the most handsome man in Israel, son of a rich man, well loved, and a responsible leader (as evidenced in his leading the search for the donkeys). Samuel gave him the most important seat and fed him well.
He appeared to be the answer to the cries of Israel. Because we as people too often judge by external markers.
But Saul had the same struggle we all have — sin. Self. Pride.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.(Romans 7:21-25 ESV)
We still wrestle with the reality of sinful inclinations, much like Saul. But, we have seen the fulfillment of the promised Messiah, and we know that we have God’s forgiveness and love.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
they divide my garments among them,Psalm 22:1, 7, 18 ESV
and for my clothing they cast lots.
Jesus bore the price for our sin so that we can know victory. We have confidence and hope, characteristics that Saul found in short supply later in life.
Saul started well. He served with wisdom and might and praised God. We all have times of victory in our lives. But we also experience times of falling away, drying out, straying hearts.
We need to come back to the cross. Remember the price Jesus paid. Out of love for us, He died a painful, lonely death. As a result, we are forgiven. We are loved.
Not in our own strength, but still with daily determination and commitment we must walk the Christian walk. It’s not like a one-time anointing (like Saul’s kingship) and we never need to think about it again. Our salvation may be locked in by the blood of Jesus and our initial surrender, but it requires daily working out. Seasonal growth. Disciplined learning. Continual seeking.
Not giving up, not satisfied that I prayed a prayer once upon a time. Not content to let sin win the daily struggle.
Dear God, You have done the hard work, the work I could not in my own strength accomplish. Now, I need to respond with daily obedience and trust. Help me learn from the warnings of Scripture and find in You courage to fight the best fight each day. In Jesus name, Amen.