In God’s careful preparation of the first king of Israel, his family line was hugely significant. I find the description of his father (from God’s point of view) to be quite remarkable.
The King James says his father Kish was “a mighty man of power.” The first word designates the kind of person who is legendary for their conquests. This is the person who is talked about in the cultural legends, only he was a legend in his own time.
So we have a high level achiever with an extremely well-defined brand as an overcomer. This would be a Babe Ruth or a Rambo or some other larger than life, quasi-mythical victor.
However, this is coupled with the term power which is drawn from the realm of builders. This would be the Jack Welch or Warren Buffett or Henry Ford or John Wimber who in their life time assembled a formidable number of people and ideas into a cohesive whole which had sustained momentum after the leader left.
Those are pretty impressive credentials coming from the mouth of God! Some dad. I am reminded of Tom Sawyer bragging to a neighbor kid about his imaginary dad and how powerful he was. If Saul ever got in a bragging hoe down, he wouldn’t have to resort to hyperbole. His dad was a go getter, top drawer, mover and shaker, the go-to guy if you needed anything done directly or indirectly.
So Saul was raised in an ambiance of power, prestige and prosperity. In addition to the respect that is generally accorded the kids of the local elite, he obviously had a chance to observe the way things got done. In short, he received an MBA around the dinner table.
It is clear that even though he was a grown man, he did not ask for his share of the pie so he could go do his own thing. He remained in the family business and worked in a very hands-on manner, closely in touch with his father.
And that brings us to another side of the family picture which is his emotional relationship with his dad. Frankly, a lot of movers and shakers are a bit hard emotionally and tend to view parenting as a problem to solve, not a relationship to build.
We have one snapshot of Saul’s relationship with his father and that came after he had been gone for several days looking for the missing animals. He knew, without being told, that his father had shifted emotionally and was more worried about his well-being than the whereabouts of the animals.
That is a pretty rich picture when you break it down. A dad who cared about his son more than the business. A dad who never lost sight of the human dynamics in the midst of managing a large, complex enterprise. A son who was so bonded to his dad that he knew when his dad’s emotions shifted. Gotta love it.
This is not your average dad! A business mogul who always had time for his kids. Go figure.
Clearly as God ran through all the families in Israel, looking for the right cradle of royalty, He had to smile with satisfaction when He came to this family. Saul should not be driven by any significant woundedness. He was well loved, surrounded by strong, wise leadership models, and definitely not the pampered rich kid. He worked hard in the family business.
When you compare his roots with David’s, it is clear that the first king was designed for success and the second king had the deck stacked against him.
Copyright July 2011 by Arthur Burk
Airborne over Arizona, westbound