We need to circle back before going forward.
In Part 3 of this series, I made a significant mistake in identifying Gibeah with Gibeon. According to a map I found on the web, the two communities appear to be about six miles apart. What is clear is that the Gibeonites who deceived Joshua came from Gibeon, not from Gibeah which is identified with Saul.
This factual change also affects some of the applications I made in that story, since the two locations are not the same, so please adjust your model to the reality of Scripture since my original profile was wrong.
Thanks to Derick for a good catch.
Moving forward, let’s consider the dynamic of being the first of a dynasty.
God repeatedly used the phase, “Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” Even though his dynasty was short-lived, other kings who were not his blood kin were negatively affected by the heritage of that iniquity in Israel.
Saul, by contrast, had no generational baggage contaminating the throne when he became king. He certainly had some complex tribal issues in his personal genes, starting with Abraham, but the throne was clean — he defined it.
So what did God do to prepare His non-religious, God-fearing, future king?
The story is in I Samuel 9 and 10.
Of course the first step was the divine finessing of the missing donkeys to put Saul in touch with Samuel. While Saul had grown up neglecting his spiritual roots, he would need to make a course correction at this point, and it was a fairly massive, abrupt one. He went from being non-religious to being a prophetic king in two days!
Notice closely what God did first. It was a masterpiece of timing. Samuel just “happened” to be at that town that day. He just “happened” to be holding a religious service. And he just “happened” to be the person who Saul asked directions from.
When Saul left the company of Samuel the next day, Samuel described a series of three events which would be supernaturally orchestrated for his validation and every single one of them required precise divine timing. The people he would meet would be at the right place at the right time, every time.
The issue of synchronizing with God’s timing would become a critical point in the future. No wonder God went to significant lengths to drive home the timing factor in the first few seconds of his new relationship with the Almighty.
The second act of God was to define His relationship with Saul as a giving one. Saul worried about having a coin to give to the seer to satisfy the demands of the religious culture, or perhaps of God.
This was simply an outrageously unacceptable portrayal of God. He is the prime mover, not man. So when Saul met the prophet, he was immediately told that on this day God had already resolved the donkey issue (giving to Saul what Saul could not get for himself), and God was giving him high honor in having a protracted meal with the prophet, not a short, clinical encounter centering on data (giving him what he needed, which is far more than what he asked for). In addition to a meal, God gave him housing and the prophet told him everything that was in his heart!
Third God communicated that He saw the big picture and was logistically ‘way out ahead of Saul. He had the donkey situation handled, the liaison with Samuel handled, God had prepared a meal for him, knowing that he had run out of food the day before, and a little while later Samuel ordered the prime piece of meat brought out to Saul, indicating loudly that he, Samuel, had ordered the prime cut set aside for Saul long ago.
Fourth, God clearly demonstrated a deep desire to honor Saul for who he was inside, not outside.
Ponder the picture. Saul is a farmer. He has been looking for donkeys for a few days, sleeping in the open, apparently eating out of his back pack. He had to look a bit rough. By contrast, the people who knew the prophet was offering a sacrifice and throwing a party were presumably looking pretty fine on this day.
So here we have Saul, one tall dude, sitting at the head table with the prophet on one side of him and who knows what other dignitaries around him. In the natural, he stuck out like a sore thumb. He was not a regular at the religious meetings. He was not a local. He was not dressed up and well washed.
But God saw something in him that He liked so well that He gave Saul over-the-top honor, in public.
This is central to understanding Saul’s life. Yes, he cleaned up pretty well. Yes, on a good day he made a sharp looking king. But God was making a statement on day one: “I like what I put inside you, and that is why I chose you.”
This is a huge key.
Fifth, Samuel anointed him as king over Israel, which was a profound statement that God had an agenda He was pursuing, not one that Saul had to beg for.
Sixth, and most important, “As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed his heart. . .”
Which one of us would not leap at the chance of a heart transplant from the hand of God!!! What an extraordinary gift. I could just stop and savor that phrase for a month. “God changed his heart . . .” The implications of that are unbelievable.
Seventh, on the trip home, there was the gift of validation for himself, and validation in the eyes of his home town. Not only were the series of prophetic signs fulfilled, with precision, but on the final one, Saul was filled with the Spirit of God, prophesied publicly, causing his home town to know something had changed in the man they thought they knew.
Again, there is a core change described: “The Spirit of the Lord will come on you with power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.”
Eighth, God gave him macro and micro instructions. First was the macro. “Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” Saul was licensed to write his own game plan for whatever he saw needed to be addressed. This is a huge level of legitimacy.
But against that backdrop, we have a micro command. He was to go to Gilgal, get there before Samuel came, and wait seven days for Samuel to come offer the sacrifice and coach him on the next step.
That is a pretty massive investment of God in one man all accomplished over the course of a day or two! These things were designed to make a permanent impact on the man who would anchor the monarchy of Israel. God prepared well. He knew what He was calling Saul to so He stacked the deck in his favor in so many ways.
Those eight points represent major battlefields for most people. I can see a deliverance ministry formed around cleaning up those eight areas in people and bringing them into right alignment with the truth. “Preparation for Kingship Ministries.” Ah, yes. It has a real ring to it!!
Just writing them out causes me to feel “less than” wondering how much of a tune up I need in these eight areas. I stand back and marvel at the amazing job God did in prepping Saul for the throne of God’s covenant people.
Copyright July 2011 by Arthur Burk
From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim