Mizpah

Samuel summoned the people to the LORD at Mizpah and said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, ‘No! but set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”

Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot. Finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the LORD, “Did the man come here?” and the LORD said, “See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” Then they ran and brought him from there. When he took his stand among the people, he was head and shoulders taller than any of them. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one whom the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!” (1 Samuel 10:17-24)

Getting others to recognize God’s will—and to accept it—may take awhile. If God can be patient, then you can be too. Samuel already knew who would become king. But he went through the motions of casting lots—in essence, rolling dice or flipping coins—because both he and God needed the people to recognize that it really was God selecting the king and not just Samuel picking a favorite. The Israelites believed that God’s hand was involved in the casting of lots when they asked him to help them make decisions. And so, as the lot was repeatedly cast, the field became ever more narrow until at last, the lot fell on the individual whom God had determined all along would become king: Saul.

And what of Saul? He wasn’t surprised, either. Samuel had already told him that he would be king. Saul knew what was going on and he knew what the outcome would be. There could be no doubt in his mind. And yet, when the selection was made, Saul was hard to find, but not because he was busy. Saul had gone into hiding. Like Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden of Eden after they had eaten from the forbidden fruit, so Saul was hiding from God—and the people of Israel. He was not pleased with God’s will for his life. Abraham Lincoln compared being president to being tarred and feathered and that if weren’t for the honor of the thing, he’d have rather skipped it all together. Saul apparently could identify with that point of view.

But like Adam and Eve discovered, so Saul discovered: you can’t hide from God and you can’t resist God’s will. In the contest between our will and God’s will, God always wins.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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