I Samuel 9 and 10: what those kids don’t tell us

So Saul meets the seer who turns out to be Samuel. And Samuel, it turns out, has been told by God that God is sending him a young man from the land of Benjamin to anoint and be the ruler and so on. When Sam sees Saul the Lord makes it clear, this is the guy. What happens next is Saul gets the best chair, the best food, the best sleeping spot (on the nice cool roof-top). On the way out of town the next day, sending the boy away, Sam anoints Saul and tells him about his future. Oh and the missing donkeys? They have been found. And Saul’s father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying now about his son. But I’m going to skip over chapter 10 for a moment — about Saul and his prophet frenzy and turning him “into a different person”. I am really struck by 10:14-16. Saul’s uncle says “where did you go”. And Saul goes back to the donkeys. He doesn’t tell his family about Samuel’s words or the anointing or anything.

That takes this ancient fable-like story and makes it real doesn’t it? We say to our children, “so where were you?” “Just hanging out.” “Where?” “You know,” shrug, “with Waz and then we got hungry.” “What happened?” “Nothing.”

Perhaps between being gone so long, searching for donkeys and finding a kingship, Saul had some internalizing to do. Perhaps he knew it would sound not just fantastical but egotistical: “Oh Samuel, the great prophet, says I’m to be king. Because God told him so.” Perhaps, when you get home after an adventure, things are both not quite the same as before and depressingly unchanged. You fall back into bickering with your brother, when you go home. You fall back into family roles and ways. I can just see Saul, glaring at the boy to make sure he doesn’t talk, avoiding his uncle’s eyes, and looking about for his father, who was after all worried. Maybe he’s scared because he has no idea what he is supposed to do next. Maybe he’s just tired and eager for some sleep.

Maybe this is the last comfortable moment that Saul will have for a long time.



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