Getting What We Ask For
Day: 9 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel
Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 9
1 Samuel 9:2-3 (NIV) “Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, ‘Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.’”
French diplomat Joseph de Maistre said, “every country has the government it deserves.” Israel may or may not have gotten what they deserved, but they certainly got the government they asked for.
At this point in their history, Israel is consumed with appearances, desperate to be led by men like their pagan neighbors, rather than led by God. They’ve neglected the things of God, forgetting to inquire about His will for them.
Instead, they ask Samuel for a king so they can be like the other nations. God grants them a king to fit their desires, and 1 Samuel 9 introduces us to Saul, the first king of Israel.
Saul is the son of Kish, a well-respected man from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul is a remarkable young man “nearly a head taller than anyone else” (1 Samuel 9:2b). It is interesting that Samuel includes this physical detail in his description. No other Israelite in Scripture is described this way. In fact, only Israel’s enemies were noted for their height. This may be an ominous foreshadowing of just what kind of king Saul would become.
Saul is sent on a mission to retrieve his family’s lost donkeys that had gone missing. History affirms that it was a praiseworthy trait and applicable skill for Israel’s king to be a good shepherd. Yet, from the beginning, Scripture attests that Saul is not skilled at protecting or rescuing those in his care.
After searching the countryside for the lost donkeys, Saul gives up. He has been unable to find what is clearly valuable to his father. (And we discover that the donkeys were able to find their own way home. They must not have gone too far!) Concerned that his father might begin to worry, Saul says they should return home. Some scholars assert that this is not legitimate concern, but an indication of Saul’s lack of perseverance and his desire to give up. We can’t be sure of his intentions. Saul’s life’s story will evidence that more often than not, his motives were self-serving and shortsighted.
Lastly, it is Saul’s servant who suggests that they inquire of Samuel, the man of God, for guidance. It never occurred to Saul to ask for the Lord’s help. Looking to the Lord as a last resort, or not at all, will be destructive markers of Saul’s life.
In Saul, Israel gets a king who would make them much like the nations and rulers around them. He was physically tall, but spiritually small. Saul was selfish and ambivalent to the needs of others. The people God had called to be separate and set apart are now, in so many ways, just like the nations around them.
I’m grateful that God doesn’t always give us what we ask for when answering our prayers. Aren’t you? But on occasion, I do think God gives us just what we ask. He allows us to get the desire of our heart so we can see how hollow those desires really are.
What kind of “king” are you asking for? What if God granted you the plea of your heart? What would be the quality of the prayers God might answer for you?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You had a perfect plan for Israel. Rather than look to You for wisdom and guidance, they wanted their own way and independence. You gave them what they asked for. Today I praise You for all the times You didn’t answer my prayers. I thank You for sparing me from foolish requests. Today grant me the grace to filter my desires and prayers through the wisdom of Your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Scholars speculate that Saul was just under 7 feet tall. While he certainly “stood... Read More
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