Call to Worship May 16, 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 9 thru 10:16

Divine providence is the driving undercurrent of ordinary life. Chapter nine is an outworking of divine providence in the context of everyday living. These ordinary happenings are the planned means that God uses to bring about His purposes and works. So the unfolding of this chapter reminds us of the awe of God’s order in saving His people. Furthermore, it encourages us to remember God’s mercy and grace even when His people are unfaithful.

The problem of missing donkeys seems irrelevant to many modern readers of the bible. Yet this was a concern of wealth and barter in ordinary day Israel. So Saul’s father would naturally be concerned when he realized the donkeys were missing. He sent Saul on a mission to find the donkeys. After 30 or so miles of hiking and searching, Saul and his servant had not found them.[1] The servant mentioned that a prophet lived in a nearby city, which was Ramah, so they went to see if he would give them some direction. The information they sought was actually a far cry from what Saul received. 

Saul searched for donkeys, while Samuel was on the lookout for a king. The LORD had already informed Samuel of His plan for Saul and the donkeys. Saul was the LORD’s choice for Israel’s prince. The search for the donkeys was a means for that process to begin. All along the journey God purposed the path of Saul in ordinary ways- searching for donkeys, hiking hill country, and meeting ordinary people in ordinary places. Ladies were retrieving water, yet they pointed him to Samuel. Men were traveling on a usual road, some with livestock and food; others were prophets coming down off the mountain. Yet each one in an ordinary setting was a part of God directing Saul to hear His word and others were used to confirm the word of the LORD.Even so, almost no one knew the plan of God, even after it was confirmed, but Samuel and Saul.[2]

 God often reminds us that He is not like us (Psalm 50:21). This means, as He is holy in essence and in all His perfections, that His ways are not our ways. He brings the immense from that which is small. He makes the seemingly insignificant insurmountable. We will see this over and over again in Samuel’s history and throughout scripture. When we read providential episodes like this we ought to be awestruck! God truly has a plan and has proven throughout history His foreordination, ability, and will to complete it. Think of all the ordinary planned providence it took to have each of those people in every different circumstance of life that everything would come together in that time and place. We may be small people, but our great LORD purposed our lives and is coalescing our lives as a part of His redemptive work. 

A man from a tribe that had almost been annihilated years earlier (Judges 20-21), would become the first candidate for king of Israel. Through Saul the encroaching and invading pressure of the Philistines would be relieved. God heard the cry of His people and gave them redemptive relief from an earthly enemy. This mercy was needed for Israel. They were surrounded on every side by Gentile enemies. The Philistines to the west had not let up even since Beth-shemesh. Other Gentile tribes often picked away at Israel’s boundaries and, ultimately, their safety and sovereignty. So they always sensed their need for protection, but when they sought an earthly king to “fight their battles,” they sinned against the one King who commanded not just armies of the earth, but every molecule of all creation. These glimpses of God’s mercy are but a glimpse of His eternal redemptive work. He chose to save and preserve a people for Himself through the one cosmic king of all time and space, Jesus the Christ. Like Israel we often desire and search for another king, while Christ is the only true King.

What a grand redemption it is! Israel previously assembled to complain and plan for their future desire of a King, even though they had one in the LORD God Almighty. God, in grace, was willing to give them an earthly king, but it was no mere capitulation. Every time God does something like this He is compounding the proof of who He is and who mankind is in relation to Him. We are sinners in need of His mercy and grace. We kick against His sovereignty thinking our sovereignty is of countless importance. Yet we have little power in comparison to the God who planned and orders all things in the universe. Israel often forgot the LORD’s eternal immensity in search of their own earthly prominence. Although He uses people in small places, we must never forget the holiness and power of our God. Soli Deo Gloria!