15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)
Yesterday Samuel hinted to Saul that he (Saul) would be raised up to a position of authority over all of Israel. Since it was already late in the afternoon, and the sacrificial feast was about to being, Samuel doesn’t have time to expand on his words. But he will fill in the rest of the details later.
Saul’s response to Samuel is quite humble. He questions the way Samuel had spoken to him, since he was a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel. Not to mention, Saul’s clan was the humblest of all the clans in the tribe of Benjamin.
For these reasons, Saul did not consider himself worthy of the honor which Samuel was bestowing upon him. This initial modesty by Saul is good. Unfortunately, Saul will not remain humble, as we’ll see as we continue our study.
The tribe of Benjamin was the smallest of the 12 tribes of Israel (if Ephraim and Manasseh are counted as one tribe; they both came from the split of Joseph’s tribe) [Numbers 1:36]. It had also been the victim of the first civil war in Israel, losing all but 600 men to the other tribes [Judges 20]. At the time of the events in today’s passage, Benjamin had not recovered from this catastrophe.
Nothing would have been more unlikely than for Israel’s first king to come from the weakest, smallest tribe in the land as opposed to from one of the much larger and more powerful tribes such as Judah and Dan. Nevertheless, God chose the small tribe of Benjamin to provide Israel’s first king. This shouldn’t be surprising. Choosing someone who is the “least” is the way God works.
God chose Gideon to lead Israel even though Gideon was the least in his father’s house and from the weakest clan in Manasseh [Judges 6:15]. When Jacob blessed his grand sons – Joseph’s sons – he gave the blessing and double portion not to the older, but to the younger [Genesis 48:17-19]. David was the youngest of eight boys, and the one who made the least impression [1 Samuel 16:1-13].
Jeremiah was a very young man when God called him to be a prophet and for that reason, he considered himself to be unworthy [Jeremiah 1:6-8]. Moses was not eloquent nor did he have any self-confidence when God chose him to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt [Exodus 4:1-17]. Even Jesus’ twelve apostles were uneducated men [Acts 4:13].
The fact is that God does not use superstars. He does not use people who are already known by the world. He uses those the world considers lowly, and foolish, and weak, and despised [1 Corinthians 1:26]
No matter who we look at in the Bible – male or female – God chose people who were not much in the eyes of the world. But despite their flaws and limitations, God did great things through these people, even when they failed as Saul will.
These people weren’t qualified to be used by God. But that was exactly the point. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.
And through them He makes known the reality of His truth to the world. The people used by God don’t have power, nor influence, nor wealth. The only way they can achieve the things they do is through God’s power – the Holy Spirit living in them.
By using people of no renown, God assures that He will get the glory for all the wonderful things He will do through them. And if God gets the glory, rather than a human being, then other people will come to know Jesus as a result.
And that is always God’s one and only goal.
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