22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
(1 Samuel 9:22-24)
Saul wondered at Samuel’s words to him [1 Samuel 9:20-21] but Samuel didn’t provide any more information at that time. He told Saul to go ahead of him to the feast as he apparently had something to do before going himself.
After reconnecting, Samuel took Saul and his servant who was traveling with him and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited.
Saul and his servant had been wandering the countryside in search of lost donkeys. When they left home they were not anticipating dining with about thirty dignitaries. Obviously, they weren’t dressed appropriately for this event. The invited guests, on the other hand, had time to prepare and were therefore likely dressed more suitably. Saul and his servant must have felt very out of place, not to mention amazed at what was going on.
Even more than simply being in the presence of such important people on such an important occasion, Saul was seated at the head of the table, signifying that he was the most important person in the room. And he was given the choicest portion of meat that had been previously set aside especially for him.
All this would have confirmed Samuel’s words to Saul when they first met – that he (Saul) was about to become the leader of all of Israel, although Saul was still short on specifics. It won’t be until the next morning that Samuel will explain how all this came to be. So for now, Saul still must be very confused.
It’s interesting to look at this passage from the viewpoint of the guests as well. They must have been a bit taken aback. It seems they were invited by Saul to meet the man who would be Israel’s first king. Guests were seated at these events in order of importance, with those nearest the host being the most important.
When Saul walked and was given the seat at the head of the table, they must have been wondering if some mistake had been made. Saul, while tall and handsome, hardly looked like royalty in his current condition.
God treats people in much the same way as Samuel treated Saul. Notice that Saul was not dressed appropriately for this event. Likewise, God did not wait for us to clean ourselves up before saving us from our sins. He didn’t expect us to become perfect, or even “better”. He saved us despite our sin [Romans 5:8] and cleaned us up Himself [Zechariah 3:3-4].
Nor is heaven reserved for the elite of society. Saul was a nobody from a small family. He had no influence or power. Yet God chose to make him king of Israel. Likewise, Jesus did not come to save those who think themselves worthy of Him. He came to save those who know they don’t deserve it [Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32].
And as we speak, God is preparing heaven for our arrival at the hour appointed. Right now, Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for those who will be arriving there someday [John 14:2-3]. All the details are being attended to so that everything is ready and waiting when we get there.
Someday those of us who have accepted God’s offer to forgive all our sins and have become His adopted children [John 1:12] will be ushered into heaven, utterly amazed that we are there. Like Saul, we’ll know we are unworthy. We’ll know we don’t deserve it. We’ll know that we had nothing to do with it.
It will seem like a dream. But it will be our new reality, all made possible solely by the grace of God.
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