A King in Hiding
“Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the LORD, ‘Is there a man still to come?’ and the LORD said, ‘Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage’ ” (vv. 21–22).- 1 Samuel 10:17–27
After Saul was anointed as king by Samuel in private, the time came for him to be revealed as ruler over Israel publicly. Today’s passage tells us how this happened at Mizpah, which was the place that the nation often gathered together as a whole during the era of the judges (Judg. 20:1; 1 Sam. 7).
Samuel began the presentation of Saul as the king of Israel by recounting the sad state of affairs leading to Saul’s appointment. He reminded the people that they had rejected the Lord as their king when they asked for a monarch like those of the other nations (10:17–19). Remember, however, that merely requesting a ruler was not sinful, for God intended from the start to give Israel a king (Deut. 17:14–20). In fact, the Lord called our first parents, Adam and Eve, to take dominion over the earth, to reign over it for the sake of His glory (Gen. 1:28). When they fell, God did not change His plan to have human beings serve as His vice-regents over creation, but He purposed to restore such reigning authority to His people through Abraham’s family (Gen. 12:1–3; 17:1–8; 22:1–18). The right king in Israel would be a fulfillment of that promise. The problem with the Israelites’ first request for a king was that they did not want a monarch who conformed to God’s ideal. They wanted a king who would glory in himself and who would fight their battles in place of the Lord (1 Sam. 8:19–20). That God granted this request was a hint that all would not go well with Saul.
Samuel called forward the tribes of Israel, and the tribe of Benjamin and finally Saul himself were identified by lot for the monarchy (10:20–21). This act emphasized the Lord’s sovereign choice in the matter, as lots were frequently used to discern God’s will at that time (Lev. 16:8–10; Josh. 7:14). But Saul was nowhere to be found when the lot identified him, and after a search they found him hiding “among the baggage” (1 Sam. 10:21–22). This suggests a great fear on Saul’s part, which might be understandable given the responsibility that was now his. Yet, his hiding was inexcusable. After all, the Lord had performed many signs to prove that Saul was His choice (vv. 1–16). To act on his fear and hide from his public appointment as king did not bode well for the reign of Saul, for it showed that he lacked trust in God.
Still, Saul was finally presented as king, and the people for the most part received him. Only a few “worthless fellows” questioned the Lord’s choice (vv. 23–27).
It is not uncommon for people to experience fear with respect to the calling they have been given or a sense of unworthiness for that calling. However, such feelings become sin when they keep us from serving as the Lord has appointed us to serve. If God has called us to a task, it is no mark of humility to let our fear keep us from serving where He has placed us. If God has called us, He will equip us for our calling.
Passages for Further Study