Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.” But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, “No! but set a king over us.” Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.’
Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot. Finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man, and 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, ‘Did the man come here?’ and the Lord said, ‘See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.’ Then they ran and brought him from there. When he took his stand among the people, he was head and shoulders taller than any of them. Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the one whom the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’ And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’
Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship; and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people back to their homes. Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went warriors whose hearts God had touched. But some worthless fellows said, ‘How can this man save us?’ They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
What might the results be if I asked each reader to close their eyes and imagine a King? Varied, I am sure!
Some might be thinking of a recent historical or even a 21st century model of monarchy; some envisaging a picture book royal family – king and queen sitting side by side on grand thrones, raised above the court by a few steps, and each with a little gold crown on their heads; yet others might be considering Scriptural and liturgical models. Many may have other equally valid images.
The common ground is that every king will have been in some way called to and selected for the role. Monarchy is as much about being as doing, as much about personhood and relationship as role, rule and regulation.
Here we see the process Samuel used to establish this first human monarchy in Israel. Saul was relatively unknown and had no great experience or achievements behind him and yet he was the one chosen in a very thorough selection procedure.
This being a first monarchy there may have been many and varied expectations of the King but chosen in a model of transparency and clarity which still stands up even to 21st Century scrutiny. The gradual narrowing of the field undertaken in such a way that everyone knew what was happening. The role descriptor and job description prepared, written and laid before the Lord again available to all or at least to all those who could read.
It excites me that here in Scripture and in a description of some of the earliest history of the Hebrew people we are seeing such a powerful three-way model of transparency, responsibility and accountability to the King, the people and to God. “The Word has yet more light and truth…………”
Loving and forbearing God we celebrate your Majesty. Forgive our obtuseness, our slowness to learn!
Help us to learn the basics of leadership Stepping aside for others Clear remit and shared expectations Transparency Responsibility
Being accountable to each other and to you.
Let the people say ‘Amen’.
The Rev’d Helen M Mee, Minister Granton United Church and Interim Minister Carluke URC