Seeking Donkeys


1 Samuel 9:3-27
3Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them. 5When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” 6But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.” 7Then Saul said to his servant, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8The servant answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.” 9(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today’s “prophet” was formerly called a seer.) 10And Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was. 11As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12They answered, “He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. 13As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 

God has chosen a man to become the prince of His people and that is Saul, son of Kish, a Benjamite. We are now introduced to Saul in a rather elongated tale of him and a servant searching for lost donkeys. We already know that Saul is tall and handsome. Now we learn that he is also determined and the text hints that his father is fairly wealthy, as Kish is described as “a man of standing”, thus making Saul’s prospects pretty good.

Saul makes a rather long journey through the countryside, looking for these donkeys. Finally, he decides to give up rather than cause his father to worry about him, as he’s been gone for some time now. His servant has one last suggestion. Ask “the man of God” who is located nearby. We, the readers, know that this man of God is Samuel. We know what Saul did not – God had already told Samuel that He will grant the people what they have asked for – a king. The story is told masterfully; such that we are anticipating what’s coming – the meeting of Samuel and Saul.

Saul goes from seeking his donkeys to seeking the man of God (and by extension, God Himself.) Making too much of this would be folly, but the suspense of the story is certainly heightened as Saul’s search shifts in focus. God is about to do something big, and the readers get a front row seat (as will happen again with the anointing of David later in the book). While Samuel (and the readers) know what is coming, Saul does not. We wait to see how it will all play out as the anticipation intensifies.

Have you ever had and experience where you were seeking one thing and God brought something else along instead? It is a unique moment. Over 40 years ago, I was seeking a career in church work and God brought something – or more accurately – someone else along instead. Becoming a pastor’s wife was the last thing on my mind. I would have indeed laughed in the face of anyone who suggested this might be my path. But God had a plan and was willing that I should receive that degree in theology for His purposes, not mine. Looking back is always enlightening and watching God's hand all over our lives is a real faith builder. It's okay to seek after a goal but when God comes along and resets your course, let Him!

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