Vote for Saul, for He is Tall
1 Samuel 9:1-2
1There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
Much to Samuel’s consternation, God has relented and given the people what they want – a king, so that they could be like all the nations. Sometimes, receiving from God what we think we simply must have turns out badly. God’s choice for the new ruler is Saul, whose pedigree is listed all the way back to Benjamin.
The first- and last-mentioned attribute of Kish in 1:1 is that he was from the tribe of Benjamin. This is a baleful observation because of this tribe’s earlier history, which almost caused it to be exterminated from Israel (Judges 19–21). This sense of foreboding will be magnified later, when we learn that Saul’s hometown is Gibeah, whose behavior mimicked the abominations of the men of Sodom. The astute reader is led to suspect that Israel may get a king “like all the nations”. Nevertheless, we are told that Kish was a prominent man. Perhaps the author is hinting that he had been among the delegation of elders that had gone to Ramah to request a king.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016©. 1 Samuel. (p. 182). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
So God sets about giving the people exactly what they requested. The rest of the book of 1 Samuel will enlighten us as to just how miserable a choice this was. The people were impressed with Saul, not because he was a man of God or because he was from a major tribe in the nation. No, they were impressed because he was good looking and tall. Good looking and tall.
While God judges the human heart, we can only see the exteriors of a person, and so we give credence to the stupidest things. Our eyes deceive us, for I am certain there are times when we have all been guilty of judging people on their outward appearance.
Many years ago, I watched a young woman doing the hair of my daughter for her wedding. This woman was absolutely striking. The model of physical perfection. And I couldn’t help but wonder at the time, what it must be like to walk around the world each day looking like that. But I also know that her life was filled with sorrow and a series of bad decisions. Today she is in prison. By the standards of the world, she had everything. But life was hollow for her and she chased after things that only hurt her. We don’t have insight into the soul of a person, except for observing their actions – those can speak loudly. We will find that Saul’s actions will indeed speak to the fact that he is not a good person. He will disappoint on every level as a king.
But – Saul will be God’s choice for the people. Remember, he is giving them exactly what they asked for and that is something to ponder. Perhaps instead of telling God what to do for us, we turn instead to Him and ask for what He knows will be best for us. That means we trust Him to do the right thing. He did do the right thing for Israel with giving them Saul, because they needed to learn what circumventing God’s will looked like. Saul will lead them into war and serve himself rather than God. It will be a powerful lesson.