Today’s first reading captures the essentials from Saul’s appointment as king of Israel. The whole scene takes about a chapter, but for the purposes of the reading cycle it was abridged. Not only is this reading abridged, but the cut material contains the foreshadowing elements of the story that lead up to Saul’s anointing. This offers the reader and listener a hasty and jarring account of Saul’s appointment that is largely coming from his unsuspecting perspective. Essentially, he wakes up in the morning and is ordered to go find his dad’s donkeys and three days later a prophet of God is dumping oil on his head naming him the “commander over his [God’s] heritage”. What a weekend! This pace and whirlwind nature makes the passage more relatable to us.
While none of us have been anointed the ruler of Israel, we’ve experienced these whirlwind changes in our lives. They are changes that leave us standing with responsibilities we never imagined. These moments can be as varied as a new job to finding out you are going to be a parent.
The story reminds us that when everything around us is changing God is our unchangeable and unshakable ground. Our unchangeable God’s word can speak into any situation in our life, from lost donkeys to becoming king. Additionally, it is good to remember that many of these dramatic shifts in our lives bear the blessing and anointing of God, and that should give us strength.
In this day and age, if you are leaving town and a man who has never cut his hair dumps a thing of oil on you, you probably aren’t being named the ruler of Israel. But when big changes come your way and leave you with big responsibilities, sit down with this passage and remember that God has a plan. (And if you question if it is that big of a deal, remember, Saul came to Samuel looking for some donkeys…and God gave Samuel an answer for him!)