Am I not just clay?

potters_hands

(Context: 1 Samuel 9-11)

In today’s reading we see the call and anointing of Saul, the first king of Israel. At the beginning of chapter nine, Saul’s father tells him to take a servant and go searching for their missing donkeys. Saul and the servant travel a long distance, and the servant tells Saul they have arrived at the city of a prophet. When Saul meets the prophet, instead of the prophet telling Saul where to find the donkeys, the prophet anoints Saul to be king. God had set aside a special assignment for Saul. It seems this divine calling and blessing was completely unexpected. 

Did Saul do anything that caused him to stand out in the sight of God?

Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.” 

So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.” Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?

And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?”

Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’” 24 So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here it is, what was kept back. It was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since I said I invited the people.” (1 Sam 9:15-24)

God has every aspect of our life in His control. There is nothing that we can do without Him first giving us the room and resource to do it. Our fate is in His hands. If one says they are a product of their environment, well who put them in that environment? Who created that environment? If they are the product of their genes, who created their genes and their parents and their parents’ parents? Who created experience? Who created life? God has built us all and is still upholding us all. He knows everything that will happen to us and is still ordaining everything that is coming to past.


We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand. (Isa 64:8)


It wasn’t chance or luck that caused the donkeys to go missing, it was God sending Saul to be anointed. So why did God choose Saul to be the first king of Israel? Why did He set him apart and prepare a blessing for him?

In general, why does God choose some people to be blessed over others? Why does He allow some people to go through certain traumatic experiences in life and not others? If our ultimate fate is in His hands (Romans 9), how does God choose which lump of clay to make towards dishonor and which to make towards honor?

I don’t know! Who can know the mind of God? I think it is important to note, however, that the Bible does tells us that those who are humble will be exalted. Saul did not see himself as deserving to be called. He did not think he was worthy. And God chose him. Samuel says that he will tell him all that is in his heart. So it seems that Saul may have had the desire to be king. Or maybe it was the desire to be great. The feeling of unworthiness is partly what qualified him.


What is it that you want from God? What is it that you are praying for? What is it that you desire? Do you see yourself worthy for that thing? What makes you worthy?


God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He chooses the weak things of the world, the lowly in heart, the poor in spirit. The truth is that we are made from the dust of the earth, so we should revere God and respect . God deserves the glory out of all of us (and will get it!) After recognizing this, the task is to be humble. Can we live humble lives that may lead to God exalting us? And if God exalts us, can we stay humble? This latter issue is a problem that we will see Saul face in the next few chapters.

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