Snapshots: Day 193
The Snapshot: “Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” (1 Sam 9:2) I say it with tongue in cheek, but I feel like saying, “Lord, that was a bit unkind giving Israel what they wanted, a guy who looked good on the outside, even if he wasn’t too bright spiritually. Yes, I know Israel weren’t thinking spiritually, but to match their lack of spirituality with an unspiritual guy? Come on!” I sense the answer: “That’s what they wanted and I did all I could for them. They had to learn, even if it took time.” I wonder if we have learned this lesson, that it’s not those who ‘look good’ but those who ‘are good’ and goodness is on the inside? Spirituality is on the inside, not in just words and good appearance.
Further Consideration: There are two nerve-wracking realities in life. First, that God has given us free will and, second, He allows us to live with the consequences of us using that free will unwisely. We see it very clearly in this episode in the life of Israel. They had judges, then they had a prophet leading them but now they want a human king leading them. That is their choice, that is what they have chosen to do.
Almost surprisingly, they ask or demand of Samuel that they can have a king. They don’t ask him to be that king because he’s not the stature of the sort of king they want. They want someone who is big and tall and can beat up lessor mortals and is the sort of charismatic person who can lead other big and tough fighting men. So if that is all they want, God knows exactly the man who fits some of those criteria at least. He is handsome, he looks good. He is a head taller than anyone else so, yes, we will all look up to him.
But the trouble with this sort of thinking is that it is inadequate, more so because of who Israel are. They are a people chosen by God to reveal Him to the rest of the world, and so any leader needs to be a godly man, a man after God’s own heart who can understand God, what He wants and how He wants it to happen (because as we’ve said previously He’s better at these things than we are!). But they haven’t learnt this yet, they are still only at the human, material, limited-in-understanding level. Big is best. Well, actually, no it’s not. Godly is best.
I wonder if this is a general principle we need to understand and build into our lives – what looks good isn’t necessarily the best. There is a saying, ‘you get what you pay for’ and that applies to cheap good and it applies to cheap, shallow lives, that have always sought to take the easy way out, avoid the struggles and lessons of life, and just look good. It’s not about what it looks like, it about what is on the inside, whether that applies to cheap steel, cheap bright plastic or cheap, bright plastic human lives. Will we learn?