Kings and Kingdoms
by Robby Higginbottom
There 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. And 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.
Now 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.” And 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.
When 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.” But 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.”
So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.
Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.”
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head dand kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over ehis people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.
1 Samuel 9:1-6, 14-16, 10:1
Have you ever caught yourself saying, “It’s just another day at the office”? When we say that, we seem to imply that life can be mundane and significance hard to find. The narrative in 1 Samuel 9 and 10 challenges these assumptions. For Saul and his father Kish, it seems like just another day on the farm. Yet behind the scenes, the Lord is working to accomplish His grand purposes. For a moment, only He and Samuel know about it (1 Samuel 9:15-16). Saul and Kish only know that the donkeys have been lost. The Lord knows that the donkeys have been lost so that Israel’s new king may be found.
How do we relate to God’s providence? In the Westminster Larger Catechism, we read that “God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, powerful preserving and governing all His creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to His own glory.” We should slow down and think about that. A God who is perfectly holy, wise, and powerful preserves, governs, and orders all His creatures and all their actions for His glory. Do we believe that? All His creatures and all their actions—that includes you and me and everything in our lives. The Sovereign Lord knows every grain of sand and numbers every hair on our heads. God’s providence, which could create confusion, is meant to bring comfort. The Lord is powerful and personal enough, as one author says, “to magnify the minutiae of our lives into channels of mercy.” We plan our way, but the Lord directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9).
God’s providence should awaken us to the reality that every mundane moment is pregnant with possibility. Are we watching? Are we listening? When we run into someone at a store, when we get sick, when we wreck the car, when a door opens, when tragedy strikes, when it seems like a coincidence, how should we respond? We must decide: Are we walking through a minefield of random accidents, or are we walking through a story written by a God who loves us? In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis tackles this topic as it pertains to relationships.
In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work.
It wasn’t an accident that the donkeys got out that day (1 Samuel 9:3). It wasn’t an accident that “in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (Luke 2:1). It wasn’t an accident that “Jesus, wearied as he was from the journey, was sitting beside the well” (John 4:6). It wasn’t an accident that Saul was on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:3). And it’s not an accident that the Lord has us right where we are today. When the secret master of ceremonies is at work, it’s never just another day at the office. May He give us eyes to see and hearts to trust His purposes.