Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.”
Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot;[a] and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home. Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
1 Samuel 10:17-27
On Tuesday we had a significant election in America. Have you noticed how these political seasons tend to take on an apocalyptic tone? “Our” candidates are quickly exalted as saviors while “their” candidates are swiftly demonized. For some reason, elections seem to stir up our obsession with power. If we can’t have the power ourselves, we at least want to feel like we’re connected to it. So election nights bring us fascinating scenes of ultimate triumph and utter devastation, of dreams realized and hopes dashed. A whole new world is dawning (for some) while the world is ending (for others). But are any of us asking, “Why are we like this?”
On election night we didn’t have a live look-in on every campaign celebration. But we can be confident that every candidate who won stood before a crowd and reveled in their victory. Who would hide backstage when their name is announced in one of the biggest moments of their life? Well, Saul would. On the day he is introduced as the king of Israel, God’s anointed and the people’s choice is hiding among the baggage (1 Samuel 10:22). What a strange moment! The people want a king, God gives them a king, and the king is missing. The Lord reveals Saul’s location, and the people chase him down and drag him out. He is physically imposing, but reluctant. “There is none like him among all the people” (1 Samuel 10:24), but he is just a man. “Long live the king!” is still ringing in his ears when he goes home and faces the jeers: “How can this man save us?” (1 Samuel 10:27). Even though “worthless fellows” ask the question, they do have a point. What if we asked this question of our elected officials: “How can this man or woman save us?” People can make great kings and queens and public servants, but we all make lousy saviors. Saul was what the people wanted, but he was never going to be able to deliver what they needed. What is it that we really want, and do we realize that it will never deliver what we ultimately need? Demanding something other than God to satisfy our God-sized hunger is prelude to disappointment and destruction—for Saul and for us.
So what do we do? We need to ask the Lord how we are turning away from Him to find our only comfort elsewhere. Like Saul, our insecurity flows from trying to find our security where there is none. We need the reminder that the true King came, not because we wanted Him but because we needed Him. And when His name was called, He didn’t hide in the baggage; he stepped forward and carried His cross. We looked at Him and scoffed: “How can this man save us?” And though we didn’t deserve it, He lived and died and rose again to provide the answer. When we put our ultimate hope in an election or in anything else, we need to hear the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism. What is your only comfort in life and in death? As we consider the answer below, can we be honest about our own answers to the question? May the Lord comfort us with the reality that, no matter what, He will always reign. “Long live the KING!”
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself, but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of His own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.