After God decided that Saul would be the first King of Israel and Samuel introduced him to the people, many questioned why a man of a family of such little distinction would be chosen to fulfill their wish of having a King. After all he was of the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest of the twelve tribes and the son of Kish, the least prominent of families. The Israelites were expecting someone of much higher standing, but Samuel knew that God had a good reason for all that he did and Saul would prove his mettle in battle.
When Saul entered the gathering for the first time, he stood head and shoulders above the rest and was a very good looking man. He also was a warrior and Israel needed a big and very strong leader to lead their fight against enemies that surrounded them. Very soon he would be called to his first test.
That test would be to protect and defend the people of Jabesh from the King of the Ammonites and his hordes. And their condition for peace, to gouge out the right eye of all of the town's people, was a test. The Ammonites wanted to see how far Israel would go for peace, for they knew them to be weak. Saul would be God's answer to the threat.
Right on schedule with God's plan, the leaders of Jabesh told King Nahash they needed a week to respond and then they would be ready to make peace. They then quickly sent a courier to Saul, telling him that they needed help immediately. The new king quickly put together a huge fighting force which arrived in Jabesh early in the morning of their deadline and responded to the Ammonites with force, killing most of them and leaving only a few individuals remaining to escape into the hills. The quick response and battlefield valor of Saul and his men quickly dispelled any doubts of his worthiness to be the King and the story spread that he was truly a great warrior.
Saul gave all credit to God, for he had not yet succumbed to the power of his office and the jealousy toward anyone who he saw as a threat to that power. And he continued to successfully defend and protect Israel from her enemies until eventually his spiritual strength gave way to earthly things. And, of course, his relationship with David and the way it disintegrated would end in his downfall.
But the key point to remember from the story is that God does work in mysterious ways. We don't know who He will pick to lead sometimes and why, but He does respond. Sometimes He allows bad things to happen as a learning point. After all, we do have free will to do as we want and He does allow us to make mistakes. But His power is limitless, so He can choose in any way He wishes to respond to any challenge to His supremacy as He wishes. The selection of Saul, just like later in Saul's replacement by David, are just two of those examples. But notice that even high strongest and brightest are also weak mortals, subject to downfall. Failure to stick by the role given by God leads to that downfall.
Put your trust in Him and you will see the light. Turn away and the darkness will consume you. And as we've seen in Saul, a man selected to lead who was given the favor and power of God at His back faltered along the road and all of his hopes and dreams were shattered. We can learn from the weakness of Saul and of his people, who repeatedly faltered and suffered therefrom. Choose wisely and believe.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the wonderful stories such as the Books of Samuel and ask that you help us discern the true meaning of each. May we dedicate our lives to keeping our hearts attuned to you through the words of the Bible, a great history lesson about right and wrong. Help us to always choose the right path with our free will. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.