Homily for January 16th, 2016: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1
Yesterday we heard
leaders demand a king, “so that we may be like the other nations.” Today’s first reading, severely edited for
the sake of brevity, tells how he was found. Here is the whole story. Israel
It starts with a man named Kish sending his son Saul, “a handsome young man [standing] head and shoulders the people,” to find his father’s lost donkeys. A servant accompanies him. After wandering far and wide for three days without finding the animals, Saul tells the servant that his father will be worried about their long absence. They must turn back. The servant counters with another suggestion. There is a Seer around here, the servant says. He will know where the donkeys are. Let’s go look for him.
As they enter the town, they meet some girls on their way to draw water from the municipal well. When Saul asks if the Seer is in town, the girls tell him that he is. He’s here to attend a sacrificial banquet, they say. If you hurry you may catch him.
Shortly thereafter, they encounter Samuel. The Lord has told him just the day before that the very next day he will send him the man whom Samuel is to anoint as
king. Saul asks Samuel, whom he has never seen before, “Do you know where we
can find the Seer?” “You’re talking to him,” Samuel replies, adding: “I’m on my
way to a sacrificial banquet. You must come with me. And don’t worry about your
father’s lost donkeys. They have been found.” By addressing the reason for
their mission, before Saul or the servant have even mentioned it, Samuel shows
that he is indeed the Seer whom the servant has told Saul about. Israel
Samuel gives Saul the place of honor at the banquet which follows, and lodging for the night. Early the next morning Samuel wakes his guest, telling him he must start home. Samuel accompanies Saul and the servant to the edge of town, where he tells Saul to send the servant ahead, “so that I may give you a message from God.” When the two are alone, Samuel anoints Saul as
’s first king. In that moment
Saul’s life is changed forever. Israel
What does this story tell us? Like countless events in the Bible, it shows that God is the God of surprises. This has given rise to the familiar saying: “If you want to want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” That’s something we need to remember – and ponder.