BAD FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND NEUTRALIZING THE HATERS

(Today's post by Chris Queen)

1 Samuel 10:17-11:15

Have you ever met someone for the first time and wish you could have given that person a better first impression? Yeah, me too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started off on the wrong foot with someone and had to make up for it later on. And I’ve had people have to make up to me for a bad first impression.

It’s not easy to overcome a first impression that doesn’t go well, but Israel’s first king, Saul, had to do just that. To borrow a phrase from the late Larry Munson, let’s get the picture: it’s Saul’s big debut. He’s already been anointed, but it’s time to reveal the king to all of the Israelite people. Samuel is presiding over a big ceremony where the tribe, clan, family, and individual are chosen by lot, in order to show that the choice of king is made by God, not by man.

20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of theLord, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

[…]

27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

Majestic King Saul, hiding among the baggage. He’s not exactly the picture of strong leadership. It’s easy to see why some people scoffed at the idea of this man taking the reins of the kingdom.

Now at the same time, Nahash the Ammonite has lain siege on the city of Jabesh Gilead. The men of the town ask for seven days to accept his harsh terms of surrender, and they send messengers to King Saul.

Saul must have just watched The Godfather, because he chops up a pair of oxen and sends pieces to all the tribes of Israel with a note that basically says, “Help us out here, or I’ll destroy your way of making a living.”

Israel rallies around King Saul and the people of Jabesh Gilead and rout the Ammonites. Then, Saul shows some real grace to the haters.

12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

So I’m coming away from these passages with a couple of different application questions:

Have you ever “hidden” when God called you to a particular task? How did you handle it? How can you make obedience to God your first response every time?

How do you deal with the “haters” in your life? How can you show grace to those who don’t show grace to you?

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  • Brice Hope

    This remind me of Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. It comes natural to hate those who do wrong to you, hold a vengeance and seek out revenge. Today we don’t retaliate with swords but rather with slander, hatred, and malice. We talk about how we were wrong with other and blame the “evil” person for doing such wrongs to us.

    In practice “holding our tongue” is a very hard thing to do, especially when we have been wronged by someone. I cannot tell you have many times I’ve told myself I would not talk about how someone wronged me and offer forgiveness to someone just to find myself retelling the story of how I was hurt at the next dinner conversation. Grace means forgiving the person and moving forward by not slandering their name by retelling the story of how you’ve been hurt.

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