“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” (v. 16).
According to Westminster Larger Catechism 11, “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.” In other words, absolutely nothing happens in creation apart from the Lord’s governance and guidance. Even seemingly random events and coincidences reflect the outworking of the decree of God, “who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).
We find a remarkable outworking of God’s providence in today’s passage. Having been introduced to Saul the Benjaminite, son of Kish (1 Sam. 9:1–2), we read in today’s passage about a series of events that brought Saul to the one who would anoint him king. The donkeys of Saul’s father just “happened” to get lost, and Saul was given the assignment to find them. He and his servant searched through one region after another, until they just “happened” to arrive at the city where Samuel was. There, a group of young women came at just the “right time” to direct them to the prophet (vv. 3–14).
That all of this was directed by the hand of God’s providence is made explicit in 1 Samuel 9:15–17. We read of how the Lord spoke to Samuel the day before Saul “happened” to come to the city where Samuel was staying and told him that the chosen king would be arriving there the following day. And when Samuel first saw Saul, the Lord spoke to Samuel again to reveal Saul as the one to be made the ruler over Israel. One commentator notes that the only difference between this direction of Samuel to Saul and our own lives is that the Lord does not speak to us directly in this era to reveal all the specifics of His will for us. Nevertheless, He continues to direct and guide the events of our lives. And sometimes, in hindsight, we can look back on a series of seeming “coincidences” and discern something of how the Lord was bringing us to a particular place for His purposes.
We noted in our look at 1 Samuel 8 that the Israelites were not looking for the kind of king that God wanted them to have and that this displeased the Lord. As we will see, Saul turned out to be a kind of judgment on Israel for this. At the same time, however, God showed some mercy. He also raised up Saul because He had pity on the people and saw their suffering under the Philistines (9:16). So, Samuel obeyed the Lord and invited Saul to stay so that he could reveal to him that he would be king (vv. 18–27).
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Life brings with it many disappointments and changes of plans, and we can find it hard to see that God is working in all of it. However, we must remember that the Lord is working out His good plans for His people even when we cannot see how all the pieces fit together. Let us trust Him this day that He is directing our lives for our good and His glory.