Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.’ Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. –1 Samuel 16:1-5
How does a group recover from leadership mistakes? 1 Samuel 9:1 seems to indicate that Saul’s credentials for being king were that he was tall and handsome. Granted that was written with hindsight, but it speaks to the panic running through the Hebrews regarding all their neighbors having kings when they did not. Find a king, any king, and all will be well. Of course, it was not. The paradigm shift being experienced in the Middle East at that time required far more skills than Saul possessed.
Good leaders rise to the top when people have a common vision worth pursuing. Jesus noted in Mark 3:25, if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Abraham Lincoln took that scripture to heart when he strived to keep the United States together during the Civil War. Defining commonly held values is important. Turning those values into a vision and goals creates the framework for progress. Working together to make the vision a reality should follow. Treating all sides with respect matters too.
A lot of innocent people were hurt as Saul blundered through being king. Eventually his own son was killed. A lot more were negatively impacted as David led the way to peace through bloody war.
Many reading this follow a risen Savior, Jesus Christ. His vision of creating a Kingdom of Love stretching to the ends of the earth is still very real. We need to get about the business of identifying the things we can and do agree on, and work with all are hearts to implement them, while letting the things that divide us lie fallow. When we fully love God, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we may be surprised by how easily those thorny issues that separate us now, melt away.
Prayer: Lord forgive us for getting so caught up in the world that we forget your purpose for us. Guide us to find the work you have already laid out for us and strengthen us to do it with all our love. Amen.