Why does God reject Saul?
A Lesson in Half-Obedience: Hiding in the Baggage
"But I did obey the Lord," Saul said. "I went on the mission the Lord assigned me..."
Have you ever read the story of Saul, and wondered just what God had against him? As a kid, if you ever went to Sunday School and learned about Israel's first king, perhaps the teacher said something like this. "Saul was a very bad king, so God chose a different king—David." But then you go on to read about David, and from the surface, David seems like an even worse king. Adultery? Murder? Does it get much worse than that? What did God have against Saul?
For me, reading through 1 Samuel is like learning about God for the very first time. I've been so fascinated by this story because Saul seems so well intentioned from the outside. But when I looked a little closer, and read the fine print, I realized: Saul was a man of great fear that was constantly looking for the approval of men. And what's more, Saul shrouded his insecurity in half-obedience to the Lord.
Knife in the gut. I could so easily replace the name "Claire" in both of the sentences above. I am a woman of great fear that hides all of my insecurity by pretending I'm following the Lord, when really I'm looking for other people's approval.
Over the next few days, I'm going to introduce just a few examples of how Saul lived out his half-obedience.
[example number one]
SAUL HID IN THE BAGGAGE
... literally. In 1 Samuel 10, the prophet Samuel is surrounded by everyone in Israel, and they are looking around and trying to find Saul to put a crown on his head so he will be King. Saul already knows that he's been chosen. But he's so very fearful that he literally goes and hides himself in a big pile of baggage (1 Sam 10:22).
The analogy is too good to pass up. Hiding in baggage?? Yes! I totally do that. And I think we do it for two paradoxical reasons. First, we hide because we're afraid. And second, we hide because we want to be important enough to be found.
[because we're afraid] I hide in my own baggage, in my head because I'm afraid. When we begin to get fearful about the world around us and our calling as writers/ husbands/mothers/teachers/real estate investors/lead singers/whatevers, we bury ourselves deep into the old, heavy stuff that weighs us down and hides us from the rest of the world because it feels so much more comfortable in the dark. I'd much rather be back here, in the shadows, than up front where if I fall or make a mistake, people will see. The baggage (my past mistakes, what other people have said, the lies I believe about myself) allows me to keep a safe distance from any kind of leadership.
[because we want to be important enough to be found] After Saul hid himself, the bible says "They ran and brought him out... and shouted 'Long live the king!'" That must have felt nice! He was so important, that even though he was hiding, the people wouldn't let him hide for long. They came and found him and put him in the spotlight. And that's what Saul wanted. Saul wanted to feel chosen and approved by the people. He didn't care that he'd already been anointed by God. For Saul, God's approval wasn't enough.
Are we any different? Don't we want other people to tell us that we have what it takes? Most of the time, when I hide away from fear—it's not even really from fear—it's from pride. I'm playing hide and seek so that other people will pull me out of the shadows all day long, saying "Claire, you have what it takes!" Goodness. What a JOY I must be to be around!
But here's the thing. God had already chosen Saul, and God has already chosen us. We do not need to hide. And we do not need to be found.
So today, what are you "hiding in the baggage" from? Are you hiding from real fear, or from pride—hoping someone will come drag you out and put you in the spotlight?
If you stopped hiding in the baggage, how might your life change... right this instant?