October 30, 2021
Scripture: There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward, he was taller than any of the people. 1 Samuel 9:1-2 ESV
Observation: Israel, having clamored for a king over their godly judge Samuel (and, more notably, over their Lord), will soon receive more than they had bargained. Through Samuel’s prophecy, the Lord warned them that their future kings would exact forced labor and taxes on them (1 Samuel 8:10-17). Still, they desired to be like all the other nations and follow a figurehead to make them feel better about themselves. Handsome Saul would become their prized king but at a high cost. He would become increasingly narcissistic and paranoid and eventually lead Israel to a disastrous defeat at the hand of the arch-enemy, the Philistines, that would take his and his son’s lives (1 Samuel 31).
Takeaway: It’s human nature. We see this same dynamic in our modern-day church. Those who are attractive and charismatic draw large crowds. Unfortunately for all concerned, our admiration for our celebrity leaders can encourage a similar self-aggrandizing to Saul’s. Resultantly, many of the big names in ministry have suffered moral failures and have left their congregations/followers discouraged and in disarray. So when we seek spiritual leaders, we need to look beyond their outward appearance to the heart. We need to take the time to observe whether their words and actions away from the public eye match. We need to discern whether they are men and women of integrity.
Prayer: Father God, grant us the humility and grace to seek and follow leaders based not on onward appearance but inward godliness. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling