Any reading of the stories about Saul leads to a basic storyline: a handsome and gifted man, anointed by God as the first king of Israel, successful, odd, failure after failure, and my colleague, Claude Mariottini, proposes one reason for this man’s nightmare catastrophes — and we’ll get to it in just a moment. (We are reading his Rereading the Biblical Text.)
Saul and the prophet Samuel had a rocky relationship, and clearly Samuel has more charisma and blessing from God. Saul does not listen to Samuel: Saul chose to do what he was not anointed to do — offer a sacrifice (1 Sam 13:8-14) — and then he spared the life of Agag (15:1-11). He did the latter to save face with his soldiers.
So Samuel had to withdraw his support for the king, and then he begins to hear rumors about David arising in status. Saul was undone. Claude now begins to probe into Saul’s character and sees the words of Samuel (15:17) coming to the surface.
Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.”
Here Dr. Mariottini sees a problem in Saul’s character: bad self-esteem, an inferiority complex, and perhaps even deeper a failure to embrace and absorb who he was in God’s eyes.
Saul thought he was a nobody; Samuel points this out to him. Saul doesn’t accept he was — king; Samuel points this out. Even more: he was king because YHWH had anointed him king over Israel.
Dr. Mariottini’s helpful pastoral point: many of us do not embrace, absorb, and live in light of what God has made us or who God has made us. We are God’s beloved children, welcomed in Christ, and fully embraced in the love of the Father for the Son since we are “in the Son.”
We have no reason to be little in our own eyes, as Saul was, because we are the “apple of God’s eye” (Deuteronomy 32:10).
A healing word from on high is to learn to see ourselves as God sees us — he sees us in Christ, and in him we are truly loved. He picked us.