1 Samuel 9:23-24   Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.”  So the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it in front of Saul.  Samuel said, “Here is what has been kept for you.  Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion, from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’”  And Saul dined with Samuel that day.

Samuel is an important role-model for all of us. Tracing his genealogy is too complex to deal with here.  (Was he a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim (1 Samuel 1:1), or was he a descendant of Joseph’s brother, Levi (1 Chronicles 6:16-28), whose family, being Levites, had no land allocated to them but were just known as ‘Ephraimites’ because they lived and served in the country belonging to Ephraim?)

Regardless of how this riddle is solved, Samuel was certainly accepted as both priest and prophet of the LORD in Israel after the demise of his mentor, Eli (2:18; 3:19-21), and as such, because there was no king, he was leader of the LORD’s people.

As priest, the choicest of the meat belonged to him (Leviticus 7:31-33).  His giving up of this right to Saul – at that time an insignificant member of the smallest tribe, Benjamin – teaches us two important spiritual lessons.

Firstly, the importance of true humility in leadership.  In this sense, Samuel modelled, and therefore anticipated, the example of Jesus.  When Israel asked for a king he was understandably miffed (8:6), but, nevertheless, he submitted graciously to God’s leading.  By having the leg of beef placed before Saul in the presence of the invited guests he was publicly acknowledging his willingness to defer to this ‘nobody’.  None of us finds that sort of relinquishment of power and control easy!

Secondly, we see the importance of embracing God’s sovereign hand at work in all the details of our daily lives.  Matthew Henry comments: “Perhaps Saul was the only one who ever went out to seek asses, and literally found a kingdom; but many have set out and moved their dwellings to seek riches and pleasures, who have been guided to places where they found salvation for their souls.”  Saul was obviously worried about his failure to find his father’s donkeys (5), but in the process of looking he had been led, via many little instances of ‘divine intervention’,  to the discovery that he was to be anointed as the king!

As we look back on events in our lives, can we see God’s gracious but powerful hand at work to guide and keep us in his will, even if we didn’t realise it at the time?  As we face present trials and perplexities, can we trust him to sustain us and meet all our ‘needs’ – even if they turn out to be different from what we thought they were?  As we face uncertainties about the future, are we content to entrust everything into his loving, caring, faithful Fatherly hands?
– Bruce Christian