I used to think that King Saul got a bad rap.
A man who was anointed as king but didn’t ask to be. A man feeling insecure and thrown into a situation where Israel had asked for something outside of God’s plan and God had provided Saul as the solution.
I don’t envy Saul.
And I used to think his actions weren’t necessarily his fault. That he was under-equipped for the task at hand and was just doing his best in the face of Philistine invasion. That his poor decisions were a result of misstep only.
Often when I read scripture and feel bad for people in it and try to justify their actions God says to me “look a little closer”. It was the case with my feeling sympathy for Martha trying her best to meet social expectations while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, uncaring about what other people thought. Lesson learned (or at least, need for learning of lesson acknowledged).
So what am I learning when I look at my sympathy/empathy for Saul?
I see a person who feels unready for leadership.
I see a person who wants a solution. Who wants answers and action to make the problem go away.
I see someone who has a hard time waiting on God to move so tries, through all the right channels (worship, sacrifice), to jog the situation along.
I see someone who is working on rather than waiting upon.
How often is the drive there in my own life to move my situation along. To see something in life that I think needs fixing or needs a plan, needs a nudge in the right direction because what I think should happen must be right.
And intentions are good.
But intentions are not always aligned with what God is doing.
Because what God is doing is not always clear or, to my mind, timely.
Saul was a man of action. He saw what he thought the people needed. He functioned under the pressure of the role and what he thought were the needs of the people and the nation.
My people have needs and though my personal nation is so much smaller I am aware of trying to keep everything going and moving in what I think is the right direction. And I am clumsy in it.
I am clumsy in trying to say the thing and do the thing that makes the thing happen. Because in the saying and doing and making I don’t always leave space for God. I know in my head and experience that waiting on God and being still is the best thing but my saying and doing and making don’t always align with what’s best.
And I’m left in situations feeling foolish for the saying and doing and striving.
Feeling smaller and unconfident because I’m not big enough to do what God does.
It’s often in these times of slinking away and licking my wounds, in the times of analyzing every word and every possible way people could be thinking of my words, that God speaks to me. A hand on my arm and a shared sigh. An acknowledgement that, like Saul, my rushing efforts cause me often to trip over my own desires.
That being silent and still is allowing the bigness to move in small ways.
That it’s not about getting out of God’s way, but pausing and side stepping as he steps forward and takes the lead.
And realizing that my clumsiness has not messed up what God has planned for me. That people don’t focus on my mistakes as I do (if they even notice). And that who I’m pitying is really myself when I am mirrored in biblical people who struggled.