By David Baumann

A Reading from 1 Samuel 10:1-16

1 Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage: 2 When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?’ 3 Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. 6 Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. 8 And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt-offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. For seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”

9 As he turned away to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When they were going from there to Gibeah, a band of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. 11 When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 A man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When his prophetic frenzy had ended, he went home.

14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to the boy, “Where did you go?” And he replied, “To seek the donkeys; and when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 Saul said to his uncle, “He told us that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingship, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Meditation

A little more than 30 years ago, a certain family was notably active at the church where I was rector. The family included two boys in their early teens. Brandon, a friend of the oldest boy, often came to church with his friend. Brandon’s parents were not believers but allowed Brandon to join in church activities. One day, when he was about 13, Brandon asked if he could be baptized. The mother of my church family asked Brandon’s parents, and they gave their permission. Brandon went through the preparation eagerly and then was baptized. His parents did not attend; in fact, I never met his parents. Years passed, the boys grew up and moved out into their own lives. A couple of decades later, the mother of my church family decided to search for Brandon on Facebook and found him. He was married, had a child, and was still active in the Church. Brandon’s encounter with God had changed him, and the change stuck. He and I became Facebook friends, and he is a fine man.

Today’s lesson tells how Saul was changed. The prophet Samuel had told him, “You will be changed into a different person.” Now neither Saul nor those who knew him appears to have been comfortable with his being “changed.” When “those who had formerly known him” saw him prophesying, they did not rejoice but rather expressed wry puzzlement: “What happened to you?” And when Saul’s uncle asked what Samuel had told him, he did not say that he had been anointed the king that everyone was hoping for. And later, when the king would be publicly revealed, Saul was hiding. We know that Saul’s kingship did not work out well. Jesus taught that people should not put their hand to the plow and then look back. Are we Saul, or are we Brandon?

David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 47 years, mainly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Springfield. He is now retired and has published nonfiction, science fiction novels, and short stories.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Jerusalem Peacebuilders, West Brattleboro, Vt.
The Church of Pakistan (United)