God has a habit of picking the least likely candidates for kingdom exploits. Sometimes it is hard to imagine a less suitable pick - especially when it is us. Getting past who we know ourselves to be, can be the greatest challenge and the most formidable threat to our destiny.
Each of these people got over their questions and fears and went on to accomplish the tasks that God had preordained them for, but Saul is an example of someone who did not. He never transitioned from his insecure, man-centered perspective into a God-confident King.
It is normal to have self-doubt. In fact, if we are placing any confidence in our own abilities or who we are, we will stumble and fail.
When Saul first heard that he was to be king, his response was similar to Gideon's: "Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?" (1 Samuel 9:21) It is normal to have self-doubt. In fact, if we are placing any confidence in our own abilities or who we are, we will stumble and fail.
Our own efforts will leave as far short of what God has called us to accomplish. God doesn't expect us to fulfill our God-given destinies in our own strength. That is impossible. In Zechariah 4:6 God says it is "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit." This is the secret.
God will never leave us to sweat out our callings in human strength. He fills us with His Spirit. God filled Saul with His Spirit (I Samuel 10:6). The results were so spectacular that onlookers wondered if he was a prophet. "And when all who knew him previously 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.'" (1 Samuel 10:11)
But even though Saul was filled with the Spirit and God gave him a new heart (1 Samuel 10:9), Saul remained insecure. The reason why is found in 1 Samuel 15:17. "And 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.’"
“Your evaluation of yourself is of little consequence, but how you view me, will determine your success or failure."
God was saying, "You think of yourself as a nobody, but I have called you, 'King.' You need to stop looking at yourself and look at the one who has called you. Your evaluation of yourself is of little consequence, but how you view me, will determine your success or failure."
Being "little in your own eyes" sounds like the humble stance of a righteous man. But that knowledge is just the starting point. We must pair it with the greatness of the one who has called us. If we get stuck on our own ineptitude, we will never be able to access the power available to us. We will strive in the flesh to fulfill a calling that can only be accomplished through the power of God.
Saul was striving for validation from the people, and trying to establish his own greatness.
God had anointed Saul as King, but Saul wavered between how he perceived himself - as unfit for the job - and what God had said about him. He had not taken on the identity of King, but rather a King-wanna-be. He was striving for validation from the people, and trying to establish his own greatness.
Initially Saul tried to hide from God's calling. When Samuel went to present him to the people as King, he hid among the baggage. Others questioned if he was the right choice: "But some worthless fellows said, 'How can this man save us?'' And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace." (1 Samuel 10:27)
Saul, himself, must have been asking the same question: "How can I save this people?" He did not need to question this, though, because when the time came to save the people from the Ammonites who were threatening them, "the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Saul." (1 Samuel 11:6) When he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit, not only did Saul know how to save the people, but God gave him victory over the Ammonites.
At this point even the people placed their confidence in Saul's rule. They wanted to have the men, who protested his kingship, killed. Saul wouldn't allow them to do this: "Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel." (1 Samuel 11:13)
This was Saul's opportunity to place his trust in God. He had seen God work through him. He knew the transformational power of the Spirit of God. But instead of placing his confidence in the one who called him, he sought to earn his kingship through fleshly striving.
He became a people pleaser and this cost him the kingship. God told Saul to wipe out the Amalekites and destroy everything they owned, but when Saul's men saw the plunder, they asked if they could spare the best of the livestock. Saul said, "Yes." He was afraid of loosing their approval. Later, when Samuel confronted him and told him the kingdom would be given to another because of this sin, he confessed: "'I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.'" (1 Samuel 15:24)
Saul felt the need to construct his own greatness.
Not only had Saul become a people pleaser in an attempt to earn his kingship, but he also tried to establish his greatness by giving himself honor. He set up a statue of himself after he won the battle with the Amalekites. It was not a sign of his pride, but of his insecurity. He felt the need to construct his own greatness.
When we rely on God's greatness, we will have no need to construct our own. In fact, we are free to uncover our weaknesses and laugh at our shortcomings - because we know who He is, and our security rests on and in Him. We will allow Him to establish us just as Saul's successor, David, did.
David was anointed by God to be king over Israel, and even though Saul sought desperately to kill David so that he could keep his grasp on the kingship, David refused to take the kingdom from Saul. Twice David's men urged David to kill Saul when the opportunity arose. They told him that God was giving him the chance to kill Saul and become king. They even offered to do the dirty deed for him, but David would not raise a hand against the Lord's anointed. God had called him and God would establish him.
David clearly understood that the kingship was not about him or for his benefit. He knew that he was called to shepherd Israel for the sake of God's people. It was not a position he was grasping at, but a job he would do to serve his Master.
David knew that it was God's power that would save him from Goliath and that it was God's wisdom that would give him victory over Israel's enemies. He diligently sought out this wisdom every time he was confronted by his enemies, and God was always faithful to give him the strategies he needed to succeed.
God will do no less for us if we will throw the weight of the responsibilities He has given us, on His shoulders. God is not looking for strong, self-confident people. He is looking for utterly dependent, God-confident followers. God delights in taking the weakest of the weak to show off His glory. He desires to demonstrate His greatness through earthen vessels. We are all perfect candidates!