The people had demanded a king. God gave them a king, the first being Saul. He was a handsome man (9:2). There’s an obvious observation to make, here: the best looking and most impressive looking folks are not always the best choices for leadership and responsibility (or pretty much anything else). Always it is necessary to look more deeply than mere outward appearances. Saul was good looking, but shy and anxious. When the time came to present him to the people, he could not be found because he was hiding among the luggage (10:22). From the get go, he just didn’t seem to be kingly material. What an imperfect instrument but, still, God could use him and, though God did eventually reject Saul, he was still able to use him for the benefit of Israel.
The Ammonites went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead and threatened to gouge out their eyes and bring disgrace upon Israel if they refused to submit to Ammon’s demands. Saul acted quickly and decisively in gathering Israel together to deliver Jabesh-gilead. Not only was Saul able to defeat Israel’s enemy, he was also able to unite the tribes, and he was even able to acknowledge God in all that happened, declaring that “today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel” (11:13). An imperfect man but a perfect God who can use even the most unlikely people to accomplish his purposes. Why, our God can work even with us!
Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart,
wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are,
and make me love you as I ought to love.
Teach me to love you as your angels love,
one holy passion filling all my frame:
the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove;
my heart an altar, and your love the flame. -- George Croly (1854)