1 Samuel 9, 27-10, 1
Something to read
And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on), but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
King James Version
As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God."
Samuel took a vial 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:
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Saul is met and anointed by Samuel, the prophet of God. In anointing him, Samuel gives him a sign that he is commissioned by God to 'reign over the people of the Lord….[and to be] ruler of his heritage.'
In a chapter which presents contradictory attitudes to kingship, these verses firmly place kingship in the context of anointing. The kings of Israel must be anointed by God's prophet. Their position is not one of self-serving authority: they must follow and be accountable to God's covenant.
Later in the chapter, we will see Saul struggling with kingship, having disobeyed God's word. God's power will leave him and we will see him left as a vulnerable and desperate man.
Power can be a positive force for good. Poverty is disempowerment and the injustices that result. Christian Aid is working with communities to empower them to stand up for their rights so that they can find their own ways out of poverty.
But these verses make it clear that power comes from God, and therefore needs to be in line with God's will. The ruling forces of Israel are subject to the authority of God. And Saul will discover that this authority can be withdrawn.
Something to do
In our personal and our professional lives we all hold positions of power, and we are all caught up in systems far larger than ourselves that wield power over others. Challenge yourself today to think about an area where you hold power. Are you using this power to serve God?
Something to pray
Loving God, when we have been granted power and influence, inspire us to use it solely to serve the needs of others, so that all your people may be empowered to live life in all its fullness.
Today's contributor is Kate Tuckett, Christian Aid's Church Resources Manager.