HUMILITY comes before EXALTATION every time: And Samuel answered Saul and said, "I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart…and on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father's house?" And Saul answered and said, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?" Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited." (1 Sam 9:19-22)
When the people of Israel saw that Samuel was getting old and his sons were not walking in his godly ways, they demanded for a king just like other nations surrounding them (1 Sam. 8:1-5). Let us remember that when God’s leaders are unable to locate and mentor suitable successors after them, it is possible that people will look for alternate leadership. Even though Samuel was a prophet of God, sadly he failed to raise up his sons to follow his godly ways! It was then God made the selection of the first king of Israel: Saul, who was well suited for this position by his physical appearance (1 Sam. 9:1-2). Saul’s obedience to his father, his concern for his father (9:5), and his willingness to persevere in a hard task seemed to indicate character and future success for him and Israel.
Through a series of events that God orchestrated behind the scenes, Saul was directed to come into direct contact with Samuel. While the Lord was leading Saul, He was also leading Samuel, instructing him that His choice for king was on his way. Apparently without being told of Saul’s mission, Samuel told him that the donkeys had been found, and that he was not to be anxious. What were a few donkeys, anyway? It was Saul “on whom was all the desire of Israel?” (1 Sam. 9:20)
Saul took this statement with great humility and told Samuel that he was not worthy for this honor as he was from the smallest of the tribes of Israel and from the least of the families in that tribe. Benjamin was indeed the smallest tribe in Israel during the days of Saul and Samuel. In fact, Benjamin was the second smallest tribe at the first census following the Exodus (Num. 1:36, 37), but this tribe was reduced to just 600 fighting men during the punishment of Benjamin for the atrocity at Gibeah (see Judg. 19; 20). So, Saul’s humility in his reply to Samuel, and the fact that he hid among the equipment later when the lot fell on him to be the king (1 Sam. 10:22) indicates that his humility may have actually the reason for his exaltation to the throne of Israel. Had he remained humble during his kingly reign, things would have been different in his life and in Israel (v. 21; 1 Sam. 15:17).
Let us remember that humility comes before exaltation every time, and God’s Word is very clear in this matter (Deut. 8:2-3; 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 25:9; 1 Pet. 5:5). Many saints in the Bible have displayed humility time and again, including Abraham (Gen. 18:27), Joseph (Gen. 41:16), Moses (Exodus 3:11, Num. 12:3), Elizabeth (Luke 1:43), John the Baptist (Mark 1:7), Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 10:1), and the best example of all, our Lord Jesus Christ (Zech. 9:9; Mark 10:45; Phil, 2:5-8).
Even though we may have many things to boast regarding our inherent talents, wealth, power, fame, popularity, achievements, etc., let us make deliberate efforts to be humble before God and people every day of our lives. It is then that God will exalt us to greater heights of glory and use us greatly in His kingdom!