college travels

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Value of Stories # 2

The stories of the Old and New Testaments help us to engage with others by offering us examples or ‘archetypes’ to follow (see entry#1 on 3rd Sept).

Everyone wants to live a significant life. We all want to be mourned when we die and to be remembered for having achieved something. We will look to achieve in one of four areas or in a combination of two or more of: warrior, sovereign, seer and lover.

In Saul we see an example of what happens when a warrior is made sovereign. Saul cannot handle the responsibility. He fought well and bravely to rescue the people of Jabesh when they were under threat, but he is unable to function well as a sovereign.

As king his job is to empower and inspire others. But Saul is never confident enough of his position to allow himself to be generous towards others and to trust them and release them for service. He mistrusts his own son Jonathan even though it would be hard to find a more loyal individual. And the second half of 1 Samuel is dominated by his mistrust of David, even though David proves his loyalty on several occasions.

Saul is insecure as sovereign and is fearful that his power will be handed over to someone better suited for leadership and so he acts not so much as sovereign but out of a ‘shadow’ form of the archetype. He acts as tyrant. There is no room in his administration for warriors like David, though he needs them to fight the Philistines. He fears that warriors may attract support and threaten his position as king. Nor is there room for seers so he does not follow through on Samuel’s advice to him and eventually Samuel is forced into a sort of retirement. He perhaps fears that a seer will expose his lack of ability and his unsuitability as king.

Saul teaches us that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Just because Saul made a good warrior does not automatically mean that he will make a good sovereign. We may, from time to time, be asked to work outside our preferences but we should expect that our best contribution to be according to the way that God has made us. This is likely to be in a way that builds on the experiences that he has brought us through and the personality and preferences that he’s uniquely gifted us with.

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