In Saul, the first king of Israel, we see an example of a life that began so well and ended terribly. Saul went from being from being poor in spirit to being prideful. His story takes us through a life that was initially blessed with the presence of God and finishing with a life where God would not acknowledge Saul. Let us take heed to the lessons from the early years of Saul’s reign in Israel as an example of being poor in spirit; and the later years as a miserable ending of a king wrapped up in pride.
The story of Saul begins in 1 Samuel Chapter Nine. The father of Saul had some lost donkeys and Saul was sent to search for them with some hired servants at the ready. Because their trip was not having success they decided to see the man of God, Samuel. Samuel was told by God to expect the appearance of Saul and to anoint him the first king over Israel. When Samuel met Saul, he spoke to Saul and said,
As for the donkeys that wandered away from you three days ago, don’t worry about them because they’ve been found. And who does all Israel desire but you and all your father’s family?” Saul responded, “Am I not a Benjaminite from the smallest of Israel’s tribes and isn’t my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tribe? So why have you said something like this to me?” (1 Samuel 9:20-21, HCSB, emphasis added)
Samuel in this passage tells Saul that he is the chosen one in Israel, the ruler to be of the kingdom of Israel. Notice Saul’s response because he exemplifies one being in the character of poor in spirit. Saul acknowledges that he has not the pedigree to be king because he is from the smallest tribe and the least of all the families in Israel. In other words, Saul when he is done assessing himself sees somebody who has nothing special to offer God. That is what being poor in spirit is all about – recognizing that in respect to God we have nothing to offer to Him. When we come before the Almighty empty handed, as did Saul, we are then usable to fulfill His will because of our reliance is upon the Holy Spirit. To be great we must be the servant of all as commanded by Jesus in Mark 9:35:
Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (HCSB)
This attitude is very much in contrast to the world and what it looks for in its leaders. The world wants someone skilled in leadership; someone proven in his field with a lot of experience. This works well in the world, but God can’t use that person in His kingdom, for the glory of the Lord. God desires someone who is willing to do it His way. The only training anyone needs is to become the person God can use for His kingdom; that is to be empty of anything he thinks he can offer of himself to Him. No self-help books or leadership seminar is required. Saul is on the right track to being a great king because he is poor in spirit.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, NASB)
Have you ever taken a spiritual gifts test? What were your gifts as determined by the test? Write down on a piece of paper your talents and your spiritual gifts. Now take that piece of paper and throw it in the trash.