Week of Pentecost 7- Saturday Devotion 

Readings:  1 Samuel 9:1-27 and Acts 21:37-22:16

1 Samuel 9:1-2:  There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth.  And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man.  There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he.  From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

Acts 21:37-39:  As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek?  Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?  Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city…”

 

“Physical Appearances”

1 Samuel 9, introduces us to Saul, a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin.  It introduces His identity to us as he is on a ‘search and rescue’ mission to find his father’s lost donkeys.  They would eventually find them, but this text introduces us to Saul, who would be anointed as Israel’s first king.  The chronicler quickly introduces His physical appearance.  

  Another Saul, who later was identified as Paul, had been beaten up and roughed up a lot.  He was not handsome in appearance.  2 Corinthians 11: 23-28 shows us another glimpse of what Paul says about his physical appearance, part of which describes:   Paul has had “far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.  Five times he received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one, three times beaten, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, a night and day adrift at sea”…   You don’t walk away from those kinds of encounters and expect only to straighten your clothes and comb your hair.  You gain some physical scars in such events.  Such was the appearance of Paul.  

Then, the tribune accuses Paul of stirring up a riot.  “Are you the guy from Egypt who caused a riot and led out four thousand men into the wilderness?”  Paul, in essence, would say, “No, not me.  But let me tell you who I am.”  Paul then tells his ‘life story’, including his new identity granted him on that road to Damascus.  But he tells his story not in the Greek language, but in Aramaic, the language most of the Jewish people in that crowd would understand.  Paul would make appearances before magistrates and governors, en route eventually to Rome.  

Scripture describes another person, but one not at all handsome like Saul.  He received His beatings in life.  As Isaiah describes in chapter 53:  “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.   But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes—his wounds!—we are healed.”

Yes, that describes Jesus, especially on the cross to suffer for us.  And what do we look like?  Are we ‘handsome’ or ‘beautiful’?  The Law shows our sin and its ugliness.  Nothing on earth can change this horrid condition; no beauty aid can transform a sickened heart full of sin.  

But Jesus comes and heals our wounds; He takes the ugliness of sin upon Himself and transforms us into His glorious being.   Better than Saul searching for lost donkeys, Jesus comes to search for us lost sheep!   Our sinful past He forgives; He transforms our life to serve Him in His kingdom.  He guides our feet in the way of peace.  

 

Let us pray:  O Lord, Your wounds bring us healing.  You have made us beautiful in God’s sight through the forgiveness of our sins.  Through the waters of baptism You washed us and made us clean and holy.  We thank You for Your mercy and grace!  Grant us Your Spirit to guide us when tempted to think that our earthly beauty is more important than the beauty of our faith.  Grant us protection in these uncertain times as virus and violence threatens Your people and Your Church.  Deliver us to the beauties of heaven, for in Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Our Father…

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   (1 Thessalonians 5:23)