In the thick of a Bible story, we sometimes forget that these things were not written at the same time they happened. Often (and particularly is this true with Samuel) they are written many years later. You see this clearly in chapter 9. The writer notes that “back in Saul’s day,” prophets were called “seers” – indicating that a good bit of time has passed.
Chapter 9 also begins the story of Saul, Israel’s first king and reminds us that, spiritually, things are not going well in Israel. Surprisingly, Samuel is leading the worship of God not at Shiloh (the place God had chosen for worship), but at ‘High Places’ in Israel – a practice specifically forbidden in Deuteronomy 12:1-4. That nothing is said in condemnation of this practice should not be seen as acceptance by God. God expects the reader to understand their practice was wrong, and further evidence of Israel’s apostasy.
As the story of Saul unfolds, he is presented as someone of significance. His father was a man of standing. That his genealogy is given also underscores this, as does the fact that he is “impressive” and “tall.” In his own eyes, however, Saul is small, unimpressive and incapable. His dependence is supremely on God, for he knows he lack the wherewithal for success. As time goes on however, Saul’s vision will change and he will begin to regard himself as someone great and depend less on God. That will be his downfall.
The same is true of us. Success in any endeavor depends on the approval, guidance and strength of the Lord.