Choices (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

“It’s our choices, not our abilities, that determine who we are.”

Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

As a physician, I have the honor of working with extremely intelligent people who were educated and trained at the most prestigious institutions in the world. As expected, most of my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Yet, there are a few outliers.

Many years ago, I worked with a surgeon at one of the hospitals for which I was on staff. He was technically very proficient but his personality was distracting. Whenever he engaged anyone in a conversation, he would never fail to bring up the institutions he trained at or the people who trained him. He also boasted about the superiority of his training, even derisively stating how he had to sometimes dumb down and simplify his conversations when speaking to other physicians and physician extenders, like nurses and physician assistants. Needless to say, this did not endear him to the hospital staff. In fact, operating room nurses would deliberately try to reschedule themselves if they found they were paired with him.

This surgeon had all of the abilities one would expect with someone of his excellent training, yet because he chose to arrogantly boast about his credentials, he alienated everyone who worked with him.  With his abilities, he could easily have been elected chief of the medical staff, or even become a thought leader in his specialty. Instead, he made poor choices and ultimately it directly impacted patient care. 

There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land. 

1 Samuel 9:1-2 (NLT)

Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the first King of Israel. The bible introduces him as a man coming from a wealthy and powerful family. He was the most handsome and tallest man in Israel. He literally stood out! He had the correct background to be a King. He had a promising start, obeying God and leading the Israelites to defeat the Ammonites. However, soon after this victory, Saul began making a series of poor choices. When God did not answer his immediate prayers, Saul grew anxious and took matters in his own hands and offered sacrifices to God, a task reserved only for priests like Samuel. When Samuel arrived, he chastised Saul. 

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” 

1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

Saul continued to make bad choices until they led to his defeat and demise, dying an ignoble death on the battlefield by falling on his own sword. Saul’s life is a warning to all who are blessed with abilities and privilege. God blesses all of us but how we choose to use these gifts will determine who we are. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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