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No-names and God’s unfolding plan

No-names and God’s unfolding plan

By: Alistair Begg - August 14, 2023

When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, ‘Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.’ But he said to him, ‘Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.’

1 Samuel 9:5-6

Saul, the future first king of Israel, had been with his servant for a few days, searching unsuccessfully for his father’s missing donkeys. Saul was ready to “go back” home—but his servant was not quite ready to give up. Instead, he suggested they consult with the “man of God” to ask him to “tell us the way we should go.” Saul agreed, and soon their search would lead to the encounter with the prophet Samuel in which Saul would be anointed king of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1-8).

We might think that the servant would have been the tired one advocating for a return trip home, while the future king would have proposed the visit to the prophet—yet the opposite was the case. The Bible gives the impression that this servant was sensitized to God’s workings and was beginning to recognize that this search for donkeys was turning into something far more substantial.

How wonderful is this! Who was this servant? We don’t even know his name. But he was hugely significant in God’s unfolding plan.

Indeed, all through the Bible we see God using those who could have been considered insignificant by earthly standards but whose spiritual insight led to important changes. Second Kings 5:1–14, for instance, tells of a little girl who, when the Syrians raided Israel and carried off girls as slaves, was taken to live as a servant in the house of a leprous army commander named Naaman. There, she proved instrumental in Naaman’s life, suggesting that he visit the prophet of Israel, Elisha. Eventually, this led to his miraculous healing. Hundreds of years later, it was to a young unmarried girl in an unremarkable provincial town that God gave the privilege of bearing His Son; and it was to shepherds far from the places of power and influence that He gave the task of being the first humans to broadcast the news that the Christ had been born.

For servants of the living God, stories like these remind us that it’s not our names or our credentials that matter; it’s the task to which God calls us, which He folds into His glorious, eternal purposes. Do not underestimate how a word of encouragement or exhortation or witness from your lips today might be used by our Lord in the unfolding of His purposes.

About the Author(s)
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Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Following graduation from The London School of Theology, he served eight years in Scotland at both Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Hamilton Baptist Church. In 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life. His Daily Devotionals are presented here via a syndication agreement.
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