A few years ago, I was thinking about role models and wondering who in the Bible I most closely identified with. I know Jesus is the example we Christians strive to be like, but I was looking for a person like myself, with my weaknesses.
Unfortunately, the only person I could come up with was Saul. Not fiery, driven Saul who is transformed into dedicated Paul. No, crazy, murderous King Saul.
I have always felt enormously sorry for Saul. He had it all and blew it about as badly as a person can, killing himself as his sons and Israel’s soldier died around him. I pity him because I understand how he blew it and know I could make the same kind of stupid mistakes.
Saul seems to have been an insecure person. When Samuel proclaims him king in front of the people of Israel, Saul hides (I Samuel 10:17-26). In I Samuel 13:1-15, Saul panics when he thinks Samuel isn’t coming to offer offerings to God. His army is scared of the amassing Philistine army, and men are deserting. So Saul takes it upon himself to do the priest’s job. When Samuel arrives, on time, he tells Saul that his family line won’t be established as kings because he hasn’t obeyed God’s commands. From that time on, Saul makes worse and worse decisions, often out of fear.
I have struggled with anxiety all my life. I know what it’s like to panic, make a dumb decision, realize it, panic again, and make an even worse one. I haven’t tried to pin an enemy to a wall with a spear, like Saul attempted to do to David, but I regret actions I took out of fear.
The only good think about anxiety is that it drives me to rely on God. I wanted to find someone in the Bible who had also struggled with anxiety, and with God’s help, became a strong servant for Him. So many people in the Bible seemfearless, and the lesson they needed to learn is humility. Samson, David, and Peter all had to have the arrogance knocked out of them at least once, so God could use them. All those stories are instructive, but they weren’t ones I had personally experienced. Wasn’t there anyone in the Bible who had to overcome anxiety instead of arrogance?
On a walk one day while praying, I got the answer: Gideon.