Saul got off to a pretty good start as king. He was chosen by God himself and anointed by the prophet Samuel, after which the Spirit of God came upon him and empowered him to become a great leader.
And yet the story of Israel’s first king turned out tragically. As Saul’s story unfolds, we witness his complicated relationships with Samuel, David, and even with God begin to spiral downward until his kingship comes to an embarrassing and premature end. Evidently, starting well doesn’t guarantee finishing well.
But even as he recounts the decline of Saul, the author of the First Book of Samuel weaves in the rise of David, who would come to be known as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Both Saul and David were anointed as kings. Both received God’s Spirit to help them fulfil their vocation. But their lives show us that it’s not enough just to be anointed at the start of our work.
Like kings and queens of old we too have been chosen and set apart by God. We were anointed with holy oil at Baptism and Confirmation. Priests even receive an additional anointing during their Ordination. We have all been infused with the Holy Spirit so that he can empower and guide us. God has done so much for us, and it’s all meant to help set us on a path of holiness and sacrificial service. And yet it’s up to us to stay on that path every day, and to repent and ask for God’s help when we fall by the wayside.
The good news is that we can not only start well, but we can finish well too. If we are open to the working of the Holy Spirit then we can fulfil what God has called us to do with our lives. When God gave us our vocation he also gave us the grace to persevere with it to the end. All we have to do is accept that grace and allow God to do his work through us.