I think it is part of our human nature that we try to peg people as quickly as we can so that we are able to size them up immediately. Most of us are so quick in pegging another person that we have them pegged within a couple of minutes of meeting them for the first time. We may peg them based on their gender, their race, their church affiliation, their age, their size or even the color of their eyes. What is even more amazing is that once we have someone pegged it is extremely difficult to pull that peg out and put them somewhere different. It may come as a shock to your system to realize that other people are sizing you up and pegging you with the same time frames. Usually we think that we are so good at determining whether a person is to be admired or ignored that we think our judgments are fair, well thought out and reasonable. But if the other person makes the same kind of quick judgment of us we tend to think how unfair such a quick assessment really is.
In the Old Testament book of I Sameul the story is told of a man by the name of Saul. He became the first king over Israel. When we first meet Saul he is searching along with a servant for some sheep that had wandered away from his father’s herd. As they searched they met the prophet and priest named Samuel. He not only told them about the sheep, but he anointed Saul to become the king. When God had Samuel to plan a great gathering of the Israelites to introduce to them their new king, the people gathered excitedly because they had been pleading for a king so they could be like the nations around them. Samuel told them this wasn’t a good idea. He noted that God was the king over them and to put a man in the spot was a rejection of God as their leader. But they weren’t convinced and wanted the king anyway. So God led Samuel to Saul and had him anointed for the job. In the beginning Saul was very humble and asked God’s guidance regularly. On the day when Israel gathered for him to become their king, Saul hid himself to try to keep them from finding him. But when he appeared the people made their quick judgment. He was a head taller than the rest of the Israelites. He had the look of a leaders. So they pegged him as a great king over the nation of Israel. They were ready then to follow him wherever he led as their king. We’ve all met people like Saul, who just looked like he ought to be in charge. They are often appointed to places of leadership because they look like a leader. Far too often such leaders, are like Saul who had the look but not the heart.
He had really pleased the people when he was anointed as king. Now he wished to continue pleasing them and have their admiration. Saul gathered the army of Israelites together to go out in battle against their enemy. But Samuel had told him to remain there, waiting to go out until Samuel arrived and made an offering to the Lord. They were to wait for the blessing that he would give them. Time passed slowly for them and still Samuel hadn’t come. Days past and then it was a whole week since he said he was coming. The people were growing impatient. Instead of Saul acting as the leader who told the people that they were commissioned to wait there for Samuel in the same way they were commissioned to go to Israel. Saul became nervous. The people might rebel against him. His leadership was being questioned. He took a lamb and killed it and brought it to the place for worship to God and offered the calf to God, even though he wasn’t a priest he acted like one and disobeyed God. Suddenly Samuel arrived and asked Saul what he had done. He said he had forced himself to make the offering to God since the people were growing impatient for something to happen. Samuel told him he had done wrong and committed a great sin before God. This was an early signal that we may have been premature in pegging Saul. Perhaps he isn’t the kind of leader for the people that we thought he would be.
Saul didn’t come back closer to the Lord to strive to be a godly king over Israel. He continued down the road of disobedience, lack of faith and failure. God commissioned him and his army to go down and attack the Amalekites and to completely destroy them. He wasn’t to bring anything back because it was a wicked and defiled city. Saul took the army and went against the Amalekites and defeated them in battle. Then he brought back the best of the cattle and brought back Agag the king. When Samuel went out to meet him, Saul declared he had obeyed the Lord’s word. Samuel asked, “When then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of the cattle that I hear?” Saul said the soldiers had wanted to bring them back. Samuel told him that obedience to God is better than to sacrifice and to listen is better than the fat of rams.
The more we know of Saul, the more we realize we pegged him wrongly when we first got to know him. We may excuse our poor judgment on the matter and declare that he has changed in a bad way. But he had the flaws in his character to begin with.
In truth we need to pull out the pegs we’ve pushed in about everyone. Allow them the opportunity to change, to grow and to become more of what God calls them to be. When we rush to judge or size up some person we cut off their opportunities to change and be what God wants. Two huge lessons need to shine out on this matter. One is that a quick judgment is likely wrong. Second that pegging people so that we always see them in this one way is a terrible form of judging people. We need to recognize where people are right now, but realize the next time we see them they may have changed entirely. Just as you have changed a great deal since the days of your youth, so have others. Give them a break.