Level of Hospitality

“Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.”

But Saul refused to eat anything. Then his advisers joined the woman in urging him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. She brought the meal to Saul and his advisers, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night. 1 Samuel 28:22-25

I do not think I have any concept of hospitality as compared to other cultures of the world. These verses scream to me about this fact.

As I read about the woman offering to feed Saul, I thought that this was a very nice gesture. Then I read what she did to feed Saul. She killed the fattened calf, cooked it, and made unleavened bread. This must have taken a lot of time!! This is where my disconnect began. I would have given Saul some trail mix, a Cliff bar, and a glass of water or soda. Maybe, I would have popped in a microwaveable meal to feed Saul and then would have sent him on his way. Either way, my hospitality would have been a lot shorter.

Mmmm, beef

Mmmm, beef

The first part of the problem for me is time. I live in a world where instantaneous feels incredibly slow. I live in an accelerated world of instant access to everything. For me, food is no different in most instances.

The second part of the problem is how we see guests in the United States. We see guests as an intrusion. A welcome inconvenience, but an intrusion nonetheless. You do not believe me? Listen to our words when we stop by other people’s houses: “sorry to stop by,” “sorry to bother you,” or “I will only be a few minutes.”

We say these things all of the time and may not even realize it. This intrusion mentality is not the same across all cultures, though. In our Senegalese cultural training, our trainers informed us that the Senegalese consider having visitors to be a great honor. In Senegal, you can actually show someone how special they are by simply stopping by, saying hi, or eating dinner with them.

I wonder how easily I could change my own cultural training and better welcome someone into our home for a great number of hours while Chele and I cooked them dinner and worked to make them feel comfortable.

In an effort to test it out, I guess Chele and I will have to buy a calf and fatten it up. Of course, when the day comes when we welcome a guest into our house Chele will have to hurry out and kill the calf. I am sure she would be excited to do so. 🙂

Of course, I understand that a lot of the woman’s hospitality is encouraged by the fact that Saul is king. The calf might have been killed because Saul was king, but the entire amount of welcoming hospitality is probably no different for any other person who was in Saul’s condition.