Did they wander off in different directions? Did they wander off in a group? Which way did they go? Who knows. But Saul, as any obedient son would, goes off and searches unsuccessfully for the animals. But in the midst of the boring and fruitless search he has heard there is a seer in the area and decide to consult him. Then by what would appear to be conincidence he runs into Samuel.
How many times during the course of our day do we simply cross paths with other people, not family, friends or coworkers that we are intending to talk to but the chance encounter? How do we engage with that person?
Our American tendency is to offer the polite “Hi, how ya doing?” and keep moving as quickly as possible. Particularly when we are working we can get frustrated by anything or anyone we classify as an interruption.
Some would tells us to see Jesus in them. But I wonder if that isn’t too abstract and misses the point. Rather than looking for Jesus in them wouldn’t it be easier just to remember the second of the two great commandments and love the person in front of us whoever they are. Suddenly, that’s not an interruption, it’s a person, a person who deserves our attention.
Yes, we may need to limit the length of calls and other interactions, but even when the time is short we should be able to truly be attentive to the other person, to listen, to care, to not be dismissive.
As far as Saul knew, he was out there looking for his father’s asses. From God’s perspective he was out there for a very different reason, to meet Samuel the man who would change his life. We can never know which chance encounter is actually, providentially part of God’s larger plan.