Let there be no doubt: Saul was an impressive man (9:2). When the Israelites thought of the archetype for a king, surely Saul was at the top of the list. He was impressive, and that is a core characteristic of a king. A king who is impressive is easier to follow and easier for other nations to fear.
Little did the Israelites know, although they should have, that God was teaching them an important lesson. God was showing His people that their hope should not based on the leader of their imaginations but rather on one of His provision. The Israelites did not need a king who was tall, handsome, or who would strike fear into their enemies. They needed a king who, through his humility, would lead them, the enemies of God, into restored relationship with Him. God would show the Israelites this through the failure of Saul, the king who looked like a king but failed; in this he pointed toward Jesus, the King who did not look like a king but who brought victory over sin and death.
In what ways do you see Jesus reflecting the qualities of a king, and in what ways was He an unexpected king?