I Samuel 9
SELECTION OF SAUL AS KING BY THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.
GENEALOGY OF SAUL (vs. 1-27).
there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was
of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah,
a Benjamite, a
mighty man of power.” A man… whose name was
The genealogy of Saul is rendered obscure by the Hebrew custom of abbreviating
such records by the omission of names. The family documents were no doubt kept
in full, but when transcribed, as here and in the First Book of Chronicles, only a
summary is given, and as the omitted links are not always the same, great
difficulty is necessarily the result. The most satisfactory genealogy is that
given by Schaff from a comparison of Genesis 46:21; here v.1; ch.14:51;
I Chronicles 7:6-8; 8:29-33; 9:35-39, and is as follows:
3. Aphish, perhaps same as Abiah;
5. Zeror, or Zur;
Very many links, however, are omitted, among whom must be placed
Matri, mentioned in ch. 10:21; and Jehiel, mentioned in Chronicles 9:35
(and see ibid. 8:29). He is described as the first
settler and colonizer of
and as husband of Maachah, a daughter or granddaughter of Caleb. The spelling
of his name with an ‘ain forbids our confounding him with Abiel, as is done by
Schaff and most commentators, and whom, apparently, he preceded by many
generations. In the two places referred to above a large family of sons is ascribed
to him; but as, first of all, the lists do not agree, as, moreover, they are said to
dwell with their brethren in
regard, them as his actual children, but as the leading names among his
posterity. The fearful cruelty recorded in Judges 20:48 may well
account for the hopeless entanglement of Benjamite genealogies. An
ancestor of Saul must, of course, have been among the 600 who escaped to
the rock Rimmon, but he could have saved only his own life. A mighty
man of power. Really, “of wealth.” Saul, like David afterwards, was sprung
from an affluent family, whose landed property was situated at Gibeah, about
four miles north of
2“And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and
a goodly: and there was not among the
person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than
any of the people.” He had a son, whose name was Saul. I.e. asked, a name
usually given to a firstborn son. A choice young man. This is a double
translation of the Hebrew word, and consequently one half or other must
be wrong. It may either be a participle, elect or choice, and is so rendered
by the Syriac and Vulgate; or an adjective, young, the rendering of the
Chaldee, and virtually of the Septuagint, which gives well grown. This is
the preferable translation; for the word constantly occurs coupled with
virgin (Deuteronomy 32:25; Isaiah 62:5, etc.), for one in the full
flower of manhood. Saul could not, therefore, have been the runner of
ch. 5:12, though, as we read that Jonathan his son was a grown
man two or three years afterwards (ch. 13:2), he must have been
at least thirty-five years of age, after making allowance for the early period
at which the Jews married. His noble appearance and gigantic stature were
well fitted to impress and overawe a semi-barbarous people, who were
better able to form an estimate of his physical qualities than of the high
mental and moral gifts possessed by Samuel.
3 “ And
the asses of
Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go
seek the asses.” The asses of
united with events most solemn and weighty, that Saul set out upon this
journey, in which he was to find a kingdom, with no other object than to
look for some lost asses — Hebrew, “she-asses.” As used for riding (Judges 10:4),
the ass was valuable, and as these were probably kept for breeding, they were
allowed more liberty than the males, and so strayed away.
4 “And he
through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.”
Mount Ephraim. Though Gibeah, Saul’s home, was in
Benjamin, it was situated on this long mountain range (ch. 1:1).
round Baal-shalisha. It takes its name from the three valleys which there
converge in the great Wady Kurawa, The
probably the same as the
very name shows that it was a wild, uninhabited region. The derivation
hollow-land is untenable.
when they were come to the
servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father
leave caring for the asses, and take
thought for us.” The
See on ch.1:1. This Levite ancestor of Samuel had probably occupied and
colonized this district after the disasters recorded in the last chapters of the
Book of Judges. Lest my father, etc. A mark of good feeling on Saul’s part,
and a proof of the affectionate
terms on which
6 “And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of
God, and he is an honorable man; all that he saith cometh surely to
pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way
that we should go.” In this city. Probably Ramathaim-zophim, i.e. Ramah,
Samuel’s dwelling place and property. Confessedly, however, Saul’s route hither
and thither in search of lost cattle is very obscure, and it is difficult to reconcile
this identification with the statement in ch.10:2, that Rachel’s sepulcher lay on
the route between this city and Gibeah of Saul. Nevertheless, Ramah was certainly
remarkable that Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:15) describes Rachel’s weeping as being
heard in Ramah. It seems extraordinary that Saul should have known nothing of
lower capacity as a person to be consulted in private difficulties. He
describes him, nevertheless, as an honorable man, or, more literally, an
honored man, one held in honor.
7 “Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, if we go, what shall we
bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not
a present to bring to the man of God: what have we?” The bread is spent in
our vessels. In the East a great man is always approached with a present, and
offerings of food were no doubt the most usual gifts (ch. 16:20). Those made to
the false prophets are contemptuously described in Ezekiel 13:19 as “handfuls
of barley and pieces of bread.” A present. The word is rare, and apparently is the
technical name for a fee of this kind, half payment and half gift.
8 “And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here
at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the
man of God, to tell us our way.” The fourth part of a shekel. Apparently the
shekel, roughly stamped, was divided into four quarters by a cross, and broken
when needed. What was its proportionate value in Samuel’s days we cannot tell,
for silver was rare; but in size it would be somewhat bigger than a sixpence, and
would be a very large fee, while the bread would have been a small one. It very
well marks the eagerness of the servant that he is ready to part with the considerable
sum of money in his possession in order to consult the seer. The whole conversation
is given in a very lively and natural manner.
spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a
Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.) 10 Then said Saul to his servant,
Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was.
Beforetime, etc. This verse is evidently a gloss, written originally by some later hand
in the margin, in order to explain the word used for seer in vs. 11, 18-19. Inserted
here in the text it interrupts the narrative, and is itself somewhat incomprehensible.
The Septuagint offers a very probable reading, namely, “for the people in old time
used to call the prophet a seer,” i.e. it was a word used chiefly by the common people.
Prophet, nabi, is really the older and established word from the beginning
of the Old Testament to the end. The word roeh, used in this place for
seer, is comparatively rare, as a popular word would be in written
compositions. It refers to that which is seen by the ordinary sight, to
waking vision (see on ch. 3:1, 10), whereas the other word for
seer, chozeh, refers to ecstatic vision. Roeh is used by Isaiah 30:10,
apparently in much the same sense as here, of those whom the
people consulted in their difficulties, and they might be true prophets as
Samuel was, or mere pretenders to occult powers. The present narrative
makes it plain that roeh was used in a good sense in Samuel’s days; but
gradually it became degraded, and while chozeh became the respectful
word for a prophet, roeh became the contrary. Another conclusion also
follows. We have seen that there are various indications that the Books of
Samuel in their present state are later than his days. Here, on the contrary,
we have a narrative couched in the very language of his times; for the
writer of the gloss contained in this verse was displeased at Samuel being
called a roeh, but did not dare to alter it, though taking care to note that it
was equivalent in those days to calling him a nabi.
Divine Consideration (vs. 1-10)
The facts are:
1. Saul the son of
and goodliness, seeks his father’s asses.
2. Not finding them, he fears lest his father should be anxious about his
own safety, and suggests a return home.
3. His servant advises a recourse to a distinguished man of God then in
4. Obtaining a small present, Saul resolves to consult the man of God
concerning the lost asses. A great crisis has come in which the dangerous
elements at work in
motive for desiring a king being a craving for outward display, and a
corresponding distrust and dislike of God’s more unseen and immediate
direction of national affairs, it was evidently possible for steps to be taken
which would ruin
Divinely governed events, apparently trivial, which prevented that calamity
and insured the national safety.
DANGEROUS ASPIRATIONS. There is no harm in desire for monarchy
per se; but the form it assumed in this instance was defective, and it
revealed a moral tendency which, if fed by appropriate nourishment, would
lead to a frustration of
in their conduct was their deference to Samuel. The instruction conveyed
to him to select a king was consistent with the fact that God was displeased
with their request (ch. 8:7; compare Hosea 13:11). The solution of
the apparent discrepancy lies in the circumstance that God does not leave
His people to the full bent of their own heart. He mercifully regarded their
condition, and governed their tendencies in such a way as to make the best
of a bad case. This is true, more or less, of all men not yet judicially
abandoned. There is a force of evil in men enough to destroy them speedily
but for the restraining power of God. The mental operations of sinners are
governed by an unseen hand, and often directed to their advantage, when,
otherwise, evil would ensue. There have been ages in the history of the
Church when conspicuously unhallowed desires and worldly aspirations
have not been left to work ruin, but have been chastened, controlled,
directed to objects better than they, left to themselves, would have chosen.
The age of
not the Head of the Church governed rising tendencies and provided
the people which needed to be wisely met. The people were impressible by
the outward physical aspect of things; they required a leader of social
position to command respect; and their own hankering after likeness to
other nations rendered it important that their king should have some moral
character; at the same time, being their choice, he must be a representative
of the weaknesses and wisdom of the age. Hence the care of God in
directing Samuel to Saul, a man of commanding appearance (v. 2), of
wealthy family (vs. 1-3), of quiet, plodding, God fearing disposition, —
as seen in occupation, in his concern for his father, and in his deference to
the prophet, — and yet of no deep, intelligent piety. This Divine care is no
novelty in history.
Ø It is constant — coextensive with the history of the race. Even fallen
Adam was cared
for in temporal things. The order of
adaptation of His Word to varying exigencies of life, the appointments in
His Church for the perfecting of the saints, are only some instances of a
care that never faileth.
Ø It is secret.
home, that their God was caring so wisely and tenderly for them. Silent as
the light (I have never thought of light being silent – CY – 2016) is the voice
that orders our path; more subtle than either is the hand that guards our spirit.
By day and night His hand leads, even to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Ø It is beyond all desert. Even
cared for them. “How shall I give thee up?” (Hosea 11:8) is the feeling of
the Father’s heart. (“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” -
Romans 5:8) He rewards us “not according to our iniquities.” The daily
mercies of God are more than can be numbered, and they come because
He delighteth in mercy, not because we earn them by obedience and love.
a way he knew not. In the straying of asses and in the following their track
we first see natural events; but behind and in them all we soon learn to see
God gently leading Saul from a quiet, rural life to undertake a great and
honorable responsibility, it is not strange for God to lead by unknown
paths those whom He chooses for His service. Abraham did not know the
full meaning of the secret
impulse to leave
imprisonment was not man’s sole doing. Egyptians in the court of Pharaoh
saw not the hand guiding Moses into a knowledge of their legislation and
their learning. Likewise is it true in the bringing of men to a knowledge of
Christ. Many a simple circumstance has brought a wanderer to a greater
than Samuel. And in the Christian life we are led by circuitous, untrodden
paths to duties, privileges, joys, and eternal rest. God is Guide and
Counsellor — by monitions of conscience, by word of truth, by voice of
friends, by barred pathways of life by yearnings created within, by events
great and small.
Ø Let us have faith in God’s mastery over all that is in man.
Ø Let us believe that He will provide for His people suitably to their need.
Ø Let us keep our heart and eye open to the guidance of the unseen
Power, and not despise events that seem trifling in themselves.
Perplexity (v. 9)
“Peradventure he can show us our way.” Here is a picture of a young man
perplexed about his way. Consider:
young man to be uncertain and anxious with reference to:
Ø The ordinary business of life. He knows not, it may be, the particular
vocation for which he is most fitted, or which affords the best prospect of
success. Leaving his father’s house,
“The world is all before him, where to choose
of rest, and
But he is doubtful whither to direct his steps. He meets with
disappointment in his endeavors. “The bread is spent” (v. 7; compare
the plight of the prodigal son – Luke 15:13-14), and he has
no money in his purse. Under such circumstances many a one has first
awoke to a sense of his dependence on God, and his need of His guidance,
or has sought Him with a fervor he has never displayed before. His
loneliness and distress have been the occasion of spiritual thought and high
resolve (Genesis 28:16, 20-22; Luke 15:17-18).
Ø The chief purpose of life. As each vocation has its proper end, so has life
generally. It is something higher than the finding of strayed asses, the
recovery of lost property, or “buying and selling and getting gain.” Even
the dullest soul has often a feeling that it was made for a nobler end than
the gratification of bodily appetites, or the supply of earthly needs. But
“what is the chief end of man?” Alas, how many know not what it is, nor
the means of attaining it; miss their way, and wander on “in endless mazes
Ø The true Guide of life. Who shall tell thee “all that is in thine heart” (v.
19) — declare its aspirations, and direct them to their goal? Where is He to
be found, and by what means may His favor be obtained? Books and
teachers abound, and to them the young man naturally turns for instruction;
but how often do they leave him in greater perplexity than ever. “Where
shall wisdom be found?” (Job 28:12). “To whom should we go? Thou
hast the words of life!” (John 6:68) “We must wait patiently [said Socrates]
until some one, either a god or some inspired man, teach us our moral and
religious duties, and, as Pallas in Homer did to Diomede, remove the darkness
from our eyes” (Plato). “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ:
when He is come, He will tell us all things” (John 4:25). “Sir, we would see
Jesus” (ibid. ch. 12:21).
him to take is that of:
Ø Diligent inquiry concerning the object of his desire. It exists, and a firm
belief in its existence is the first condition of such inquiry. There may be
healthy doubt about its nature, but absolute skepticism is destruction.
Inquiry is the way to truth. It must be pursued with quenchless zeal and
ceaseless perseverance. And if so pursued it will not be vain (Proverbs
Ø Ready reception of light, from whatever quarter it may come. Truth
often comes from unexpected sources. The true inquirer is reverent and
humble, and willing to receive information from the most despised (vs.
“Seize upon truth, where’er tis found,
Amongst your friends, amongst your foes,
On Christian or on heathen ground;
The flower’s Divine, where’er it grows.”
3. Faithfully acting up to the light he possesses. “Well said; come, let us
go.” Inquiry alone is insufficient. The duty that lies plainly and immediately
before us must be performed.
Ø He is brought face to face with the best Guide. “I am the seer” (v. 19).
The best service that men and books, including the Scriptures themselves
(John 5:39-40), can render is to bring us into direct communion with
Our perplexity ends only when He manifests Himself to us and says, “I that
speak unto thee am He.” (ibid. ch. 4:26) “Master, where dwellest thou?
Come and see” ( ibid. ch. 1:38-39).
“And what delights can equal those
That stir the spirit’s inner deeps,
When one that loves, but knows not, reaps
A truth from one that loves and knows?”
Ø He rises into a higher region of thought and feeling, and receives all the
direction that he really needs. His anxiety about earthly affairs is relieved
(Matthew 6:32). The true purpose of life is shown him (ibid. v. 33). He has
“an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (I John 2:20).
Saul is “turned into another man,” and “God is with him” (ch. 10:6-7).
Ø He attains great honor and power. Saul is not the only one who has
gone forth in the performance of lowly duty and found a kingdom, or to
whom a temporary loss has been an occasion of permanent and invaluable
gain. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
11 “And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens
going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?
12 And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you:
make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a
sacrifice of the people to day in the high place:” As they went up.
Ramah was situated on a double hill, whence its name Ramathaim (ch. 1:1).
As, then, they go up the ascent — so the Hebrew, literally — they meet maidens
on the way to the well, and ask them, Is the seer — the roeh — here? They answer,
Yes; behold, he is before you. I.e. they are to go straightforward, and farther
on in the town they will find him. He came today to the city. As Saul’s
servant knew that this city was Samuel’s abode, the words must mean that
he had just returned from visiting one of those places, probably, to which
he was in the habit of going as judge. From ch.16:2 we learn
that Samuel went occasionally even to distant places to perform priestly
duties. In the high place. Hebrew, Bamah. Samuel, we read, had built an
altar at Ramah (ch. 7:17), and probably the present sacrifice was
to be offered upon it. Such altars, and the worship of the true God upon
high places, were at this time recognized as right, and were, in fact, in
accordance with, and were even the remains of, the old patriarchal religion.
But gradually they were condemned, partly because of the glowing sanctity
of the temple, but chiefly because of the tendency of religious rites
celebrated in such places to degenerate into nature-worship, and orgies
such as the heathen were in the habit of holding on the tops of mountains
and hills. We thus find in the Bible an illustration of the principle that rites
and ceremonies (as not being of the essentials of religion) may be changed,
or even abolished, if they are abused, or lead on to evil consequences.
13 “As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him,
before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat
until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and afterwards
they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this
time ye shall find him.” As soon as… straightway. This is too forcible a rendering
of the Hebrew particles, and makes the talk of these water-carriers even more
verbose than it is in the original. The latter word should be omitted, as
they simply say that on entering the city Saul and his servant would easily
find Samuel; for he would not go up to the feast till all was ready, nor
would the people begin till he had arrived, because it was his office to bless
the sacrificial banquet. The pious custom of asking a blessing on meals, our
Lord’s “giving of thanks,” is inherited by us from the Jews.
(A SACRAMENTAL ADDRESS)
Guests at a Sacred Feast (v. 13)
“For the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the
sacrifice; and afterwards they eat that be bidden.” This language refers to a
feast provided on the high place of the city where Samuel dwelt.
1. It was a sacrificial feast. The victim (a thank offering) having been slain,
and its blood sprinkled about the altar, a portion of it was burnt in the
sacred fire, and the rest reserved for food. “The thank or praise offering
was the expression of the worshipper’s feelings of adoring gratitude on
account of having received some spontaneous tokens of the Lord’s
goodness. This was the highest form (of the peace offering), as here the
grace of God shone prominently forth” (Fairbairn, ‘Typology’).
2. It was attended by numerous guests — thirty persons — distinguished in
some way from others, and specially invited by Samuel. “The participation
by the offerer and his friends — this family feast upon the sacrifice — may
be regarded as the most distinctive characteristic of the peace offering. It
denoted that the offerer was admitted to a state of near fellowship and
enjoyment with God, shared part and part with Jehovah and His priests, had
a standing in his house and a seat at his table. It was, therefore, the symbol
of established friendship with God, and near communion with Him in the
blessings of His kingdom; and was associated in the minds of the
worshippers with feelings of peculiar joy and gladness” (Fairbairn).
3. It required the presence of Samuel himself in order that the guests might
properly partake thereof. “The blessing of the sacrifice must mean the
asking of a blessing upon the food before the meal. This was done at every
common meal, and much more at a solemn festival like this. The present,
however, is the only recorded example of the custom” (Kitto). “It refers to
the thanksgiving and prayer offered before the sacrificial meal” (Keil). Now
this feast may be regarded as a foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper. A
greater than Samuel is the Master of the feast (Matthew 26:18;
John 13:13-14). Our Lord has provided it by the sacrifice of Himself —
of which the ancient sacrifices were a type, and the Holy Supper is a
memorial. And He Himself comes to preside at His own table.
As His guests:
His presence is:
Ø Necessary to the feast. The bread and wine are not simply memorials,
they are also symbols; and in order to partake of them aright we must
“discern the Lord’s body.” (I Corinthians 11:29) “Without me ye can
do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Ø Promised by Himself. “There am I in the midst of them” (Matthew
18:20). “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice” (John 16:22).
“Lo, I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20). The sacred ordinance itself
is a permanent assurance of His presence.
Ø Realized in the heart. We look not for His real presence in the material
emblems, but in the believing heart. “I in them” (John 17:26; 14:21;
Ephesian 3:17). In a different spirit from that in which the words were
originally spoken, we ask, “What think ye, that he will not come to the
feast?” (John 11:56). We await His coming with reverence and humility,
contrition, and faith, and ardent desire. O that He may appear to each of us,
saying, “Peace be unto you,” and be “known in breaking of bread.”
“Blessed are they that wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:8; John 20:29).
doing so he also doth bless his guests.
Ø As of old, when he often gave thanks before the meal (Matthew 14:19;
Mark 14:22; Luke 24:30; John 6:23; I Corinthians 11:24).
Ø As the ever living Intercessor, representing his people, and rendering
their prayers and praises acceptable to God. “I will declare thy name unto
my brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praises unto thee”
Ø As when He went away, still stretching forth His hands in benediction
toward His disciples, and enabling them to be “continually praising and
blessing God” (Luke 24:51-53). “Stretch forth, O Lord, in blessing
toward us thy hands, that were nailed for our redemption to the bitter
be bidden.” We do not merely look upon the emblems of His body and
blood, but we eat and drink, and thereby signify:
Ø Our participation in the benefits of His death:
o peace, and
Ø Our fellowship with Him in His sufferings and death, His spirit and life,
His strength and joy (John 6:53). “And truly our fellowship is with the
Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3).
Ø And our union and communion with each other, through fellowship with
Him, in love and gladness. “For we being many are one bread, and one
body” (I Corinthians 10:17). Let us, then, “rejoice before the Lord.”
The cup is “a cup of blessing” (thanksgiving). The service is intended to be
a service of joy — joy in the Lord; in the contemplation of His glorious
character, in the reception of His manifold benefits, and in the anticipation
of “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9)
14 “And they went up into the city: and when they were come into the
city, behold, Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high place.”
When they were come into. More correctly, “As they were going into the city.”
This agrees with what is said in v. 18, that Saul and Samuel met in the gateway.
As Ramah occupied two hills, the Bamah would be on the summit of one, while
the city probably nestled between them.
15 “Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,”
Now Jehovah had told Samuel in his ear. Literally, “had uncovered his ear,” as in
Ruth 4:4; II Samuel 7:27. The phrase is taken from the pushing aside of the headdress
in order to whisper, and therefore means that Jehovah had secretly told Samuel.
16 “To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of
Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people
have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.”
That he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines.
Though Samuel had lightened the yoke of the Philistines by his
victory at Mizpah, yet he had by no means altogether broken their power.
It is so constantly the habit of the historical books of the Bible to include
the distant and ultimate results of an act in their account of it, that we must
not conclude that what is said in ch. 7:13-15 was the immediate
consequence of Samuel’s victory. Especially, when it said that “the hand of
Jehovah was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel,” it is plain that
Saul’s successful wars are included in the writer’s summary of events,
inasmuch as Samuel’s life was prolonged until nearly the close of that
monarch’s reign. The words further show that Saul’s office was essentially
military, though this is too much emphasized in the Authorized Version, which
renders by captain a word which really means prince, chief. Saul, as a Benjamite,
belonged to the bravest and most warlike tribe of
country was the seat of perpetual combat with the Philistines. Their cry is
come unto me. Plainly, therefore,
17 “And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the
man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.”
Jehovah said unto him. Literally, “Jehovah answered him.”
When Samuel saw the young stranger, struck by his towering height, he
wondered within himself whether this were the destined hero who was to
win freedom for
question asked by his heart. The same shall reign over my people. More
literally, the margin, “restrain in,” i.e. coerce, control. The Authorized
Version, preferring as usual a general to an exact rendering, loses this plain
indication that Saul’s would be a strict and stern rule.
Man’s Accidents God’s Ordinations (vs. 11-17)
The facts are:
1. On entering the city Saul inquires for the seer, and is informed that he is
present for a special religious service.
2. Following the directions given, he meets Samuel ascending to the high place.
3. Samuel is already instructed by God to expect during the day the man
whom he is to anoint as king.
4. On seeing Saul, an intimation is given from God that he is the chosen man.
In some respects this narrative of events resembles what is occurring
every day in every land, for we have here a set of independent actions
converging on a common result. No single meeting of men occurs in
society without a variety of acts and movements having directly or
indirectly preceded it as links in the chain of causation. But the speciality in
this instance is the information that the meeting of Saul and Samuel was
preordained of God. Hence the incident is an illustration of the double side
of what to men may appear to be only ordinary human occurrences. An
uninformed person would have said that it was accidental that the asses
went astray, and that maidens directed Saul to their city, where Samuel
happened to be. To Saul it so appeared; but, guided by the inspired
narrative, we know that the “accident” was “foreordained” without
destroying its really accidental character. We may notice what light the
record before us throws on the general question of special providences.
WILLS. In so far as asses exercise will, those were free in straying from
home on that day. The action of
else to seek them was quite his own. The readiness of Saul to obey his
father and not find a substitute in the toil was unconstrained. The mental
and emotional antecedents of the citizens prompting their will to arrange
for Samuel to visit their city were natural, and operated on wills perfectly
independent. The suggestion of the servant that Saul should not return, but
go to this very city, arose spontaneously; and Saul’s concern for his father
was relieved by considerations which he freely yielded to. The action of
Samuel, amidst his many public engagements, was free in deciding to offer
sacrifice, and, so far as we can see, not exclusively connected with an
expectation of meeting the coming king in that particular place. In addition
to all these free and independent acts, there were events which tended to
turn the free acts in the one direction. Lack of pasture in certain places may
have influenced the asses to take the course they did. The distance to be
traversed was just such as to bring Saul to the vicinity of Samuel where
persons were at hand to answer his questions. The difficulty of
approaching the prophet with a proper token of respect was overcome by
the casual possession of a small coin. This analysis of fact accords with
what may be affirmed of thousands of incidents every day. Independent
lines of force converge on one point and issue in an historical result. In
no case recorded in Scripture does any supreme power take away freedom
UNRECOGNIZED ACTION OF GOD. In the instance before us this is
obvious, for it was ordained that Samuel should meet with Saul on that
very day, though they were so far apart (vs. 15-16). Whether it was
“chance” that took Saul to that city or some influence exerted on him is
easily answered by the fact that it was God’s purpose for Samuel to see
and anoint him. God’s foreordination does not wait on “chance.” The same
reasoning would show that even the course taken by the asses, though free,
was not without God’s action. The inspiration of Samuel’s conduct is a
primary fact of the prophetic office. It is possible to start difficulties in
relation to this subject; but they are difficulties of ignorance, not of
knowledge, and therefore lose much of their force. We do not even know
what the free act of will is, though we know the fact. We know that our
actions are free, and yet that we are influenced by others. The point of
junction between the external influence and the free act of our will has
never been detected; therefore, any difficulties which men raise against
these narratives in the Bible lie equally against all interaction of free
natures. The Scripture doctrine is that God does act on man, without
destroying his freedom. God is not a latent energy. He assures us that He is
a real Power, working in some “mightily to will and to do” (Philippians 2:13),
and striving with others. The highest government is only possible on this
supposition. The possibility of what are called special providences resolves
itself into the free action of a supreme Spirit or, created spirits, so as to
secure their free and independent action, and at the same time cause that
action to converge on given points. We even can do that in some degree with
children and feebler natures. Why do men wish to banish the eternal energy
from all participation in human affairs? Do not these events with their issue
stand out as a microcosm of the great converging lines which in the far
distant future are to issue in one glorious resultant — the realization of a
holy will through the free and independent action of created wills?
RESULT. The Divine action is silent, unobserved, often unknown while in
process. Samuel saw it as a reality when Saul stood before him. The story
of the asses and of the search then had another meaning. Men see not one
half of the realities of life. The true, real world is THE UNSEEN! The great
transactions are wrought in the inner man. We are often led by a hand we
do not see, and drawn on by a sweet influence we cannot define. Only the
more spiritual, saintly souls discern God. But as Samuel saw what God had
been doing, so we at last come to see what God hath wrought. That will be
a wondrous recognition of the all-working Spirit when a vast redeemed
race shall, in review of life’s checkered course, sing the new song, and
exclaim with deep significance, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but
unto thy name give glory.” (Psalm 115:1) (It will be when “That in the
dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one
all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;
even in Him:” – Ephesians 1:10 – CY – 2016)
POWER. The compassion of God for His wayward people (v. 16) was
the spring of the particular direction he gave on this day to the course of
Saul and Samuel. Every small series of events affecting individuals and
families is, so far as relates to the action of God in them, governed by some
Divine reason. Though trouble be brought on, the reason is still one of
mercy. The retributions of Providence are in mercy to the universe He
governs. (For an insight to the expanse which God created and rules, see
Fantastic Trip – You Tube – CY – 2016) And it may certainly be said of
the sum total of events, that when the great result shall be attained, it will
be known then, if not before, that all was the expression of a compassion
which sought to save the erring world from its own miseries.
Ø The perfect government of God is secured by His mastery of every detail
in the action and willing of His creatures.
Ø There is consolation for His people in the fact that He directeth the spirit
of man, and can subdue all things to Himself.
Ø It is blessed to go forth daily with the assurance that God works with us,
in us, and for us, and will therefore perfect that which concerneth us.
“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy O Lord,
endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”
The Man, Yet Not the Man (v. 17)
Instances may easily be adduced in which the writers of the
Old Testament ascribed to the Lord directly what was only indirectly
recognized or permitted by Him; but in the present case there is obviously
more than Divine allowance. Jehovah pointed out Saul to the prophet
Samuel, and commanded that he should be anointed captain, or king. We
account for this on that principle of Divine government which allows to
men that which they most wish for, in order that they may learn wisdom
from the result. The people of
as He might see fit to choose and appoint. They had asked the prophet for a
warlike chief like the kings of the nations and tribes around them, and the
Lord saw meet to let them have what they desired; the young giant Saul
was just the style of man they sought, cast in the very mold they admired,
and one that would teach them some painful lessons through experience.
Therefore, though the Lord foresaw the disappointing career of Saul, He
authorized Samuel to anoint him privately, and afterwards sanctioned his
public selection and elevation to the royal dignity. Here was a leader to suit
the fancy of the people — strong, impetuous, valiant. Let them have Saul
for their king. Such is the way of the Lord to this day, and in individual as
well as national life. He admonishes and corrects us by letting us have our
own way and be filled with our own devices. We are apt to complain in our
disappointment at the result, that God Himself sanctioned our course. No.
We did not ask Him to show us His way, that we might do His will; but took
our own way, did our own pleasure; and He allowed, nay, facilitated our
desire. Let the issue teach us to be more wary and more humble in time to
come. (I highly recommend Proverbs ch 14 v 14 - Spurgeon Sermon –
How a Man’s Conduct Comes Home to Him – # 1246 - this website –
CY – 2016)
Ø The manner of his entrance on the page of history. How different from
the first mention of David, faithfully keeping the sheep before he was
anointed to be
the royal shepherd of
prophet Samuel with no higher thought in his mind than to learn, if
possible, where those asses were! He did not even know Samuel by sight,
though he lived but at a short distance. He seems to have been an
unreflecting rustic youth, with none of those premonitions of greatness
which come early to the wise, and tend to give them seriousness of purpose
and elevation of aim.
Ø Indications of a fitful mind. We read nothing of Saul’s bearing before
Samuel when informed of the destiny before him. Probably he was stunned
with surprise. But so soon as he left the prophet new currents of thought
and feeling began to flow through his heart. A mood of mind fell on him
more grave and earnest than had appeared in him before. The Old
Testament way of saying it is, that “God gave him another heart;” for the
change which passes on a man under the consciousness of a high vocation
suddenly received is none the less of God than it is evidently born of the
occasion, he sees things in a new light, feels new responsibilities; new
springs of feeling and new capacities of speech and action reveal
themselves in him. But Saul took every influence by fits and starts. He
quickly gained, and as quickly lost. There was in him no steady growth of
conviction or principle. When he fell in with men of religious fervor he
was fervent too When he met the prophets chanting Jehovah’s praise he
caught their rapture, and, joining their procession, lifted up his voice also in
the sacred song. But it was a mere fit of piety. Of course Saul had been
educated in the religion of his fathers, and in that sense knew the God of
among the prophets, that he had never shown any zeal for the glory and
worship of Jehovah; and the sudden ecstasy at Gibeah, having no
foundation of spiritual principle, came to naught. Alas! men may sing
spiritual songs with emotion who have no enduring spiritual life. Men may
catch the infection of religious enthusiasm, yet have no moral health or
soundness. Men’s faces may glow with a fine ardor, and yet soon after be
darkened by wicked passion. Pulses of high feeling and moods of noble
desire may visit minds that yet are never moved by Divine grace, and
therefore are liable to be mastered, after all, by evil temper and base envy.
Occasional impulses are not sufficient. “Ye must be born again.”
18 “Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I
pray thee, where the seer’s house is.” In the gate. The same preposition is
used here as that translated “into the city” in v. 14. The contradiction which many
commentators suppose that they find between the two verses arises from
their not remembering that prepositions constantly lose their original
meaning. Literally the preposition means in the middle, but its common
meaning is simply within. So with us immediately has lost all reference to
the middle, though derived from that word, and signifies directly, at once.
Saul, then, and his servant were just going (it is a present participle) within
the city when they meet Samuel coming out, and accost him in the very portal.
19 “And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before
me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to day, and to
morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.
20 And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy
mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of
Go up before me. Addressed in the singular to Saul, to
whom, as the future king, Samuel pays every mark of honor. The next
words, Ye shall eat, include Saul’s servant. I will tell thee all, etc.
Intended not merely to set Saul’s mind at rest, but also to prepare him for
the great news he was to hear. So, too, the information that the asses were
found, given to him before he had even hinted at the object of his visit,
would convince him of the reality of Samuel’s prophetic powers. On
whom is all the
words were intended to indicate to Saul, though in an obscure manner, that
the supreme power in
They might be beautiful, and a valuable property for a husbandman; but he
was about to become a king, to whom would belong everything that was
best and most precious.
21 “And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest
of the tribes of
the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?”
Wherefore then speakest thou so to me? Though Samuel’s
words contained the promise of supreme power, — for to whom less than
a king could all that was desirable in
regarded them as a high-flown compliment, such as Orientals love to use,
and gave a modest and proper answer. Benjamin, already the smallest tribe,
had been so crushed that its power must have been very small, and Saul’s
house, though opulent, was not a leading one; how then could one of its
members expect so high a dignity? For families of the tribe of Benjamin
the Hebrew has “tribes,” probably owing to some confusion with the words
22 “And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the
parlor, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that
were bidden, which were about thirty persons.
23 And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave
thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.”
Into the parlor. Strictly the cell or room attached to the
chapel of the high place, now used as the guest chamber, wherein the thirty
chief men, who came as invited guests, were to dine. The rest of the people
would be in the open air. There Samuel not only placed Saul in the seat of
honor, but also his servant, as representing the king’s officers of state,
and commanded the cook to set before him a portion that had been
reserved. This was the shoulder; but whether it was the left shoulder, of
which the laity might eat, or the right shoulder, which was sacred, as
belonging to the priest (Leviticus 7:32), is not mentioned. If the latter,
it was Samuel s own share, and he may by his prophetic authority have
assigned it to Saul, in token that the priesthood would be subject to the
royal power. Be this, however, as it may, it was the portion of honor, and
it seems that Samuel, on receiving intimation the previous day of Saul’s
visit (v. 6), had given orders that it should be carefully reserved for him
(v. 24). He now orders it to be set before Saul, with that which was upon it,
i.e. all the flesh and the fat not appointed to be burnt upon the altar.
24 “And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it,
and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left!
set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for
thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with
Samuel that day.” And Samuel said. Samuel’s name is not given in the
Hebrew, and though inserted by the Septuagint and Vulgate, it is so only by a
manifest error. The Syriac and Chaldee, like the Hebrew, make the cook
the speaker. The right translation is, “And the cook lifted up the shoulder
with that which was upon it, and set it before Saul, and said, ‘Behold, that
which hath been reserved is set (a participle, and not the imperative) before
thee; eat, for it hath been kept for thee unto the appointed time of which he
(i.e. Samuel) spake, saying, I have invited the people. The word translated
in the Authorized Version since I said is one which means saying, and
nothing else; and as what goes before contains no verb to which saying can
refer, it is plain that there is an ellipse. But if the cook be the speaker, the
meaning is plain, as follows: — When on the previous day the revelation was made
to Samuel that
prophet at once made preparations to receive him with due solemnity, and
for this purpose arranged a sacrifice, and invited thirty of the chief citizens
of Ramah to assemble at the high place, and sit at the banquet with him.
And then it was, when telling the cook of his invitation, that he gave orders
that the portion of honor should be carefully reserved, to be set at the
fitting time before the stranger. The chat of the cook is entirely after the
manner of ancient times, and would show Saul how completely his coming
had been foreseen and provided for.
Shadows of Coming Events (18-24)
The facts are:
1. Saul, on accosting Samuel, is invited to stay with him, is assured of the
safety of the asses, and is caused to know that great honor is in store for him.
2. Saul, taken by surprise, desires to have further explanations of the language used.
3. Samuel entertains Saul with all the honors due to a distinguished guest.
The position of Samuel was one of relative advantage, for Saul was
ignorant of the Divine intent, while he knew the purpose of God. The
course taken by Samuel was as follows: — First he intimated to Saul that it
would be well to accept his proffered hospitality, as he had a
communication to make which would draw out his interest (v. 19). Then
he relieves his care about his father’s property, and awakens more curiosity
by the further intimation that the choice things of
him and his father’s house. To prevent hasty explanations, he next induces
him to take his place in an entertainment as chief guest; thus by a
significant act preparing him and the people for something more definite.
And with all the kindliness and courtesy due to distinction, he threw a
gleam of light on the strange proceeding by reminding him that though his
presence there seemed accidental, it was not quite so, as he was the person
for whom the dish of honor had been reserved (v. 24). Thus was the
nomination of Saul as the king shadowed forth. In all this the prophet acted
in his official capacity as representative of God. May we not see here how
God prepares us for disclosures of His will?
UP AND MADE CLEAR BY DEGREES. The prophet here was slightly
opening the veil before the eyes of Saul; he was qualifying his sight for
dazzling splendor. And that is just what all the prophets of God have done
and are doing for us. They intimate to us that there are great truths in
reserve, and so speak to us by the way as to indicate in dim outline what
some day will stand out in ETERNAL CLEARNESS! The figures, the types,
the allusions to the “unspeakable,” the reminders that we are but disciples,
children — all are foreshadowings of great realities on which the mind will
in future gaze. “We know in part.” It is true the Bible is all we need for
salvation, and contains more spiritual truth than elsewhere to be found; but
in one sense it is TO MEN A TREASURE and we are only fitted to receive
out of it a dim intimation of the truth, as Saul was fitted only to receive from
the mind of the prophet a portion of what was there for him. The process by
which God’s truth was given to the world — by allusion, dim prophecy,
type, historical examples foreshadowing the Christ, till at last the full
announcement came — is another illustration of the gentleness and wisdom
wherewith God has “spoken” to men.
ARE GRADUALLY REVEALED. Saul wondered what distinction was
awaiting him. He felt unworthy of such language as that used by the
prophet. His wonder was not satisfied at once. Men have been known to
die under the sudden declarations of bliss awaiting them. Equally so God
has in reserve for ALL WHO ARE ONE WITH CHRIST a crown, a glory,
an honor, which though we know by name, we know not in reality. “We know
not what we shall be.” (I John 3:2) There is a joy and glory unspeakable.
There are things which an apostle could not utter. Future realities are only
dimly shadowed forth by earthly words and symbols. A full vision of coming
honors might paralyze the strongest frame.
Ø The keenest sense of unworthiness is that experienced when God
confers on us the choice honors and treasures of His kingdom.
Ø The transition to the full glory of the future will be natural and easy
in so far as we avail ourselves of the shadowing forth of the reality
contained in God’s word.
25 “And when they were come down from the high place into the city,
Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.”
When the feast was over they went down from the high place,
and, having entered the city, proceeded to Samuel’s dwelling, where he
communed with Saul upon the top of the house. The Septuagint has a
very probable reading, namely, “And they spread a bed for Saul upon the
roof, and he lay down;” but the Syriac and Chaldee agree with the Hebrew.
Without communicating to Saul that he was to be king, which was not
revealed to him till the next day (<091001>1 Samuel 10:1), Samuel might be
anxious to impress on Saul’s mind the great principles of the theocratic
government, and also the nature of the remedies necessary
recovery from its present misery.
The King Desired by the People (vs. 1-25)
1. The choice of
the first king of
judge, as the highest authority under God in the nation; and it was
afterwards confirmed by lot, wherein the Divine will was openly expressed
(ch. 10:21). “The history of the world cannot produce another
instance in which a public determination was formed to appoint a king, and
yet no one proposed either himself or any other person to be king, but
referred the determination entirely to God” (Scott).
2. In making choice of Saul, Samuel believed that he would be acceptable
to the people, and fulfill the purpose for which they had desired a king, in
saving them out of the hand of the Philistines (ch. 9:17) and the
children of Ammon (ch. 12:12); and he appears to have expected
that he would be faithful to the principle of the theocracy, and rule in
obedience to the Divine will. He did all that lay in his power that this
expectation might be realized; he entertained a strong affection for Saul;
and it was only when the latter proved utterly unfaithful to his trust that he
reluctantly and sorrowfully abandoned him to his fate.
3. His choice was directed by a higher wisdom than his own, which saw
the end from the beginning. Whilst the Divine King of Israel sanctioned
what was good in their desire, he fulfilled it in such a manner as to
convince them of what was evil in it, and to accomplish far reaching
purposes which the prophet himself did not foresee.
“The ken your world is gifted with descends
In the everlasting justice as low down
As eye doth in the sea, which though it mark
The bottom from the shore, in the wide main
Discerns it not; and, nevertheless, it is,
But hidden by its deepness”
“Saul is not selected by them, but given to them; whom they adopt and
embrace they know not why; and who, whether or not he is able to guide
and govern them, proves to be a faithful representative of their own state
of mind, a very type and embodiment of that character and those habits of
mind which they themselves are exhibiting” (Maurice). “The theocratic
principle was more fully developed in the reaction than could have
happened had the king been truly pious, so that we may say that Saul was
chosen by God, because in His omniscience He foresaw that he would not
turn to Him with his whole heart. Saul and David are in necessary
connection. On the threshhold of royalty God first shows in Saul what the
are types or representatives. The events which befell them are actual
prophecies, which first of all passed into fulfillment in the history of the
Israelitish monarchy, and then through the whole history of the world.”
(Hengstenberg). The following chapters record, the development of the
successive stages of the Divine method according to which the popular
desire was gratified and corrected. The man destined for king was:
Ø His family relationship. He
was the son of
(ch. 10:21), of the tribe of Benjamin; his cousin (or perhaps uncle
I Chronicles 8:33) being Abner, afterwards “the captain of his host”
(ch. 14:51); his name — Saul = asked — being “an omen of his
would gain for his son general respect; he appears to have been an
affectionate father (v. 5; ch. 10:2); and he resided at Gibeah
(ch. 10:26), “a hill,” formerly a place of notorious profligacy
(Judges 19.), and subsequently the seat of Saul’s government, but was
buried at Zelah (II Samuel 21:14). Of him nothing more is known.
the smallest of the tribes of
warlike of them (Genesis 49:27). The selection of a king from it,
therefore, would not be likely to excite the jealousy of the other tribes,
whilst he would doubtless prove an able leader of their armies. There was
in Saul “the strange union of fierceness and of gentleness which run, as
hereditary qualities do often run, through the whole history of that frontier
Ø His personal appearance. He was in the prime of manhood, and of lofty
stature and great warlike beauty (v. 2; ch. 10:23-24). “Great
stress is laid upon this, because his distinguished stature, with the
impression of bodily prowess which it conveyed, helped much to
recommend him to the choice of the people. When, after a long peace,
there was no man of distinguished renown among them, and when in battle
much less depended upon the military skill than upon the bodily prowess of
the chief in single combats, or in the partial actions with which most battles
commenced, it was natural enough that the people should take pride in the
gigantic proportions of their leader, as calculated to strike terror into the
enemy and to inspire confidence in his followers; besides that, it was no
mean advantage that the crest of the leader should, from his tallness, be
seen from afar by the people” (Kitto).
Ø His mental and moral characteristics. He was possessed of little mental
culture. He had not been instructed in the schools of the prophets (ch. 10:11).
His life had been spent in retired, rustic occupation, in which he was so
absorbed that he was less acquainted with the political and religious
movements of his time than his own servant (v. 6). He was
obedient to his father (v. 4), tenderly concerned about his feelings (v. 5),
persevering in labor and ready to take advice even from one beneath
him (v. 10). He exhibited a courteous, modest, and humble bearing (v. 21;
ch. 10:21). He was, in his earlier career, capable of prudent reserve
(ch. 10:16, 27); patriotic, zealous, fearless, energetic (ch. 11:6), resolute,
and magnanimous (ch. 11:13); and he had a strong sense of the value of
religion and religious institutions. But underneath these qualities there lay
others of a different nature, which his subsequent course revealed, viz.,
o rash and fiery impulses,
o the love of display, pride and self-will, and
o morbid tendencies to distrust and jealousy;
and instead of overcoming them by the aid of Divine grace, he yielded to
them, until they gained the entire mastery over him, choked the good
seed which was sown in his heart (Matthew 13:22), and caused his ruin.
God sees the latent as well as the manifest dispositions of men, and adapts
His dealings toward them accordingly.
furnish a practical commentary on what was said by Hannah concerning the
Gibeah, at the direction of his father, in search of the lost asses, traveling
through the hill country of
of the “seer” (roeh), Saul acted freely, and according to his best judgment;
but his three days’ journey and all connected with it — his lack of success,
his desire to return, his servant’s advice, his destitution of food, his
servant’s possession of a coin for a present, his meeting with “young
maidens going out to draw water,” his presence in the city at a certain time
— were ordered by God to the attainment of an end of which Saul had no
conception. “All these incidents and wanderings were only preparations
and mediate causes by which God accomplished his design concerning
Saul.” God’s providence:
Ø Often makes insignificant events productive of important results. It is
truly astonishing how the very greatest things depend upon events which
are generally regarded at the time of their occurrence as of little account.
Of this the lives of individuals and the history of nations afford innumerable
illustrations. “What is it that we dare call insignificant? The least of all
things may be as a seed cast into the seed field of time, to grow there and
bear fruits, which shall be multiplying when time shall be no more. We
cannot always trace the connections of things; we do not ponder those we
can trace, or we should tremble to call anything beneath the notice of God.
It has been eloquently said that where we see a trifle hovering unconnected
in space, higher spirits can discern its fibers stretching through the whole
expanse of the system of the world, and hanging on the remotest limits of
the future and the past” (Kitto, ‘Cyc. of Bib. Lit.,’ first ed., Art.
Ø Makes accidental circumstances subservient to a prearranged plan.
“The thread of every life is entangled with other threads beyond all reach of
calculation. Those unforeseen accidents which so often control the lot of
men constitute a superstratum in the system of human affairs, wherein,
peculiarly, the Divine providence holds empire for the accomplishment of
its special purposes. It is from this hidden and inexhaustible mine of
chances — chances, as we must call them — that the Governor of the
world draws, with unfathomable skill, the materials of His dispensations
towards each individual of mankind” (Isaac Taylor, ‘Nat. Hist. of
Ø Overrules human plans, in harmony with human freedom, for the
fulfillment of Divine purposes (Proverbs 16:9, 33; Jeremiah 10:23).
Ø Was primarily and directly given to one who lived in closest fellowship
with God. Samuel was like the lofty mountain peak, which catches the rays
of the morning sun long ere they reach the valleys below. On the day
before Saul came to the city (of Ramah), the prophet, ever watching and
listening for the indications of the Divine will concerning the future king,
was fully instructed therein by “the word of the Lord” (ch. 3:21),
o a promise of sending him (v. 16),
o a direction to anoint him,
o a statement of the purpose of his appointment, and
o an expression of commiseration for the need of the people.
Nothwithstanding they had rejected God, He had not rejected them, but
still calls them “my people,” and in wrath remembers mercy. (Habakkuk
3:2) The long suffering of God toward transgressors should teach His servants
forbearance, and incite them to renewed efforts for their welfare. It appears
to have been after Samuel had received the Divine message that he invited
the people (perhaps the elders who had formerly waited upon him) to a
sacrificial feast, and arranged for the worthy entertainment of his chief
guest (v. 24). The displeasure which he previously felt at their request
(ch. 8:6) has now given place to disinterested and earnest desire
for its fulfillment.
Ø Harmonized with, and was confirmed by, the operations of
Samuel is expecting the fulfillment of the promise given to him, and already
is on the way from his own house in the city to offer sacrifice on the height
(the loftier of the two hills on which Ramah was situated), when he sees
the towering form of Saul, a stranger to the place, who has come up into
the midst of the city according to the direction of the maidens at the foot of
the hill, and the inner voice with which he is so familiar says to him,
“Behold the man,” etc. (v. 17). There is nothing in the simple dress of the
prophet to indicate his dignity; and as he passes onward Saul “draws near
to him in the gate,” and in reply to his inquiry concerning the seer’s
residence, receives the answer, “I am the seer.” Seldom has the meeting of
two persons shown more clearly the cooperation of the revealed word with
the guiding providence of God or the unity of the purpose by which both
are pervaded, or been followed by more momentous results.
Ø And its communication required a gradual preparation on the part of
him to whom it chiefly pertained, in order that it might be received aright.
This Samuel sought to effect:
o By awakening in Saul new and elevated thoughts and hopes (vs. 19-
20); directing him to go up before him, as a mark of respect, inviting
him to be his guest, telling him that he would “reveal to him his
innermost thoughts,” setting his mind at rest from lower cares, and
assuring him of the highest dignity. “For whom is every desirable
o By giving him honor in the presence of others (vs. 22-24);
appointing to him the chief place among his thirty guests,
appropriating to him the best portion of the meal, and intimating
that the honor had been reserved for him in foreknowledge of his
o By holding confidential and prolonged conversation with him (v. 25),
pertaining “not to the royal dignity, but surely to the deep religious
and political decline of the people of God, the opposition of the
heathen, the causes of the impotency to oppose these enemies,
the necessity of a religious change in the people, and of a leader
thoroughly obedient to the Lord (O. von Gerlach). In this manner
Saul was prepared for the more definite indication given on the
following morning. A gradual preparation of a somewhat similar
kind is often needed by men when about to receive a
26 “And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the
day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up,
that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both
of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
27 And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to
Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on), but
stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.”
It came to pass about the spring of the day. This is not a separate act from
they arose early; for the Authorized Version is wrong in translating
the next clause, “Samuel called Saul to the top of the house.” Saul had
slept there, and, wearied out with his long wanderings and the excitement
of the previous day, was fast asleep when Samuel came to him. The
Hebrew is, “And they rose early; for at the spring of the day Samuel called
to Saul upon the house top, saying,” etc. And no sooner had Saul risen
than they started upon his journey home, and as soon as they had left the
city, at some fitting spot, Samuel bade the servant go forward, and as soon
as he and Saul were alone he spake unto him the word of God. And by
that Divine word he who had left his father’s house in search of lost asses
was summoned to a post which, if one of the greatest dignity, was full also
of danger, and burdened with solemn responsibility. And while on the
human side Saul proved not unworthy of a royal crown, in his relation
towards God HE FAILED because he let self-will and earthly policy
prevail in his heart over obedience and TRUST IN GOD!
Interest in Public Affairs (vs. 25-27)
The facts are:
1. After the public intimation of Saul s coming distinction Samuel
converses with him in private.
2. On sending him away on the next day Samuel will have no one present
at the moment of parting.
Saul is passive. Samuel is still the most important. As yet all had been public. Enough
had been said to call up from Saul’s heart feelings and aspirations which in his quiet
life had lain dormant (v. 19). He now felt that God had something for him to do in
fit, therefore, to commence privately on topics connected with the condition
and prospects of
this purpose was thus in keeping with Samuel’s wise procedure, and a
good illustration of his deep interest in the public welfare. The most
probable explanation of the conduct of Samuel certainly is, that his concern
for the welfare of the nation and of the coming king irresistibly prompted
him to converse on the wants of the age, and the responsibilities of Saul’s
new position as a chosen servant.
WITH HIS CHARACTER AND PROFESSION, TO TAKE A DEEP
INTEREST IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS. Samuel’s interest in affairs was, it is
true, official, as head of the state, but the official acts had their root in a
deep personal longing for the
the feeling which every true descendant of Abraham was supposed to
entertain. The best days of
of their country, its institutions, its rulers, its laws, and the order and purity
of its administration.
Ø The state claims our interest.
o The law of benevolence supports this claim. Every man in the state is
our neighbor; his comfort and peace and safety depend on the
administration of affairs; we can only reach the individuals by doing
our part to render affairs useful to all.
o The principles of religion are applicable to state affairs. Faith in
Christ and repentance toward God are not the whole of practical
religion, though they are the spring and support of many other feelings
and principles. Righteousness, purity, supreme regard for the Unseen,
kindliness and generosity, unselfishness and truth, can find expression
in laws, in commercial arrangements, and in foreign and domestic policy.
Loyalty to these religious principles requires that we see that they are
recognized everywhere. (Contrast this with the gutting of religion
from the public face of the
half century by blinded, unwise, ne’er do wells – they know not
what they do - CY – 2016)
o The adaptation of Christianity to the entire life of man is one of the
most commanding evidences of its DIVINE CHARACTER! It
professes to make all things new. It forms the true, perfect manhood.
A religion which is seen practically to enter into every sphere of
human activity, as the conserving “salt,” carries with it the proof
that it comes from the Creator of man and of society. (I put out
salt for deer in the woods beside my yard. I hadn’t put any
out this year and the other day I noticed the holes they were
digging. The salt had penetrated far down into the ground.
That is how our faith is to penetrate society. And to think,
society seems to resent
God acknowledges that society is really against Him. Also, see
the principles of Jesus’ words in John 15:18-21. CY – 2016)
He, then, who loves his Christianity, and would advance its
conquests, must show by his interest in the State that it is “profitable
unto all things” (I Timothy 4:8) even to public affairs.
o The great calamities brought on communities have resulted from the
predominance in state affairs of irreligious principles. When “rulers
when the holy and conscientious leave their country’s business to
persons with whom they would not leave their own private affairs,
DISASTER HAS COME, and will ever come. There can be nothing
in such a line of conduct at variance with Christian character or
profession. The enforcement of righteousness all over the world must
be right. To love Christ supremely, and to labor that souls may be
converted to Him, is no more inconsistent with promoting righteousness
in state affairs, and watching its progress there with keen interest, than
with seeing that our private business is honestly transacted.
AFFAIRS MAY FIND DISTINCT EXPRESSION. The emergency which
developed Samuel’s deep interest did not create it. There is a fountain of
strong feeling and righteous thought in a truly good man’s nature. Crises in
a people’s history bring out the latent feeling, and shape it into word or
deed. There should not be a day on which a Christian does not bear all the
interests of his country on his heart, and give them some direct or indirect
support. But in the changes of human affairs, and in the incessant struggle
between the good and evil forces of society, there arise now and then
opportunities for every righteous man to do his best towards securing a
righteousness in the State.
DEPEND ON POSITION AND OPPORTUNITIES. Samuel showed his
interest by discussing with Saul the general question of the people’s
welfare, and by fitting his mind for coming responsibilities. Every Christian
can express his interest intelligently, faithfully, kindly, and prayerfully by
seizing the opportunities appropriate to his situation in life. But prayer for
kings and rulers, personal observance of the course of events, acquaintance
with the real needs of the country, encouragement of a sound, righteous,
political literature, support to men of tested character, exercise of powers
conferred by law, infusion into controversies of a generous, truth-loving
spirit (“speaking the truth in love” – Ephesians 4:15) — these are means
within reach of most, and cannot but issue in blessing to all. The interest
thus due to public state affairs is also due by the Christian to the general
affairs of the
welfare of the body of Christ, and do all he can to heal its wounds,
cleanse its spirit, and insure its highest happiness and prosperity. Do men
sufficiently identify their personal religious interests with those of the one
Church? Is the oneness of the body of Christ properly appreciated? Do our
prayers and tears flow
forth as they ought for the
Ø The question of how much of national trouble, sorrow, and poverty is
connected with neglect on the part of the morally powerful sections of
Ø How far Christian men are really making love of righteousness and truth
and peace superior to social customs and party ties.
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