I Samuel 9

 

    SELECTION OF SAUL AS KING BY THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.

                              GENEALOGY OF SAUL (vs. 1-27).

 

1 “Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son

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 Kish.

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:

 

1. Benjamin;

2. Becher;

3. Aphish, perhaps same as Abiah;

4. Bechorath;

5. Zeror, or Zur;

6. Abiel;

7. Ner;

8. Kish;

9. Saul.

 

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 Gibeon,

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 Jerusalem (I Chronicles 8:32), and as Ner, the father

of Kish, is mentioned in the second list, it is pretty certain that we are not to

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 Jerusalem, afterwards known as Gibeah of Saul.

 

2“And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and

a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier

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 Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to

Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go

seek the asses.”  The asses of Kish...were lost. So strangely is the trivial ever

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 passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the

land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed

through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed

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).

The land of Shalisha. I.e. Three-land, and probably, therefore, the region

round Baal-shalisha. It takes its name from the three valleys which there

converge in the great Wady Kurawa, The land of Shalim. I.e. of jackals;

probably the same as the land of Shual, also = jackal-land (ch. 13:17). The

very name shows that it was a wild, uninhabited region. The derivation

hollow-land is untenable.

 

5 “And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his

servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father

leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.”  The land of Zuph.

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 Kish and his family lived.

 

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

in the land of Zuph, whence too it took its longer name (see on ch.1:1); and it is

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

Israel’s chief ruler, and that his servant was acquainted with him only in his

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.

 

9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he

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 Kish, a wealthy Benjamite, and remarkable for stature

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

those parts.

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 Israel’s heart might lead to much mischief. The chief

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 Israel’s prosperity. The narrative relates to us a series of

Divinely governed events, apparently trivial, which prevented that calamity

and insured the national safety.

 

  • GOD’S REGULATION OF IMPERFECT DESIRES AND

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 Israel’s true work in the world. The saving feature

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 Constantine would have been more calamitous for religion had

not the Head of the Church governed rising tendencies and provided

moderating influences.

 

  • GOD’S CARE IN MEETING MAN’S WEAKNESS. Not any man

would suit Israel as king at that time. There were conditions in the state of

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 Providence, the

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. Israel little knew, while those asses were wandering from

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 when Israel was in spirit rejecting Him He

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.

 

  • GOD’S LEADING BY UNKNOWN WAYS. While restraining and

regulating Israel’s tendencies, an unseen hand is leading the son of Kish by

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 Ur of the Chaldees. Joseph’s

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.

 

  • GENERAL LESSONS:

 

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:

 

  • THE OBJECT OF HIS PERPLEXITY. It is a common thing for a

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

His place of rest, and Providence his guide.”

 

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

LOST!”

 

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).

 

  • THE METHOD OF HIS PROCEDURE. The course which it behooves

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

2:4-5).

 

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.

10-11).

 

“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.

 

  • THE SUCCESS OF HIS ENDEAVOUR.

 

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

the Prophet of Nazareth, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6)

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?”

(Tennyson).

 

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.”

                        (Revelation 2:10)

 

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:

 

  • WE AWAIT HIS PRESENCE. “The people will not eat until he come”

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).

 

  • WE DESIRE HIS BLESSING. “He doth bless the sacrifice,” and in

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”

(Hebrews 2:12).

 

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

cross!”

 

  • WE PARTAKE OF HIS PROVISION. “And afterwards they eat that

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        forgiveness,

o        peace, and

o        righteousness.

 

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

Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I

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 Israel, and one whose

country was the seat of perpetual combat with the Philistines. Their cry is

come unto me. Plainly, therefore, Israel was again suffering from Philistine

domination.

 

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 Israel. The affirmation, therefore, came in answer to the

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.

 

  • WE SEE HERE THE FREE ACTION OF MANY INDEPENDENT

WILLS. In so far as asses exercise will, those were free in straying from

home on that day. The action of Kish in selecting Saul rather than any one

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

of action.

 

  • THE FREE ACTION OF MANY IS ATTENDED BY THE

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?

 

  • THE RECOGNITION OF GOD’S ACTION COMES OUT IN THE

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)

 

  • THE DIVINE REASON FOR THE EXERCISE OF THIS SILENT

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.

 

  • GENERAL LESSONS:

 

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.” 

(Psalm 138:8)

 

 

 

The Man, Yet Not the Man (v. 17)

 

  • THE SANCTION GIVEN BY THE LORD TO SAUL’S ELEVATION.

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 Israel had not asked the Lord for such a king

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)

 

  • EARLY PROGNOSTICS OF SAUL’S FAILURE.

 

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 Israel, is the first appearance of the

son of Kish in search of his father’s stray asses, and visiting the venerable

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

Israel; but it seems evident, from the surprise occasioned by his appearance

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.”

(John 3:7)

 

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

Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father’s house?”

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 desire of Israel? Rather, “To whom belongs all that is

desirable in Israel? Is it not for thee, and for thy father’s house?” The

words were intended to indicate to Saul, though in an obscure manner, that

the supreme power in Israel would be his. Why trouble about she-asses?

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 Israel? and my family the least of all the families 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 Israel belong? — yet Saul probably

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

“tribes of Israeljust before.

 

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 Israel’s future king would present himself on the morrow, the

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 Israel were in reserve for

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?

 

  • THE FULL TRUTH GOD WOULD HAVE US KNOW IS BROKEN

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.

 

  • THE FULL HONORS GOD HAS IN RESERVE FOR HIS PEOPLE

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.

 

  • GENERAL LESSONS:

 

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 for Israel’s

recovery from its present misery.

 

 

The King Desired by the People (vs. 1-25)

 

1. The choice of the first king of Israel was made by Samuel, prophet and

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”

(Dante, ‘Purg.’).

 

“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

king of Israel is without Him; then in David what the king is with him. Both

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:

 

  • FITTED BY PECULIAR QUALIFICATIONS (vs. 1-2). Notice:

 

Ø      His family relationship. He was the son of Kish, of the family of Matri

(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

history.” Kish was a man of wealth and good social position, a fact which

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.

Benjamin was the smallest of the tribes of Israel (v. 21), but the most

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

clan” (Stanley).

 

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        waywardness,

o        rash and fiery impulses,

o        impatience,

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.

 

  • GUIDED BY SPECIAL PROVIDENCE (vs. 3-14). These verses

furnish a practical commentary on what was said by Hannah concerning the

operations of Providence (ch. 2:7, 8). In leaving his home in

Gibeah, at the direction of his father, in search of the lost asses, traveling

through the hill country of Ephraim, the land of Shalisha, of Shalim, and of

the Benjamites, to the land of Zuph (ch. 1:1), and going in search

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.

Providence;’ Knapp’s ‘Theology’).

 

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

Enthusiasm’).

 

Ø      Overrules human plans, in harmony with human freedom, for the

fulfillment of Divine purposes (Proverbs 16:9, 33; Jeremiah 10:23).

 

  • INDICATED BY DIVINE REVELATION (vs. 15-25). Such

revelation:

 

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),

which contained:

 

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 Providence.

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

thing in Israel?” (v. 20).

 

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

arrival.

 

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

Divine commission.

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

Israel, and his heart revealed sentiments answering to the shadowed honor. It was

fit, therefore, to commence privately on topics connected with the condition

and prospects of Israel. The invitation to the privacy of the house-top for

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.

 

  • IT IS THE DUTY OF A RELIGIOUS MAN, AND IN KEEPING

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 prosperity of Israel. “Pray for the peace of

Jerusalem ....They shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6), was

the feeling which every true descendant of Abraham was supposed to

entertain. The best days of Israel’s history show that the pious were proud

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 United States of America over the last

half century by blinded, unwise, ne’er do wellsthey 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 it.  Ch. 8:7 comes into play here as

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

of Sodom,” men of godless lives, are left to have charge of affairs,

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.

 

  • EMERGENCIES WILL ARISE WHEN INTEREST IN PUBLIC

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.

 

  • THE MANNER IN WHICH INTEREST IS SHOWN WILL

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 Church of God. Every one should bear on his heart 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 kingdom of God?

 

  • General Considerations:

 

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

society.

 

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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