Scriptures

1 Samuel 9

Introduction

‘There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, ‘Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.’ So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them. When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, ‘Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.’ 1 Samuel 9:1-5

Samuel Anoints Saul

The tribe of Benjamin from which Saul came from were very strong on leadership and very influential among the twelve tribes. Saul is described as being ‘a man of standing’, which means he was prestigious among the tribe. The main problem with Saul, as we shall see later is that he was more concerned about pleasing men and getting approval from men, rather than God.

Saul wasn’t a teenager, but a ‘handsome young man’ which basically means he was in the prime of his life, and good looking. He appears to have made an impression of others around him. here he meets Samuel because he was looking for some of his father’s sheep.

‘But the servant replied, ‘Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.’ Saul said to his servant, ‘If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?’ The servant answered him again. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.’ (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, ‘Come, let us go to the seer,’ because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.) ‘Good,’ Saul said to his servant. ‘Come, let’s go.’ So they set out for the town where the man of God was.’ 1 Samuel 9:6-10

The ‘man of God’ was Samuel and it was Samuel that Saul hoped would tell him where his father’s missing sheep were. As was the custom of the day, anyone seeking advice from a man of God had to bring a gift in return for any answers, Galatians 6:6.

We must note that Israel didn’t have coins of any currency at this point in time, that didn’t happen until the Romans came along. Buying and selling was done using weights of gold or silver and in some cases, it would be livestock which was used for their currency. The silver mentioned here weighed around 2.5 grams, or one-tenth of an ounce, of pure silver.

A seer was basically someone who made prophetic announcements, while a prophet spoke the Word of God to the people. Sometimes they spoke about what was happening there and then and other times they spoke about future events.

‘As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, ‘Is the seer here?’ ‘He is,’ they answered. ‘He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.’ They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.’ 1 Samuel 9:11-14

As Saul and his servant were going up the hill, they met some young women who were going to get water, to supply their household needs, this was customary in Bible times, Genesis 24:15 / John 4:7. The ‘high place’ was the place where the worship of idols usually occurred.

Notice that the people won’t eat until the ‘seer’ had blessed the sacrifice first, to bless the sacrifice is another way of saying giving thanks for the sacrifice, Luke 9:16 / John 6:11.

It was the ‘high place’ of worship where the people would eat, Exodus 29:13 / Exodus 29:22 / Leviticus 3:4 / Leviticus 3:10 / Leviticus 3:15. It was the Israelite’s custom to eat together when they worshipped together, this custom is seen in the New Testament too, 1 Corinthians 11:13-34 / 2 Peter 2:13 / Jude 12.

‘Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: ‘About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.’ When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, ‘This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.’ Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, ‘Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?’ ‘I am the seer,’ Samuel replied. ‘Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning, I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?’ Saul answered, ‘But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?’ 1 Samuel 9:15-21

God revealed to Samuel the man he was to anoint and make ‘ruler’, the word, ‘ruler’ is sometimes translated as ‘captain’ or ‘prince’ which has the same meaning as the word ‘king’. The word ‘govern’ is sometimes translated ‘reign’; this again assumes that Saul would be anointed as a king.

The desire of Israel was to have a physical king rule over them, as the nations around them did, 1 Samuel 8:6-9, and it appears that Saul didn’t have a clue what Samuel was speaking about. Saul really shows his lack of confidence by telling Samuel that he was from the least of the tribes of Israel and Benjamin were fairly insignificant compared to the other tribes.

At this point we can see Saul’s humility, but as we shall see later, this humility wasn’t going to last very long. We must note that Saul now fully understands what Samuel is saying to him concerning him becoming king of Israel, Judges 6:15.

‘Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and seated them at the head of those who were invited—about thirty in number. Samuel said to the cook, ‘Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.’ So the cook took up the thigh with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, ‘Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’ And Saul dined with Samuel that day.’ 1 Samuel 9:22-24

Saul was given the place of honour at the dinner table, and the ‘piece of meat’, which Samuel gave him was the shoulder of the animal. This is significant because this part of the animal was reserved for the priests, and so, Samuel was truly exalting Saul because Saul was chosen by God to be the first king of Israel and lead His people.

‘After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. They rose about daybreak, and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, ‘Get ready, and I will send you on your way.’ When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, ‘Tell the servant to go on ahead of us’—and the servant did so—‘but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.’ 1 Samuel 9:25-27

Samuel and Saul spoke on the roof of Samuel’s house, this was common in the day. I’m pretty sure Samuel would have spoken to him about his spiritual concerns for Israel as a nation, and it appears that Samuel wanted to establish a long-lasting relationship with Saul right from the start.

The anointing of Saul would take place on the next day, as we shall see in the next chapter.

Go To 1 Samuel 10

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Romans 10:9

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