1 Samuel Chapter 9: Saul Becomes King

Feb 1st, 2010 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Samuel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Samuel Chapter 9: Saul Becomes King

1 Sam. 9:1 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.

1 Sam. 9:2 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.

1 Sam. 9:3 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.

1 Sam. 9:4 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.

By seeking in various places for his father’s lost asses, Saul was providentially drawn to a location where he would come to Samuel’s attention. In going from place to place, Saul and his servant got farther and farther away from his father’s habitat.

Comment: Saul was literally the tallest man in Israel, and he was handsome. From a physical standpoint, he was exactly what the people hoped for in a king.

Reply: Both literally and figuratively, Saul was head and shoulders over all the others. He would be admired by the people of other nations as a fit representative of Israel.

Comment: It was as if God were rubbing in the lesson. Saul seemed so ideal, yet he turned out poorly.

Reply: Yes, Saul looked good outwardly from the beginning. All signs seemed favorable.

1 Sam. 9:5 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.

1 Sam. 9:6 And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can show us our way that we should go.

1 Sam. 9:7 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?

1 Sam. 9:8 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.

Step by step Saul and his servant were led to the very village where Samuel was staying. The suggestion came to the servant, probably by divine power, to go to Samuel, who had been a seer for many years. (A seer could forecast situations, almost like a mystic.) It was favorable that Saul felt they should compensate Samuel with a present, but he had nothing to give him. The servant offered to give his quarter of a shekel to the “man of God” as a token of their appreciation for telling them the way.

Q: Was it normal to pay a prophet of the Lord for his services? Why would a prophet charge for what God gave him?

A: With Samuel’s dedication, he would not be looking for a reward. However, for Saul and his servant to want to give him a token offering showed respect and gratitude.

Comment: Also, Saul and his servant may have felt that Samuel could use a little gift.

Comment: With the priesthood somewhat in disarray at this point, Samuel was acting as a priest. Therefore, in lieu of the normal tithing, it would seem right to give him something.

Comment: Saul was humble when first chosen.

Reply: Yes, he had the Lord’s approval in the beginning.

1 Sam. 9:9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire 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.)

1 Sam. 9:10 Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was.

1 Sam. 9:11 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?

1 Sam. 9:12 And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came today to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people today in the high place:

1 Sam. 9:13 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.

Q: Usually a “high place” had a bad connotation. Was an altar there for offering the sacrifice?

A: Yes. The Brazen Altar was at Shiloh when the Philistines captured the Ark, but whether the Brazen Altar had been moved to this location by this time we do not know. If the religious activity was now in other centers such as Beth-el and Gilgal, the Tabernacle was probably not being used, and some of the articles may have been moved and brought to this city. Samuel’s residence was at Ramah, and this city was one of the places he visited on his circuit.

Q: Why was a “high place” being used for the altar?

A: There were several reasons. According to the Law, an altar in the desert or on a level plain was in a raised situation, for when the priest walked up to the altar, he stood on a platform halfway up the altar and was above the people where he could be seen at a greater distance.

Had the priest been at ground level, the people would have had difficulty seeing him. In principle, this arrangement would not be necessary under other circumstances, for an altar in an elevated place was more prominently before the people. In the Wilderness of Sinai, the Tabernacle was in the center of the camp, but because the cities had hills and were not built in a mathematical way, the people properly put the altar on the highest peak to make it the center of attention. In the Third Temple of the future, the altar will be at the top of the mountain.

From a negative standpoint, if an unsanctified altar of idolatry was built on a high, prominent location, its influence would be that much more far-reaching.

At this time, Jerusalem was occupied by a warlike tribe called the Jebusites. Not until David’s day did the Israelites capture Jerusalem. For the Tabernacle, this period of history was a time of transition and flux. The structure had been in Shiloh for hundreds of years, but now the Ark of the Covenant was in one place and the articles of furniture were in another place. Thus David later saw the advisability of choosing Jerusalem as the site.

A “sacrifice of the people” was taking place. They had set aside this day, knowing that Samuel was coming. He went in succession to the four cities, with Ramah, the chief city of the four, being his home base. Probably the sacrifices were peace offerings, which the people supplied, giving part of the animal to Samuel, who was serving as high priest while the priesthood was in disarray, and eating the rest themselves.

Comment: The timing was perfect for Saul and his servant to arrive and find Samuel.

Reply: Yes, the maidens said in essence, “Hurry and you will catch him.” There were probably two different levels on this hill, for Samuel had to go up the hill to get into the city proper and then up another elevation to where the altar was situated. The maidens were saying, “Intercept Samuel before he goes up the second part of the ascent. Then maybe he will satisfy your need.”

1 Sam. 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.

1 Sam. 9:15 Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,

1 Sam. 9:16 Tomorrow 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.

1 Sam. 9:17 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.

1 Sam. 9:18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is.

Saul and his servant went up into the city. Meanwhile, God had apprised Samuel in advance about Saul’s coming, so the prophet was not caught by surprise. As in the example here with Samuel, the account indicates how the Lord communicated with His prophets in many cases; namely, they heard a voice in their ear. Thus Samuel actually heard God’s instruction by voice.

Depending on the circumstance, sometimes a vision accompanied the voice, or the voice came from the distance—from the sky or out of a cloud. In many instances, a voice in the inner ear was the “normal” mode of communication because the communication during the Period of the Kings was usually very specific, in contradistinction to the indirect communication with the Urim and the Thummim, which usually took place in the Most Holy. Moreover, in certain cases, God communicated not with the high priest but with a general such as David.

Q: Is there an antitype here in a general sense? Saul represents the nominal Church, and part of the reason the nominal Church developed is that Christians with the Nicolaitan spirit wanted to have an organization with a hierarchy and a clerical setup as they had seen in some of the pagan priesthoods. If those involved had wanted to know the mind of the Lord on the matter, they would have realized that the clerical spirit would lead to oppression and all kinds of problems.

A: Yes, the antitype is explained in several Reprint articles. The first three successive kings— Saul, David, and Solomon—each represented something different.

Saul, a Benjamite, was the son of Kish. Samuel was providentially instructed of the Lord that Saul was to be the first king of Israel. Although the people had made the request for a king, Saul was appointed by God. The Lord indicated to Samuel and to those who had requested a king that the answer would be favorable. But the Lord also said that once the people had a king and the king used oppressive power, they were not to expect a removal of the king just because they found the situation discomforting.

God had told Samuel about Saul the day before, so the prophet was on the lookout the next day to see who the individual was. By putting ourselves in Samuel’s place, we can appreciate how impressed he was with Saul’s tall and handsome appearance. Saul seemed to look the part of a king. God had said He would point out the man to Samuel. “When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said … [in his ear], Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.”

Samuel saw Saul at a distance, and Saul was unaware that he would be king. “Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and [not recognizing the prophet] said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is.” Samuel was right there in front of him!

1 Sam. 9:19 And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.

1 Sam. 9:20 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?

1 Sam. 9:21 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?

1 Sam. 9:22 And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons.

Imagine Saul’s surprise! He had spent three days looking for his father’s asses, and then the seer met him and as much as said, “I have been waiting for you. Aren’t you aware that something is going to happen to you and your father’s house?” Then Saul was told to go to the high place and was invited into Samuel’s parlor, or inner chamber, which was a symbol of favor. There he was made to sit in the chief seat among 30 dignitaries and given a meal.

Notice Saul’s humility: “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?” We are reminded of Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul after his conversion. Paul was bothered during his ministry, even many years later, for having given approval for the stoning of Stephen. Of course the offset was that Jesus appeared to Saul as a brilliant light on the road to Damascus, but his treatment of Stephen troubled him, nevertheless. On the one hand, Paul said that he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5). On the other hand, he said, “I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9). From the standpoint of worthiness, both Sauls felt insignificant. The language used is somewhat similar. Paul had done atrocious things, but he realized that the Lord had blessed him in spite of his feeling of unworthiness. Humility and meekness are interesting subjects. As one brother said, “Humility is not a rug on which others can wipe their feet.”

Comment: God had said the people were rejecting Him, not Samuel, yet in giving them Saul, God seemed to be giving the best that Israel had to offer.

Reply: Yes. Certain circumstances subsequently arose to give insight into Saul’s character, but everything seemed favorable at first. It wasn’t until Saul had been in office for some time that problems developed. Lessons in the life of Saul are helpful to the Christian in seeing the signs and evidences of a proud spirit developing in one who was very meek and humble in the beginning. Both David and Saul were meek and came from humble backgrounds, but their lives were two contrasts, as we will see.

Comment: It is interesting to see that the servant, as well as Saul, was given the chief place to sit. He had been a faithful companion to Saul in this whole incident.

Reply: Yes. Samuel knew, without being told by Saul, that the two had been searching for three days for the lost animals. However, he said in effect, “I will not answer your question now. You will have to wait until tomorrow when more important information will be forthcoming about you and your father’s house.” Something of national prominence was inferred.

1 Sam. 9:23 And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.

1 Sam. 9:24 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.

Samuel gave special instructions to the cook to set aside a choice portion of the meat for Saul. Since Samuel functioned as a priest, if someone gave him an animal, it was usually a choice part (the shoulder or the breast). Evidently, therefore, this shoulder was intended for Samuel, but the prophet had something else in mind, for he knew that Saul would be made king. All of these actions—the chief seat, the choice meat, etc.—were to impress Saul with Samuel’s closeness to the God of Israel. The information and the preparation showed not only that Samuel was a seer but also that Saul would be used for some purpose that was still a mystery to him. No doubt Saul wondered what was going on.

1 Sam. 9:25 And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.

The secret about Saul’s coming kingship was still being kept at this point. Earlier Samuel had told Saul that more information would be given the next day.

1 Sam. 9:26 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.

1 Sam. 9:27 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 show thee the word of God.

Very early the next morning, at daybreak, Samuel called Saul to the housetop to give instruction and send him away. In those days, the roof of many houses, as in this case, was level with the road, for the houses were built into the side of hilly terrain. Biblical archaeological magazines sometimes contain pictures of ruins of cities built in steps and stairs on the hill, especially in northern Israel, where Zuph was.

Samuel and Saul went out and down to the end of the city. There Samuel sent the servant on ahead and detained Saul for instruction, for he wanted to show him the “word of God.”

(1985-1987 Study)

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