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Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 10

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6

First Samuel - Chapter 10

Saul Anointed and Directed by Samuel, vs. 1-6

The events of this chapter follow immediately the preceding one, with no break at all. Samuel had accompanied Saul out of the city and instructed him to send the servant on ahead. Then he took a vial of oil and anointed Saul to be the first king over Israel at the command of the Lord.

There is no doubt that Saul was very hesitant at this point to assume the kingship. It would seem that he lacks assurance that he would be accepted. Therefore, as he proceeds on his way homeward Saul would meet with three signs, each of which would further confirm that he was indeed the chosen of the Lord. Samuel apprises Saul of the events in order so that when they occur he would be convinced that he is to be king.

First, as Saul came to the border of Benjamin at Zelzah, near the tomb of Rachel (see Genesis 35:16-20), he would meet two men who would tell him that the asses of Kish had been found and that Saul’s father was concerned for his son’s safety. Not only would this sign prove that Samuel accurately foretold the future, but would also show that persons who were evident strangers before, knew Saul and were interested in him and the welfare of his family.

The second sign would occur when Saul reached the plain of Tabor. Later language scholars believe that this is a bad translation of the King James translators and the word "plain" should have been translated "oak." The exact location of this place is now unknown. Here the king-designate and his servant would meet three men, one with three kids, a second with three loaves of bread, and the third with a bottle of wine. These men would greet Saul and give him two loaves of their bread, which Saul is instructed to take. This would show the homage and respect the people were ready to give him, and Saul was to receive it without question.

The third sign would come to pass when the men reached the "hill of God," possibly a place where people met to worship. There a whole company of prophets (literally, preachers) would meet Saul. It appears to be a kind of evangelistic party, with .their musical instruments. They would prophesy (or preach) to Saul, and he would respond by prophesying (or preaching) in turn.

At that it is said that Saul would "be turned into another man." He should then proceed to do as the occasion seemed to require, for the Lord was with Saul to sustain him in his new position. Saul is to ultimately continue to Gilgal and wait there seven days. for Samuel. Samuel would come to Gilgal and make offerings and sacrifices and show Saul what else he needed to do.

There is a long debated question whether Saul was saved or lost. The things found here in this context are used by those who believe Saul was a saved person, who got out of the will of the Lord in his later life, in attempt to prove it. Because these things are really inconclusive, especially in light of Saul’s later deeds, it remains a debated question. It is not unusual to find the Lord using persons who did not know Him as Savior to carry out His will. The Lord was with Saul here as the king of Israel whom He had permitted by His will to assume the rule of His people. More about Saul’s prophesying will be said later.

Verses 9-16

Signs come to Pass, vs. 9-16

The opening words of this passage further seem to suggest that from this point Saul was a saved man. However, it is notable that there is nothing suggestive that Saul made any repentance, or sought the Lord in any way. Again it would seem that the emphasis is to be placed on the Lord’s putting in the heart of Saul the desire to be a leader of the people, though he is still not fully surrendered to the position.

His prophesying, or preaching, appears to have become a matter of ridicule by Saul’s acquaintances. It is much as though they might have been saying, in modern terminology, "What is this I hear about the son of Kish? Has he become a preacher?’ And another said, "But who called these fellows to preach?" The proverb which grew out of the incident, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" was one people spoke when they heard of something preposterous or unbelievable.

There is only one other incidence of Saul’s prophesying (1 Samuel 19:18-24), when he sought to take David and put him to death. God prevented it by compelling Saul to join the other prophets in preaching, and Saul was so beside himself that he stripped off his clothes and lay naked on the ground all the day.

By the time Saul and the servant reached home it was well noised about the country that Saul had visited Samuel. No doubt the rumor was spreading that Saul was to be the king of Israel. Saul’s uncle was especially inquisitive. When he asked where they had been Saul answered simply, "To seek the asses, and to see Samuel when we could not find them." The uncle then inquired of what Samuel had told him, but Saul answered evasively, "He told us plainly that the asses were found." He refused to divulge what the prophet had told him, from which it appears that Saul still had not made up his mind he wished to be king of Israel.

Verses 17-27

Saul’s Public Anointing, vs. 17-27

Samuel had instructed Saul to meet him in seven days at Gilgal for sacrifices and offerings, and he would show him what he should do further, to assume the kingship, presumably. There is no indication that Saul kept this appointment. Rather it appears he did not. Later events will also seem to verify this failure to make the set appointment with Samuel.

So Samuel followed a new plan for installation of Saul as Israel’s king. He called for a gathering of the people to Mizpeh for the purpose of ascertaining who should be God’s choice for the kingship and to anoint him.

In the gathering Samuel again took the occasion to admonish the people for their rejection of the Lord and insistence on a king. He reminded them how the Lord had delivered them from the Egyptians and all other kingdoms, and how he had delivered them every time they had been oppressed. God had saved them from all their adversities and tribulations, and they had responded by demanding a king to rule them.

In choosing the king Samuel adopted a method used by Joshua to identify Achan, the troubler of Israel, who defied God’s ban by taking of the spoil of Jericho (Joshua 7:16-18). Perhaps he did this purposely to show them the displeasure of the Lord in their demands for a king. Achan had been a cause of distress to Israel, and the king would be an occasion of distress for Israel in years to come.

The tribe of Benjamin was chosen, then the choice narrowed to the family of Matri, the household of Kish, and to the man Saul. But when they sent for Saul to anoint him they could not find him. He was still reluctant to assume the place, so they inquired of the Lord again whether they should seek out another. The Lord answered by revealing the hiding place of Saul, among the camp gear of the people.

When they finally ferreted Saul out and stood him before the people, Samuel pointed out to them the magnificent, manly features he possessed. He seemed to be exactly what they had desired in a king, and the people shouted with a loud shout, "God save the king!" Samuel wrote down in a book, laying it up for future reference before the Lord, what could be expected of their king. There would never be a time they could truthfully blame Samuel for their oppressive king. Samuel then sent them all home.

Saul also returned to his home in Gibeah, the chief city of Benjamin. But now he had a following, as a king ought to have. God touched the hearts of these men, certainly not in salvation, but to impress on them a desire to serve their new king. It was the same kind of change of heart effected in Saul after his anointing the first time by Samuel. But there were the children of Belial who refused to acclaim Saul, or to give him homage and presents. They may have feared that he would curb their nefarious schemes. However Saul did not take issue with them, but bided his time. This paid off for him, as shall be seen.

Some lessons from chapter ten: 1) The Lord will make clear His will for those who look to find it out; 2) God is able to use anyone and anything to accomplish His will; 3) even the world is apt to see through the pretense of false piety; 4) humility is a good sign of one’s usefulness for the Lord; 5) preachers should warn God’s people of the consequences of rejecting the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-samuel-10.html. 1985.
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