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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 10

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?

Then Samuel took a vial of oil. This was the ancient (Judges 9:8) ceremony of investiture with the royal office among the Hebrews and other Eastern nations. But there were two unctions to the kingly office-the one in private by a prophet (1 Samuel 16:13), which was meant to be only a prophetic intimation of the person attaining that high dignity; the more public and formal inauguration (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3) was performed by the high priest, and perhaps with the holy oil; but that is not certain. The first of a dynasty was thus anointed, but not his heirs, unless the succession was disputed (1 Kings 1:39; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 23:30; 2 Chronicles 23:11). The import of this symbolic act is explained by Zechariah, 1 Samuel 4:1-22. The oil symbolized the Spirit of God. 'The former,' as Hengstenberg ('Christology,' 3:, p. 125) remarks, 'typified what the latter secured.'

Kissed him. This salutation, as explained by the words that accompanied it, was an act of respectful homage, a token of congratulation to the new king (Psalms 2:12).

And said ... the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance. The anointing did not constitute Saul a ruler in general, but a theocratic ruler, who was furnished by God with the requisite gifts for the discharge of his duties as His representative (see Hengstenberg, 'Christology,' 3:, p. 135).

Verse 2

When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?

When thou art departed from me today. The design of these specific predictions of what should be met with on the way, and the number and minuteness of which would arrest attention, was to confirm Saul's reliance on the prophetic character of Samuel, and lead him to give full credence to what had been revealed to him as the word of God (see the notes at 1 Samuel 2:34: cf. 1 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 7:2; Jeremiah 44:29).

Rachel's sepulchre - near Beth-lehem (see the note at Genesis 35:16).

'After the allotment of the country to the several tribes, the territory of the Benjamites was extended by a long strip far into the south, to include the sepulchre of their beloved ancestress' (Stanley, 'Jewish Church,' p. 72).

Zelzah - in the neighbourhood of these places; but the exact site is unknown. Zelzah (i:e., shade, rejoicing) was a different place from Zela' (a rib or side).

Verse 3

Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:

The plain - or the oak of Tabor; not the celebrated mount, for that was far distant.

Three men going up to God to Beth-el - apparently to offer sacrifices there at a time when the ark and the tabernacle were not in a settled abode, and God had not yet declared the permanent place which He should choose. The kids were for sacrifice, the loaves for the offering, and the wine for the libations.

Verse 4

And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:

The hill of God - probably Geba (1 Samuel 13:3), so called from a school of the prophets being established there. The company of prophets were, doubtless, the pupils at this seminary, which had probably been instituted by Samuel, and in which the chief branches of education taught were a knowledge of the law, and of psalmody, with instrumental music, which is called 'prophesying' (here and in 1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:7).

A psaltery, [ neebel (H5035)] - a species of harp or lyre, having, according to Josephus ('Antiquities,' b.

vii., ch. 12:, sec. 13), twelve strings, and being played with the fingers, and not a plectrum; according to Jerome ('N. Vitruv.' 6:, 1), it was triangular in form, resembling an inverted Delta, (cf. Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:, pp. 280-287).

And a tabret, [ wªtop (H8596)] - and a hand drum, timbrel, or tambourine (see the note at Exodus 15:21).

And a pipe, [ wªchaaliyl (H2485)] - an instrument of music, so called from being perforated [ wªkinowr (H3658), a lyre]; the modern guitar (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 7:, ch. 12:, sec. 3), as having ten strings, and being struck with a plectrum (but see the note at 1 Samuel 16:23; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9). It was of great antiquity (Genesis 4:21), used by the Hebrews chiefly, as here, in their sacred music (cf. 1 Samuel 16:23; 1 Kings 10:12); and hence, it became the national and favourite musical instrument of that people. Joseph Wolff ('Researches and Missionary Labours,' p. 492) says, that 'the external form of these prophets is still existing among the dancing Fakirs of Constantinople, and those in the valley of Kashmir.'

Verse 6

And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.

The spirit of the Lord will come upon thee - literally, rush upon thee. This phrase is used of those who, under the influence of divine inspiration, uttered truths supernaturally revealed to them, in a lofty, poetic style, or who celebrated in exalted strains of praise the glorious deeds of Yahweh to His people. In this latter sense it is applied to Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21), to the 70 elders (Numbers 11:29), and to the choir of young prophets, to which Saul joined himself, and in whose sacred employment he participated (cf. Luke 1:65, end). 'The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.' It was the seal and pledge of the blessings which the Lord bestowed upon the rulers of the nation for the people's benefit, suddenly endowing him with a capacity and disposition to act in a manner far superior to his previous character and habits; so that, instead of the simplicity, ignorance, and sheepishness of a peasant, he would display an energy, wisdom, and magnanimity worthy of a prince.

Verse 7

And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.

Thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal. This, according to Josephus, was to be a standing rule for the observance of Saul while the prophet and he lived, that in every great crisis, as a hostile incursion on the country, he should repair to Gilgal, where he was to remain seven days, to afford time for the tribes on both sides of the Jordan River to assemble, and Samuel to reach it.

Verse 9

And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.

When he had turned his back ... God gave him another heart. Influenced by the words of Samuel, as well as by the accomplishment of these signs, Saul's reluctance to undertake the onerous office was overcome. The fulfillment of the two first signs is passed over, but the third is specially described. The spectacle of a man, thought fitter to look after his father's cattle than to take part in the sacred exercises of the young prophets-a man without any previous instruction, or any known taste-entering with ardour into the spirit, and skillfully accompanying the melodies, of the sacred band, was so extraordinary a phenomenon that it gave rise to the proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (see the note at 1 Samuel 19:24.) The prophetic spirit had come upon him; and to Saul it was as personal and experimental an evidence of the truth of God's word that had been spoken to him as converts to Christianity have in themselves from the sanctifying power of the Gospel.

Verses 10-11

And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 12

And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?

But who is their father? The Septuagint reads: Tis (G5100) pateer (G3962) autou (G847), 'Who is his father?' referring to Saul the son of Kish.

Verses 13-16

And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh; And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;

Samuel called the people together ... to Mizpeh - a shaft-like hill near Hebron, 500 feet in height. The national assemblies of the Israelites were held there. A day having been appointed for the election of a king, Samuel summoned a public convention, and, after having charged the people with a rejection of God's institution, and a superseding of it by one of their own, proceeded to the nomination of the new monarch. Since it was of the utmost importance for the preservation of the established theocracy that the appointment should be under the divine direction and control, the determination was made through the miraculous lot, by the people, as represented by their heads or delegates, tribes, families, and individuals, being successively passed, not en masse, but by their representatives, until Saul was found. His concealment of himself must have been the result either of innate modesty or a sudden nervous excitement under the circumstances. When dragged into view, he was seen to possess all those corporeal advantages which a rude people desiderate in their sovereigns, and the exhibition of which gained for the prince the favourable opinion of Samuel also. 'Thus a king was elected by the express declaration of the divine oracle, raised from an obscure family (1 Samuel 9:21), in a mode so remarkable that he himself, as well as the entire nation, should know and feel that he derived his authority solely from that appointment' (Graves, 2:, p. 156).

In the midst of the national enthusiasm, however, the prophet's deep piety and genuine patriotism took care to explain "the manner of the kingdom" - i:e., the royal rights and privileges, together with the limitations to which they were to be subjected; and in order that the constitution might be ratified with all due solemnity, the charter of this constitutional monarchy was recorded and laid up "before the Lord" - i:e., deposited in the custody of the priests, along with the most sacred archives of the nation. The same safeguard against royal usurpation, by the deposit of the charter limiting the royal prerogative, was taken in the case of his successors (cf. 2 Samuel 5:3; 1 Kings 12:4; 2 Kings 11:17). It is evident from all this that the Hebrews were only the vicegerents of Yahweh: the executive power only was committed to them, while Yahweh reserved to Himself all legislative authority.

Verses 18-25

And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 26

And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched. Saul also went home to Gibeah. This was his place of residence (see the note at Judges 20:20), about five miles north of Jerusalem; and, from its being the capital during his reign, whence it was called "Gibeah of Saul" (1 Samuel 11:4; 1 Samuel 15:34; 2 Samuel 21:6; Isaiah 10:29), supposed to be identified in Tel-el-Fulil, is distinguished by its curiously knobbed and double top (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 210; Porter's 'Handbook,' pp. 215,

325). Robinson, however, thinks that Gibeah is represented by the present Jeba ('Biblical Researches,' 2:, p.

114). Gibeah corresponds in meaning to Dun or Burg, a fortified height.

Whose hearts God had touched - who feared God, and regarded allegiance to their king a conscientious duty. They are opposed to "the children of Belial," the worthless portion of the people, though perhaps some of them might be persons of rank and influence.

Verse 27

But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

Brought him no presents. In Eastern countries the honour of the sovereign and the splendour of the royal household are upheld, not by a fixed rate of taxation, but by presents brought at certain seasons, particularly on the accession of a new sovereign, by officials and men of wealth, from all parts of the kingdom, according to the means of the individual, and of a customary registered value. Such was the tribute which Saul's opponents withheld, and for want of which he was unable to set up a kingly establishment for a while. But 'biding his time,' he bore the insult with a prudence and magnanimity which was of great use in the beginning of his government.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-samuel-10.html. 1871-8.
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