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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 9

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-27

1 Samuel 9:2 . Saul, a choice young man. Elect and good, as the Vulgate reads, endowed with intellect and elegance of figure. Higher than any of the people; about eight feet in stature. David was not much short of Saul’s height, as appears from his putting on of Saul’s armour. Frederick the great, of Prussia, had in his tall regiment of guards, a man eight feet high. Many of our Saxon ancestors, and several Irish giants, were not less in stature. But stature had no connection with his election, which was altogether divine: 1 Samuel 10:21.

1 Samuel 9:5 . Zuph, or Ziph. Hence the Ziphites; 1 Samuel 23:14-19. See the note on Deuteronomy 1:1. Samuel now, it would seem, occupied the house of his father, in Ramathaim-zophim: 1 Samuel 1:1.

1 Samuel 9:7 . What shall we bring the man? Prophets would receive no gifts as wages for their work; for what can purchase the highest favours of heaven? This was Balaam’s trade. Simony is ever attended with a curse. But it always was and still is the custom of the east to approach magistrates with presents. Hence Saul and his servant proposed this on the ground of custom, being ignorant of Samuel’s superior purity.

1 Samuel 9:9 . A seer. The ancient name of a prophet, from his seeing the visions of the Almighty. Numbers 24:4. The Sybils and poets give the same appellation to their vates, calling them “discerners of fate.” Vidi Poli in loc. Troy also had its seers. Iliad 13. But Moses in his time uses the word nabbi or prophet.

1 Samuel 9:25 . Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house. Septuagint: “And they made a bed for Saul in an upper room of the house; and Samuel, about the spring of the morning, called Saul, &c.” This proves that Samuel was an early riser; and surely the best of the day should be devoted to the Lord. We blush for him whose breakfast reproaches the sluggard. Early rising adds one fourth to the length of human life.


How good and gracious is the Lord. Though Israel had distrusted him in asking a king; yet he ceased not to be their true king and constant friend. They feared Philistia, and he had compassion on their cries. Mark now this fine scheme of providence: mark the diminutive pivots on which the wheels of providence turn. Kish lost his asses. Saul in the search missed his way, and wandered to Ramah, ere he was aware. Samuel, but the day before, returned from his circuit. All these incidents seem to be chance; but they were all providence. Let every man therefore learn to confide in the divine care, and to ask the blessing of God on all the journeys or duties of the day; for who can tell how eventful the smallest incidents of life may prove to an individual or a family.

Mark also the humility of the high prophet and judge of Israel. He appears to have been content with the plain house in which he was born: his person was undistinguished with robes, chains of gold, or retinue. When Saul met the venerable plain old man, he asked for the seer’s house, little expecting the answer, “I am the seer.” He at once proved his character to the tall and wondering stranger, by inviting him to the sacrifice, and by telling him his errand, and the secrets of his heart. Hence we learn, that holy men, whose minds are filled with the love of God and his truth, are not delighted with the exterior decorations of dress and equipage: they shun alike the distinctions of meanness and pride.

Farther observe, how much this good man had the hearts of the people at Ramah: they made a feast of peace-offerings on his return. Every family revered him as its father; nor would they taste the sacrifice till he had blessed the food. Happy is that feast where meats and drinks constitute the smallest part of the cheer. Happy is that feast where hymns, prayer, and enlightened conversation, delight the assembly. This is, “the feast of reason and the flow of soul,” hallowed to religion. Then the guests separate hoping to meet again, and live for ever in the presence of God. Here Saul made a good beginning. He found in Samuel more than a mentor; and had the pupil been worthy of his master, all had been happy.

See lastly, the effects of grace. Though Saul was the tallest and one of the most comely men in Israel; yet when Samuel plainly told him how God had pointed him out as the king, and captain general of his people, he said that he was of Benjamin the youngest tribe, and destitute of regal claims; and that his family was the least of all his tribe. David also, blushing at the largeness of grace, said, Lord, what am I, or what is my father’s house, that thou art mindful of me? So the centurion was quite overcome with humiliations, when Christ offered to go to his house. St. Paul, viewing his call to the ministry, and all the grace which followed, exclaimed, I am less than the least of all saints. Fine sentiments, and grateful to God. Let every public character learn hence, to retain those sentiments to the end of life. Let him spread his roots of humility in proportion as providence exalts his head, and spreads his branches. Yea, let him charge his soul to do this; otherwise all his laurels will fade on the mountains of Gilboa.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-samuel-9.html. 1835.
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