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This chapter has two parts. Both parts deal with the designation of Saul as king. We see how God is very busy with Saul throughout the preparation for this.
In the first part (1 Samuel 10:1-Nehemiah :) Saul is prepared for kingship in secret by Samuel, that is, by God, while no man in Israel yet knows of his kingship. Saul was not rejected by God from the beginning. God has prepared him in such a way that Saul has every opportunity to get to know God and know how to govern. This preparation is also important for every believer because the Lord has a service, a task, for every believer.
In the second part (1 Samuel 10:17-Daniel :) Saul is openly appointed. It is not Samuel who appoints him so that it does not seem that he is behind the appointment, but God appoints him. God does so in a way that the people can attribute the choice of Saul to none but themselves.
Saul Anointed King
Saul is anointed from a flask, David from a horn (1 Samuel 16:13). A flask is fragile. It is here a symbol of the kingship of Saul that is nothing more than human work and will finally be broken. Oil speaks of the Holy Spirit. God indicates that He wants to use Saul, but that Saul must let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Later Saul is also led by the Spirit, but only externally (1 Samuel 10:10). The horn from which David is anointed is not fragile but speaks of strength (1 Samuel 2:10). The horn comes from a clean animal that was first sacrificed to God, and therein lies the power. Exercise of the kingship can only take place based on the sacrifice.
There is no jealousy with Samuel (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4), but respect. He submits to the new king with a kiss of love. He does not do so in public, but in this personal conversation, as an expression of his heart. He was the first to recognize Saul as his new king from that moment on. Here we see a love that “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:24). In a world full of selfishness, the joy of another person’s prosperity, for example the promotion of a colleague, is rare.
Samuel acts in the Name of the LORD and anoints Saul king over the “inheritance” of the LORD, that is His land. That means a great responsibility. He must protect that inheritance, take care of it, manage it for the LORD and render account to Him.
The Sign at the Tomb of Rachel
The three events that Samuel then predicts are three signs (1 Samuel 10:9). It is much more than fortuitous events. These are events with a meaning attached to them, from which Saul must learn something. A certain place or location is linked to each event. We can call these places ‘memorial places’. Such places play a decisive role in the life of the believer because he learns important things there. Every servant is shaped thereby.
The first memorial place is “Rachel’s tomb” at Zelzah. There Saul will meet two men. Rachel’s grave determines us with Rachel as Saul’s ancestor and her death. Rachel dies when she gives birth to Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-Psalms :), from whom Saul is a descendent. Benjamin was born out of the need of his mother, to the joy of his father. Samuel also says that Rachel’s tomb is in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah. Benjamin’s heritage finds its beginning in the tomb of Rachel. “Zelzah” means “protection against the sun”.
Any true service can only begin well and continue well if we consider ourselves to be dead to sin (Romans 6:11). This provides protection against the heat of the desire to shine ourselves. This makes room for the true life, the life of God, to reveal it.
All good for God comes from death, for by this the new can reveal itself and the old can be forgotten. The communication of the donkeys connects to this. It is not necessary to think of the past, because the earlier efforts have proved fruitless. We learn this at the tomb, the place of death. The man who has worked in vain in his search for the donkeys, must also learn that everything has already been accomplished without him. “Two men” tell him that. This indicates a reliable, credible testimony, for “every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1).
The Sign at the Oak of Tabor
The first sign is for Saul personally. The second sign shows Saul that there are people in Israel who want to serve the LORD in faithfulness. Three faithful men are on their way to God to visit Him in His own house. “Bethel” means “house of God”. These men are a remnant in which faith is present and they are proof that God is still working in Israel. If Saul has an eye for it, he will discover it and be encouraged by it.
The three men do not just go to Bethel, but really to meet God. It says of them that they are “going up to God”. Is that the reason for us to go to “God’s house”, to the meetings of the church, of which we may know that the Lord Jesus is in the midst (Matthew 18:20)?
Saul’s meeting with these three men takes place at “the oak of Tabor”. The oak is a symbol of strength and durability. An oak can grow very tall and old and is very shady. “Tabor” means ‘height’. After Rachel’s death and the tomb near Zelzah, the oak of Tabor speaks of the power of spiritual life that is experienced in the knowledge of fellowship with God and with others.
After seeing our own weakness, we must learn where to find God’s power. Living in fellowship with others gives strength. This happens in the “household of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15). After the personal lesson in the previous sign, we must then see that we are not alone. God we can find in His house. In practice, this is in the church, as it meets locally (1 Corinthians 1:2).
The three men also have something with them. They have three young goats, which is one for each. A goat is the animal that is mainly used as a sin offering. This teaches us that we come to God in the awareness of who we are by nature, but that God can accept us on the basis of the work that the Lord Jesus has done as the true sin offering for our sins. They also each have a loaf of bread with them. They can share this bread with others, what they do in the next verse. One jug of wine can be brought as drink offering.
It speaks of us taking spiritual food with us when we go to the meeting of the church to share it with others. Together we can offer our gratitude and joy, of which the wine speaks, to God. All based on the sin offering.
Samuel also says that these men, without them knowing Saul, will ask him about his welfare and give him two loaves of bread. He can use the bread on his further journey. They go to Bethel to give the sacrifice to the priest. It is as if they invite Saul to go with them. It is important to get to know priestly service. There is no goat for Saul. He does not ask for it either.
A few verses further on Saul meets prophets in a way that even is asked whether Saul is among the prophets. Still later he becomes king. We see God connecting Saul with the priesthood, prophecy service, and kingship. But what impact does that have on his life? He will only act as king. To what extent he is king according to God’s thoughts without knowing anything of divine service and true prophetic service, his history will show.
The Sign on the Hill of God
After the meeting with the two men in Zelzah and the three men at Tabor, Samuel says that Saul will meet a group of prophets. This will happen at “the hill of God”. There is the “Philistines garrison”. When he is there, he is almost home, because it is near his house (1 Samuel 10:26). After the presence of God in Bethel, Saul now comes into the presence of the enemy. There he also receives important education.
On the hill of God lies a city that is not occupied by the Philistines, but where they do have a garrison. Where the glory of God must be seen, the power of the enemy is seen. The sign Saul receives here is so much to say that, to drive out the enemy, he will receive the Spirit of God. After teaching about self-judgment at the tomb and encouragement in connection with the house of God, Saul is taught in this sign the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is accompanied by music, with expressions of joy that people may experience in the presence of God, in the face of the enemy.
The fact that Saul is seized by the Spirit does not mean that he has been born again or that he is being born again at this moment. Even unbelievers can be seized by the Spirit on occasion by the sovereign power of God. We see this with the unbelieving high priest Caiaphas (John 11:51) and the unbelieving Balaam (Numbers 24:2). Unbelievers who participate fully in a church, are during their stay in this Christian fellowship where the Spirit works “partakers of the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 6:4).
In such cases, however, there is no question of the indwelling of the Spirit in the person. The change of Saul “into another man” has only to with the outward. Also the change of his inner self is only a change of feeling. There is no question of conversion. He will reveal himself as a stubborn enemy of God’s anointed king (David) and die in complete darkness.
God Wants to Be With Saul
Throughout Saul’s preparation for the kingship, God made it clear that He was on his side. Saul was not rejected from the outset, nor was Israel rejected from the outset. Only when the people, despite all the admonitions of God, have shown their obstinate refusal to serve Him, does He reject them, and send them into exile.
After God, through all these signs, has shown Saul that he is under His special guidance, God gives him the extra assurance that he does not have to be afraid to do what the occasion requires. The first thing what the occasion requires is the battle in the next chapter.
All these signs are meant to make him think about his life and the task God has for him. He must have had the impression that Samuel is a man of God who has spoken what God has put in his mouth. If everything happens exactly as Samuel predicted, it should certainly have made him realize that God wants to use him. Asking for the meaning of events and parables reveals the true disciple (Mark 4:10-2 Kings :).
What happens to Saul shows that God tells us to use our sanctified, sober mind. First, He shows us that our lives are completely open to Him. The events are announced. But He leaves the reaction to this to us. It is like with Peter once he’s delivered from prison. He then consults with himself what he will do (Acts 12:11-2 Kings :). One of the most Divine abilities we have is to form judgment after deliberating for and against. That is something else than the reliance on signs.
Saul Must Go to Gilgal and Wait There
After the prophecy of the signs Samuel orders Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for him there. Gilgal is the place where the circumcision took place (Joshua 5:2-1 Samuel :). Circumcision is a picture of the judgment of the flesh of the believer that Christ underwent on the cross (Colossians 2:11). With this assignment Samuel ensures that he stays in touch with Saul. This instruction must give Saul the constant awareness that he must act only according to God’s Word, of which Samuel is the personification. The assignment is an exercise in patience. How Saul deals with this is described in 1 Samuel 13.
The Signs Happen
When Saul leaves Samuel, God gives him another heart. This does not mean that He gives Saul new life, but He gives him the inner ability or wisdom to govern His people and make good decisions. It connects to 1 Samuel 10:6 where Samuel tells Saul that the Spirit of the LORD will become mightily upon him, transforming him into another man. The farmer’s son will become aware of his royal dignity. This will be visible to him and will be evident from his deeds.
This shows that God makes everything available to Saul to make him competent for his task. However, they are only external characteristics, without any new life. New life is only given if there is repentance of sins and conversion to God with confession of sins. That never happened with Saul.
All signs happen as was said to Saul. To the third sign the Holy Spirit goes into more detail because of the particularities associated with it. It becomes clear that spiritual manifestations are a completely strange thing for Saul. Others observe that he behaves ‘spiritually’ and mock his attitude. What they see now is amazing for them. They do not know Saul like that. Saul is therefore only a prophet outwardly; he behaves like a prophet among them. His life they have seen so far has nothing in common with that of the pupils of the prophets.
It is clear that Saul is not characterized by any fear of God or faith in Him, but God’s Spirit shows what Saul should have been. To be king according to God’s heart, the guidance of God’s Spirit is needed. It is not about a new attitude, but about new life through new birth.
“A man there” (1 Samuel 10:12) is someone from Gibea or someone from the crowd standing around the prophets. The question “who is their father?” – and not ‘who is their president or chairman?’ – may mean a question about their ancestry, how they should be seen. This question can also mean: ‘Is their father also a prophet?’ i.e. ‘Do they have the prophetic spirit by virtue of their birth? When “father” means the head or leader of the prophets (cf. 1 Chronicles 25:6; 2 Kings 2:12), the question means: “What kind of leader do they have that they allow a person like Saul into their company?”
The proverb says a lot about Saul. The proverb is used to describe a totally unexpected and inexplicable phenomenon. It expresses the amazement about a person who appears in an atmosphere of life in which he has until then been completely strange, in which he has never shown himself.
The Uncle of Saul
Saul finishes prophesying. He also leaves the company of the prophets. He has been under the spell of it for a while, but the result is not permanent. His life continues on the same footing as before. He comes to his uncle, who asks where they have been. Saul answers. The fact that he was with Samuel is reason for his uncle to ask further questions. Did he feel something of what is going to happen to Saul?
Saul does not tell untruths in his answer, but he is not complete. He is holding something back. Saul is silent about the kingship. The reason for this is not mentioned. We can interpret this positively and attribute it to Saul’s humble attitude. We can also interpret it negatively, as a desire for power and fame which he does not yet want to tell about, because he does not yet consider the time has come.
Saul Presented as King
After God’s private actions with Saul in secret, Saul is now introduced to the people. Samuel therefore calls upon the people to come to the LORD at Mizpah. The people are placed in the presence of God. Samuel acts as the representative of the LORD. He reminds the people once again of Who God is and what He has done for them. On the other hand, he states that they now reject their God, Who has been so good to them, and that in His place they choose a man as leader.
Saul is designated by lot. In this way any suspicion of a preconceived plan by Samuel, or the thought of a secret agreement between Samuel and Saul, is made impossible. It is clear to everyone that the LORD designates Saul. “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33). “The [cast] lot puts an end to strife” (Proverbs 18:18).
If one wants to bring Saul forward, he turns out to be untraceable. Could that inhibit the people in their enthusiasm? Would they return to their steps? It seems to be a last attempt of the LORD to make His people to repent.
If Saul cannot be found, the LORD is asked whether the man has come. This will undoubtedly have happened through the high priest through the urim and the tummim (Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21; cf. Judges 20:27-Hosea :). At such an important assembly of the people where a king is elected, the high priest will certainly have been present, although this is not explicitly mentioned. The main character is not the priest, but Samuel who is the prophet of the LORD and oversees this meeting.
The LORD answers and makes known that Saul has hidden himself by the baggage. Saul seems to have become a piece of baggage, something that is dragged by others, while there are useful things in it. Is this hiding an act of modesty or an act of fear? Does he upheaval against the responsibilities of the kingship?
He knows in advance that he will be appointed by lot. Yet he runs away. However, you cannot run away from God. To run away is not good, nor does it work for the good of God’s people. It comes from thinking about yourself and not about the interests of God and His people. The ultimate result is that man is exalted and not God.
The Lord Jesus also once withdrew himself from the crowd when they wanted to make Him king (John 6:15). With Him, His perfection becomes manifest by this. He does not want to be the king according to the fleshly wishes of the people. At that moment it is not the time of the Father to reveal Himself as King. First, He had to achieve the glorification of His Father on earth completely.
When Saul stands among the people, Samuel does not speak of Saul as the choice of the people, but as the choice of the LORD. This is not to take away the responsibility of the people, but because no one knows better what the choice of the people is than the LORD. Therefore He has chosen a man with whom no one can compete. The man completely corresponds to the taste of the people.
When the people see him, they are all deeply impressed by this wonderful man and they applaud him. Saul is a man of whom every inch is king. He stands out from the people with his head and shoulders. But … with which he rises above the people, will be cut from him at his death (1 Samuel 31:8-:). The New Testament Saul also stands out above his peers (Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:4-Joshua :). However, he is made small in an encounter with the glorified Lord. The man who sat high in the saddle “fell to the ground” (Acts 9:4).
The Israelites compare their king to themselves and not to the LORD. That comes down to comparing ourselves with ourselves (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:12). We do this namely when we compare ourselves with other people. The others are as human as we are.
Reactions to the Appointment of Saul
Samuel records in a book what is important in connection with the choice of the people. Earlier he told what the king will do (1 Samuel 8:11), now he presents to the people the ordinances of the kingdom, the laws, and statutes for the people. It is not unthinkable that Samuel on this occasion simply copied the royal law (Deuteronomy 17:14-Proverbs :). He lays down what he has written “before the LORD”, that is, beside the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26). After these events Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house, to the own, familiar environment.
Saul also goes to his house and not yet to the throne. The cheering is silenced. The people have the king they want, but the connectedness to him does not seem to be great. Only those whose heart God has touched go with him. They acknowledge Saul as appointed over them by God. Maybe otherwise no one would have gone along with the newly elected king at all. David, too, will later acknowledge Saul, as Samuel did.
There are also people who see nothing in Saul. That is not because they expect more from the LORD than from this man. They simply do not resign themselves to the God-given king, possibly out of jealousy that he and not they have been elected leader. Every choice of God reveals the thoughts of hearts. They should have asked their question (1 Samuel 10:27) when it was about God. Now it is a wrong question. Saul responds to these utterances in a good way. We can take an example of this when to us ugly things are said.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Samuel 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter