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Saul Seeks the Lost Asses
v. 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, literally, "a son of a man of Jemini," a mighty man of power, literally, "a man of substance," a man living in comfortable circumstances. We have here, apparently, a case of an abbreviated chronological table, in which less important members are sometimes omitted. Cf 1 Chronicles 8:29-33; 1 Chronicles 9:35-39.
v. 2. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice young man and a goodly, tall, strong, and well-proportioned; and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he, possessed of more manly handsomeness; from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people, he excelled in bodily height, corresponding to his other physical development.
v. 3. And the asses of Kish, Saul's father, were lost, they had strayed away. And Kish said to Saul, his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses. Kish was evidently an energetic man, quick in decision and action.
v. 4. And he, Saul, passed through Mount Ephraim, the highlands extending down into the territory of Benjamin, moving in a northwesterly direction first, and passed through the land of Shalisha, in the foothills toward the west, but they found them not; then they passed through the land of Shalim, in a southeasterly direction, and there they were not; and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, Its extreme western section, but they found them not.
v. 5. And when they were come to the land of Zuph, southwest of the territory of Benjamin proper, 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. The tender regard for his father's feelings was a fine trait in Saul's character at that time.
v. 6. And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man, held in high regard and honor by all men ; all that he saith cometh surely to pass; now let us go thither; peradventure he can show us our way that we should go. The city to which reference is here made may well have been Ramah or Ramathaim, for this was in the district of Zuph, in the tribe of Benjamin, 1 Samuel 1:1; Joshua 18:25.
v. 7. Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? He was worried about a possible present or fee. For the bread is spent in our vessels, they had consumed all the provisions which they had taken along, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God; what have we? Saul had not provided for such a contingency.
v. 8. And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver, a piece or coin of determined weight and value (about 16 cents); that will I give to the man of God to tell us our way.
v. 9. (Beforetime in Israel, as the author here notes in order to have his readers understand the next part of the story, when a man went to enquire 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. )
v. 10. Then said Saul to his servant, Well said, that's a good idea; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was. Saul here appears as a pious, God-fearing man, who valued the word of the servant of God. So the Lord often selects the men through whom He intends to accomplish great things from the lowly among the people. Only he who fears God and His Word is really fit for work in the kingdom of God.
Saul the Guest of Samuel
v. 11. And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, they met them outside the city gates, as they were on their way to perform the duty still incumbent upon the women of the Orient, and said unto them, Is the seer here? that is, Is he at home now?
v. 12. And they answered them and said, He is; behold, he is before you. Make haste now, for he came today to the city, having returned from one of his periodical trips, 1 Samuel 7:16; for there is a sacrifice, a peace-offering with a sacrificial meal, of the people today in the high place, the elevation near the city on which the offerings were made;
v. 13. as soon as ye be come into the city, going directly ahead on the main street, ye shall straightway find him before he go up to the high place to eat, to take part in the sacrificial meal; for the people will not eat, namely, those invited, until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice, by speaking the prayer of thanksgiving ; and afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now, therefore, get you up; for about this time, on this very day, ye shall find him.
v. 14. And they went up into the city, passing in through the gate; and when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them, he met them on the main street, for to go up to the high place. Saul was apparently too diffident or bashful to address Samuel at once, but turned around and followed him.
v. 15. Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear, literally, "uncovered his ear," revealed to him, a day before Saul came, saying,
v. 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 the latter were harassing the Israelites more or less, trying to regain full dominion over them; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry is come unto Me. He had looked upon them in mercy, and with the definite intention of bringing them deliverance.
v. 17. And when Samuel saw Saul, as he met him on the main street of the city, the Lord said unto him, Samuel, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! This same shall reign over My people, hold them in restraint by a sharp and strict government.
v. 18. Then Saul, having followed Samuel down the street, drew near to Samuel in the gate and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house Isaiah
v. 19. And Samuel answered Saul and said, I am the seer; go up before me unto the high place, this invitation being a mark of respect; for ye shall eat with me today, the kindness of Samuel causing him to include the servant also, and tomorrow I will let thee go and will tell thee all that is in thine heart, revealing to him his innermost thoughts and thus giving evidence of his prophetical ability.
v. 20. And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, the search thus having taken since the second day before, set not thy mind on them, he should not be worried about 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? The most desirable honor, the noblest possession in all Israel, was to be his, unsought and undesired: the royal dignity.
v. 21. And Saul, although ignorant of the full import of Samuel's words, 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? The warlike tribe of Benjamin had, by the fearful execution carried out upon them, Judges 20:20, been reduced to an inconsiderable power, and Saul was conscious of this fact. Besides, his modesty at that time would not permit him to consider himself worthy of any special honor in Israel.
v. 22. And Samuel, without pursuing the subject further, since he wanted to awaken expectation and hope in the mind of Saul, took Saul and his servant and brought them into the parlor, the room where the sacrificial meal was held, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons, probably the most influential men of the city. Here was another distinction for Saul.
v. 23. And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, when the sacrifice had been offered, earlier in the day, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee, reserve it, subject to further orders.
v. 24. And the cook took up the shoulder, evidently the heave-shoulder, for Samuel exercised the functions of a priest in Israel, and that which was upon it, the fat of the flesh, and set it before Saul, another distinct honor. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left, reserved! Set it before thee and eat; for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people, another proof of the prophetic foresight of Samuel. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day.
v. 25. And when they were come down from the high place into the city, at the close of the sacrificial meal, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house, on the flat roof, where they were undisturbed, Deuteronomy 22:8, the purpose being gradually to prepare Saul for the announcement of the next day.
v. 26. And they arose early; and it came to pass about the spring of the day, at the rising of the dawn, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, rather, Samuel called to Saul, who had evidently slept on the roof, by no means unusual in that country, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, made ready for his journey, and they went out, both of them, he and Samuel, abroad, out into the open.
v. 27. And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel, who accompanied his guest as another mark of respect, said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, for he was not to be a witness of the next act of Samuel, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while that I may show thee the word of God. All those who are intended for the service of God's people must be instructed in God's Word and truth in order to do their work properly.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany