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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 11

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Confirmation and General Recognition of the Kingdom under Saul

1 Samuel 11-12

I. Saul’s Victory over the Ammonites. 1 Samuel 11:1-15

1Then [And]1 Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against2 Jabesh-Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said unto [to] Nahash, Make a covenant with 2us, and we will serve thee. And Nahash the Ammonite answered [said to] them, On this condition will I make a covenant3 with you, that I may thrust4 out 3all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel. And the elders of Jabesh said unto [to] him, Give5 us seven days respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts6 of Israel, and then [om. then] if there be no man to save 4us, we will come out to thee. Then came the messengers [And the messengers came] to Gibeah of Saul,7 and told the tidings8 in the ears of the people; and all people lifted up their voices and wept.

5And behold, Saul came after the herd [oxen] out of [from] the field. And Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of 6the men of Jabesh. And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those 7[these] tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces9, and sent them10 throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto [to] his oxen. And the fear of the Lord [Jehovah] fell on the people, and they came out with one consent [as one man].

8And when [om. when] he numbered them in Bezek, [ins. and] the children of 9Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.11 And they said unto [to] the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto [to] the men of Jabesh Gilead, To-morrow, by that [the] time the sun be hot,12 ye shall have help. And the messengers came and showed [announced] it to the men of Jabesh; and 10they were glad. Therefore [And] the men of Jabesh said, To-morrow we will come out unto [to] you, and ye shall do with [to] us all that seemeth good unto 11[to] you. And it was so [came to pass] on the morrow that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning-watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day, and it came to pass that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.

12And the people said unto [to] Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over 13us?13 bring14the men that we may put them to death. And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day; for to-day the Lord [Jehovah] hath wrought 14salvation in Israel. Then said Samuel [and Samuel said] to the people, Come, and 15let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there. And all the people went to Gilgal, and there they [om. they] made15 Saul king before the Lord [Jehovah] in Gilgal, and there they [om. there they] sacrificed sacrifices of peace-offerings [ins. there] before the Lord [Jehovah]; and there Saul16 and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.


1 Samuel 11:1-4. The siege of Jabesh by Nahash, king of the Ammonites.

1 Samuel 11:1. The need of a vigorous single leadership in war against the surrounding hostile peoples, especially in the first instance for the war threatened by the Ammonites (1 Samuel 12:12), had occasioned the people’s desire for a strong regal government like that of those nations. God had yielded to their desire, and through Samuel given them a king. But this king, after having been publicly presented and greeted as king, had with-drawn into seclusion. For a part of the people were unwilling to accept the new order of things under Saul’s kingly authority, not believing that he could rescue the people from the threatening danger. It was, therefore, all-important that Saul should, by some deed of deliverance, show himself to be the king, who could lead Israel to victory over their enemies. A waiting the moment when he could display his strength with the Lord’s help as his Anointed, he had kept silence before the contempt of his enemies, and had retired to the quiet of his accustomed rural occupations. And not long after the day of Mizpah came the peril, in view of which the demand had been made for a king to lead the people to battle. Nahash, the Ammonite, advanced with an army, and began the war against Israel with the siege of Jabesh-Gilead. The Sept. inserts at the beginning of this verse from the preceding (1 Samuel 10:27) the words: “and it came to pass after a month,”17 and is followed by Ew. and Then, though all other ancient translations agree with the mas. text, only the Vulg. adds to the translation of the text the words: et factum est quasi post mensem, an addition originating probably in the Itala, which follows the Sept. The statement of time is evidently an interpretation of the translation.18 It is the less necessary for the connection by reason of the looseness of the chronology here. According to 1 Samuel 12:12 the threatened war with the Ammonites was the immediate occasion of the demand for a king. Naturally, therefore, Nahash, having before made his preparations, entered the Israelitish territory soon after the king was chosen and confirmed. If it had been intended to give this datum of time the word “one” must necessarily have been inserted.—On Nahash,19 king of the Ammonites, see on 2 Samuel 10:2. We have here a renewal of the war with the Ammonites, which (according to Judges 10:11) Israel had victoriously carried on under Jephthah. No doubt Nahash made the same charge against Israel—claiming the territory east of the Jordan which, it was alleged, Israel had taken from the Ammonites—which was then made by the king and repelled by Jeph. (Judges 11:13 sq.). Comp. Joshua 13:25. Jephthah’s victory had not permanently broken the power of the Ammonites. Jabesh lay in northern Gilead, and belonged to the half-tribe of Manasseh. According to Joseph. (Ant. 6, 5, 1), it was the capital of Gilead; according to the Onom., “six Roman miles from Pella on the way to Gerasa,” and is conjectured by Robinson (III. 319) and van der Velde (Mem., p. 323) to be the same with the present ruins of Ed-Deir,20 on the south side of the Wady Jabis, in which word is not improbably contained the name of the old Jabesh. Jabesh was the only city (Judges 21:9) which did not take part in the war of extermination against Benjamin; its virgins were carried off for the Benjamites (Judges 21:6 sq.). For the important connection of Jabesh with Saul’s end see 1 Samuel 31:11-13 and 2 Samuel 4:5.—The inhabitants of Jabesh are willing to come to an agreement with Nahash, and submit on reasonable conditions. This shows their entire defencelessness against the enemy, and characterizes Israel’s weakness in consequence of the lack of firm and permanent union among its parts. Instead of accepting their humble proposal, Nahash offers the Jabeshites the extremest insult by the threat that, unless they surrendered unconditionally,21 he would put out the right eyes of all of them.22 On cruel conduct towards conquered enemies see Rüetschi, Herz. R. E. VIII. 87 [also Arts. War in Dicts. of Smith and Fairbairn, and Saalschütz, Archäologie der Hebräer, II. 506.—Tr.]. Nahash will lay this as a reproach “on all Israel,” not because they had not courage to help them (Bunsen), but with the intention of undertaking war against all Israel, and avenging the insult offered by Jephthah. Josephus’ remark, that he threatened to do this “in order that, their left eyes being concealed by their shields, they might be wholly unserviceable,” is correct only on this supposition, that he in fact designed to conquer first the city and then Gilead.

1 Samuel 11:3. Nahash grants the desired seven days, in which they are to send messengers into every part of Israel; in this time he thought to finish his preparations for the conquest of the city, in order, in the existing division of the Israelitish tribes and forces, the more surely to attain his end. The Jabeshites promised to yield themselves, if no one came to their rescue. The assumption of this as possible, and the fact that they sent to every region of Israel shows that in this transition-period from the Judges to the kingdom, in spite of what Samuel had done towards securing unity of action, the old division of powers in tribal isolation and the consequent weakness against enemies still continued. That the messengers (1 Samuel 11:4) go nevertheless not separately to the various tribes, but all together first23 to Gibeah of Saul, is doubtless according to instructions given them. And the reason could be only that this was the residence of the elected king, and the centre of the whole people. We are not to conclude (with Then.), from the fact of their going not to Saul, but to the people, that they knew nothing of his election as king; they presented their case before the people, and not Saul, because (as appears from what follows) he was not in Gibeah, and did not return from his ordinary occupation till after their statement was made.—The weeping of the people points to the greatness of the danger and the painful consciousness of helplessness. Perhaps Saul was held in least esteem in his native city.

1 Samuel 11:5-7. Saul’s first royal deed. He gathers the people together, so that they rise as one man against the Ammonites, and the hitherto-existing disunion is at an end.

1 Samuel 11:5. When the messengers arrive, Saul is in the field engaged in agricultural labors. He is called from the plough, as Gideon from the threshing-floor (Judges 6:11 sq.), to do great deeds for his people. “After the oxen” refers to his walking behind the oxen, with which he had ploughed, and which are called in 1 Samuel 11:7 “a yoke of oxen.”

1 Samuel 11:6. When he hears the cause of the people’s lamenting and weeping, the Spirit of God lays hold of him mightily. The great moment had come when the fire of mighty wrath, inflamed by God’s Spirit, kindled at the reproach inflicted by the enemy on his people, and he, in fulfillment of his royal calling to be the deliverer of his people, was to step forth according to the will of the Lord.

1 Samuel 11:7. The cutting up of the oxen alone would not have exhausted the meaning which (as appears from the context) this symbolical action was meant to have. There was necesssary also the sending of the pieces into every region of Israel, that is, to every tribe, as in the similar procedure in Judges 19:29. The meaning of Saul’s sharp words by the messengers: Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen, is only fully expressed by the pieces which are sent along with them. Though the “pieces” are not expressly mentioned in the text, as in Judges 19:29 (Then.), yet they must be understood from the connection. As there the pieces of the shamefully murdered woman’s body, so here the pieces of the hewed oxen are the factual summons of the individual parts of the people to a common warfare, which was to avenge the wrong done them. Along with this similarity, however, between the two actions and their aims, there is an essential difference between them. In the former case the pieces represented the crime of the violated rights of hospitality and the expiation which was demanded. Here Saul sets forth the punishment to be expected by every one who should not join the campaign against the enemy; he threatens the exercise of his judicial power, which is a function of his royal office. The subject [i.e. executer] of the threat is neither the people of the recusant person (Josephus), nor the invading enemy, but it is he, the king of Israel, who is thoroughly conscious of his authority to summon the whole people to war against the enemy, under the impulse of the Spirit of God, which has come upon him. Saul here steps forth, in the name of the Lord, who has chosen him to save His people from their foes, with an act of sovereign theocratic royal power. As possessor of this power he names himself first as leader of Israel, and then Samuel second. That, however, he does connect the latter’s name with his, shows Samuel’s high position as prophet and watchman of the kingdom and (with the retention of his judicial authority) as leader of the people along with Saul, and proves also Samuel’s approval of this assumption of royal authority before the people. His symbolical action and the accompanying threat, which is to rouse the people from division to unity, and from lethargy to a common enterprise, is thus stamped with the prophetic and judicial authority of Samuel, under which Saul’s royal authority stands.—Clericus excellently remarks: “This was a symbolical action which, by the exhibition of the pieces of the oxen, struck the mind more than words alone would have done.” The action belongs to the category of symbolical acts, which set forth corporally and vigorously the content of the following words, in order to strengthen their impression. See 1 Kings 11:30; 1 Kings 22:11; 2 Kings 13:18. Comp. the symbolical actions in the prophetic writings.—The powerful impression made by Saul’s appearance and act is indicated in a two-fold way: 1) The fear of Jehovah fell on the people. Clericus: “Either fear sent or in some peculiar way infused into men’s minds by God, or fear lest they should offend God, if they refused to obey the command of the king and the prophet.” The second explanation is to be preferred; for Saul’s appearance is theocratic; he speaks in the name and under the commission of the Lord, whose instrument he, as well as Samuel, is. The people, impressed by his act and his words, recognize the holy and mighty will of their God, and are seized by a wholesome fear before the Lord, which leads them to recognize the obligation to fulfil his command revealed through Saul. “The fear of the Lord” is here, therefore, not a “panic fear” (Thenius, Böttcher); for Jehovah is not=Elohim, as Keil well remarks;24 the reference is to the relation of the people to their covenant-God, who anew reveals Himself; 2) And they came out as one man. The effect of Saul’s appearance and message to the whole people was that they rose out of division into a firm unity of parts (tribes) and powers. The Spirit of the Lord, which impelled Saul to this noble and vigorous action, so strangely contrasted with his former quiet life behind the plough, laid hold at the same time on the whole nation, so that it was suddenly lifted up, as it were involuntarily, in the uniting and strengthening power of this Spirit from above, to a new life before God (in His fear) and within itself (in unity and union) against the enemies of the theocracy.

1 Samuel 11:8-11. Saul’s deed of deliverance by victory over the Ammonites. The summoning of the people and the gathering of the hosts goes swiftly on. The latter is presupposed in the phrase “numbered or mustered them.” This took place in Bezek, in the Tribe of Issachar, in the plain of Jezreel, not far from Bethshean, at about as great an elevation as Jabesh, according to the Onom. 1725 Roman miles north of Neapolis (Nablus), on the road to Scythopolis. This place must not be confounded with the Bezek in the Tribe of Judah, where the Canaanites and Perizzites under their king Adonibezek were beaten by Judah and Simeon, Judges 1:3-4. In respect to the separate mention of Israel and Judah [1 Samuel 11:8] Clericus remarks: “this smacks of the times that followed the division of the Israelites into two kingdoms.” See the same distinction made in 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 2:9 sq.; 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Samuel 5:1-5; 1Sa 19:41 sq.; 1 Samuel 20:24. That the large and powerful tribe of Judah has the relatively small number (30,000) of warriors over against the 300,000 of Israel, is due to the fact that a large part of its territory was in the possession of the Philistines, as to whose further advance more care had to be taken, now that the northeastern frontier of the country was threatened by the Ammonites. The large numbers are explained by the general levy of the people (a sort of militia).

1 Samuel 11:9. The messengers from Jabesh are now dismissed with the answer that help would be brought them the next day by the time the sun was hottest. So confident is Saul with his army in the power of the prophetic spirit, that the Lord will through them bring help. Bold assurance of faith which, in a great undertaking, anticipates its success as an accomplished fact. The messengers from Jabesh had the same confidence of faith.

1 Samuel 11:10. “To-morrow,” that is, one day after the messengers had returned to Jabesh. This message of the Jabeshites to the Ammonites must, according to 1 Samuel 11:3, have led the latter to believe that they wished to treat of terms of surrender. It was a stratagem which made the Ammonites all the more confident.

1 Samuel 11:11. They are overpowered by surprise. The time of the “morning-watch” is from 3 to 6 o’clock in the morning, when the night is darkest. As Saul’s army was not a disciplined one, but hastily gathered from the whole people, he could only hope to gain a complete and decisive victory by attacking the confident Ammonites in their camp from three sides during their soundest sleep. The army, divided into three parts, came “into the midst of the camp” from different directions. The victory was complete “by the heat of the day;” the enemy’s army is utterly scattered. “Two were not left together.”

1 Samuel 11:12-15. Saul’s renewed confirmation and general recognition as king.

1 Samuel 11:12. This bold deed of deliverance, performed under the immediate impulse of the Spirit from above at the head of the nation, legitimizes Saul before all Israel as their God-appointed king. It is quite in keeping with the enthusiasm with which he had inspired the people that they wished to punish his contemptuous opposers (1 Samuel 10:27) with death as traitors. The words: “Saul should reign over us” are to be taken either as exclamation or as question.

1 Samuel 11:13. In respect to this demand Saul appears in a yet nobler light. His heart is full of humble piety; he gives the glory to God alone, saying, “To-day Jehovah hath wrought salvation in Israel.” The victory over the foe is to him nothing but a saving act of God Himself. He regards himself as simply the instrument of God. This is the ground (כִּי, “for”) of the rejection of the demand; none should die that day. It is the utterance of royal generosity towards his enemies, whose hearts it must have won. Thereby he gained another victory: 1) over himself—he restrains himself in the exercise of a right, 2) over the anger of those who demanded that justice be executed, 3) over his former opponents, who now clearly see that which, under the influence of haughty contempt, they had doubted, and 4) over the whole people, who must have been carried along by him on the path of noble moral conduct, and lifted above themselves to the height on which he stood. The enthusiastic recognition of Saul by the whole nation as divinely appointed king was factually (in contrast with 1 Samuel 10:27) completed.

1 Samuel 11:14-15. Then follows, under Samuel’s direction, the formal and solemn renewal of the kingdom. Samuel orders an assembly of the people at Gilgal in the Jordan-valley; from the scene of victory the people, led by Saul and Samuel, go to that holy spot. The object of the gathering he declares to be the renewal of the kingdom with reference to the election of king at Mizpah, 1 Samuel 10:17 sq. What the “renewal of the kingdom” means must be learned from the following words: There they made Saul king before Israel.—The word וַיַּמְלִכוּ [“made king”] cannot be rendered “they anointed him,” because that is not its meaning, and because the act of anointing could have been performed, not by the people, but only by Samuel in the name of Jehovah. For the rest, if there had been a second anointing, it would, on account of its importance, have been expressly mentioned, as in David’s case, 2 Samuel 2:4; v. 3. The translation of the Sept.: “Samuel anointed Saul” is obviously an interpretation, they stumbling at the strange word of the original (וַיַּמְלִכוּ), which seemed to contradict 1 Samuel 10:17 sq., and adopting, as the best expedient, the supposition of a second anointing (with reference to 1 Samuel 10:1), having in mind the double anointing of David. All the other ancient translations follow the Masoretic text. Starting from the unfounded assumption that an anointing is here spoken of, Thenius wrongly argues that here is a sign of different authorship for chap. 11 and 1 Samuel 10:1-16, since a double anointing is hardly supposable. It is in itself quite supposable, since it actually occurred in David’s case, though then for a definite reason. But the text gives no support to this supposition. For the words “they made him king before Jehovah” mean nothing else than the solemn announcement and presentation of Saul before the nation as divinely appointed king in consequence of the divine legitimation given by his brilliant exploit against the Ammonites. [What is above said by Dr. Erdmann may serve also as answer to Wellhausen’s critical remarks on this paragraph. He holds that chap. 11 attaches itself naturally to 1 Samuel 10:16, since Saul in 1 Samuel 11:1-11 is not king, though he knows that he will be, and his whole procedure corresponds psychologically with exactness to the tone of mind naturally induced by the signs 1 Samuel 10:9-12. But this is no less true according to the present arrangement of the text. There is historical motive for the double declaration as king, and there is no external evidence to show that 1 Samuel 10:17-27 and 1 Samuel 11:12-14 are interpolations.—Tr.] The “before the Lord” (Clericus: “calling on God’s name and offering sacrifices to Him”) indicates the essential difference between this act and the proclamartion and homage at Mizpah, marking the religious act of installation sealed with a solemn offering (before the Lord), by which Saul was formally and solemnly consecrated to his office by the invisible God-king with renewed homage and recognition of the whole nation, and another pledge to keep the divine law. It is Saul’s solemn inauguration. The previous facts in the history of his call are the ascending steps to this acme—the solemn beginning of his royal rule.—“What had been done for Saul himself on the day of his anointing, and for the people at the election of king had now in Gilgal been publicly renewed and confirmed for the whole kingdom.” Schlier, Saul, p. 22. The “peace-offerings” which were sacrificed “before the Lord” expressed joy and gratitude before the Lord, the peaceful, joyful relation between Him and His people. Along with this religious side of joy the connected sacrificial meal represented its human side. Thus was celebrated at Gilgal by king and people a festival of great joy. There Samuel performs the functions of priest, and, as prophet and priest, is and remains the organ of the word and blessing of God, under which king and people equally stand, and by which the two are to form the indissoluble theocratic unity and fellowship, which from now on must be the foundation of the whole theocratic life.


See the Exegetical explanations. In addition the following remarks may be made:
1. The deeper the ignominy and the greater the need of God’s people under the threats of the powerful foe, so much the more glorious was the deliverance, so much the more overwhelming the manifestation of the glory and the faithfulness of the covenant-God. The weeping of the people in view of the powerlessness of the ununited tribes and of the scornful pride of the enemy, expressed at the same time the humble, penitent spirit in which they sought the Lord’s help, as, in the time of the Judges, after defection and alienation from God, they ever turned penitently to the Lord when their need was greatest.
2. Saul’s call, in accordance with the occasion which led to the demand for the kingdom, and in accordance with the historical relations of the people to the surrounding heathen nations, was a military one. And so the prelude to his assumption of the government and his public solemn confirmation as king of Israel is this military deed, whose theocratic significance is indicated by the fact, that its source and origin is said to be the laying hold and filling of Saul by the power of the Spirit of God (1 Samuel 11:6). For the military work of the theocratic king must be sanctified, guided, accomplished by God directly through His Spirit, in order that the outer and inner conditions of the farther development of the theocracy in Israel may be secured.

3. The “coming of the Spirit of God” on Saul (1 Samuel 11:6), and on the organs of the theocracy generally, is not to be volatilized into an intensifying of their spiritual life, an uplifting of themselves to words and deeds in the service of God, but must be held to be a real, supernatural entrance of the Spirit of God into their inner life. This, however, is accomplished here (1 Samuel 11:5-6) as in 1 Samuel 10:10, not without an external, natural occasion and human instrumentality. The Spirit of God advances along the path marked out by the divine wisdom.

4. There is a holy anger, justified before God, like that which seized Saul (1 Samuel 11:6). Its origin is the Spirit from above, whose flame kindles it; its object is the power of sin, the shame and ignominy inflicted on God’s people and name, the enemies of God; its aim is the honor of God and the furtherance of the ends of His kingdom.

5. The power of the Spirit of God, which filled and impelled Saul showed itself, in its comprehensive, penetrating power over the national life, by the twofold effect, which was decisive for the first joint action of king and people, and also full of typical meaning for their whole history as people of God: the fear of the Lord in the relation of the people to their God, and the unity of their different parts (“the people went out as one man”); the innermost, the fear of Jehovah, was the source of their conjunction to a firm unity. To awaken and nourish the fear of God in the people by energetic, divinely-guided government, and to set the people as one man in their theocratic fellowship over against the heathen peoples as the people of the Lord, was the task and calling of the theocratic monarchy. These two aims contain the roots of the love of God and one’s neighbor as the twofold fundamental law of the kingdom of God. Matthew 22:37-40; Deuteronomy 6:5 sq.; Leviticus 19:18.

6. When Saul, at his election as king and the partial homage which he received, maintained silence towards his scornful enemies and practiced self-denial in quietness and patience, he performed (over against the demand to visit deserved punishment on the despisers of the Lord’s Anointed) under the guidance of God’s Spirit an act of love to enemies, letting them go unpunished, and setting aside the demand to visit strict justice on them by pointing to the grace and salvation wherein God had just revealed Himself to the whole nation. A prelude of the disposition of forbearing, merciful love, which finds its fulfilment in the New Testament according to the word of the Lord (Matthew 5:44), and through the Spirit from above (Luke 9:55), and has its ground in personal experience of the merciful love of God (Luke 6:36).


1 Samuel 11:1-11. On what depends the help and deliverance of a people in times of great distress? 1) They must lift their voices imploringly to God (1 Samuel 11:4). 2) The men whom God has raised up as their helpers, they must receive with confidence as the Lord’s instruments (1 Samuel 11:5-7). 3) They must be subject in obedience and fidelity to the rulers given them by God. 4) They must place themselves under the discipline and guidance of God’s Spirit, in order, a) in true fear of God to be well-pleasing to the Lord, and b) in true unity of love to be as one man.

1 Samuel 11:1-5. What is meant by the question in a king’s mouth: What aileth the people that they weep? 1) A father’s faithful observation of his people’s weal and woe. 2) A brother’s sympathizing compassion for their distress. 3) A king’s magnanimous readiness to help.

[1 Samuel 11:5-11. Henry (altered): The spirit and conduct of Saul (comp. 1 Samuel 10:9): 1) His humility—anointed king, but following the oxen. 2) His concern for his neighbors (1 Samuel 11:5). 3) His zeal for the safety and honor of Israel (1 Samuel 11:6). 4) The authority and power he exerted, upon this important occasion. 5) His faith and confidence (1 Samuel 11:9). 6) His industry and close application to this business (1 Samuel 11:8; 1 Samuel 11:11). 7) His success.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 11:6-11. The holy communion in which king and people should stand, through the Spirit of the Lord: 1) In righteous anger against all that is hostile to God’s kingdom (1 Samuel 11:6); 2) In true fear of God, which unites king and people inwardly before the Lord; 3) In faithful love, wherein a) the people are heartily obedient to the king’s will, which aims at the common welfare, and b) under his guidance they rise up as one man against the common enemy, and to help the suffering fellow-citizens (1 Samuel 11:7); 4) In firm, confident faith in the Lord’s support, which does not suffer his people to be put to shame (1 Samuel 11:8-11).

1 Samuel 11:8-9. The messages, To-morrow ye shall have help: 1) A testimony of helpful, active brotherly love; 2) A promise of prompt, hastening help; 3) A trustworthy assurance of fortunate success; 4) A source of great joy (“ rejoiced greatly ”).

1 Samuel 11:12-15. To-day the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel: 1) A jubilee-cry, praising the Lord’s honor; 2) A warning cry, reminding of guilty offences against forgiving and compassionate love; 3) An awakening cry, demanding the presentation of thank-offerings before the Lord; 4) A joyous cry, calling to be glad in the Lord.

J. Disselhoff: The first kingly deed. The two noblest ornaments of a servant of God are united in it: 1) Burning, holy zeal in the cause of God and the brethren; 2) Corresponding gentleness in one’s own cause.

[1 Samuel 11:4-6. Scott: The Lord, in providence, will make way for those whom He has designed and prepared for usefulness; nor shall any repent of humbly waiting in obscurity and honest industry, till He is pleased to call them forth; for pride and impatience alone can conclude, that the only wise God has lighted a candle to leave it under a bushel.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 11:6. Starke: Official wrath is unforbidden. [Compare “Historical and Theological,” No. 4. Anger is sometimes lawful, sometimes a duty. It is difficult, but not impossible, to “be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). Our Lord was at the same time angry and grieved (Mark 3:5).—Tr.] S. Schmid: It is the Spirit of God alone that works good in men, whether in an ordinary or an extraordinary manner. Disselhoff: Without this zeal no anointed one may be found. For this word will always hold good: “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord slothfully” [so Luther in Jeremiah 48:10. Eng. A. V., “deceitfully,” but margin, “negligently,” which better suits the connection.—Tr.]—But in truth zeal alone is not yet the right ornament of the warriors of Christ. Prove thy zeal, whether it is not perhaps mixed with flesh and blood, or even proceeds altogether from this fountain; and know that zeal for the Lord’s cause should not flow from mere excitability, from a momentary ebullition of natural compassion, or from being overcome by human displeasure and anger. Not the strange fire which the sons of Aaron took, but the fire from the holy altar, the Spirit of God—let us learn it from Saul!—must overmaster, inflame, inspire us.

1 Samuel 11:7. Berl. Bible: There are two sorts of fear. One is a selfish, reward-seeking fear. In this we are caring for ourselves, and it is self-interest that excites, and that is properly human fear. But there is also a fear of the Lord, the fear that one has for His sake alone, when one fears lest the Lord has been grieved through our own sins, or those of others, or lest we or others should not have sufficiently glorified Him in ourselves.—Disselhoff: This can one man accomplish in the people of God, when he is driven by a holy, fiery zeal. The fear of God goes forth from him, and falls upon all to whom he comes. As soon as the fear of the Lord drives an army, a people, to the conflict, no need of being uneasy as to the result.—One cowardly, surly soldier of Christ, afraid of suffering, easily makes a hundred cowards, for cowardice is contagious.

1 Samuel 11:12. Starke: As in God, so in His deputies, mercy and justice should be inseparable; wheresoever these two go asunder, government follows them into distraction, and ends in ruin.26—Disselhoff: Such a saying (1 Samuel 11:13) is the fairest ornament of God’s warriors, lion-like zeal against the enemies of God, against sin and all its out-breaks, a lamb-like disposition towards individual sinners, for they are not to be destroyed, but to be saved through the same salvation that has fallen to our lot.—Berlenb. Bible: Saul’s answer instructs the people in two things at once: first, that we must not ascribe victory to man, but to God; secondly, that we must not be too swift in judging those who through ignorance have rejected God’s guidance, and that the salvation which God has, in so glorious a manner, given to Israel, would be mighty enough to bring back again those who have wandered away.—God wills not the death of the sinner, etc. Excessive strictness rather repels sinners, than brings them right again.

1 Samuel 11:14-15. Cramer: The best bond between authorities and subjects is that they intend to be mutually faithful.—Disselhoff: When one does even something great for his Lord, and does not shrink from much toil and trouble for His sake, can his heart abide in very great joy if he forgets gentleness and patience towards his neighbor, becomes provoked against him, bitter and ill-mannerly?


[1][1 Samuel 11:1. On reading of Sept. and Vulg. see Expos.—Tr.]

[2][1 Samuel 11:1. Or, laid siege to.—Tr.]

[3][1 Samuel 11:2. The word “covenant” is not in the Heb. but is involved in the verb. The insertion of the word in the Heb. text is therefore unnecessary. Throughout this passage the Sept. has explanatory additions, which need be regarded only as the freedoms of a translator.—Tr.]

[4][1 Samuel 11:2. Rendered “pick out” by Eng. A. V. in Ps. 30:17.—Tr.]

[5][1 Samuel 11:3. הֶרֶף Hiph. Impv. Apoc. of רפה. Ges. Heb. Gr., §75, Rem. 15.—Tr.]

[6][1 Samuel 11:3. Or, into every region.—Tr.]

[7][1 Samuel 11:4. Sept. has incorrectly “to Gibeah to Saul;” it is evident that the message was not brought to Saul. Syr. “the hill of Saul,” Arab. “the city of Saul,” but the word is a proper name.—Tr.]

[8][1 Samuel 11:4. Lit. “spake the words (or things).” In 1 Samuel 11:5 it is: “related the words (or things).”—Tr.]

[9][1 Samuel 11:7. Comp. Exodus 29:17; Leviticus 1:6; Judges 20:6.—Tr.]

[10][1 Samuel 11:7. Some render: “sent (word) etc., saying.”—Tr.]

[11][1 Samuel 11:8. The Sept. gives for Israel 600,000, and for Judah 70,000, about double the numbers in the Heb. text—an illustration of the tendency to magnify numbers.—Tr.]

[12][1 Samuel 11:9. Lit. “in (Qeri, at) the heat of the sun;” see similar pharse in 1 Samuel 11:11.—Tr.]

[13][1 Samuel 11:12. Sept., Chald., Syr., Arab., insert a negative: “Saul shall not reign over us;” Chald., “is not fit to reign,” Vulg. as Heb. This neg. doe not necessarily imply a different text, yet a לֹא may easily have fallen out of the Heb., the preceding word ending with ל. The sense is the same in both readings.—Tr.]

[14][1 Samuel 11:12. This word is plu. in Heb., Chald., Vulg., Arab., but sing. in Sept. and Syr.; the former, as the more difficult reading (since the address was to Samuel), is to be preferred.—Tr.]

[15][1 Samuel 11:15. Sept: anointed—as interpretation.—Tr.]

[16][1 Samuel 11:15. Sept.: Samuel (instead of Saul)—more probably error of transcription than attempt to make Samuel conspicuous.—Tr.]

[17][Reading בְּמֵחדֶשׁ instead of כְּמַחֲרִישׁ.—Tr.]

[18][Not if he had a different text before him.—Tr.]

[19][On the relation between this Nahash and the person mentioned in 2 Samuel 17:25 as father of Abigail, and for discussion of 1 Chronicles 2:16, see Arts. Abigail, Zeruiah, Nahash, in Smith’s Bib. Dict. and the Commentaries in loco, and comp. 2 Samuel 17:27.—Tr.]

[20][“On the mountains in full view of Beisan.” Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 174.—Tr.]

[21][This is not the exact expression of the text; rather the putting out of the eyes was the condition of surrender and treaty offered in savage pleasantry by Nahash.—Tr.]

[22] בְּזות, “in this,” that is, on this condition. The suff. הָ in שַׂמְתִּיהָ is to be taken as neuter, referring to the putting out of the eyes.

[23][It is not said, that they went first to Gibeah.—Tr.]

[24][The word Elohim or El (God) is apparently sometimes used in the Old Testament in a superlative sense=“very great or high,” as in Psalms 36:7 (6), which is literally “mountains of El,” Psalms 68:16 (15), 1 Samuel 14:15, or with Prep. ל (to) as in Jonah 3:3. But in the former cases the true meaning of the word “God” is always kept in the foreground, though the adjectival conception “great” naturally attaches to it.—Tr.]

[25][The German has incorrectly 7. Bezek is differently located by different writers. See the dictionaries of Winer, Fairbairn, and Smith, s. v.—Tr.]

[26][As Starke has borrowed this (apparently without acknowledgment) word for word from the English Bishop Hall, we have not re-translated, but given the original. And so in numerous subsequent eases.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 11". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-samuel-11.html. 1857-84.
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