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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 9

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

Verses 1-27

II. Samuel meets Saul and Learns that he is Destined by God to be King over Israel

1 Samuel 9:1-27

1Now [And] 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,1 [ins. the son of2] a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.3 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice young man and a goodly [young and goodly4]; 2and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he; from the shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

3And the asses5 of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to Saul, his 4son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses. And he passed through6 mount Ephraim [the hill-country of Ephraim], and passed through the land of Shalisha, but [and] they found them not, then [and] they passed through the land of Shalim [Shaalim], and there they were not, and he passed through the 5land of the Benjamites,7 but [and] they found them not. And [om. and] when they8 were come to the land of Zuph, 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 6for [be anxious about9] us. And he said unto [to] him, Behold, now, there is in this city a man of God,10 and he is an honorable11 man [the man is honorable]; all that he saith cometh surely to pass; now let us go thither; peradventure he Song of Song of Solomon 7:0[will] show us our way that we should go.12 Then said Saul [And Saul said] to his servant, But, [And] behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God; what have 8we? And the servant answered Saul again and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver, that will I give [and I13 will give it] to the 9man of God to tell [that he may show] us our way. (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come and let us go to the seer; for Hebrews 10:0 that is now14 called a prophet was beforetime called a seer.) Then said Saul [And Saul said] to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So [And] they went unto the city where the man of God was.

11And [om. and] as they went up [were going up15] the hill to [on which was16] the city, they found [came upon] young maidens going out to draw water, and said 12unto them, Is the seer here? And they answered them and said, He is; behold, he is before you [thee]; make haste,17 now, for he came to-day17 to the city, for 13there is a sacrifice of the people to-day in [on] the high place; As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat; for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and [om. and] afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore [And now] get 14you up, for [ins. he18], about this time ye shall find him. And they went up into [to] the city; and [om. and] when they were come [As they were going] into the city, behold, Samuel came out [was coming out] against [towards] them, for [om. 15for] to go up to the high place. Now [And] the Lord [Jehovah] had told Samuel 16in his ear [had informed Samuel19] a day before Saul came, saying, To-morrow, about this time [About this time to-morrow] I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain [prince] over my people Israel, that he may [and he shall] save my people out of the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon my people,20 because their cry is come unto me. 17And when [om. when] Samuel saw Saul, [ins. and] the Lord [Jehovah] said unto [answered] him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same [the man of whom I said to thee, he] shall reign over my people.

18Then [And] Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate,21 and said, Tell me, I pray 19thee, where the seer’s house is. And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer; go up before me unto the high place, for [and] ye shall eat with me to-day, and to-morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart [and I 20will let thee go in the morning, and all that is in thy heart I will tell thee]. And as for thine asses, that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel [And to whom belongs all that is desirable22 in Israel]? is it not on [does it not belong to] thee, and on [to] 21all thy father’s house? And Saul 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 tribe23 of Benjamin? [ins. and] wherefore then [om. then] speakest thou so to 22me? And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlor [eating-room], and made them sit in the chiefest place among [and gave them a place at the head of] them that were bidden, which [and they] were about thirty24 23persons. And Samuel said unto [to] the cook, Bring the portion which I gave 24thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee. And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul, and Samuel [om. Samuel, ins. he25] said, Behold that which is left! set it before thee [what was reserved is set26 before thee]; and [om. and] eat, for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said,27I have invited the people. So [And] Saul did eat with Samuel that day.

25And when they were come [And they came] down from the high place unto [to] the city, Samuel [om. Samuel, ins. and he] communed [spake] with Saul upon the 26top of the house [the roof]. And they arose early;28 and it came to pass about the spring of the day [at day-dawn] that Samuel called [ins. to] Saul to [on] the top of the house [roof], saying, Up [Rise], that I may [and I will] send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad [on the 27street]. And [om. and] as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us (and he passed on29), but [and] stand thou still a while, that I may [and I will] show [tell] thee the word of God.


1 Samuel 9:1-2. Saul’s family and person.—The statement that Kish was the son of Abiel is opposed to that of 1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39, according to which Ner was the father of Kish, but agrees with 1 Samuel 14:51, according to which Ner was the father of Abner and the son of Abiel, and therefore the brother of Kish. This difference is not to be set aside by the arbitrary assumption that Ner in Chron. is not the father, but the grandfather, or a still remoter ancestor of Kish (Keil), but the statement in Chron is to be corrected by this and 1 Samuel 14:51. [Keil’s supposition of an omitted name in the list is scarcely “arbitrary,” since such omissions are elsewhere found in genealogical records. To construct Saul’s genealogy it is natural to compare the various statements in the Scriptures, and attempt to make them accord. Bringing together Genesis 46:2; 1 Samuel 9:1; 1 Samuel 14:51; 1Ch 7:6-8; 1 Chronicles 8:29-33; 1 Chronicles 9:35-39, the following line may be made out: 1. Benjamin. 2. Becher. 3. Aphiah—perhaps same with Abiah. 4. Bechorath. 5. Zeror or Zur. 6. Abiel or Jehiel. 7. Numbers 8:0. Kish. 9. Saul, in which, however, some links may be omitted, as Matri, mentioned 1 Sam. 1 Samuel 10:21. Abner is thus Saul’s uncle, as in 1 Samuel 14:50. If Ehud in 1 Chronicles 7:10 be the judge of that name (Judges 3:0.), he was not of the same family with Saul. In 1 Chronicles 9:35 Jehiel, the ancestor of Saul, is said to have been the father, that is, the first settler of Gibeon; but it is uncertain how far back we have to put him. The name “Saul” was borne by others, see Genesis 36:37-38; Genesis 46:10; 1 Chronicles 6:24; Acts 7:58. See Bib. Dicts., s. v. Ner and Saul, and Comms. on “Chronicles.”—Tr.]. The phrase גִּבּוֹר חָיִל [Eng. A.V. “a mighty man of power”] here means a rich well-to-do man (Ges., De Wette) and not as in 1 Samuel 16:18, a strong, valiant man (Vulgate, Cler., Then.); for it undoubtedly refers to Kish, who is, indeed, “not represented in the history as specially wealthy” (Then.), but is all the more distinctly described as in easy circumstances and prosperous. It is intended to state that Saul came from a substantial family. This accords much better with the connection than the representation of him as a man of vigor and strength by the statement that his father was a valiant man.—The genealogical statement about Saul’s descent is followed (1 Samuel 9:2) by a short description of his person. The name Saul means the “asked” (comp. Genesis 46:10); “it occurs frequently, and was, probably, usually the name of the desired (asked) first-born” (Then.). Saul was a choice and handsome man. בָחוּר is to be rendered electus (Vulg.), 30 not only because he had a grown son (1 Samuel 13:1-3), but also because it is expressly said (1 Samuel 10:24) that the Lord elected and chose him, because his like was not to be found in all the people, that is, in respect to his distinguished personal appearance; in spite of the first-mentioned fact, he might else still have ranked as a young man. He excelled all other Israelites both in warlike beauty and in height, according to the vivid description “from the shoulder upward;” his person was in keeping with the lofty position to which, as ruler over Israel, he was chosen by God, as is expressly said in 1Sa 10:24.31

1 Samuel 9:3-10. The occasion of Saul’s meeting with Samuel: The loss of and search for the asses of Kish.

1 Samuel 9:3. Kish’s preparations for recovering the lost asses show him to be a substantial and propertied man. His command to his son “take a servant, arise, go, seek,” gives a vivid description of what occurred. 1 Samuel 9:4 sqq. contain a similarly fresh and animated description of Saul’s wandering search with his servant. The mention of the hill-country of Ephraim first as scene of the search is explained by the fact that these hills stretched from the north down into the territory of Benjamin, and Gibeah, Saul’s home and starting-point (comp. 1Sa 10:26; 1 Samuel 11:4; 1 Samuel 15:34; 1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 26:1) lay on their slope. The land of Shalisha, which they next traversed, probably takes its name from שָׁלשׁ [“three”], because there three valleys united in one, or one divided into three = Threeland (see then. in Käuffer’s Stud. d. sächs. Geistl. II., 142); it is the region in which, according to 2 Kings 4:42, Baalshalisha lay [15 miles north of Diospolis or Lydda.—Tr.]. Thereupon they traversed the land of Shaalim, according to Then., “perhaps a very deep valley (comp. שׁעַל ‘the hollow of the hand,’ and משְׁעֹל ‘a hollow or narrow way’ ”), probably the region which lay eastward from Shalisha, where on the maps of Robinson and Vandevelde the Beni Mussah and Beni Salem are marked (comp. Keil in loco).32 The next statement that they traversed the land of Benjamin, indicates that from Shaalim they go from north-east to south-west. Thence they came into the land of Zuph, which, as Keil supposes, lay on the south-west of the tribe-territory of Benjamin, since “Saul and his follower on the return home pass first (1 Samuel 10:2) by the tomb of Rachel, and then come to the border of Benjamin.”—[Kitto remarks that Saul’s tender regard for his father’s feelings (1 Samuel 9:5) is a favorable indication of character.—Tr.].

1 Samuel 9:6. The servant prevents Saul from returning home immediately, pointing out to him the city before him standing on an eminence, where they would find the man of God, who would perhaps tell them how they might attain the object of their search. The way, on which they came,33 is the way on which they now are, that they may find what they are seeking; the seer will now perhaps tell them the direction in which they must go on this way, in order to find the asses. From the connection of the whole history of Samuel the city can be no other than his residence, Ramathaim (or, Ramah) Zophim (1 Samuel 1:1), that is, in the district of Zuph, in the Tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25). Keil is wrong in pressing against this general assumption the fact that the servant does not say “here dwells,” but “here is” a man of God, which is plainly farfetched. Equally forced is his explanation of the answer of the maidens (1 Samuel 9:12): “He came today to the city, for there is a great sacrifice of the people on the high-place,” from which he infers that the seer’s house was not in the city, but that he had only come thither to the sacrificial feast; their answer rather confirms the former view, since the question “is the seer here?” referred to the city, while the place of offering was on the eminence behind the city, where Samuel in those days worked and dwelt. Samuel has his residence in this city (comp. 1 Samuel 9:25 with 1 Samuel 9:18); Keil’s supposition of a temporary residence, which he occupied during his presence at the festival, is wholly untenable. As Samuel had built an altar to the Lord at Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17), it is more natural to think of this residence of Samuel than of any other place, the name of which would no doubt otherwise have been given. Finally, it is to be added that Samuel is known to the servant, and the latter knows that he is here. On the other supposition, how should he know that Samuel was here precisely at this time, if it was not his residence? [These arguments are replied to in various ways by expositors who hold that this city was not Ramah. But Erdmann is undoubtedly right in saying that the impression made by this narrative is that it was Samuel’s residence to which Saul came. The difficulty lies in reconciling this statement with the itinerary in 1 Samuel 10:2-5. See the exposition and translator’s note on 1 Samuel 1:1. As Rachel’s tomb was near Bethlehem, and Saul was going towards Bethel, one would suppose the city in 1 Samuel 9:0 to be south or southwest from Bethlehem, that is, not in the territory of Benjamin at all. And if it was not Ramah it is impossible to say what it was.—It is worthy of note that Saul seems to know nothing about Samuel; it is the servant that knows and does everything. Saul rather appears as a simple-minded rustic youth, who has rarely left his pastoral occupations, and knows little of the political and religious elements of the time.—Tr.].—From this passage it appears (comp. 1 Samuel 9:9) that the earliest prophets were consulted by the people about ordinary matters of life, of which they were looked on as having superior knowledge. It is, however, undetermined, whether Samuel would have answered the question about the asses, if the loss of and search for them had not been, according to the revelation made him from above, the divinely-appointed means for bringing him into connection with the person of the designated king.

1 Samuel 9:7-8. Those who went to question the prophets carried them presents (comp. 1 Kings 14:3). These are in the first place to be regarded as honorary gifts, intended to show respect. But this does not exclude the supposition that they depended for support on these voluntary gifts offered in return for information desired. Saul fears that he has no gift worthy of the man, but the servant, who is drawn to the life, is ready with the reply: “There is in my hand (I have here at hand) the fourth of a shekel of silver” (called zuz (זוּז) by the later Jews, see Targ. Jon. in loc). The silver-shekel and its parts (½,⅓,¼), are not pieces weighed in transference, but already of determined weight and value, coins “current with the merchant” (Genesis 23:16), which were “counted.” The Shekel was in German money about 26 silbergroschen, the quarter, therefore, about 6½ silbergroschen. [There is no means of determining precisely the value of the shekel in Samuel’s time. In our Lord’s time a stater = shekel seems to have been about 70 cents United States currency, and a quarter about 18 (equivalent perhaps to two dollars now). A German Silbergroschen is about 2½ cents in our currency. There is no evidence that coined money existed in Israel before the captivity, and the first native coins were probably struck some centuries after the Return.—Tr.]. The Preterites give an admirably true picture of the animated manner of the servant, who is intent only on the object of their search, and willingly makes the sacrifice of the money for the asses.

1 Samuel 9:9. “The man” (הָאִישׁ) is the indef. subject (Germ. man [Eng. one]), though the Art. makes the individual personality more prominent. Ew. Gr. § 294 d. An express difference is made here between the ancient designation of the prophet Roeh (רֹאֶה), for which later in the solemn, poetic language the synonymous Chozeh (חֶזה “gazer“) was used, and the term in use in the author’s time Nabi (נָבִיא). The former (Roeh, seer), points only to the form in which “the insight” into what was hidden came to them, the latter (Nabi), on the contrary, “to the source of the divinatory insight, to God” (Tholuck, Die Propheten, p. 21). The remark in 1 Samuel 9:9 belongs according to its content to 1 Samuel 9:11.

[Note on Roeh.—The statement in 1 Samuel 9:9 has special interest in connection with the history of prophetic work in Israel. The three terms named above have each its peculiar meaning and its special use, though to a certain extent employed interchangeably. Besides in this chapter, Roeh occurs three times of Samuel (1 Chronicles 9:22; 1 Chronicles 26:28; 1 Chronicles 29:29), twice of Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:9-10), once with a general application (Isaiah 30:10), and once apparently of Zadok the priest in a passage (2 Samuel 15:27) where the text is somewhat involved in suspicion; it is used, that is, c. B. C. 1100–700. Chozeh is found in 2 Sam., in the prophets, and in Chron., about B. C. 800–400. Nabi occurs from Gen. to Mai., in nearly every book of the Old Testament. As to the meaning, Nabi is clearly one who speaks for God (see the general meaning in Exodus 7:1), announcing or representing His will by His command. Cnozeh, the “gazer,” is one who sees visions of God; the verb, where it means “behold,” is used only in poetry, and always of divine visions, and the noun was employed as synonymous with Nabi, meaning prophet in the fullest sense. So, too, Roeh the “seer,“ in the one passage (Isaiah 30:10) where it occurs with a general application, is used as synonymous with Chozeh, while our verse here affirms the substantial identity of Roeh and Nabi. But, as the Nabi always claims inspiration, whether he be true or false, we must regard the Roeh also as an inspired person. Dr. R. Payne Smith (“Prophecy a prep. for Christ,” Lect. II.) holds that the Roeh was simply a man of acute understanding, uninspired, to whom the people were in the habit of resorting for advice in difficult matters. He bases his view chiefly on this chapter, and especially on the Sept. reading of 1 Samuel 9:9 : “the people called Roeh him,” etc., a reading which can hardly be sustained; and, for the reasons given above, it seems necessary to regard the Roeh as inspired. The change of name from Roeh to Nabi and Chozeh had its ground probably in the development of the religious constitution. Up to some time before the author of “Samuel” wrote, the non-sacerdotal, non-Levitical religious teacher was one distinguished by seeing visions, or by seeing into the will of God. This is God’s definition of the prophet in Numbers 11:6; it is involved in 1 Samuel 3:1; 1 Samuel 3:15, and in the visions of the patriarchs. The Law of Moses was the complete and sufficient guide for life and worship, and it was only in special individual matters that the divine direction was given, and then it was through the medium of a vision. He who saw the vision was a Roeh, and it was natural enough that he should be consulted by the people about many matters. But in process of time the mechanicalness and deadness to which the legal ritual constantly tended called forth an order of men who expounded and enforced the spirituality of the Law, speaking as God bade them, speaking for God, entering as a prominent element into the religious life of the nation. He who thus spake was a Nabi, and, as he too might have visions, he was sometimes called Chozeh “the gazer” (the verb חזהis not necessarily always to “gaze” as Dr. Smith maintains (ubi sup.), as, for ex., in Proverbs 22:29, but is the poetic conception “behold” as distinguished from “see,” though in the visional use it is appropriately rendered “gaze”). As this speaker for God gradually took the place of the old seer of visions, the word Nabi replaced Roeh in popular usage. It seems that the change began in or about Samuel’s time, and was completed about three centuries later, Roeh still maintaining itself in the language, though rarely used. On the other hand, Nabi may have been used infrequently in early times, in reference to Abraham and Moses, and have become afterwards the common term, or the occurrence of the word in the Pentateuch may be the transference of a late word to earlier scenes.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 9:11-14. The announcement of theSeer” (הֵמָּה עֹלִים, Just as they were going up … then (וְהֵמָּה); the Partcp. with preceding subject denotes a circumstance or fact, synchronously with which or at the occurrence of which another fact or circumstance takes place, which is introduced by וְ before the subject (Ew, Gr., § 341 d). A similar construction with המה ... והמה follows in 1 Samuel 9:14 and 1 Samuel 9:27)—The word “here” (בַּזֶּה) refers to the city, which was on an eminence, since they met the water-drawers as they were going up The answer of the maidens (1 Samuel 9:12) “before thee” is a “direction to go simply straightforward” (Bunsen). Here too the description is very lively, answering perfectly to the peculiarities of the persons. “He came into the city” presupposes either that his residence was without it, or that he had been absent from it some time (Then.). The “height” on which the offering took place must be distinguished from the height on which the city stood. The name Ramathaim34 [= the two Ramahs, or heights] refers to those two heights. The Bamah, high-place (comp. Micah 3:12, where it is synonymous with הַר “mountain,” and Micah 1:3-4; Jeremiah 26:18 with Amos 4:1) is the sacred place of sacrifice on the mountain which rose still higher than the city (comp. 1 Samuel 9:11 with 1 Samuel 9:13; 1 Samuel 9:25; 1 Samuel 9:27). Of such “Bamoth,” holy places on heights, where the people assembled for sacrifice and prayer, there were several during the unquiet times of the Judges, especially after the central Sanctuary at Shiloh ceased to exist, till the building of the Temple (comp. 1 Samuel 7:9; 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 13:8 sq.; 1 Samuel 16:2-3; 1 Kings 3:2 sq.), as indeed the Patriarchs sacrificed on high places (Genesis 12:8). It was not till after the building of the Temple that the high-place-worship, which easily degenerated into idolatry (wherefore the Law forbade sacrifice except in Jehovah’s dwelling, the Sanctuary) was completely done away with (2 Kings 23:4-23).—In 1 Samuel 9:13 כֵּן corresponds to כְּ, both expressing identity of time, or the concurrence of the acts of coming and finding = “as … forthwith,” or “when … straightway.” Ew. Gram. § 360 b.—The seer is just going to a sacrificial meal on the high-place. The “people” await him there. A large assembly is therefore gathered to-day on the high-place for a thank-offering, בֵּרֵךְ here = ἐυλογεῖν, ἐυχαριστεῖν [“bless,”. “give thanks”]. The “him” is repeated in this animated discourse, because the somewhat garrulous and circumstantial women wish to bring the chief person prominently before the inquirer.35They that are bidden” are those whom Samuel had invited to this sacrificial meal, comp. 1 Samuel 9:24.

1 Samuel 9:14. The course of events now, according to the very precise and detailed account of the narrator, is as follows: First Saul and his servant go up to the city. Pursuant to the directions of the maidens they pass quickly in. The curt, rapid character of the narration corresponds to the movement. Next, they are already in the midst of the city, when, this is the third fact, Samuel, going out of the city, meets them; they meet in the middle of the city, he going outward toward the high-place, they going inward. That they had gone through the gate was a matter of course and did not require mention. And the statement of 1 Samuel 9:18 : “And Saul drew near to Samuel in the midst of the gate,” or, stepped up to him, the fourth fact, need not be regarded as contradictory to the preceding statement: “in the midst of the city;” for, from these two statements it is clear that Saul did not go up to Samuel as soon as he met him, as appears also from 1 Samuel 9:17, where it is expressly said what intervened: Samuel saw Saul, and received from God the disclosure that this was the man in reference to whom He had before made a revelation to him. We must therefore suppose a pause between the meeting in the city and the talk in the gate, during which Saul followed Samuel till he approached him in the gate. Thus there is no need for the conjecture that the verse read originally “gate” instead of “city” (Then.), nor the supposition that the narrator was guilty of carelessness (Reuss), nor the artificial, unclear explanation that the words mean “to go into the city, enter, and the entrance was through the gate” (Keil). Ewald’s remark that, since Raman, Samuel’s city, was certainly not large, “in the midst of the city” (1 Samuel 9:4) is not very different from “in the midst of the gate” (1 Samuel 9:18), comes in excellently, in the sense that the distance between the middle of the city and the middle of the gate was small, to explain satisfactorily why Saul, after the meeting in the city, did not approach Samuel to speak to him till he was in the middle of the gate. Further it is to be noted that conversation and consultation were usually held “in the gate,” not on the street, and the pause which Saul’s question supposes Samuel to have made could properly occur only in the place set aside for public interviews.

1 Samuel 9:15-17. The revelation which Samuel received the day before Saul’s arrival, that a man of Benjamin would come to him, whom he was to anoint prince over Israel, was psychologically based on his constant prayerful expectant reflection as to how God would establish the monarchy promised to the people. “To uncover the ear” when said of God, signifies, as in 2 Samuel 7:27, the divine Spirit’s announcement to the human spirit, the inbreathing of divine thoughts from above through the word.—I will send to thee, (1 Samuel 9:16): The “I will send” sets forth the divine providence, which so guides the ways of Saul, the chosen king, that he must come to Samuel, the head of Israel and mediator between God and his people. Clericus: “I will take care that he come to thee. For Saul was ignorant of the whole matter, and, while vainly seeking asses, found an unexpected kingdom.” The future king came from the most warlike tribe, and this revelation to Samuel declares that his mission was a warlike one, the deliverance, namely, of Israel from the domination of the Philistines. Israel’s victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:13) was not followed by a complete liberation of land and people from these enemies; rather the words: “The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel” point to repeated successful battles against them. It was these that Saul fought, and Samuel survived during the greater part of his reign. Comp. the remarks on 1 Samuel 7:13. “I have looked upon my people” means not “I have had regard to their prayers” (Cleric.), but, as in Exodus 2:25, in reference to the Egyptian bondage, which was the type of every oppression of Israel by external means, that God, ever present to help His people, had a compassionate knowledge of their needs and misery. The insertion of the Sept. of the words “affliction of,” before “my people,” is a correct explanation, but not necessary as a part of the original text; for the following words: “their cry is come to me” explain sufficiently in what sense God’s seeing, to which the hearing of the people’s cry corresponds, is to be understood.

1 Samuel 9:17. At the moment when Samuel saw Saul, he received by divine revelation the inward assurance that this man was the king chosen by God. The phrase “answered” refers to the question which Samuel internally asked God when he saw Saul, whether this was the Benjamite of whom he had been divinely told the day before. The word “bind, restrain” (יַעְצֹר) characterizes his government as a sharp and strict one, as a coercere imperio. To this mental experience of Samuel’s corresponded the short interval between his passage to the gate and Saul’s approach to him in the gate with the question about the seer.

1 Samuel 9:18-27. Saul Samuel’s guest, and the tatter’s talk with him. 1 Samuel 9:18 takes up the thread from 1 Samuel 9:14, after the parenthesis, 1 Samuel 9:17. In reply to Saul’s question as to the seer’s house, Samuel announces himself (1 Samuel 9:19) as the” seer.” The direction: “go up before me” is a mark of respect, like the invitation to take the chief place (1 Samuel 9:22), and the selection of the best portion at the meal (1 Samuel 9:24). Ye shall eat with me today includes the servant, while the courtesy could only be meant for Saul as the master. All that is in thy heart I will tell thee—not: “whatsoever thou shalt desire” (Cleric.) in reference to the object of his coming; for in respect to the asses he gives him information immediately (1 Samuel 9:20), but Samuel will reveal to him his innermost thoughts (Bunsen). He speaks to him as prophet, and prepares him for what he has to communicate to him as prophet. Thenius’ reference of the words to what Saul does in chap. 13, as if he had “long had it in mind,” seems too particular for the general connection here. The reference is rather to the powers and impulses of an aspiring soul, which lay latent in Saul, and fitted him for his destined calling, as well as to his sinful nature, which, by opposing God, might prove a hindrance. In 1 Samuel 9:20 Samuel says two things, by which he showed Saul that he was a prophet. First, he announces to him that the ground of anxiety for the asses is already removed.—Which were lost to-day three days, that is, “to-day is the third day,” day before yesterday, see Ew., Gr., § 287, k [Ges., Gr., § 118, 2].—Set not thy mind on them stands over against the preceding “what is in thy heart.” From now on his heart is to claim and accomplish something higher. To this Samuel’s second expression refers, which hints indistinctly at the great and noble destiny to which God has elected him, in order to awaken and call out what was hidden in his heart. All the desire (כָּל־חֶמְדַּת י׳), omnis eupiditas, omne desiderium Israelis, but in the objective sense: everything worthy of desire, valuable, optima quœque (Vulg.): This signifies, in contrast with the sought and found asses, that noblest possession, which pertained to all Israel, and was destined for him and his father’s house, was to be his, unsought and undesired: the royal dignity. Samuel “draws him away from caring about the asses, and first lifts him up to high thoughts and hopes” (O. v. Gerlach). Samuel’s obscure, enigmatic words only give him a glimpse of something great and lofty pertaining to himself and his house, and give occasion (1 Samuel 9:21) to a disclamatory reply, which exhibits that which is now in his heart, namely, humility and modesty. The supposition that Saul “well understood that Samuel spoke of the honor of the kingdom” (Dächsel) does not accord with the purposely general and indefinite character of Samuel’s words. It is without support from the connection and inconsistent with 1 Samuel 10:20-21, to explain Saul’s “answer—that the best thing in Israel could not belong to him and his house, because his tribe was the smallest in Israel, and his family the least in this tribe—in reference to his later very different bearing, as “pretended modesty” (Then.). Saul came only afterwards to be untrue to this disposition of mind, which was the condition of his election. (Instead of the obviously erroneous plural, שִׁבְטֵי, “tribes,” read sing., “tribe”). The warlike tribe of Benjamin, one of the smallest already in the census of Numbers 1:36 sq., had been reduced by the frightful execution recorded in Judges 20:20 to an inconsiderable power. The consciousness of this fact is expressed in Saul’s words. Looking at his tribe and family, he will not presume to claim so high a consideration as the seer has intimated. Samuel makes him no answer. “He wishes to awaken in him astonishment, expectation, hope” (O. v. Gerlach).

1 Samuel 9:22-24 now relate how Samuel entertains him as an honored guest at the sacrificial meal.

1 Samuel 9:22. A select number of thirty men of note were invited to this festival, and had taken their places in the room (לִשְׁכָּה) provided for the purpose. The uppermost place, as the place of honor, is assigned to Saul and his companion. All the people could not be in the room, but held the feast in the open air. Samuel (1 Samuel 9:23) orders the reserved piece of the meat, as the best, to be set before them. This is more exactly described in 1 Samuel 9:24 as the thigh or shoulder, and “what was on it” [attached to it] (הֶעָלֶיהָ Art. with Rel. force), not “what was over it,” the broth with which the meat was eaten (Maur.). That which was attached to it was the best of the flesh of the offered animals; whether the fat on it, not used in the offering, or the flesh near the shoulder, cannot be determined; it could not be the kidneys (Then., Bunsen), for they, with the attached fat (אֲשֶׁר עֲלֵהֶן), were burned in the slain-offering (Leviticus 3:4). It was probably the right36 leg, which Samuel, as priest, had ordered to be reserved; for it belonged to the priest, according to the Law, Leviticus 7:32 sqq.—“The resemblance to Genesis 42:34 is rather from the facts themselves, not from an imitation of one passage by the other.” Ew. Gesch. III. 29, Rem. 3.—The minute description of the cook’s procedure is worthy of note: “and the cook took up,” etc., corresponding to the precise account of Samuel’s conduct as host. The insertion of “Samuel to Saul” (Sept.), or “Samuel” (Vulg.), after “and he said,” is not necessary (Then.), for, considering 1 Samuel 9:23 and the first sentence of 1 Samuel 9:24 as a parenthesis (like 1 Samuel 9:15-17), the “and he said” continues the principal matter, the speech of Samuel. The following words so obviously suit Samuel and not the cook, that a misunderstanding was impossible.37 Here also the translation of the Sept. is explicative. שִׂים [Eng. A. V. “set”] is not Imper., but Pas. Partcp. (as in Obadiah 1:4; Numbers 24:21). For the construction see Ew., Gr., § 149 sq., Böttcher, Neue Ærenlese in loco. As to the occurrence, the latter properly remarks that Saul could not be bidden to do what the cook had already just done (וַיָשֶׂם). Render: “behold, the reserved piece is set before thee.” The following words, in which Samuel invites Saul to eat, present great difficulties in the text.—[The literal rendering is: “eat, for at (or unto) the time (or festival) it was preserved for thee, saying (this is the word which makes the grammatical difficulty), the people I have invited.”—Tr.] The translation: “for it is kept for thee for the time when I said, I have invited the people,” is unclear (De Wette, Keil), and labors under the rendering “when I said” for לֵאמֹר [“saying”]. Thenius (following the Sept., and reading לְעֻמַּת for לֵאמֹר, and קְרָץ־נַא for קָרָאתִי) renders: “it has been kept for thee for a sign with (or, in reference to) the people (namely, that thou from now on will be the first), fall to (that is, begin);” against which Böttcher shows that מוֹעֵד cannot mean sign, and that this conjectured text is untenable (p. 114 in loco). But Böttcher’s own view is equally untenable: he holds that an Aceus. Pron. has fallen out (for קָרָאתִי stood originally ־תִיךְ or ־תִיו), and renders: “eat, for to the end (or for the time) it has been kept for thee, that the people might say (think), I have invited thee (or him).” But the people knew without this that he had invited this guest; no special indication of the invitation was needed, and the reserved portion would rather suggest a reference to the distinction thus conferred on Saul, as Thenius rightly remarks. Thenius further supposes that the original reading may have been “invited him” (קְרָאָהוּ), and renders: “to this end it is kept for thee, in order (thereby) to say, the people have invited him,” that is, he came in accordance with the general desire as honored guest, as chief person. But for this sense there is no historical authority; for the reservation of the portion of honor had nothing to do with an invitation of Saul by the people, and this invitation was in fact given by Samuel alone. Ewald (ubi sup., p. 29, Rem. 3)38 renders: “for a sign that thou wast invited before the rest of the people (1 Samuel 9:22), or that thou art marked out from the rest of the people,” which gives no clear sense. Bunsen retains the masoretic text, and translates: “the chief portion was kept for thee to this time; the meal was in fact arranged in honor of thee, as chief person, though I said, the people of the place shall be guests,” but himself admits that this is somewhat forced. “Though I said” is still less possible as translation of לֵאמֹר than “ when I said.” All the difficulties centre in this word. If a corruption of the text is to be supposed, it seems best to adopt Haug’s reading (see in Bunsen) לַאֲשֶׁר,and translate: “it was kept for thee for the feast, or festive gathering, to which I invited the people.” Luther: “for it was reserved for thee just at this time when I invited the people.” The sense of Samuel’s words is, that he knew by divine revelation (1 Samuel 9:15-16) that he would come. He sees a divine providence in Saul’s coming just at this time. In accordance with the intimation which he had received from above, he showed honor not merely to the guest as such, but to him whom God had chosen king of Israel, for such Samuel by the divine instruction had recognized him to be (1 Samuel 9:17). [As it stands, the Heb. of this clause does not admit of translation, the vss. do not suggest a satisfactory reading (Chald. follows Heb. literally, and Syr. omits the words “ saying, I have invited the people”), and the emendations proposed are all unsatisfactory. Yet the purpose seems clearly to be to inform Saul that this was not a chance-piece that was offered him, but one that had been set aside for him when the feast was prepared. This at once showed the intention to confer honor on Saul, and exhibited the prophetic foresight of Samuel.—Tr.].

1 Samuel 9:25-27. Samuel’s secret conversation with Saul. This took place, according to the narrative, on two occasions, and its purpose was, as the context shows, to prepare Saul for the important announcement that God had chosen him to be king, and for its confirmation by the act of anointing. 1 Samuel 9:25. After the return from the feast on the height, Samuel receives Saul into his house. He spoke with Saul on the roof.—There is no ground for adopting (with Then, and Ew.) the text of the Sept.:39 “and they prepared (in-def. subj.) Saul a bed on the roof, and he lay down.” To the Heb. text (which is supported by Chald., Syr. Arab., and Jerome) the Vulgate makes an addition “probably from the Itala” (Keil): “Saul spread a bed on the roof and slept.” This is a circumstantial description of what was self-evident from the connection (see 1 Samuel 9:26). Our text, on the contrary, furnishes simply the fact, the mention of which is of great importance for the pragmatical connection of the events related. The unmentioned subject-matter of the talk is not the election of Saul to be king (according to 1 Samuel 9:27). Thenius, wrongly assuming this to be the subject-matter, regards this talk as premature. Samuel prepared Saul for the important communication which he had to make to him, having already before the feast given him an indefinite hint (1 Samuel 9:20) of the honor that awaited him. This conversation (1 Samuel 9:25) is the connecting link between that on the height and the communication which Samuel made to Saul the following morning. The flat roof, arranged so that stay on it was safe (Deuteronomy 12:8), was the place to which people withdrew for quiet contemplation, prayer, undisturbed conversation and rest, and where also a guest-chamber was arranged, the place of honor of the house, comp. 1 Kings 17:19 with 2 Kings 4:10. There Saul slept (1 Samuel 9:20). The conversation which Samuel there held with Saul, probably at the close of the day, referred, as Otto von Gerlach well remarks, “not to the royal dignity, but surely to the deep religious and political decline of the people of God, the opposition of the heathen, the causes of the impotency to oppose these enemies, the necessity of a religious change in the people, and of a leader thoroughly obedient to the Lord.”

1 Samuel 9:26. And they arose early—each from his bed. What follows is a different thing from this—for the words: And when the morning dawned, etc. state not the rising from sleep, but the getting up and getting ready to depart; they are neither an exacter definition of “and they rose early,” as Keil thinks, who renders: “And they arose early in the morning—namely, at day-dawn,” nor is it a “singular mode of narration” (as Thenius says) to write first “they arose early,” and then “when the day dawned,” as if we could not suppose that they rose before the dawn, especially after so exciting a conversation the preceding evening and night, and as if Samuel’s call to Saul, “rise,” were not more naturally to be understood of preparation for the journey than of rising from sleep. That they are to be so taken is evident from the following words, “ that I may send thee away,” from Samuel’s calling to Saul up on the roof, and from the words, “and he arose, and they both went out” (on the street).40 [In spite of Dr. Erdmann’s ingenious defence of the Heb. text, the reading of the Sept. has much to recommend it. It accords better with the character of Hebrew historical narration (which delights in detailing self-evident circumstances), agrees better with the simple, objective nature of the transaction between Samuel and Saul (a protracted political and religious conversation between the two men hardly suits Saul’s character, as far as we know it), and removes the somewhat difficult necessity of supposing that they rose before the dawn. (If this had occurred, the Heb. would hardly have failed to mention it; nor is it quite natural to think of the rustic youth Saul, wearied with the walk and the ceremony of the day, as so excited by a general conversation (in which, according to Erdmann and 1 Samuel 9:27, nothing was said of his elevation to the throne) as to be unable to sleep his accustomed time, and so rising before the dawn—some time before, it would seem and remaining on the roof till he is called, how employed, it is not said). On the other hand, the reading of the Sept. gives a simple and natural narrative: “and a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down, and it came to pass when the morning dawned,” etc.; and whatever conversation was proper under the circumstances may be understood. Throughout the narrative is occupied with objective facts, and not with interior psychological descriptions, as we should expect in a modern work. Thus not a word is said of Samuel’s labors among the people preceding the great popular movement in chap. 7; nor is he elsewhere ever said to have had private conversations with his sons, with Saul, or with David. He may have had these, but it is not the manner of the narrative to mention them.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 9:27. As a mark of honor, Samuel accompanies Saul, and, when they reached the extremity of the city, directs him to send the servant on, in order that he might be alone with him, and impart to him in confidential conversation what the Lord had revealed concerning his appointment to be king of Israel. That I may show thee the word of God.—Up to this time he had said nothing to him of his choice as king. The declaration “I will show thee” is not to be understood (with Dächsel) as the “factual fulfilment” of that word, but as the introduction and announcement of its content. It is not related what Samuel said to Saul, since that is evident from the immediately following fact, the anointing of Saul. The whole ninth chapter sets forth the preparation of Saul for this communication and anointing, which were at first meant for him alone, and confirmed to him his call to be king of Israel. In regard to the preceding conversations, Calvin remarks: God is said to have instructed Saul in good time, so that when he came to the throne he might not be ignorant of his duties, but yet to have trained him gradually, and indeed (a point worthy of attention) not openly, but, as it were, in secret.”


1. The preparations (in 1 Samuel 9:0) for carrying out the divine decision in reference to the kingdom of Israel to be established exhibit the prophetic office, represented by Samuel, as here also the immediate organ of God, to execute God’s positive command: “make them a king.” In Samuel’s person and in his conduct and discourse towards Saul is concentrated the combination of two factors: divine revelation, which lays hold immediately of the general history of Israel as well as of the little affairs of an unknown family, and the earthly-human factor, which shows itself in apparently accidental and trivial occurrences; but at the same time is exhibited the absolute control of the divine providence, which, independently of human-earthly views and relations, employing apparently unimportant human accidents and trivial occurrences, yet, to secure the highest ends of God’s kingdom, advances firmly and securely, though by circuitous ways, to the appointed goal. And this goal is the realization of the theocracy in a new form, in the form of the kingdom, which was based on the essential character of the theocracy and the character of the times, though it was sinfully demanded by the people out of envy of the splendor of royalty among the heathen, and dissatisfaction with the invisible glory of Jehovah’s kingdom.

2. The choice of Saul to be king, and the circumstances which prepared the way for his consecration and anointing, as well as his meeting with Samuel, constitute a divine act which enters immediately into the history of Israel, in which we must recognize: 1) The condescension of God, both to human weakness and sin (which, as in the sinful longing after a king, must subserve the plans of His providence), and also to the seemingly smallest and most unimportant events of human life, which, as here the lost asses and Saul’s search after them, must be the foil to set off His providential government and the accomplishment of His purposes. Without meaning to set forth a mechanical theory of inspiration, we may exclaim with Hamann: “How has God the Holy Ghost stooped, to become a historian of the smallest, most contemptible affairs on earth, in order to reveal to man, in his own language, in his own business, in his own ways, the purposes, the secrets, and the ways of the Deity!” 2) The independence of earthly and human relations in God’s counsel and deed, shown in the fact that not a notable man of a prominent family was chosen for this high calling, but an unknown man, “from the smallest family of the smallest of the tribes” (1 Samuel 9:21) without His knowledge or desire. 3) God’s free grace is not conditioned on human conduct. Calvin: “Only by a special exhibition of divine grace did Saul come to this high dignity. By choosing him from the smallest and most insignificant tribe, God purposed to glorify His grace, and exclude all appearance of human coöperation.” Ewald: “Qualified for the royal office, he does not seek to obtain it; for a great good, gained by artful effort of one-sided human grasping, can never become a true one. And so it is a charming history—how Saul, sent to seek the lost asses, after a long and vain search, comes, on the third day, almost against his will, to Samuel, whom he scarcely knew, to ask him about them, and instead of them to receive from him a kingdom. For He, who purposes just at this time to establish the kingdom in Israel, has already chosen him before he knows it.” (Gesch. III. 27, 28.) 4) The wisdom of the divine providence, which so guides and orders what seems to be accidental and trivial, that it is subservient to His ends, and procures their accomplishment. Calvin: “ What seems to our reason accident, God makes into a sign that the seemingly fortuitous is to be referred to the admirable plans of His providence, and is ruled and guided by God’s hand, though against this our thoughts protest. Saul wanders uncertainly around, and thinks only how he shall find the asses; meantime, Divine Providence, which had already determined and revealed to Samuel his lot, does not sleep. So all these incidents and wanderings were only preparations and mediate causes by which God accomplished His design concerning Saul. By God’s ordainment the asses were lost, that Saul, in seeking them, might find Samuel; God guided the tongue of his father when He commanded him to go in search of the asses; it was God’s providence that directed the steps of Saul and his servants, as they went from one place to another, in order to bring them to Samuel.”

3. The conditions under which alone the theocratic king as such could hold and exercise his office in Israel, as typically set forth in Saul’s elevation to the throne, were: 1) natural, in respect to his person, which must be such, in body and soul, as worthily to sustain the royal office; 2) supernatural, namely, divine choice and equipment; “to the man, feeble in himself, the grace and predestination of God comes to help him with its complete strength for this highest of all callings, to complete him, with the required divine power and holy consecration of mind, into that for which he was naturally endowed” (Ewald); 3) historical, confirmatory signs; these are partly signs given by God in definite occurrences, which attest the royal call to the people, partly the man’s own deeds, which accord with and confirm the royal call; 4) ethical, absolute dependence on the divine will in all thought, word and action; the king must “never forget the beginning from which he sprang, and so must always remember that another, the Eternal King, is still above him,—and that any earthly king can be a king after the heart of the King of all kings only so far as he works together with God, and therefore with all spiritual truths.” (Ew. Gesch. III. 25.) To this fourth condition Samuel’s words referred: “All that is in thy heart I will show thee.” See Exposition.

4. The account of Samuel’s conduct in this stadium of the preparation for the establishment of the kingdom in the person of Saul characterizes the prophet: 1) in his position towards God in respect to this beginning of a new phase of development of the theocracy: by direct enlightenment of the divine Spirit it is revealed to him that the king of Israel has already been chosen by God (1 Samuel 9:15-16), who is chosen (1 Samuel 9:17), and what he has to announce to him in God’s name (1 Samuel 9:27); 2) in his conduct as organ of God towards the designated king, Saul, and in him towards the kingdom: he gradually prepares his mind for the revelation concerning his future calling which he has to make to him in God’s name; through the divine enlightenment he is able not only to instruct him as to his lofty mission and position in Israel, but also, by means of his intensified presaging-faculty, to deliver him from the lower earthly care which filled his heart; this declaration about the recovered asses is not merely an example “of accidental predictions, where the presaging-faculty, disjoined from its ethical aim, becomes subservient to the subjective interest” (Tholuck, Die Propheten, 2d ed., p. 14), but is an element in the whole organism of this first prophetic history of the Old Testament—an element which is determined by the divine purpose in Samuel’s communication to Saul respecting “the most precious in Israel” which was to be his; by this communication Saul’s soul was to be lifted up into the presence of his God, that in His light he might see the glory of his theocratic calling; to lead him to this point, Samuel must free his soul from the burden of care for the beasts, and release him from his duty in respect to them; the certainty that the asses were found (divinely revealed to Samuel) gave Saul the inward freeness and receptivity which he needed in order to advance step by step to the height to which Samuel’s words (1 Samuel 9:27) lead. Thus this prophetic prediction concerning something altogether external and trivial has in this connection a high ethical and psychological importance, and is subservient to the objective theocratic interest. It belonged to the pedagogic momenta in the conduct of the prophet towards the future king, among which also we must reckon that which is indicated in the words: “All that is in thy heart I will show thee.” Samuel searched into Saul’s inner being in its good and bad sides.


1 Samuel 9:1. Osiander: That which is despised before the world, God chooses and brings forward, 1 Corinthians 1:26 sq.

1 Samuel 9:3 sq. Cramer: God makes in His great matters an insignificant beginning.

1 Samuel 9:4. Calvin: How wonderful are the ways of God’s wisdom, which lie far remote from human expectation. We see here how winding go the ways of God, so that it seems as if there were only an uncertain swaying to and fro; but yet with Him there is always a clear light away into the infinite, and what proceeds from Him is never confused and fortuitous. We draw from this the wholesome lesson that God leads us His hand like blind men, and that we should ascribe nothing to our own prudence and exertion when any thing great becomes our portion. Our thoughts were not only far removed from that which finally happens, but exactly opposed to it.

1 Samuel 9:6. Starke: Man’s doing is not in his own power, and no one can mark out his own going.—Even insignificant people can often give wholesome counsels, 2 Kings 5:13; 2 Kings 7:13. [The servant teaching the master. In like manner many an eminent minister has learned true religion from some servant or humble acquaintance. The lowly are often unconsciously training others for lofty station.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 9:9. Cramer: Teachers are seers, for through preaching they open our eyes, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, 2 Corinthians 4:6.—S. Schmid: Even the meeting of men, whether for good or evil, is not a matter of chance, but is directed by divine Providence, Acts 8:29 sq. [1 Samuel 9:3-8. Matt. Henry: Here is: I.A great man rising from small beginnings. II. A great event rising from small occurrences. “ Peradventure he can show us.” To make prophecy, the glory of Israel, serve so mean a turn as this, discovered too plainly what manner of spirit they were of. Note, most people would rather be told their fortune than told their duty; how to be rich than how to be saved. If it were the business of the men of God to direct for the recovery of lost asses, they would be consulted much more than they are, now that it is their business to direct for the recovery of lost souls.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 9:1-14. J. Disselhoff: The first test to which God subjects His servant. It embraces two main points: 1) Whether with certain natural talents and advantages which God has given him he will in humility and quiet obedience do the work enjoined upon him; 2) Whether when his work proves useless he will seek help from the seer of God.—The Most High God appoints a testing for His servant Saul; and so whoever is summoned to the service of God knows that for him also there must be a testing.—“Seek the asses,” said Kish to his son Saul. “And he went!”—went silently, joyously, humbly, obediently, faithfully, to the work which was enjoined upon him, from Ephraim to Shalisha—unwearied, unreluctant, without grumbling, although it was a work in which no greater credit was to be won than that of fidelity in trifles.—Out of such people God can make something.—Go, friend, if you wish to be the Lord’s servant, even though you should have to walk in unknown ways. Saul did not shrink from them.

1 Samuel 9:5. Why was Saul’s labor in vain? He had to find the seer, the man experienced in the ways of God. The vain seeking, the servant who first spoke of the seer, the maidens who showed the way, all must contribute towards bringing Saul to seek help in the revelation of God. If now it should occur to thee also that every thing here miscarries, that you are nothing, and you already feel like saying to your heart,“ Come, let us go home again,” then to thee also there will doubtless some one cry out, “Well, to revelation, that you may know the wonderful ways of God, on which God leads His saints.”—Wait not till God Himself steps into thy way. Even to Saul God did not Himself speak. A servant began it; maidens drawing water showed the way. See how smoothly and simply God causes all that to occur, as it were, without noise and uproar. The God of the lowly and quiet chooses also for his feet quiet, lowly, shady ways. [1 Samuel 9:1-10. The youth of Saul: 1) He was reared in good circumstances (1 Samuel 9:1); 2) He was remarkable for his great stature and manly beauty (1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Samuel 10:24); 3) A quiet rustic, little acquainted with matters away from home (1 Samuel 9:6); 4) Tenderly considerate of his father’s feelings (1 Samuel 9:5); 5) Ready to take advice (1 Samuel 9:10) (Hall: The chief praise is to be able to give good advice; the next is to take it); 6) Very modest and courteous (1 Samuel 9:21). With these pleasing traits might be compared the character corrupted in his later years by unbelieving disobedience towards God, by jealousy, by the exercise of despotic power, etc., and at every point there would be useful lessons.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 9:16. Starke: Even those things which arise from the free will of man, and appear as if they happened by chance, lie under the secret providence and government of God. Well is it then for those who in faith and tranquillity give themselves up to God’s guidance (Psalms 139:5).—Hall: The eye of God’s providence sees not only all our deeds, but also all our movements; we can go nowhere without Him; He numbers all our steps (Psalms 139:1 sq.).—[1 Samuel 9:11-17. The supernatural coöperating with the natural. Saul, by natural means, through the control of Providence, is brought to Samuel, who has been supernaturally prepared to receive and instruct him. So now the teachings of Providence unite with the teachings of revelation and of the Holy Spirit, to show men their duty and their destiny.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 9:21. Cramer: Humility is a beautiful virtue; and he whom God exalts to honors should think often of the dust in which he before lay, and from which he has been exalted (Psalms 113:7-8). [Hall: How kindly doth Samuel entertain and invite Saul, yet it was he only that should receive wrong by the future royalty of Saul. Who would not have looked that aged Samuel should have emulated rather the glory of his young rival, and have looked churlishly upon the man that should rob him of his authority?—Tr.]

Berleb. Bible: When God has chosen a man to help others, and he rightly knows himself, nothing causes him such wonder and amazement as a revelation of God’s purpose concerning him. This distrust, however, does not put an end to his obedience to the will of God. For the more a man is convinced of his own nothingness, so much the more is he also convinced of the power of God, as the One who makes every thing out of nothing.

1 Samuel 9:26-27. Saul must wait patiently till God should bring him out of concealment and make it manifest who he was. So should we also, if God has lent us gifts and wishes them to remain concealed with us, not be displeased at the fact that they are not recognized, and that we get no recognition and admiration for them, but quietly wait until the Lord Himself, as it seemeth Him good, carries further the matter He has begun, and Himself secures for it recompense and recognition.—Thus God often deals wonderfully with us, when He so tests our humility and modesty, and so leads us on His ways, that our reason cannot comprehend them. The beginnings of His matters are often so insignificant and little, that outwardly nothing appears but great weakness, and absolutely nothing great and wonderful comes forward, in order that we may learn to hope against hope.

1 Samuel 9:15-27 sq. Disselhoff: The call to the service of God. The history of Saul’s call brings before our eyes three points: 1) What an abundant blessing there is for obedience—the call to the service of God; 2) What a great danger lies hid in this blessing—idle self-exaltation because of this call; 3) To what a blessed stillness the danger leads when overcome—to preparation for the calling. [Contrast Saul the king and Saul the apostle. WORDSWORTH: Saul the king is our warning; Saul the apostle is our example. The former shows how wretched man is if he labors for his own glory, and if he is without God’s grace; the latter, how blessed he is if he relies on God’s grace, and lives and dies for His glory.—Good trains of thought for sermons are indicated above in Historical and Theological, No. 2 and No. 3.—Tr.]


[1][1 Samuel 9:1. These names are given differently in the Sept. See Exegesis, in loco.—Tr.]

[2][1 Samuel 9:1. This phrase is a somewhat strange one. The word “son” is found in Heb., Gr., Lat., Chald., omitted in Syr., Arab., and is probably a part of the text; but it is strange that it is not followed by a proper name, and suggests an omission or error in the following words, which, however, cannot now be determined. Before the first “Benjamin” Wellhausen suggests the insertion of “Gibeah of.”—Tr.]

[3][1 Samuel 9:1. By Erdmann and others rendered “wealth,” hut not so well. See Exposition.—Tr.]

[4][1 Samuel 9:2. The word בחר is often used of youth merely, so that the rendering: “choice young man” (Erdmann, auserlesen), is hardly warranted. But, as it seems to differ from נער (which is the word here used of the servant) in designating the vigorous time of youth, the phrase might be translated: “in the prime of youth and goodly.”—Tr.]

[5][1 Samuel 9:3. Properly “she-asses.”—Tr.]

[6][1 Samuel 9:4. Or: “he passed over into,” and so in the other cases.—Tr.]

[7][1 Samuel 9:4. “The land of Jemini or the Jeminites,” no doubt for “Benjaminites,” the compound being resolved.—Tr.]

[8][1 Samuel 9:5. The remarkable variation of grammatical Number here and in 1 Samuel 9:4 has produced various readings in the VSS. and in a few MSS. The Sept. and Vulg. write plural throughout, while Chald., Syr. and Arab. make all the verbs “passed through” Sing., both apparently assimilations for the sake of simplicity. The harder reading of the Heb. is better retained.—Tr.]

[9][1 Samuel 9:5. The English phrase: “take thought for” (as in Matthew 6:34), has now lost its sense of trouble and anxiety.—Tr.]

[10][1 Samuel 9:6. Elohim, without the Art., but here evidently for the true God of Israel. On the supposed difference between the arthrous and anarthrous use of the word, see Quarry on Genesis, and Bib. Comm. in loco.—Tr.]

[11][1 Samuel 9:6. Properly, “honored,” “esteemed.”—Tr.]

[12][1 Samuel 9:6. Perhaps, better: on which we are going,” or: “in respect to which we are going.” To “go away” is usually הלך דרך, and על הדרך is “on the side of the way;” in any case, however, the verb (which is a Perf.) is better taken as Pres. or Fut., and not as Past, as Erdmann renders. The VSS. also translate it past.—Tr.]

[13][1 Samuel 9:8. Sept.: “thou shalt give,” which Wellhausen prefers; Chald., Syr., Vulg., Arab.: “we will give.’ ’ These are probably variations for the sake of propriety.—Tr.]

[14][1 Samuel 9:9. Sept.: “for the people (העם for היום) formerly called the prophet the seer,” an obvious and unfortunate misreading.—Tr.]

[15][1 Samuel 9:11. A peculiar construction (הֵמּה with Partcp.), which occurs no less than six times in this chapter.—Tr.]

[16][1 Samuel 9:11. Literally: “the ascent of the city.”—Tr.]

[17][1 Samuel 9:12. Sept.: “Behold, he is before you, now on account of the day he is come to the city.” They therefore attached the first letter of מַהֵר to the preceding word, and omitted the rest, and instead of כִּי הַיּוֹם read כְּהַיּוֹם as in the latter part of the verse. Wellhausen urges the adoption of this second reading on the ground that we thus avoid the statement that Samuel had that very day come to the city from abroad, which seems inconsistent with 1 Samuel 9:23-24, and says that the “hasten” of the maidens is unintelligible, based, as it is, on the fact that Samuel had just come. The “for,” however, must not be pressed; it simply introduces the explanation of the eager maidens, and such usage is frequent in Heb. The other variation of the Sept. commends itself as natural and appropriate: “he has just gone into the city.” The Sing, of the address in 1 Samuel 9:12 need not surprise us; the maidens direct their discourse chiefly to Saul, who was evidently the master (the Midrash says, because they were attracted by his beauty).—Tr.]

[18][1 Samuel 9:13. The Heb. inserts an emphatic Accus., which it is desirable to retain in the translation, Eng. idiom, however, requiring the Nom.—Tr.]

[19][1 Samuel 9:15. Literally: “uncovered the ear of Samuel,” made a disclosure to him.—Tr.]

[20][1 Samuel 9:16. Sept.: “the affliction of my people,” a natural but unnecessary insertion.—Tr.]

[21][1 Samuel 9:18. Instead of “gate” (שער), Sept. and one MS. of De Rossi read “city” (עיר), which suits the connection better.—Tr.]

[22][1 Samuel 9:20. So all ancient VSS. and modern interpreters; Philippson, wünschenswerth, Erdmann, begehrenswerth, Cahen, objet désirable.—Tr.]

[23][1 Samuel 9:21. In the Heb. “tribes,” which is generally regarded as an error of copyist, though it might be understood as referring to families, see Numbers 4:18; Judges 20:12.—Tr.]

[24][1 Samuel 9:22. Sept. has 70, instead of 30.—Tr.]

[25][1 Samuel 9:24. The subject of the verb may be Samuel or the cook, and, on grammatical grounds, is more probably the latter, into whose mouth the words may be very well put, the “since I said” below not being in the Heb. text. Erdmann holds a different opinion; see Exposition, in loco.—Tr.]

[26][1 Samuel 9:24. This word (שִׂים) is taken by the ancient VSS. and Eng. A. V. as Impv., but better, with Erdmann, as Partcp.—Tr.]

[27][1 Samuel 9:24. On the text of this obscure passage see Exposition in loco.—Tr.]

[28][1 Samuel 9:26. The Sept. text of 1 Samuel 9:25-26, commends itself by its simplicity and concinnity: “into the city, and they spread (a bed) for Saul on the roof, and he lay down. And it came to pass,” etc. See discussion in Exposition.—Tr.]

[29][1 Samuel 9:27. This remark is lacking in Sept. Vat. (but not Alex.), Syr. and Arab., and is probably a gloss. The Syriac (as Wellhausen points out) adds a similar remark at end of 1 Samuel 9:3 : “and Saul arose and departed, and took with him one of the servants, and departed to seek the asses of his father.”—Tr.]

[30][The rendering “in the prime of youth” (which might be forty years) suits the first of these two facts, and the second cannot be pressed, because the word is often used where this fact does not exist. See Text. and Gram.—Tr.]

[31][On the ancient regard for physical greatness, see Synopsis Crit.; Kitto, Daily Bib. Ill.—Tr.]

[32][Others render “jackal-land,” and refer to Shual (1 Samuel 13:17), or Shaalbim (Judges 1:35) in the territory of Dan. The geography is altogether uncertain.—Tr.]

[33][On the rendering see Textual and Grammat.—Tr.]

[34][As to the city see Exposition on 1 Samuel 9:6 and Translator’s note.—Tr.]

[35][On this verse see “Text. and Grammat.”—Tr.]

[36][Others suppose that it was not the right shoulder, because Samuel was not a priest.—Tr.]

[37][Others think it equally clear that these words were spoken by the cook.—Tr.]

[38][בְּי מִשְׁאָר הָעָם קֹרָאתָ or קֹרַצְתָּ.—Tr.]

[39]Writing וַיִּרְבְּדוּ לשָׁאוּל instead of וַיְּדַבֵּר, and closing 1 Samuel 9:25 with וַיִּשְׁכַּב [instead of וַֹישׁכמוּ in 1 Samuel 9:26—Tr.]

[40]There is no need to substitute the Qeri הַגָּגָה for the Kethib גַגָּה. Böttcher: “The Accusative-vowel a, like the case-vowel i, is often without any literal sign” [mater lectionis].

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-samuel-9.html. 1857-84.
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