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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 10

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-10


1 Samuel 10:1. “Then Samuel took a vial of oil,” etc. “The vial is a narrow-necked vessel, from which the oil flowed in drops. The oil, we must suppose, was not of the ordinary sort, but the holy anointing oil (Exodus 29:7; Exodus 30:23-33; Exodus 37:29), which, according to the law, was used in the consecration of the sacred vessels and the priests.… On account of the significance of the oil in priestly consecration, Samuel would have used no other in the consecration of the sacred person of the theocratic king. Anointing as a solemn usage in the consecration of a king is referred to as early as Judges 9:8-15, and (besides Saul here) is expressly mentioned as performed on David, Absalom, Solomon, Joash, Jehoahaz, and Jehu. In case of regular succession the anointing was supposed to continue its effect, whence is explained the fact that only the above kings are mentioned as having been anointed.… The anointed was consecrated, sanctified to God; … it signifies, further, the equipment with the powers and gifts of the Spirit of God.” (Erdmann). “And kissed him.” “Subjects of rank were wont to kiss a new king in token of homage and subjection—just as among us the hand of a sovereign is kissed now. There was, no doubt, something of this in the kiss of Samuel; but, under the peculiar circumstances, there must have been something more. It was also the kiss of congratulation upon the dignity to which he had been raised; and while it indicated the dignified respect of Samuel to the man appointed to reign over the house of Israel, it also testified his cheerful acquiescence in the appointment.” (Kitto).

1 Samuel 10:2. “Rachel’s sepulchre” near Bethlehem (Genesis 35:16). “After the allotment of the country to the several tribes, the territory of the Benjamites was extended by a long strip far into the south, to include the sepulcher of their beloved ancestress.” (Stanley).

1 Samuel 10:3. “The plain of Tabor,” rather, the oak, or terebinth of Tabor. The site is unknown. “Three men going up to Bethel.” Evidently to make an offering to God. “Bethel had been a consecrated place for the worship of God since the days of the patriarchs, in consequence of the revelations He had made to Abraham and Jacob (see Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3-4; Genesis 28:18, etc.). In Bethel, therefore, there was an altar; it was one of the places where the people sacrificed to the Lord, and where Samuel at this time held court.” (Erdmann).

1 Samuel 10:4. “And give the two loaves.” “That this surprising prelude to all future royal gifts is taken from bread of offering points to the fact, that in future some of the wealth of the land, which has hitherto gone undivided to the sanctuary, will go to the king.” (Ewald). “An omen that God Himself would feed and sustain him, if he would only obey Him.” (Wordsworth).

1 Samuel 10:5. “Hill of God,” rather, Gibeah of God, Saul’s home. “Two things are clear; one, that Saul had got home when he got to Gibeah of God, for no further journeying is so much as hinted at, and the same word describes his home at 1 Samuel 10:26 : the other, that there was a high place at Gibeah just above the city.” (Biblical Commentary). “A company of prophets.” “Here is the first mention of an influential institution which owes its origin to this period, viz., the schools of the prophets.… Even if the schools of the prophets had begun to form themselves before the time of Samuel, which we have the less reason to doubt, since the book of Judges bears adequate testimony to the existence of prophets, and since it lay in the nature of the thing that individuals bound themselves together as closely as possible and joined in a common activity against the spirit of the time, yet we cannot suppose that there was any great extension and formal organisation of the institution previous to Samuel, from what is said in 1 Samuel 3:1. Add to this the sporadic character of the activity of the prophets, which we learn from the Book of Judges. Finally, in favour of Samuel having virtually established the schools of the prophets, we have the fact that we no longer meet with them except in the kingdom of Israel. This circumstance cannot be attributed to lack of information. The fact of our not meeting with them in the kingdom of Judah leads us to infer that they did not exist, and if this were the case, it is impossible to suppose that the schools of the prophets had taken deep root before Samuel. They appear as an institution established by him for a temporary object, and only continued, where necessity demanded it, in the kingdom of Israel, whose relations were, in many respects, similar to those in Samuel’s time, where the prophethood occupied quite another position than in the kingdom of Judah, not being a mere supplement to the activity of the Levitical priesthood, but possessing the entire responsibility of maintaining the Kingdom of God in Israel. The principal passages referring to the schools of the prophets, besides this one, are 1 Kings 19:20-21; 2 Kings 2:5; 2 Kings 4:38; 2 Kings 6:1. The designation is an awkward one, liable to cause misunderstanding. No instruction, was given in the schools of the prophets, they were regular and organised societies. Taking all these passages together it becomes evident that they were in many respects a kind of monkish institution. Those who were educated there had a kind of common dwelling and a common table; the most distinguished of the prophets standing at its head as spiritual fathers. Music was employed as a principal means of edification, and of awakening prophetic inspiration. But what distinguishes the schools of the prophets from the cloisters, or at least from a great number of them, is their thorough practical tendency. They were hearths of spiritual life to Israel. Their aim was not to encourage a contemplative life, but to rouse the nation to activity; every prophetic disciple was a missionary.” (Hengstenberg), “With a psaltery,” etc. The psaltery was a kind of lyre with ten or twelve strings, triangular in form. The tabret, or tabourine, or timbrel (Exodus 15:21) was a species of hand drum. The pipe was a kind of flute, and the harp another stringed instrument resembling the psaltery. “They shall prophesy,” The emphasis rests on the words “and they were prophesying,” they were in a condition of ecstatic inspiration in which, singing or speaking, with accompaniment of music, they gave expression to the overflowing feeling with which their hearts were filled from above by the controlling Spirit.” (Erdmann).

1 Samuel 10:6. “The spirit of the Lord will come upon thee,” lit., rush upon thee. “This phrase is used of those who, under the influence of Divine inspiration, uttered truths supernaturally revealed to them, in a lofty, poetic style, or who celebrated in exalted strains of praise the glorious deeds of Jehovah to His church. In this latter sense it is applied to Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21), to the seventy elders (Numbers 11:29), and to the choir of young prophets, to which Saul joined himself, and in whose sacred employment he participated” (cf. Luke 1:65, end). (Jamieson). “Shalt be turned into another man.” “This expression is a remarkable one, and occurs nowhere else. Doubtless it describes the change in point of mental power and energy which would result from the influx of the Spirit of the Lord. In the case of Samson it was a supernatural bodily strength, in the case of Saul a capacity for ruling and leading the people, of which before he was destitute, which the Spirit wrought in him. The change in the mental power of the apostles, as described in Acts 1:8, is analogous. The change is described in 1 Samuel 10:9, by saying that “God gave him another heart.” The heart in the Hebrew acceptation points more to intellect and courage than to the affections and conscience.” (Biblical Commentary), “Ecstatic states,” says Tholuck, “have something infectious about them. The excitement spreads involuntarily, as in the American revivals and the preaching mania in Sweden, even to persons in whose state of mind there is no affinity to anything of the kind. But in the instance before us there was something more than psychical infection. The Spirit of Jehovah, which manifested itself in the prophesying of the prophets, was to pass over to Saul, so that he would prophesy along with them, and was entirely to transform him. This transformation is not, indeed, to be regarded as regeneration in the Christian sense, but as a change resembling regeneration, which affected the entire disposition of mind, and by which Saul was lifted out of his former modes of thought and feeling, which were confined within a narrow earthly sphere, into the far higher sphere of his new royal calling, was filled with kingly thoughts in relation to the service of God, and received another heart.” (Kiel).

1 Samuel 10:7. “Do as occasion serve thee.” “For God is with thee, and I will not intrude upon thee with imperious dictations on each several occasion, but I will leave thee to the free exercise of thy royal authority.” (Wordsworth).

1 Samuel 10:8. “Thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal,” etc. “This, according to Josephus, was to be a standing rule for the observance of Saul while the prophet and he lived—that in every great crisis, as a hostile incursion into the country, he should repair to Gilgal, where he was to remain seven days, to afford time for the tribes on both sides of Jordan to assemble, and Samuel to reach it.” (Jamieson). “Considering that at least two years elapsed between this time and that referred to in 1 Samuel 13:8-13; considering that Saul and Samuel had met at Gilgal, and offered peace-offerings to the Lord on one occasion between the times referred to in the two passages, it seems quite impossible that this verse can refer to the meeting spoken of in 1 Samuel 13:8-10.” (Biblical Commentary).

1 Samuel 10:9-10. See on 1 Samuel 10:6.



I. The most eventful forces of human life often begin in secret. The great forces in nature begin in secret. The mightiest cedar of Lebanon put forth its first tiny germ beneath the earth, and while men slept showed itself above ground, and received its first anointing of the dew when no human eye was there to look on. And the great men who have become mighty forces in the world have had their characters moulded and the direction of their lives determined by incidents unnoticed by the world. They became kings among their fellows, but their anointing took place in secret. They began their career buried in obscurity, and their first coming to the light was a circumstance unnoticed by any. It was not till God publicly called them to His service by the voice of His providence that men recognised who and what they were. So the anointing of the first king of Israel was witnessed by no one except those engaged in the transaction. The consecration of this man, whose name has ever since had a place in human history, was performed in the most private manner. The first act in the establishment of this kingdom, like that of many others, came not with observation. Our Lord teaches that this is an especial characteristic of the gospel kingdom, both in the world and in the heart. He, its king, made His first appearance upon the earth in a stable in the presence of one or two humble peasants, and received His first adoration from shepherds as He lay in a manger. “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which, indeed, is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs” (Matthew 13:31-32). And the beginning of Christ’s kingdom in the individual heart is marked by the same characteristic. The anointing of the Spirit which seals a human soul to God takes place unobserved by others—the ordination to be a king unto God (Revelation 1:6) is a private transaction between the soul and Him who has called it out of darkness to light—it is like the hiding of the leaven—an unnoticed act—only known to others by its effects (Matthew 13:33). Ananias the disciple at Damascus was the only human being who was made cognisant of the fact that Saul of Tarsus had uttered his first prayer to Jesus of Nazareth; but what an eventful force was then set in motion—how mighty have been the influences which have ever since been flowing from that act of consecration to God—from the anointing of that mighty king in the Church of Christ.

II. Epochs in the history of the Church, and in the history of individual souls, are generally preceded and followed by signs. The exodus of Israel from Egypt was preceded by supernatural events, and signs and wonders followed that epoch in their history. The manifestation of God in the burning bush, and the miracles done in Egypt, ushered in their national birth, which was followed by the Divine manifestation in the pillar of cloud and by the giving of bread from heaven, water from the rock, etc. At the epoch in the world’s history created by the bringing into the world the first-begotten Son of God (Hebrews 1:6), there were signs preceding and following in gifts of the Holy Ghost and angelic visits to lowly men and women (Luke 1:11; Luke 1:20; Luke 1:24; Luke 1:28; Luke 1:41; Luke 1:67; Luke 2:9; Luke 2:27; Luke 2:38), and before his entrance on His public ministry, which was marked by miracles from beginning to end, there was the supernatural manifestations connected with His baptism. The entrance of the apostles upon their great work was an epoch in the history of the world and of the Church, and signs preceded it on the day of Pentecost and followed it in the conversion of three thousand souls, as well as in the miracles of healing, and of resurrection, and of judgment connected with their ministry and with that of others associated with them (Acts 3:7; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 5:8; Acts 8:13; Acts 9:40; Acts 13:11; Acts 15:3; Acts 19:11, etc.). “The word which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:4). The anointing of Saul marked a great epoch in the history of the Hebrew nation, and it was in accordance with the general rule of God’s government that it should be preceded and followed by signs, some of a more private nature, and others, especially that of Saul’s endowment with the spirit of prophecy, of a public character. And the same truth holds good as to epochs in the individual soul. When that soul enters into entirely new conditions by entering into new relations to God, signs follow and precede the entrance. Like those before mentioned, some are known only to the man himself, but some are evident to onlookers. Pricking of conscience—an awakening to the sense of the burden of unpardoned sin, is a sign from heaven. This sign evidently preceded and accompanied the conversion of the great Apostle of the Gentiles (Acts 9:5; Acts 9:11), and it is found in a greater or less degree whenever a soul is turned “from the power of Satan unto God.” But more public signs follow in the new life of those who believe—signs which are not only for the confirmation of their own faith, but for evidence to those who believe not. In connection with the new life to which Saul was now called, the signs which went before and followed his consecration not only confirmed his own faith in the really Divine nature of his call, but some of them were so evident to others also as to make them conscious that a great change had passed over him. In many respects he was another man. And the new life which follows the new birth is the most convincing testimony to the truth that there is a Spirit of God working in the world. “The words of Christ,” says Neander, “assure us that the communication of the life of God to men was the greatest of all miracles, the essence and aim of all; and further, that it was to be the standing miracle of all after ages.”

III. Signs accompanying a message from God are intended to lead to a practical result. They are to confirm faith and to lead to the exercise of the gifts entrusted. “And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou shalt do as occasion serve thee” (1 Samuel 10:7). This was the intention of the sign given to Moses in the burning bush. He was to go to Pharaoh in the certainty that God was with him, and he was to demand the deliverance of his people, and become their leader and lawgiver. The signs here vouchsafed to Saul were to lead him to the exercise of his newly-acquired gifts—they were an encouragement and a call to him to use the powers which God now implanted within him. So the signs given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost were not simply events to be marvelled at, but the newly-gotten gifts which they signified were to be used for the joy of the receivers, the glory of the Giver, and the blessing of others. The remarkable signs which accompanied the conversion of the New Testament Saul were a call to him to “bear the name” of Him who had appeared to him “before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel,” even when the bearing of it involved the suffering of “great things” for the sake of his Lord (Acts 9:15-16). And so it is with every man who is called out of darkness into marvellous light—by life and word he is expected to show forth the praises of Him who has called him (1 Peter 2:9).


1 Samuel 10:1. The natural basis for this symbolism of oil is its power to dispense light and life, joy and healing, by which it sets forth the Spirit’s dispensation of light and life and the therein contained gifts and powers. And in the historical development of the theocracy and of the Divine revelations which point to the perfecting and fulfilment of the theocracy in the new covenant, the symbolic anointing of theocratic kings, priests, and prophets, as sign of the impartation of the spirit of God and its powers, is the type, that is, the historical foretokening and prefiguring of the anointing of the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), and with the Spirit of might (Acts 10:38) by which Jesus was “the Christ,” the anointed of God for the New Testamental kingdom of God, first as King of His kingdom, and then as chief Prophet and Priest. Samuel’s word, “The Lord hath anointed thee,” signifies that God Himself, of His free grace, dispenses the powers and gifts of His Spirit, when He calls to an office in His kingdom and service.—Lange’s Commentary.

1 Samuel 10:1-9. How the Lord fits His chosen ones for the kingly calling in His kingdom.

1. By quiet instruction by means of His word He brings them into a right knowledge of the tasks He assigns.

2. By the anointing of His Spirit He imparts to them the needful power and strength therefore.

3. By the production of infallible signs He gives them a just certainty and joyous confidence. The signs of Divine guidance along the paths of human life on earth, how they—

1. Pointing back wards, remind us of grace in past times (the holy places);

2. Pointing upwards, admonish us to lift up the heart from worthless, earthly things to higher good;

3. Pointing forwards, demand a new life in the Spirit; and

4. Call on us to look into our own heart, while for the work of renewal of the whole man they promise the gifts and powers of the Spirit from above. The appearance of special Divine signs in human life—

1. Whence coming? Ordered in time by God’s wise Providence, not springing from chance, not aimless; decreed in His eternal purpose, not accidental, not groundless; sent as messengers of His holy and gracious will, not meaningless.

2. To whom applying? To him who lets himself be guided by God; to him who holds still when God is guiding him, and to him who lets God speak to him by His word.

3. What signifying? Reminding of the saving and gracious presence of God (partly in the past, partly in the present: God is with thee). Pointing to our tasks, which under the guidance of the Lord are to be fulfilled (1 Samuel 10:7-8). Exhorting to a renewal of the whole inner life through the power of the Holy Ghost (1 Samuel 10:6-9).—Lange’s Commentary.

1 Samuel 10:6. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee.

1. A great word of promise, which applies to everyone that is called to the kingdom of God.

2. A wonderful event of the inner life which occurs and is experienced only under definite conditions.

3. The beginning of a new life which takes place by the change of the heart.—Lange’s Commentary.

1 Samuel 10:7. The great word, “God is with thee.”

1. The infallible signs, which assure us of it.

2. The consoling strength which the heart thereby receives.

3. The mighty impulse to do according to God’s good pleasure, which lies therein.

4. The earnest exhortation which is thereby given in all the occurrences of human life to mark the will of the Lord therein made known.—Lange’s Commentary.

1 Samuel 10:6-8. What the royal anointing gives, and what it demands.

1. It makes the anointed one fit for all that his office may lay upon him.
2. It demands that the anointed one should now do nothing more according to his own choice, but everything according to the direction and will of God.—Disselhoff.

1 Samuel 10:9. He has no longer the heart of a husbandman, concerned only about his corn and cattle, but the heart of a statesman, a general, and a prince, whom God calls to any service He will make fit for it.—Henry.

Saul had another heart, but he had not a new heart. He gave evidence of possessing the gifts of kingship, but none of the grace of holy living. While he could henceforth command armies and practise diplomacy, he cared not for keeping a conscience void of offence toward God and man.… It is not enough to have natural endowments, or learned attainments of skill or wisdom. These may be possessed in the highest degree, while the soul is unrenewed and unreconciled to God.—Steel.

Before Saul’s election he occupied a very low standpoint, intellectually and spiritually. He scarcely knew anything of Samuel, the centre of all higher Israelitish life. Nothing moves him to make acquaintance with the celebrated prophet but anxiety respecting the lost asses.… But we see that there was a decisive change in Saul’s life—that in the parable of the sower he belonged not to the first class, but to the third.—Hengstenberg.

1 Samuel 10:10. Saul, by conversing with prophets, prophesied: see the power and profit of holy company. Those that live within the sunshine of religion cannot but be somewhat coloured of their beams.—Trapp.

The Spirit bloweth where it listeth (John 3:8), and the power of the Holy Ghost manifested itself by sudden effusions before the day of Pentecost; but on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent from heaven by Christ to His church, to abide with her for ever (John 14:16).—Wordsworth.

As of Saul it is written when the Spirit came upon him, “he was changed into a new man;” this holds true even of the whole world. For when the breath of the Holy Ghost came upon it, it was cast into a new mould presently, and became a new world.—Bishop Andrewes.

Verses 11-12


1 Samuel 10:11. “Is Saul also among the prophets?” “According to its origin, here given, this proverb does not merely express surprise at the sudden unexpected calling of a man to another calling in life, or to a high and honourable position. The personal and moral qualities of Saul, perhaps the religious-moral character of his family, or, at least, the mean opinion that was entertained of Saul’s qualities and capacities, intellectually, religiously, and morally, formed the ground of surprise at his sudden assumption of the prophetic character.” (Erdmann).

1 Samuel 10:12. “Who is their father?” A somewhat obscure phrase. The Septuagint and some other versions read, ‘Who is his father?i.e., Who would have expected the son of Kish to be found among the prophets? Other readings, as the authorised version, understand father to refer to the head of the prophets, and the question to reflect blame upon him for admitting such a person as Saul into the company of the prophets. Wordsworth paraphrases, ‘Who is the father of the prophets? Not man, but God. And God can make even Saul, whom ye despise, to be a prophet also.’ Kiel—‘Is their father a prophet, then?’ i.e., have they the prophetic spirit by virtue of their birth? ‘The speaker declares,’ says Bunsen, ‘against the contemptuous remark about the son of Kish, that the prophets, too, owed their gift to no peculiarly lofty lineage. Saul also might, therefore, receive this gift as a gift from God, not as a patrimony.”

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—1 Samuel 10:11-12; 1 Samuel 10:27


I. God often accomplishes his purposes by agencies both unlooked for and despised. That a Hebrew slave should be taken from a dungeon and made lord of Egypt was no doubt an event as undesired as it was unexpected by the nobles of Pharaoh’s court, and that this despised younger brother should be the instrument of saving all his house from starvation was as equally far from the desire and expectation of Jacob’s elder sons. That another Hebrew youth should be educated and fitted in Pharaoh’s court to become the axe which should be laid at the root of the tyranny of Egypt, was another event which men little expected to come to pass, and which crossed the wishes and desires of many. And it as little accorded with the expectation and wish of the majority of the Israelites who knew Saul the son of Kish that he should be found first among the prophets and then upon the throne. Those who had known the young man from his youth never expected to see him in any other position than that in which he had grown to manhood, and a larger number were as surprised as they were disappointed when they found that a member of the smallest tribe of Israel, and one who had given no proof of his power to rule, was to be elevated to the throne of the nation. But this has been the general method of the Divine working in the world. Not only in the establishment of the Gospel kingdom but in the accomplishment of most of His purposes, which are indeed all subservient to that one great Divine purpose—“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Men look in the high places of the earth for those who are to do the great things of the world, but God puts His hand upon some obscure and despised and unlikely instrument and uses him for the work that “they may see, and know, and consider, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it” (Isaiah 41:20).

II. The way in which men ought to regard this method of the Divine working. There are many men among the teachers of the Church of God who have been raised from a much more lowly position. Yet when another from a similar position reveals that God has bestowed gifts and graces upon him also, those who can boast no higher origin exclaim with astonishment and scorn, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” It behoves all who ask such a question to consider the origin of all intellectual and spiritual endowments—to remember that they are all bestowed by the common Father, who is not accountable to them for the distribution of them. But the spirit which would exclude some from a participation in them manifested itself very early in the Church of God. When “the Lord took of the Spirit that was upon Moses, and gave it unto the seventy elders:” and “they prophesied and did not cease,” and “Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, there ran a young man and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord, Moses, forbid them” (Numbers 11:25-28). But Moses remembered and acknowledged “who hath made man’s mouth, and who maketh the dumb, or the seeing, or the blind” (Exodus 4:11)—he knew whose was the Spirit which had rested so abundantly upon him, and that all the servants of God had one common Father, and he therefore answered, “Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them” (Numbers 11:29). This is the attitude which becomes all God’s servants to take when they behold a Saul among the prophets—it behoves them all to ask the question asked by one in the days of Saul, “But who is their father?” It was as great a surprise to the disciples at Jerusalem to hear of the New Testament Saul among the preachers as it was for the inhabitants of Gibeah to see the Old Testament Saul among the prophets. But the surprise in both cases arose from forgetfulness of the truth contained in the heart-searching question afterwards put by that great apostle to the Corinthian church—“For who maketh thee to differ from one another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).


1 Samuel 10:11-12. Let not the worst be despaired of, yet let not an external show of devotion, and a sudden change for the present, be too much relied on; for Saul among the prophets was Saul still.—Henry.

Verses 13-16

1 Samuel 10:13. “When he had made an end of prophesying.” “The gift, therefore, in his case, was transitory, not permanent, as in Samuel’s: compare the case of Eldad and Medad, and the other elders, as contrasted with that of Moses” (Numbers 11:25). (Wordsworth). “The high place,” whence the prophets had just descended. “Saul went up thither to pray and sacrifice in the holy place after his great experiences of the Divine favour and goodness, and so after his return home first to give God the glory before he returned to his family-life. He joined the descending company of the prophets in their solemn procession; but when his participation in the utterances of the prophetic inspiration were over, his look rested on the sacred height whence the men had descended, and the impulse of the spirit of the Lord forced him up thither, that, after the extraordinary offering he had made with the prophets, he might make the ordinary offering, and engage in worship.” (Erdmann).

1 Samuel 10:16. “Of the matter of the kingdom … he told him not.” “This is to be referred, not to Saul’s unassuming modesty, humility, or modesty (Keil and Ewald), or prudence (Themius), or apprehension of his uncle’s incredulity and envy, but to the fact that Samuel, by his manner of imparting the divine revelation, had clearly and expressly given him to understand (1 Samuel 9:25; 1 Samuel 9:27) that it was meant in the first instance for him alone, and that it was not the Divine will that he should share it with others.” (Erdmann).

Verses 17-20


1 Samuel 10:17. “Mizpeh.” See on 1 Samuel 7:9. “Unto the Lord.” “Implying the presence of the ark, or the tabernacle, or the High Priest’s ephod.” Comp. 1 Samuel 10:19.” (Biblical Commentary).

1 Samuel 10:20 “The family of Matri … and Saul the son of Kish was taken.” “When the heads of the households in this family came, and after the different individuals in the households were taken, the lot fell upon Saul the son of Kish. The historian proceeds at once to the final result of the casting of the lots, without describing the intermediate steps any further.… As the result of the lot was regarded as a divine decision, not only was Saul to be accredited by this act as the king appointed by the Lord, but he himself was also to be the more fully assured of his own election on the part of God.” (Keil). “How the lots were cast is not said; commonly it was by throwing tablets (Joshua 18:6; Joshua 18:8, etc.), but sometimes by drawing from a vessel.” (Numbers 33:54). The latter seems to have been the method here employed.” (Erdmann).



I.—It is a mark of the greatest folly and ingratitude to forsake old and tried friends for those who are new and untried. This was what Israel was now doing. They were setting aside an old and faithful human friend in the person of Samuel for the young man of whom they knew nothing except that he was endowed with a fine physical frame. But they were guilty of far greater sin and folly. Although God had elected their king, yet we have seen (see on 1 Samuel 8:6-22) He had only done so because He would not compel them to acquiesce in His plans for their welfare; and in insisting upon having “a king like the nations,” they had forsaken him who “Himself had saved them out of all their adversities and tribulation,” who had “delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed them” (1 Samuel 10:18-19). God had indeed been a friend whose faithfulness had been tried and found unfailing, and in desiring a human king Israel gave proof of how ungrateful men can be, and how an apparent advantage and a wrong desire indulged in can blind men to their own interest.

II. Those who are thus foolish and ungrateful often find that those whom they have rejected are still indispensable to their welfare. Israel had still to look to Samuel to guard them against some of the evil fruits which would spring from their own self-will. To him they owed the preservation of some national liberty—he alone it was who was able to tell them the “manner of the kingdom,” and who “wrote it in a book” and laid it up for the use of future generations. And they had to look to the King whom they had forsaken to preserve the life and to give success to the king whom they had chosen in His place. It is vain for men to try and free themselves from obligations even to good men—they must either directly or indirectly be indebted to them. But it is far more useless and foolish for men to try and do without God, while every good gift which they enjoy comes from Him in whom they “live and move and have their being.” On the first day when Israel set out to do without God, they are found appealing to Him for guidance and help.

III. Those prove themselves to be true friends who are willing still to help those who have thus rejected them. That God was still careful for the interests of the children whom He had “nourished and brought up,” but who “had rebelled against Him” (Isaiah 1:2)—that He was still kind to these “unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35) Israelites—shows how infinitely good and gracious He is, and how unfailing is His friendship, and that Samuel should have borne himself as he did under the circumstances shows that he was a true and real patriot and friend.


1 Samuel 10:22. I cannot blame Saul for hiding himself from a kingdom, especially of Israel. Honour is heavy when it comes on the best terms; how should it be otherwise, when all men’s cares are cast on one; but most of all in a troubled estate? No man can put to sea without danger, but he that launcheth forth in a tempest expecteth the hardest event. Such was the condition of Israel.… Well did Saul know the difference between a peaceful government and the perilous and wearisome tumults of war. The quietest throne is full of cares, the perplexed of dangers. Cares and dangers drove Saul into this corner, to hide his head from a crown: these made him choose rather to lie obscurely among the baggage of his tent than to sit gloriously in the throne of state.—Bp. Hall.

Whether this act of Saul arose from a culpable distrust of God, or an excessive diffidence in himself, we cannot determine, but it forms a singular contrast with the spirit that marks his after life; his eager and extreme jealousy of a rival, both in his power and popularity. This should convince us how little we know of ourselves till placed in circumstances that may call forth our peculiar tempers or passions; for often we are as different persons at different periods of our lives, as Saul at this juncture from Saul after the lapse of some years, when with ungovernable violence he sought the life of David, dreading him as a competitor for the throne.—Lindsay.

1 Samuel 10:25. In the Word of God there is a clear definition of the rights of the ruled as well as of the rights of the ruler. No man is at liberty to tyrannize over another.… It is a solemn thought that all our engagements are laid up before the Lord. They are held in all their integrity by him, and he never fails to fulfil his part.—Steel.

1 Samuel 10:26. This verbal declaration of God was not enough. There must also be an actual one. God’s election is not vain and feeble; if it be real, it must prove itself in the gifts and deeds of him who is chosen. The people felt this, even those who acknowledged the election with all their heart. Saul himself also felt it. Both waited for the future actual ratification (chap. 11). Until then everything remained as it had been.—Hengstenberg.

1 Samuel 10:27. If Saul had attached an overweening importance to himself we should have seen a very different course of conduct. But it was the absence of this which saved him. The utterances of the men of Belial proceeded on the presumption that at the moment self-importance was the prominent principle at work in Saul’s heart; it was a shaft aimed at this, as they imagined that it would not only be there, but uppermost. Mistaken, however, as to the mark, they failed in hitting and wounding.… Many are the blessings attendant on humility, and among them this is not the least, that it denies opportunity to those who would seek to wound us through pride.—Miller.

Notwithstanding that they

(1) questioned his capacity,
(2) despised his power,
(3) refused him homage and help, he was as though he were deaf, thereby showing
(1) self-control,
(2) prudence,
(3) humility. Apply this to
(1) public officers,
(2) employers of servants and other subordinates,
(3) persons in society,

(4) church officials. There is a high sense in which God acts thus, and bad men imagine that He is really deaf. (Psalms 73:0; Psalms 94:7; Job 22:13).—Translator of Lange’s Commentary.

1 Samuel 10:26. Saul was to have one other proof that without hesitation he might in all the future of his life seek and find his all in God. What is a man without friends, especially if he have great responsibilities pressing around him, and great cares devolving on him? And who are our best friends? Not those who talk about us the most—not those who trumpet our praises and advertise our talents; but those who think of us in our homes, and who come, knowing we are careworn, to ask if they can help us, and who stand ready to do us a service which only God’s eye can see, a kindness the knowledge of which is confined to our house, and to the chambers of the heart made glad by this persional attention. If ever man wanted such attentions it must have been Saul, when he found himself all at once king over Israel.… The election is over, the excitement is past, its bustle subsided. He must go home as well as the rest of the people; but, ah! in how different a state of mind from theirs. Men can often bear up in public under circumstances beneath which they break down immediately when alone.… Real friends know this, and hence they will not say, because they see a man keep up in public, “Ah, he is quite equal to his duties; he will do very well now, we may leave him,” but rather they will, because he has kept up before others, expect it is all the more probable that he will not do so in private, and they will think of him at home, and they will follow him thither with their prayers at least; but if the opportunity serves, with their presence too. They will show that they have hearts—hearts in the worthiest sense of the term—and that their hearts have been indeed touched. All this comes before us in the history. Saul is not allowed to go home alone. No; he must be sustained by sympathy and friendship; he shall not feel solitary, he shall not go unattended. But mark that word—God. Even these emotions of sympathy—these proofs of attachment—these manifestations of heart—are not, by the historian, allowed to pass before us as just the natural working of men’s own minds under the peculiar circumstances of the case. God was in them. God excited them, and in the fact that God touched their hearts and disposed them favourably, Saul was to gain a new encouragement, a new assurance of being in the path of duty. This power, too, which God possesses of touching the hearts of men, is one which it were well if we more distinctly recognised and completely confided in.… It is much better, easier, safer, more dignified to get at men’s hearts through God’s power over them, than to seek their good opinion by any lower effort.—Miller.

Verses 21-27

1 Samuel 10:22. “They inquired of the Lord … and the Lord answered.” “The inquiry was made through the high priest, by means of the Urim and Thummim. There can be no doubt that in a gathering of the people for so important a purpose, the high priest would also be present, even though this is not expressly stated.” (Keil). “The high-priest’s office was vacant, some other, not Samuel, who presided over the assembly and the election, but a priest, in the high priestly robes, conducted the solemn inquiry, which was exclusively the privilege of the priests.” (Erdmann). “If the man should yet come hither;” rather, has any one else come hither? i.e., besides those here present among whom Saul was not to be found.” (Erdmann). “Among the stuff.” “Rather, the baggage. The assembly was like a camp, and the baggage of the whole congregation was probably collected in one place, where the waggons were arranged for protection.” (Biblical Commentary). “The ground was his diffidence and shyness in respect to appearing publicly before the whole people. Nagelsbach rightly remarks that his hiding behind the baggage during the election is not in conflict with the account of his change of mind. At so decisive a moment, which turns the eyes of all on one with the most diverse feelings, the heart of the most courageous man may well beat.” (Erdmann).

1 Samuel 10:23. “He was higher than any of the people,” etc. “When in battle much less depended on military skill than upon the bodily prowess of the chief in single combats, or in the partial actions with which most battles commenced, it was natural that the people should take pride in the gigantic proportions of their leader, as calculated to strike terror into the enemy, and confidence into his followers; besides, it was no mean advantage that the crest of the leader should, from his tallness, be seen from afar by his people. The prevalence of this feeling of regard for personal bulk and stature is seen in the sculptures of ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Persia, and even in the modern paintings of the last-named nation, in which the sovereign is invested with gigantic proportions in comparison with the persons around him.” (Kitto).

1 Samuel 10:24. “God save the king,” Rather, let the king live. The Hebrew is equivalent to the French Vive le Roi.

1 Samuel 10:25. “Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom.” On the first establishment of the kingdom it was possible to make conditions and to impose restrictions, to which any future king, royal by birth, and on whom the crown devolved by hereditary right, would not very willingly submit. There can be no doubt that the people, under the infatuation which now possessed them, would have put themselves under the monarchy without any conditions whatever, and it is entirely owing to the wise forethought of Samuel, acting under the Divine direction, that this evil was averted, and the kings of Israel did not become absolute and irresponsible masters of the lives and properties of their subjects.” (Kitto). “This law of the kingdom is not identical with the manner of the king described by Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:11-18. The Hebrew word rendered manner in both places is mishpat, which properly means judgment, right, law, that which is strictly de jure; but it also signifies usage, manner, custom, that which is de facto, and the mishpat of the kingdom here expresses the former, but the mishpat of the king in chap. 8 comprehends also the latter.” (Wordsworth). “In content it was no doubt essentially the same with the law of the king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, especially 1 Samuel 10:19-20, and therefore related to the divinely-established rights and duties of the theocratic king, the fulfilment of which the people were authorised to demand from him.” (Erdmann). “Wrote it in a book.” “We find here the first trace, after the written records of Moses, of writing among the prophets, long before the literary activity to which we owe what we have now.” (Erdmann). “Laid it up before the Lord.” “It was, no doubt, placed in the tabernacle, where the law of Moses was also deposited.” (Keil).

1 Samuel 10:26. “A band of men,” etc.; rather, the host; but “here it does not signify a large military force, but a crowd of brave men whose hearts God had touched to give him a royal escort, and show their readiness to serve him.” (Keil).

1 Samuel 10:27. “Children of Belial” (see on 1 Samuel 2:12). “Presents,” Minchah. “The token of homage and acknowledgment from the subject to the sovereign, and from the tributary nation to their suzerain” (see 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:6; Judges 3:17-18; 1 Kings 4:21, etc.). (Biblical Commentary). “But he held his peace.” Literally, “He was as being deaf,” i.e., he acted as if he had not heard.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-samuel-10.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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