Click here to join the effort!
In this Chapter the sacred historian first brings us acquainted with Saul, whom God had previously determined to appoint king of Israel. By an overruling providence, Saul, who was in pursuit of his father's asses which were lost, is led to Samuel. And Samuel, privately admonished of God, gives Saul the first intimation of the Lord's design concerning him.
(1) ¶ Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. (2) And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.
The pedigree of Saul is first set down, and afterwards the portrait of his person is penciled out. It is worthy the Reader's observation in the very first outlines of Saul, that while his person is thus set off to the greatest advantage, not a word is said of the qualities of the mind. Dearest Jesus! in the days of thy flesh it is said of thee, that thy visage was marred more than any man, and thy form more than the sons of men. Lord teach me from hence not to judge by outward appearance. The kings daughter is all-glorious within. Isaiah 52:15 ; Psalms 45:13 .
(3) ¶ And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses. (4) And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not. (5) And when they 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 for us.
It is truly instructive to remark, how the Lord in his Providence overrules and accomplishes the greatest designs from the slenderest means. The wandering of the asses laid the foundation for Saul's seeking them; and his not finding them, again paved the way for bringing him near Samuel. Thus the Lord sometimes worketh without means, and sometimes with means; but it is sweet, in the after stages, to look back and see how the Lord is carrying on, in all we seem to be contriving and ordering, one settled plan of goodness and mercy concerning us. Hence the church makes a beautiful conclusion from God's love to his people, after giving a long account of his dealings with them: whoso is wise will ponder these things, and they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord. Psalms 107:43 .
(6) And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go. (7) Then said Saul to his servant, But, 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 we? (8) 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 to the man of God, to tell us our way. (9) (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
Observe, though neither Saul nor his servants had ever seen Samuel, his reputation as the Lord's prophet was known to them. But Reader! do not fail to observe further, that in the proposed enquiry they meant to make, there is not a word concerning God, or how to obtain his favor. Alas is it not so now? Are not the whole world sending forth the enquiry, who will shew us any good? But how few the cry, Lord lift up the light of thy countenance upon us! Psalms 4:6 .
(10) Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was. (11) ¶ And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here? (12) And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came today to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people today in the high place: (13) 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 afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.
It is worthy observation, that those young women were no strangers to what was going on in religious services. It is highly proper that servants as well as masters, the drawers of water as well as those that sit at the table with wine, should be savingly acquainted with all the grand principles of religion. I do not take upon me to say, whether this sacrifice of the people in the high place, was a feast upon the sacrifice, or a service with the sacrifice. But be it either, it is delightful to observe, that as it was the sacrifice of the people it must have been with an eye to Christ. Oh! how precious must that one all-sufficient offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all, be considered in the eye of God our Father, when everything in the services and feasts of his people referred to it. Hebrews 9:6-11 .
(14) And they went up into the city: and when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high place. (15) Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, (16) Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. (17) And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.
I hope the Reader will not overlook how the Lord is working while we are unconscious. Saul is in quest of his asses, the servant hath no anxiety but this, whereas all the great events which were to follow in Saul's life were folded up in the result of this interview with Samuel. Of all the subjects upon earth, what can be so sweet and interesting to the review of a gracious mind, as the first dawnings of grace. Reader! if you are the happy partaker of it, I shall find no difficulty in getting you to pause in this place and remark, how that grace first manifested itself to you notwithstanding all your undeservings, how surprising, how unexpected, how unlooked for, when Jesus first looked upon you in your blood, and bade you live. Your care, like Saul and his servant's for the asses, was about nothing else than fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and the pursuits of the world; and then it was, the eye of Jesus was marking you out for his grace as the eye was upon Saul, when the Lord had told Samuel in his hearing concerning him for a kingdom.
(18) ¶ Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is.
Now the Lord in his providence had brought Saul to Samuel, and all the great events those two persons had to transact together, as the sequel of their history shows, began in this way. I would have the Reader remark with me, that though Saul was so handsome in his person, yet the great prophet Samuel was so poor and plain that Saul had no consciousness who it was when he accosted him. Such, depend upon it, are God's people in a thousand and ten thousand instances as to any outward attraction. Like their great head, there is no beauty in external appearances, that we should desire them.
(19) And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart. (20) 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? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father's house?
Here Samuel gives the first intimation of Saul's future greatness, and his own present ability as a prophet of the Lord. By telling him of the safety of his asses, he gave him to understand that he knew his errand before he communicated it; and by the promise of telling him all that was in his heart on the morrow, he prepared his mind for what he had to communicate. But what I would particularly desire the Reader to remark, in this first interview between Samuel and Saul, is, how the prophet passed by everything until he had called the king elect to the sacrifice. Though all the grand objects of the intended kingdom were in the prophet's mind, and all in full prospect before him, yet prayer and praise must precede every other consideration. How sweet is it to see this gracious conformity in every truly awakened soul in all his actions. These things will be spontaneous, and, like the lips of the spouse, will drop freely as the honeycomb; not by constraint, nor by pressure, but of themselves, and continually. Song of Solomon 4:11 .
(21) 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 tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
No doubt Saul had heard that Israel was to have a king, for Gibeah of Saul the residence of Kish, was not above twenty miles from Samuel's house at Ramah. But though he had heard of this intended thing, he could not have had the most distant idea of being the person, unless by divine intimation as Samuel had it. And the whole life of Saul manifests, that this communion with God he was a stranger to. Benjamin was the youngest of the tribes of Israel, and by the event of that unhappy war recorded in Judges, (Judges 20:48 .) the whole tribe was much reduced.
(22) And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons. (23) And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee. (24) And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left! set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day.
The respect shown Saul by the prophet, plainly intimated somewhat very important. We cannot but admire Samuel's conduct upon this occasion. Though the making Saul king tended to the lessening Samuel's sons, yet in obedience to the command of God, the prophet did it with the greatest cheerfulness.
(25) And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house. (26) And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad. (27) 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 on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.
What passed at this interview is not recorded, but no doubt the conversation was preparatory to the great event about to follow in Saul's life. Probably the man of God opened to his view the Lord's designs in the thing itself, and showed him that it was of the Lord. How astonished must have been the son of Kish! And what a train of thoughts must have occupied his mind.
My soul! I charge it upon thee while reading this chapter of the Lord's providence concerning Saul, that thou search diligently into the records of thine own life, for the testimonies of the Lord's dealings with thee, both in his world of providence and grace.
Pause and see whether the same gracious God, while thou hast been searching out the things of time and sense, hath not been going before thee, anticipating thy requests, blessing thee with things unasked, and infinitely exceeding all thy thoughts and expectations, with preventing and restraining mercy and grace? In things temporal, how hath be supplied all thy wants, thy bread hath been given, and thy water hath been sure, and God himself hath been thy defence as the munition of rocks. And in things spiritual how hath be outrun all thy desires! Nay, while thou wast standing out against him, and causing him to serve with thy sins, and wearying his patience with thine iniquities, then it was the Lord had mercy upon thee, even before thou wert conscious of the want of mercy; and saved thee though he knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast a transgressor from the womb. My soul! keep this ever in view, to make thee humble, to endear Jesus, to hide pride from thine eyes, and to make the redemption work of thy God more and more sweet and important. And oh! for grace, continual grace, to make suitable returns of love and praise and obedience, where mercy and favor are so freely given. Thou art called to a kingdom that cannot be moved. Jesus hath made all his children kings and priests to God and the Father. Whatever trials beset us in the way to the possession of future glory, there is no state can be truly called comfortless while Jesus is our portion. Neither can one of his children esteem his mercies small who is saved from hell, and brought into the sure path of Heaven.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26