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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
1 Samuel 9

 

 

Verses 1-27

The word of God now transfers out attention to a man of Benjamin whose genealogy is given us for four generations, and he a mighty man of power. From men's point of view everything was favorable as regards the background of Saul, the son of Kish. More than this, he himself was a physically striking young man, outstanding above everyone else, head and shoulders taller than the average person. The honor of being from Benjamin too, "the son of my right hand," was a matter in which man in the flesh could boast (Philippians 3:4-5). So far as mere man is concerned, Saul was the idea example. God therefore would give him to Israel as king. Though he was really the people's choice, yet God did not allow them to choose him, but He Himself would inaugurate Saul as king, so that he would remain just as long as God intended. When Israel would cry out in resentment against their desired king, they would have no authority whatever to depose him, no more than to appoint him. they must learn in a full way the vanity of man in the flesh.

Saul is introduced to us in an interesting and significant way. His father's donkeys were lost, and his father appointed him and a servant to look for them. Later, in contrast, David was keeping the sheep when he was called to be king. Of course sheep are typical of believers, while man generally, in unbelief, is likened in his very birth to a wild donkey's colt (Job 11:12), the symbol of stubborn rebellion. David is a type of Christ, who has a faithful, tender heart toward His sheep; whereas Saul is typical of all mere human government, which never succeeds, just as Saul never did find his father's donkeys. One writer has said that all human government concentrates on subduing the wild beast in man, which is a hopeless pursuit. Indeed, the governors themselves have the same rebellious nature, however well trained and cultured they may appear to be.

They passed through four areas of the country, the number four being that of testing and generally of failure, as the fourth book of the Bible (Numbers) manifestly teaches. "They found them not." How precious is the contrast in Luke 15:4, where the Shepherd whose one sheep was lost is seen "going after that which was lost" UNTIL HE FIND IT."

Finally, coming to a fifth area, Saul proposes to his servant that they return home defeated, for he expects his father now to be concerned about them rather than the donkeys. The servant knows of Samuel, a man of God with an honorable reputation, a true prophet of God, and that he was at least at this time in a nearby city. Whether this was Ramah we are not told. He suggests that he might tell them what to do as regards finding the donkeys. Saul, however, thought it essential that they have a present to give to the man of God. Men's natural thoughts are always directed in this way, as though God looked for something from man first before He would answer his need. It is the legal principle that fails to realize that God is a God of pure grace. Sad to say, Saul did not learn better than this all his life. The servant had a fourth part of a shekel of silver, and Saul agrees that this will be appropriate, though later we never read of his giving it to Samuel. It was quite the opposite: Samuel had made provision FOR SAUL.

We are told in verse 9 that the designation "Prophet" referred to the same person as did "Seer,"the former having replaced the latter. The seer of course is one who sees or discerns, while prophet refers to one who communicates what he discerned as from God.

Coming to the city they enquire for the seer and are told by young girls that he had come that day to the city because of a feast of the people in the high place, and was on his way there. Going quickly in that direction they would find him. The many details in this history all fit perfectly in God's directing everything to bring about His own ends. As they came inside the city Samuel met them. We are told that Samuel was expecting Saul because God had told him the day before that He would send him a man out of Benjamin about the same time the following day, and Samuel was instructed to anoint him as captain over Israel. God would - use Saul to save Israel from the Philistines because of His own compassion toward His people. Certainly He could have used other means for Israel's salvation, but in grace He made this concession to His people because of their urging, not because this was His directive will.

At the moment Samuel saw Saul the Lord told him this was the man of whom He had spoken to him, and he would reign over Israel. Samuel did not however take the initiative, but waited for Saul to come to him, asking where the seer's house was. Samuel tells him, "I am the seer," but waits for no other question from Saul.

Samuel, rather than asking Saul why he wanted to see the seer, instructs Saul to go up before him to the high place, where he would eat with Samuel that day. The following day he would let him go after telling him all that was in his heart. Then he tells him that the donkeys that were lost had already been found (a lesson for Saul that God could do what Saul could not).

But more than this, he gave him the arresting news that the desire of Israel was on Saul and on all his father's house. This was certainly unexpected by Saul, who rightly protests that he is only a Benjamite, of the smallest tribe in Israel. Why did Samuel speak in this way to him'? Samuel later refers to this when Saul stood in need of serious reproof, telling him, "When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?" (ch.15:17). When Saul was elevated to the prominence and authority of king, it was not long before he forgot his own littleness: he thought himself great enough to ignore God's express commands, and of course suffered the consequences. On the other hand, faith always maintains a humble place, no matter how greatly one may be honored.

About thirty guests were present when Samuel took Saul and his servant to dinner, giving them the most honored place at the table. Then Samuel ordered the portion he had reserved for Saul to be brought. The shoulder then given to Saul is typical of the responsibility he must shoulder in becoming king. Of Christ we read, "the government shall be upon his shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6). Saul surely ought to have taken to heart the truth that in taking responsibility to reign, he must bow his shoulder to the authority of God, but he later forgot this. That day, however, he ate with Samuel, indicating that God, on His part, was willing to show fellowship to Saul in his appointment to the throne, though Saul would later show himself unwilling to have honest fellowship with God.

After the meal Samuel communed alone with Saul on the housetop, typically a place of watching. Perhaps he was giving instruction that Saul deeply needed at the time. The next morning, rather than retaining Saul to install him immediately as king, he sent him away again. In those things already seen, Saul was intended to discern that he first had to do with God before he could be placed on the throne, the eating of the sacrifice is a most significant matter, as we have seen. But God still has lessons to teach him before his coronation. Whether he learned them is another matter, but if he had had an exercised heart, he might have discerned far more than he did. Samuel accompanied him to the border of the city and asked that he might privately speak with Saul, "that I may show thee the word of God."

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-samuel-9.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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