1 Samuel Chapter 10


1 Samuel anointeth Saul. 2 He confirmeth him by prediction of three signs. 9 Saul’s heart is changed, and he prophesieth. 14 He concealeth the matter of the kingdom from his uncle. 17 Saul is chosen at Mizpeh by lot. 26 The different affections of his subjects.

Verse 1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?

Flask of oil. Olive oil was a symbol of prosperity (Deut. 32:13; Deut. 33:24). The anointing of the body with oil was from the beginning of history, and still is among primitive peoples, a general practice.

Later, perfumed ointments were used. Persons were anointed for various reasons: as a mark of honor (Luke 7:46; John 11:2), in preparation for social events (Ruth 3:3), or as signifying a proper qualification for some special service, dignity, function, or privilege.

The Lord has anointed you. Among the Hebrews the anointing of a man by a prophet was symbolic of the impartation to him of a special endowment of the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of his appointed task.

This holy anointing oil was used for the consecration of articles used for religious purposes, such as the tabernacle (Ex. 30:26–29), and for the consecration of priests (Ex. 29:7; Ex. 30:30; Lev. 8:10–12; etc.).

Special care was to be exercised in its preparation and use (Ex. 30:23–33). There was, of course, no more sanctity in the oil itself than in the water of baptism; it did not convey special virtue—it was only a symbol.

Some think the practice of anointing a king originated in Egypt; others see in ancient Canaanite ritual an evidence of its very early use.

The anointing with oil is an excellent illustration of how God makes use of human customs to lead men to reach out for a deeper, truer knowledge of salvation.

God directed the Israelites to make familiar types of coverings, carrying poles, etc., for the sacred furniture and vessels of the tabernacle, resembling, to some extent, those the Egyptians used in connection with their temples.

Articles of similar workmanship were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Here were also found guardian figures like the cherubim, their wings touching, wrought in high relief on the sarcophagus of this Pharaoh.

To the Wise Men of Christ’s day God gave a sign through a medium with which they were familiar—a star to guide them to Bethlehem.

Whatever the age and whatever the customs of the people, God uses media familiar to the people in teaching them of His holiness and of the beauty of the plan of redemption.

Verse 2 When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?” ’

You will find. It would be most natural for Saul to be somewhat bewildered by the unexpected turn of events.

What a surprise it must have been to him to find himself the center of attraction, with Samuel, the leader of Israel, prepared to receive him with honor He might well ponder the meaning of all this.

As evidence that the Lord was calling him, the Holy Spirit spoke through Samuel, revealing future events.

Evidence of the foreknowledge of God, verified within a few hours after his anointing, encouraged Saul to accept the responsibility to which he was now called.

He felt assured that God would be with him. Samuel had already informed him that the donkeys had been found; now further inspired testimony was provided by way of confirming the prophet’s message.

To the humble and willing heart God multiplies evidence of the way in which to go (Isa. 30:21; Jer. 33:3; see DA 224, 330, 331, 668; MB 150).

Is jy verward mbt die weg wat jy moet inslaan? Wag in ootmoed op die Here

And the beauty of it all is that He has a thousand ways in which to manifest these evidences; He is not confined to any set method.

The fact that the Holy Spirit spoke in the days of the apostles by tongues of fire is no reason that He must manifest Himself in the same way at another time.

The apostles were led to select the 12th member of their group by casting lots, but that does not mean that the flip of a coin is the best way to secure an answer to individual problems today.

Rachel’s tomb. See Additional Note to ch. 1.

Verse 3 Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine.

The terebinth tree of Tabor. Literally, “the oak tree.” Oak trees sometimes have long lives and grow to a great size; such trees made excellent landmarks.

The strange gods of Jacob’s household were buried beneath “the oak which was by Shechem” (Gen. 35:4). Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, was buried near Bethel “under an oak” (Gen. 35:8).

Somewhere between Rachel’s tomb and Gibeah was this tree that belonged to a man, or was in a district by the name of, Tabor.

Verses 4,5 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands. 5 After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying.

The hill of God. Literally, “the Gibeah of God.” As Gibeah (verse 26) was Saul’s home, “the Gibeah of God” was probably that portion of the hill where the high place was situated and from which the company of prophets was to be seen coming down.

A group of prophets. From the context it seems clear that the prophets were making use of sacred music and song to refresh their minds concerning past providence of God.

This word translated “they shall prophesy” literally means “they shall be acting the prophet.” They were chanting God’s praises with fervor. This seems to have been one of the methods instituted by Samuel as a part of the curriculum of the schools he established, to refine and spiritualize their minds (see Ed 47).

Verse 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and  you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

You will prophesy. The verb is a form of naba’, “to act as a spokesman for God.”

Here reference is not to foretelling future events but to the expression of divine truth in the form of sacred song.

The same form of the verb is used in describing the false prophets of Baal, who cut themselves as if possessed by an evil spirit (1 Kings 18:28, 29), although no one would question that it was an entirely different spirit that possessed those heathen prophets.

These “sons of the prophets” were singing praises to God when Saul met and joined them in such singing.

The many evidences of divine providence upon his pathway during the past few hours had indeed brought about a transformation, which, temporary though it was, gave promise of what God was ready and eager to do for him should he remain humble and submissive.

Turned into another man. There come times in men’s lives when a change of circumstances or some divine gift frees them from former restraints.

They find themselves subject to a change as rapid, fresh, and striking as when a moth emerges from its cocoon, or a night-blooming cereus suddenly begins to unfold its exquisite beauty and send forth its wondrous perfume, where but a few moments before there was nothing of the kind apparent.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). Bezaleel and Aholiab were given special wisdom and skill for the work of the tabernacle (Ex. 31:2–6)

Almost overnight Moses was changed from a timid herder of sheep to an emancipator, standing fearlessly before the king.

Similarly Gideon was changed into a man of great courage, able to lead an army to victory—not by his own wisdom and skill, it is true, but by inspiration of God.

The egotistical, self-righteous Peter was changed similarly into a fearless leader of the early church.

Such changes are wrought when the Spirit of God imparts to men a vision of new possibilities, and their souls respond in sacred joy and gladness, delighting in the acceptance of God-given responsibility.

The reality of the transformation becomes apparent as changes occur in the thoughts, the habits, the life. Old things pass away; all things become new (1 Cor. 5:17).

But it must be remembered that such a change becomes permanent only with the daily reaffirmation of the choice thus made.

Gideon, for instance, led the Israelites of his day into idolatry as great as that from which he had but recently delivered them (Judges 6:1, 10, 25; 8:24–33).

Saul likewise refused to follow on to know the Lord, and as a result finally arrived at the place where he was entirely under the control of Satan.

How many men, today as in ancient times, wear the badge, “might-have-been”

Verse 7 And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.

Do as the occasion demands. Saul was to realize in everything that befell him that God was giving him divine evidence of his appointment.

Why had he not found the donkeys before? Why had he wandered this way and that until he came to Samuel, before learning anything about them?

In all this he was to understand that, though unseen, God had been with him all the way.

With all these evidences before him, he was to watch for further evidence of divine guidance. For the time being, this was all God saw fit to reveal to Saul concerning the future.

God is with you. All heaven was interested in helping him to determine that his life should be ordered of God.

In the circumstances of his everyday life he was to envision the leadings of God.

How different the history of Israel might have been had Saul been content to wait for the Lord’s direction. He had evidence that the circumstances of his return home were ordered of the Lord.

He had been told what was to happen, in order that he might be encouraged to cooperate with God by permitting the Spirit to instruct him, protect him, and direct his actions.

Verse 8 You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”

Go down. Samuel gave Saul sufficient insight into the future to prove that God was working for him. He could not at the moment tell Saul precisely what circumstances would call him to Gilgal.

To do so would tend to confuse the young man rather than to help him (see chapters 11:15; 13:4, 8). Samuel simply assured the king-to-be that, by doing as the occasion required, he could always expect as much success in waiting for God’s guidance as he had enjoyed upon the day of his anointing.

Verse 9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.

Gave him another heart. Literally, “God transformed for him another heart,” meaning, “God converted him.”

This change of heart would also be accompanied by a change of direction in mental activity.

Instead of thinking about donkeys and farms, Saul must learn to think of the problems that confront a statesman, a general, and a king.

God was prepared to impart to Saul ability commensurate with his new responsibilities.

What thoughts must have passed through Saul’s mind that day as incident after incident Samuel had predicted was fulfilled (verses 2–7)

God was ready to transform Saul’s vision, ambition, and aspirations in such a way that the things of God would become to him the all-important issues of life.

Centuries later a prophet said, “I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (Eze. 11:19).

Saul had inquired of God through Samuel, in an endeavor to find his way through personal perplexities.

God first answered the plea for personal guidance, and then invited Saul to accept His guidance in matters that affected the welfare of the entire nation.

So it is today. God takes men where He finds them and invites them to fulfill His own glorious plan for their lives.

Verses 10,11 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

Is Saul also among the prophets? This seemed incredible to the people. Apparently Saul’s life prior to this time had hardly been a model of piety.

It was little less than a miracle that he should have become a prophet, though, it is true, not in the sense of being called to the prophetic office.

But here he was extolling the majesty and power of God and giving inspired utterance to sacred truths.

In his heart he treasured a secret that must have been difficult to keep, and the recent evidences of divine grace and providence vouchsafed to him stirred him to the depths of his soul.

His pent-up emotions burst forth with evidence that the words of Samuel had indeed come true—Saul had been “turned into another man” (v. 6).

His experience bore witness also to the fact that God is able to transform the most unpromising of men into instruments that will be useful to Him.

Furthermore, in the case of Saul, this remarkable change would attract the attention and confidence of the people and prepare them to follow him as their leader.

God often works in ways contrary to human planning. It was incredible, so the Jews thought, for the disciples to speak in foreign tongues on the day of Pentecost.

To us it seems unwise that Christ, knowing the character of Judas, should have made him treasurer of the disciples (John 12:6).

To Naaman it seemed absurd that the waters of the muddy Jordan should possess more healing power than the clear-flowing streams of Damascus (2 Kings 5:12).

The cross of Christ was despised by the Greeks as a most contemptible means for the salvation of the world (1 Cor. 1:18–24).

To the modern mind it may seem unjust that the Lord instructed Abimelech to restore Sarah to her husband and request his prayers, when he had taken her in the integrity of his heart (Gen. 20:5).

To John the Baptist it seemed inappropriate that he should baptize the Son of God (Matt. 3:13–15).

To Simon’s mind it was inconsistent with Jesus’ position that He should allow Mary to anoint His feet, if He knew the kind of woman she was (Luke 7:37–40).

Yet all these seeming inconsistencies are resolved when the work and power of the Holy Spirit are taken into consideration.

The prophetic schools under Samuel’s administration were organized that the youth might be educated in the truths of God.

Much study was given to history, to memorizing the Scriptures, to prayer, and to hymnody.

In the place of poetical utterances about Baal, the storm god, Israel was taught the marvelous works of the Lord, and His praise was expressed in song.

As the contemplation of the benefits of God brought joy and peace to their troubled hearts, their faces would light up, reflecting the inner illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Verses 12-16 Then a man from there answered and said, “But who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

13 And when he had finished prophesying, he went to the high place.

14 Then Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?”

So he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they were nowhere to be found, we went to Samuel.”

15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you.”

16 So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said.

Did not tell him. The wise man affirmed that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7).

How different from Jehu’s (2 Kings 9:4–13) reaction to his anointing by the prophet was that of Saul.

If God was responsible for calling Saul to the kingship, He would make it known to the right people at the right time.

Under the control of the Holy Spirit, Saul followed Samuel’s directions to await the guidance of God.

To be fit for high office, Saul must first learn to control his tongue. His reserve was evidence of a proper estimate of the responsibility now resting on him.

Verses 17-19 Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah, 18 and said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.’ 19 But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.”

Rejected your God. How shortsighted man is to think of pitting his finite wisdom against the omniscience of the Creator.

During the days of the judges, when Egypt’s armed forces marched through the land time after time, the Israelites had been safe from assaults that subjugated city after city in Palestine.

They were unaware that the Egyptian lords returned home with the word that there was nothing to fear from the hill-dwelling Israelites.

Israel knew not that these very armies, marching through the land, were instrumental in restraining nearby tribes that no doubt looked with covetous eyes on the well-watered heights of the land west of the Jordan (see on Ex. 23:28).

Throughout the history of the world men have been tempted to question the advisability of God’s plans.

After the Flood, God covenanted with mankind that the earth should never be destroyed again by water. Instead of trusting this promise, men felt they must build a tower whose top no flood could ever reach.

For safety, they must build cities and live in close contact with their neighbors. Even the Jews of Christ’s day had forgotten to make the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, and to let God add to them the temporal and material necessities of life as seemed best to Him.

In their anxiety to be like the nations about them, Israel did not realize that they were placing one more handicap on the plans of their heavenly King.

Free moral agents, they were limiting God by their choice (Ps. 78:41), and in so doing they were sowing the seeds of selfishness and rebellion. The baleful harvest was sure to come, yet God in His mercy and long-suffering never forsook them.

Verses 20-22 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”

So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?”

Whom the Lord hath chosen. Many raise the question, Why did God choose Saul as king, knowing full well the life he would lead? The context reveals that the people wanted a man of commanding personality who would provide them with strong leadership in war (8:19, 20).

God chose chosen in harmony with their wishes, to prove to them:

(1) that He did not limit their freedom of choice,

(2) that in spite of their unwise choice He would restrain the evil influences that came with the monarchy,

(3) that they must learn by experience that what a man sows he must also reap, and

(4) that national departure from the path of God’s choosing does not prevent individuals within that nation from living in harmony with His will and receiving His blessing.

Verses 24-27 So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. 26 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

Listen to these inspired words:

Though the nation had despised Samuel’s warning, the faithful prophet, while forced to yield to their desires, still endeavored, as far as possible, to guard their liberties.

While the people in general were ready to acknowledge Saul as their king, there was a large party in opposition. For a monarch to be chosen from Benjamin, the smallest of the tribes of Israel–and that to the neglect of both Judah and Ephraim, the largest and most powerful–was a slight which they could not brook.

They refused to profess allegiance to Saul or to bring                                                                  

him the customary presents. Those who had been most urgent in their demand for a king were the very ones that refused to accept with gratitude the man of God’s appointment.

The members of each faction had their favorite, whom they wished to see placed on the throne, and several among the leaders had desired the honor for themselves. Envy and jealousy burned in the hearts of many. The efforts of pride and ambition had resulted in disappointment and discontent.

In this condition of affairs Saul did not see fit to assume the royal dignity. Leaving Samuel to administer the government as formerly, he returned to Gibeah. He was honorably escorted thither by a company, who, seeing the divine choice in his selection, were determined to sustain him. But he made no attempt to maintain by force his right to the throne.

In his home among the uplands of Benjamin he quietly occupied himself in the duties of a husbandman, leaving the establishment of his authority entirely to God.  {PP 612.1}

Verse 27 But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

Some rebels. Or, “worthless fellows” (RSV; see on ch. 2:12).

The same situation developed when God commanded Moses to substitute the Levites for the first-born of all the tribes, so confining the priestly office to the sons of Aaron.

At that time Korah and 250 of the princes of Israel refused to follow God’s leading, and blamed Moses for placing his own family in office.

The very fact that Saul took this rejection of his authority so patiently, and made no effort to maintain his right to the throne by force, is the best of evidence that God had touched his heart and was imparting to him wisdom requisite to kingship.


1–27 PP 610-612

1–11 PP 610

5, 6 CT 373

8 PP 617, 627

10 PP 622, 636

17, 20–25, 27 PP 611

Updated on 21st Mar 2022

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