1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 9
1 Saul despairing to find his father’s asses, 6 by the counsel of his servant, 11 and direction of young maidens, 15 according to God’s revelation, 18 cometh to Samuel. 19 Samuel entertaineth Saul at the feast. 25 Samuel, after secret communication, bringeth Saul on his way.
Verse 1 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.
Kish. According to Gesenius the word transliterated Kish is from qosh, “to lay lay a snare,” or “to set a trap” (see Isa. 29:21). A related Arabic word means “to be bent as a bow.”
If Kish be taken to mean “bow,” then Kishi (1 Chron. 6:44) would mean “my bow” (see also the name Elkoshite in Nahum 1:1, from ’elkoshi, “God is my bow”).
Sometimes the name was compounded with that of the Deity as Kushaiah, “the bow of God” (1 Chron. 15:17). The father of Kish was Abiel, “God is my father,” and his grandfather’s name was Zeror, “bound together.”
The same root word is used in 1 Sam. 25:29–31, where Abigail pleads with David to forgive Nabal’s trespass against him. Zeror’s father was Bechorath, from bekor, “first-born,” and his grandfather’s name as Aphiah, of uncertain meaning. Thus the ancestry of Saul is traced for more than a century.
Verse 2 And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
Saul. sha’ul, from the verb sha’al, “to ask for,” “to request.” One of the dukes of Edom also bore the name Saul (Gen. 36:37, 38).
If Kish be thought of as “the bow of God” (see on 1 Sam. 9:1), for delivering Israel from the hand of the surrounding nations, there must also be arrows for His quiver.
Zechariah speaks of Judah as God’s bow and Ephraim as is arrows; Zion is “as the sword of a mighty man” (Zech. 9:13).
Towering head and shoulders above his fellows, Saul had a regal bearing that won him the favor of the multitude.
What better lesson could God give those who wished to be like the nations about them than to select for them a king who should be judged after man’s standards?
Thus the disciples of Jesus looked to Judas as a leader, little knowing the darkness that shrouded his heart. Is it not time for God’s people today to ask for that heavenly eye salve that will enable them ever to discern clearly the qualifications of true leadership?
Verse 3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.”
The donkes. On what apparently inconsequential incidents does the destiny of races and peoples does the destiny of races and peoples often depend!
Saul set out to find the lost donkeys, little dreaming that the day had come for him to assume the responsibilities of a kingdom!
‘n Ander klomp donkies.
Future events proved him ill-prepared for the task to which God called him. Few people are prepared for such leadership.
Moses was not fully prepared for leadership even when he met God at the burning bush. But the encouraging aspect of a call to leadership is that God takes men as He finds them, with the purpose of training them as they work.
All that God expects of any man is “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with his God (Micah 6:8); literally, “to humble thyself to walk with God.”
Peter did this; Judas did not. David did so; Saul refused. It is not that God cannot train man, but rather that man will not humble his heart before God so that in due time God may exalt him (1 Peter 5:6).
Verse 4 So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.
Mountains of Ephraim. Approached from either the valley of the Jordan or the rolling hills of the Shephelah to the west, Mt. Ephraim loomed ahead, the central mountain range that ran north from the environs of Bethel toward Salim, a few miles east of Shechem.
These mountains formed a watershed some 2,500–3,000 feet above sea level, from which streams ran east to the Jordan and west to the Mediterranean.
Land of Shalisha. Nothing is known as to the location of the “land of Shalisha.” Some have suggested that it was in the western foothills, to the northwest of Bethel; others think it may have been in the Jordan valley to the northwest of Jericho.
Shalim. Or, Shual (ch. 13:17), from shu‘al, “fox,” or “jackal,” or from sho‘al, “hollow of the hand.”
The district of Shalim was probably thought of as a land of jackals. The eastern slopes of the mountains of central Palestine were for the most part wild, rugged, and desolate, and chiefly the habitat of wild animals.
After traversing the districts mentioned, on the third day of search Saul and his servant came to Ramah, about 6 miles north of Gibeah (verse 20; see on ch. 1:1).
The animals had been lost but two full days (ch. 9:20; see page 136), and could have wandered no more than a few miles from home.
In his search for the lost donkies Saul would have investigated all the hills, valleys, and ravines, and would have stopped here and there to inquire concerning the animals.
The area thus covered in two or three days would obviously be of limited extent.
It is therefore probable that Saul and his servant were never far from Gibeah and Bethel, in northern Benjamin and southern Ephraim.
According to ch. 13:17, “the land of Shual” lay in the vicinity of Ophrah, about 5 miles to the northeast of Bethel.
He did not make a thorough search of all the regions named, but only of those parts where the asses may conceivably parts where the asses may conceivably have strayed.
During the two days or more he had been away from home he may easily have traveled 30 or 40 mi. by the time he met Samuel, including side trips to the tops of hills and down into valleys and ravines.
Verses 5,6 When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.”
6 And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.”
This city. That is, Ramah, the home of Samuel (PP 608–610; see on ch. 1:1).
Verses 7-11 Then Saul said to his servant, “But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?”
8 And the servant answered Saul again and said, “Look, I have here at hand one-fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way.”
9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.)
10 Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.
11 As they went up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?”
Up the hill. Naturally the donkeys would not be in the towns. Saul and his servant would be looking for them in the fields, where the people had their gardens, or in the open countryside.
Verses 12-14 And they answered them and said, “Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place.
13 As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.”
14 So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.
Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying,
16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”
I will send. This gives the background of v. 14. A careful study of the preceding verses indicates that Saul was not sure of the propriety of coming to the seer without a gift, and that it took some persuading on the part of the servant before he consented to go into the city.
This illustrates the guiding of the Holy Spirit, whereby men in perplexity are brought into contact with those who can give them assistance.
In a similar way Ruth was providentially guided to the field of Boaz (Ruth 2:3), and Philip was directed to the eunuch on his way from Jerusalem to Ethiopia (Acts 8:26–29).
It is a sacred privilege to be so fully surrendered to the control of the Holy Spirit that He can guide us, even as he guided Samuel, to those souls who need our help.
Verses 17,18 So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.” 18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?”
In the gate. Having already been instructed by the Lord, and remembering the time of day the message came to him, Samuel perhaps set out to find the young man of whom the Lord had spoken.
The two met “in the gate,” the place where the elders sat and gave counsel, or assisted the stranger in finding his way.
Here Samuel could expect to secure information concerning any stranger who might have come to the town. The timing was exact.
Before Saul spoke, Samuel knew that he was the man of whom the Lord had told him the previous day (v. 17). What a thrill it must have given Samuel to realize that he was being led by God, whom he had served faithfully for so many years.
Is there any reason why one may not experience that same thrill today if he will surrender himself to God as completely as Samuel did? Verses 18, 19 are perhaps a detailed explanation of v. 14.
Verses 19,20 Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20
But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?”
They have been found. Samuel states that the asses had been lost for three days, literally, “today, three days.”
Before telling Saul of his high calling, Samuel put his mind at rest concerning the practical purpose of his visit.
Christ always ministered to the physical needs of His hearers as well as to their spiritual yearnings.
The very fact that He was interested in their physical welfare did much to cause them to listen while He ministered to their spiritual needs.
Thus the information that the asses were found did much to convince Saul of the divine origin of Samuel’s message concerning the kingdom.
The desire of Israel. Though himself a prophet and a judge, Samuel accepted the counsel of the Lord that Israel be granted the desire of their hearts.
He expressed no feelings of regret or jealousy at meeting the young man who was to take over the responsibility of delivering Israel from the hand of the Philistines (v. 16).
Instead, he accorded Saul evidences of honor and respect (see verses 20–24). Here Samuel demonstrated the true spirit of unselfishness.
Like Moses, he was anxious that the Spirit of the Lord come upon all men (Num. 11:29). Christ did not count equality with God the Father a thing to be grasped after, but manifested the true principle of selflessness, in order that the overcome might sit with Him on His throne (Rev. 3:21).
Similarly, Samuel not only indicated that he was willing to give Saul the responsibility, but also that he would do all in his power to prepare the future king for his duties.
Verses 21,22 And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?”
22 Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons.
The hall. Meaning the room attached to the high place where the sacrificial meal was eaten.
Saul and his servant were ushered to the seats of honor in this room, with some 30 of the elders present.
Saul had been persistent in the work of finding his father’s asses, and perhaps the elders, as they looked upon him and heard his story, felt that here was a man who could as persistently find a way of deliverance from the hostilities of the Philistines.
Verses 23,24 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’ ”
24 So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here it is, what was kept back. It was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since I said I invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
The thigh. The feast to which Saul had been invited was evidently a sacrifice of peace offerings in which the elders of Ramah took part (see Volume I, p. 700, and on Lev. 3:1).
Such sacrifices were made by the children of Israel at Sinai when they ratified the covenant (Ex. 24:4–8).
At this sacrifice the breast and the right thigh belonged to the officiating priest (Lev. 7:33, 34). The flesh of the sacrifice must be eaten the day it was slain; none could be left over (Lev. 7:16).
Whether the “thigh” presented to Saul was the left, of which the laity might eat, or the right, which belonged to the priest, is not mentioned. But it was the portion reserved for Saul as the guest of honor.
I said. Though the word “Samuel” is not in the Hebrew, he was apparently the speaker. It was obvious to Saul that his coming had been foreseen and carefully planned for, and he must have been convinced of God’s invitation to assume the responsibilities of leadership.
verse 25 When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house.
Spoke with Saul. Saul was not told of his high calling that day.
Evidently Samuel spent some time in explaining to his guest the great principles of the theocratic government that had now been in operation for centuries, and the implications of the changes urged by the elders.
But the unexpected events of the day did not apparently weigh heavily on the heart of Saul, for he slept until called by the prophet the next morning.
Verse 26 They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel.
ELLEN G. WHITE COMMENTS
1–27 PP 608-610
2–8 PP 608
11, 12, 14–21 PP 609
22–24, 27 PP 610