I Samuel 9–10:8: Saul is anointed as king
In the last passage, Israel asked for a king, and although Samuel wasn’t happy about it, God decided to give them what they asked for. In this passage—which I won’t cover in exactly the same order as written—God comes to Samuel, and tells him that he will be meeting the new king:
Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me.” (verses 9:15–16)
As a result of this, Samuel beings to prepare for a feast, and has his cook specially set aside a piece of meat, which is going to go to this man.
The man the LORD is referring to is a man named Saul. He is indeed a Benjamite, and he is “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others” (verse 9:2).
One day, the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father get lost, and Saul and a servant set out in search of them. Unfortunately, they spend a long time looking for the donkeys, and don’t find them. In fact, they take so long that Saul decides to return home, because he feels that his father is going to stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about Saul and the servant. But the servant talks Saul into waiting one more day, because they are near a town where there is a man of God; maybe they can ask him where the donkeys are. After deciding how they’re going to pay him, they agree to go and see the man of God. (Of course the man of God is Samuel, and this must be the same day that God speaks to Samuel, since He tells Samuel that he’s going to meet the king tomorrow.)
They come to the town, and meet some girls who are drawing water from the town’s well. The girls confirm that the man of God has just arrived to the town and is going to bless the sacrifice they’re having—which, I believe, is the feast mentioned above—so if they hurry, they can still catch up with him. When they approach Samuel, God speaks to him, and tells him that Saul is the man He spoke to Samuel about—that is, he is the man that God is going to make Israel’s king.
Saul approaches Samuel looking for the “seer,” and Samuel confirms that it’s him. He tells Saul to go to the feast, because he is going to join Samuel. In the morning, he’ll tell Saul all that is in his heart (verse 9:19), but in the meantime, Saul shouldn’t worry about the donkeys, because they’ve been found. And then he says something very enigmatic, which Saul doesn’t understand: “And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family?” (verse 9:20b). This sounds strange to Saul; after all, he’s from the least clan of the smallest tribe of Israel!
But Samuel brings Saul and his servant to the feast, and has the cook bring out the special piece of meat which was set aside for Saul. They eat, and that night Samuel and Saul speak on Samuel’s roof.
The next morning, as Saul and his servant are getting ready to leave, Samuel has Saul send his servant on ahead. When they are alone, Samuel takes some oil and pours it on Saul’s head. He also kisses him, and tells him that the LORD has anointed him as leader. He then tells Saul what is going to happen next, and it’s a pretty detailed prophecy:
- After Saul leaves Samuel, he will come across two men at Rachel’s tomb, who will inform Saul that the donkeys have been found, and that Saul’s father is worried about him.
- From there, Saul will go to the tree of Tabor, where he will meet three men on their way to Bethel. One of whom will have three goats, another will have three loaves of bread, and the third will have a skin of wine. When they greet Saul, the one with the loaves of bread will offer two of them to Saul.
- From there, when Saul reaches Gibeah, he will come across a procession of prophets, singing and playing instruments and prophesying. When this happens, the “Spirit of the LORD” (verse 10:6) will come upon Saul, and he will prophesy with them, and become a changed person.
After seven days, Samuel will join Saul in Gilgal, and they’ll offer sacrifices, and Samuel will tell Saul what to do.
At this point, we don’t actually know too much about this Saul guy. However, so far, he seems to be a good choice. First of all, he’s humble. Second, he seems thoughtful; for example, he realizes that his father is going to stop worrying about the donkeys, and start worrying about him.
We all know how this is going to turn out, but it’s interesting to see Saul’s story from the beginning, and watch it unfold.
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