1 Samuel
Introduction 1 Saul Anointed King 2 The Sign at the Tomb of Rachel 3-4 The Sign at the Oak of Tabor 5-6 The Sign on the Hill of God 7 God Wants to Be with Saul 8 Saul Must Go to Gilgal and Wait There 9-12 The Signs Happen 13-16 The Uncle of Saul 17-24 Saul Presented as King 25-27 Reactions to the Appointment of Saul
Introduction

This chapter has two parts. Both parts deal with the designation of Saul as king. We see how God is very busy with Saul throughout the preparation for this.

In the first part (verses 1-161Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?2When you go from me today, then you will find two men close to 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. Now behold, your father has ceased to be concerned about the donkeys and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”‘3Then you will go on further from there, and you will come as far as the oak of Tabor, and 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 jug of wine;4and they will greet you and give you two [loaves] of bread, which you will accept from their hand.5Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying.6Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.7It shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you.8And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”9Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day.10When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them.11It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”12A man there said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”13When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.14Now Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they could not be found, we went to Samuel.”15Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.”16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of the kingdom which Samuel had mentioned.) Saul is prepared for kingship in secret by Samuel, that is, by God, while no man in Israel yet knows of his kingship. Saul was not rejected by God from the beginning. God has prepared him in such a way that Saul has every opportunity to get to know God and know how to govern. This preparation is also important for every believer, because the Lord has a service, a task, for every believer.

In the second part (verses 17-2717Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah;18and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’19But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said, ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”20Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot.21Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found.22Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.”23So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.24Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “[Long] live the king!”25Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote [them] in the book and placed [it] before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house.26Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant [men] whose hearts God had touched went with him.27But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.) Saul is openly appointed. It is not Samuel who appoints him so that it does not seem that he is behind the appointment, but God appoints him. God does so in a way that the people can attribute the choice of Saul to none but themselves.


Saul Anointed King

1Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?

Saul is anointed from a flask, David from a horn (1Sam 16:1313Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.). A flask is fragile. It is here a symbol of the kingship of Saul that is nothing more than human work and will finally be broken. Oil speaks of the Holy Spirit. God indicates that He wants to use Saul, but that Saul must let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Later Saul is also led by the Spirit, but only externally (verse 1010When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them.). The horn from which David is anointed is not fragile, but speaks of strength (1Sam 2:1010“Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered;
Against them He will thunder in the heavens,
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
And He will give strength to His king,
And will exalt the horn of His anointed.”
). The horn comes from a clean animal that was first sacrificed to God, and therein lies the power. Exercise of the kingship can only take place on the basis of the sacrifice.

There is no jealousy with Samuel (cf. 1Cor 13:4b4Love is patient, love is kind [and] is not jealous; love does not brag [and] is not arrogant,), but respect. He submits to the new king with a kiss of love. He does not do so in public, but in this personal conversation, as an expression of his heart. He was the first to recognize Saul as his new king from that moment on. Here we see a love that “does not seek its own” (1Cor 13:5b5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong [suffered],; cf. 1Cor 10:2424Let no one seek his own [good], but that of his neighbor.). In a world full of selfishness, the joy of another person’s prosperity, for example the promotion of a colleague, is rare.

Samuel acts in the Name of the LORD and anoints Saul king over the “inheritance” of the LORD, that is His land. That means a great responsibility. He must protect that inheritance, take care of it, manage it for the LORD and render account to Him.


The Sign at the Tomb of Rachel

2When you go from me today, then you will find two men close to 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. Now behold, your father has ceased to be concerned about the donkeys and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”‘

The three events that Samuel then predicts are three signs (verse 99Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day.). It is much more than fortuitous events. These are events with a meaning attached to them, from which Saul must learn something. A certain place or location is linked to each event. We can call these places ‘memorial places’. Such places play a decisive role in the life of the believer because he learns important things there. Every servant is shaped thereby.

The first memorial place is “Rachel’s tomb” at Zelzah. There Saul will meet two men. Rachel’s grave determines us with Rachel as Saul’s ancestor and her death. Rachel dies when she gives birth to Benjamin (Gen 35:16-1916Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor.17When she was in severe labor the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.”18It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.19So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).), from whom Saul is a descendent. Benjamin was born out of the need of his mother, to the joy of his father. Samuel also says that Rachel’s tomb is in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah. Benjamin’s heritage finds its beginning in the tomb of Rachel. “Zelzah” means “protection against the sun”.

Any true service can only begin well and continue well if we consider ourselves to be dead to sin (Rom 6:1111Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.). This provides protection against the heat of the desire to shine ourselves. This makes room for the true life, the life of God, to reveal it.

All good for God comes from death, for by this the new can reveal itself and the old can be forgotten. The communication of the donkeys connects to this. It is not necessary to think of the past, because the earlier efforts have proved fruitless. We learn this at the tomb, the place of death. The man who has worked in vain in his search for the donkeys, must also learn that everything has already been accomplished without him. “Two men” tell him that. This indicates a reliable, credible testimony, for “every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (2Cor 13:11This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.).


The Sign at the Oak of Tabor

3Then you will go on further from there, and you will come as far as the oak of Tabor, and 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 jug of wine; 4and they will greet you and give you two [loaves] of bread, which you will accept from their hand.

The first sign is for Saul personally. The second sign shows Saul that there are people in Israel who want to serve the LORD in faithfulness. Three faithful men are on their way to God to visit Him in His own house. “Bethel” means “house of God”. These men are a remnant in which faith is present and they are proof that God is still working in Israel. If Saul has an eye for it, he will discover it and be encouraged by it.

The three men do not just go to Bethel, but really to meet God. It says of them that they are “going up to God”. Is that the reason for us to go to “God’s house”, to the meetings of the church, of which we may know that the Lord Jesus is in the midst (Mt 18:2020For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”)?

Saul’s meeting with these three men takes place at “the oak of Tabor”. The oak is a symbol of strength and durability. An oak can grow very tall and old and is very shady. “Tabor” means ‘height’. After Rachel’s death and the tomb near Zelzah, the oak of Tabor speaks of the power of spiritual life that is experienced in the knowledge of fellowship with God and with others.

After seeing our own weakness, we must learn where to find God’s power. Living in fellowship with others gives strength. This happens in the “household of God, which is the church of the living God” (1Tim 3:1515but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.). After the personal lesson in the previous sign, we must then see that we are not alone. God we can find in His house. In practice, this is in the church, as it meets locally (1Cor 1:22To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours:).

The three men also have something with them. They have three young goats, which is one for each. A goat is the animal that is mainly used as a sin offering. This teaches us that we come to God in the awareness of who we are by nature, but that God can accept us on the basis of the work that the Lord Jesus has done as the true sin offering for our sins. They also each have a loaf of bread with them. They can share this bread with others, what they do in the next verse. One jug of wine can be brought as drink offering.

It speaks of us taking spiritual food with us when we go to the meeting of the church to share it with others. Together we can offer our gratitude and joy, of which the wine speaks, to God. All on the basis of the sin offering.

Samuel also says that these men, without them knowing Saul, will ask him about his welfare and give him two loaves of bread. He can use the bread on his further journey. They go to Bethel to give the sacrifice to the priest. It is as if they invite Saul to go with them. It is important to get to know priestly service. There is no goat for Saul. He doesn’t ask for it either.

A few verses further on Saul comes into contact with prophets in a way that even is asked whether Saul is among the prophets. Still later he becomes king. We see God connecting Saul with the priesthood, prophecy service, and kingship. But what impact does that have on his life? He will only act as king. To what extent he is king according to God’s thoughts without knowing anything of divine service and true prophetic service, his history will show.


The Sign on the Hill of God

5Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying. 6Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.

After the meeting with the two men in Zelzah and the three men at Tabor, Samuel says that Saul will meet a group of prophets. This will happen at “the hill of God”. There is the “Philistines garrison”. When he is there, he is almost home, because it is near his house (verse 2626Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant [men] whose hearts God had touched went with him.). After the presence of God in Bethel, Saul now comes into the presence of the enemy. There he also receives important education.

On the hill of God lies a city that is not occupied by the Philistines, but where they do have a garrison. Where the glory of God has to be seen, the power of the enemy is seen. The sign Saul receives here is so much to say that, in order to drive out the enemy, he will receive the Spirit of God. After teaching about self-judgment at the tomb and encouragement in connection with the house of God, Saul is taught in this sign the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is accompanied by music, with expressions of joy that people may experience in the presence of God, in the face of the enemy.

The fact that Saul is seized by the Spirit does not mean that he has been born again or that he is being born again at this moment. Even unbelievers can be seized by the Spirit on occasion by the sovereign power of God. We see this with the unbelieving high priest Caiaphas (Jn 11:5151Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,) and the unbelieving Balaam (Num 24:22And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him.). Unbelievers who participate fully in a church, are during their stay in this Christian fellowship where the Spirit works “partakers of the Holy Spirit” (Heb 6:4b4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,).

In such cases, however, there is no question of the indwelling of the Spirit in the person. The change of Saul “into another man” has only to with the outward. Also the change of his inner self is only a change of feeling. There is no question of conversion. He will reveal himself as a stubborn enemy of God’s anointed king (David) and die in complete darkness.


God Wants to Be with Saul

7It shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you.

Throughout Saul’s preparation for the kingship, God made it clear that He was on his side. Saul was not rejected from the outset, nor was Israel rejected from the outset. Only when the people, in spite of all the admonitions of God, have shown their obstinate refusal to serve Him, does He reject them, and send them into exile.

After God, through all these signs, has shown Saul that he is under His special guidance, God gives him the extra assurance that he doesn’t have to be afraid to do what the occasion requires. The first thing what the occasion requires is the battle in the next chapter.

All these signs are meant to make him think about his life and the task God has for him. He must have had the impression that Samuel is a man of God who has spoken what God has put in his mouth. If everything happens exactly as Samuel predicted, it should certainly have made him realize that God wants to use him. Asking for the meaning of events and parables reveals the true disciple (Mk 4:10-1210As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, [began] asking Him [about] the parables.11And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,12so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”).

What happens to Saul shows that God tells us to use our sanctified, sober mind. First He shows us that our lives are completely open to Him. The events are announced. But He leaves the reaction to this to us. It’s like with Peter, once he’s delivered from prison. He then consults with himself what he will do (Acts 12:11-1211When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”12And when he realized [this], he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.). One of the most Divine abilities we have is to form judgment after deliberating for and against. That’s something else than the reliance on signs.


Saul Must Go to Gilgal and Wait There

8And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”

After the prophecy of the signs Samuel orders Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for him there. Gilgal is the place where the circumcision took place (Jos 5:2-92At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.”3So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt.5For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.6For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, [that is], the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.7Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.). Circumcision is a picture of the judgment of the flesh of the believer that Christ underwent on the cross (Col 2:1111and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;). With this assignment Samuel ensures that he stays in touch with Saul. This instruction must give Saul the constant awareness that he must act only according to God’s Word, of which Samuel is the personification. The assignment is an exercise in patience. How Saul deals with this is described in 1 Samuel 13.


The Signs Happen

9Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. 10When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. 11It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12A man there said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

When Saul leaves Samuel, God gives him another heart. This does not mean that He gives Saul new life, but He gives him the inner ability or wisdom to govern His people and make good decisions. It connects to verse 66Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. where Samuel tells Saul that the Spirit of the LORD will become mightily upon him, transforming him into another man. The farmer’s son will become aware of his royal dignity. This will be visible to him and will be evident from his deeds.

This shows that God makes everything available to Saul to make him competent for his task. However, they are only external characteristics, without any new life. New life is only given on the basis of repentance of sins and conversion to God with confession of sins. That never happened with Saul.

All signs happen as was said to Saul. To the third sign the Holy Spirit goes into more detail because of the particularities associated with it. It becomes clear that spiritual manifestations are a completely strange thing for Saul. Others observe that he behaves ‘spiritually’ and mock his attitude. What they see now is amazing for them. They don’t know Saul like that. Saul is therefore only a prophet outwardly, he behaves like a prophet among them. His life they have seen so far has nothing in common with that of the pupils of the prophets.

It is clear that Saul is not characterized by any fear of God or faith in Him, but God’s Spirit shows what Saul should have been. To be king according to God’s heart, the guidance of God’s Spirit is needed. It is not about a new attitude, but about new life through new birth.

“A man there” (verse 1212A man there said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”) is someone from Gibea or someone from the crowd standing around the prophets. The question “who is their father?” – and not ‘who is their president or chairman?’ – may mean a question about their ancestry, how they should be seen. This question can also mean: ‘Is their father also a prophet?’ i.e. ‘Do they have the prophetic spirit by virtue of their birth? When “father” means the head or leader of the prophets (cf. 1Chr 25:66All these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman [were] under the direction of the king.; 2Kgs 2:1212Elisha saw [it] and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.), the question means: “What kind of leader do they have that they allow a person like Saul into their company?”

The proverb says a lot about Saul. The proverb is used to describe a totally unexpected and inexplicable phenomenon. It expresses the amazement about a person who appears in an atmosphere of life in which he has until then been completely strange, in which he has never shown himself.


The Uncle of Saul

13When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place. 14Now Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they could not be found, we went to Samuel.” 15Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of the kingdom which Samuel had mentioned.

Saul finishes prophesying. He also leaves the company of the prophets. He has been under the spell of it for a while, but the result is not permanent. His life continues on the same footing as before. He comes to his uncle, who asks where they have been. Saul answers. The fact that he was with Samuel is reason for his uncle to ask further questions. Did he feel something of what is going to happen to Saul?

Saul does not tell untruths in his answer, but he is not complete. He is holding something back. Saul is silent about the kingship. The reason for this is not mentioned. We can interpret this positively and attribute it to Saul’s humble attitude. We can also interpret it negatively, as a desire for power and fame which he does not yet want to tell about, because he does not yet consider the time has come.


Saul Presented as King

17Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah; 18and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said, ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.” 20Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. 22Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.” 23So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “[Long] live the king!”

After God’s private actions with Saul in secret, Saul is now introduced to the people. Samuel therefore calls upon the people to come to the LORD at Mizpah. The people are placed in the presence of God. Samuel acts as the representative of the LORD. He reminds the people once again of Who God is and what He has done for them. On the other hand, he states that they now reject their God, Who has been so good to them, and that in His place they choose a man as leader.

Saul is designated by lot. In this way any suspicion of a preconceived plan by Samuel, or the thought of a secret agreement between Samuel and Saul, is made impossible. It is clear to everyone that the LORD designates Saul. “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD” (Pro 16:3333The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
). “The [cast] lot puts an end to strife” (Pro 18:18a18The [cast] lot puts an end to strife
And decides between the mighty ones.
).

If one wants to bring Saul forward, he turns out to be untraceable. Could that inhibit the people in their enthusiasm? Would they return to their steps? It seems to be a last attempt of the LORD to make His people to repent.

If Saul cannot be found, the LORD is asked whether the man has come. This will undoubtedly have happened through the high priest through the urim and the tummim (Exo 28:3030You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.; Num 27:2121Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, [both] he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation.”; cf. Jdg 20:27-2827The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God [was] there in those days,28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to [minister] in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”). At such an important assembly of the people where a king is elected, the high priest will certainly have been present, although this is not explicitly mentioned. The main character is not the priest, but Samuel who is the prophet of the LORD and is in charge of this meeting.

The LORD answers and lets know that Saul has hidden himself by the baggage. Saul seems to have become a piece of baggage, something that is dragged by others, while there are useful things in it. Is this hiding an act of modesty or an act of fear? Does he upheaval against the responsibilities of the kingship?

He knows in advance that he will be appointed by lot. Yet he runs away. However, you cannot run away from God. To run away is not good, nor does it work for the good of God’s people. It comes from thinking about yourself and not about the interests of God and His people. The ultimate result is that man is exalted and not God.

The Lord Jesus also once withdrew himself from the crowd when they wanted to make Him king (Jn 6:1515So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.). With Him, His perfection becomes manifest by this. He does not want to be the king according to the fleshly wishes of the people. At that moment it is not the time of the Father to reveal Himself as King. First He had to achieve the glorification of His Father on earth completely.

When Saul stands among the people, Samuel does not speak of Saul as the choice of the people, but as the choice of the LORD. This is not to take away the responsibility of the people, but because no one knows better what the choice of the people is than the LORD. Therefore He has chosen a man with whom no one can compete. The man completely corresponds to the taste of the people.

When the people see him, they are all deeply impressed by this wonderful man and they applaud him. Saul is a man of whom every inch is king. He stands out from the people with his head and shoulders. But … with which he rises above the people, will be cut from him at his death (1Sam 31:8-98It came about on the next day when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.9They cut off his head and stripped off his weapons, and sent [them] throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people.). Also the New Testament Saul stands out above his peers (Gal 1:1414and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.; Phil 3:4b-64although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.). However, he is made small in an encounter with the glorified Lord. The man who sat high in the saddle “fell to the ground” (Acts 9:44and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”).

The Israelites compare their king to themselves and not to the LORD. That comes down to comparing ourselves with ourselves (cf. 2Cor 10:12b12For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.). We do this namely when we compare ourselves with other people. The others are as human as we are.


Reactions to the Appointment of Saul

25Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote [them] in the book and placed [it] before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house. 26Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant [men] whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.

Samuel records in a book what is important in connection with the choice of the people. Earlier he told what the king will do (1Sam 8:1111He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place [them] for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots.), now he presents to the people the ordinances of the kingdom, the laws and statutes for the people. It is not unthinkable that Samuel on this occasion simply copied the royal law (Deu 17:14-2014“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’15you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, [one] from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.16Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’17He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.18“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.19It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,20that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.). He lays down what he has written “before the LORD”, that is, beside the ark (Deu 31:2626“Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.). After these events Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house, to the own, familiar environment.

Saul also goes to his house and not yet to the throne. The cheering is silenced. The people have the king they want, but the connectedness to him doesn’t seem to be great. Only those whose heart God has touched go with him. They acknowledge Saul as appointed over them by God. Maybe otherwise no one would have gone along with the newly elected king at all. David, too, will later acknowledge Saul, as Samuel did.

There are also people who see nothing in Saul. That is not because they expect more from the LORD than from this man. They simply do not resign themselves to the God-given king, possibly out of jealousy that he and not they have been elected leader. Every choice of God reveals the thoughts of hearts. They should have asked their question (verse 2727But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.) when it was about God. Now it is a wrong question. Saul responds to these utterances in a good way. We can take an example of this when to us ugly things are said.


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