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We are now entering on the history of Saul. We have in this chap
ter an account of his family ; the circumstances that brought him 10 Samuel ; of what passed between them ; and Samuel's intimation of the divine will to Saul, 1 OW 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, of great courage and strength, rather than substance ;
though the tribe of Benjamin had a very considerable inheritance, 2 the whole being divided between six hundred men. And he had
a son whose name (was] Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly : and (there was] not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he : from his shoulders and upward [he
was) higher than any of the people ; a very personable, tall, and 3 handsome man.* And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost.
And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses. Probably Saul had the care of them; they were valuable creatures, and a considerable
part of their substance : kings and great men used to ride upon 4 them. And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed
through the land of Shalisha, but they found (them) not; then they passed through the land of Shalim, and (there they were]
not ; and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but 5. they found (them) not. [And] when they were come to the
land of Zuph, the country where Ramah lay, Saul said to his servant that (was) with him, Come, and let us return ; lest my
father leare (caring) for the asses, and take thought for us, lest 6 we should be lost, or some evil have befallen us. And he, the ser
vant, said unto him, Behold now, [there is] in this city a mau of God, and (he is] an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass : now let us go thither ; peradventure he can show us our way that we should go. The servant' had only heard
all this by common fame ; he knew nothing of Samuel himself, and 7 therefore proposes to go to him. Then said Saul to his servant,
but, behold, [if] we go, what shall we bring the man? for the
bread is spent in our vessels, and (there is] not a present to 8 bring to the man of God : what have we ? And the servant
answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver, about sevenpence halfpenny of our money : [that] will I give to the man of God, to tell us our
Heathen writers celebrate kings for those qualities. The Lacedemonians fined one of their kings for marrying a woman of low stature, lest they should not have kings but only kinglings to reign over them.
+ Some think it was a sign of a wicked mind to consult a prophet on such a trifing business; but this is groundless. The prophets were indeed set apart for weightier basiness; but there are several instances of their condescending to give advice in matters of less importance; and one reason seems to be, that God was desirous to keep his people from consulting wizards and idols, the gods of the heathen : and further, by seeing the prophet's words come true in lesser instarrces, they would be engaged to bstieve him in grcater and more important oncs,
9 way. (Beforetime in Israel when a man went to inquire of
God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer : for (he that 40 is) now (called) a Prophet, was beforetime called a Seer.) Then
said Saul to his servant, Well said ; Come, let us go. So they Al went unto the city where the man of God (was.*] [And] as
they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens
going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here? 12 And they answered them, and said, He is ; behold, she is] before
yon : : make haste now, for he came today to the city ; for [there is] a sacrifice of the people today in the high place ; probably some peace offerings or thank offerings : afier which there was a feast at the hill, where the tabernacle was, and on the altar
that Samuel built ; and if they made haste they would meet with 13 him before his sacrifice began. As soon as ye be come into the
city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice, consecrates it to the service of God by prayer and thanksgiving ; [and] afterward they eat that be bid
den. Now therefore get you up ; for about this time ye shall 14 find him, before he goes up to the high place. And they went up
into the city : [and] when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high
place. 15 Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul
came, revealed it to him by the soft and gentle influences of his 16 Spirit, saying, Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man
out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines, who had now oppressed them for forty years, and often made inroads upon them : for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me, I have
heard their complaint concerning the oppression of their enemies, 17 and had compassion upon them. And when Samuel saw Saul,
the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people, or, as the Hebrew sig
nifles, restrain my people with absolute power, as other king's do. 18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, just as he was com
ing out of the city, without any attendants, or ensigns of honour,
just like a common person ; and Saul said, Tell me, I pray thee, 19 where the beer's house [is ?) And Samuel answered Saul, and
said, I [am] the seer : go up before me unto the high place ; for ye shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let thee go,
and will tell thee all that (is) in thine heart ; Saul must first go 20 wird him to sacrifice, and feast on the remainder : And, that he
might go cheerfully and have his mind at ease, he adds, as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them ; for they are found. And on whom [is] all the desire of Israel?
This has been ridiculed by some people, as if the prophet was no better than a conjurer of fortuneteller, who would not act without a fee. But this arises from ignorance, for it was then and still is customary in the east, never to approach their prince, or priest, or any pere ton of aminones, without açme offering. See the one of Saul in ch. X. 27.
(Is it] not on thee, and on all thy father's house ? All Israel 21 desired a king, and none seemed fitter for it than Saul. And
Saul answered, with a deal of modesty, and said, [Am] not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? where
fore then speakest thou so to me? Perhaps he thought Samuel 22 was only in jest. And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and
brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which [were] about thirty persons. It seems that Samuel, knowing of Saul's coming, had prepared this feast to entertain him on the occasion ; and to show that he did not envy Saul, he put him in the most honourable
place at the table, among the principal persons of the city, and also 93 honoured the servant for the master's sake. And, as it was cus
tomary to have a mess for every guest, Samuel said unto the
cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto 24 thee, Set it by thee. And the cook took up the shoulder, and
[that] which (was) upon it, something to render it, more agreeable, as a token of respect, and set [it] before Saul. And [Samuel] said, Behold that which is left, or reserved for thee by my apo pointment ! set [it] before thee, [and] eat : for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day ; and he might perceive, by this intimation of Samuel, that what he did was by divine direction. It seems the feast was kept in some building near the
tabernacle. 25 And when they were come down from the high place into
the city, (Samuel) communed with Saul upon the top of the house, of his own house ; here Samuel would probably tell him of
his own willingness to resign, and of his future advancement, 26 And they arose early : and it came to pass about the spring of
the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And, after Samuel had given
him some further advice, Saul arose, and they went out both of 27 them, he and Samuel, abroad. [And) as they were going down
to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word of God, and that what I do is by divine direction. But he did this privately, that the people might not think it was a contrivance between Saul and Samuel, or that it was Samuel's choice, and not God's.
of Saul, we must make the best of it. And 1. Let young people learn to be diligent, dutiful, and tender of the reputation of their parents. The family of Saul, though in some respects mean, were wealthy ; yet this choice young man was brought up to be diligent. He was willing to go after his father's beasts that were lost, and was unwilling to stay longer than was necessary, lest he should grieve him. All young people should desire to be employed, and should consult the interest of their parents ; be willing to submit to what may seem a mean office, if it be for their advantage ; and do nothing that will grieve or make them uneasy ; too many children do this, when they run out without their knowledge, or stay beyond the time allowed ; it is very ungrateful, and what no dutiful children will do.
2. Learn from the example of Saul, to take advice, even from inferiors. He payed a regard to what his servant said, because it carried reason with it. He did not bid him hold his tongue, and ask, Who made him a counsellor ? Wisdom and piety do not always go by rank and fortune. Servants may sometimes see further than their masters ; and as their advice should be given with respect and deference, it should be received without any haughty airs ; especially when their advice is such as will be of service to our best interests.
3. Let us learn from the example of Samuel, how reasonable and proper it is to bless our meat before we eat it. The maidens told Saul it was Samuel's constant custom to bless the sacrifice; that is, not only to pray over it while it was actually offering, but to bless that part of it which was to be eaten ; and the people had so much piety that they would not eat till he came to perform the sacred office. This is a reasonable duty, and we should do it as priests and prophets in our own houses ; though it is peculiarly decent for God's ministering servants to do it when they are present. But let none neglect it, nor perform it in a few, hasty, muttering words, which have no meaning, and in which those who are present cannot join. God may justly withhold his blessing, when we have not the grace to ask for it ; and better not ask it at all, than do it in a trifling or profane manner. Every creature of God is good, if it be received with thanksgiving.
4. There is something very graceful in the manner in which Samuel treated Saul, and resigned the government to him ; and it gives us an high idea of the character of this great and good man. Instead of envying Saul, and looking churlishly upon him, he made a feast ; honoured him with the chief place ; ordered him a choice morsel, and told him the news of his preferment. Truly good men never envy those whom God raises above them. They are not ambitious of honour ; and are willing to lay it down when God pleases. Those make an idol of honour, whó grudge the promotion of others. John rejoiced concerning Christ, saying, He shall increases but I shall decrease.
In this chapter Samuel anoints and instructs Saul, and gives him three signs ; the signs are accomplished; and Saul is appointed king by lot.
HEN Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured [it] upon his
divine choice, and of reverence and subjection, (Psalm ii. 12.) and
and protector of his inheritance ? and in token that this was dune 2 by divine authority, he gave him three signs. When thou art de.
parted from me today, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's
and lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for 3 you, saying, What shall I do for my son? Then shalt thou go
on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Ta.
Bethel,t one carrying three kids, and another carrying three 4 loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine : And
they will salute thee, and give thee two [loaves) of bread;
honoured even by strangers, doing him homage, as if they had al5 ready known him to be the king. After that thou shalt come to
the hill of God, where [is] the garrison of the Philistines :
tery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them; and they 6 shall prophesy :|| And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon
thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. This was the highest and most convincing assurance that he was chosen by divine authority, he should immediately be assisted to compose hymns to the honour of God, or join in their psalms and melody, which he had never learnt ; and be quite
another man, have a spirit of extraordinary prudence and courage, 7 and other qualities fit for a king to possess. And let it be, when
these signs are come unto thee, [that] thou do as occasion serve thee ; for God [is] with thee ; fear not to undertake any service
• This was a very ancient rites as appears from Jotham's parable two hundred years before, when the trees went forth to anoint a king. It was a sign that God would pour out upon him some extraordinary measure of his Spirit.
+ Betfiel was a celebrated place in Jacob's time, where God appeared to him. The tab. nacle and the ark being separated, they were now used to sacrifice in high places.
This was probably Gibeah, (ch. xiii. 3.) a place where pious people used to come on Bolemn occasions to be instructed, and where there was a college or academy for the instruc zion of youth in the knowledge of God's law, and to train them in the exercises of piety.
Prophesying sometimes signifies, not only foretelling future events, but pronouncing in @sublime and edifying manner about divine truths, and proaching to the people. Here it is nifies praising God with instruments of music and singing. Sec i Chron. xxv.3.