1 Samuel 9:22
And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlor, and made them sit in the most chief place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons.
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(22) And Samuel took Saul.—The seer gave Saul no answer to this question, in which the young man’s wonderment was expressed that one so insignificant should be chosen for so high a destiny. Samuel merely wished, in the first instance, to awaken new and grander thoughts and aspirations in this young heart, and without reply he proceeded to conduct his guests to the scene of the sacrifice on the high place. In the guest-chamber, where thirty of the most distinguished persons present at the solemn sacrifice were assembled. Samuel places Saul and his companion, no doubt to their great surprise, in the principal seats. “The parlour” is an unfortunate rendering of the Hebrew word here, which signifies the “cell,” or “chamber” attached to the building on the high place, for such purposes as the present. These solemn sacrificial meals were the usual adjuncts of a solemn sacrifice.

Not only was Saul thus highly honoured in public as the future king, but his servant also. If, as tradition tells us, this servant was Doeg the Edomite, he, too, on this occasion had a foretaste of his future position, an earnest of the rank and power which he would receive when one of Saul’s great officers of state.

1 Samuel 9:22. In the chiefest place — Thereby to raise their expectation, and to prepare them for giving that honour to Saul which his approaching dignity required.9:18-27 Samuel, that good prophet, was so far from envying Saul, or bearing him any ill-will, that he was the first and most forward to do him honour. Both that evening and early the next morning, Samuel communed with Saul upon the flat roof of the house. We may suppose Samuel now convinced Saul that he was the person God had fixed upon for the government, and of his own willingness to resign. How different are the purposes of the Lord for us, from our intentions for ourselves! Perhaps Saul was the only one who ever went out to seek asses, and literally found a kingdom; but many have set out and moved their dwellings to seek riches and pleasures, who have been guided to places where they found salvation for their souls. Thus they have met with those who addressed them as if aware of the secrets of their lives and hearts, and have been led seriously to regard the word of the Lord. If this has been our case, though our worldly plans have not prospered, let us not care for that; the Lord has given us, or has prepared us for, what is far better.The parlour - The "hall" or "cell" attached to the chapel on the high place, in which the sacrificial feast was accustomed to be held. (Compare 1 Chronicles 9:26.) 22. Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour—The toil-worn but noble-looking traveller found himself suddenly seated among the principal men of the place and treated as the most distinguished guest. He honoured his servant for Saul’s sake; thereby both giving all the guests occasion to think how great that person was, or should be, whose very servant was advanced above the chief persons of the city, who were doubtless present upon this occasion; and showing how far himself was from envying Saul that honour and power, which was to be translated from him to Saul.

Made them sit in the chiefest place; thereby to raise all their expectation, and to prepare them for giving that honour to Saul which his approaching dignity required. And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour,.... The dining room of the house, which belonged to the high place:

and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden; and who very probably were the principal persons in the city; and yet Saul was placed at the head of them by Samuel, to convince him that what he had said to him was in earnest, and to do him honour before all the people; and for the sake of him, and to show his respect to him, he placed his servant; his minister, also in the chief place with him; what was reckoned the highest and most honourable places at table; see Gill on Matthew 23:6. The guests were placed by the master of the feast according to their rank; and the dignity of the person, as Jarchi observes, was known by his manners and place of sitting:

which were about thirty persons; more or less; Josephus (n) says seventy, disagreeing with the text, the Targum, Syriac and Arabic versions, but agreeing with the Septuagint.

(n) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 4. sect. 1.

And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the {m} parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons.

(m) Where the feast was.

22. the parlour] Or, the chamber, a room at the high place specially used for sacrificial feasts. In later times the word was applied to the “chambers” in the precincts of the temple used for the residence of priests and Levites, and for sacred purposes in general.

made them sit in the chiefest place] Lit. “gave them a place at the head of those who were invited.” “Chiefest” is an instance of the double superlatives common in the E. V. Cp. “most highest.” See the Bible Word Book.

about thirty persons] Only the more distinguished citizens would be specially invited to the chamber. The rest would feast in the open air outside.Verses 22, 23. - Into the parlour. Strictly the cell or room attached to the chapel of the high place, now used as the guest chamber, wherein the thirty chief men, who came as invited guests, were to dine. The rest of the people would be in the open air. There Samuel not only placed Saul in the seat of honour, but also his servant, as representing the king's officers of state, and commanded the cook to set before him a portion that had been reserved. This was the shoulder; but whether it was the left shoulder, of which the laity might eat, or the right shoulder, which was sacred, as belonging to the priest (Leviticus 7:32), is not mentioned. If the latter, it was Samuel s own share, and he may by his prophetic authority have assigned it to Saul, in token that the priesthood would be subject to the royal power. Be this, however, as it may, it was the portion of honour, and it seems that Samuel, on receiving intimation the previous day of Saul's visit (ver. 6), had given orders that it should be carefully reserved for him (ver. 24). He now orders it to be set before Saul, with that which was upon it, i.e. all the flesh and the fat not appointed to be burnt upon the altar. When they went into the town, Samuel met them on his way out to go to the high place of sacrifice. Before the meeting itself is described, the statement is introduced in 1 Samuel 9:15-17, that the day before Jehovah had foretold to Samuel that the man was coming to him whom he was to anoint as captain over his people. אזן גּלה, to open any one's ear, equivalent to reveal something to him (1 Samuel 20:12; 2 Samuel 7:27, etc.). אשׁלח, I will send thee, i.e., "I will so direct his way in my overruling providence, that he shall come to thee" (J. H. Mich. ). The words, "that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon my people, for their cry is come unto me," are not at all at variance with 1 Samuel 7:13. In that passage there is simply the assertion, that there was no more any permanent oppression on the part of the Philistines in the days of Samuel, such as had taken place before; but an attempt to recover their supremacy over Israel is not only not precluded, but is even indirectly affirmed (see the comm. on 1 Samuel 7:13). The words before us simply show that the Philistines had then begun to make a fresh attempt to contend for dominion over the Israelites. "I have looked upon my people:" this is to be explained like the similar passage in Exodus 2:25, "God looked upon the children of Israel," and Exodus 3:7, "I have looked upon the misery of my people." God's looking was not a quiet, inactive looking on, but an energetic look, which brought help in trouble. "Their cry is come unto me:" this is word for word the same as in Exodus 3:9. As the Philistines wanted to tread in the footsteps of the Egyptians, it was necessary that Jehovah should also send His people a deliverer from these new oppressors, by giving them a king. The reason here assigned for the establishment of a monarchy is by no means at variance with the displeasure which God had expressed to Samuel at the desire of the people for a king (1 Samuel 8:7.); since this displeasure had reference to the state of heart from which the desire had sprung.
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