1 Samuel 10
Benson Commentary
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
1 Samuel 10:1. And poured it upon his head — We do not read of any order of God, given for the anointing of kings. But it was the usual rite in the designation, as of prophets and priests, so also of kings, as appears from the parable of Jotham, recorded Jdg 9:8, and delivered two hundred years before this time. By using this ceremony Samuel signified the pouring forth of the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit upon Saul, to fit him for the administration of his office. These sacred unctions then used, pointed at the great Messiah, or anointed One, the King of the church, and High-Priest of our profession, who was anointed with the oil of the Spirit without measure, above all the priests and princes of the Jewish Church. Kissed — As a testimony of his sincere friendship and affection to him. His inheritance — That is, over his own peculiar people. Whereby he admonisheth Saul, that this people were not so much his, as God’s; and that he was not to rule them according to his own will, but according to the will of God. This sudden and unexpected elevation of Saul to the royal dignity was a thing not easy to be believed, and therefore Samuel gives him three or four signs in the following verses to assure him that God called him to this high office, and to confirm his faith in the divine appointment.

When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
1 Samuel 10:2. By Rachel’s sepulchre — In the way to Beth-lehem, which city was in Judah; her sepulchre might be either in Judah, or in Benjamin; for the possessions of those two tribes were bordering one upon another. The first place he directs him to was a sepulchre, the sepulchre of one of his ancestors. There he must read a lecture of his own mortality, and, now he had a crown in his eye, must think of his grave, in which all his honour would be laid in the dust.

Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
1 Samuel 10:3. Thou shalt come to the plain — Not that at the foot of mount Tabor, which was far from these parts; but another, belonging to some other place. Beth-el — Properly so called, which was in Ephraim, where there was a noted high place, famous for Jacob’s vision there, (Genesis 28:19,) and where it is probable they offered sacrifices, in this confused state of things, when the ark was in one place, and the tabernacle in another.

And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
1 Samuel 10:4. They will salute thee, &c. — This may be considered as a third sign, or an appendix to the second. And it is the more remarkable, because this present, which they made him, was a figure of that honour which the people did him when he was declared their king.

After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
1 Samuel 10:5. Thou shalt come to the hill of God — So called, either because they were wont to sacrifice here; or, because here was a school of the prophets, who were called men of God. A company of prophets — By prophets here, he understands persons that wholly devoted themselves to religious studies and exercises. For the term of prophesying is not only given to the most eminent act of it, foretelling things to come, but also to preaching, and to the making or singing of psalms, or songs of praise to God. And they that wholly attended upon these things are called sons of the prophets, who were commonly combined into companies or colleges, that they might more conveniently assist one another in God’s work. This institution God was pleased so far to honour and bless, that sometimes he communicated unto those persons the knowledge of future things. Coming down from the high place — Probably from a sacrifice which they had offered in the high place: and now they praised God for his benefits in the following manner: With a psaltery — Such instruments being then used by the prophets and other persons, to compose their minds, and render them fit to receive divine communications, as well as to raise their affections to God, and to the contemplation of things spiritual and heavenly. They shall prophesy — Either sing God’s praises, as the word sometimes signifies, (Exodus 15:21; 1 Chronicles 25:3,) or speak of the things of God by a peculiar repulse of his Spirit.

And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
1 Samuel 10:6. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee — Hebrew, צלחה, tsalcha, irruet in te, (Buxtorf,) shall rush upon thee. This was the highest assurance of all the rest, that Samuel anointed him by God’s authority. Thou shalt prophesy with them — Shalt break forth into the praises of God, and utter divers truths and even predictions by the inspiration of his Spirit. Shalt be turned into another man — That is, thou shalt be suddenly endowed with another spirit, filled with skill in divine things, with courage, and wisdom, and magnanimity, and other qualifications befitting thy dignity.

And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
1 Samuel 10:7. Do as occasion shall serve thee — Hebrew, Do what thy hand findeth to do; that is, as thou shalt have a call and opportunity. As if he had said, I cannot give thee particular directions about every thing that is to be done by thee: but God’s Spirit shall guide thee to do that which the present occasion requires. He does not intend that he should take the kingly government upon him, before his call to it was owned by the people, but that he should dispose his mind to a readiness of undertaking any public service when he should be called to his office.

And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.
1 Samuel 10:8. Seven days shalt thou tarry till I come — This, though now mentioned and commanded, was not immediately to be performed; as is evident, partly from the whole course of the story, (which shows that Saul and Samuel, and the people, first met at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 10:17, &c., where Saul was chosen of God, and accepted by the people as king; and afterward went to Gilgal once before the time here spoken of, 1 Samuel 11:14-15,) and partly by comparing this place with 1 Samuel 13:8, &c., where we find Saul charged with the violation of this command, two years after the giving of it. It seems this was given as a standing rule for Saul to observe while Samuel and he lived; that in case of any great future difficulties, as the invasion of enemies, Saul should resort to Gilgal, and call the people thither, and tarry there seven days, which was but a necessary time for gathering the people, and for the coming of Samuel thither. And Gilgal was chosen for this purpose, because that place was famous for the solemn renewing of the covenant between God and Israel, (Joshua 4.,) and for other eminent instances of God’s favour to them, the remembrance whereof was a confirmation of their faith; and because it was a very convenient place for the tribes within and without Jordan to assemble in, and consult, and unite their forces together upon such occasions.

And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
1 Samuel 10:9-10. God gave him another heart — He immediately fulfilled the last and chief of these signs: for Saul was no sooner gone from Samuel than he felt another spirit coming into him, a spirit of holiness, wisdom, and fortitude, to qualify him for the government of God’s people; which afterward God took from him because of his sins, 1 Samuel 16:14. See Psalm 51:12. He prophesied among them — The accomplishment of the two former signs is supposed, and this only is expressed, because this was more eminent than the former; the others were only transient acts, which passed in private, between two or three persons meeting together; but this was a more permanent and notorious sign, done in a more solemn manner, and before many witnesses.

And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
1 Samuel 10:11. Is Saul also among the prophets? — A man never instructed, nor exercised in, nor inclined to these matters. It begat wonder in all those who knew his education, that he should, on a sudden, be inspired as those were, who were bred up in the school of the prophets. For, though it was in the power of God alone to bestow the gift of prophecy upon men, yet it would seem that commonly he endowed none with it, but such as were trained up in those studies which might dispose them for it.

And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
1 Samuel 10:12. And one answered and said, But who is their father? — This wonder was presently satisfied by a prudent person among them asking, Who is the father of all those prophets among whom Saul was now one? Who is it that instructs and inspires them but God? They have not this gift from their parents, nor from their education, but by inspiration from God, who, when he pleases, can bestow it on Saul or any other man, and thereby make him a prophet without the help of any other master; as he did Amos, who was no prophet, nor prophet’s son, but a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. And therefore wonder not at this matter, but give God the glory. Hence it became a proverb — Used when any strange or unexpected thing happened.

And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.
1 Samuel 10:13. When he had made an end of prophesying — Herein he differed from the prophets who met him, in that he prophesied but for a short time, this not being his office. And when he had done he went up to the high place from which they came down, they probably returning with him, to praise God for these wonderful favours, and to beg counsel and help from him in this high business.

And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
And Saul's uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.
1 Samuel 10:16. He told him not — In obedience to Samuel, who enjoined him to keep it secret, and from an humble modesty.

And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;
And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.
1 Samuel 10:19. Your God, who himself saved you, &c. — By raising up judges whenever you cried to him for help, who never failed to conquer your enemies. Ye have said unto him, Nay, &c. — When he desired you to continue under his government you refused, and would not be denied in what you asked. Now, therefore, &c. — He puts them upon choosing their king by lot, that all might know God had chosen Saul, (for the disposal of the lot is of the Lord,) and to prevent all dispute and exception.

And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
1 Samuel 10:20. Benjamin was taken — Which tribe was now preferred before Judah, because the kingdom was freely promised by God to Judah, and was to be given to him in love; but now the kingdom was in a manner forced from God, and given them in anger, and therefore conferred upon an obscure tribe.

When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
1 Samuel 10:21. When they sought him, he could not be found — Having withdrawn himself, either out of feebleness of spirit, as some think, or rather out of modesty, he declined so high an authority unless imposed upon him. Or perhaps he was discouraged, and even affrighted, when he heard Samuel still representing God as offended with them for asking a king; which he might think was to reject his government.

Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
1 Samuel 10:22. They inquired of the Lord — Either by Urim and Thummim, which was the usual way of inquiry; or by Samuel, who by his prayer procured an answer. He hath hid himself among the stuff — Among the carriages or baggage of the people there assembled. This he probably did from a sense of his own unworthiness.

And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
1 Samuel 10:25. Samuel said, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen? — Though the people were resolutely bent on having a king, yet they were sensible only God could make one. And therefore they came in the beginning of this business, to ask one of his prophet. But Samuel could not constitute one without divine direction and appointment, as appears by the first verse of this chapter, where he says to Saul, The Lord hath anointed thee; and the lot whereby he was publicly chosen was cast before the Lord, 1 Samuel 10:19; 1 Samuel 10:23. Accordingly he here tells them, The Lord hath chosen him. Thus afterward the Lord commanded David to be anointed, 1 Samuel 19:1; 1 Samuel 19:3; and of all his sons, Solomon was particularly appointed by God to succeed him, 1 Chronicles 29:5. There is none like him among all the people — As to his aspect and the height of his bodily stature, which was in itself desirable in a king, and some kind of indication of great endowments of mind. God save the king — Hebrew, Let the king live; that is, long and prosperously. The same form was used in after ages when they made kings, 1 Kings 1:34; 1 Kings 1:39; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Chronicles 23:11. Hereby they accepted him for their king, and, in effect, promised subjection to him. None will be losers in the end by their humility and modesty. Honour, like the shadows, follows them that flee from it, but flees from them that pursue it.

÷1Sa 10:25 1 Samuel 10:25. The manner of the kingdom — The laws and rules by which the kingly government was to be managed; agreeably to those mentioned Deuteronomy 17:16, &c. Before the Lord — Before the ark, where it was kept safe from depravation.

And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
1 Samuel 10:26. Saul went home to Gibeah — Not being actually inaugurated into his kingdom, he thought fit to retire to his former habitation, and to live privately till he had an occasion to show himself in a more illustrious manner. There went with him a band of men — A company, probably, of stout, valiant men, of great resolution, who went as his guard, to afford him safe and honourable conduct to his house, although, as it appears, not to abide with him there, which would not have suited his present circumstances. Whose hearts God had touched — Who were moved by a divine influence to do their duty in this instance. Thus the Holy Scriptures teach us to acknowledge God to be the author of all the good that is in us, or done by us.

But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
1 Samuel 10:27. But the children of Belial said, &c. — Some wicked men, who hated all government, and being, it is probable, men of some rank and quality, were proud, and despised a person of such a mean family. How shall this man save us? — They would not vouchsafe so much as to call him by his name, but insolently contemned him, as a person of no note, who had no power to deliver them. They brought him no presents — As subjects in those times, and in the eastern countries, used to do to their kings when they first tendered their service to them. But he held his peace — Which was an evidence both of his great humility, and of the mercifulness of his disposition. At the same time, to dissemble his knowledge of the scorn they put upon him was an act of great prudence; for if he had taken notice of it, he must have punished it, and it would not have been safe to have begun his reign with an act of severity. Thus Christ held his peace in the day of his patience, but there is a day of recompense coming.

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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