Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Now 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.The Choice Young Man
1 Samuel 9
This was Saul the son of Kish. This description was given of the Benjamite early in life, and as a young man he was—in some respects at least—most exemplary. It is a mistake to think of Saul as throughout an objectionable and wicked character. His later life was most unsatisfactory; but as we have him here, the son of Kish is not without many admirable traits.
I. The first thing to notice about young Saul is his fine physique. As he is introduced to us, the son of Kish is tall in stature, graceful in build, fresh and healthy in appearance, good-looking and handsome, and withal of a lordly mien and carriage. Do not despise a fine physique. The outward should be the expression of the inward; the physical part of us should be the symbol of the spiritual part of us. Physical beauty alone is a poor thing. But if there be a beautiful soul, there cannot be a repulsive or unpleasant face. Intelligence and goodness will impart beauty to a form otherwise without attractions.
II. The second thing to notice about him is his filial piety. The asses of his father had wandered from their pasture. He told his son to take a servant and go in search of the animals. And Saul did so, with alacrity, diligence, and cheerfulness. For days he wandered over hills and through valleys in pursuit of his task. He did as he was told, offering no objections and asking no questions. There is no duty more plainly or strongly enforced in the Scriptures than the duty of obeying parents; and with it are associated the highest rewards and the severest punishments; and these rewards and punishments pertain not only to the future but to the present life. Gratitude for all that parents have been to us should be a sufficiently strong motive to filial devotion. But here it has pleased God to give a further incentive—even His reward and blessing.
III. The third thing to notice about him is his modest disposition. On Samuel calling him to the kingdom you remember his answer—'Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my family the least of all the families of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou to me after this manner?' While pride makes men ridiculous, humility commands admiration and love. But modesty may degenerate into a vice—a vice not particularly common, however, among young men. I would rather have a man over-estimate than under-estimate his powers. While the first mistake may stimulate small talents to the performance of great deeds, the last may prevent great talents from achieving half their possibilities.
IV. The fourth thing to notice about him is his independent and generous spirit. In search of the asses he came near to the town where resided the prophet Samuel. The servant suggested to him that he should consult the seer about the strayed herd. 'But,' said Saul, '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 bring to the man of God: what have we?' And the servant answered Saul again, and said, 'Behold, I have in my hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way'. Saul was a gentleman. Do not say that this was an Eastern custom. It was, and the plate at the church door is a Western custom. It is the height of meanness to receive all the advantages of churches and to bear no share, or no adequate share in their support.
—A. F. Forrest, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. II. p. 429.
Seer and Prophet
1 Samuel 9:9
So long as they both meant the same thing, what does it matter what they were called? If they did not always mean the same thing, then it signifies a great deal. We must not have old names with new meanings, nor must we invent new ideas to suit old terms. The parable of the old wine and the new bottles, the old bottles and the new wine, old ideas and new conceptions, afford a very tempting ground for fancy and invention and divers knavery. When we have a word, let us know exactly what its meaning is. When we change the word, publish the fact; do not let us have any vocal or verbal legerdemain; let us beware of trifling with terms, let us beware of meddling with the currency of the King's language.
'He that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.' Probably there was really no change of a vital kind, and therefore the change of terms resolved itself into the popular question, What's in a name? But there is a principle here; there is a great moral possibility just at this very point; let us have no verbal ambiguity or ambiguity in deed, and then tell others that we really meant in substance the same thing, when we did not. There is a morality of language, there is a currency of words; and we must not keep some little private mint in which we counterfeit the inscribed and superscribed glory of the heavenly realm. Let us apply this change of names to the circumstances in which we find ourselves in our own day.
I. That which is now called a Discovery was beforetime called a Revelation. I prefer the beforetime word; it is deeper, it holds more, it is intellectually and spiritually more capacious; it is ideally and imaginatively more poetical and ideal.
II. He that is now called an Agnostic was beforetime called a Blind Man. I prefer the beforetime description; it seems to get nearer the truth. It would be impossible, I think, to find a proud blind man. Did you ever in all your companionship and confidences find a proud blind fellow-creature? It would be difficult for a blind man to be proud, but it is the natural air of my lord the agnostic. You never found a humble agnostic; he could not be humble; he has eloquence enough to pretend to be humble, but in the soul of him, if he has a soul, he is as proud as Lucifer.
III. That which is now called an Accident was beforetime called Providence. I like the old term best; it covers more ground, it is nobler, it stands in a more royal majesty. I will not have any accidents in my little world; I have no room for accidents,—little broken pieces of china that nobody can patch together again. I have in my little world of imagining and experience a ruling, loving, watchful Providence.
IV. That which is now called a Better State of Things was beforetime called Regeneration. And I like it better. Oh for the old, old Regeneration!—the metaphysical, penetrating, all-including new birth. There are many dusters and sweepers in the world, persons who go about with little dusters, and rubbing things and saying, Now they are all right. It is one thing to have a Hyde-Park-Sunday-afternoon-demon-stration duster and another thing to have a Holy Ghost.
V. That which is now called the Continuity of Law was beforetime called the Sovereignty of God.
VI. That which is now called the Survival of the Fittest was beforetime called Predestination, election, foreordination: and these are the grand terms when properly defined and understood.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p. 202.
Stand Still Awhile
1 Samuel 9:27
Samuel had been entertaining Saul at a sumptuous meal, and would speak to Saul on a very important matter. So the two set off from the city. As they go a little from the centre of the town and approach the edge of the houses, Samuel bade Saul send his servant forward so that they might be private and alone. Samuel evidently felt the solemnity of the moment, he saw before him the man who should be the future King of Israel, and he knew that in the conduct of that king lay a great responsibility. And as the servant had passed onward, Samuel said to Saul: 'Stand thou still awhile that I may show thee the Word of God'.
There are two things here that I should like you to notice; the first is the attention which Samuel requires, and the second is the subject on which he spoke.
I. The Attention Required.—Samuel asked Saul to send his servant forward that he might—
(a) Forget his family affairs, his joys and sorrows, and to concentrate his attention on the subject. In our own case there are joys and sorrows, there are business affairs that sometimes invade the very sleep and rehearse themselves in the hour of night. By an effort of will they may be made to pass onward.
(b) Stand still awhile.—Samuel requested Saul to 'Stand still awhile'. Let us remember that when the body is quiet and restful it aids the mind in taking in spiritual truth. It is a very desirable thing when listening to the Word of God to let it have its full effect upon the mind; let it come down like rain into a fleece of wool. Is not this what the Word of God deserves? When God speaketh His Word let all be silent before Him. If God is speaking, we are to be still. It is desirable to get away from the city into the fields, and there to stand still awhile and to say with Samuel the words he said when he was a little boy: 'Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth'. There are some who are so exceedingly careful about the things of this world that they scarcely give a thought to the things of God. Inform them how they may become rich and famous, and they will pay you a handsome price; inform them as to the undying things of God's Word, and perhaps they may pass on.
II. The Subject of the Message.—Look now at the second point. The Word of God which Samuel had on this occasion to speak to Saul.
(a) Mentioned a kingdom which Saul is going to possess and for which he must endeavour to fit himself. So to us the Word of God says, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness' The Word of God by coming to us has made each one of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ a king. Are you so entirely occupied with the business of the present that you are unable to gaze on the throne of the kingdom that is prepared for you? God calls you to a nobler, higher destiny than can be found in any earthly kingdom.
(b) Predicted a change.—Samuel said that there should come a very great change upon Saul, and that that change should soon come about. Samuel said that he should journey and the Spirit of the Lord should come upon him. 'Thou shalt join thyself to a company of prophets and shalt be turned into another man.' Can you tell what God will do for you if you are willing and obedient? Lay hold of the propitiation offered by Christ and, in a higher sense than was possible for Saul, undergo a wonderful and remarkable change. It is the change which should come on account of the love of Christ born in the soul and the spirit of Christ coming to dwell in the heart. Listen to the words of the covenant: 'I will put My spirit within you, I will take away the stony heart and give you a heart of flesh, and in that heart of flesh ye shall live and rejoice before God'. Life is a tangled skein to those who do not seek the guidance of the Word of God, but to those who do it is not so.
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.
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.
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 they found them not.
And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.
And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go.
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 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: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our 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 is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they 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?
And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people to day in the high place:
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; and afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.
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.
Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,
To morrow 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: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.
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.
Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer'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 to day, and to morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.
And 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? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father's house?
And Saul answered 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? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
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.
And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.
And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left! 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 when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.
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 Saul arose, and they went out both of 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 shew thee the word of God.