Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.2. The Story of Saul and His Anointing
1. Saul the son of Kish and the lost asses (1Samuel 9:1-10)
2. Samuel and Saul (1Samuel 9:11-24)
And now the Lord gives them a king according to their choice. “He should possess all the natural attractions and martial qualities which the people could desire in their king; he should reflect their religious standpoint at their best; but he should also represent their national failings and the inmost defects of their religious life; that of combining zeal for the religion of Jehovah, and outward conformity to it, with utter want of real heart submission to the Lord, and of true devotedness to Him” (A. Edersheim). They obtained exactly what they wanted. God’s choice for them would have been a different character, one who seeks Him and is in subjection to Him, as we shall find in the king after God’s heart, King David. But now He gives to the people what they had asked for.
Saul means “asked.” The genealogy of Saul is given; the five names in their original meaning suggest the pride and self-glorification of the natural man. Saul is described as an ideal man, “a young man” (literally, “in the prime of manhood”) and 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. Saul, ignorant of the divine purpose, sets out to seek the lost she-asses of his father. Little did he know how the search would end and that he would soon become the head of the nation, which had gone more astray than the lost asses (Isaiah 1:3). A small matter it was going forth to look for animals which had strayed away; but the guiding hand of Jehovah was there. The search is futile. The servant then suggests a visit to the man of God, none other than Samuel. Saul seems to have no knowledge of Samuel. He is willing enough to seek the man for counsel but he is troubled about the present for the man of God. It shows the tendency of the natural man to give in order to get from God. The servant has the fourth part of a shekel of silver which he offers to give to the man of God. Verse 9, containing a parenthetical statement, is not a gloss by a later hand, as the critical school maintains. The difference between seer and prophet is an interesting one. A prophet is one who speaks for God being moved by God; he is the mouthpiece of the Lord. The term seer suggests the knowledge the prophet had. The people were more concerned about the seer than the prophet. Thus Saul shows the state of his heart. He does not seek God, nor the prophet as the man and mouthpiece of God; only the seer.
Then Samuel and Saul meet for the first time. First Saul and the servant meet maidens going out to draw water, and they directed them to the heights where a sacrificial feast was to be held. And the Lord had spoken into Samuel’s ear the day before that the man of Benjamin would come. All had been ordered by the Lord and Samuel, knowing the expected one would come had reserved the shoulder of the peace offering for him (1Samuel 9:23-24). (See annotations on Leviticus.) What the Lord had said to Samuel concerning Saul reveals His gracious purpose of love towards Saul. Though he was the people’s choice yet the Lord was willing to make him much more, even the saviour of this people Israel (1Samuel 9:16). Samuel tells Saul that the asses were found, so that he was relieved of the anxiety. And when Samuel acquaints him that all Israel desires him, he speaks of his own littleness (1Samuel 9:21). It reminds us of that other Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, the Apostle Paul, whose name means “little.” However Saul, the son of Kish, knew nothing of real self-judgment. It was rather the language of surprise than the expression of a deep, heartfelt humility. Then we see them in communion, and afterwards Samuel anoints him with the holy anointing oil and kissed him. The anointing is the symbol of power conferred upon him and also implies dependence upon the Holy Spirit, typified by the oil. The kiss was given in token of homage. Thus Saul became the first king in Israel. Samuel also gave him three significant signs, which all came to pass. They were given to Saul to assure him of all which had taken place and to teach him certain spiritual lessons. He was assured that God is with Him (1Samuel 10:7). The Spirit of God also came upon him and he prophesied.
“By this, as in the case of Judges, we are, however, not to understand the abiding and sanctifying presence of the Holy Ghost dwelling in the heart as His temple. The Holy Ghost was peculiarly “the gift of the Father” and “of the Son,” and only granted to the Church in connection with and after the resurrection of our blessed Lord. Under the Old Testament, only the manifold influences of the Spirit were experienced, not His indwelling as the Paraclete. This appears not only from the history of those so influenced, and from the character of that influence, but even from the language in which it is described. Thus we read that the Spirit of Elohim “seized upon” Saul, suddenly and mightily laid hold on him,--the same expression being used in Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; 1Samuel 16:13; 1Samuel 18:10.”