1 Samuel 10:1
Then Samuel took a flask of oil, poured it out on Saul's head, kissed him, and said, "Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over His inheritance?
Sermons
King MakingR. Steel.1 Samuel 10:1-13
Saul Anointed by SamuelW. G. Blaikie, D. D.1 Samuel 10:1-13
The Appointment, of SaulP. Richardson, B. A.1 Samuel 10:1-13
The Discipline of a Promoted LifeJoseph S. Exell, M. A.1 Samuel 10:1-13
Saul Privately Anointed KingB. Dale 1 Samuel 9:26, 27; 10:1-8


And Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head. There is in the life of almost every man some day beyond all others, the events of which serve to determine his future course. Such a day was that which is here described in the life of Saul. On the preceding day he had been guided by Providence to Samuel, and led by means of his conversation to entertain exalted expectations concerning his future destiny. "And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house" (ver. 25). "And a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down" (LXX., Vulg.). "The roofs in Judaea were flat, with a parapet around them. To be lodged there was considered an honour. In fine weather it was not unusual to sleep in the open air, but the place might occasionally be covered with a tent" (Geddes). Strange thoughts must have passed through his mind as he rested there under the silent stars. He rose early to prepare for his journey, and watched the morning dawn over the distant hills, ushering in the most eventful day of his life. Then the voice of Samuel called to him from below, saying, "Arise, and I will send thee away." The prophet accompanied him, as a mark of respect, along the street, toward the end of the city (Ramah). But before parting from him be directed him to send his servant forward, that he might communicate to him alone "the word of God." And in this private interview Saul was -

I. APPOINTED TO THE HIGHEST DIGNITY (ver. 1).

1. By a rite of consecration. "Taking a vial, he anointed Saul, thus placing the institution of royalty on the same footing as that of the sanctuary and the priesthood (Exodus 30:33; Leviticus 8:10), as appointed and consecrated by God and to God, and intended to be the medium for receiving and transmitting blessing to the people" (Edersheim). "Anointing with oil was a symbol of endowment with the Spirit of God; as the oil itself, by virtue of the strength which it gives to the vital spirits, was a symbol of the Spirit of God as the principle of Divine and spiritual power" (Keil). "Two very good reasons they (the Jews) render why God did command the use of such anointing oil as in respect of the action. First, that it did signify the Divine election of that person and designation to that office; from whence it was necessary that it should be performed by a prophet who understood the will of God. Secondly, that by it the person anointed might be made fit to receive the Divine influx." "In respect to the matter they give two reasons why it was oil, and not any other liquor. First, because, of all other, it signifies the greatest glory and excellency. Secondly, they tell us that oil continueth uncorrupted longer than any other liquor. And, indeed, it hath been observed to preserve not only itself but other things from corruption; hence they conclude it fit their kings and priests, whose succession was to continue forever, should be anointed with oil, the most proper emblem of eternity. Beside, they observe that simple oil without any mixture was sufficient for the candlestick; but that which was designed for unction must be compounded with principal spices, which signify a good name, always to be acquired by those in places of greatest dignity by the most laudable and honourable actions" ('Pearson on the Creed,' Art. 2).

2. Accompanied with an act of homage. "And kissed him." The kiss was given on the mouth, the hand, the feet, or the garment, and was a token of friendship, affection, and, in the case of princes, of reverence and homage (1 Kings 18:19; Psalm 2:12; Hosea 13:3).

3. And with a statement of its significance. "Is it not?" etc. Hath not the Lord anointed thee to be ruler over his people, over Israel? And thou shalt rule over the people of the Lord, and thou shalt save them out of the hand of their enemies" (LXX.). His appointment was of God, and the purpose of it was the deliverance of his people. The manner in which he received it shows the change which had already taken place in his feelings (1 Samuel 9:21). When God has work for a man to do, he has power to dispose and prepare him to do it.

II. ASSURED OF CONFIRMATORY SIGNS (vers. 2-6). The events which Samuel predicted were proofs of the Divine interposition, means of Saul's further preparation, and emblems of his future dignity and power.

1. First sign - his royalty was an appointment made by God. By it he would be convinced that it was not made by Samuel merely, but by God, who fulfilled his words (1 Samuel 9:20); at the same time he would be taught to leave lower cares, and aspire after the highest things. "Inwardly free, and consecrated to the Lord alone, he is to pursue his way upward."

2. Second sign - his royalty was an honour shared with God, and held in subordination to him (vers. 3, 4). A part of the offerings that were about to be presented before Jehovah in Bethel would be presented to Saul, but only a part of them; the greater portion would be given to Jehovah as a sign of the supreme homage due to the invisible King of Israel, while he was to accept the lesser portion as a sign of his subordinate position under him. "That this surprising prelude to all future royal gifts is taken from bread of offering points to the fact that in future some of the wealth of the land, which has hitherto gone undivided to the sanctuary, will go to the king" (Ewald). God commands us to "honour the king" (1 Peter 2:17), but the honour which is due to himself may not be usurped by man (Matthew 22:21; Acts 12:23).

3. Third sign - his royalty was an endowment dependent upon God, and effectually administered only through his grace. Coming to the hill (Gibeah) of God, near the city (Gibeah, his home), where there stood a garrison of the Philistines (or perhaps a pillar erected by them as a sign of their authority), which could hardly fail to impress upon him with great force the main purpose for which he had been appointed king, he would meet a band of prophets descending from the high place (of sacrifice), playing instruments of music and prophesying (speaking and singing in ecstatic utterances the praises of Jehovah, declaring his greatness, and his victory over his adversaries), and -

(1) He would be imbued with a Divine power. "The Spirit of Jehovah will come upon thee."

(2) He would catch the spirit of the prophets, and join them in their ecstatic utterances. "Thou wilt prophesy with them."

(3) He would undergo a surprising transformation. "And will be turned into another man." When he had turned his back to go from Samuel, "God gave him another heart" (ver. 9), but the prediction of the prophet was more completely fulfilled afterwards (ver. 10). The fulfilment of these predictions shows that apparently accidental events are clearly foreseen by God, human affairs are under his direction and control, and "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1), and that "the teachings of Providence unite with the teachings of revelation and of the Holy Spirit to show men their duty and their destiny."

III. ADMONISHED OF FUTURE DUTY (vers. 7, 8). In relation to -

1. Circumstances. "Do thou what thy hand findeth," i.e. what circumstances indicate to be thy duty. His own judgment would have to be exercised, but he would not be left to it alone.

2. God. "For God is with thee," to observe, direct, and aid thee. The firm belief in his presence is a mighty preservative from the neglect of duty, and a powerful incentive and encouragement to its performance.

3. The prophet, through whom he would receive "the word of God," in obedience to which he was bound always to act. "Gilgal, on the southwestern bank of the Jordan, was then, from all indications, one of the most holy places in Israel, and the true centre of the whole people; it had a like importance before, and much more then, because the Philistine control reached so far eastward that the middle point of the kingdom must have been pressed back to the bank of the Jordan. There the people must have assembled for all general political questions, and thence, after offering and consecration, have marched forth armed to war" (Ewald). Thither he was to gather the people; not, indeed: immediately, but when circumstances indicated that it was the proper time to prepare for war with the Philistines, which was the main object of his appointment. Samuel promised to meet him there, offer burnt offerings (dedicatory) and peace offerings (eucharistic), and tell him what to do; and directed him to wait seven days, and to do nothing without him. The direction was explicit, it set a limit to his authority, and its neglect was the first step in his disobedience (ch. 13:13). When God places men in positions of authority, he teaches them the obligations which they involve; and if they fail it is not from want of knowing them. - D.







Then Samuel took a vial of oil.
Men are not usually taken from the valley of ordinary toil, and instantaneously placed, as by the flight of an angel, upon the cloud-wrapped peak of national greatness. There must be a climbing process; its accomplishment may be tedious, its progress slow, its experiences sorrowful, but such discipline is necessary. And as we climb the rugged path, exhilarating breezes refresh, sweeping prospects gladden; and the soul thrilled by such beauty, achieves fitness for the higher sphere of duty. Summer does not suddenly come around us with its grandeur, touching nature into fragrance, but advances gently through the frozen portals of winter and the uncalculated possibilities of spring. So with the promotions of human life. God descends unknown to the busy multitude, appropriates the Saul, and brings into contact with the spiritual, that under its tuition he may be fitted for kingship. This promoted life was —

I. UNOSTENTATIOUS IS ITS COMMENCEMENT. It might be accepted as an axiom that all great results issue from small beginnings. Throughout this coronation the greatest simplicity prevails. Only two are present — a ruddy youth, an aged man — both in the great temple of nature, with God for witness. Consider the disciplinary nature of this coronation.

1. Its simplicity would appear contradictory. It would seem unlikely that the highest office of life should be introduced in such poor attire.

2. It would appear unauthenticated. There was no human witness besides the two interested parties. They were alone. The only guarantee he had was the reputation of the prophet; and if that failed, he had no refuge, for his own word would not be sufficient to establish anything so unlikely. He would, like Joseph, have been designated the Dreamer. This consideration would impose silence even if disappointed.

3. Then the suggestion of promotion was interrogative. "Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?" (ver. 1). Thus we can easily imagine how this coronation scene would test the character, try the patience, exercise the thought, and discipline the soul of this incipient king. This promoted life was —

II. CONFIRMATORY IN ITS PROGRESS. Moral discipline does not retain its darkness. Night clears away, and in the bright shining of morning, fear is dispelled and hope realised. So with Saul, he has passed the midnight of preparation, and now departing from the prophet, his claim to kingship will be vindicated by foretold events. Confirmed: —

1. By the restoration of lost property. The most trivial incidents may prove confirmatory to the reality of Divine promotion. A shining star authenticates the power of God as much as the solar system. So the finding of asses on our homeward journey may stamp our elevation with truth, as much as the mightiest catastrophe of history. Here also is seen the beneficence and considerateness of the Divine plan. In that the missions of life are attested by measures adapted to condition and want. Saul had been in search of the asses; their restoration was used as the Divine indenture. Saul had to pass the sepulchre of Rachel on his way home. Why? Was it not to solemnise him in his transition to kingship? To remind him of his future destiny? The journey of life is full of tombs, to hush the mirth of the traveller by the reflections of another world. Here we see the wisdom of the Divine plan in that he makes the monitors of life confirm its elevation. He was confirmed: —

2. By the manifestation of hospitality. These people were no doubt going to worship, to sacrifice to God; and, being prompted by the Divine Spirit, paid homage to their unknown but future king. Men often unconsciously outstrip themselves. In ministering to the necessities of a man they sometimes minister to a king. This scene in connection with Rachel's tomb shows the contrasts of life; that, while death is near, there is sufficient to keep in life and comfort; that while there are tombs on our life road there is also a sanctuary. The former representing the power of evil, the latter the power of good. Past both the promoted one must walk, that, filled with sadness at the grave, joy may come with stronger impulse at the sanctuary. Lastly, he was confirmed: —

3. By the sympathetic power of prophecy. "And thou shalt prophesy with them" (ver. 6). The young king was now to meet a band of students from the college of the prophets. This is a typal of all life; it is full of the educational, and that educational is spiritual in its nature. This company of prophets had instruments of music. So a minister's life, like a peal of bells, should give forth the choicest music at the lightest touch. Who ought to carry the harp, the tabrets of life, if a teacher of the highest music, the divinest harmony, does not?

III. PREPARATORY IN ITS ISSUE. Saul seems now to have reached the level of prophetic character; from henceforth he is fit for the regal. He is prepared: —

1. By the impartation of a new nature. "God gave him another heart" (ver. 9). What does this mean, but that Saul was converted? Are we told that it was a mere external fitness; an intellectual foresight, or heroic courage, necessary for his office? Was it merely the creation of a taste for the new sphere of duty? If so, it should have said that God gave him another inclination. No! God gave him another heart, swept of the past, filled with the seeds of a larger manhood.

2. By the baptism of the Holy Spirit. "And the Spirit of God came upon him" (ver. 10). Surely no king commenced his rule with greater blessing or deeper fitness. But we shall yet have to witness the tempestuous sunset of this great life. If kings now were selected by God, and qualified by his Spirit, what a glory would enshrine our national constitution! Lessons: —(1) Learn that the Spiritual ought to be the Supreme Power of national life.(2) That when God calls to the higher duties of life he qualifies for them.(3) That on the road to the sanctuary you are likely to meet the newly-made king.(4) That life is capable of the highest development.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

There is a remarkable minuteness of detail in this and other narratives in Samuel, suggesting the authenticity of the narrative, and the authorship of one who was personally connected with the transactions. Everything was planned to impress on Saul that his elevation to the royal dignity was not to be viewed by him as a mere piece of good fortune. Both Saul and the people must see the hand of God very plainly in Saul's elevation, and the king must enter on his duties with a profound sense of the supernatural influences through which he had been elevated, and his obligation to rule the people in the fear, and according to the will, of God. To be thus anointed by God's recognised servant, was to receive the approval of God Himself. Saul now became God's messiah — the Lord's anointed. For the term messiah, as applied to Christ, belongs to His kingly office. Though the priests likewise were anointed, the title derived from that act was not appropriated by them, but by the kings. It was counted a high and solemn dignity, making the king's person sacred, in the eyes of every God-fearing man. Yet this was not an indelible character; it might be forfeited by unfaithfulness and transgression. The only Messiah, the only Anointed One, who was incapable of being set aside, was He whom the kings of Israel typified. It is evident that Saul was surprised at the acts of Samuel. It was reasonable that Saul should be supplied with tangible proofs that in anointing him as king Samuel had complied with the will of God. These tangible proofs Samuel proceeded to give. We must try, first, to form some idea of Saul's state of mind in the midst of these strange events. The thought of being king of Israel must have set his whole being vibrating with high emotion. He was like a cloud surcharged with electricity; he was in that state of nervous excitement which craves a physical outlet, whether in singing, or shouting, or leaping, — anything to relieve the brain and nervous system, which seem to tremble and struggle under the extraordinary pressure. But mingling with these, there must have been another, and perhaps deeper, emotion at work in Saul's bosom. He had been brought into near contact with the Supernatural. The thought of the Infinite Power that ordains and governs all had been stirred very vividly within him. The three tokens of Divine ordination met with in succession at Rachel's tomb, in the plain of Tabor, and in the neighbourhood of Gibeah, must have impressed him very profoundly. Probably he had never had any very distinct impression of the great Supernatural Being before. It is always a solemn thing to feel in the presence of God, and to remember that He is searching us. At such times the sense of our guilt, feebleness, dependence, usually comes to us, full and strong. Must it not have been so with Saul? The whole susceptibilities of Saul were in a state of high excitement; the sense of the Divine presence was on him, and for the moment a desire, to render to God some acknowledgment of all the mercy which had come upon him. When therefore he met the company of prophets coming down the hill, he was impelled by the surge of his feelings to join their company and take part in their song. But it was an employment very different from what. had hitherto been his custom. That utter worldliness of mind which we have referred to us his natural disposition would have made him scorn any such employment in his ordinary mood as utterly alien to his feelings. Too often we see that worldly-minded men not only have no relish for spiritual exercises, but feel bitterly and scornfully towards those who affect them. The reason is not far to seek. They know that religious men count them guilty of sin, of great sin, in so neglecting the service of God. To be condemned, whether openly or not, galls their pride, and sets them to disparage those who have so low an opinion of them. It is not said that Saul had felt bitterly towards religious men previous to this time. But whether he did so or not, he appears to have kept aloof from them quite as much as if he had. And now in his own city he appears among the prophets, as if sharing their inspiration, and joining with them openly in the praises of God. It is so strange a sight that every one is astonished. "Saul among the prophets!" people exclaim, "Shall wonders ever cease?" And yet Saul was not in his right place among the prophets. Saul was like the stony ground seed in the parable of the sower. He had no depth of root. His enthusiasm on this occasion was the result of forces which did not work at the heart of his nature. It was the result of the new and most remarkable situation in which he found himself, not of any new principle of life, any principle that would involve a radical change. Ordination to the ministry, or to any other spiritual office, solemnises one at first, even though one may not, be truly converted, and nerves one with strength and resolution to throw off many an evil habit. But the solemn impression wanes with time, and the carnal nature asserts its claims. How earnest and how particular men ought ever to be in examining themselves whether their serious impressions are the effect of a true change of nature, or whether they are not mere temporary experiences, the casual result of external circumstances. Alas, Saul was like the young man also in the particular that made all the rest of little effect — "One thing thou lackest."

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

A sovereign Lord has already determined the destination of the crown. The royalty is to light on the head of Saul. Forthwith a wakeful Providence works onward to this end. Let us mark its mysterious movements. See in this transaction God's absolute sovereignty. See also how its end is reached by the confluence of two providential currents. An ordinary incident of rural life summons Saul from his home — his wanderings lead him to the neighbourhood of Samuel's dwelling — his servant knows this — Saul consents to an interview. This is one stream. The other meets it. Samuel is forewarned. It was a fair morning this to a hopeful day. By this series of events, most powerful provision was made for attaching the newly-appointed monarch to the service of God. His selection was manifestly the result of a heavenly grace, which reposed on no ground but its own sovereign will. And the manner in which the way to it had been smoothed was well fitted to impress him with the nearness, penetrating knowledge, and controlling power of God. But this great lesson is not yet finished. Signs from heaven are granted. Saul's excitement grows with the occurrence of each new incident. And thus, no doubt, his mind was prepared for that mysterious operation of the Spirit by which he joined the company of prophets in their ardent utterances of sacred truth. His heart was not renewed. But inspiration is different from regeneration. And if a Balaam's worldly heart were made a consecrated vehicle of truth, why might not, Saul's? Elevated conceptions and ardent enthusiasm of feeling on sacred subjects may dwell in the neighbourhood of an icy heart, that has never returned in love the smile of a forgiving God. Most direful anomaly! Our maimed and dislocated nature has lost the power of interior transmission. Sunlight may glare on the understanding, while chilly darkness nestles in the heart. But Saul's true character was not discerned. The first step has now been taken. But the appointment must be made public. How rich was this opening period in manifestations of an overruling Providence! The new and strong emotions, the strange salutes and offerings of passing travellers, and the sacred welcome of a company of prophets — the disposing of the lot to make it fall on him — the divine disclosure of his hiding place — all these made up a crowded region of miraculous interposition in which God treasured up mighty impulses to mould and guide his future life. He is placed in the centre of scenes most touching, solemn, and memorable. In this small spot lie powers enough to move a lifetime. These basement facts, like those of the national history, are fruitful of mighty and lasting impulses. The vessel is launched, the anchor is weighed, the breeze has filled her sails. If she founder at sea, we shall know where the blame lies.

(P. Richardson, B. A.)

1. The lines of Providence are convergent and divergent. They come from different points of the compass towards one centre, and radiate outwards from unity into diversity. The chief events of four thousand years of human history all tended to one grand consummation, and when God became incarnate realised their end. From that event the lines of Providence have been diverging ever since, and are designed to embrace in their benignant influences the wide world and the various races of men. The Old Testament history all coiled into Jesus of Nazareth; the New Testament history unrolls from him. Chronology is all comprised in Before Christ and After Christ. This arrangement is common to the providence of God. One series of events conspires to develop another. The same Providence is seen in many periods of Hebrew history, and in none more strikingly than in the influences which brought Saul and Samuel together, and the issues that resulted from a monarchy in Israel. The outward circumstance was striking, but the diversified providences had been divinely arranged to further it. Infallible wisdom had guided these two men, and in their meeting prepared for kingly rule in Israel. In the appearance of Saul at the time appointed, Samuel had full testimony to the word of God. The event proved the prediction and strengthened his faith in God. Every new evidence works conviction in the believer, and does much to conform his mind to God. But there was another person to be convinced of the Divine arrangement — Saul. The evidence was vouchsafed in a manner fitted to impress, and so cumulative and varied as to work conviction. Samuel's conduct towards him, and the circumstances that transpired on his way home, after he left the prophet, were unmistakable signs that God was preparing some dignity for him among his people. These three signs were designed to warrant his faith in the announcement, to encourage his hope, and to prepare him to conform to the arrangement of God for the government of His people, and to certain special directions given by Samuel with reference to his coronation.

2. Whom God calls to any service He will make fit for it. If He advance to another station, He will give another heart to those who sincerely desire to serve Him with their power. Just as of old God endowed Bezaleel and Aholiab with skill to design, and build, and carve the work of the tabernacle of the wilderness, so did he endow Saul with the qualities of a kingly mind. These were apart from the moral qualities that relate to the right service of God. The latter are not so much endowments attached to a man, as the necessary fruits of a thorough conversion and a new heart. Saul had the one, but he had not the other. He had another heart, but, not a new heart. He gave evidence of possessing the gifts of kingship, but none of the grace of holy living. While he could henceforth command armies and practice diplomacy, he cared not for keeping a conscience void of offence toward God and man. His heart was not right with God. It is not enough to have natural endowments, or learned attainments of skill or wisdom. What are the wit of Voltaire, the poetry of Byron, the science of Halley, the philosophy of Hobbes, the command of Napoleon, the statesmanship of Pitt, the eloquence of Sheridan, the taste of Beckford, the learning of Michaelis, the common sense of Franklin, the mechanical skill of Stephenson, the business talents of a Rothschild, if you have not the grace of God to transform your heart and to make you holy? Gifts may make you illustrious, and useful, and powerful among men, but they do not make you fit for the fellowship of God, or prepare you for the holiness of heaven. They are of value. Sanctified by grace, the highest gifts have their place and their usefulness in the Church, Saul had striking evidences presented to his mind of the prospect which Samuel opened up to his hope. The clear fulfilment of all that had been foretold must have convinced him that he was designed for dignity. He weighed it well, was persuaded of it, and waited for its accomplishment.

3. The manner of the kingdom was written in a book for his study and observance (ver. 25). This was their constitution — the covenant between monarch and subjects. The rights of the king were specified therein, and so were the rights of the people. The government of Israel was to be no absolute monarchy, nor was it to be a democracy. This was also the case when David was made king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:3), and when Joash was proclaimed in Judah, after the despotic usurpation of Athaliah (2 Kings 11:17). It was as sinful in the one to break the covenant as in the other. In the word of God there is a clear recognition of the rights of the ruled as well as of the ruler. No man is at liberty to tyrannise over another. The model people of the ancient world had rules for kings such as no constitution has ever yet continued. The engagement between God, king, and people, was laid up before the Lord, to be kept under his eye, and to be a witness against monarch and subject should they break their engagements. It is a solemn thought that all our engagements are laid up before the Lord. They are held in all their integrity by him, and be never fails to fulfil his part. Once entered into by us, we become bound, and are responsible, and must render an account for the manner in which we bays kept them. Your signature to a bill, given by impulse, cannot be nullified before a court of law, it is binding, and you can be distrained for payment. In like manner all solemn resolutions and spiritual pledges are binding, and are laid up before the Lord. Under these mutual obligations Samuel sent king and people to their several homes.

4. That was a happy day in Israel. Samuel had reason to be glad, and king and people had abundant cause for joy. The monarchy had been established. God had smiled on the first royal act of Saul. The nation had united in a public service of gratitude. On a theatre so full of historic interest, they all rejoiced greatly. Their difficulties now seemed ended, and their hearts flowed over in exuberant joy. If they abode in the love and obedience of God, joy would possess their souls.

(R. Steel.)

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