1 Samuel 9:26, 27; 10:1-8
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him, and said…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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?