1 Samuel 9-11 Chapter Study
One Sunday we covered the first 24 vs. of ch. 9 and the beginning of Saul’s story.
He was the tall, dark, handsome son of Kish, a wealthy warrior of the tribe of Benjamin.
One day while searching for some lost donkeys, he met Samuel in his hometown of Ramah.
God told Samuel Saul was to be made the King of Israel, so Samuel invited him to a special sacrifice & meal where Saul was given the place of honor.
25When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house.
The hilltop where they’d made the sacrifice & eaten the sacred meal was outside the city walls.
Once the feast was done, they went back to Samuel’s house where Samuel filled Saul in on his divine calling & mission.
While our houses have slanted roofs to shed the rain, in the ancient Middle East, the roof was where people spent most of their leisure time, much like the front porch of our own American yesteryear.
The roof was flat and accessed either by a ladder or set of steps built on the outside of the house.
As we saw Sunday, at the announcement by Samuel that Saul would become king of Israel, Saul was stunned & tried to convince the man of God that he couldn’t be the guy.
As the evening went on, Saul realized Samuel would not be dissuaded.
Certainly he had a lot of questions, and Samuel had a lot to say to Saul about his conduct – so the conversation went on till late.
Then Saul & his servant laid down there on the roof and went to sleep.
26They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel. 27As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” And he went on. “But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.”
As Samuel was walking them to the city gate for their return trip home, he told Saul he needed a private moment with him, and sent the servant on ahead.
1Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?
The way most kings are officially sanctioned to their office is by conference of the crown.
This coronation ceremony marks the moment at which the monarch is officially given their title and rank.
As soon as the crown is set upon his/her head – they become king/queen.
It was different in ancient Israel because the king was literally God’s regent.
Instead of a crown of gold being set on his head, his head was covered with perfumed oil.
The oil was a symbol of the Holy Spirit who both authorized the appointment & bestowed on him all he needed to fulfill his office.
The kings of Israel did wear crowns, but it was the anointing with oil that truly set them in their office.
Samuel’s affection for young Saul is made clear by the kiss he adds to the anointing.
As we saw on Sunday, this thing Samuel has been dreading – making a king for Israel, in light of who the first king turns out to be – Samuel thinks maybe it’s not going to be as dreadful as he’d been thinking.
It looks like it’s going to work out okay.
He really liked Saul, his affection here was warm & genuine.
As we saw Sunday, while Samuel’s spiritual perception was sharp, Saul’s had none.
And though Samuel’s made it clear Saul is God’s pick for king, he knows Saul isn’t convinced.
So he gives him several signs that will take place on their way home.
As Saul sees each thing come to pass, he’s to realize it as confirmation he is indeed the new monarch.
2When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands. 5After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. 6Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.
Each of the 3 signs Samuel foretold would serve a specific purpose in convincing Saul of his call.
1) The first sign – the men who told him the lost donkeys had been recovered—was meant to show him that his past as a farmer was done.
He was no longer needed to take care of things at home.
God would take care of his father & family.
2) The second sign was meant to show Saul that the people of Israel would recognize him as king.
The 3 men were taking goats, bread & wine for use at the shrine at Bethel for worshiping God.
They would only give such special bread to someone of high rank.
3) The third sign—prophesying along with the prophets—was to make it clear God would give Saul whatever he needed to rule Israel wisely.
Samuel said that following the 3rd sign, Saul would realize that he had indeed been called.
His disposition would change & he would embrace his role as king.
Before we move on, there are a couple more things we ought to grab on to as interesting insights . . .
1) In v. 5, in describing the 3rd sign, Sam says it will take place at the hill of God.
Gibeah, Saul’s hometown was known in that day as Gibeath-elohim: Gibeah of God.
The city had a major high-place for the worship of God; that’s why these prophets had gone there.
But there was also a Philistine garrison there – right in Saul’s hometown.
2) Samuel said that when Saul met the prophets they would be playing musical instruments & prophesying.
This seems to be the way these bands of prophets who lived throughout this period of time prophesied, with music.
They would play, & sing, and prophesy.
When Saul met them, the Spirit would come upon him and he would join in with them.
Then Samuel gave Saul a very important instruction – Take particular attention to it . . .
8You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”
Later events indicate that what we read here is only a short summary of what Samuel told Saul.
The event is fulfilled in ch. 13 & becomes a major turning point in Saul’s reign.
9So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.
This is one of those verses that’s easily read & passed over without realizing its import.
Samuel had anointed Saul with oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit – but it was here that the real anointing came.
It didn’t happen until Saul had turned his back on Sam & taken a few steps on his trip home.
Then, the Spirit came & Saul was turned from someone who was spiritually inept into a spiritual man.
God wanted Saul to realize that it was He, not Samuel, who anointed & changed him.
In the days, weeks, and months to come when Sam wasn’t around and he would have to rule Israel, God wanted Saul to know where he would get his help – from the Lord, not Sammy.
God uses others to lead us to faith in Him and help us grow.
But there comes a point at which we need to do what Saul does here – turn our back on our dependence on other & take our own steps in fellowship with God.
We can’t live off the anointing of others – we need to have our own anointing – our own experience of God.
10When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
They all knew Saul to be a quiet & reserved. They also didn’t think of him as especially spiritually keen – so to hear him speak so boldly of God was a surprise.
12Then a man from there answered and said, “But who is their father?”
In other words – being a prophet, being anointed by God, isn’t an issue of family or background.
The prophets have one Father – God.
Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
It was a saying which meant that with God anything was possible.
13And when he had finished prophesying, he went to the high place.
He didn’t go home first; he went to the high place to worship God.
14Then Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” So he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they were nowhere to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15And Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you.”
He asked this because he knew Sam’s major mission at this time was to find Israel a king.
Word had no doubt reached this uncle of Saul’s unusual behavior with the prophets & he was curious of maybe there was something going on.
16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said.
Saul’s humility continues.
Even though he’s had these remarkable experiences & confirmations of God’s call, he continues to meekly follow the path to power God has set for him.
As another side-light: This uncle may have been Abner, the man who will eventually become the general in charge of Israel’s army.
Abner was Saul’s uncle.
17Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah, 18and said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.’ 19But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.”
Word was sent out to all Israel to assemble at Mizpah.
We’re not to think that every man, woman and child came.
This would be the heads of each family.
Once they assemble, Sam reminds them that their demand of a king is irrational in light of God’s past faithfulness.
Then he tells them to order themselves according to their tribal groups.
They knew why Samuel called for this – he was going to use the age old selection process of casting lots.
It was believed that God revealed His will this way.
The reason why Samuel didn’t just tell everyone Saul was God’s choice was because they knew how he’d resisted this whole arrangement.
They could accuse Samuel of rigging the thing so they’d get a horrible king & want to get rid of him right away.
By casting lots, it would confirm that Samuel’s choice was indeed God’s pick.
20And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 21When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”
First they picked 1 out of 12 tribes.
Then they narrowed it down to the clan, then the family, & finally the individual – Saul.
The chances that the lot would fall to the same guy Samuel had picked were astronomical.
But when they finally landed on Saul – he was no where to be found.
It was probably Samuel who spoke this word from God about where to find him.
He was hanging out over with the gear - the word refers to common equipment of no particular category.
KJV – “stuff”
I point out the meaning of these words because it helps figure out what’s going on here.
There are those who see Saul’s actions here as a false humility – that he’s either showing a lack of faith by hiding, or he’s trying to appear humble as a way to make people like & accept him.
They say Saul was eager for the throne & saw this as a good way to secure it – by acting humble.
But the original words convey something a bit different.
They show Saul as someone who’d withdrawn from the scene of the contest over the throne to take a humble place among the common stuff.
He was setting up the tent; taking care of their donkeys, & whatever else needed taking care of for their stay.
Saul was so confident in his selection that he didn’t sense any need to be at the center of the selection process and decided it was best to stay busy.
23So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”
The y immediately took to Saul; he just looked the part.
Since there’d been no royal dynasty in Israel before, the people had no idea how they were to go about building a throne.
Samuel laid out the rules for Saul’s reign, giving them instructions on what to expect.
This book was kept with the Books of Moses along with the other furniture from the tabernacle.
26And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched. 27But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
As Saul returned home, some men who’s hearts had been touched by God went with him.
They were courageous men who were willing to put their lives on the line to make sure Saul’s throne was secure & his wishes carried out.
On the opposite side of the fence were guys who rejected Saul.
Though Saul was obviously God’s pick and had all the marks of being a great king, they refused to honor him.
In all likelihood, they rejected Saul because they deemed themselves the only ones qualified to rule.
They thought for sure they would be Israel’s king.
When God calls someone to a place of leadership, He raises up others to assist him/her.
The Spirit will implant a part of the leader’s vision in their heart & fill them with a sense of devotion & mission to see it accomplished.
When we look back in history at the great things that have been accomplished for the Kingdom, we tend to see some one man or woman attached to them.
But a little study shows that almost always, those leaders had several people who assisted them, a team of like-minded brothers & sisters without which the work would not, COULD not have been done.
[Harvest Crusade as example]
It seems also that when ever God calls someone to notable leadership in Kingdom-work, there rises up a pack of yapping dogs that make a bunch of noise in opposition.
Often, their driven by envy; jealous of the success the leader & his/her team is enjoying.
And so, the Harvest Team is beset with a small group of protestors who follow them around and say ridiculous things in the parking lot before & after the Crusades.
They also have a few very vocal opponents within the Reformed Community who write books and air radio programs about how wrong it is to do altar calls and lead people in a prayer to receive Christ.
Saul’s response to the rebels of his day is the best way to handle such fools – ignore them.
1Then Nahash [snake] the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.”
The Ammonites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
They’d inhabited the eastern side of the Jordan but had been defeated by Israel during the Exodus.
It was in their land that 2 of the 12 tribes, Reuben & Gad, had decided to settle.
Though Israel had dispossessed the Ammonites of their land, enough had fled for refuge to the East & North that they were able to renew their numbers and decided to attempt a retaking of their ancestral lands.
During the time of the Judges, they’d managed to exert their dominance over the eastern tribes.
Eventually they were defeated & driven into the eastern wastes once again.
Here they are again, laying siege to Jabesh Gilead.
The leaders of the city knew they couldn’t hold out so they sued for peace, offering to become Nahash’s vassals.
2And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.”
Nahash agreed to accept their surrender on one condition – that he be allowed to gouge out their right eye.
Why this? Says it would bring a reproach on Israel.
A brutal act they could not stop – shows Israel’s weakness.
Also, would make them unfit for battle.
With a shield held by the left hand, right eye the main one to view with.
Also, depth perception would suffer – vital in hand to hand combat of this era.
Nahash knew the history of his people with Israel and didn’t want to be defeated by them again.
3Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, “Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you.”
That Nahash consented to this request shows how weak and fragmented Israel was at this time.
He had little concern Israel could raise a defense.
Even the people of Jabesh Gilead didn’t recognize Saul as the king.
They sent out their request for help to all the tribes instead of making one request to Saul.
4So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh. 6Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. 7So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.” And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
Saul may have felt a special concern for the people & city of Jabesh Gilead.
During the civil war between Benjamin and the other tribes several generations before, Jabesh was the only city that hadn’t sent troops.
When the other tribes were victorious over Benjamin & had taken an oath to not allow their daughters to marry the 600 surviving men, they went & took 400 virgin women from Jabesh Gilead and gave them as wives to the survivors.
That means Saul may very well have been a descendant of one of those residents from Jabesh.
Whatever personal reasons may have been behind his concern, God intended to use this conflict as a way to affirm Saul’s role as military leader of Israel.
He took an ox and cut it up in pieces, then sent them out by messenger with a summons and warning – come help Jabesh Gilead or your oxen will suffer the same fate as this ox.
8When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9And they said to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’” Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad. 10Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.” 11So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 12Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.”
Saul divided his 330,000 troops into 3 groups, which surrounded the camp of the Ammonites.
They waited until dawn, then attacked in a swift thrust from 3 sides that overwhelmed the Ammonites and sent them running in every direction.
When the battle was over, the leaders went to Samuel & asked for permission to execute the rebels who’d refused to recognize Saul as sovereign.
Saul again, wisely & magnanimously, said that such a day of triumph ought not be sullied with the blood of fellow Jews.
He knew this confirmation of his ability to lead would silence his critics. If it didn’t they would be the one to look like fools.
14Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” 15So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
There’d been enough dissent before the victory over Ammon that Saul’s rule had not been considered official.
But with the leaders of the tribes were firmly behind Saul, Samuel decided now was the time to formalize his role as king.
Gilgal was the place Joshua had renewed the covenant between Israel & God as they launched their campaign of conquest in the Promised Land.
As you read through the OT you find the people of Israel renewing their covenant with God again & again.
When ever they came back to Him after a period of wandering, they’d devote a special time to gather and offer sacrifices, pledging themselves to faithfulness once more.
God encouraged these returns and renewal, often sending the prophets to call them to that very thing.
We can & ought to do the same thing when we find that for whatever reason we’ve strayed from God.
Inattention to spiritual things can erode our fellowship with God.
Then one day, we realize it’s been weeks since we really had a sense of connection to the Lord.
Sometimes believers backslide; they get caught up in sin and fall away.
The Spirit convicts and they repent.
Re-dedicating one’s self is a great idea with plenty of Biblical support.