I Samuel 9–12. Saul Started Well
Key Notes: An outstanding candicate, he looks good and does good. He wins his first victory. He must follow the Lord. Ending well.
Although in retrospect we think poorly of Saul, he was Israel's first king, an outstanding man, and a military success. His personal qualities are easily ignored, because he underwent a personality change during his tenure as king.
9:1–14 Kish of Abiel, a wealthy Benjaminite, sent his son, Saul and a servant to look for his donkeys. But the time they came to Zuph, Saul thought his father would be more worried about him than the donkeys. They decided to visit the Seer. They found a quarter of a shekel of silver in their stuff, and were directed by some young women to Samuel. People were waiting for Samuel to bless the sacrifice so that the banquet could begin.
9:15–27 The day before, God had told Samuel that he was sending him a Benjaminite who would be king over Israel. The Lord identified Saul to Samuel. Samuel told Saul that he was interested in him although Saul objected that he was from one the least the tribes and his family one of the least of Benjaminites. He gave him a place at the head of the banquet, had the cook give him the choice cut of meat, and later gave him a place for the night.
10:1 The next day, Samuel went with him out of the city and anointed him prince over Israel. His task was to save Israel from her enemies.
Then Samuel gave Saul a series of predictions and instructions:
a. Two men would meet him by Rachel's tomb and tell him that the donkeys had been found and his father was anxious for him. You are relieved of worldly responsibilities.
b. At the Oak at Tabor, three men going up to God at Bethel would be seen, carrying three loaves of bread and a skin of wine. They would give him two loaves of bread. You will receive God's provision for your material
c. At Gibeah-Elohim where there is a garrison of Philistines, a band of prophets would be seen coming down from the high place with instruments, prophesying. In the presence of the prophets, Saul would prophesy and be turned into another man. When these things happen, do whatever your hand finds to do for God is with you. The Spirit of God will turn you into a new man.
d. Go to Gilgal. Wait for me seven days and I will offer burnt offerings and peace offerings and tell you what to do next. Wait upon the Lord.
10:9–16 All these signs came to pass that day. The Spirit of God came on Saul mightily and he prophesied. This became the basis of a joke. “Is Saul also among the prophets?”When he got home his uncle asked where he had been and he told them he had seen Samuel, but did not say anything about the kingdom.
10:17–24 Samuel called the people to Mizpah and rebuked them for rejecting God in favor of a king. He had the tribes pass by him and took Benjamin, their families, then Kish, but Saul was not to be found. They found him hiding in the baggage. Standing head and shoulders above the people, Samuel hailed him as king, and all the people shouted "Long Live the King."
10:25–27 Samuel wrote out the rights and duties of kingship in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then he sent the Israelites home. Saul went to his home at Gibeah with some men of valor whose heart God had touched. But some despised him and brought no present. Saul ignored them.
11:l-4 Nahash of Ammon besieged Jabesh-gilead. He offered to enslave the men of Jabesh, rather than kill them, in exchange for their right eyes. They asked seven days to get help and if they could not they would give themselves up.
11:5–11 Saul heard about it coming in from his work at the plow. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily Spirit-filled, and his anger was kindled. He cut up the yoke of oxen and sent the pieces around the territories, saying that such would be done to the ox of whoever did not follow Saul and Samuel. He mustered out 330,000 at Bezek and sent the message of deliverance to Jabesh. Then he went and delivered them.
11:12–15 They wanted to kill the men who had insulted Saul, but he would not have it. So they went to Gilgal to renew the kingdom and they made Saul king there again.
12:1–18 Samuel preached a sermon. His own life was clean before them and God was witness to that. He recited their history, about how God had delivered Israel from Egypt, how they had suffered at the hand of Sisera, and the Philistines, and the Moabites; how God had sent various judges (including Samuel himself) to their rescue. And then when threats like Nahash the Amorite came, they insisted on a king. He warned them and Saul to follow the Lord, lest the hand of the Lord be against them. To confirm his point he called on God to send a thunderstorm in the middle of the wheat harvest.
12:19–24 The people were afraid (and drenched) and asked Sam to pray for them. He finished his sermon. "Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart...."
Comment: The text is at pains to point out that Saul was a superbly endowed natural leader. More than twelve personal qualities are noted, ranging from money, physical stature and good looks, to a humble and thoughtful personality, with political, spiritual and military strength. Coming from Benjamin, a small tribe, he would not be a threat to Ephraim, the northern tribes, or to Judah. He was a great choice. The Spirit of God came upon him twice, once to prophesy and once to be a military commander. He was doing everything right.
Christians all begin well. But not all Christians end well. The point is to end well. "He who endures to the end will be saved." (Matt.10:22)