Afterwards thou dost come unto the hill of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is, and it cometh to pass, at thy coming in thither to the city, that thou hast met a band of prophets coming down from the high place, and before them psaltery, and tabret, and pipe, and harp, and they are prophesying;
1 Samuel 10:5 Additional TranslationsClarke's Commentary on the Bible
The hill of God - The Targum says, "The hill on which the ark of the Lord was. Calmet supposes it to be a height near Gibeah.
The garrison of the Philistines - Probably they kept a watch on the top of this hill, with a company of soldiers to keep the country in check.
A company of prophets - A company of scribes, says the Targum. Probably the scholars of the prophets; for the prophets seem to have been the only accredited teachers, at particular times, in Israel; and at this time there does not appear to have been any other prophet besides Samuel in this quarter. Probably the teacher of this school was not an inspired man, but one acting under the direction of Samuel. Mr. Harmer thinks that the following custom among the Mohammedans greatly illustrates this obscure place: "When the children have gone through the Koran, their relations borrow a fine horse and furniture, and carry them about the town in procession, with the book in their hand, the rest of their companions following, and all sorts of music of the country going before. Dr. Shaw, in p. 195, mentions the same custom; adding the acclamations of their school-fellows, but taking no notice of the music. We have no reason, however, to doubt the fact on account of the doctor's silence; especially as it relates to another part of Barbary, and is given us by those who resided some years in that country. The doctor makes no use of this circumstance relating to the education of youth in Barbary; but the account of the procession above given seems to be a lively comment on that ancient Jewish custom mentioned in these verses. That the word prophet often signifies sons or scholars of the prophets, and that prophesying often implies singing, has been already remarked; but no author that I know of has given any account of the nature of this procession, or its design. We are sometimes told that high places were used for sacrifices; and in one case music, it is certain, played before them when they went up to worship, Isaiah 30:29. But did they not also return from sacrifice with it? We are told that music was used by the prophets to calm and compose them, and to invite the Divine influences; which is indeed very true. But is it to the purpose? Did they go forth in this manner from their college into the noise and interruptions of the world, to call down the prophetic impulse? But if we consider them as a company of the sons of the prophets, going in procession with songs of praise and music playing before them, and recollect that it is usual in this day for young scholars to go in procession with acclamations and music, the whole mystery seems to be unravelled. To which may be added, that Saul was to meet them, and find himself turned into another man; into a man, perhaps, who is instantaneously made as knowing in the law of God as the youth to whom they were doing the above honors, or any of his convoy; which acquaintance with the law of God was very necessary for one who was to judge among his brethren as their king. For this reason the Jewish kings were to write out a copy of the law of God, and read it continually, that they might be perfect masters of it, Deuteronomy 17:18, Deuteronomy 17:20, which accomplishment some youth had gained whom Saul met with, and who was honored with the solemnity the sacred historian speaks of, if the customs of South Barbary may be supposed to be explanatory of those of Judea."
On the word prophet, and the general account given here, I shall introduce the following illustrations from another work: -
"The word prophet generally conveys the idea of a person so far acquainted with futurity as to discern some purpose of the Divine Being relative to his government of the natural and moral world, but which is not sufficiently matured by the economy of Providence to make, as yet, its public appearance among men, and to prophesy is usually understood to imply the foretelling such an event, the time of its appearance, and the place of its operation, with some preceding and subsequent circumstances. But that this was the original and only meaning of the word prophet or prophesy, is very far from being clear. The first place the word occurs in is Genesis 20:7, where the Lord says of Abraham to Abimelech, He is a prophet, (נביא הוא nabi hu), and will pray (ויתפלל veyith-pallel, will make earnest intercession) for thee. In the common acceptation of the word it is certain Abraham was no prophet; but here it seems to signify a man well acquainted with the Supreme Being, capable of teaching others in Divine things, and especially a man of prayer - one who had great influence with the God he worshipped, and whose intercessions were available in the behalf of others. And in this sense the original word נביא nabi is used in several places in the Old Testament.
"It was through inattention to this meaning of the word, which appears to me to be the true, original, and ideal one, that all the commentators and critics that I have met with have been so sadly puzzled with that part of the history of Saul which is related 1 Samuel 10:9-13; 1 Samuel 19:20-24. In these passages the sacred historian represents Saul, who was neither a prophet nor the son of one, associating with the prophets, and prophesying among them, to which he was led by the Spirit of the Lord which came upon him.
"That this can mean no more here than prayer and supplication to God, accompanied probably with edifying hymns of praise and thanksgiving, (for they had instruments of music, 1 Samuel 10:5), needs, in my opinion, little proof. If Saul had prophesied in the common acceptation of the word, it is not likely that we should have been kept absolutely in the dark concerning the subject and design of his predictions, of which, by the way, not one syllable is spoken in the oracles of God. The simple fact seems to have been this: God, who had chosen this man to govern Israel, designed to teach him that the Most High alone is the fountain of power, and that by him only kings could reign so as to execute justice properly, and be his ministers for good to the people. To accomplish this gracious purpose, he gave him another heart (1 Samuel 10:9)-a disposition totally different from what he had ever before possessed, and taught him to pray.
"Coming among the sons of the prophets, on whom the Spirit of the Lord rested, and who were under the instruction of Samuel, (1 Samuel 19:20), while they worshipped God with music and supplication, Saul also was made a partaker of the same Divine influence, and prophesied, i.e., made prayer and supplication among them. To see one who did not belong to the prophetic school thus incorporated with the prophets, pouring out his soul in prayer and supplication, was an unusual sight, which could not pass unnoticed, especially by those of Saul's acquaintance who probably knew him in times past to have been as careless and ungodly as themselves, (for it was only now he got that other good Spirit from God, a sufficient proof that he had it not before). These companions of his, being unacquainted with that grace which can in a moment influence and change the heart, would, according to an invariable custom, express their astonishment with a sneer: Is Saul also among the prophets? That is, in modern language, 'Can this man pray or preach? He whose education has been the same as our own, employed in the same secular offices, and formerly companion with us in what he now affects to call folly and sin? Can such a person be among the prophets?' Yes, for God may have given him a new heart; and the Spirit of God, whose inspiration alone can give sound understanding in sacred things, may have come upon him for this very purpose, that he might announce unto you the righteousness of the Lord, and speak unto your ruined souls to edification, and to exhortation, and to comfort.
"The history of Elijah and the priests of Baal, mentioned in 1 Kings 18:17-40, throws farther light on this subject. In 1 Kings 18:26 it is said, 'They (the priests of Baal) took a bullock and dressed it, and called on the name of Baal, from morning to noon, saying, O Baal, hear us! And they leaped upon the altar, and cried aloud, and cut themselves with knives, till the blood gushed out; and they prophesied (ויתנבאו vaiyithnabbeu, and they made supplication) until the time of the evening sacrifice.' From the whole context it is plain that earnest, importunate prayer, is alone what is meant by prophesying in this text. See also 1 Corinthians 14:3 (note).
"And as all the prophets of God, whose principal business it was to instruct the people in the way of righteousness, were men of prayer, who were continually interceding with God in behalf of those to whom they ministered, the term נביא nabi became their proper appellative; and thus a part of their office, intercessors for the people, might have given rise to that name by which the Spirit of God thought proper in after times to distinguish those whom he sent, not only to pray for and instruct the people, but also to predict those future events which concerned the punishment of the incorrigible and the comfort and exaltation of his own servants." See a sermon which I have printed on 1 Corinthians 14:3, entitled, "The Christian Prophet and his Work;" and see the note on Genesis 20:7.
A psaltery - נבל nebel. As the word signifies in other places a bottle or flagon, it was probably something like the utricularia tibia or Bag-Pipe. It often occurs both with the Greeks and Romans, and was evidently borrowed from the Hebrews.
A tabret - תף toph; a sort of drum or cymbal.
A pipe - חליל chalil, from חל chal, to make a hole or opening; a sort of pipe, flute, hautboy, clarionet, or the like.
A harp - כנור kinnor; a stringed instrument similar to our harp, or that on the model of which a harp was formed. On these different instruments I shall have occasion to speak more at large when I come to the Psalms.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
hill of God
1 Samuel 10:10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came on him...
1 Samuel 13:3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it...
1 Samuel 19:20 And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying...
2 Kings 2:3,5,15 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said to him...
2 Kings 4:38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him...
2 Kings 6:1 And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with you is too strait for us.
Exodus 15:20,21 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand...
2 Kings 3:15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came on him.
1 Chronicles 13:8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries...
1 Chronicles 15:19-21,27,28 So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass...
1 Chronicles 16:5,42 Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab...
1 Chronicles 25:1-6 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun...
2 Chronicles 29:25-27 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David...
Psalm 49:4 I will incline my ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying on the harp.
Psalm 150:3-6 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp...
1 Samuel 10:5 Parallel CommentariesBand City Company Harp High Hill Meet Philistines Pipe Prophesy Prophesying Prophets Psaltery Tabret Tambourine Thither TimbrelBand City Company Harp High Hill Meet Philistines Pipe Prophesy Prophesying Prophets Psaltery Tabret Tambourine Thither TimbrelTHE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.
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