And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)What is this?—The natural expression of extreme surprise at the sudden change which had come over one so well known at Gibeah as Saul evidently was, shows us that this was his home. The words, “What is this that is come unto the son of Kish?” seem to tell us that the life hitherto led by Saul was a life very different in all respects to the life led by the sons of the prophets in their schools. It need not be assumed that the youth and early manhood of the future king had been wild and dissolute, but simply that the way of life had been rough and uncultured—a life spent in what we should call “country pursuits,” in contradistinction to the pursuit of knowledge and of higher acquirements. It is evident from the statement here and in the following verse that a considerable respect for these schools had already grown up among the people.
Is Saul also among the prophets?—In 1Samuel 19:23 we again find Saul, but under changed circumstances, under the influence of a Divine and coercing power, and uttering strange words, and singing hymns as one trained in the prophets’ schools. It was probably this recurrence of the same incident in the king’s life which gave rise to the saying, or proverb, which expresses amazement at the unexpected appearance of any man in a position which had hitherto been quite strange to him. “Is Saul among the preachers of Christ? Was a question of wonder asked by the friends of St. Paul” (Galatians 1:23).—Wordsworth.1 Samuel 10:11. Is Saul also among the prophets? — A man never instructed, nor exercised in, nor inclined to these matters. It begat wonder in all those who knew his education, that he should, on a sudden, be inspired as those were, who were bred up in the school of the prophets. For, though it was in the power of God alone to bestow the gift of prophecy upon men, yet it would seem that commonly he endowed none with it, but such as were trained up in those studies which might dispose them for it.What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? what means this strange and prodigious event? Saul; a man never instructed nor exercised in nor inclined to these matters; a man ever thought fitter to look to his father’s asses, than to bear a part in the sacred exercises of the prophets.
saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets; or praised among them, as the Targum, sung psalms and hymns with them:
what is this that is come unto the son of Kish? a rustic, a plebeian, that never was in the school of the prophets, or learned music, and yet is as dexterous at it as any of them:
is Saul also among the prophets? an husbandman, an herdsman that looked after his father's farms, fields, and cattle, and now among the prophets of the Lord, bearing his part with them, and performing it as well as any of them: this was matter of wonder to those who knew his person, family, and education; and so it was equally matter of admiration that Saul the persecutor, one of the same tribe, should be among the preachers of the Gospel, Acts 9:20.And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. all that knew him beforetime] An indication that Gibeah was Saul’s home. Cp. 1 Samuel 10:14; 1 Samuel 10:26.
11, 12. Saul’s neighbours were astonished that the son of Kish, the plain citizen, undistinguished save by his stalwart form and handsome countenance, should suddenly appear as a prophet in the midst of the trained recipients of divine inspiration. But one of their fellow-townsmen reproved them by asking. But who is their father? Was the parentage of these prophets such as to lead us to expect them to be thus specially gifted? The prophetic inspiration comes from God, and may therefore be bestowed even upon the son of Kish. See Amos 7:14-15. Compare the astonishment of the people of Capernaum at the words and works of Christ (Matthew 13:54-57).1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Samuel 10:6) Saul was to receive at Gibeah of God, where posts of the Philistines were stationed. Gibeath ha-Elohim is not an appellative, signifying a high place of God, i.e., a high place dedicated to God, but a proper name referring to Gibeah of Benjamin, the native place of Saul, which was called Gibeah of Saul from the time when Saul resided there as king (1 Samuel 10:16 : cf. 1 Samuel 11:4; 1 Samuel 15:34; 2 Samuel 21:6; Isaiah 10:29). This is very apparent from the fact that, according to 1 Samuel 10:10., all the people of Gibeah had known Saul of old, and therefore could not comprehend how he had all at once come to be among the prophets. The name Gibeah of God is here given to the town on account of a bamah or sacrificial height which rose within or near the town (1 Samuel 10:13), and which may possibly have been renowned above other such heights, as the seat of a society of prophets. פלשׁתּים נצבי are not bailiffs of the Philistines, still less columns erected as signs of their supremacy (Thenius), but military posts of the Philistines, as 1 Samuel 13:3-4, and 2 Samuel 8:6, 2 Samuel 8:14, clearly show. The allusion here to the posts of the Philistines at Gibeah is connected with what was about to happen to Saul there. At the place where the Philistines, those severe oppressors of Israel, had set up military posts, the Spirit of God was to come upon Saul, and endow him with the divine power that was required for his regal office. "And it shall come to pass, when thou comest to the town there, thou wilt light upon a company of prophets coming down from the high place (bamah, the sacrificial height), before them lyre and tambourin, and flute, and harp, and they prophesying." חבל signifies a rope or cord, then a band or company of men. It does not follow that because this band of prophets was coming down from the high place, the high place at Gibeah must have been the seat of a school of the prophets. They might have been upon a pilgrimage to Gibeah. The fact that they were preceded by musicians playing, seems to indicate a festal procession. Nebel and Kinnor are stringed instruments which were used after David's time in connection with the psalmody of divine worship (1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:20; Psalm 33:2; Psalm 43:4, etc.). The nebel was an instrument resembling a lyre, the kinnor was more like a guitar than a harp. Toph: the tambourin, which was played by Miriam at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20). Chalil: the flute; see my Bibl. Archaeology, ii. 137. By the prophesying of these prophets we are to understand an ecstatic utterance of religious feelings to the praise of God, as in the case of the seventy elders in the time of Moses (Numbers 11:25). Whether it took the form of a song or of an enthusiastic discourse, cannot be determined; in any case it was connected with a very energetic action indicative of the highest state of mental excitement. (For further remarks on these societies of prophets, see at 1 Samuel 19:18.)
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