1 Samuel 11:5
And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What ails the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
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(5) And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field.—Saul was still busied with his old pursuits. At first this would seem strange, but it must be remembered that the regal authority was something quite new in republican Israel, and that the new king’s duties and privileges at first were vague, and but little understood; besides which, jealousies, such as have already been noticed (1Samuel 10:27), no doubt induced Saul and his advisers to keep the royalty in the background till some opportunity for bringing it to the front should present itself. It is, therefore, quite to be understood that the newly-elected king should be spending at least a portion of his time in pursuits which hitherto had occupied his whole life. He was not the first hero summoned from agricultural labours to assume, in a national emergency, the command of an army. Gideon, we read, was called from the threshing-floor to do his great deeds; and to quote from profane history, one of the noblest of the sons of Rome, like Saul, was ploughing when the Senate fetched him to be the dictator and the general of their armies; and to the plough we know that that great man returned when his work was successfully accomplished and his country saved.

11:1-11 The first fruit of Saul's government was the rescue of Jabesh-gilead from the Ammonites. To save their lives, men will part with liberty, and even consent to have their eyes put out; is it then no wisdom to part with that sin which is as dear to us as our right eye, rather than to be cast into hell-fire? See the faith and confidence of Saul, and, grounded thereon, his courage and resolution. See also his activity in this business. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon men, it will make them expert, even without experience. When zeal for the glory of God, and love for the brethren, urge men to earnest efforts, and when God is pleased to help, great effects may speedily be produced.They came to Gibeah on account of the connection between the Benjamites and the people of Jabesh Judges 21.

In the ears of the people - They did not even inquire for Saul, so little was he looked upon as king. 1 Samuel 11:5 shows how completely he was still in a private and humble station.

1Sa 11:5-11. They Send to Saul, and Are Delivered. Saul came after the herd out of the field; for being only anointed king, and not publicly inaugurated, nor owned, nor presented by the generality of the people, nor having yet had opportunity of doing any thing worthy of his place, he thought fit to forbear all royal state, and to retire to his former private and country life, which, howsoever despised in these latter, vain, ambitious, and slothful ages of the world, was anciently in great esteem among the Greeks and Romans, whose princes and generals did frequently exercise themselves in it; though some conceive that he now lived in some state, and that he had been in the fields only to recreate himself, and that his coming after the herd was but accidental, and is mentioned only to usher in what follows of the yoke of oxen. And, behold, Saul came after the herd out the field,.... Where he had been to look after the and take care of them, and see what condition they were in, and followed them on their return home; for though he was elected king, he was not inaugurated, and did not take upon him any state; and being despised by some, and no provision as yet made for his support and maintenance as a king, and no business as such for him to do, Samuel still acting in his office, he returned to his father's house, and employed himself in rustic affairs, as he used to do: though some think this was casual, that he had been in the field to recreate himself, or to meditate on the affairs of government, and happened to return just as the herd came out of the field, and so followed them; thus Jarchi interprets it not of his coming after the herd, but of his coming after the fixed and usual time of the herd's coming out of the field; but Josephus (r) is clear for it, that he had been about some rustic business, some part of husbandry in the field, and returned to the city; nor has it been unusual for emperors and kings, and persons in high offices among Greeks and Romans, and other nations, in times of peace, to employ themselves in husbandry; so did the judges of Israel, as Shamgar, and Gideon, and Boaz, Judges 3:31 so Quinctius Cincinnatus being taken from the plough and made dictator, after he had conquered his enemies, returned to his husbandry (s):

and Saul said, what aileth the people, that they weep? he supposed some evil had befallen them, and desired to know what it was, that, if it lay in his power to help them, he might:

and they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh; the message they brought, and the account they gave of the distressed case of their city.

(r) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 5.) sect. 2.((s) Flor. Hist. Roman. l. 1. c. 11. Aurel. Victor. de Vir. Illustr. c. 20. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 11.

And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
5. after the herd] After the oxen, as in 1 Samuel 11:7. The king elect had returned to his farm work till occasion should call him to higher duties. So Cincinnatus was following the plough, when the messengers of the senate came to offer him the dictatorship (Livy III. 26).Saul also returned to his house at Gibeah, and there went with him the crowd of the men whose hearts God had touched, sc., to give him a royal escort, and show their readiness to serve him. החיל is not to be altered into החיל בּני, according to the free rendering of the lxx, but is used as in Exodus 14:28; with this difference, however, that here it does not signify a large military force, but a crowd of brave men, who formed Saul's escort of honour.
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