James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.1 Samuel 9:1-10:16
SEEKING ASSES AND FINDING A KINGDOM
The drama in this chapter and the next disposes itself into five scenes: We have first the country lad seeking his father’s asses (1 Samuel 9:3-5). Like the cattle on our western plains they were allowed to roam at will during the grazing season and were brought home at its close.
Secondly, there is the meeting with the prophet (1 Samuel 9:6-21). That he should have been consulted on so trifling a matter, and that it should have been thought proper to offer him so insignificant a present as “the fourth part of a shekel of silver,” perhaps fifteen cents of our money, seems strange to us; but probably we appreciate Samuel’s greatness better than his contemporaries. Moreover eastern ideas are different from ours. It was probably the peace offering that was to be presented on this occasion, which under special circumstances seems to have been permitted at a distance from the sanctuary.
“Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before” (1 Samuel 9:15). How intimate this expression! In Psalms 103 it is written that God “made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel,” and here He is honoring Samuel in the same way. His acts are what men see, His ways are the reason and foreknowledge of them, and to them that fear Him such secrets are still given (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
Samuel’s words to Saul in 1 Samuel 9:20 are “a covered and indirect promise of the royal dignity that awaited him.”
Thirdly, the introduction to the people (1 Samuel 9:22-24). The things here recorded were intended to show honor to the young man, and in so far prepare the people to receive him as king. For example, his being received into the apartment assigned to the special guests, and given a high seat among them (1 Samuel 9:22); and his being offered the choicest portion of the feast (1 Samuel 9:24). The words “that which is left” should be rendered “that which is reserved.”
Fourthly, the communion on the housetop (1 Samuel 9:25-26). Oriental houses being low and flat-roofed, the roof offered the most desirable place for quiet conversation and rest in the cool of the day. Here the prophet instructed Saul in the way of the kingdom, pointing out to him, perhaps, the religious decline of the people, and the need of a leader obedient to God.
Fifthly, the anointing with oil (1 Samuel 9:27 to 1 Samuel 10:1), which was the ancient ceremony of investing with the royal office. This was followed by predictions of what
should be met by Saul on the way home, which, as they came to pass, by testifying to Samuel’s authority as a prophet, would confirm Saul’s reliance upon what he had declared concerning himself.
1. Have you looked up the location of Kirjath-jearim?
2. What does “Ashtaroth” stand for?
3. In what sense was Samuel a “circuit” judge, and what institution may have grown out of that fact?
4. How would you expound Psalm 103:7?
5. In what manner does Samuel distinguish Saul at this feast?
6. What was the significance of the anointing with oil?
7. How was Samuel’s authority certified to Saul?