Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
1Sa 10:1-27. Samuel Anoints Saul, and Confirms Him by the Prediction of Three Signs.
1. Then Samuel took a vial of oil—This was the ancient (Jud 9:8) ceremony of investiture with the royal office among the Hebrews and other Eastern nations. But there were two unctions to the kingly office; the one in private, by a prophet (1Sa 16:13), which was meant to be only a prophetic intimation of the person attaining that high dignity—the more public and formal inauguration (2Sa 2:4; 5:3) was performed by the high priest, and perhaps with the holy oil, but that is not certain. The first of a dynasty was thus anointed, but not his heirs, unless the succession was disputed (1Ki 1:39; 2Ki 11:12; 23:30; 2Ch 23:11).
kissed him—This salutation, as explained by the words that accompanied it, was an act of respectful homage, a token of congratulation to the new king (Ps 2:12).
When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
2. When thou art departed from me to-day—The design of these specific predictions of what should be met with on the way, and the number and minuteness of which would arrest attention, was to confirm Saul's reliance on the prophetic character of Samuel, and lead him to give full credence to what had been revealed to him as the word of God.
Rachel's sepulchre—near Beth-lehem (see on Ge 35:16).
Zelzah—or Zelah, now Bet-jalah, in the neighborhood of that town.
Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
3. the plain—or, "the oak of Tabor," not the celebrated mount, for that was far distant.
three men going up to God to Beth-el—apparently to offer sacrifices there at a time when the ark and the tabernacle were not in a settled abode, and God had not yet declared the permanent place which He should choose. The kids were for sacrifice, the loaves for the offering, and the wine for the libations.
And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
5. the hill of God—probably Geba (1Sa 13:3), so called from a school of the prophets being established there. The company of prophets were, doubtless, the pupils at this seminary, which had probably been instituted by Samuel, and in which the chief branches of education taught were a knowledge of the law, and of psalmody with instrumental music, which is called "prophesying" (here and in 1Ch 25:1, 7).
And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
6. the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee—literally, "rush upon thee," suddenly endowing thee with a capacity and disposition to act in a manner far superior to thy previous character and habits; and instead of the simplicity, ignorance, and sheepishness of a peasant, thou wilt display an energy, wisdom, and magnanimity worthy of a prince.
And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.
8. thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal—This, according to Josephus, was to be a standing rule for the observance of Saul while the prophet and he lived; that in every great crisis, such as a hostile incursion on the country, he should repair to Gilgal, where he was to remain seven days, to afford time for the tribes on both sides Jordan to assemble, and Samuel to reach it.
And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
9-11. when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart—Influenced by the words of Samuel, as well as by the accomplishment of these signs, Saul's reluctance to undertake the onerous office was overcome. The fulfilment of the two first signs [1Sa 10:7, 8] is passed over, but the third is specially described. The spectacle of a man, though more fit to look after his father's cattle than to take part in the sacred exercises of the young prophets—a man without any previous instruction, or any known taste, entering with ardor into the spirit, and skilfully accompanying the melodies of the sacred band, was so extraordinary a phenomenon, that it gave rise to the proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (see 1Sa 19:24). The prophetic spirit had come upon him; and to Saul it was as personal and experimental an evidence of the truth of God's word that had been spoken to him, as converts to Christianity have in themselves from the sanctifying power of the Gospel.
And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
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?
And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
12. But who is their father?—The Septuagint reads, "Who is his father?" referring to Saul the son of Kish.
And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.
And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
And Saul's uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.
And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;
17-25. Samuel called the people together … at Mizpeh—a shaft-like hill near Hebron, five hundred feet in height. The national assemblies of the Israelites were held there. A day having been appointed for the election of a king, Samuel, after having charged the people with a rejection of God's institution and a superseding of it by one of their own, proceeded to the nomination of the new monarch. As it was of the utmost importance that the appointment should be under the divine direction and control, the determination was made by the miraculous lot, tribes, families, and individuals being successively passed until Saul was found. His concealment of himself must have been the result either of innate modesty, or a sudden nervous excitement under the circumstances. When dragged into view, he was seen to possess all those corporeal advantages which a rude people desiderate in their sovereigns; and the exhibition of which gained for the prince the favorable opinion of Samuel also. In the midst of the national enthusiasm, however, the prophet's deep piety and genuine patriotism took care to explain "the manner of the kingdom," that is, the royal rights and privileges, together with the limitations to which they were to be subjected; and in order that the constitution might be ratified with all due solemnity, the charter of this constitutional monarchy was recorded and laid up "before the Lord," that is, deposited in the custody of the priests, along with the most sacred archives of the nation.
And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.
And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
26. And Saul also went home to Gibeah—near Geba. This was his place of residence (see Jud 20:20), about five miles north of Jerusalem.
there went … a band of men, whose hearts God had touched—who feared God and regarded allegiance to their king as a conscientious duty. They are opposed to "the children of Belial."
But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
27. the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents—In Eastern countries, the honor of the sovereign and the splendor of the royal household are upheld, not by a fixed rate of taxation, but by presents brought at certain seasons by officials, and men of wealth, from all parts of the kingdom, according to the means of the individual, and of a customary registered value. Such was the tribute which Saul's opponents withheld, and for want of which he was unable to set up a kingly establishment for a while. But "biding his time," he bore the insult with a prudence and magnanimity which were of great use in the beginning of his government.