A Trivial Incident the Herald of a Momentous Future
1 Samuel 9:8
And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver…

In the second verse we find the first mention of a great man. Some names are not worthy to receive the honour of historical immortality. Seeing that they represent injury and injustice, it is better that they should fade into unknown oblivion than stand as the patrons of evil and stimulus to crime for succeeding generations.

1. Saul is introduced in connection with his ancestry. We are informed of his nationality and parentage. If we thought more of our homes and ancestors, national life would be swept of the political and filled with the domestic. How apt are young men in times of advancement to forget their "poor relations." But it sometimes happens that God fastens a young man to his father's home by recording him in connection with his ancestry.

2. Saul is introduced in connection with the meaner duties of life. See the simplicity and mystery of the divine plan!

3. The light which this incident throws upon Saul's domestic character:(1) Saul was an obedient son.

(2) Saul was a persevering and patient son Yet he continued the search along the plain, mile after mile, uselessly.

(3) Saul wag a considerate son. (ver. 5.) Thus he feared lest their absence should be of more grief to his parent than the loss of the animals. If every young man had such tender regard for the feelings of his father, how many homes would be cheered end how many hearts solaced!

(4) Saul was somewhat indebted to the social condition of the times for his elevation. The nation was in a state of unrest, the people were impatient; their request for a king had been communicated to Samuel, and they were anxiously awaiting the result. Yet, while the political state of the nation exercised a power in drawing Saul to kingship, it was only in a subsidiary sense. People, and especially jealous folk, are never tired of attributing the greatness and position of certain individuals to the "call of the times." True, the times do influence men, as if no king had been wanted Saul could not have been made one. The vacancy was occasioned by the unhappy combination of the times, but Saul was not so made to fill it. "The times call forth! Alas, we have known times call loudly enough for their great man, but not find him when they called! He was not there; Providence had not sent him; the time, calling its loudest, had to go down to confusion and wreck because he would not come when called." "But I liken common languid times with their embarrassed circumstances, impotently crumbling down into ever worse distress towards final ruin: — all this I liken to dry, dead fuel, waiting for the lightning out of heaven that shall kindle it. The great man, with his free force direct out of God's own hand, is the lightning. All blazes round him now, when he has once struck on it, into fire like his own. The dry, mouldering sticks are thought to have called him forth. They did want him greatly; but, as to calling him forth! These are critics of smaller vision, I think, who cry, 'See, is it not the sticks that made the fire?'"* *(Thomas Carlyle). See in this narrative: —

I. THE MYSTERIOUS POWERS WHICH GUIDE OUR LIVES. These forces are two-fold: the minor or secondary influences which touch us.

1. Events. Life is so mysterious to us because we only see one side of it. Like those beautiful laurel designs which decorate the church — behind there are ugly ends of stick, there is no design, but deepest confusion: but in front there are words of hope composed of leaves and flowers. So here we only see the behind of life; in heaven we shall behold its twofold aspect, and be thrilled by its harmony rather than awed by its mystery. The mysterious event which had such an influence in shaping the future of Saul was(1) trivial. It was simply the loss of some asses. So we little know how potently the small events of everyday life touch our souls.

(2) Casual. It was quite a casual thing for Samuel to go in search of lost property. God takes hold of all the casualties of life, and makes them work the purposes of His will.

(3) At critical junctures. How the Divine Being links the separate events of life. He joined the loss of asses to Israel's desire for a king, and made the one subservient to the other. Not only are events among the minor forces which shape our lives, but also: —

2. Persons. "And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God" (ver. 6). This shows that we are influenced(1) by persons of inferior rank. We little know the shaping power which even servants exercise upon us.

(2) Unconsciously. The servant little knew that in leading Saul to Samuel he was conducting him to kingship.

2. The primary or Supreme influences which shape our lives. God is the Supreme power of life.

(1) Their influence upon prophetic life. God told Samuel the person who was to be king (ver. 15) the time he would appear (ver. 15) the purpose he had in view (ver. 16)(2) Their influence upon unfolding life. A marvellous coincidence (ver. 18, 19); a mysterious assurance (ver. 20); a consoling statement (ver. 20).


1. Spiritual in their nature. They lead to the prophet.

2. Social in their bearing. Lead to kingships.

(1)  Predilection (ver. 19);

(2)  Modest credulity (ver. 21);

(2)  A typical preferment (ver. 22)

3. Samuel's communications to Saul.

(1)  Many unrecorded;

(2)  Privately received (ver. 27).Lessons: —

1. If God wants a king he knows where to get him.

2. That obedient sons are likely to be Divinely honoured.

3. The mysterious power of human association.

4. The Divine casuistry of everyday life.

5. The harmonious working of Divine Providence.

6. The relationship of human governments to the Divine.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.

WEB: The servant answered Saul again, and said, "Behold, I have in my hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way."

Saul Brought to Samuel
Top of Page
Top of Page