1 Sam 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?
The anointing with oil symbolises a setting apart of God’s choice of king. ‘Anointing was a well-known ritual in the Ancient Near East, although outside Israel it was not usual to anoint kings. In Egypt, the king was not anointed, but his vassals were. If the same concept was familiar in Israel, it may well suggest that the anointing made Saul the vassal-king under Yahweh, who was the great king.’ (NBD)
‘These sacred unctions, then used, pointed at the great Messiah, or anointed one, the king of the church, and high priest of our profession, who was anointed with the oil of the Spirit, not by measure, but without measure, and above all the priests and princes of the Jewish church.’ (MHC)
The term used for leader evidently denotes ‘one designated to rule’; a prince.
The Lord’s inheritance usually refers to the land of Canaan, but here stands for his people Israel, as in 1 Sam 9:16; 2 Sam 20:19; 1 Kings 8:53; 2 Kings 21:14; Isa 19:25. They belong to the Lord, not to the king.
1 Sam 10:2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”‘
Kingship was new in Israel, and there are indications that Saul himself had his doubts about it. Three confirmatory signs are given to him.
Here is the first of the signs: that he will meet two men who will assure him that his father’s asses have been found. This sign will assure him that he can put the past behind him; that his responsibilities as a farmer are over.
Rachel’s tomb – situated between Bethel and Bethlehem, Gen 35:16-21.
Zelzah – According to NBD, the village Beit Jala between Bethel and Bethlehem, to the W, may well be the location.
1 Sam 10:3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine.
The second sign is that at a certain place they will be met by three travellers on their way to the shrine at Bethel. This sign would assure him of his status as king, for the loaves of bread destined for the shrine at Bethel would not have been given away lightly, but only to someone of high status.
The great tree of Tabor – Evidently a well-known landmark.
1 Sam 10:4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.
By being offered and by accepting the bread, part of the sacrificial offering, Saul is reminded that he is anointed by God, though not a priest. Moreover, his physical needs are thus being met.
1 Sam 10:5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying.
The third sign concerns the empowerment of Saul through the ministry of a group of prophets. Its purpose is to assure him that he will be equipped for his leadership role.
Gibeah of God translates Gibeathelohim, ‘hill of God’, and may indicate Gibeah, Saul’s home city.
A Philistine outpost – It is indictive of Israel’s weakness that even in Saul’s home city there was such an outpost. A major task for Saul woud be to deliver God’s people from the Philistines.
Schools or guilds of prophets were associated with Samuel, 1 Sam 19:20, and with Elisha, 2 Kings 2; 2 Kings 6:1; 2 Kings 9:1.
1 Sam 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.
‘The activity of the Spirit with Samson is expressed in identical terms (Judg. 14:6, 19; Judg. 15:14). Whereas the Spirit was ultimately withdrawn from Saul (cf. 1 Sam 16:14; 1 Sam 18:10), Davids endowment with the Spirit was permanent (1 Sam 16:13). Frequently in the Old Testament the bestowal of the Spirit is an empowerment by God of an individual for a particular task. Conversely, God can send a lying spirit (1 Kings 22:23) or an evil (“distressing”) spirit (1 Sam 16:1416, 23; 1 Sam 18:10; 1 Sam 19:9; Judg. 9:23).’ (New Geneva)
Saul would be transformed by the empowering Spirit of God.
1 Sam 10:7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
The three signs would indicate that God was with Saul. He, however, must act in obedience to the Lord.
1 Sam 10:8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”
Gilgal – This was near Jericho, in the Territory of Benjamin. There was an important shrine there.
1 Sam 10:9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.
Lit. ‘God turned to him’.
All three signs were fulfilled, although only one is related.
1 Sam 10:10 When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.
1 Sam 10:11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Saul was evidently well known here, supporting the suggestion that the place is indeed to be identified as Gibeah, his own city.
“Is Saul also among the prophets?” – or, ‘Is even Saul among the prophets?’ This became a saying for some highly incongruous or improbable, v12.
1 Sam 10:12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
1 Sam 10:13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.
This was the high place near his home, and mentioned in v5.
1 Sam 10:14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?” “Looking for the donkeys,” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”
1 Sam 10:15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”
1 Sam 10:16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.
This reluctance of Saul is consistent with what we read in v21f. Was this a sign of true humility or false?
1 Sam 10:17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah
Mizpah seems to have functioned as the capital city at this time. Cf. 1 Sam 7:15-16.
1 Sam 10:18 and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’
These words are reminiscent of the opening words of the Ten Commandments, Ex 20:2; Deut 5:6.
1 Sam 10:19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”
1 Sam 10:20 When Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen.
Chosen probably by casting lots.
1 Sam 10:21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found.
1 Sam 10:22 So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”
Saul is singled out even though not actually present. Cf. 1 Sam 16:11. In Saul’s case, it was probably reluctance that caused him to hide.
‘We may suppose he was at this time really averse to take upon him the government, (1.) Because he was conscious to himself of unfitness for so great a trust. He had not been bred up to books, or arms, or courts, and feared he should be guilty of some fatal blunder. (2.) Because it would expose him to the envy of his neighbours that were ill-affected towards him. (3.) Because he understood, by what Samuel had said, that the people sinned in asking a king, and it was in anger that God granted their request. (4.) Because the affairs of Israel were at this time in a bad posture; the Philistines were strong, the Ammonites threatening: and he must be bold indeed that will set sail in a storm.’ (MHC)
1 Sam 10:23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others.
1 Sam 10:24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
1 Sam 10:25 Samuel explained to the people the regulations of the kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the LORD. Then Samuel dismissed the people, each to his own home.
The regulations of the kingship are both the rights and the responsibilities. See Deut 17:14-20.
So, despite the challenge to the covenant, v19, Saul’s acceptance by God was confirmed in a ceremony which was designed to draw the kingship into the existing covenantal scheme of things.
1 Sam 10:26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched.
Gibeah was, of course, Saul’s home town. Since there can have been no central
1 Sam 10:27 But some troublemakers said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.
The troublemakers are doubting the Lord’s selection process. They are of the same mind as the mocker in v12.