I Samuel 9:1-24 Saul Chosen To Be King.

I Samuel 9:1-24 Saul Chosen To Be King.

When looking for a leader, people often get stuck on a person’s appearance. Saul was the son of a powerful warrior, tall and handsome (vv. 1-2). At this point the only thing we know that his father asked him to do was to find some missing donkeys (v. 3). Saul was ready to give up looking, but his servant seemed to think that Samuel, the man of God or prophet, might be able and willing to help them (vv. 4-6). One should note, that just as it was said of Samuel early on that none of his words would fall to the ground (3:19), even so the servant says of him that “all he says surely comes to pass.” We are told that a prophet had always been thought if as one who could see where others could not (v. 9). However, both Saul and his servant also seemed to think that they needed to buy his services (vv. 7-10).*

They inquire of a young woman going to draw water where the Seer might be, and we learn that he is indeed present (v. 11), also because he held a priestly function, because there was a sacrifice of the people that day on a high place (v. 12).** The Seer “must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat” (v. 13). Even before they met (v. 14), we read that the LORD had told Samuel about this visit the day before (v. 15), and that he would anoint Saul as commander over his people (v. 16). It is no coincidence that they met at the gate, the place where judgment took place, and decisions were made on civil rule. Saul and his servant would find the Seer Samuel, who would be among those whom he would invite to eat with him on the high place (vv. 17-19 Cf. v. 13).

The lesser matter of the lost donkeys was also cleared up, as they, much like the milking cows who carried the ark to Beth Shemesh, led the way to the place the LORD desired (v. 20a). Samuel indeed acknowledged, as the LORD had told him, that in Saul and his house was “the desire of Israel” (v. 20b). It is no coincidence that Saul mentions that he was a Benjamite, “of the smallest of the tribes of Israel,” and his “family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin” (v. 21). In other words, why was this Seer saying things to him who was the least of the least. Later on Samuel will remind Saul that when he was little in his own eyes, the LORD made him “head of the tribes of Israel,” and anointed him “king over Israel.” (15:17). His family was indeed of the smallest tribe (Ju. 20:46-48).

Despite such a history, one which Saul seemed to humbly acknowledge, Samuel “took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons” (v. 22). “The special treatment given Saul illustrates not only his newly elevated status but also Samuel’s divinely enabled anticipation of his arrival (vv. 15, 16).” (NGSB. 390) It should also not go unnoticed that Samuel had set apart from the sacrifice, the thigh (vv. 23-24). Samuel was feeding Saul from the part that was given to him as the priest (Cf. Lev. 7:32-33). Might this have also indicated the end of Samuel’s Nazarite vow, as he ultimately was transferring civil leadership to Israel’s new soon to be anointed king (Cf. Nu. 6:20)?

*“Josephus (Antiquities 6.4.1) interprets Saul’s words as a sign that he was ignorant that a true prophet would accept no reward. Israel’s writing prophets express disdain for those who prophesy for money (Mic. 3:5, 11), although there are various references to goods being offered in return for prophetic favors (e.g., I Kin. 14:3; 2 Kin. 4:42; 8:8). In two instances payment is explicitly refused (1 Kin. 13:7-9; 2 Kin. 5:15, 16), and in one instance where goods are accepted, the payment does not benefit the prophet personally but is distributed among the people (2 Kin. 4:42).” (NGSB. 389)

**“Although it was recognized that such high places (often sites of Canaanite worship) posed a clear danger to the purity of Israelite worship (e.g., Lev. 26:30; Num. 33:52; Deut. 12:2, 3; Jer. 2:20), it is apparent from passages such as this that worship of Yahweh was sometimes conducted there, especially during the early monarchy (10:5; 1 Kin. 3:2-4). Such worship may have been made necessary by the loss of the sanctuary at Shiloh. After the division of the kingdom, worship at “high places” was a serious problem both in the north (1 Kin. 12:31, 32; 13:32-34) and in the south (1 Kin. 14:22-24). Removal of the “high places” was a major goal of reform movements under southern kings like Hezekiah (2 Kin. 18:4) and Josiah (2 Kin. 23:5).” (NGSB. 389)

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