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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

1 Samuel 9

Verses 1-10

First Samuel - Chapter 9

Saul Seeking Asses, vs. 1-10

The Lord is about to introduce to Israel a man like they desired to be their king. He came from a family in the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest of the tribes, because of their near decimation in the civil war of the early years of the judges (Judges, chap. 19-21). The opening verse of this chapter introduces the father, Kish, and traces his lineage back to an ancestor named Aphiah. In the various accounts of Saul’s ancestors and Benjamin’s descendants it is hard to identify Aphiah. It appears that some of Benjamin’s descendants had variable names. Perhaps Aphiah may be identified with Ahio, the grandson of Benjamin (see 1 Chronicles 8:4; 1 Chronicles 8:31).

Saul is described as a choice young man. "Goodly" indicates a handsome physique. He was head and shoulders taller than the average man of Israel. In short, he was the kind of man the elders had requested Samuel to make king over Israel. A tall, handsome man like Saul, from a renowned family in the tribe of Benjamin, would give them something to boast about among themselves. He would look fine at the head of their armies when they went into battle, as they desired.

Lost asses were the occasion the Lord used to get Saul introduced to Israel. His father sent Saul and a servant searching for the asses, and they traveled over a wide area of the country in a fruitless quest. Their trek took them throughout Ephraim, through Shalisha, which was across the mountains to the west in the Mediterranean slope. From here they proceeded to Shalim, which is thought to have been in the tribe of Manasseh. Then they traveled through the tribe of Benjamin, arriving at last in the region of Zuph, the home district of Samuel. While the town to which they came is not named it was obviously Ramah, for it was the home of Samuel.

Saul was ready to give up, fearing his father’s anxiety for their welfare. The servant, being aware of the presence of. Samuel in the city where they were, suggested they take their quandary to the prophet and ask him to tell them where the asses were. Saul protested that they had nothing for a present to the man of God. But the servant had a quarter­shekel of silver (about 19¢) which he offered to give the man of God. So it was decided to inquire of him.

Here it is explained that the prophet in those early times was called a seer. There are two Hebrew words translated "seer" in the English, both of which literally mean, "one who sees." It seems that one of them in later usage was generally translated "prophet" and the other "seer." Samuel made the office of the prophet a permanent thing in Israel, and established the first school of the prophets (see 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:18-20).

Verses 11-22

Saul Meets Samuel, vs. 11-22

The city to which Saul and his servant had come to was situated on a hill, and the well from which it secured its water was outside the walls. As the men proceeded toward the city they met young girls going out to the well to get water, of whom they inquired concerning the seer. They were informed that the seer had arrived that day in the city and was about to conduct a sacrificial feast in the high place. If they would hasten they would find the seer going up to the high place at that very time. The people were there gathered waiting for him to come so they could eat, for the seer must first bless the sacrifice.

As Saul and his servant reached the gate of the city Samuel came meeting them. Not recognizing him, Saul inquired of him where to find the seer. Samuel told him that he was the seer, then told him a lot more than he was expecting. Saul was to go with him up to the high place and eat of the sacrifice that day, and on the next day Samuel would let him go and reveal to him all the things that were in his heart.

The Lord had already informed Samuel of the coming of Saul, even to the time of his arrival (versus 15-17), and had told him that he was the man to be anointed as king over Israel. Samuel was informed that Saul should deliver the people out of the hands of the Philistines, for once again they were under pressure from these pagan people. The Lord had heard their cry and would use Saul to deliver them. Now, when Samuel sees Saul coming to him, the Lord tells him that this is the man He is sending to him to be anointed.

In Samuel’s words to Saul is the first intimation that Saul had knowledge that many of the people of Israel wanted him to be their king. Samuel told Saul to cease being concerned about the asses, for they had been found. Now all the people of Israel had their eye on Saul and his father’s house. Saul protested his inability for the job. This initial humility on Saul’s part was a good recommendation of him for the job, and it is too bad it did not last. It is reminiscent of the feeling of Gideon when the Lord called him (Judges 6:15). Gideon also fell into error (Judges 8:24-27), showing the danger of losing one’s humility in the Lord’s service.

Samuel carried Saul and his servant in to the feast and gave them the seat of honor, doubtless to get him once more before important men in Israel. Thirty people of the city were present for the feast. Perhaps they were among those who were considering Saul for the kingship.

Verses 23-27

Saul in Samuel’s House, vs. 23-27 .

Not only was Saul given the honored place at the sacrificial feast, he also received the royal favor of being served the best part of the animal which had been roasted for it. This further enforces the idea that Samuel used the occasion to present to the elders the young man whom the Lord was choosing to rule over them as their king. Saul complied with Samuel’s instructions without further protest, it seems. The reaction of the elders of the city is not recorded, but from what follows it seems rather evident that they were impressed. When Samuel said, "I have kept the shoulder for you from the time I invited the people," the people were certainly expecting some important revelation from the prophet.

Notice should be taken of the high place in which Samuel observed this feast with the people., The places where the people engaged in false worship of idols were called "high places." However, it is very unlikely that Samuel would have chosen such a place as this for this feast. It was a place where the people gathered to worship, no doubt, but for the worship of the Lord. Remember that the ark has been separated from the tabernacle at Shiloh, and the Lord has spoken his displeasure with the house of Eli. Nevertheless members of Eli’s family are still trying to officiate at the tabernacle (see 1 Samuel 14:18). In this confused state God honored the ministry of Samuel, and he erected worship places in several towns. This must have been one of them.

Back at his house Samuel took Saul to the top of his house to commune with him. This was a cool place, on the flat roof, and also a place of privacy, and they continued their conversation into the evening. But early the next morning Samuel got Saul back on the roof and told him to prepare to return on his way. Samuel accompanied Saul and the servant to the city gate. There be instructed him to send the servant ahead and to linger there at the gate until he could give to him the word of God. The beginning of chapter ten here is unfortunate, for there is no break in the narrative.

Note from this chapter that 1) the Lord works through all concerned to bring to pass His will in a matter; 2) the Lord often takes the most insignificant and least esteemed to do His service; 3) those closest to the Lord have little difficulty knowing His will, for He will reveal it to them; 4) all the Lord raises up are raised up for His own purposes; 5) God’s spokesmen should tell others the Lord’s will for them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-samuel-9.html. 1985.