Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 9

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.

Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish ... This is only a very abridged account of Saul's descent; and it is only by a combination of several isolated passages that a complete list of his ancestors can be obtained. The following table exhibits a full view of the information Scripture gives upon the subject:

1. Benjamin.

2. Becher (Genesis 46:2; 1 Chronicles 7:6).

3. Abiah, or Aphiah (1 Chronicles 7:8).

4. Bechorath.

5. Meter, or Matri (1 Samuel 10:21).

6. Zaror.

7. Abiel, or Jehiel (cf. 1 Samuel 14:51 with 1 Chronicles 9:35).

8. Ner.

9. Kish.

10. Saul.

(See Hervey's, 'Genealogies,' pp. 213, 214; Jackson's 'Chronologies,' 1:, p. 144.)

A mighty man of power - i:e., of great wealth and substance. The family was of high consideration in the tribe of Benjamin, and therefore Saul's words (1 Samuel 9:21) must be set down among the common forms of affected humility which Oriental people are accustomed to use.

Verse 2

And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly, [ Shaa'uwl (H7592); Septuagint, Saoul (G4549)]. He had a presence; because it is evident that he must have been only a little under seven feet high. A gigantic stature and an athletic frame must have been a popular recommendation at that time in that country.

Verse 3

And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.

The asses of Kish, Saul's father, were lost. The probability is that the family of Kish, according to the immemorial usage of Oriental shepherds in the purely pastoral regions, had let the animals roam at large during the grazing season, at the close of which messengers were despatched in search of them. Such traveling searches are common; and as each owner has his own stamp marked on his cattle, the mention of it to the shepherds he meets gradually leads to the discovery of the strayed animals. This rambling of Saul's had nothing extraordinary in it, except its superior directions and issue, which turned its uncertainty into certainty.

Verse 4

And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.

He passed through mount Ephraim. This being situated on the north of Benjamin indicates the direction of Saul's journey. The district explored means the whole of the mountainous region, with its valleys and defiles, which belong to Ephraim. Turning apparently southwards, probably through the verdant hills between Shiloh and the vales of Jordan (Shalisha and Shalim), he approached again the borders of Benjamin, scoured the land of Zuph, and was proposing to return, when his servant recollected that they were in the immediate neighbourhood of the man of God, who would give them counsel.

Verse 5

And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 6

And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go.

Then is in this city a man of God. Ramah was the usual residence of Samuel; but several circumstances, especially the mention of Rachel's sepulchre, which lay in Saul's way homeward, lead to the conclusion that "this city" was not the Ramah where Samuel dwelt.

Peradventure he can show us our way that we should go. It seems strange that a dignified prophet should be consulted in such an affair. But it is probable that at the introduction of the prophetic office the seers had discovered things lost or stolen, and thus their power for higher revelations was gradually established.

Verse 7

Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what have we?

What shall we bring the man? According to Eastern notions, it would be considered a want of respect for any person to go into the presence of a superior man of rank or of official station, without a present of some kind in his hand, however trifling in value.

The bread is spent in our vessels. Shepherds going in quest of their cattle put up in a bag as much flour for making bread as will last sometimes for thirty days. It appears that Saul thought of giving the man of God a cake from his traveling bag, and this would have been sufficient to render the indispensable act of civility-the customary tribute to official dignity.

Verse 8

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.

The fourth part of a shekel of silver - rather more than sixpence. Contrary to our Western notions, money is in the East the most acceptable form in which a present can be made to a man of rank.

Verse 9

(Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)

Seer, [ ro'eh (H7200); Septuagint, ho blepoon]

... Prophet, [ naabiy' (H935); Septuagint, ho profeetees]. The recognized distinction in latter times was, that a seer was one who was favoured with visions of God-a view of things invisible to mortal sight; and a prophet foretold future events. There has been much discussion as to the distinction between these words; and it is not easy to decide the question, because in some passages, as here, they appear to be used synonymously, or as applied to the same individuals, whereas in others they are contrasted (1 Chronicles 29:29; Isaiah 29:10; Isaiah 30:10). The first, from the verb to see, sufficiently shows that the power of the person arose from mental vision. The second, from a verb to bubble up, as a spring or fountain, signifies that the message which the Nabi delivered was derived from God; and hence, it is always rendered a "prophet." Accordingly Havernick ('Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 51, and to the 'Pentateuch,' p. 170) considers the first term as marking the receptive act of revelation, and the second as describing the office of the prophets-that of communicating the Word of God.

Hence, after the institution of the schools by Samuel, it became the official title of the prophets; and the two functions were united in, or performed by, the same person (see Professor Lee's 'Lectures on Job,' p. 369; Dr. Lee's (Archdeacon of Dublin) 'Inspiration of Holy Scriptures,' Appendix K., p. 543; Professor Payne Smith's 'Messianic Interpretation of the Prophecies of Isaiah,' Introduction, p. 29; Pusey's 'Lectures on Daniel,' p. 243; Dr. McCaul, 'Aids to Faith,' pp. 84, 85; Henderson's 'Isaiah,' 1:, note 1). LeClerc explains the meaning of this verse to be this, that the word prophet, which was used in the age of Moses, fell into desuetude in the times of the judges, being supplanted by the more restricted term seer (1 Samuel 3:1), and then was revived at a later period, when the spirit of prophecy was more frequently conferred and more extensively diffused (see Introduction to Samuel).

Verse 10

Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?

As they went up the hill to the city - now er-Rameh, lying on an eminence; and On their way they met a band of young maidens going out to the well, which, like all similar places in Palestine, was beyond the precincts of the town. From these damsels they learned that the day was devoted to a festival occasion, in honour of which Samuel had arrived in the city; that a sacrifice had been offered, which was done by prophets in extraordinary circumstances, at a distance from the place in which alone offerings could be presented-namely, the front court of the national sanctuary, first the tabernacle, afterward the temple (Leviticus 17:1-9; Deuteronomy 12:5-7).

Verse 12

And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people to day in the high place:

In the high place, [ babaamaah (H1116), on the height. The Septuagint considers it a proper name, rendering it as: en Bama]. In some instances sacrifices were allowed, without repretension, in certain other places, especially in troubled times, as were those of the judges (1 Samuel 7:17; Judges 2:5; 1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 18:32). Professor Lee says that the word Bamah was never recognized as connected with the Mosaic ritual, though the word is sometimes applied to places where the worship of Yahweh was celebrated (1 Kings 3:4; 2 Kings 12:4; Isaiah 36:7). A feast was to follow, implying that it had been a peace offering, and that, according to the venerable practice of the Israelites, the man of God was expected to ask a special blessing on the food, in a manner becoming the high occasion.

Verse 13

As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 14

And they went up into the city: and when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high place.

Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high place. Such were the simple manners of the times, that this prophet-the chief man in Israel-was seen going to preside at a high festival, undistinguished, either by his dress or equipage, from any ordinary citizen.

Verse 15

Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,

Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before, [ gaalaah (H1540) 'et (H854) 'ozen (H241), uncovered the ear] - i:e., caused him to know, imparted to him the knowledge of His intended purpose (cf. 2 Samuel 7:27). The description of Saul, the time of his arrival, and the high office to which he was destined, had been secretly to Samuel from heaven. The future king of Israel was to fight the battles of the Lord, and protect His people. It would appear that they were at this time suffering great molestation from the Philistines, and that this was an additional reason of their urgent demands for the appointment of a king (see the note at 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 13:13).

Verse 16

To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.

Thou shalt anoint him to be captain, [ lÂȘnaagiyd (H5057)] - to go in front, to be leader.

Verse 17

And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 18

Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is.

Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is. Satisfying the stranger's inquiry, Samuel invited him to the feast, as well as to sojourn until the morrow; and in order to reconcile him to the delay, assured him that the strayed donkeys had been recovered.

Verse 19

And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to day, and to morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 20

And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father's house? On whom is all the desire of Israel? This was a covered and indirect premonition of the royal dignity that awaited him; and though Saul's answer shows that he fully understood it, he affected to doubt that the prophet was in earnest.

Verse 21

And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

Am not I a Benjamite ... By selecting a king from this least and nearly extinct tribe (Judges 20:1-48), divine wisdom designed to remove all grounds of jealousy among the other tribes.

Verse 22

And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons.

Samuel took Saul ... and brought them into the parlour. The toil-worn but noble-looking traveler found himself suddenly seated among the principal men of the place, and treated as the most distinguished guest.

Verse 23

And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 24

Adh kkhhld dhhih idibfSlAdS lid And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left! set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day.

The shoulder, [ hashowq (H7785 ), the leg of an animal, including the thigh] ... that which is left - i:e., reserved (see the note at Genesis 18:6; Genesis 43:34). This was most probably the right shoulder, which, as the perquisite of the sacrifice, belonged to Samuel, and which he had set aside for his expected guest. In the sculptures of the Egyptian shambles, also, the first joint taken off was always the right shoulder, for the priest. The meaning of those distinguished attentions must have been understood by the other guests.

Verse 25

And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.

Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house. Saul was taken to lodge with the prophet for that night. Before retiring to rest, they communed on the flat roof of the house, the couch being laid there (Joshua 2:6), when, doubtless, Samuel revealed the secret, and described the special duties of a monarch in a nation so related to the Divine King as Israel. Next morning early Samuel roused his guest, and convoying him on his way toward the skirts of the city, sought, before parting, a private interview, the object of which is narrated in the next chapter.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.