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1 Samuel 10:1. Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head— It appears from the last verse of the preceding chapter, that Samuel did this in the open field. Anointing was, from the earliest times, made use of at the inauguration of kings, as well as of priests. See Judges 9:8. The kiss which Samuel gave Saul was in token of subjection and reverence to him. See Genesis 41:40. The reason why Samuel foretels to Saul the several particulars in the subsequent verses, is to convince him of his prophetic spirit, and, consequently, of the truth of what he had advanced concerning the kingdom. Houbigant, after the LXX, adds what follows to this verse, which, whether it be genuine Scripture or not, will at least tend to explain it: Then Samuel, having taken a phial, poured oil upon his head, and kissed him, saying, Behold, the Lord hath anointed thee prince over his inheritance: thou shalt rule over the people of the Lord: thou shalt deliver them from their enemies which are round about. 1 Samuel 10:2. But this shall be a sign unto thee, that the Lord hath anointed thee prince over his inheritance: when thou shalt depart from me to-day, thou shalt find, &c.
1 Samuel 10:3. To the plain of Tabor— To the high-oak of Tabor. Hiller, 359.
1 Samuel 10:5-6. After that thou shalt come to the hill of God— This hill was so called, either because they were used to sacrifice there, or because there was a school of the prophets, who were called men of God. As there is no verb in the sentence, where the garrison of the Philistines, we might as well insert was as is; where was a garrison of the Philistines: which seems most agreeable to the circumstances here related. Concerning the prophets and prophesying here spoken of, we refer to the notes on Num 11:25 where this matter is discussed at large. The author of the Observations produces the following passage from an account of the eastern customs: "When the children have gone through the Koran, their relations borrow a fine horse and furniture, and carry them about the town in procession, with the book in their hands, the rest of their companions following, and all sorts of music of the country going before." Dr. Shaw, in p. 195 mentions the same custom, adding the acclamations of their school-fellows, but taking no notice of the music. We have no reason, however, to doubt the fact on account of the doctor's silence, especially as it relates to another part of Barbary, and is given us by those who resided some years in the country. The doctor makes no use of this circumstance relating to the education of youth in Barbary; but the account of the procession above given, seems to be a lively comment on that ancient Jewish custom mentioned in these verses. That the word prophets often signifies sons, or scholars of the prophets, and prophesying, singing, has been often remarked; but no author, that I know of, has given any account of the nature of this procession, or its design. We are sometimes told, that high places were used for sacrifices; and, in one case, music, it is certain, played before them when they went up to worship. See Isaiah 30:29. But did they not also return from sacrificing with it? We are told, that music was used by the prophets to calm and compose them, and to invite the divine influences, which is indeed very true; but is it to the purpose? Did they go forth in this manner from their college, into the noise and interruptions of the world, to call down the prophetic impulse? But if we consider them as a company of the sons of the prophets, going in procession with songs of praise, and music playing before them, and recollect that it is usual at this day for young scholars to go in procession with acclamations and music, the whole mystery seems to be unraveled. To which may be added, that Saul was to meet them, and find himself turned into another man, into a man, perhaps, who is instantaneously made as knowing in the law of God as the youth to whom the above honours were doing, or any of his convoy; which acquaintance with the law of God, was very necessary for one who was to judge among his brethren as their king. For this reason, the Jewish kings were to write out a copy of the law of God, and read it continually, that they might be perfect masters of it, Deuteronomy 17:18-20.; which accomplishment some youth had gained whom Saul met with, and who was honoured with the solemnity which the sacred historian speaks of, if the customs of South Barbary may be supposed to be explanatory of those of Judea. See Observations, p. 286.
1 Samuel 10:8. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal— Respecting this matter, see on chap. 1 Samuel 13:8.
1 Samuel 10:9. God gave him another heart— An expression explanatory, of that in the 6th verse, thou shalt be turned into another man: the meaning seems to be, that God inspired him with ideas fit for the rank and station in life which he was now to bear; with such a spirit as might qualify him for the government of God's people.
1 Samuel 10:10. And when they came thither to the hill— We refer to the notes on the latter part of the 19th chapter for a relation of the particulars mentioned in this verse.
1 Samuel 10:12. But who is their father?— Houbigant renders this verse, But one of those who were present said thus, For who is his father? Is not Kish? Hence therefore came the proverb, Is Saul amongst the prophets? And he observes, that the Syriac, Arabic, Alexandrian, Roman, and Complutensian editions of the LXX read his father. The Alexandrian adds, Is not Kish? which we add (continues he), that the sentence may be filled up in the usual manner of the Hebrews: and as we read in the Gospel, Is not this the son of Joseph?
REFLECTIONS.—Saul and Samuel now part. Saul returns homeward, and feels a wondrous change passed upon him; no longer groveling cares nor servile labours engage his thoughts; but high and elevated sentiments becoming a king, the redressing Israel's grievances, and the weighty concerns of the state, possess his soul. The signs happened according to the prediction, and the last of them is particularly taken notice of.
No sooner was he come to the hill, than he met the prophets, and instantly joined in their devout exercises. As he was so near home, and well known there, those who saw him expressed their astonishment, that an untutored husbandman, the son of Kish, should be thus engaged; when one of the company well observed, Who is their father? Is not all prophesy from God? What signifies whose son he is, or what was his employment, if God calls and qualifies him? This afterwards became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets? Note; (1.) Many such wonders has divine grace wrought, where the chief of sinners have become most eminent among the saints.
(2.) Let not great and sudden changes be too much depended on. A man may have a new tongue, new company, new manners, and yet not truly become a new man.
When he had made an end of prophesying, the gift not continuing always, he came to the high place to acknowledge the mercies that he had received, and then returned. His uncle, meeting him as he arrived, inquired of his journey, the cause of which he informs him, and their visit to Samuel; on which his uncle, perhaps suspecting something from the universal expectation which was raised of a king, is solicitous to know what passed. But Saul prudently concealed what related to the kingdom; as it seemed not yet a proper occasion to declare himself, and Samuel might have enjoined him to secrecy till the time came when his election should be publicly notified; and therefore he only speaks of the answer that Samuel gave him concerning the asses. Note; (1.) The art of prudent concealment is a piece of true wisdom. (2.) The heirs of God's kingdom will be content to be unknown in the world, till God himself shall proclaim their glory.
1 Samuel 10:21. And when they sought him, he could not be found— When the lot of Saul, appointing him to the kingdom, came up, he, who already knew what would be the case, had withdrawn himself; moved either by modesty, or by a dread of the weight of so great an office. The Jews have a good observation upon this occasion, that "whosoever flies dominion, him dominion follows."
REFLECTIONS on 1 Samuel 10:17-27.—The people's impatience for a king is now to be gratified. A solemn convocation is called at Mizpeh, under Samuel as president, in order to fix on the person.
1. Samuel opens the convocation with a severe rebuke of their wickedness in thus resolving to have a king, which was, in fact, rejecting God, who had hitherto governed them more immediately himself, and saved them by multiplied miracles. What man could they choose like unto him? Note; They who reject God's government, sin against their own mercies.
2. The choice of the person being yet to be referred to God, Samuel causes the tribes to come near, by their representatives, in order to cast lots, and Benjamin is chosen. Of the families of Benjamin, the lot falls on that of Matri, and Saul the son of Kish is fixed upon as the man. But while any other man would have been eager to shew himself, they cannot find him: for, perceiving how the lot was going, and expecting from what had passed that it would fall on him, he hid himself, unwilling to take a charge for which he apprehended he was unqualified; fearing too, perhaps, that this crown would be a crown of thorns, when God's displeasure at the matter had been so solemnly declared, and the state of affairs from the Philistines and Amorites looked so lowering and dangerous.
3. The people hereupon inquire farther; whether he who was chosen should yet come to the assembly, or how they might find him? And they are directed to fetch him from his hiding-place among the baggage, which was immediately done.
4. When he appeared, his majestic presence seemed designed for the dignity to which he was advanced. Samuel bids them look upon him, tall as a cedar, and admire the divine choice of a person so suited to their wishes: hereupon the earth rings with shouting, God save the king, or Let the king live; let his reign be long and glorious, under the Divine protection and blessing. Note; It is the duty of every good subject to pray for the life and prosperity of the sovereign whom God appoints over him.
5. The king, being chosen of God, must rule according to divine prescription. The manner of the kingdom, how he must govern, and they obey, Samuel declares; and for the continual observance of these rules, writes them in a book, to be laid up in the tabernacle, and referred to on occasion. Note; Kings must remember, though they are above others, they ought not to be above law.
6. The congregation broke up with very different sentiments of their king. Some respected the Divine choice, and when Saul returned to his house at Gibeah they accompanied him as a body-guard to do him honour, having their hearts touched of God, and being inclined to pay the duty that they owed to their new sovereign. But others, sons of Belial, who had no regard for a king of God's appointment, arrogantly conceiting that they could have chosen a man of greater power, influence, and rank, than the son of Kish, perhaps envious at his advancement, and thinking themselves injured by the preference given him, despised him as a mean contemptible fellow, unfit to be a king, and would not congratulate him on his accession, nor bring him any presents in token of their submission and allegiance. This contempt Saul wisely overlooked, till a proper occasion offered to shew how deserving he was of the honour conferred on him, by deeds of valour which should shame his enemies to an acknowledgment of his desert. Note; (1.) When God touches the heart, we shall be inclined to follow cheerfully Jesus our king. (2.) They who are offended at the meanness of Jesus in the manger, will tremble before him when he shall come at the head of his angelic hosts. (3.) It is sometimes wisdom to conceal our knowledge of the wrongs done us, lest the breach be made irreparable which patience and forbearance might have healed.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12