Friday, November 23, 2012

XC - Saul Becomes the First King of Israel - I Samuel 10

In the last post we saw how Saul had gone looking for some lost donkeys and met the prophet Samuel.  Samuel kept him overnight and drew him aside before he left the next day to speak with Saul privately.  This brings us to chapter 10, which in the very first verse, Samuel anoints Saul, using a vial of olive oil, pouring onto Saul's head.  The "vial"(KJV) signifies that it is the same one as used in the tabernacle.  The term "anointing" means that God had chosen a person for a special task, usually meaning a position such as a priest or a king.  {Being an "anointed one" was no small matter.  Later, when David had an opportunity to do harm to Saul, David would "not do harm to the Lord's anointed".}  It also says in verse 1 that Samuel kissed Him.  This was usually meant as an outward show of loyalty.  Samuel was a prophet and knew the future meaning of most significant occurances.  The last phrase of that verse says, "Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?".  This was Samuel's way of telling Saul that it was not Samuel, but God who has anointed him ruler.  Although the Lord did not prefer Israel to have a king, He insisted on being the One that chose the appropriate king for them in spite of themselves.  In the following verses, Samuel gave Saul four signs of affirmation which he would receive as he returned home.  1) He would meet two men who would tell him that his donkeys were found and his father Kish was worried about him.  2) He would then meet three men who would salute him (salute means to gesture respect for authority or position) and then offer him food. 3) He would meet a group of men playing instruments and prophesying.  And then 4) the Spirit of the Lord would decend upon Saul and he would prophesy with them.
In verse 9, the Scripture begins to focus even more on Saul.  {After all, Saul was the first king of Israel.}  It says quite plainly that God changed Saul's heart.  This phrase is often used today, and I have witnessed this in the lives of many Christians.  This refers to the Lord changing people's will, desires, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and priorities.  Another way I've heard is that is simply gives people a different understanding about everything.  As all of the signs Samuel had foretold to Saul came about, the last of which was Saul prophesying, and was witnessed by many who knew Saul and was surprised to see him prophesy.  {Obviously, Saul and his family were not people who were given to strong religious display, which would have drawn people's attention and comments.}
Then in verse 17, Samuel takes another step in establishing Saul as king of Israel:  He summoned all of Israel to Mizpah.  (This always meant something special.  Gathering all the tribal and clan leaders was no small matter, and took days, if not weeks, to arrange.  Samuel was such a powerful figure that he had no trouble with the tribal elders doing as he asked.)  Samuel proceeds to recount to the assembly about how God had always taken care of them, and they should have been satisfied, but they insisted on having a king, and God was going to give them one.  Samual employs the same system of selection as used in Joshua.  He gathered tribes and selected Benjamin.  He then gathered the clans of Benjamin and selected the Matri clan, and out of that clan he selected Kish's family, and from the family of Kish, Saul was selected.  {The Urim and Thummin were probably used, as Samuel wanted to avoid any suspicion that he was personaly selecting Israel's king himself.  Using the Urim and Thummin, as described in Leviticus, was widely recognized as God's selection process.}
For some reason (perhaps humility) Saul was hiding among the supplies.  They found him and brought him to the front of the assembly.  He was tall enough for everyone to see.  Then Samuel said in vs 24 "Do you see the man the Lord has chosen?".  And the people shouted, "Long live the king!".  This was a common greeting for a sovereign royal in ancient times and still is.  It also meant that the people accepted Saul as their king and that they were pleased with the selection.  In verse 25 Samuel proceeds to state to Saul and the people the duties and the responsibilities of the king and his subjects.  As Samual explained these, he wrote them in a scroll and placed the scroll as an official part of History.  In verse 26 the Scripture tells us that Saul departed for his journey home, and with him went several men whose heart God had touched.  This same verse tells us that there was a certain group of men who did not accept Saul's kingship, and made it known by their comments.  At the very end of this verse and the very end of this chapter, it says yet another favorable thing about Saul's character, "But Saul kept silent."  This is important.  Saul could have challenged these men and established himself as undisputed king at that very moment, but this was not Saul's style.  The wiser Saul wanted to wait for the proper moment to solidify his kingship and his kingdom.

In the next post, the opportunity for greatness presents itself to Saul.


  1. I'm intrigued by the process of the king selection. I'm sill trying to figure out God's blessing in all this because he was disappointed in Israel for wanting a king. However, He did annoint Saul as king. I guess I'm trying to figure out why He would bless something He was against.

  2. Adam, I'm really glad you are thinking deeply into this. I believe God wants us to study and undertand His Scripture. I've mentioned several times that God never deprives us of making choices for ourselves, even when He knows those choices might be destructive. I've made plenty of those. Now concerning Him blessing the kingship of Israel when He is opposed to the decision: Israel is still God's chosen people. He is still their father. I can only liken this to an example perhaps we as humans can follow. I am you father and I love you beyond words. You might approach me with the fact that you want to make a very important life-changing decision. Hypotheticly, say you want to quit your job and relocate your family to Oregon and persue a career being a lumberjack. I would voice bitter opposition, but if you had your mind made up, you would go anyway. And when you did go, I would support you and help you all the way.


  3. That makes perfect sense. I can't help but wonder if God ever has those "I told you so" moments.