1 Samuel 9
Samuel had promised Israel, from God, that they should have a king; it
is strange that the next news is not of candidates setting up for the
government, making an interest in the people, or recommending
themselves to Samuel, and, by him, to God, to be put in nomination. Why
does not the prince of the tribe of Judah, whoever he is, look about
him now, remembering Jacob's entail of the sceptre on that tribe? Is
there never a bold aspiring man in Israel, to say, "I will be king, if
God will choose me?" No, none appears, whether it is owing to a
culpable mean-spiritedness or a laudable humility I know not; but
surely it is what can scarcely be paralleled in the history of any
kingdom; a crown, such a crown, set up, and nobody bids for it. Most
governments began in the ambition of the prince to rule, but Israel's
in the ambition of the people to be ruled. Had any of those elders who
petitioned for a king afterwards petitioned to be king, I should have
suspected that person's ambition to have been at the bottom of the
motion; but now (let them have the praise of what was good in them) it
was not so. God having, in the law, undertaken to choose their king
they all sit still, till they hear from heaven, and that they do in
this chapter, which begins the story of Saul, their first king, and, by
strange steps of Providence, brings him to Samuel to be anointed
privately, and so to be prepared for an election by lot, and a public
commendation to the people, which follows in the next chapter. Here
I. A short account of Saul's parentage and person,
1 Samuel 9:1,2.
II. A large and particular account of the bringing of him to Samuel, to
whom he had been before altogether a stranger.
1. God, by revelation, had told Samuel to expect him,
1 Samuel 9:15,16.
2. God, by providence, led him to Samuel.
(1.) Being sent to seek his father's asses, he was at a loss,
1 Samuel 9:3-5.
(2.) By the advice of his servant, he determined to consult Samuel,
1 Samuel 9:6-10.
(3.) By the direction of the young maidens, he found him out,
1 Samuel 9:11-14.
(4.) Samuel, being informed of God concerning him
(1 Samuel 9:17),
treated him with respect in the gate
(1 Samuel 9:18-21),
in the dining-room
(1 Samuel 9:22),
and at length in private, where he prepared him to hear the surprising
news that he must be king,
1 Samuel 9:25-27.
And these beginnings would have been very hopeful and promising if it
had not been that the sin of the people was the spring of this great
|The Parentage of Saul.
||B. C. 1075.|
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.
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.
We are here told,
1. What a good family Saul was of,
1 Samuel 9:1.
He was of the tribe of Benjamin; so was the New-Testament Saul, who
also was called Paul, and he mentions it as his honour, for
Benjamin was a favourite,
That tribe had been reduced to a very small number by the fatal war
with Gibeah, and much ado there was to provide wives for those 600 men
that were the poor remains of it out of that diminished tribe, which is
here called, with good reason, the smallest of the tribes of
1 Samuel 9:21.
Saul sprang as a root out of a dry ground. That tribe, though fewest in
number, was first in dignity, God giving more abundant honour to
that part which lacked,
1 Corinthians 12:24.
His father was Kish, a mighty man of power, or, as the margin
reads it, in substance; in spirit bold, in body strong, in
estate wealthy. The whole lot of the tribe of Benjamin coming to be
distributed among 600 men, we may suppose their inheritances were much
larger than theirs who were of other tribes, an advantage which
somewhat helped to balance the disadvantage of the smallness of their
2. What a good figure Saul made,
1 Samuel 9:2.
No mention is here made of his wisdom or virtue, his learning or piety,
or any of the accomplishments of his mind, but that he was a tall,
proper, handsome man, that had a good face, a good shape, and a good
presence, graceful and well proportioned: Among all the children of
Israel there was not a goodlier person than he; and, as if nature
had marked him for pre-eminence and superiority, he was taller by the
head and shoulders than any of the people, the fitter to be a match for
the giants of Gath, the champions of the Philistines. When God chose a
king after his own heart he pitched upon one that was not at all
remarkable for the height of his stature, nor any thing in his
countenance but the innocence and sweetness that appeared there,
1 Samuel 16:7,12.
But when he chose a king after the people's heart, who aimed at nothing
so much as stateliness and grandeur, he pitched upon this huge tall
man, who, if he had no other good qualities, yet would look great. It
does not appear that he excelled in strength so much as he did in
stature; Samson did, and him they slighted, bound, and betrayed into
the hands of the Philistines; justly therefore are they now put off
with one who, though of uncommon height, is weak as other men. They
would have a king like the nations, and the nations commonly chose
portly men for their kings.
|Saul Seeks His Father's Asses; Saul Goes to Seek Samuel.
||B. C. 1075.|
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.
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
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.
6 And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a
man of God, and he is a 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.
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
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.
9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire 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.)
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.
I. A great man rising from small beginnings. It does not appear that
Saul had any preferment at all, or was in any post of honour or trust,
till he was chosen king of Israel. Most that are advanced rise
gradually, but Saul, from the level with his neighbours, stepped at
once into the throne, according to that of Hannah, He raiseth up the
poor out of the dust, to set them among princes,
1 Samuel 2:8.
Saul, it should seem, though he was himself married and had children
grown up, yet lived in his father's house, and was subject to him.
Promotion comes not by chance nor human probabilities, but God is the
II. A great event arising from small occurrences. How low does the
history begin! Having to trace Saul to the crown, we find him first
employed as meanly as any we meet with called out to preferment.
1. Saul's father sends him with one of his servants to seek some asses
that he had lost. It may be they had no way then to give public notice
of such a number of asses strayed or stolen out of the grounds of Kish
the Benjamite. A very good law they had to oblige men to bring back an
ox or an ass that went astray, but it is to be feared that was, as
other good laws, neglected and forgotten. It is easy to observe here
that those who have must expect to lose, that it is wisdom to look
after what is lost, that no man should think it below him to know the
state of his flocks, that children should be forward to serve their
parents' interests. Saul readily went to seek his father's
1 Samuel 9:3,4.
His taking care of the asses is to be ascribed, not so much to the
humility of his spirit as to the plainness and simplicity of those
times. But his obedience to his father in it was very commendable.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business, and dutiful to his
superiors, willing to stoop and willing to take pains? he does as Saul
stand fair for preferment. The servant of Kish would be faithful only
as a servant, but Saul as a son, in his own business, and therefore he
was sent with him. Saul and his servants travelled far (probably on
foot) in quest of the asses, but in vain: they found them not. He
missed of what he sought, but had no reason to complain of the
disappointment, for he met with the kingdom, which he never dreamed
2. When he could not find them, he determined to return to his father
(1 Samuel 9:5),
in consideration of his father's tender concern for him, being
apprehensive that if they staid out any longer his aged father would
begin to fear, as Jacob concerning Joseph, that an evil beast had
devoured them or some mischief had befallen them; he will leave
caring for the asses, as much as he was in care about them, and
will take thought for us. Children should take care that they do
nothing to grieve or frighten their parents, but be tender of their
3. His servant proposed (for, it should seem, he had more religion in
him than his master) that, since they were now at Ramah, they should
call on Samuel, and take his advice in this important affair. Observe
(1.) They were close by the city where Samuel lived, and that put it
into their heads to consult him
(1 Samuel 9:6):
There is in this city a man of God. Note, Wherever we are we
should improve our opportunities of acquainting ourselves with those
that are wise and good. But there are many that will consult a man of
God, if he comes in their way, that would not go a step out of their
way to get wisdom.
(2.) The servant spoke very respectfully concerning Samuel, though he
had not personal knowledge of him, but by common fame only: He is a
man of God, and an honourable man. Note, Men of God are honourable
men, and should be so in our eyes. Acquaintance with the things of God,
and serviceableness to the kingdom of God, put true honour upon men,
and make them great. This was the honour of Samuel, as a man of God,
that all he saith comes surely to pass. This was observed
concerning him when he was a young prophet
(1 Samuel 3:19),
God did let none of his words fall to the ground; and still it
(3.) They agreed to consult him concerning the way that they should
go; peradventure he can show us. All the use they would make of the
man of God was to be advised by him whether they should return home,
or, if there were any hopes of finding the asses, which way they must
go next--a poor business to employ a prophet about! Had they said, "Let
us give up the asses for lost, and, now that we are so near the man of
God, let us go and learn from him the good knowledge of God, let us
consult him how we may order our conversations a right, and enquire the
law at his mouth, since we may not have such another opportunity, and
then we shall not lose our journey"--the proposal would have been such
as became Israelites; but to make prophecy, that glory of Israel, serve
so mean a turn as this, discovered too much what manner of spirit they
were of. Note, Most people would rather be told their fortune than told
their duty, how to be rich than how to be saved. If it were the
business of the men of God to direct for the recovery of lost asses,
they would be consulted much more than they are now that it is their
business to direct for the recovery of lost souls; so preposterous is
the care of most men!
(4.) Saul was thoughtful what present they should bring to the man of
God, what fee they should give him for his advice
(1 Samuel 9:7):
What shall we bring the man? They could not present him, as
Jeroboam's wife did Ahijah, with loaves and cakes
(1 Kings 14:3),
for their bread was spent; but the servant bethought himself that he
had in his pocket the fourth part of a shekel, about seven-pence
halfpenny in value, and that he would give to the man of God to
1 Samuel 9:8.
"That will do," says Saul; "let us go,"
1 Samuel 9:10.
Some think that when Saul talked of giving Samuel a fee he measured him
by himself, or by his sons, as if he must be hired to do an honest
Israelite a kindness, and was like the false prophets, that divined
He came to him as a fortune-teller, rather than as a prophet, and
therefore thought the fourth part of a shekel was enough to give him.
But it rather seems to be agreeable to the general usage of those
times, as it is to natural equity, that those who sowed spiritual
things should reap not only eternal things from him that employs them,
but temporal things from those for whom they are employed. Samuel
needed not their money, nor would he have denied them his advice if
they had not brought it (it is probable, when he had it, he gave it to
the poor); but they brought it to him as a token of their respect and
the value they put upon his office; nor did he refuse it, for they were
able to give it, and, though it was but little, it was the widow's
mite. But Saul, as he never thought of going to the man of God till the
servant proposed it, so, it should seem, he mentioned the want of a
present as an objection against their going; he would not own that he
had money in his pocket, but, when the servant generously offered to be
at the charge, then, "Well, said," says Saul; "come, let us go." Most
people love a cheap religion, and like it best when they can devolve
the expense of it on others.
(5.) The historian here takes notice of the name then given to the
prophets: they called them Seers, or seeing men
(1 Samuel 9:9),
not but that the name prophet was then used, and applied to such
persons, but that of seers was more in use. Note, Those that are
prophets must first be seers; those who undertake to speak to others of
the things of God must have an insight into those things
|Saul Introduced to Samuel.
||B. C. 1070.|
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
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:
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.
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.
15 Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul
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.
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
I. Saul, by an ordinary enquiry, is directed to Samuel,
1 Samuel 9:11-14.
Gibeah of Saul was not twenty miles from Ramah where Samuel dwelt, and
was near to Mizpeh where he often judged Israel, and yet, it seems,
Saul had lived so very privately, and had taken so little notice of
public affairs, that he had never seen Samuel, for when he met him
(1 Samuel 9:18)
he did not know him, so that there was no cause to suspect any secret
compact or collusion between them in this matter. I knew him
not, says John Baptist concerning Christ,
Yet I do not think it any commendation to Saul that he was a stranger
to Samuel. However,
1. The maid-servants of Ramah, whom they met with at the places of
drawing water, could give him and his servant intelligence concerning
Samuel; and very particular they were in their directions,
1 Samuel 9:12,13.
We should always be ready to give what assistance we can to those that
are enquiring after God's prophets, and to further them in their
enquiries. Even the maid-servants could tell them,
(1.) That there was a sacrifice that day in the high place, it being
either an ordinary festival or an extraordinary day of prayer and
thanksgiving, with which sacrifices were joined. The tabernacle being
deprived of the ark, the altar there had not now the reputation it
formerly had, nor were they confined to it, as they would be when God
had again chosen a place to put his name in; and therefore now other
places were allowed. Samuel had built an altar at Ramah
(1 Samuel 7:17),
and here we have him making use of that altar.
(2.) That Samuel came that day to the city, either from his circuit or
from his country seat. He was such a public person that his movements
were generally known.
(3.) That this was just the time of their meeting to feast before the
Lord upon the sacrifice: "About this time you will find him in the
street going up to the high place." They knew the hour of the solemn
(4.) That the people would not eat till Samuel came, not only because
he was the worthiest person, and they ought in good manners to stay for
him, and he was, as some think, the maker of this feast, the sacrifice
being offered at his charge and upon his account; but because, as a man
of God, whoever made the feast, he must bless the sacrifice,
that is, those parts of the sacrifice which they feasted upon, which
may be considered,
[1.] As a common meal, and so this is an instance of the great duty of
craving a blessing upon our meat before we partake of it. We cannot
expect benefit from our food without that blessing, and we have no
reason to expect that blessing if we do not pray for it. Thus we must
give glory to God as our benefactor, and own our dependence upon him
and our obligations to him. Or,
[2.] As a religious assembly. When the sacrifice was offered, which was
the ceremony, Samuel blessed it, that is, he prayed over it, and
offered up spiritual sacrifices with it, which were the substance; and
afterwards, when the holy duties were performed, they did eat. Let the
soul first be served. The feast upon the sacrifice being a sacred
rite, it was requisite that it should in a particular manner be
blessed, as is the Christian eucharist. They feasted in token of their
reconciliation to God by virtue of the sacrifice, and their
participation of the benefits of it; and Samuel blessed the feast, that
is, he prayed to God to grace the solemnity with his special presence,
that it might answer those great ends. Bishop Hall observes what a
particular account those maid-servants could give of the usages of
those sacred feasts, and infers from it that, "where there is the
practice and example of piety in the better sort, there will be a
reflection of it upon the meanest. It is no small advantage to live in
religious places; for we shall be much to blame if all goodness fall
2. Saul and his servant followed the directions given them, and very
opportunely met Samuel going to the high place, the synagogue of the
1 Samuel 9:14.
This seemed purely accidental, but the divine providence ordered it for
the forwarding of this great event. The wise God serves very great and
certain purposes by very small and casual occurrences. A sparrow falls
not to the ground without our Father.
II. Samuel, by an extraordinary revelation, is informed concerning
Saul. He was a seer, and therefore must see this in a way peculiar to
1. God had told him, the day before, that he would, at this time, send
him the man that should serve the people of Israel for such a king as
they wished to have, like all the nations,
1 Samuel 9:15,16.
He told him in his ear, that is, privately, by a secret whisper
to his mind, or perhaps by a still small voice, some soft and gentle
sounds conveyed to his ear, probably when he was praying in secret for
direction in that and other affairs of the nation. He had spoken in
the ears of the Lord
(1 Samuel 8:21),
and now God spoke in his ear, in token of friendship and
familiarity, for he revealeth his secret to his servants the
prophets, as secrets in their ear,
God told him before, that it might not be a surprise to him; and
perhaps it was in expectation of it that he appointed the feast and the
sacrifice, for the imploring of God's blessing upon this great and
important affair, though he might keep the particular occasion in his
own breast, God having only told it to him in his ear. The Hebrew
phrase is, He uncovered the ear of Samuel, to which some allude
for the explication of the way of God's revealing himself to us; he not
only speaks, but uncovers our ear. We have naturally a covering
on our ears, so that we perceive not what God says
but, when God will manifest himself to a soul, he uncovers the ear,
says, Ephphratha, Be opened; he takes the veil from off the
2 Corinthians 3:16.
Though God had, in displeasure, granted their request for a king, yet
here he speaks tenderly of Israel; for even in wrath he remembers
(1.) He calls them again and again his people; though a peevish and
provoking people, yet mine still.
(2.) He sends them a man to be captain over them, that they might not
be a body without a head, and to save them out of the hand of the
Philistines, which perhaps was more than many of them aimed at in
desiring a king.
(3.) He does it with a gracious respect to them and to their cry: I
have looked upon my people, and their cry has come unto me.
He gratified them with what they cried for, as the tender mother
humours the froward child, lest it should break its heart. And (as
bishop Patrick observes), though he would not hear their cry to relieve
them against the oppression of their kings
(1 Samuel 8:18),
yet he was so gracious as to make those kings instruments of their
deliverance from the oppression of their neighbours, which was more
than they had reason to expect.
2. When Saul came up towards him in the street God again whispered
Samuel in the ear
(1 Samuel 9:17):
Behold the man whom I spoke to thee of! Saul being a man of
unusual stature, it is natural to think that Samuel fixed his eye upon
him at a distance, and perhaps looked the more wistfully towards him
because the hour had now come when God would send him the man that
should be king of Israel, and he fancied this might be he; but, that he
might be fully satisfied, God told him expressly, That is the
man that shall restrain (for magistrates are heirs of
restraint) my people Israel.
|Saul Entertained by Samuel.
||B. C. 1070.|
18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell
me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is.
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.
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
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?
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.
23 And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I
gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.
24 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.
25 And when they were come down from the high place into the
city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.
26 And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring
of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house,
saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they
went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
27 And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel
said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed
on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word
Providence having at length brought Samuel and Saul together, we have
here an account of what passed between them in the gate, at the feast,
and in private.
I. In the gate of the city; passing through that, Saul found him
(1 Samuel 9:18),
and, little thinking that he was Samuel himself, asked him the way to
Samuel's house: Tell me where the seer's house is; for there he
expected to find him. See how mean a figure Samuel made, though so
great a man: he took not any state, had no attendants, no ensigns of
honour carried before him, nor any distinguishing habit, no, not when
he went to church, but appeared, in all respects, so much a common
person that Saul, though he was told he should meet him, never
suspected that it was he, but, as if he looked more like a porter than
a prophet, asked him the way to the seer's house. Thus is great worth
oftentimes hidden under a very despicable appearance. Samuel knew that
it was not the house, but the man, that he wanted, and therefore
answered him, "I am the seer, the person you enquire for,"
1 Samuel 9:19.
Samuel knew him before he knew Samuel; thus, though all that are called
to the kingdom of glory are brought to know God, yet first they were
known of him,
1. Samuel obliges him to stay with him till the next day. The greatest
part of this day had been spent in sacrificing, and the rest of it was
to be spent in holy feasting, and therefore, "To-morrow I will let
thee go, and not sooner; now go up before me to the high
place; let us pray together, and then we will talk together." Saul
had nothing in his mind but to find his asses, but Samuel would take
him off from that care, and dispose him to the exercises of piety; and
therefore bids him go to the high place, and go before him,
because, it may be, some business obliged Samuel to call by the way.
2. He satisfies him about his asses
(1 Samuel 9:20):
Set not thy mind on them, be not in further care about them;
they are found. By this Saul might perceive that he was a
prophet, that he could give him an answer to the enquiry which he had
not yet made, and tell him what he thought; and thence he might infer,
if a man of God can do this, much more doth God himself understand
our thoughts afar off.
3. He surprises him with an intimation of preferment before him: "On
whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not a king that they are
set upon, and there is never a man in Israel that will suit them as
thou wilt." It does not appear that the country had as yet any eye upon
him for the government, because they had left it wholly to God to
choose for them; but such a one as he they wished for, and his
advancement would be the advancement of his family and relations, as
Abner, and others.
4. To this strange intimation Saul returns a very modest answer,
1 Samuel 9:21.
Samuel, he thought, did but banter him, because he was a tall man, but
a very unlikely man to be a king; for, though the historian says
(1 Samuel 9:1)
his father was a mighty man of power, yet he himself speaks
diminishingly of his tribe and family. "Benjamin, the youngest of
Jacob's sons, when grown up to be a man, was called a little one
that tribe was diminished by the war of Gibeah; and I am a
Benjamite, my family the least," probably a younger house, not in
any place of honour or trust, no, not in their own tribe. Gideon had
expressed himself thus,
A humble disposition is a good presage of preferment.
II. At the public feast; thither Samuel took him and his servant.
Though the advancement of Saul would be the deposing of Samuel, yet
that good prophet was so far from envying him, or bearing him any
ill-will for it, that he was the first and forwardest man to do him
honour, in compliance with the will of God. If this be the man whom God
has chosen, though he be none of Samuel's particular friends or
confidants, yet he is heartily welcome to his table, nay, to his bosom.
We may suppose it was no unseasonable kindness to Saul to give him a
meal's meat, for it seems, by what he said
(1 Samuel 9:7),
that all their meat and money were spent. But this was not all. Samuel
treats him not as a common person, but a person of quality and
distinction, to prepare both him and the people for what was to follow.
Two marks of honour he put upon him:--
1. He set him in the best place, as more honourable than any
other of the guests, to whom he said, Give this man place,
Though we may suppose the magistrates were there, who in their own city
would claim precedency, yet the master of the feast made Saul and his
servant too (who, if Saul was a king, must be respected as his prime
minister of state) sit in the chief place,
1 Samuel 9:22.
Note, Civil respects must be paid to those who in civil things have the
precedency given them by the divine providence.
2. He presented him with the best dish, which, having had notice
from heaven the day before of his coming
(1 Samuel 9:16),
he had designed for him, and ordered the cook to secure for him, when
he gave orders for inviting the guests and making preparation for them.
And what should this precious dish be, which was so very carefully
reserved for the king-elect? One would expect it should be something
very nice and delicate. No, it was a plain shoulder of mutton
(1 Samuel 9:23,24).
The right shoulder of the peace-offerings was to be given to the
priests, who were God's receivers
the next in honour to that was the left shoulder, which probably was
always allotted to those that sat at the upper end of the table, and
was wont to be Samuel's mess at other times; so that his giving it to
Saul now was an implicit resignation of his place to him. Some observe
a significancy in this dish. The shoulder denotes strength, and the
breast, which some think went with it, denotes affection: he that was
king had the government upon his shoulder, for he must bear the
weight of it; and the people in his bosom, for they must be dear to
III. What passed between them in private. Both that evening and early
the next morning Samuel communed with Saul upon the flat roof of the
1 Samuel 9:25,26.
We may suppose Samuel now told him the whole story of the people's
desire of a king, the grounds of their desire, and God's grant of it,
to all which Saul, living very privately, was perhaps a stranger; he
satisfied him that he was the person God had pitched upon for the
government; and whereas Saul would object that Samuel was in
possession, and he would not for all the world take it out of his
hands, Samuel, we may suppose, gave him all the assurance he could
desire of his willingness to resign. Early in the morning he sent him
towards home, brought him part of the way, bade him send his servant
before, that they might be private
(1 Samuel 9:27),
and there, as we find in the beginning of the next chapter, he anointed
him, and therein showed him the word of the Lord, that is, gave
him full satisfaction that he was the person chosen to be king, for he
would not jest with that sacred rite. It is by the unction of the
Holy Ghost that Christ, the great prophet, shows us the word of
1 John 2:27,
the same anointing teacheth you of all things.