1 Samuel 10
Israel’s donkey herder king
Samuel pours olive oil on Saul1Samuel opened a small jar of olive oil and emptied it onto Saul’s head.  Then he kissed Saul and said, “The LORD told me to anoint you ruler of Israel.  2When you leave here today, you’ll meet two men near Rachel’s tomb. They’ll tell you the donkeys you’ve been looking for have been found. But they’ll say your father is worried about you now, and asking, ‘What am I going to do about my son?’
3When you reach the oak tree at Tabor,  you’ll meet three men on their way to worship God at Bethel.  One will be carrying three young goats. One will carry three loaves of bread. And one will carry a wineskin. 4They’ll offer you two loaves of bread. Take them.
5Next, you’ll come to Gibeah, city of God.  Philistines have an army base there. As you approach the town, you’ll meet a group of prophets on their way back from the hilltop shrine. They’ll be prophesying as they walk. Some will be playing instruments: harps, tambourines, and flutes. 6Suddenly, the LORD’s Spirit will pour into you. You’ll become a different person. You’ll start prophesying right alongside those other prophets.
7When this happens just as I’ve predicted, do whatever you think best. You won’t go wrong because you’ll go with God. 8Afterward, head out to the city of Gilgal. I’ll meet you there. I want to sacrifice a burnt offering  for sin and peace offerings  of thanks. Wait seven days. Then I’ll get there and show you what you need to do next.
Saul, the temporary prophet9When Saul turned to leave, something happened to him. A change washed over him, warming his heart. He felt like a new person. Everything Samuel predicted came true that same day.
10Saul arrived in Gibeah just in time to see a group of prophets walking down the hill. The Spirit of God filled him with prophecies that began pouring out of his mouth. 11When people saw what he was doing, they said, “What in the world is going on with Kish’s son? Has Saul joined the prophets?”
12One of the men in town answered, “Don’t all those other prophets have fathers, too?”  This is when the saying got started: “Is Saul one of the prophets?”
13Saul finished prophesying and went home.
Saul tells his uncle part of the truth14Later, Saul’s uncle asked him and the servant, “Where have you been?” Saul said, “Trying to round up stray donkeys. We couldn’t find any, so we went to see Samuel.”
15Saul’s uncle said, “Well, what did he say?”
16Saul answered, “He said the donkeys had been found.” Saul skipped the good part, about getting anointed as king.
There’s a meeting in Mizpah17Samuel convened a national meeting at the town of Mizpah. 18When the people arrived, he gave them this message from the LORD, their God: “I brought you here to Israel from Egypt. I came to your rescue when Egypt held you as slaves. I did the same when other nations wanted to hurt you. 19Yet today, you’re turning your back on me. I’m the one who saved you when troubles trapped you. But now you’re telling me I’m not enough. You want a king. Fine. Stand up and present yourselves to the LORD, tribe by tribe and clan by clan.”
20Samuel called up each tribe. Looking for a king, he singled out the tribe of Benjamin by throwing dice,  in random selection.
21Samuel brought over all the extended families in the tribe of Benjamin—many clans. Tossing the dice led him to the Matri family. Samuel then called up the families in the Matri clan. The dice chose Saul—Kish’s son—over all the other men. But Saul wasn’t anywhere around.
Where to hide a donkey herder22The people prayed to God, “LORD, is Saul here?” The LORD answered, “Look over by the baggage.  He’s hiding there.”
23The people found Saul there and brought him out to the crowd, where he stood a head taller than everyone else. 24Samuel said to the crowd, “This is the man the LORD has chosen for you. Do you see him? Take a good look because there’s no one like him in all of Israel.” The people answered, “Long live the king.”
25Samuel told the people the rights and responsibilities of a king. Then he wrote it down as a sacred record for the nation, and he kept it at the worship center. Samuel sent the people home.
26Saul went home to Gibeah, escorted by a security guard—a team of warriors who were moved to protect their new king. 27But some useless men griped about Saul. They said, “How is this guy going to save us?” They gave him no respect and zero gifts. Saul stayed calm and let it go.
Pouring olive oil on the head of people was an ancient Jewish tradition known as anointing. It was a way of showing people that they had a connection with God. The ritual sounds messy, but the olive oil would have felt refreshing poured onto someone living without air-conditioning in the ancient Middle Eastern heat. Samuel used olive oil to anoint Saul and David (1 Samuel 16:13). Christians picked up that tradition and used it in a ritual that included praying for the sick and placing hands on them. “Do you have any sick people there? If so, ask the church leaders to pray over them and to anoint them with oil. Do this in the name of the Lord, invoking the Lord’s authority” (James 5:14).
An ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew text adds: “You’ll rule the LORD’s people and save them from enemies that surround them. When you do this, you’ll prove what I’m telling you is the truth—that the LORD picked you to rule Israel.
The oak of Tabor was apparently a well-known landmark in a region without a lot of trees. Tabor’s location is a mystery today.
Bethel is where the Israelites, centuries earlier, had pitched their tent worship center (Judges 20:27). This worship center was where they went to consult God through the priest, and to offer sacrifices. In Samuel’s day, the tent seemed to be gone, perhaps destroyed by Philistines when they captured the sacred box containing the Ten Commandments.
The name is literally Gibeah-elohim, which means Hill of God. This may refer to Gibeah, Saul’s hometown (10:26). But it may simply refer to a hill known at the time as the Hill of God.
A “burnt offering” is one that consumes the entire animal and pays the price for sin. It atones for sin. Laws related to the burnt offering are in Leviticus 1. It was perhaps ancient Israel’s most used sacrifice.
A peace offering, described in Leviticus 3, is one of several prescribed offerings in Jewish tradition. When Jewish people wanted to give thanks to God for something, such as good health or safety, they would sacrifice a sheep, goat, cow, or bull. They would burn part of the animal, including the kidneys and fat covering the intestines. They would eat the rest in celebration, often with family and friends. It takes a fair number of hungry people to eat a cow. But people were eager to eat meat because it was rare in Bible times for common folks to eat meat, many Bible scholars say.
This man’s question and the saying or proverb that follows are both puzzling. Perhaps the man who raised the first question was implying Kish’s son had as much right to prophecy as anyone else’s son or daughter. As for the second question, often described as a proverb or saying, it’s unclear if the intention was to criticize Saul or promote him.
More literally, he used “lots.” The lots may have been stones or animal bones marked in a way that produced random outcomes for “yes” or “no” answers. But many at the time taught that God controlled the outcome. So, they seemed to believe the dice spoke for God.
Saul the donkey herder hides by baggage—objects donkeys carry for their owners. Donkeys may have been nearby, giving Saul a sense of comfort and normalcy, something his kingship would not.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.