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Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 9

1 Samuel 9 marked the beginning of a new era in Israel. In this chapter, we will be introduced to Saul, the man who became Israel’s first king. Because the people had demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:19-20), “the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king” (1 Samuel 8:22).

Saul’s Lineage (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

The opening verses of 1 Samuel 9 give us the ancestral lineage of Saul, whose father was a “mighty man of power,” and perhaps indicated he was a man of wealth and authority among the small tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:1). 

Saul was introduced as a handsome and physically imposing man. He was described as “a choice young man, and a goodly [handsome]: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier [pleasant] person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2). 

A Common Errand (1 Samuel 9:3-6)

I am reminded that God usually works and reveals His way when we are already occupied doing the revealed will of the Lord in our daily life. Then, when we encounter divine providence in an extraordinary way, we understand that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD” (Psalm 37:23). Saul’s father had providentially sent him and a servant on an errand to find donkeys that had strayed from the family’s land (1 Samuel 9:3). Scholars estimate the journey was lengthy (1 Samuel 9:4). Altogether it may have been an excursion of some sixty-five miles (quite a distance given the terrain, and the heat of the desert). 

Knowing they had been away longer than expected, Saul grew concerned that his father would be anxious. Therefore, he advised his servant that they return home (1 Samuel 9:5). His servant, however, suggested they consult with the “seer” (the prophet), whom he described as “an honorable man; and all that he saith cometh surely to pass” (1 Samuel 9:6). 

A Wise Servant (1 Samuel 9:7-14)

Though the servant’s counsel was wise, Saul hesitated, for he had no gift or payment for the prophet’s time and advice. Knowing God’s servants depended on the people’s gifts (9:7), his servant provided a small amount of silver. Together they agreed to go into the city and seek the seer (1 Samuel 9:9-10). 

As they neared the city, they encountered young maidens who directed them to the high place. There, they were told, they would find the prophet going up to eat of the sacrifice (1 Samuel 9:11-14).

Providence: A Date with Destiny and A Divine Appointment (1 Samuel 9:15-27)

Saul did not know his life would change forever. He learned Samuel was waiting on him, as the LORD had told him (1 Samuel 9:15-16). 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” (1 Samuel 9:17). 

Saul did not know Samuel (1 Samuel 9:18-19a). Still, he learned that Samuel knew him, for the prophet requested that he remain for the meal and spend the night. He assured Saul, saying, “Tomorrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart” (1 Samuel 9:19). The prophet assured Saul that his father’s donkeys had been found. He saluted Saul with a greeting that left him perplexed. He said, “And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father’s house?” (1 Samuel 9:20).

While he did not know the full implications of the prophet’s words, Saul understood enough to protest that he was hardly the man in whom the nation would delight. After all, he was a “Benjamite, of the smallest tribes of Israel” (1 Samuel 9:21). (You may remember that the tribe of Benjamin had gone to war against Israel and was nearly destroyed, leaving only six hundred men that survived the battle, Judges 20-21). In Saul’s day, the tribe of Benjamin had not recovered from their devastating losses.)

Samuel overlooked Saul’s protest and honored him by placing him at the head of the table. There the prophet served Saul the best portion of the meat reserved for the priest (1 Samuel 9:22-24). He then invited Saul to be his guest for the night (1 Samuel 9:25), and they fellowshipped “upon the top of the house” to escape the heat. 

The next day, Saul and Samuel rose early in the morning (1 Samuel 9:26). Samuel walked Saul out of the city and asked his servant to proceed while they tarried. Samuel then bid Saul: “Stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God” (1 Samuel 9:27).

Closing thoughts:

The chapter break and the conclusion of today’s devotion are abrupt. In our following lesson, Samuel will anoint Saul with a vial of oil and declare that the LORD had chosen him to be the captain, the ruler of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1). 

While Samuel’s ministry as the prophet and judge of Israel was nearing its end, Saul’s was beginning. The people had rejected the LORD as their King (1 Samuel 8:7), and they would soon realize all the hardships the prophet had warned would come to pass under the reign of a king (1 Samuel 8:11-18). 

Questions to consider:

1) What desirable qualities were noted concerning Saul’s physical appearance? (1 Samuel 9:2)

2) What was Saul doing when the LORD directed Samuel to anoint him as king? (1 Samuel 9:3)

3) Why did Saul dismiss Samuel’s suggestion that God had chosen him to be Israel’s king? (1 Samuel 9:21)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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