We’ve moved into the section of my study on 1 Samuel where we see the beginning of Israel’s monarchy.
In chapter 8, the elders demanded a human king to rule over them and in so rejecting Samuel and his corrupt sons, the elders (all Israel) were rejecting God as their king.
The wanted to have their government their way.
They wanted to trust a man to lead them into battle, not God.
They wanted to be absolved of being responsible to God.
Their request was granted by God and thus was set into motion the giving of a king who was like “all the other nations.”
Though he was from a well-to-do family, physically impressive, and eventually skillful in leading, he is revealed as being pastorally incompetent, spiritually ignorant, and willfully disobedient.
The genealogy of Saul begins in 9:1 similarly to that of Samuel. In fact, the author may had intentionally wanted the reader to notice the connection.
Both men came from the same area.
Both rose from obscurity to national prominence.
Both led against the Philistines.
However, Samuel was requested from God
Whereas, Saul was requested by men
Samuel’s life is marked by the presence of God
Whereas, Saul’s life was not.
Despite those similarities, Saul’s background was different. Whereas Samuel’s family was poor, Saul’s was wealthy. He is noted as being from a lineage described as “a mighty man of power.” This has the idea of wealth and prosperity. In other words, Saul was a rich boy who came from an influential family.
Additionally, as verse 2 states, he was physically bigger and was “good looking.”
However, even though he comes from a well to do family and being physically appealing, 9:3-10 describes a particular situation that arose which reveals Saul’s spiritual failing.
It begins with Saul’s father, Kish, asking his son to look for some run away donkey’s. There is something of an editorial comment upon Saul’s ability to “shepherd.” After three days of trying to find some big animals, he is unable to locate them.
Certainly the Lord is divinely leading the donkeys for Saul to hook up with Samuel, but there is something to say about his “shepherding” skills. If he is unable to locate large farm animals that ran away, how exactly is he going to “shepherd” a nation of people?
Compounding this conclusion about Saul’s spiritual abilities, when his servant tells him about a man of God, who is undoubtedly Samuel, Saul seems to be clueless about who he is. There is a profound ignorance regarding Samuel, especially seeing that he is supposed to be known to all Israel (3:20, 4:1). And there is the absolute failure of Saul to consider seeking divine help in the first place after three days of nothing.
The pair find Samuel and we are told the LORD had already revealed to Samuel that Saul would be coming the previous day (9:15, 16).
As Saul approached, the LORD tells Samuel that the one He told him about the previous day was coming. God describes Saul as “This one shall reign over my people.” (9:17) The core meaning for the word “reign” or “rule” has the idea of “to restrain” or “constrict.” Though it is only Samuel who knows this at the time, God may have been telling him that Saul was the means by which He is going to punish Israel for rejecting Him.