First Samuel 8-12 are the transition chapters in Israel’s history. Israel moves from being governed directly by God through the instrument of judges to the direction by kings.
In chapter 8, the people confront Samuel and wanted him to appoint a king so that they could “be like all the other nations.”
Chapter 9 introduced us to Israel’s first king: Saul, the son of Kish.
Saul was from a well-to-do family. Kish was described in 9:1 as being a “mighty man of power” which speaks to his influence.
Saul, in spite of coming from an influential family, wasn’t spiritually astute. His father sent him and his servant out to look for some lost donkeys. After three days of searching, the servant suggested they go see a man of God, who was Samuel. The impression we get from Saul’s reaction to that suggestion is that he never heard of the guy. That is highly unusually seeing that Samuel was a nationally recognized prophet.
Saul’s encounter with him changes all of that.
I) The Private Confirmation (9:26-10:16)
God had told Samuel of His selection of Saul (9:15, 17), so when Saul encounters Samuel, he is invited to dine with him.
After they dine together and Samuel treats Saul with kindness and respect, he sends Saul’s servant a head of them and takes a flask of oil to anoint him (10:1). The act of pouring oil was an act reserved for anointing priests and sacred objects. So by Samuel’s act of pouring oil on Saul means that God was staking a divine claim upon him.
Samuel tells Saul that God has appointed him to be commander (king) over his inheritance (Israel). He is designated as a leader, not a king yet, which means he is a “king-to-be,” like a prince.
Now, in order to demonstrate that he wasn’t “crazy” and had chosen the wrong man, Samuel tells Saul he will see three confirmatory signs that will come to pass with specificity.
– He will be told by two men sitting at Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah that the donkeys had been found.
– He will then encounter three worshippers who will be carrying goats, bread, and wine. They will greet Saul and give him two loaves of bread.
– Then he will meet a group of prophets near where a Philistine garrison is located and the Spirit of God will come upon Saul and he will prophesy with them.
The last sign is unusual, but judges had experienced the Spirit of God rushing upon them. In this case, Saul would “prophesy” with the prophets. The idea is that a prophet is a mouthpiece for God. The king, in turn, was to obey His Word.
So. After Saul leaves Samuel, all the “signs” are confirmed beginning in 10:9. The writer chooses to center on the last one regarding Saul’s prophesying with the prophets.
He is described as receiving “another heart” from the Lord. The phrase can mean God “overturned” his heart. Saul became something different. It is not “salvation” because later we see how he did not obey God. However, it was a demonstration of the presence of God. The work of God was so surprising a proverb is created to describe the unexpected and the unexplained (10:12).
II) The Public Anointing (10:17-27)
All of these events in Saul’s life came rather rapidly and must have startled him because when he returned home he tells his uncle about meeting Samuel, but he did not tell him about being chosen as king over Israel (10:15, 16).
Later, Samuel calls the people together at Mizpah, a centrally located area where Israel had met for a major time of worship and public repentance in chapter 7.
Samuel begins by rebuking Israel’s rejection of God’s direction and governing (18, 19). He then tells God will present their king to them. In a public display of God’s hand, by casting lots that separates out Benjamin, then Saul’s tribe and family, and then Saul himself, Israel is presented their king.
When Saul is chosen he is not present, but is found “hiding among the equipment.” He was running from this calling God had placed on his life. In a way, his absence at his own coronation foreshadows a reign where he would vacate his spiritual responsibilities.
The people, however, bring him forward and hail him as their new king. A man who was “head and shoulders” above everyone else. A man who was physically impressive, but regrettably, spiritually weak.
God is gracious, though. He gives Saul a group of valiant men whose hearts the Lord touched and they unite themselves to him.