There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin.
His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.
One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for the donkeys.”
So Saul took one of the servants and traveled through the hill country of Ephraim, the land of Shalishah, the Shaalim area, and the entire land of Benjamin, but they couldn’t find the donkeys anywhere.
Finally, they entered the region of Zuph, and Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go home. By now my father will be more worried about us than about the donkeys!”
But the servant said, “I’ve just thought of something! There is a man of God who lives here in this town. He is held in high honor by all the people because everything he says comes true. Let’s go find him. Perhaps he can tell us which way to go.”
“But we don’t have anything to offer him,” Saul replied. “Even our food is gone, and we don’t have a thing to give him.”
“Well,” the servant said, “I have one small silver piece. We can at least offer it to the man of God and see what happens!”
(In those days if people wanted a message from God, they would say, “Let’s go and ask the seer,” for prophets used to be called seers.)
“All right,” Saul agreed, “let’s try it!” So they started into the town where the man of God lived.
As they were climbing the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water. So Saul and his servant asked, “Is the seer here today?”
“Yes,” they replied. “Stay right on this road. He is at the town gates. He has just arrived to take part in a public sacrifice up at the place of worship.
Hurry and catch him before he goes up there to eat. The guests won’t begin eating until he arrives to bless the food.”
So they entered the town, and as they passed through the gates, Samuel was coming out toward them to go up to the place of worship.
Now the LORD had told Samuel the previous day,
“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him to be the leader of my people, Israel. He will rescue them from the Philistines, for I have looked down on my people in mercy and have heard their cry.”
When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said, “That’s the man I told you about! He will rule my people.”
Just then Saul approached Samuel at the gateway and asked, “Can you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”
“I am the seer!” Samuel replied. “Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way.
And don’t worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.”
Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”
Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and placed them at the head of the table, honoring them above the thirty special guests.
Samuel then instructed the cook to bring Saul the finest cut of meat, the piece that had been set aside for the guest of honor.
So the cook brought in the meat and placed it before Saul. “Go ahead and eat it,” Samuel said. “I was saving it for you even before I invited these others!” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
When they came down from the place of worship and returned to town, Samuel took Saul up to the roof of the house and prepared a bed for him there.
At daybreak the next morning, Samuel called to Saul, “Get up! It’s time you were on your way.” So Saul got ready, and he and Samuel left the house together.
When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”