1 Samuel 10 Study Notes


10:1 The act of anointing Saul with oil was anticipated in 9:16. The rhetorical question hasn’t the Lord anointed you implies an affirmative answer. For other examples of such questions, see Ex 4:14; Jos 1:9. On ruler, see note at 9:16.

10:2 Samuel provided Saul a series of signs that would help Saul validate in his own mind that God had indeed chosen him to lead Israel. Rachel’s Grave seems to have been located near the border of Ephraim. Based on a misunderstanding of Gn 35:19, a Crusader tradition located the tomb near Bethlehem, where a shrine is dedicated to her.

10:3 The site of the oak of Tabor is uncertain, except that it was near Bethel in Benjamin. Going up to God probably is a reference to Bethel as the place where God appeared to Jacob (Gn 28:15), and hence a religious shrine where others hoped to meet him as well.

10:4 God confirms to Saul his calling of him by a series of signs, the first of which is his meeting three men.

10:5 Gibeah of God (Hb givā€˜ath ha-’elohim) is probably Gibeah, Saul’s hometown and eventually his capital city (v. 10). The presence of Philistine garrisons meant Israel’s enemies were encroaching seriously on Israel’s territory. If the Philistines controlled Benjamin, they could cut off Israel’s communication between north and south and seriously restrict a major access route to the Mediterranean coast.

10:6 Come powerfully on you could be translated “rush upon you,” a meaning that might better fit the context. Transformed aptly describes a life God has changed (Rm 12:2).

10:7 Samuel’s words, do whatever your circumstances require, indicate that when the signs came true, Saul would know what to do (Mk 13:11).

10:8 Gilgal lay in the Jordan Valley near Jericho. It was the site of Israel’s base camp during the days of the conquest (Jos 4:19). Later it became a place where illicit sacrifice was offered (Am 4:4; 5:5).

10:9 The words God changed his heart demonstrate the beginning of God fulfilling Samuel’s prophetic word. The confirmation of all the signs . . . that day further emphasize the truth of Samuel’s word to Saul.

10:10 On the Spirit of God came powerfully on him, see note at v. 6.

10:11 The phrase everyone who knew him previously describes the citizens of Gibeah, probably Saul’s family and friends. Their question, Is Saul also among the prophets? reflects their amazement since they had never known him to prophesy before.

10:12 The unnamed man’s question, And who is their father? reminded those who were puzzled by Saul’s prophesying that it was God, not man, who determined who would be his prophet. The Spirit of God empowered the prophets (including Saul) for their ministry; their ancestry was irrelevant.

10:13 The high place was the place of worship from which the band of prophets had just come (v. 5).

10:14 Saul’s uncle may be Ner (14:50), father of Abner, who later became Saul’s general, but the text does not say for sure.

10:15-16 Saul was reluctant to share Samuel’s words about the matter of kingship when he first returned home. Perhaps he felt relatives and friends would have a more difficult time believing he would be their new leader.

10:17 On Mizpah, see note at 7:5.

10:18 Samuel did not bring his own words, but the words of God. I brought Israel out of Egypt recalled God’s dramatic deliverance of his people through the exodus (Ex 14). The kingdoms that were oppressing you described many peoples or nations that Israel encountered on the way to Canaan, plus all the enemies who continued to challenge Israel’s right to the land.

10:19 Samuel suggested the people’s request for a king was really a rejection of God’s faithful care in favor of a human leader. The law of Moses established the terms for choosing a king (Dt 17:14-20), but Samuel’s speech made clear the people had sinned by asking for one at this time in their history. His command, present yourselves, called the people to stand together before the Lord so he could reveal his choice for Israel’s leader.

10:20-21 These verses probably describe the casting of lots. God’s guidance of the process would verify to the people and again to Saul his choice for Israel’s king.

10:22 Interpreters generally believe the question, Has the man come here yet? was a request for Saul’s whereabouts. Others suggest the phrase be translated, “Is anyone else here?” Hidden among the supplies probably suggests a place at the perimeter. Saul had been hesitant to reveal his destiny to his own uncle (v. 16), and now he appeared slow to accept the responsibility of the kingship.

10:23 On stood a head taller than anyone else, see note at 9:2. On the other hand, taller people were often viewed elsewhere in Scripture as threats (17:4-5; Nm 13:28).

10:24 At least according to the standards for kingship the nation entertained, Saul seemed like the right choice. The people’s enthusiastic, Long live the king! signified the instant acceptance Saul received from many.

10:25 The phrase rights of kingship recalled Samuel’s warning to the people about the cost of having a king (8:11-18). Samuel wrote them on a scroll as a lasting testimony or covenant between the people and Saul. Placing the scroll in the presence of the Lord meant in the tabernacle (Ex 40:20; Dt 31:26; Jos 24:26), which emphasized God’s oversight of the process; he would hold Israel accountable for this decision.

10:26 Saul’s hometown, Gibeah, then became Israel’s capital. Brave men whose hearts God had touched were the beginning of Saul’s army; the Lord was providing Saul the resources he needed to rule Israel.

10:27 The expression wicked men also describes Hophni and Phinehas (2:12). Although the text condemns their attitude, these individuals doubted Saul’s abilities—probably because he appeared too timid to accept the kingship (10:22-23). They did not bring him a gift as custom dictated when approaching the king. The phrase Saul said nothing is literally “Saul was as one deaf,” suggesting he chose to pretend his critics’ objections had not been voiced. Others would remember the negative comments, however (11:12).