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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
Is it not because ... - Samuel answers Saul's tacit or expressed wonder, by telling him why he did as he did. (Compare 1 Samuel 9:21.)
2When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
How should Saul know that what Samuel said was the word of the Lord? Samuel gives him a sign, "Thou shalt find two men," etc. (Compare Judges 6:36-40; Isaiah 7:11-14; John 6:30; Mark 11:2; Mark 14:13, etc.)
Zelzah - A place absolutely unknown.
3Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
The plain of Tabor - It should be "the oak or terebinth"" of Tabor" (Judges 4:11 note). It has been ingeniously conjectured that "Tabor" is either a different form of "Deborah," or a corruption of it, and that the "oak," or "terebinth of Tabor," is the same as "Allon-bachuth," the oak under which Deborah was buried, and which lay "beneath Bethel" Genesis 35:8. The terebinth, where the three men came upon Saul, must have been at some point previous to that where the road leading northward from Jerusalem branches; when they reached that point they would go on with their offerings to Bethel, he would pursue his journey to Gibeah.
4And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
5After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
Hill of God - Rather, "Gibeah" of God, and so in 1 Samuel 10:10. Two things are clear; "one" that Saul had got home when he got to Gibeah of God, for there he found his uncle, and no further journeying is so much as hinted at, and the same word "Gibeah" describes his home at 1 Samuel 10:26. The "other" that there was a high place at Gibeah just above the city, from which he met the company of prophets "coming down." Hence, it is obvious to conclude that the name "Gibeah of God" (which occurs nowhere else) was sometimes given to Gibeah of Saul on account of the worship on its high place, or, possibly, that the name "Gibeah of God" described the whole hill on a part of which the city Gibeah stood.
Where is the garrison of the Philistines - It seems strange that Samuel should give this description of Gibeah to Saul, who must have been so well acquainted with it. Possibly they may be explanatory words inserted by the narrator with reference to 1 Samuel 13:2.
Musical instruments were the accompaniments of the prophetic song 1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 25:3. The "Psaltery" is a kind of lyre with ten strings, in the shape of an earthen wine bottle (נבל nebel, whence νάβλα nabla) which was something like a sugar-loaf or a delta. The tabret is a kind of drum or tambourine, or timbrel, usually played by dancing women (Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34. Compare Jeremiah 31:4). The pipe חליל châlı̂yl, literally the "bored" or "pierced" instrument) is a kind of flute used on occasions of joy and mirth Isaiah 5:12; 1 Kings 1:40; Psalm 68:25. The "harp" כנור kı̂nnôr, whence the Greek κινύρα kinura was a stringed instrument, and that played upon by David 1 Samuel 16:16; 1 Samuel 19:9; Psalm 43:4; Psalm 57:8.
6And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
Will come upon thee - The word rendered "come," means to "come" or "pass upon," as fire does when it breaks out and spreads Amos 5:6; hence, it is frequently used of the Spirit of God passing upon anyone. (See Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; below 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 16:13.)
Shalt be turned into another man - This is a remarkable expression, and occurs nowhere else. It describes the change in point of mental power and energy which would result from the influx of the Spirit of the Lord 1 Samuel 10:9. In the case of Samson it was a supernatural bodily strength; in the case of Saul a capacity for ruling and leading the people of which before he was destitute, and which the Spirit worked in him. (Compare Acts 1:8; Isaiah 11:2-4.)
7And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
8And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.
Seven days shalt thou tarry ... - The appointment here made is not to be confounded with that mentioned in marginal reference.
9And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
10And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
11And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
12And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
But who is their father - This is a very obscure phrase. If by "father" be intended the head or leader (compare 1 Chronicles 25:6; 2 Kings 2:12) of the prophets, the question means: "What kind of leader can they have to admit such a person as Saul into the company?" Some versions read "Who is his father?" in the sense: "Who would have expected Kish to have a son among the prophets?" (Compare Matthew 13:54-55.)
13And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.
14And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
From the order of the narrative, and the mention of Saul's servant, it looks as if Saul found his uncle at the high place. Perhaps some solemnity similar to that mentioned in 1 Samuel 9:19 was going on at this time, in which the prophets had been taking part.
15And Saul's uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
16And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.
17And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;
18And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
19And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.
For the use of "thousand" as equivalent to "family," see 1 Samuel 23:23; Judges 6:15 margin. In Numbers 1:16 it may mean whole tribes.
20And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
Caused ... to come near ... was taken - The Hebrew phrases are exactly the same as in Joshua 7:16-17, where the King James Version renders the first has "brought."
21When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
The family of Matri - This name occurs nowhere else among the families of Benjamin, or in the genealogy of Saul. (See 1 Samuel 9:1 note.)
22Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
Among the stuff - Rather, "the baggage." The assembly was like a camp, and the baggage (impedimenta) of the whole congregation was probably collected in one place, where the wagons were arranged for protection.
23And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
24And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
25Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
The manner of the kingdom - i. e., the just prerogative of the kingdom, the law, or bill of rights, by which the king's power was limited as well as secured. It is not improbable that what Samuel wrote was simply a transcript of Deuteronomy 17:14-20, which he "laid up before the Lord," i. e., placed by the side of the ark of the covenant with the copy of the Law (see Deuteronomy 31:26). It would be ready for reference if either king or people violated the "law of the kingdom."
26And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
A band of men - Rather, "the host," "men of valor," There seems to be an opposition intended between the "valiant men" and the "children of Belial" (1 Samuel 10:27).
27But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
Presents - The מנחה mı̂nchāh was the token of homage and acknowledgment from the subject to the sovereign, and from the tributary nation to their suzerain. (See 2 Samuel 8:2, 2 Samuel 8:6; Judges 3:17-18; 1 Kings 4:21; 2 Kings 17:4, etc.; Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 16:1.) Saul dissembled his resentment, and waited for the favorable tide which soon came with the invasion of Nahash.