1 Samuel 10


Samuel anoints Saul captain of the Lord's inheritance, 1.

Instructs him concerning his return home, whom he should meet,

and what he should do, 2-8.

Saul meets a company of prophets, the Spirit of the Lord comes

on him, and he prophesies among them, 9-13.

He meets his uncle, and converses with him, 14-16.

Samuel calls the people together to Mizpeh, and upbraids them

for having rejected the Lord as their king, 17-19.

Lots are cast to find out the person proper to be appointed

king; Saul is chosen, 20-24.

Samuel shows the manner of the king, and writes it in a book,


Saul goes to Gibeah; and certain persons refuse to acknowledge

him as king, 26, 27.


Verse 1. Took a vial of oil] The reasons of this rite the reader

will find largely stated in Clarke's note on "Ex 29:7". The anointing

mentioned here took place in the open field. See the preceding

chapter, 1Sa 9:26, 27. How simple was the ancient ceremony of

consecrating a king! A prophet or priest poured oil upon his head,

and kissed him; and said, Thus the Lord hath anointed thee to be

captain over his inheritance. This was the whole of the ceremony.

Even in this anointing, Saul is not acknowledged as king, but

simply nagpid, a captain-one who goes before and leads

the people.

Verse 2. Rachel's sepulchre] This was nigh to Bethlehem. See

Ge 35:19.

At Zelzah] If this be the name of a place, nothing is known of


The Hebrew betseltsach is translated by the Septuagint

αλλομενουςμεγαλα, dancing greatly: now this may refer to the

joy they felt and expressed on finding the asses, or it may

refer to those religious exultations, or playing on instruments of

music, mentioned in the succeeding verses.

Verse 3. Three men going up to God to Bethel] Jacob's altar was

probably there still, Ge 28:19. However this might be, it was

still considered, as its name implies, the house of God; and to it

they were now going, to offer sacrifice.

The three kids were for sacrifice; the three loaves of bread

to be offered probably as a thank-offering; and the bottle or skin

full of wine, for a libation. When the blood was poured out before

the Lord, then they feasted on the flesh and on the bread; and

probably had a sufficiency of the wine left for their own


Verse 4. And they will salute thee] veshaalu

lecha leshalom, "And they will inquire of thee concerning peace,"

i.e., welfare. In the East, if this salutation be given, then the

person or persons giving it may be reckoned friends; if the others

return it, then there is friendship on both sides. Salaam alicum,

Peace to you! is the mode of compellation: Alicum essalaam, To you

be peace! is the return. If you give the former and receive not

the latter, you may expect hostility. The meaning of the prophet

is, When you come to the plain of Tabor, ye shall meet three men;

you need not be afraid of them, for they are friends; and they

will show this friendship, not only by bidding you good speed, but

by giving you two loaves of bread, a provision which you will need

for the remaining part of your journey.

Verse 5. The hill of God] The Targum says, "The hill on which

the ark of the Lord was. Calmet supposes it to be a height near


The garrison of the Philistines] Probably they kept a watch on

the top of this hill, with a company of soldiers to keep the

country in check.

A company of prophets] A company of scribes, says the Targum.

Probably the scholars of the prophets; for the prophets seem to

have been the only accredited teachers, at particular times, in

Israel; and at this time there does not appear to have been any

other prophet besides Samuel in this quarter. Probably the teacher

of this school was not an inspired man, but one acting under the

direction of Samuel. Mr. Harmer thinks that the following custom

among the Mohammedans greatly illustrates this obscure place:

"When the children have gone through the Koran, their relations

borrow a fine horse and furniture, and carry them about the town

in procession, with the book in their hand, the rest of their

companions following, and all sorts of music of the country

going before. Dr. Shaw, in p. 195, mentions the same custom;

adding the acclamations of their school-fellows, but taking no

notice of the music. We have no reason, however, to doubt the fact

on account of the doctor's silence; especially as it relates to

another part of Barbary, and is given us by those who resided some

years in that country. The doctor makes no use of this

circumstance relating to the education of youth in Barbary; but

the account of the procession above given seems to be a lively

comment on that ancient Jewish custom mentioned in these verses.

That the word prophet often signifies sons or scholars of the

prophets, and that prophesying often implies singing, has been

already remarked; but no author that I know of has given any

account of the nature of this procession, or its design. We are

sometimes told that high places were used for sacrifices; and in

one case music, it is certain, played before them when they went

up to worship, Isa 30:29. But did they not also return from

sacrifice with it? We are told that music was used by the prophets

to calm and compose them, and to invite the Divine influences;

which is indeed very true. But is it to the purpose? Did they go

forth in this manner from their college into the noise and

interruptions of the world, to call down the prophetic impulse?

But if we consider them as a company of the sons of the prophets,

going in procession with songs of praise and music playing before

them, and recollect that it is usual in this day for young

scholars to go in procession with acclamations and music, the

whole mystery seems to be unravelled. To which may be added, that

Saul was to meet them, and find himself turned into another man;

into a man, perhaps, who is instantaneously made as knowing in the

law of God as the youth to whom they were doing the above honours,

or any of his convoy; which acquaintance with the law of God was

very necessary for one who was to judge among his brethren as

their king. For this reason the Jewish kings were to write out a

copy of the law of God, and read it continually, that they might

be perfect masters of it, De 17:18, 20, which accomplishment some

youth had gained whom Saul met with, and who was honoured with the

solemnity the sacred historian speaks of, if the customs of South

Barbary may be supposed to be explanatory of those of Judea."

On the word prophet, and the general account given here, I shall

introduce the following illustrations from another work:-

"The word prophet generally conveys the idea of a person so far

acquainted with futurity as to discern some purpose of the Divine

Being relative to his government of the natural and moral world,

but which is not sufficiently matured by the economy of Providence

to make, as yet, its public appearance among men, and to prophesy

is usually understood to imply the foretelling such an event, the

time of its appearance, and the place of its operation, with

some preceding and subsequent circumstances. But that this was the

original and only meaning of the word prophet or prophesy, is very

far from being clear. The first place the word occurs in is

Ge 20:7, where the Lord says of Abraham to Abimelech, He is a

prophet, ( nabi hu,) and will pray (

veyith-pallel, will make earnest intercession) for thee. In the

common acceptation of the word it is certain Abraham was no

prophet; but here it seems to signify a man well acquainted with

the Supreme Being, capable of teaching others in Divine things,

and especially a man of prayer-one who had great influence with

the God he worshipped, and whose intercessions were available in

the behalf of others. And in this sense the original word

nabi is used in several places in the Old Testament.

"It was through inattention to this meaning of the word, which

appears to me to be the true, original, and ideal one, that all

the commentators and critics that I have met with have been so

sadly puzzled with that part of the history of Saul which is

related 1Sa 10:9-13; 19:20-24. In these passages the sacred

historian represents Saul, who was neither a prophet nor the son

of one, associating with the prophets, and prophesying among them,

to which he was led by the Spirit of the Lord which came upon him.

"That this can mean no more here than prayer and supplication to

God, accompanied probably with edifying hymns of praise and

thanksgiving, (for they had instruments of music, 1Sa 10:5,)

needs, in my opinion, little proof. If Saul had prophesied in the

common acceptation of the word, it is not likely that we should

have been kept absolutely in the dark concerning the subject and

design of his predictions, of which, by the way, not one syllable

is spoken in the oracles of God. The simple fact seems to have

been this: God, who had chosen this man to govern Israel, designed

to teach him that the Most High alone is the fountain of power,

and that by him only kings could reign so as to execute justice

properly, and be his ministers for good to the people. To

accomplish this gracious purpose, he gave him another heart

(1Sa 10:9)-a disposition totally different from what he had

ever before possessed, and taught him to pray.

"Coming among the sons of the prophets, on whom the Spirit of

the Lord rested, and who were under the instruction of Samuel,

(1Sa 19:20,) while they worshipped God with music and

supplication, Saul also was made a partaker of the same Divine

influence, and prophesied, i.e., made prayer and supplication

among them. To see one who did not belong to the prophetic school

thus incorporated with the prophets, pouring out his soul in

prayer and supplication, was an unusual sight, which could not

pass unnoticed, especially by those of Saul's acquaintance who

probably knew him in times past to have been as careless and

ungodly as themselves, (for it was only now he got that other good

Spirit from God, a sufficient proof that he had it not before.)

These companions of his, being unacquainted with that grace which

can in a moment influence and change the heart, would, according

to an invariable custom, express their astonishment with a sneer:

Is SAUL also among the prophets? That is, in modern language,

'Can this man pray or preach? He whose education has been the same

as our own, employed in the same secular offices, and formerly

companion with us in what he now affects to call folly and sin?

Can such a person be among the prophets?' Yes, for God may have

given him a new heart; and the Spirit of God, whose inspiration

alone can give sound understanding in sacred things, may have

come upon him for this very purpose, that he might announce unto

you the righteousness of the Lord, and speak unto your ruined

souls to edification, and to exhortation, and to comfort.

"The history of Elijah and the priests of Baal, mentioned in

1Ki 18:17-40, throws farther light on this subject. In

1Ki 18:26 it is said, 'They (the priests of Baal) took a

bullock and dressed it, and called on the name of Baal, from

morning to noon, saying, O Baal, hear us! And they leaped upon the

altar, and cried aloud, and cut themselves with knives, till the

blood gushed out; and they prophesied ( vaiyithnabbeu, and

they made supplication) until the time of the evening sacrifice.'

From the whole context it is plain that earnest, importunate

prayer, is alone what is meant by prophesying in this text. See

also 1Co 14:3.

"And as all the prophets of God, whose principal business it was

to instruct the people in the way of righteousness, were men of

prayer, who were continually interceding with God in behalf of

those to whom they ministered, the term nabi became their

proper appellative; and thus a part of their office, intercessors

for the people, might have given rise to that name by which the

Spirit of God thought proper in after times to distinguish those

whom he sent, not only to pray for and instruct the people, but

also to predict those future events which concerned the punishment

of the incorrigible and the comfort and exaltation of his own

servants." See a sermon which I have printed on 1Co 14:3,

entitled, "The Christian Prophet and his Work;" and

See Clarke on Ge 20:7.

A psaltery] nebel. As the word signifies in other places a

bottle or flagon, it was probably something like the utricularia

tibia or BAG-PIPE. It often occurs both with the Greeks and

Romans, and was evidently borrowed from the Hebrews.

A tabret] toph; a sort of drum or cymbal.

A pipe] chalil, from chal, to make a hole or

opening; a sort of pipe, flute, hautboy, clarionet, or the like.

A harp] kinnor; a stringed instrument similar to our

harp, or that on the model of which a harp was formed. On these

different instruments I shall have occasion to speak more at large

when I come to the Psalms.

Verse 7. Thou do as occasion serve thee] After God has shown

thee all these signs that thou art under his especial guidance,

fear not to undertake any thing that belongs to thy office, for

God is with thee.

What a number of circumstances thus precisely foretold! Does not

this prove that Samuel was under the continual inspiration of the


Verse 8. Seven days shalt thou tarry] I will come to thee within

seven days, offer sacrifices, receive directions from the Lord,

and deliver them to thee. It is likely that these seven days

referred to the time in which Samuel came to Saul to Gilgal,

offered sacrifices, and confirmed the kingdom to him, after he had

defeated the Ammonites. See 1Sa 11:14, 15.

Verse 10. Behold, a company of prophets] See on 1Sa 10:5, &c.

Verse 12. But who is their father?] The Septuagint, in its

principal editions, adds ουκεις; is it not Kish? This makes the

sense more complete.

Verse 13. He came to the high place.] I suppose this to mean the

place where Saul's father lived; as it is evident the next verse

shows him to be at home.

Verse 14. Saul's uncle] The word dod signifies a beloved

one, love, a lover, friend, &c.; and is the same as David. It is

supposed to mean uncle here; but I think it means some familiar


Verse 18. I brought up Israel out of Egypt] These are similar to

the upbraidings in 1Sa 8:7, &c.

Verse 19. Present yourselves-by your tribes] It appears that, in

order to find out the proper person who should be made their king,

they must determine by lot: 1. The tribe. 2. The thousands or

grand divisions by families. 3. The smaller divisions by

families. And, 4. The individual. When the lot was cast for the

tribe, Benjamin was taken; when for the thousand, the division of

Matri was taken; when for the family, the family of Kish was

taken; when for the individual, Saul, the son of Kish, was taken.

Verse 21. When they sought him, he could not be found.] Through

modesty or fear he had secreted himself.

Verse 22. The Lord answered] What a continual access to God! and

what condescension in his attention to all their requests!

The stuff among which he had secreted himself may mean the

carts, baggage, &c., brought by the people to Mizpeh.

Verse 24. God save the king.] There is no such word here; no,

nor in the whole Bible; nor is it countenanced by any of the

versions. The words which we thus translate here and elsewhere

are simply yechi hammelech, "May the king live; " and so

all the versions, the Targum excepted, which says, May the king

prosper! The French Vive le roi! is a proper version of the


Verse 25. The manner of the kingdom] It is the same word as in

1Sa 8:9; and doubtless the same thing is implied as is there

related. But possibly there was some kind of compact or covenant

between them and Saul; and this was the thing that was written in

a book, and laid up before the Lord, probably near the ark.

Verse 26. A band of men] Not a military band, as I imagine, but

some secret friends, or companions, who were personally attached

to him. Others think that all the men fit to bear arms are

intended; but this seems inconsistent with the life that Saul led

for some time afterwards; for he appears to have gone into his

agricultural concerns, and waited for a call from the Divine

providence. See 1Sa 11:5.

Verse 27. Brought him no presents] They gave him no proofs that

they acknowledged either the Divine appointment or his authority.

The Arab chiefs are, to this day, when on a march or excursion of

any kind, supplied with every necessary by the free-will offerings

or presents of the people in the villages or places where they

encamp. Saul was now a public character, and had a right to

support from the public. These sons of Belial refused to bear

their part; they brought him no presents. He marked it, but at

present held his peace; he was as if he were deaf: so says the

text. He was prudent, and did not immediately assume all the

consequence to which his office entitled him. It is probable,

however, that tribute is meant by the word present. The people in

general finding they had now a king, took it for granted that they

must pay tribute or taxes to him. This was a part of the manner of

the king which Samuel had shown them; the great majority had done

so, but certain refractory people refused to pay any thing, on the

pretence that such a person as Saul could not be a deliverer of

Israel. How, say they, shall this man save us?

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