1 Samuel 9


Saul's lineage and description; he is sent by his father to

seek some lost asses, 1-5.

Not finding them, he purposes to go and consult Samuel

concerning the proper method of proceeding, 6-14.

The Lord informs Samuel that he should anoint Saul king, 15, 16.

Samuel invites Saul to dine with him, and informs him that the

asses are found; and gives him an intimation that he is to be

king, 17-21.

Saul dines with Samuel, and afterwards he is taken to the

house-top, where both commune together, 22-27.


Verse 1. A mighty man of power.] Literally, a strong man; this

appears to be the only power he possessed; and the physical

strength of the father may account for the extraordinary size of

the son. See 1Sa 9:2.

Verse 2. From his shoulders and upwards] It was probably from

this very circumstance that he was chosen for king; for, where

kings were elective, in all ancient times great respect was paid

to personal appearance.

Verse 3. The asses of Kish-were lost] What a wonderful train of

occurrences were connected in order to bring Saul to the throne of

Israel! Every thing seems to go on according to the common course

of events, and yet all conspired to favour the election of a man

to the kingdom who certainly did not come there by the approbation

of God.

Asses grow to great perfection in the East; and at this time, as

there were no horses in Judea, they were very useful; and on them

kings and princes rode.

Verse 5. Were come to the land of Zuph] Calmet supposes that

Saul and his servant went from Gibeah to Shalisha, in the tribe of

Dan; from thence to Shalim, near to Jerusalem; and thence,

traversing the tribe of Benjamin, they purposed to return to

Gibeah; but passing through the land of Zuph, in which Ramatha,

the country of Samuel, was situated, they determined to call on

this prophet to gain some directions from him; the whole of this

circuit he supposes to have amounted to no more than about

twenty-five leagues, or three days' journey. We do not know

where the places were situated which are here mentioned: the

Targum translates thus: "And he passed through the mount of the

house of Ephraim, and went into the southern land, but did not

meet with them. And he passed through the land of Mathbera, but

they were not there; and he passed through the land of the tribe

of Benjamin, but did not find them; then they came into the land

where the prophet of the Lord dwelt. And Saul said to his

servant," &c.

Verse 7. There is not a present to bring to the man of God] We

are not to suppose from this that the prophets took money to

predict future events: Saul only refers to an invariable custom,

that no man approached a superior without a present of some kind

or other. We have often seen this before; even God, who needs

nothing, would not that his people should approach him with empty

hands. "It is very common in Bengal for a person, who is desirous

of asking a favour from a superior, to take a present of fruits or

sweetmeats in his hand. If not accepted, the feelings of the

offerer are greatly wounded. The making of presents to appease a

superior is also very common in Bengal."-WARD'S Customs.

Verse 8. The fourth part of a shekel of silver] We find from the

preceding verse, that the bread or provisions which they had

brought with them for their journey was expended, else a part of

that would have been thought a suitable present; and here the

fourth part of a shekel of silver, about ninepence of our money,

was deemed sufficient: therefore the present was intended more as

a token of respect than as an emolument.

Verse 9. Beforetime in Israel] This passage could not have been

a part of this book originally: but we have already conjectured

that Samuel, or some contemporary author, wrote the memoranda, out

of which a later author compiled this book. This hypothesis,

sufficiently reasonable in itself, solves all difficulties of this


Was beforetime called a seer.] The word seer, roeh,

occurs for the first time in this place; it literally signifies a

person who SEES; particularly preternatural sights. A seer and a

prophet were the same in most cases; only with this difference,

the seer was always a prophet, but the prophet was not always a

seer. A seer seems to imply one who frequently met with, and

saw, some symbolical representation of God. The term prophet

was used a long time before this; Abraham is called a prophet,

Ge 20:7, and the term frequently occurs in the law. Besides,

the word seer does not occur before this time; but often occurs

afterwards down through the prophets, for more than three

hundred years. See Am 7:12; Mic 3:7.

All prophets, false and true, profess to see God; see the case

of Balaam, Nu 24:4, 16, and Jer 14:14. All

diviners, in their enthusiastic flights, boasted that they had

those things exhibited to their sight which should come to pass.

There is a remarkable account in Virgil which may serve as a

specimen of the whole; the Sibyl professes to be a seer:-

________________ Bella, horrida bella,

Et Tyberim molto spumantem sanguine CERNO.

AEN. lib. vi., ver. 86.

Wars, horrid wars, I VIEW; a field of blood;

And Tyber rolling with a purple flood.

I think the 9th verse comes more naturally in after the 11th.

1Sa 9:9, 11

Verse 11. Young maidens going out to draw water] So far is it

from being true, that young women were always kept closely shut up

at home, that we find them often in the field, drawing and

carrying water, as here.

Verse 12. He came to-day to the city] Though Samuel lived

chiefly in Ramah, yet he had a dwelling in the country, at a place

called Naioth, where it is probable there was a school of the

prophets. See 1Sa 19:18-24.

A sacrifice of the people] A great feast. The animals used were

first sacrificed to the Lord; that is, their blood was poured out

before him; and then all the people fed on the flesh. By high

place probably Samuel's altar is alone meant; which no doubt was

raised on an eminence.

Verse 13. He doth bless the sacrifice] He alone can perform the

religious rites which are used on this occasion.

Afterwards they eat that be bidden.] Among the Arabs, often a

large feast is made of sacrificed camels, &c., and then the people

of the vicinity are invited to come and partake of the sacrifice.

This is the custom to which allusion is made here.

Verse 14. Come out against them] Met them.

Verse 15. Now the Lord had told Samuel] How this communication

was made, we cannot tell.

Verse 16. Thou shalt anoint him to be captain] Not to be king,

but to be nagid or captain of the Lord's host. But in ancient

times no king was esteemed who was not an able warrior. Plutarch

informs us that Alexander the Great esteemed the following verse

the most correct, as to its sentiment, of any in the whole Iliad

of Homer:-



"The king of kings, Atrides, you survey;

Great in the war, and great in acts of sway."


Verse 17. Behold the man whom I spake to thee of] What an

intimate communion must Samuel have held with his God! A constant

familiarity seems to have existed between them.

Verse 19. I am the seer] This declaration would prepare Saul for

the communications afterwards made.

Verse 20. As for thine asses] Thus he shows him that he knew

what was in his heart, God having previously revealed these things

to Samuel.

And on whom is all the desire of Israel?] Saul understood this

as implying that he was chosen to be king.

Verse 21. Am not I a Benjamite] This speech of Saul is

exceedingly modest; he was now becomingly humble; but who can bear

elevation and prosperity? The tribe of Benjamin had not yet

recovered its strength, after the ruinous war it had with the

other tribes, Jud 20:29-46.

Verse 22. Brought them into the parlour] It might as well be

called kitchen; it was the place where they sat down to feast.

Verse 23. Said unto the cook] tabbach, here rendered cook;

the singular of tabbachoth, female cooks, 1Sa 8:13, from

the root tabach, to slay or butcher. Probably the butcher is

here meant.

Verse 24. The shoulder, and that which was upon it] Probably

the shoulder was covered with a part of the caul, that it might be

the better roasted. The Targum has it the shoulder and its thigh;

not only the shoulder merely, but the fore-leg bone to the knee;

perhaps the whole fore-quarter. Why was the shoulder set before

Saul? Not because it was the best part, but because it was an

emblem of the government to which he was now called. See Isa 9:6:

And the government shall be upon his SHOULDER.

Verse 25. Upon the top of the house.] All the houses in the East

were flat-roofed; on these people walked, talked, and frequently

slept, for the sake of fresh and cooling air.

Verse 26. Called Saul to the top of the house] Saul had no doubt

slept there all night; and now, it being the break of day, "Samuel

called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may

send thee away." There was no calling him to the house-top a

second time he was sleeping there, and Samuel called him up.

Verse 27. As they were going down] So it appears that Saul arose

immediately, and Samuel accompanied him out of the town, and sent

the servant on that he might show Saul the word-the counsel or

design, of the Lord. What this was we shall see in the following


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