X The anointing of Saul, ver. 1. Samuel gives him signs and instruction, ver. 2-8. The signs accomplished, ver. 9-13. His return to his father's house, ver. 14-16. He is elected, solemnly inaugurated, and returns to his own city, ver. 17-27.
Verse 1. Poured it - Which Is was the usual rite in the designation, as of priests and prophets, so also of kings, whereby was signified the pouring forth of the gifts of God's spirit upon him, to fit him for the administration of his office. These sacred unctions then used, pointed at the great Messiah, or anointed One, the King of the church, and High-priest of our profession, who was anointed with the oil of the spirit without measure, above all the priests and princes of the Jewish church. Kissed - As a testimony of his sincere friendship and affection to him. His inheritance - That is, over his own peculiar people. Whereby he admonisheth Saul, that this people were not so much his, as God's; and that he was not to rule them according his own will, but according to the will of God.
Verse 2. Rachel's sepulchre - In the way to Bethlehem, which city was in Judah; her sepulchre might be either in Judah, or in Benjamin; for the possessions of those two tribes were bordering one upon another. The first place he directs him to was a sepulchre, the sepulchre of one of his ancestors. There he must read a lecture of his own mortality, and now he had a crown in his eye, must think of his grave, in which all his honour would be laid in the dust.
Verse 3. Plain - Not that at the foot of mount Tabor, which was far from these parts; but another belonging to some other place. Bethel - Properly so called, which was in Ephraim, where there was a noted high-place, famous for Jacob's vision there, Gen. xxviii, 19, where it is probable they offered sacrifices, in this confused state of things, when the ark was in one place, and the tabernacle in another.
Verse 5. Prophets - By prophets he understands persons that wholly devoted themselves to religious studies and exercises. For the term of prophesying is not only given to the most eminent act of it, foretelling things to come; but also to preaching, and to the making or singing of psalms, or songs of praise to God. And they that wholly attended upon these things, are called sons of the prophets, who were commonly combined into companies or colleges, that they might more conveniently assist one another in God's work. This institution God was pleased so far to honour and bless, that sometimes he communicated unto those persons the knowledge of future things. Psaltery - Such instruments of musick being then used by prophets and other persons, for the excitation of their spirits in God's service. Prophesy - Either sing God's praises, or speak of the things of God, by a peculiar impulse of his spirit.
Verse 6. Will come - Hebrew. will leap, or rush upon thee. Another man - That is, thou shalt be suddenly endowed with another spirit, filled with skill of divine things, with courage, and wisdom, and magnanimity; and other qualifications befitting thy dignity.
Verse 7. Thou do - Hebrew. do what they hand findeth to do; that is, as thou shalt have a call and opportunity. He doth not intend that he should take the kingly government upon him, before his call to it was owned by the people, but that he should dispose his mind to a readiness of undertaking any publicservice when he should be called to his office.
Verse 8. Till I come - This, though now mentioned and commanded, was not immediately to be performed; as is evident, partly from the whole course of the story, (which shews, that Saul and Samuel, and the people, first met at Mizpeh, ver. 17, &c. where Saul was chosen by God, and accepted by the people as king; and afterwards went to Gilgal once before the time here spoken of, chap. xi, 14, 15,) and partly, by comparing this place with chap. xiii, 8, &c. where we find Saul charged with the violation of this command, two years after the giving of it. It seems this is given as a standing rule for Saul to observe while Samuel and he lived; that in case of any great future difficulties, as the invasion of enemies, Saul should resort to Gilgal, and call the people thither, and tarry there seven days, which was but a necessary time for gathering the people, and for the coming of Samuel thither. And Gilgal was chosen for this purpose, because that place was famous for the solemn renewing of the covenant between God and Israel, Josh. iv, 19-24, and for other eminent instances of God's favour to them, the remembrance whereof was a confirmation of their faith; and because it was a very convenient place for he tribes within and without Jordan to assemble, and consult, and unite their forces together upon such occasions.
Verse 10. Prophesied - The accomplishment of the two former signs is supposed, and this only is expressed, because this was more eminent than the former; the other were only transient acts, which passed in private between two or three persons meeting together; but this was a more permanent and notorious sign, done in a more solemn manner, and before many witnesses.
Verse 11. Is Saul - A man never instructed, nor exercised in, nor inclined to these matters.
Verse 12. Who is, &c. - Who is the father of all these prophets, among whom Saul now is one? Who is it that instructs and inspires them but God? They have it not from their parents, nor from their education, but by inspiration from God, who, when he pleaseth, can inspire Saul, or any other man with the same skill. And therefore wonder not at this matter, but give God the glory of it. A proverb - Used when any strange, or unexpected thing happened.
Verse 13. Highplace - Returning thither with the prophets, to praise God for these wonderful favours, and to beg counsel and help from God in this highbusiness.
Verse 16. Told not - In obedience to Samuel, who obliged him to secrecy: and from an humble modesty.
Verse 19. Now therefore, &c. - He puts them upon chusing their king by lot, that all might know God had chosen Saul (for the disposal of the lot is of the Lord) and to prevent all dispute and exception.
Verse 20. Benjamin - Which tribe was now preferred before Judah, because the kingdom was freely promised by God to Judah, and was to be given to him in love; but now the kingdom was in a manner forced from God, and given them in anger and therefore conferred upon an obscure tribe.
Verse 22. Inquired - Either by Urim or Thummim, which was the usual way of enquiry. Or, by Samuel, who by his prayer procured an answer. Stuff - Among the carriages or baggage of the people there assembled. This he probably did, from a sense of his own unworthiness.
Verse 24. None like him - As to the height of his bodily stature, which was in itself, commendable in a king, and some kind of indication of great endowments of mind. God save the king - Hebrew. let the king live; that is, long and prosperously. Hereby they accept him for their king, and promise subjection to him. None will be losers in the end by their humility and modesty. honour, like the shadows, follows them that flee from it, but flees from them that pursue it.
Verse 25. Manner of the kingdom - The laws and rules by which the kingly government was to be managed; agreeable to those mentioned Deut. xvii, 16, &c. Before the Lord - Before the ark, where it was kept safe from depravation.
Verse 26. Went home - Not being actually inaugurated into his kingdom, he thought fit to retire to his former habitation, and to live privately 'till he had an occasion to shew himself in a more illustrious manner. Then went - To give him safe and honourable conduct to his house, though not to abide with him there, which did not suit his present circumstance.
Verse 27. No presents - As subjects in those times used to do to their kings. This was an evidence both of his humility, and the mercifulness of his disposition. So Christ held his peace, in the day of his patience. But there is a day of recompense coming.