Read 1 Samuel 9
Samuel Anoints Saul
1 There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.
3 Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4 So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them.
5 When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”
6 But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”
7 Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”
8 The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)
10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was.
11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?”
12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”
14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.
15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”
17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”
18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”
19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”
21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”
22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and seated them at the head of those who were invited—about thirty in number. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.”
24 So the cook took up the thigh with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’” And Saul dined with Samuel that day.
25 After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. 26 They rose about daybreak, and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get ready, and I will send you on your way.” When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us”—and the servant did so—“but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.”
If someone asks you to describe yourself, what would you say? Would you start with your age, gender, occupation, school, or marital status? Would you include adjectives describing some of your defining characteristics? Maybe you’d share your enneagram number or skin color. We all use different words to describe or define ourselves.
In 1 Samuel 9 we see how two men (Saul and Samuel) are described. Saul the son of Kish, was “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and was a head taller than anyone else” (1 Samuel 9:2). Saul will deliver God’s people from the hand of the Philistines. Samuel, on the other hand, was known as the “man of God.” One is described by his physical characteristics and the other is described in terms of his relationship with the Lord.
We’ll soon see that Saul’s character deficits lead to his downfall. His pride, impatience, and godless actions cause him to fail as Israel’s first king. God chooses to replace Saul with a man after His own heart to lead His people (1 Samuel 13:14).
What comes after your name? Are you described by a physical characteristic, by your job, or by your character. As followers of Christ, we want to be known as children of God, as people who are defined by our relationship with the Lord and the subsequent fruit we produce. Yes, we see glimpses of greatness in Saul at times. He’s more than just someone who’s tall, dark, and handsome. But unfortunately the fruit is not long-lasting, and his long-term reputation is not one worthy of respect or renown. May we be people who are like Samuel, known for our relationship with the Lord.
- How would you describe yourself in a few sentences if someone asked about you? Would you share physical characteristics, or would you describe your relationship with the Lord?
- What are some admirable qualities we see in Saul in this chapter?
- How would you like your character and reputation to be remembered? What steps can you take today toward that goal?
God, I pray we would be men and women after your own heart. We pray that we, like Samuel, would be known as men and women of God. On our own, we will seek our own credit, pleasure, and fame, but please help us to be people of God. Help strengthen us so that we can strengthen your church, so that we might be about the things you want us to be about. Help us to be known not just by physical or material characteristics but by our character. Amen.
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3 thoughts on “1 Samuel 9”
In a few chapters we will see Samuel speak these words over the unlikely shepherd-king, David: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God is not looking at our height, strength, stature, or resume, he’s looking at our hearts. No matter how influential, prestigious, wealthy or lovely, the position of our hearts before holy God matters most, as he judges the thoughts, motives and intentions of our hearts. My greatest desire is to know Christ fully and make him known. “He must greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30).
I just sent 1 Samuel 16:7 to my younger brother who is looking to get another job with higher pay. I am hoping he will heed these words and make his heart right before God before stepping out in that direction. Thanks, Ella.
Verses 6-8 also spoke to me. When Saul was ready to turn back, it was the servant who encouraged Saul to keep going. He told Saul there was a man of God there. And he was willing to give his own money to meet that man! In the last verse Samuel asked for the servant to go on ahead because he needed to speak to Saul alone. The servant obeyed. When you first see me I would be characterized as a senior. Then you would soon realize I’m a mature follower of Christ. It’s easy for me to feel there isn’t a place to serve Christ as I have in the past. Probably one of satan’s lies. So for all other seniors who are reading this, let’s be like Saul’s servant: Be ready and willing. Be supportive and give of our resources. God will use us in His time. Or at times, like Saul’s servant was told…”Tell the servant to go on ahead of us —and the servant did so-“