1 Samuel 10 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Samuel 10)

Verse 1

[1] Then 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?

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

[2] When 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?

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

[3] Then 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:

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, Genesis 28:19, 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

[5] After 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:

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

[6] And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.

Will come — Heb. 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

[7] And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.

Thou do — Heb. 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 public service when he should be called to his office.

Verse 8

[8] And 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.

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, verse 17, etc. 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. 11:14,15,) and partly, by comparing this place with chap. 13:8, etc. 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, Joshua 4:19-24, 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

[10] And 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.

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

[11] And 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?

Is Saul — A man never instructed, nor exercised in, nor inclined to these matters.

Verse 12

[12] And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?

Who is, … — 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

[13] And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

High place — Returning thither with the prophets, to praise God for these wonderful favours, and to beg counsel and help from God in this high business.

Verse 16

[16] And 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.

Told not — In obedience to Samuel, who obliged him to secrecy: and from an humble modesty.

Verse 19

[19] And 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.

Now therefore, … — 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

[20] And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.

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

[22] Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.

Enquired — 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

[24] And 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.

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 — Heb. 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

[25] Then 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.

Manner of the kingdom — The laws and rules by which the kingly government was to be managed; agreeable to those mentioned Deuteronomy 17:16, etc.

Before the Lord — Before the ark, where it was kept safe from depravation.

Verse 26

[26] And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.

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

[27] But 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.

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.