Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
Then — That is, about that time; for that this happened before, and was the occasion of their desire of a king, may seem from chap. 12:12, although it is possible, that Nahash's preparation, might cause that desire, and that he did not actually come 'till their king was chosen.
Will serve — The occasion of this offer was, that they saw no likelihood of relief from their brethren in Canaan.
 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.
Thrust out, … — Partly for a reproach, as it here follows; and partly, to disable them. He leaves them one eye, that they might be fit to serve in any mean and base office.
 And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
After the herd — For being only anointed king, and not publickly inaugurated, nor having yet had opportunity of doing any thing worthy of his place, he thought fit to forbear all royal state, and to retire to his former private life, which, howsoever despised in this latter ages, was anciently in great esteem. Good magistrates are in pain, if their subjects are in tears.
 And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
Sent them — Wisely considering, that the sight of mens eyes does much more affect their hearts, than what they only hear with their ears.
Samuel — Whom he joins with himself, both because he was present with him; and that hereby he might gain the more authority.
Fear — A fear sent upon them by God, that they should not dare to deny their help. The fear of God will make men good subjects, good soldiers, and good friends to their country. They that fear God will make conscience of their duty to all men, particularly to their rulers.
 And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
Men of Judah — Who are numbered apart to their honour, to shew how readily they, to whom the kingdom was promised, Genesis 49:10, submitted to their king, though of another tribe; and how willing they were to hazard themselves for their brethren although they might have excused themselves from the necessity of defending their own country from their dangerous neighbours the Philistines.
 Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.
Then — While the people were together by Jabesh-gilead, wherein Samuel's great prudence and fidelity to Saul is evident. He suspended the confirmation of Saul at first, whilst the generality of the people were disaffected, and now when he had given such eminent proof of his princely virtues, and when the peoples hearts were eagerly set upon him, he takes this as the fittest season for that work.
Renew — That is, confirm our former choice.
 And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
Made — They owned and accepted him for their king.