1 Samuel 10 – “Saul Becomes the First King of Israel”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Samuel anoints Saul as king. He predicts many events that subsequently take place. When Saul returns home, Samuel assembles the people at Mizpah and publicly declares him as the first king of Israel.

II. Photo
Saul is accepted because of his height: “When [Saul] took his place among the people, he stood a head taller than all the people. And Samuel said to the people, ‘Do you see the one whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.’ And all the people acclaimed him, shouting, ‘Long live the king!’” (vv. 23b-24)

III. Important Verses
1:  Samuel took a flask of oil and poured some on Saul’s head and kissed him, and said, “The LORD herewith anoints you ruler over His own people.
5-6: After that, you are to go on to the Hill of God, where the Philistine prefects reside. There, as you enter the town, you will encounter a band of prophets coming down from the shrine, preceded by lyres, timbrels, flutes, and harps, and they will be speaking in ecstasy. The spirit of the LORD will grip you, and you will speak in ecstasy along with them; you will become another man.
10-12: And when they came there, to the Hill, he saw a band of prophets coming toward him. Thereupon the spirit of God gripped him, and he spoke in ecstasy among them. When all who knew him previously saw him speaking in ecstasy together with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What’s happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul too among the prophets?” But another person there spoke up and said, “And who are their fathers?” Thus the proverb arose: “Is Saul too among the prophets?”
23-24: So they ran over and brought him from there; and when he took his place among the people, he stood a head taller than all the people. And Samuel said to the people, “Do you see the one whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people acclaimed him, shouting, “Long live the king!”
26-27: Saul also went home to Gibeah, accompanied by upstanding men whose hearts God had touched. ut some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” So they scorned him and brought him no gift. But he pretended not to mind.

IV. Outline
1. Saul is anointed as king
2-8. Samuel’s prophetic predictions
9. The events come true
10-13. Saul becomes a prophet
14-16. Saul reunites with his father
17-19. Samuel rebukes Israel for asking for a king
20-24. Saul is chosen as king in a lottery
25. Samuel puts the rules of the monarchy to writing
26-27. Saul is both supported and mocked

V. Comment
Chapter 10 tells the story of Saul’s appointment as king. He is anointed by Samuel in v. 1 and also picked by lot in vv. 20:24. A question that many ask is, “Why are there two coronations?” While the account can be understood as containing an initial private anointing followed by a public investiture, many scholars see chapter 10 as an amalgamation of two distinct traditions. For example, Collins writes: “There are two accounts of the election of Saul as the first king. The first is a quaint story in which Saul goes to consult the seer, Samuel, about lost donkeys. This story speaks volumes about early Israelite society. Lost donkeys were a matter of concern for prophets and for future kings. When Samuel meets him he anoints him as king. This is the first case in which a king is anointed in ancient Israel. Anointing with oil had various connotations. It was thought to give strength, to cleanse or purify, or it could be used for pleasure… According to the second account of the election of Saul, he was chosen by lot (1 Sam 10:20). The procedure here is similar to the discovery of Achan in Josh 7:16-18. This appears to be the formal method for discerning the divine will that is favored by the Deuteronomists. It is rendered redundant here by the preceding story of Saul and the donkeys. Another distinctively Deuteronomic note is sounded by the notice that Samuel wrote the rights and duties of the kingship in a book and gave it to Saul. Compare the law of the king in Deut 17:14-20, which specifically requires the king to have a copy of that law and to read it all the days of his life.” (222) Thus, according to scholars like Collins, chapter 10 is dealing with two accounts meshed by the Deuteronomist, not one seamless story.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Klein, Ralph W. “1 Samuel” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 10 (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1983).
McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr. “1 Samuel,” Anchor Bible vol. 8 (New York: Doubleday, 1980).
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