1Sa 10:1-27. Samuel Anoints Saul, and Confirms Him by the Prediction of Three Signs.
1. Then Samuel took a vial of oil -- This was the ancient (Jud 9:8) ceremony of investiture with the royal office among the Hebrews and other Eastern nations. But there were two unctions to the kingly office; the one in private, by a prophet (1Sa 16:13), which was meant to be only a prophetic intimation of the person attaining that high dignity -- the more public and formal inauguration (2Sa 2:4; 5:3) was performed by the high priest, and perhaps with the holy oil, but that is not certain. The first of a dynasty was thus anointed, but not his heirs, unless the succession was disputed (1Ki 1:39; 2Ki 11:12; 23:30; 2Ch 23:11).
kissed him -- This salutation, as explained by the words that accompanied it, was an act of respectful homage, a token of congratulation to the new king (Ps 2:12).
2. When thou art departed from me to-day -- The design of these specific predictions of what should be met with on the way, and the number and minuteness of which would arrest attention, was to confirm Saul's reliance on the prophetic character of Samuel, and lead him to give full credence to what had been revealed to him as the word of God.
Rachel's sepulchre -- near Beth-lehem (see on Ge 35:16).
Zelzah -- or Zelah, now Bet-jalah, in the neighborhood of that town.
3. the plain -- or, |the oak of Tabor,| not the celebrated mount, for that was far distant.
three men going up to God to Beth-el -- apparently to offer sacrifices there at a time when the ark and the tabernacle were not in a settled abode, and God had not yet declared the permanent place which He should choose. The kids were for sacrifice, the loaves for the offering, and the wine for the libations.
5. the hill of God -- probably Geba (1Sa 13:3), so called from a school of the prophets being established there. The company of prophets were, doubtless, the pupils at this seminary, which had probably been instituted by Samuel, and in which the chief branches of education taught were a knowledge of the law, and of psalmody with instrumental music, which is called |prophesying| (here and in 1Ch 25:1, 7).
6. the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee -- literally, |rush upon thee,| suddenly endowing thee with a capacity and disposition to act in a manner far superior to thy previous character and habits; and instead of the simplicity, ignorance, and sheepishness of a peasant, thou wilt display an energy, wisdom, and magnanimity worthy of a prince.
8. thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal -- This, according to Josephus, was to be a standing rule for the observance of Saul while the prophet and he lived; that in every great crisis, such as a hostile incursion on the country, he should repair to Gilgal, where he was to remain seven days, to afford time for the tribes on both sides Jordan to assemble, and Samuel to reach it.
9-11. when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart -- Influenced by the words of Samuel, as well as by the accomplishment of these signs, Saul's reluctance to undertake the onerous office was overcome. The fulfilment of the two first signs [1Sa 10:7, 8] is passed over, but the third is specially described. The spectacle of a man, though more fit to look after his father's cattle than to take part in the sacred exercises of the young prophets -- a man without any previous instruction, or any known taste, entering with ardor into the spirit, and skilfully accompanying the melodies of the sacred band, was so extraordinary a phenomenon, that it gave rise to the proverb, |Is Saul also among the prophets?| (see 1Sa 19:24). The prophetic spirit had come upon him; and to Saul it was as personal and experimental an evidence of the truth of God's word that had been spoken to him, as converts to Christianity have in themselves from the sanctifying power of the Gospel.
12. But who is their father? -- The Septuagint reads, |Who is his father?| referring to Saul the son of Kish.
17-25. Samuel called the people together ... at Mizpeh -- a shaft-like hill near Hebron, five hundred feet in height. The national assemblies of the Israelites were held there. A day having been appointed for the election of a king, Samuel, after having charged the people with a rejection of God's institution and a superseding of it by one of their own, proceeded to the nomination of the new monarch. As it was of the utmost importance that the appointment should be under the divine direction and control, the determination was made by the miraculous lot, tribes, families, and individuals being successively passed until Saul was found. His concealment of himself must have been the result either of innate modesty, or a sudden nervous excitement under the circumstances. When dragged into view, he was seen to possess all those corporeal advantages which a rude people desiderate in their sovereigns; and the exhibition of which gained for the prince the favorable opinion of Samuel also. In the midst of the national enthusiasm, however, the prophet's deep piety and genuine patriotism took care to explain |the manner of the kingdom,| that is, the royal rights and privileges, together with the limitations to which they were to be subjected; and in order that the constitution might be ratified with all due solemnity, the charter of this constitutional monarchy was recorded and laid up |before the Lord,| that is, deposited in the custody of the priests, along with the most sacred archives of the nation.
26. And Saul also went home to Gibeah -- near Geba. This was his place of residence (see Jud 20:20), about five miles north of Jerusalem.
there went ... a band of men, whose hearts God had touched -- who feared God and regarded allegiance to their king as a conscientious duty. They are opposed to |the children of Belial.|
27. the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents -- In Eastern countries, the honor of the sovereign and the splendor of the royal household are upheld, not by a fixed rate of taxation, but by presents brought at certain seasons by officials, and men of wealth, from all parts of the kingdom, according to the means of the individual, and of a customary registered value. Such was the tribute which Saul's opponents withheld, and for want of which he was unable to set up a kingly establishment for a while. But |biding his time,| he bore the insult with a prudence and magnanimity which were of great use in the beginning of his government.