Israel demanded that God give them a king just like the other nations surrounding them had been given a king to lead them and fight for them (1 Samuel 8:4-5). Israel rejected God as their king (1 Samuel 8:6-7) and sought after a human king, even though the prophet, Samuel, warned them that a human king would draft their sons and daughters to work for him (8:11-13), tax their fields and flocks (8:14-15, 17a), and take their best servants and animals (8:16). Instead of rejecting Israel’s request for a king, God granted their request and told Samuel to anoint a king over them (8:19-22). The story immediately shifts from Israel demanding a king to focus on the man who would eventually reign over them. This man was of the tribe of Benjamin and the son of Kish, who is described as a man of wealth and power (9:1). His name was Saul and he was recognized as the most handsome and tallest man in all of Israel (9:2). Saul’s wealthy father, Kish, lost his donkeys so he sent Saul along with one of his servants to look for the donkeys (9:3). After searching for the donkeys for several days, Saul decided to return home for fear that his father would be worried about him (9:5); however, the servant told Saul about a man of God (Samuel) who could help them locate the lost donkeys (9:6). As Saul and his servant went up into the city, Samuel met them on his way to the high place where he would soon be offering a sacrifice for the people (9:7-14). The meeting of Samuel and Saul was no coincidence because God had already told Samuel that he would be sending a man from the land of Benjamin, whom Samuel would anoint as the commander over Israel (9:15-16). So when Samuel met Saul, the Lord spoke to Samuel and revealed that Saul would be the one to reign over the people of Israel (9:17). Even though Saul only thought that he was visiting the man of God so he could find his father’s donkeys, God had orchestrated the meeting in order to bring about His plan to anoint Saul as the king of Israel (9:18-20). Upon hearing the news that he would be Israel’s king, Saul was overwhelmed that God would chose someone from such a small tribe in Israel (9:21), but Samuel assured Saul of his position by giving him a place of honor at the meal following the sacrifice (9:22-24).
Saul and his servant then spent the night at Samuel’s house and departed into the city the following morning (9:25-26). As they journeyed together into the city, Samuel sent Saul’s servant ahead of them but he requested that Samuel stay there so that he could hear the announcement of the Lord (9:27). Samuel then took a flask of oil and anointed Saul as the king of Israel according to the word of the Lord (10:1). As he sent Saul away to his home, Samuel assured him that the donkeys he was searching for had been found, but that his father was now worried about him (10:2). On his journey home, Saul would also encounter a group of prophets and the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him and he would prophesy with them (10:3-6). The Spirit’s presence in Saul indicated that God was going to use him for His special purposes among the nation of Israel and change him into a new man (10:7-9). All that Samuel declared to Saul that day came to pass (10:10-16). The Lord’s choosing of Saul as king was made public to Israel at Mizpah when Samuel gathered the people together and scolded them for rejecting the Lord as their king, but then revealed the identity of their human king, Saul (10:17-24). The people of Israel rejoiced in their king and shouted, “Long live the king!” (10:24b). Samuel then explained the appropriate behavior of a king and wrote these words in a book (10:25). These principles governing kings are recorded in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. After these things, Samuel sent the people away and Saul returned to his home in Gibeah with a group of men “whose hearts God had touched” (10:26); however, there were some men who did not respect Saul as their new king (10:27).
Dear God, I trust the plans You have for me, even when I don’t understand.