1 Samuel 9:26-10:16
26Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street. 27As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.” 10:1Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” 9When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place. 14Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.
One can only describe the events of Saul’s story so far as bewildering. In a search for his father’s donkeys, he is met by Samuel, who now anoints him as prince over God’s people. The day has not turned out as he expected at all. Now, after doing a private ceremony of anointing, Samuel gives Saul three events to look for as he returns home. These events are meant to solidify the call that God has placed upon Saul’s life.
The first sign took place as Saul traveled home, passing by the tomb of Rachel. There his concerns about the amount of time he’d been gone from home and his father’s worry were confirmed. He had originally set out to find the donkeys. They had long since been found and returned home. But Saul was still out there looking around as far as his father knew, so of course he would be concerned.
A second sign would be meeting three men who were heading to Bethel in the opposite direction of Saul’s journey. They would have items intended to be offerings to God. That the men would give Saul two of the three loaves of bread originally intended as an offering to God indicates Saul’s new status as God’s anointed king. Samuel instructed Saul to accept the bread, apparently as a way of demonstrating his acceptance of God’s designation of him as king.
The final sign was to take place close to home. There Saul would meet prophets accompanied by music. Saul was told that the Spirit of Yahweh would rush upon him, an expression that is used for the Spirit’s endowment of Samson, Saul, and David. The outward manifestation of the Spirit served an evangelical purpose, signaling the arrival of the new ruler in the kingdom of God, as in the New Testament, when signs of the Spirit accompanied the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (p. 195-196). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
Saul is given the opportunity to display with power the fact that he has been anointed king over Israel. There was a Philistine garrison at Gibeah. Samuel implies that Saul could show God’s power by driving the Philistines out of their stronghold there. This would show the people his new position and that he would serve the people well. We will find in the next few verses that Saul neglects this first charge and thus we begin a 40-year reign that will be filled with disappointment.
Most interesting about this series of confirmations is that … the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you … and God gave him a new heart. Saul was in no way prepared to be the prince of God’s people. But that did not matter to God, for He was going to do the work in Saul that needed to be done. He grants Saul His Spirit and transforms Saul for the job. Perhaps further study will help us understand why that didn’t lead Saul to be a powerful and wise prince of God’s people.