Evening Bible Study
Samuel is the
last of the “Judges”. He is the man who will bridge the gap between the time of
the Judges and the beginning of the Kings of Israel.
We’ve seen the
Israelites in a war with the Philistines, where they not only lost many of
their soldiers, but the Ark
of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, though they sent it back when
they started experiencing strange “plagues”.
We’ve seen Samuel rise up to lead the nation, leading them to a victory
over the Philistines.
We’ve seen the
people disappointed as Samuel ages and his sons were corrupt. The people demanded a king.
(1 Sa 8:22
NKJV) So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice,
and make them a king.” And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to
9:1-27 Lost Donkeys
:1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel,
the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a
mighty man of power.
:2 And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There
was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From
his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
:1 a man of
The tribe of
Benjamin was different from the other tribes at this time because of it’s small
Back in the book
of Judges (Judg. 19-20),
it was the tribe of Benjamin that stood up to protect the wicked men of
Gibeah. As a result, they had lost all
but 600 of their men.
enough, Saul will even be from the rebuilt city of Gibeah.
:2 choice and
Saul was a good looking man with great physical appeal, big and handsome. He would make a sharp looking king.
I think a lot of people make their actual political
choices based on good looks than actual ideas.
Looks are not enough to make a good leader.
:3 Now the
donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul,
“Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the
NOTE: David became king after
having been a keeper of sheep. Saul
became king after having been a keeper of donkeys.
:4 So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of
Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land
of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the
land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.
:5 When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was
with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the
donkeys and become worried about us.”
:5 they had come to
the land of Zuph
The difficult thing about this passage is that we don’t have a lot of
presently known geographical markers with these various places mentioned.
“Mountains of Ephraim” and “the land of the Benjamites” are pretty vague
territorial names. The other names are
totally unknown (at least so far).
Show map with
Gibeah, Ephraim, Benjamin
We can assume that Saul starts out in Gibeah, because we know that to be
I think the
idea here is that he and his servant are wandering for days, possibly weeks.
:5 and become worried about us
A good thing to be concerned about.
:6 And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of
God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass.
So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.”
:6 a man of God
:6 in this city
It could be Ramah, Samuel’s home town.
But Samuel also
travelled in a circuit to the cities of Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah.
We really aren’t sure what city this is.
:7 Then Saul said
to his servant, “But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For
the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring
to the man of God. What do we have?”
:8 And the servant answered Saul again and said, “Look, I have here at hand
one-fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to
tell us our way.”
:7 no present
The custom was to pay the prophet when you needed his help.
Saul left his cash and credit cards at home.
:8 one-fourth of a
shekel of silver
About 3 grams of silver. Today worth about $3.50.
:8 the servant
This is a good, faithful servant.
He’s the one that suggests that Saul and he go to Samuel to ask for help.
He’s the one that thought about bringing his wallet to pay for things.
His boss (Saul) is a little flawed.
He didn’t think of any of those good ideas.
:9 (Formerly in Israel,
when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the
seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a
:9 prophet … seer
The writer is giving us a little historical background.
seer – ra’ah – to see, look at, inspect,
The emphasis is on “seeing”, on having visions.
– nabiy’ – spokesman, speaker,
The emphasis is more on speaking for God.
Samuel was known for both.
:10 Then Saul
said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city
where the man of God was.
:10 So they went
God is going to use these silly lost donkeys to connect Saul with Samuel.
God uses donkeys
God spoke to Balaam through a donkey.
Saul runs into Samuel because of lost donkeys.
We saw how God used the milk cows to get the Ark back to Israel.
God uses all sorts of things in our lives to get our attention and get us
to where we need to be.
The donkeys get lost.
Saul takes along a servant who knows about Samuel.
The Bible says,
(Pr 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 Trust in
the Lord with all your heart, And
lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Sometimes we can fall into the idea that when God “leads
us”, it must be with some sort of mystical trance, that our eyes roll back
inside our head and we quiver and shake.
Sometimes God will work in a very natural, simple way. Sometimes He even uses donkeys.
I think the challenge is often to recognize how God is
:11 As they went
up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and
said to them, “Is the seer here?”
:12 And they answered them and said, “Yes, there he is, just ahead of you.
Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the
people today on the high place.
:13 As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he
goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes,
because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat.
Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.”
:13 he must bless
This would be a feast involved with a “peace offering” where an animal is
sacrificed and the people sit down to have a meal with God.
It’s kind of
like a big thanksgiving dinner.
It has been suggested
that this is where the practice of saying a “blessing” before the meal comes
:14 So they
went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel,
coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.
:15 Now the Lord had told
Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying,
:16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of
Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may
save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My
people, because their cry has come to Me.”
:17 So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord
said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign
over My people.”
:15 the Lord had told Samuel in his ear
Samuel has a special relationship with the Lord.
God speaks to him. He even whispers
things in his ear.
Anoint him to be the
leader of my people, Israel. He will rescue them from the Philistines, for I
have looked down on my people in mercy and have heard their cry.”
“Here is the man of
whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain
:18 Then Saul drew
near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the
:19 Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me
to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you
go and will tell you all that is in your heart.
:20 But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be
anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the
desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?”
:20 as for your
Samuel knows why Saul has come, looking for his donkeys.
Samuel is demonstrating the “word of knowledge”, having been given
knowledge about something that he wouldn’t have otherwise known about unless
God told him.
God sees. God knows.
And He can tell someone else about it.
God is using this to reassure Saul that something is different about
Samuel. He is a prophet.
:20 on whom is
all the desire of Israel?
Samuel is saying to Saul
that Saul is the one that Israel has been looking for. Israel has been asking for a king. Saul is the one who will be king.
:21 And Saul answered
and said, “Am I
not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the
least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like
this to me?”
:21 of the smallest
of the tribes
Remember why Benjamin is the “smallest” of the tribes.
Most of the Benjamites were killed during the war that took place over the
wickedness of the man of Gibeah. (Judg.
God uses small things
This sounds like what Gideon had said when the angel told him that he would
deliver Israel from the Midianites.
NKJV) So he said
to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest
in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Paul told the Corinthians that God prefers to use people who are not
1:27–29 NKJV) —27
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame
the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the
things which are mighty; 28 and the base
things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the
things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh
should glory in His presence.
God wants people to be attracted to Him, not the “great”
:22 Now Samuel
took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in
the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty
:23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of
which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’ ”
Samuel had already spoken to the cook ahead of time in order to have a
special meal for their expected guest.
:24 So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it
before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here it is, what was kept back. It
was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since
I said I invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
:24 the thigh
It seems to be
the priest’s portion:
NKJV) For the
breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering I have taken
from the children of Israel, from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and
I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons from the children of
Israel by a statute forever.’ ”
This part would have normally gone to Samuel.
:25 When they had
come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on
the top of the house.
:25 on the top of
Ancient houses had something like a patio on top of the roof.
Saul is going to spend the night sleeping on the roof.
:26 They arose early;
and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top
of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And Saul
arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel.
:27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to
Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” And he went on. “But you stand
here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.”
:27 stand here
Stand still to receive
Sometimes if we want to hear what God has for us, we need to stop and be
10:38–42 NKJV) —38
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and
a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a
sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha
was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do
You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to
help me.” 41 And Jesus answered
and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many
things. 42 But one thing is
needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from
Sometimes the best place to be is quiet, sitting at Jesus’ feet.
:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and
kissed him and said: “Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?
:1 has anointed
– mashach – to smear, anoint, spread
This is the root for the word “Messiah”.
The term “anointed” is often used to describe the king.
Having the oil poured on Saul makes him the “anointed”.
Oil is seen in
Scripture as a picture of the Holy Spirit.
In Saul’s life, he will come into contact with the Holy Spirit later
With David, when he was anointed with oil, the Holy Spirit came upon him
16:13 NKJV) —13
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of
his brothers; and the
Spirit of the Lord came
upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
:2 When you have
departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory
of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to
look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the
donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?” ’
:2 you will find
God wants you to trust Him.
Samuel tells Saul what is going to happen later on that day. Pay attention to the kind of minute details
that Samuel will predict.
He wants Saul to understand that God is at work in all the things that are
happening. He wants Saul to understand
that God has truly picked him out as king.
The same works for us in all of Scripture.
hundreds of prophecies in the Scripture, many that have been fulfilled, some
still yet to be fulfilled.
Sometimes people may wonder, why is the Bible any different from any other
There is no other “religious book” that has fulfilled
prophecies like the Bible. None.
(Is 46:9–10 NKJV) —9 Remember
the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I
am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And
from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My
counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’
:2 Rachel’s tomb
Near Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19)
So Rachel died and was
buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
:3 Then you shall
go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three
men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats,
another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine.
:4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which
you shall receive from their hands.
:5 After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine
garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city,
that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a
stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they
will be prophesying.
:5 hill of God
Perhaps ancient “Gibeon”? There are a lot of places called “hill”,
Geba, Gibeon, Gibeah, etc.
Show map – They
will start near Bethlehem,
find people going
to Bethel, and end
up at Gibeon
Gibeon was the place that made the pact with Joshua and ended up becoming
servants for the Tabernacle.
It is also the place we believe the Tabernacle might have been (but not
with the Ark), and where Solomon met God in a dream. It was called the “great high place”. (1Ki. 3:4-5)
4At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by
night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
:5 a stringed
instrument, a tambourine …
These prophets would be singing praises to the Lord and they would be
prophesying in the Spirit.
Worship and the Spirit
I don’t think it will be coincidence that these prophets will be carrying
God often uses music to stir up a person spiritually.
King Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from God before he went into a war allied
with the King of Israel against the Moabites.
When Elisha was brought in, he was reluctant to prophesy, but he finally
yielded and said,
(2 Ki 3:15 NKJV) —15
But now bring me a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician
played, that the hand of the Lord
came upon him.
Elisha was then filled with the Spirit and told
Jehoshaphat what he was to do. God uses
music to prepare a person’s heart for a work of the Holy Spirit.
:6 Then the Spirit
of the Lord will come upon you,
and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
:6 the Spirit of
the Lord will come upon you
The work of the Holy Spirit
There are folks who see the work of the Holy Spirit being different in the
Old Testament than in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit seemed to only come on certain
individuals, whereas in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit would come upon the
Perhaps there is a reason for the difference. After all, Jesus had not yet died for the
sins of the world. Jesus tied the great
outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church with His own death and
(Jn 16:7 NKJV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I
go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I
depart, I will send Him to you.
Though there are some differences, I think that in another sense, the work
of the Holy Spirit has always been the same.
Look at how similar the wording is in the New Testament:
(Ac 1:8 NKJV) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Spirit gives new life.
The Holy Spirit changes us.
The Holy Spirit strengthens us
The more we allow the Holy Spirit to affect our lives, the more we are
:7 And let it be,
when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for
God is with you.
:7 do as the
Samuel is telling Saul to just “go with the flow”.
Sometimes a person can get bogged down in wondering about every little
detail in their life. They wonder if God wants
them to wear black socks or white socks.
if they should have eggs for breakfast or cold cereal. They wonder if they should turn right at the light or go
Sometimes we simply worry too much.
When you’re filled with the Spirit, there is a sense in which much of the
time you just “do as occasion serve thee”.
Just do what God puts before you.
There are still going to be times when we need to seek the Lord, seek
counsel, wait on Him, etc. But there are
some things we need to simply learn to go with it.
We could call this “walking in the Spirit”.
yourself also in the Lord, And He
shall give you the desires of your heart.
As God becomes your greatest joy, your sole delight, you
will find new things happening in your heart.
God will begin to place new desires in your heart. He will be giving you new “desires”. And they will be for the things that He
:8 You shall go down
before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt
offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall
wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”
:8 go down before
me to Gilgal
At first this sounds like this was something Saul was to do right away, but
it seems that this is more of a rule that Saul was to follow when he needed
help and guidance from Samuel. We’ll see
this happen later when we get to chapter thirteen:
(1 Sa 13:8
NKJV) Then he
waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come
to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
Gibeah, Ramah, Gilgal
Gilgal was down near the Jordan River.
It was the first stop for Joshua and the nation when they first crossed
the Jordan to conquer the Promised Land.
:9 So it was,
when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart;
and all those signs came to pass that day.
:10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet
him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
:11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed
prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is
this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the
:11 Is Saul
also among the prophets?
People won’t understand
The people that had known Saul thought he had gone nuts on them.
It’s just like what happens to us when we fall in love with the Lord and we
do silly things like going to church all the time.
Why would you ever give up a Thursday evening and go to church?
People who used to know us have a hard time understanding why.
:12 Then a man
from there answered and said, “But who is their father?” Therefore it
became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
:12 But who is their father?
These people are assuming that to be a prophet, you have to have a father
who is a prophet.
They are calling into question whether Kish is really Saul’s father. They are questioning the legitimacy of his
:13 And when he
had finished prophesying, he went to the high place.
:14 Then Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” So
he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they were nowhere to
be found, we went to Samuel.”
:15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you.”
It seems that Saul’s uncle was at the “high place”, and this is where the
conversation takes place.
I get the idea that Saul’s uncle knows a little about Samuel. He’s fascinated to hear what Samuel has said.
:16 So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had
been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what
Samuel had said.
:16 he did not tell him
For some reason, Saul doesn’t talk about the king stuff.
Is this humility? Is this
embarrassment? Is Saul unsure of
:17 Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah,
This is one of the main gathering places for the nation. This was where
Samuel had gathered the people in their last battle with the Philistines (1Sam. 7:5).
:18 and said to the
children of Israel, “Thus says the Lord
God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand
of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who
:19 But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all
your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a
king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.”
:20 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the
tribe of Benjamin was chosen.
:20 the tribe of
Benjamin was chosen
was done by lot, sort of like drawing straws. Samuel is
going to use a random method to demonstrate God’s choice for king, even though
he’s already been chosen.
:21 When he had caused
the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was
chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could
not be found.
:21 he could not be
Saul’s hiding could be out of humility.
I wonder if there is a slight reluctance to do what God has called him
Pastor Chuck: “I know that you might think, “Hey, wait a minute. This could be another sign of the man’s
humility.” No, when God has called you
to a task or mission, for you to try to hide from that call of God - is not a
sign of humility, it is a sign of folly, or weakness. So this hiding from the call of God to be the
chosen is a sign of weakness.”
What kind of humility?
I may be going out on a limb here, but I wonder if there aren’t different
kinds of “humility”.
I think that all humility is good.
But some humility starts out the wrong way.
Saul will later become a proud, arrogant, paranoid man. He will lose his humility.
Later, Samuel tells us how Saul started out,
(1 Sa 15:17 NKJV) So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were
you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?
I don’t want to sound too much like a pop-psychologist, but I would say
that Saul started out with humility simply because he didn’t think he was worth
And then when he experienced what God could do in his life, I wonder if he
didn’t begin to think, “Yeah! I am THE MAN!!!”
The truth is, even though we really aren’t worth too much, we have great
value simply because God cares about us.
And God wants to work in us. All
We need to work at humility.
5:5–6 NKJV) —5 Likewise
you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you
be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists
the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the
mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
“be clothed with
humility” carries the idea that we have a choice whether or not to “put on”
We learn humility because God is great. God has a mighty hand. God is at work and God gets all the credit.
:22 Therefore they
inquired of the Lord further,
“Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord
answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”
:23 So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the
people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.
:24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is
no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said,
“Long live the king!”
They want their king to thrive and prosper.
In England they still say, “God save the queen”. (like the King James text)
:25 Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it
in a book and laid it up before the Lord.
And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
The book could have included what Samuel had warned about in 1Samuel 8:9-18. It could have included Moses’ instructions for
a king in Deut. 17:14-20.
:26 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with
him, whose hearts God had touched.
:27 But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him,
and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
:27 But he held his peace
held his peace
– charash – to be silent, keep quiet;
to be deaf
Hold your peace
I think Saul did a good thing here.
Be careful about defending yourself.
Sometimes it is better to be quiet.
Spurgeon used to tell his students who wanted to be in the ministry that they
needed to develop a “blind eye and deaf ear”.
He got that thought from:
7:21–22 NKJV) —21
Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your
servant cursing you. 22 For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have
The point is, sometimes you need to stop listening to what
people are saying because it’s not going to help you one bit.
We get so incensed over things people say to us when we
should just learn to be quiet and ignore it.