Chapter 9

Samuel had promised Israel, from God, that they should have a king; it is strange that the next news is not of candidates setting up for the government, making an interest in the people, or recommending themselves to Samuel, and, by him, to God, to be put in nomination. Why does not the prince of the tribe of Judah, whoever he is, look about him now, remembering Jacob’s entail of the sceptre on that tribe? Isa. there never a bold aspiring man in Israel, to say, “I will be king, if God will choose me?” No, none appears, whether it is owing to a culpable mean-spiritedness or a laudable humility I know not; but surely it is what can scarcely be paralleled in the history of any kingdom; a crown, such a crown, set up, and nobody bids for it. Most governments began in the ambition of the prince to rule, but Israel’s in the ambition of the people to be ruled. Had any of those elders who petitioned for a king afterwards petitioned to be king, I should have suspected that person’s ambition to have been at the bottom of the motion; but now (let them have the praise of what was good in them) it was not so. God having, in the law, undertaken to choose their king (Deut. 17:15), they all sit still, till they hear from heaven, and that they do in this chapter, which begins the story of Saul, their first king, and, by strange steps of Providence, brings him to Samuel to be anointed privately, and so to be prepared for an election by lot, and a public commendation to the people, which follows in the next chapter. Here is, I. A short account of Saul’s parentage and person, 1 Sam. 9:1, 2. II. A large and particular account of the bringing of him to Samuel, to whom he had been before altogether a stranger. 1. God, by revelation, had told Samuel to expect him, 1 Sam. 9:15, 16. 2. God, by providence, led him to Samuel. (1.) Being sent to seek his father’s asses, he was at a loss, 1 Sam. 9:3-5. (2.) By the advice of his servant, he determined to consult Samuel, 1 Sam. 9:6-10. (3.) By the direction of the young maidens, he found him out, 1 Sam. 9:11-14. (4.) Samuel, being informed of God concerning him (1 Sam. 9:17), treated him with respect in the gate (1 Sam. 9:18-21), in the dining-room (1 Sam. 9:22), and at length in private, where he prepared him to hear the surprising news that he must be king, 1 Sam. 9:25-27. And these beginnings would have been very hopeful and promising if it had not been that the sin of the people was the spring of this great affair.