Israel Asks for a King

When Samuel grew old, he appointed(A) his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah,(B) and they served at Beersheba.(C) But his sons(D) did not follow his ways. They turned aside(E) after dishonest gain and accepted bribes(F) and perverted(G) justice.

So all the elders(H) of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.(I) They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king(J) to lead[b](K) us, such as all the other nations(L) have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king(M) to lead us,” this displeased(N) Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen(O) to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected,(P) but they have rejected me as their king.(Q) As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking(R) me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know(S) what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told(T) all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take(U) your sons and make them serve(V) with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.(W) 12 Some he will assign to be commanders(X) of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your(Y) fields and vineyards(Z) and olive groves and give them to his attendants.(AA) 15 He will take a tenth(AB) of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer(AC) you in that day.(AD)

19 But the people refused(AE) to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want(AF) a king(AG) over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations,(AH) with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated(AI) it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen(AJ) to them and give them a king.”

Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”

Samuel Anoints Saul

There was a Benjamite,(AK) a man of standing,(AL) whose name was Kish(AM) son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome(AN) a young man as could be found(AO) anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller(AP) than anyone else.

Now the donkeys(AQ) belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” So he passed through the hill(AR) country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha,(AS) but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys(AT) were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them.

When they reached the district of Zuph,(AU) Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying(AV) about us.”

But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God;(AW) he is highly respected, and everything(AX) he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”

Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift(AY) to take to the man of God. What do we have?”

The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel[d] of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire(AZ) of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)(BA)

10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was.

11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw(BB) water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?”

12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice(BC) at the high place.(BD) 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless(BE) the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”

14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint(BF) him ruler(BG) over my people Israel; he will deliver(BH) them from the hand of the Philistines.(BI) I have looked on my people, for their cry(BJ) has reached me.”

17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This(BK) is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”

18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys(BL) you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire(BM) of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”

21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe(BN) of Israel, and is not my clan the least(BO) of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?(BP) Why do you say such a thing to me?”

22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and seated them at the head of those who were invited—about thirty in number. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.”

24 So the cook took up the thigh(BQ) with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’” And Saul dined with Samuel that day.

25 After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof(BR) of his house. 26 They rose about daybreak, and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get ready, and I will send you on your way.” When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us”—and the servant did so—“but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.”

10 Then Samuel took a flask(BS) of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed(BT) you ruler over his inheritance?[e](BU) When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb,(BV) at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys(BW) you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried(BX) about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’

“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel(BY) will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread,(BZ) which you will accept from them.

“After that you will go to Gibeah(CA) of God, where there is a Philistine outpost.(CB) As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets(CC) coming down from the high place(CD) with lyres, timbrels,(CE) pipes(CF) and harps(CG) being played before them, and they will be prophesying.(CH) The Spirit(CI) of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed(CJ) into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever(CK) your hand(CL) finds to do, for God is with(CM) you.

“Go down ahead of me to Gilgal.(CN) I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven(CO) days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

Saul Made King

As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed(CP) Saul’s heart, and all these signs(CQ) were fulfilled(CR) that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit(CS) of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying.(CT) 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this(CU) that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”(CV)

12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”(CW) 13 After Saul stopped prophesying,(CX) he went to the high place.

14 Now Saul’s uncle(CY) asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?”

“Looking for the donkeys,(CZ)” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”

15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”

16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys(DA) had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah(DB) 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed(DC) you.’ 19 But you have now rejected(DD) your God, who saves(DE) you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king(DF) over us.’(DG) So now present(DH) yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”

20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken.(DI) Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired(DJ) further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller(DK) than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen?(DL) There is no one like(DM) him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live(DN) the king!”

25 Samuel explained(DO) to the people the rights and duties(DP) of kingship.(DQ) He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.

26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah,(DR) accompanied by valiant men(DS) whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels(DT) said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts.(DU) But Saul kept silent.

Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh

11 Nahash[f](DV) the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead.(DW) And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty(DX) with us, and we will be subject to you.”

But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition(DY) that I gouge(DZ) out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace(EA) on all Israel.”

The elders(EB) of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue(EC) us, we will surrender(ED) to you.”

When the messengers came to Gibeah(EE) of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept(EF) aloud. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

When Saul heard their words, the Spirit(EG) of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. He took a pair of oxen,(EH) cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel,(EI) proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone(EJ) who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one.(EK) When Saul mustered(EL) them at Bezek,(EM) the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.

They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender(EN) to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”

11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions;(EO) during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites(EP) and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

Saul Confirmed as King

12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who(EQ) was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today,(ER) for this day the Lord has rescued(ES) Israel.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal(ET) and there renew the kingship.(EU) 15 So all the people went to Gilgal(EV) and made Saul king(EW) in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

Samuel’s Farewell Speech

12 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened(EX) to everything you said to me and have set a king(EY) over you. Now you have a king as your leader.(EZ) As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons(FA) are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed.(FB) Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey(FC) have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe(FD) to make me shut my eyes? If I have done(FE) any of these things, I will make it right.”(FF)

“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness(FG) against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything(FH) in my hand.(FI)

“He is witness,” they said.

Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought(FJ) your ancestors up out of Egypt. Now then, stand(FK) here, because I am going to confront(FL) you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts(FM) performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.

“After Jacob(FN) entered Egypt, they cried(FO) to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent(FP) Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

“But they forgot(FQ) the Lord their God; so he sold them(FR) into the hand of Sisera,(FS) the commander of the army of Hazor,(FT) and into the hands of the Philistines(FU) and the king of Moab,(FV) who fought against them. 10 They cried(FW) out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken(FX) the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths.(FY) But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal,[g](FZ) Barak,[h](GA) Jephthah(GB) and Samuel,[i](GC) and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

12 “But when you saw that Nahash(GD) king(GE) of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule(GF) over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king(GG) you have chosen, the one you asked(GH) for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you fear(GI) the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel(GJ) against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! 15 But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against(GK) his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

16 “Now then, stand still(GL) and see(GM) this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest(GN) now? I will call(GO) on the Lord to send thunder(GP) and rain.(GQ) And you will realize what an evil(GR) thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”

18 Then Samuel called on the Lord,(GS) and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe(GT) of the Lord and of Samuel.

19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray(GU) to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die,(GV) for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil;(GW) yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless(GX) idols.(GY) They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake(GZ) of his great name(HA) the Lord will not reject(HB) his people, because the Lord was pleased to make(HC) you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray(HD) for you. And I will teach(HE) you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear(HF) the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart;(HG) consider(HH) what great(HI) things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist(HJ) in doing evil, both you and your king(HK) will perish.”(HL)


  1. 1 Samuel 8:1 Traditionally judges
  2. 1 Samuel 8:5 Traditionally judge; also in verses 6 and 20
  3. 1 Samuel 8:16 Septuagint; Hebrew young men
  4. 1 Samuel 9:8 That is, about 1/10 ounce or about 3 grams
  5. 1 Samuel 10:1 Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate over his people Israel? You will reign over the Lord’s people and save them from the power of their enemies round about. And this will be a sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his inheritance:
  6. 1 Samuel 11:1 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls gifts. Now Nahash king of the Ammonites oppressed the Gadites and Reubenites severely. He gouged out all their right eyes and struck terror and dread in Israel. Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, except that seven thousand men fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead. About a month later, Nahash
  7. 1 Samuel 12:11 Also called Gideon
  8. 1 Samuel 12:11 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew Bedan
  9. 1 Samuel 12:11 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac Samson

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