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Saul Looks for His Father’s Donkeys

Kish was an important man from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel. Abiel was the son of Zeror. Zeror was the son of Becorath. Becorath was the son of Aphiah, a man from Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, who was a handsome young man. There was no one more handsome than Saul. He stood a head taller than any other man in Israel.

One day Kish’s donkeys got lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants and go look for the donkeys.” Saul went to look for the donkeys. He walked through the hills of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha. But Saul and the servant could not find Kish’s donkeys. So they went to the area around Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there either. Then Saul traveled through the land of Benjamin, but he and the servant still could not find the donkeys.

Finally, Saul and the servant came to the town named Zuph. Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go back. My father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”

But the servant answered, “A man of God is in this town. People respect him. Everything he says comes true, so let’s go into town. Maybe the man of God will tell us where we should go next.”

Saul said to his servant, “Sure, we can go into town, but what can we give to him? We have no gift to give the man of God. Even the food in our bags is gone. What can we give him?”

Again the servant answered Saul. “Look, I have a little bit of money.[a] Let’s give it to the man of God. Then he will tell us where we should go.”

9-11 Saul said to his servant, “That is a good idea. Let’s go.” So they went to the town where the man of God was.

Saul and the servant were walking up the hill toward town when they met some young women on the road. The young women were coming out to get water. Saul and the servant asked the young women, “Is the seer here?” (In the past, people in Israel called a prophet a “seer.” So if they wanted to ask something from God, they would say, “Let’s go to the seer.”)

12 The young women answered, “Yes, the seer is here. He is just up the road. He came to town today. Some people are meeting together today to share in a fellowship offering at the place for worship.[b] 13 So go into town and you will find him. If you hurry, you can catch him before he goes up to eat at the place for worship. The seer blesses the sacrifice, so the people won’t begin eating until he gets there. If you hurry, you can find him.”

14 Saul and the servant started walking up the hill to town. Just as they came into town, they saw Samuel coming out of town, walking toward them. He was on his way to the place for worship.

15 The day before, the Lord had told Samuel, 16 “At this time tomorrow I will send a man to you. He will be from the tribe of Benjamin. You must anoint him and make him the new leader over my people Israel. This man will save my people from the Philistines. I have seen my people suffering,[c] and I have heard their cries for help.”

17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to Samuel, “This is the man I told you about. He will rule my people.”

18 Saul went up to a man near the gate to ask directions. This man just happened to be Samuel. Saul said, “Excuse me. Could you tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 Samuel answered, “I am the seer. Go on up ahead of me to the place for worship. You and your servant will eat with me today. I will let you go home tomorrow morning. I will answer all your questions. 20 And don’t worry about the donkeys that you lost three days ago. They have been found. Now, there is something that everyone in Israel is looking for and that something is you and your family.”

21 Saul answered, “But I am a member of the tribe of Benjamin. It is the smallest tribe in Israel. And my family is the smallest in the tribe of Benjamin. Why do you say Israel wants me?”

22 Then Samuel took Saul and his servant to the eating area. About 30 people had been invited to eat together and share the sacrifice. Samuel gave Saul and his servant the most important place at the table. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the meat I gave you. It is the share I told you to save.”

24 The cook brought out the thigh[d] and put it on the table in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Eat the meat that was put in front of you. It was saved for you for this special time when I called the people together.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

25 After they finished eating, they came down from the place for worship and went back to town. Samuel made a bed for Saul on the roof, 26 and Saul went to sleep.[e]

Early the next morning, Samuel shouted to Saul on the roof and said, “Get up. I will send you on your way.” Saul got up and went out of the house with Samuel.

27 Saul, his servant, and Samuel were walking together near the edge of town. Samuel said to Saul, “Tell your servant to go on ahead of us. I have a message for you from God.” So the servant walked ahead of them.

Samuel Anoints Saul

10 Samuel took a jar of the special oil and poured the oil on Saul’s head. Samuel kissed Saul and said, “The Lord has anointed you to be the leader over the people who belong to him. You will control the people. You will save them from the enemies that are all around them. He has anointed you to be ruler over his people. Here is a sign that will prove this is true:[f] After you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb on the border of Benjamin at Zelzah. The two men will say to you, ‘Someone found the donkeys you were looking for. Your father stopped worrying about his donkeys. Now he is worrying about you. He is saying: What will I do about my son?’”

Samuel said, “Then you will go until you come to the large oak tree at Tabor. Three men will meet you there. They will be on their way to worship God at Bethel. One man will be carrying three young goats. The second man will be carrying three loaves of bread. And the third man will have a leather bag full of wine. These three men will say hello to you. They will offer you two bread offerings reserved for priests,[g] and you will accept that bread. Then you will go to Gibeath Elohim. There is a Philistine fort in that place. When you come to this town, a group of prophets will come out. These prophets will come down from the place for worship.[h] They will be prophesying.[i] They will be playing harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres. Then the Lord’s Spirit will come on you with great power. You will be changed. You will be like a different man. You will begin to prophesy with these prophets. After that happens, you can do whatever you choose to do, because God will be with you.

“Go to Gilgal before me. Then I will come there to you. And I will offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. But you must wait seven days. Then I will come and tell you what to do.”

Saul Becomes Like the Prophets

Just as Saul turned to leave Samuel, God turned Saul’s life around. All these things happened that day. 10 When Saul and his servant came to Gibeath Elohim, Saul met a group of prophets. God’s Spirit came on Saul with great power, and Saul prophesied with the prophets. 11 Some of the people who had known Saul before saw him prophesying with the prophets. So they asked each other, “What has happened to Kish’s son? Is Saul also one of the prophets?”

12 A man living in Gibeath Elohim said, “Yes, and it seems that he is their leader.”[j] That is why this became a famous saying: “Is Saul also one of the prophets?”

Saul Arrives Home

13 After Saul finished prophesying, he went to the place of worship.

14 Saul’s uncle asked Saul and his servant, “Where have you been?”

Saul said, “We were looking for the donkeys. When we couldn’t find them, we went to see Samuel.”

15 Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me, what did Samuel say to you?”

16 Saul answered, “Samuel told us the donkeys were already found.” He did not tell his uncle everything. Saul did not tell him what Samuel said about the kingdom.

Samuel Announces Saul as King

17 Samuel told all the Israelites to meet together with the Lord at Mizpah. 18 Samuel told the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘I led Israel out of Egypt. I saved you from Egypt’s control and from the other kingdoms that tried to hurt you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God. Your God saves you from all your troubles and problems. But you said, ‘No, we want a king to rule us.’ Now come, stand before the Lord in your family groups and tribes.”

20 Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near. Then Samuel began to choose the new king. First, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 21 Samuel told each family in the tribe of Benjamin to pass by. Matri’s family was chosen. Then Samuel told each man in Matri’s family to walk by. Saul son of Kish was chosen.

But when the people looked for Saul, they could not find him. 22 Then they asked the Lord, “Has Saul come here yet?”

The Lord said, “Saul is hiding behind the supplies.”

23 The people ran and took Saul out from behind the supplies. Saul stood up among the people. He was a head taller than anyone else.

24 Samuel said to all the people, “See the man the Lord has chosen. There is no one like Saul among the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel explained the rules of the kingdom to the people. He wrote the rules in a book and put the book before the Lord. Then Samuel told the people to go home.

26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah. God touched the hearts of brave men who then began to follow Saul. 27 But some troublemakers said, “How can this man save us?” They said bad things about Saul and refused to bring gifts to him. But Saul said nothing.

Nahash, King of the Ammonites

King Nahash of the Ammonites had been hurting the tribes of Gad and Reuben. Nahash poked out the right eye of each of the men and did not allow anyone to help them. He poked out the right eye of every Israelite man living in the area east of the Jordan River. But 7000 Israelite men ran away from the Ammonites and came to Jabesh Gilead.[k]

11 About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite and his army surrounded Jabesh Gilead. All the people of Jabesh said to Nahash, “If you will make a treaty with us, we will serve you.”

But he answered, “I will make a treaty with you people only if I can poke out the right eye of each person. Then all Israel will be ashamed.”

The leaders of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Let us have seven days. We will send messengers through all Israel. If no one comes to help us, we will come up to you and surrender to you.”

Saul Saves Jabesh Gilead

The messengers came to Gibeah where Saul lived. They told the news to the people. The people cried loudly. Saul had been out in the field with his oxen. When he came in from the field he heard the people crying and asked, “What’s wrong with the people? Why are they crying?”

Then the people told Saul what the messengers from Jabesh said. Saul listened to their story. Then God’s Spirit came on him with great power. Saul became very angry. He took a pair of oxen and cut them in pieces. Then he gave the pieces of the oxen to messengers. He ordered the messengers to carry the pieces throughout the land of Israel. He told them to give this message to the Israelites: “Come follow Saul and Samuel. If anyone doesn’t come and help them, this same thing will happen to his oxen.”

A great fear from the Lord came on the people. They all came together like one person. Saul gathered the men together at Bezek. There were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 men from Judah.

Saul and his army told the messengers from Jabesh, “Tell the people at Jabesh in Gilead that by noon tomorrow, you will be saved.”

The messengers told Saul’s message to the people at Jabesh, and they were very happy. 10 Then the people of Jabesh said to Nahash the Ammonite, “Tomorrow we will come to you, and you can do whatever you want to us.”

11 The next morning Saul separated his soldiers into three groups. At sunrise, Saul and his soldiers entered the Ammonite camp. Saul attacked while they were changing guards that morning. He and his soldiers defeated the Ammonites before noon. The Ammonite soldiers all ran away in different directions—no two soldiers stayed together.

12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Where are the people who said they didn’t want Saul to rule as king? Bring them here, and we will kill them.”

13 But Saul said, “No, don’t kill anyone today! The Lord saved Israel today.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let’s go to Gilgal. At Gilgal we will again make Saul the king.”

15 All the people went to Gilgal. There, in front of the Lord, the people made Saul king. They offered fellowship offerings to the Lord. Saul and all the Israelites had a great celebration.

Samuel Speaks About the King

12 Samuel said to all Israel: “I have done everything you wanted me to do. I have put a king over you. Now you have a king to lead you. I am old and gray, but my sons are here with you. I have been your leader since I was young. Here I am. If I have done anything wrong, you must tell these things to the Lord and his chosen king.[l] Did I steal anyone’s ox or donkey? Did I hurt or cheat anyone? Did I ever take money, or even a pair of sandals, to do something wrong? If I did any of these things, I will make it right.”

The Israelites answered, “No, you never did anything bad to us. You never cheated us or took things from us.”

Samuel said to the Israelites, “The Lord and his chosen king are witnesses today. They heard what you said—that you found nothing wrong with me.” The people answered, “Yes, the Lord is witness!”

Then Samuel said to the people, “The Lord has seen what happened. He is the one who chose Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors out of Egypt. Now, stand there. I will accuse you before the Lord and I will tell you about[m] the good things the Lord did for you and your ancestors.

“Jacob went to Egypt. Later, the Egyptians made life hard for his descendants. So they cried to the Lord for help. The Lord sent Moses and Aaron, and they took your ancestors out of Egypt and led them to live in this place.

“But your ancestors forgot the Lord their God. So he let them become the slaves of Sisera, the commander of the army at Hazor. Then the Lord let them become the slaves of the Philistines and the king of Moab. They all fought against your ancestors. 10 But your ancestors cried to the Lord for help. They said, ‘We have sinned. We left the Lord, and we served the false gods Baal and Ashtoreth. But now save us from our enemies, and we will serve you.’

11 “So the Lord sent Gideon,[n] Barak,[o] Jephthah, and Samuel.[p] He saved you from your enemies around you, and you lived in safety. 12 But then you saw King Nahash of the Ammonites coming to fight against you. You said, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us!’ You said that, even though the Lord your God was already your king. 13 Now, here is the king you chose. The Lord put this king over you. 14 You must fear and respect the Lord. You must serve him and obey his commands. You must not turn against him. You and the king ruling over you must follow the Lord your God. If you do, God will save you.[q] 15 But if you don’t listen to the Lord, if you refuse to do what the Lord says, he will be against you. The Lord will destroy you and your king.

16 “Now stand still and see the great thing the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Now is the time of the wheat harvest.[r] I will pray to the Lord and ask him to send thunder and rain. Then you will know you did a very bad thing against the Lord when you asked for a king.”

18 So Samuel prayed to the Lord. That same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. And the people became very afraid of the Lord and Samuel. 19 All the people said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for us, your servants. Don’t let us die! We have sinned many times. And now we have added to these sins—we have asked for a king.”

20 Samuel answered, “Don’t be afraid. It is true that you did all these bad things, but don’t stop following the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Idols are only statues—they can’t help you. So don’t worship them. Idols can’t help you or save you. They are nothing!

22 “But the Lord won’t leave his people. No, the Lord was pleased to make you his own people. So for his own good name, he won’t leave you. 23 And as for me, I would never stop praying for you. If I stopped praying for you, I would be sinning against the Lord. I will continue to teach you the right way to live a good life. 24 But you must honor the Lord. You must serve him sincerely with all your heart. Remember the wonderful things he has done for you. 25 But if you are stubborn and do evil, God will throw you and your king away, like dirt swept out with a broom.”


  1. 1 Samuel 9:8 a little bit of money Literally, “1/4 shekel of silver” (about 1/10 of an ounce).
  2. 1 Samuel 9:12 place for worship Or “high place.” See “high place” in the Word List. Also in verses 14, 19, 25.
  3. 1 Samuel 9:16 suffering This is from the ancient Greek version.
  4. 1 Samuel 9:24 thigh This was probably the left thigh that was reserved for important guests. The right thigh was reserved for the priest who sacrificed the animal. This priest helped kill the animal and put the fat from the animal on the altar as a gift to God.
  5. 1 Samuel 9:26 made … to sleep This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof.” In ancient Israel, houses had flat roofs that were used as an extra room.
  6. 1 Samuel 10:1 You will control … true This is from the ancient Greek version.
  7. 1 Samuel 10:4 two bread offerings … priests This is from the ancient Greek version and a Hebrew scroll from Qumran. The standard Hebrew text has “two of bread.”
  8. 1 Samuel 10:5 place for worship Or “high places,” places for worshiping God or false gods. These places were often on the hills and mountains.
  9. 1 Samuel 10:5 prophesying This usually means “speaking for God.” But here, this also means that the Spirit of God took control of people, causing them to sing and dance. Also in verses 11, 13.
  10. 1 Samuel 10:12 Yes … leader Literally, “And who is their father?” Often the man who taught and led other prophets was called “father.”
  11. 1 Samuel 10:27 Nahash … came to Jabesh Gilead This is found in some ancient versions and in a Hebrew scroll from Qumran but not in the standard Hebrew text.
  12. 1 Samuel 12:3 chosen king Literally, “anointed one.” Also in verse 5.
  13. 1 Samuel 12:7 and I will tell you about This is from the ancient Greek version.
  14. 1 Samuel 12:11 Gideon Literally, “Jerub-Baal,” a nickname given to Gideon earlier. (See Judges 6:32.)
  15. 1 Samuel 12:11 Barak This is found in the ancient Greek and Syriac versions. The Hebrew has “Bedan.”
  16. 1 Samuel 12:11 Samuel The Syriac version and some copies of the Greek version have “Samson.”
  17. 1 Samuel 12:14 If you do, God will save you This is from the ancient Greek version.
  18. 1 Samuel 12:17 time of … harvest This was the dry time of year when no rains fell.

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