1 Samuel 6-10 Common English Bible (CEB)
God’s chest is returned
6 The Lord’s chest was in Philistine territory for seven months. 2 The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners. “What should we do with the Lord’s chest?” they asked. “Tell us how we should send it back to its own home.”
3 They replied, “If you are returning the chest of Israel’s God, don’t send it back empty, but be sure to return a guilt offering to him.[a] Then you will be healed, and it will become clear to you why God’s hand hasn’t left you alone.”
4 “What compensation offering should we return to him?” they asked.
The priests and diviners replied: “Five gold tumors[b] and five gold mice,[c] matching the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague came on all of you and your rulers. 5 You must make images of your tumors and the mice that have devastated the land. Honor Israel’s God. Perhaps he will lighten the weight of his hand on you, your gods, and your land. 6 Why be stubborn like the Egyptians and Pharaoh? After God had dealt harshly with them, didn’t they send the Israelites on their way? 7 So get a new cart ready along with two nursing cows that have never been yoked before. Harness the cows to the cart, but take any of their calves that are following back home. 8 Next, take the Lord’s chest and put it in the cart. Set the gold items that you are giving God as a compensation offering in a box next to the chest. Then send it on its way. 9 Then watch what happens: If the cart goes up the road to its own territory toward Beth-shemesh, then Israel’s God has brought this great disaster on us. If the cart goes another way, then we’ll know that it wasn’t God’s hand that struck us. It happened to us randomly.”
10 The rulers[d] did just that. They took two nursing cows and harnessed them to the cart, penning their calves up at home. 11 They put the Lord’s chest on the cart along with the box containing the gold mice and the images of their tumors.[e] 12 The cows went straight ahead, following the road to Beth-shemesh. They kept to one route, mooing as they went, without turning right or left. The Philistine rulers followed them as far as the territory of Beth-shemesh.
13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley. When they looked up and saw the chest, they were overjoyed at the sight. 14 The cart entered the field belonging to Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped right by a large stone. They chopped up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as an entirely burned offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites unloaded the Lord’s chest and the box that was with it that contained all the gold items, and they set them on the large stone. That very day the people of Beth-shemesh offered entirely burned offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16 When the five Philistine rulers witnessed this, they went straight back to Ekron.
17 These are the gold tumors that the Philistines returned as a compensation offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, and one for Ekron. 18 The gold mice matched the number of Philistine cities belonging to the five rulers, from fortified cities to country villages. And the large stone[f] they set the Lord’s chest on is a witness even now in the field that belongs to Joshua of Beth-shemesh.
19 But God struck down some of the people from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Lord’s chest. God struck seventy people,[g] and the community grieved because the Lord had struck them so severely. 20 The people of Beth-shemesh said, “Who can stand before the Lord, this holy God? Where can he go that is away from us here?” 21 They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim. “The Philistines returned the Lord’s chest!” they said. “Come down and take it back with you.”
7 So the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took the Lord’s chest. They brought it to Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Then they dedicated Eleazar, Abinadab’s son, to care for the Lord’s chest.
Samuel leads Israel
2 Now a long time passed—a total of twenty years—after the chest came to stay in Kiriath-jearim, and the whole house of Israel yearned for[h] the Lord.
3 Then Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are turning to the Lord with all your heart, then get rid of all the foreign gods and the Astartes you have. Set your heart on the Lord! Worship him only! Then he will deliver you from the Philistines’ power.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of the Baals and the Astartes and worshipped the Lord only.
5 Next Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah. I will pray to the Lord for you.”
6 So they assembled at Mizpah, and they drew water and poured it out in the Lord’s presence. They fasted that same day and confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Samuel served as judge of the Israelites at Mizpah.
7 When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had assembled at Mizpah, the Philistine rulers went up to attack Israel. When the Israelites learned of this, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 The Israelites said to Samuel, “Please don’t stop praying to the Lord our God for us, so God will save us from the Philistines’ power!” 9 So Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as an entirely burned offering to the Lord. Samuel cried out in prayer to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.
10 While Samuel was offering the entirely burned offering, the Philistines advanced to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered against the Philistines with a great blast on that very day, throwing the Philistines into such a panic that they were defeated by Israel. 11 The Israelite soldiers came out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines. They struck them down until they reached a place just below Beth-car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah.[i] He named it Ebenezer,[j] explaining, “The Lord helped us to this very point.”
13 So the Philistines were defeated, and they stopped coming into Israelite territory. The Lord’s hand was against the Philistines throughout Samuel’s life. 14 The towns the Philistines had captured from Israel, from Ekron to Gath, were returned to Israel. Israel also recovered the territory around those two cities from the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15 Samuel served as Israel’s judge his whole life. 16 Each year he traveled between Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, serving as Israel’s judge in each of those locations. 17 Then he would return to Ramah because that’s where his home was. In Ramah too he served as Israel’s judge, and that is also where he built an altar to the Lord.
Israel demands a king
8 Now when Samuel got old, he appointed his sons to serve as Israel’s judges. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel; the name of the second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beer-sheba. 3 But Samuel’s sons didn’t follow in his footsteps. They tried to turn a profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice.
4 So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Listen. You are old now, and your sons don’t follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” 6 It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” so he prayed to the Lord.
7 The Lord answered Samuel, “Comply with the people’s request—everything they ask of you—because they haven’t rejected you. No, they’ve rejected me as king over them. 8 They are doing to you only what they’ve been doing to me[k] from the day I brought them out of Egypt to this very minute, abandoning me and worshipping other gods. 9 So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them.”[l]
10 Then Samuel explained everything the Lord had said to the people who were asking for a king. 11 “This is how the king will rule over you,” Samuel said:
“He will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariot. 12 He will use them as his commanders of troops of one thousand and troops of fifty, or to do his plowing and his harvesting, or to make his weapons or parts for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, or bakers. 14 He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will give one-tenth of your grain and your vineyards to his officials and servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants, along with the best of your cattle[m] and donkeys, and make them do his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! 18 When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose for yourselves, but on that day the Lord won’t answer you.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us 20 so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.”
21 Samuel listened to everything the people said and repeated it directly to the Lord. 22 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Comply with their request. Give them a king.”
Samuel then told the Israelite people, “Go back, each of you, to your own hometown.”
Saul chosen to lead Israel
9 There was a wealthy man from the tribe of Benjamin named Kish. He was the son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite. 2 He had a son named Saul, who was a handsome young man. No one in Israel was more handsome than Saul, and he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.
3 When the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servant boys with you and go look for the donkeys.” 4 So he traveled through the highlands of Ephraim and the land of Shalishah, but they didn’t find anything. They traveled through the land of Shaalim, but still found nothing, so they crossed back into the land of Benjamin, but they still couldn’t find the donkeys. 5 When they came to the territory of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, “Let’s go back before my father stops worrying about the donkeys and starts worrying about us.”
6 But the boy said to him, “Listen, there’s a man of God in this town. He’s famous—everything he says actually happens! So let’s go there. Maybe he’ll be able to tell us which way we should go.”
7 Saul said to his young boy, “But if we go, what should we bring to the man? The food in our bags is all gone. We don’t have any gift to offer the man of God. Do we have anything?”
8 “Here,” the boy answered Saul, “I’ve got a quarter-shekel of silver. I’ll give that to the man of God so he tells us which way to go.” (9 Earlier in Israel, someone going to consult with God would say, “Let’s go to the seer,” because the people who are called prophets today were previously called seers.)
10 Saul said to the boy, “Great idea! Let’s go.” So they went into the town where the man of God lived. 11 They were going up the hill to the town when they met some young women coming out to draw water. “Is the seer here?” they asked them.
12 “He’s just ahead of you,” they answered. “Hurry up! He has just come to town because there is a sacrifice today for the people at the shrine. 13 You’ll find him as soon as you enter the town, before he goes up to the shrine to eat. The people won’t eat until he gets there, because he must bless the sacrifice. Only after that can the invited guests eat. Now get going because you’ll find him momentarily.”
14 So Saul and the boy went up to the town, and as they entered it, suddenly Samuel came toward them on his way up to the shrine. 15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed the following to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the Benjaminite territory. You will anoint him as leader of my people Israel. He will save my people from the Philistines’ power because I have seen the suffering of[n] my people, and their cry for help has reached me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “That’s the man I told you about. That’s the one who will rule[o] my people.”
18 Saul approached Samuel in the city gate and said, “Please tell me where the seer’s house is.”
19 “I’m the seer,” Samuel told Saul. “Go on ahead of me to the shrine. You can eat with me today. In the morning I’ll send you on your way, and I will tell you everything you want to know. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, don’t be worried about them because they’ve been found. Who owns all of Israel’s treasures, anyway? Isn’t it you and your whole family?”[p]
21 “I’m a Benjaminite,” Saul responded, “from the smallest Israelite tribe, and my family is the littlest of the families in the tribe of Benjamin. Why would you say something like that to me?”
22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young servant and brought them to the banquet room. He gave them an honored place among the invited guests. There were about thirty total. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Serve the portion I gave you—the one I told you to set aside.” 24 So the cook took the thigh and what was on it,[q] and put it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Look, what had been reserved is now in front of you. Eat up, because it was set apart for you for this specific occasion, ever since I invited the guests.”[r] So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 When they came back from the shrine to the town, a bed was made for Saul on the roof, and he slept.[s]
26 Near dawn, Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Wake up! I will send you on your way.” So Saul got up, and the two of them, he and Samuel, went outside. 27 As they were nearing the edge of town Samuel said, “Tell the boy to go on ahead of us” (the servant did so) “but you stop for a bit so I can tell you God’s word.”
Samuel anoints Saul as king
10 Samuel took a small jar of oil and poured it over Saul’s head and kissed him. “The Lord hereby anoints you leader of his people Israel,” Samuel said. “You will rule the Lord’s people and save them from the power of the enemies who surround them. And this will be the sign for you that the Lord has anointed you as leader of his very own possession:[t] 2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will tell you, ‘The donkeys you went looking for have been found. Now your father has stopped thinking about the donkeys and is worried about you. He’s asking: What should I do about my son?’ 3 Then, when you’ve gone on a bit farther, you will come to the oak at Tabor. Three men who are going to consult God at Bethel will meet up with you there, one carrying three young goats, one carrying three loaves of bread, and one carrying a jar of wine. 4 They will ask how you’re doing and will offer you sacrificial bread,[u] which you should accept. 5 After that, you will come to Gibeath-elohim, which is a Philistine fort. When you enter the town, you will encounter a group of prophets coming down from the shrine preceded by harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres. They will be caught up in a prophetic frenzy. 6 Then the Lord’s spirit will come over you, and you will be caught up in a prophetic frenzy right along with them; it will be like you’ve become a completely different person. 7 Once these signs have happened to you, do whatever you would like to do, because God is with you. 8 Then go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I’ll come down to meet you to offer entirely burned offerings and to make well-being sacrifices. Wait seven days until I get to you, then I’ll tell you what you should do next.”
9 And just as Saul turned to leave Samuel’s side, God gave him a different heart, and all these signs happened that very same day. 10 When Saul and the boy got to Gibeah, there was a group of prophets coming to meet him. God’s spirit came over Saul, and he was caught up in a prophetic frenzy right along with them. 11 When all the people who had known Saul saw him prophesying with the prophets, they said to each other, “What’s happened to Kish’s son? Is Saul also one of the prophets?” 12 One of the locals then asked, “And who is their leader?”[v] So it became a proverb: “Is Saul also one of the prophets?” 13 When the prophetic frenzy was over, Saul went home.[w]
14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his young servant, “Where did you go?”
“To look for the donkeys,” Saul replied, “but when we couldn’t find anything, we went to Samuel.”
15 “Please tell me what Samuel told you,” Saul’s uncle said.
16 “He reassured us that the donkeys had been found,” Saul answered. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.
Saul selected as king
17 Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 Then he told the Israelites: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the Egyptians’ power and from the power of all the kingdoms that oppressed you. 19 But today you’ve rejected your God who saved you from all your troubles and difficulties by saying, ‘No! Appoint a king over us!’ So now assemble yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”
20 Then Samuel brought all the Israelite tribes forward, and the tribe of Benjamin was selected. 21 Next Samuel brought the tribe of Benjamin forward by its families, and the family of Matri was selected. Samuel then brought the family of Matri forward, person by person,[x] and Saul, Kish’s son, was selected. But when they looked for him, he wasn’t to be found. 22 So they asked another question of the Lord: “Has the man come here yet?”
The Lord said, “Yes, he’s hiding among the supplies.” 23 They ran and retrieved Saul from there, and when he stood up in the middle of the people, he was head and shoulders taller than anyone else.
24 “Can you see the one the Lord has chosen?” Samuel asked all the people. “He has no equal among the people.”
Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
25 Samuel then explained to the people how the monarchy should operate[y] and wrote it in a scroll and placed it in the Lord’s presence. Then Samuel sent every person back to their homes. 26 Saul also went back to his home in Gibeah. Along with him went courageous men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some despicable people said, “How can this man save us?” They despised Saul and didn’t bring him gifts, but Saul didn’t say anything.
Saul delivers Jabesh-gilead
[z] Nahash the Ammonite king had been severely oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He gouged out everyone’s right eye, thereby not allowing Israel to have a deliverer. There wasn’t a single Israelite left across the Jordan River who hadn’t had their right eye gouged out by the Ammonite king Nahash. But seven thousand people had escaped from the Ammonites’ power and fled to Jabesh-gilead.