1Then, from a flask he had with him, Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying: “The LORD anoints you ruler over his people Israel. You are the one who will govern the LORD’s people and save them from the power of their enemies all around them.a
The Signs Foretold. “This will be the sign* for you that the LORD has anointed you ruler over his heritage: 2When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb* at Zelzah in the territory of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you went to look for have been found. Now your father is no longer worried about the donkeys, but is anxious about you and says: What shall I do about my son?’b 3Farther on, when you arrive at the oak of Tabor,* three men will meet you as they go up to God at Bethel; one will be bringing three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and the third a skin of wine. 4They will greet you and offer you two elevated offerings of bread, which you should accept from them. 5c After that you will come to Gibeath-elohim, where the Philistine garrison* is located. As you enter that city, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place. They will be preceded by lyres, tambourines, flutes, and harps, and will be in prophetic ecstasy. 6The spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will join them in their prophetic ecstasy and will become a changed man.d 7When these signs have come to pass, do whatever lies to hand, because God is with you. 8e Now go down ahead of me to Gilgal, for I shall come down to you, to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice communion offerings. Wait seven days until I come to you; I shall then tell you what you must do.”*
The Signs Come to Pass. 9As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed his heart. That very day all these signs came to pass…. 10* From there they arrived at Gibeah, where a band of prophets met Saul, and the spirit of God rushed upon him, so that he joined them in their prophetic ecstasy.f 11When all who had known him previously saw him in a prophetic state among the prophets, they said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”g 12And someone from that district responded, “And who is their father?” Thus the saying arose, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13When he came out of the prophetic ecstasy, he went home.
Silence About the Kingship. 14Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?” Saul replied, “Looking for the donkeys. When we could not find them, we went to Samuel.” 15Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, then, what Samuel said to you.” 16Saul said to his uncle, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But Saul told him nothing about what Samuel had said about the kingship.
Saul Chosen King. 17Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpahh 18and addressed the Israelites: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: It was I who brought Israel up from Egypt and delivered you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that oppressed you.i 19But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your evils and calamities, by saying, ‘No! You must appoint a king over us.’ Now, therefore, take your stand before the LORD according to your tribes and families.”j 20So Samuel had all the tribes of Israel come forward, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen.* 21Next he had the tribe of Benjamin come forward by clans, and the clan of Matri was chosen, and finally Saul, son of Kish, was chosen. But when they went to look for him, he was nowhere to be found. 22k Again they consulted the LORD, “Is there still someone else to come forward?” The LORD answered: He is hiding among the baggage. 23They ran to bring him from there; when he took his place among the people, he stood head and shoulders above all the people.l 24Then Samuel addressed all the people, “Do you see the man whom the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people!” Then all the people shouted out, “Long live the king!”m
25Samuel next explained to the people the rules of the monarchy,* wrote them in a book, and placed them before the presence of the LORD. Samuel then sent the people back to their own homes.n 26Saul also went home to Gibeah, accompanied by warriors whose hearts the LORD had touched. 27But some worthless people said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no tribute.* o
* [10:1] The sign: the role of the new ruler is confirmed by specific signs; cf. Ex 7:9.
* [10:2] Here, as in Jer 31:15, Rachel’s tomb is placed at Ramah, north of Jerusalem. Later tradition understood Ephrath (Gn 35:19–20) as Bethlehem and placed the tomb farther south (Mt 2:16–18).
* [10:3] Oak of Tabor: or terebinth. Such a tree often indicates a shrine.
* [10:5] The Philistine garrison: the Hebrew word for “garrison” has been explained alternatively to mean a stele established to mark the Philistine occupation, or an inspector or officer for the collection of taxes. Prophetic ecstasy: a condition of religious enthusiasm often induced by communal rituals of music and dancing.
* [10:8] By inserting this verse, with its seven days, an editor has named in the very context of Saul’s anointing the condition which in a later narrative will be the grounds for the rejection of the dynastic character of Saul’s kingship (13:8–15).
* [10:10] An editor has abridged a longer version of this story by omitting mention of the first two signs Samuel has given (vv. 2–4).
* [10:20] Was chosen: probably by casting lots; cf. 14:40–42; Jos 7:14, 17.
* [10:25] Rules of the monarchy: a charter describing the relationship between the king and the people.
* [10:27] Tribute: a gift to honor a new ruler as a pledge of one’s loyalty; see Gn 32:14; Jgs 3:15; 2 Sm 8:2.
a. [10:1] 1 Sm 9:16–17; 16:13; 24:7; Jgs 9:9; 1 Kgs 1:39; Acts 13:21.
b. [10:2] Jer 31:15; Mk 14:13.
c. [10:5–6] 1 Sm 13:3; 16:13; 19:20–21.
d. [10:6] 1 Sm 11:6; 16:13; Jgs 14:6, 19; 15:14; 2 Kgs 3:15.
f. [10:10] 1 Sm 19:20–24; Nm 11:25.
g. [10:11] 1 Sm 19:24.
i. [10:18] Ex 20:2; Lv 11:45; 25:38; Nm 15:41; Dt 5:6; Jgs 6:8–9.
k. [10:22] 1 Sm 30:24.
m. [10:24] 2 Sm 16:16; 1 Kgs 1:25; 2 Kgs 11:12.
n. [10:25] 1 Sm 8:11; Dt 17:14–20.
o. [10:27] 1 Sm 11:12.