9 There was a prominent man of Benjamin named Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, son of a Benjaminite. 2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else.[a]3 One day the donkeys of Saul’s father Kish wandered off. Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go look for the donkeys.” 4 Saul and his servant went through the hill country of Ephraim and then through the region of Shalishah, but they didn’t find them. They went through the region of Shaalim—nothing. Then they went through the Benjaminite region but still didn’t find them.5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come on, let’s go back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”6 “Look,” the servant said, “there’s a man of God in this city who is highly respected; everything he says is sure to come true. Let’s go there now. Maybe he’ll tell us which way we should go.”7 “Suppose we do go,” Saul said to his servant, “what do we take the man? The food from our packs is gone, and there’s no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”8 The servant answered Saul: “Here, I have a little[b] silver. I’ll give it to the man of God, and he will tell us which way we should go.”9 Formerly in Israel, a man who was going to inquire of God would say, “Come, let’s go to the seer,” for the prophet of today was formerly called the seer.10 “Good,” Saul replied to his servant. “Come on, let’s go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was. 11 As they were climbing the hill to the city, they found some young women coming out to draw water and asked, “Is the seer here?”12 The women answered, “Yes, he is ahead of you. Hurry, he just now entered the city, because there’s a sacrifice for the people at the high place today. 13 As soon as you enter the city, you will find him before he goes to the high place to eat. The people won’t eat until he comes because he must bless the sacrifice; after that, the guests can eat. Go up immediately—you can find him now.” 14 So they went up toward the city.Saul and his servant were entering the city when they saw Samuel coming toward them on his way to the high place. 15 Now the day before Saul’s arrival, the Lord had informed Samuel,[c] 16 “At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel. He will save them from the Philistines because I have seen the affliction of my people, for their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man I told you about; he will govern my people.”18 Saul approached Samuel in the city gate and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”19 “I am the seer,” Samuel answered.[d] “Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today. When I send you off in the morning, I’ll tell you everything that’s in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys that wandered away from you three days ago, don’t worry about them because they’ve been found. And who does all Israel desire but you and all your father’s family?”21 Saul responded, “Am I not a Benjaminite from the smallest of Israel’s tribes and isn’t my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tribe? So why have you said something like this to me?”22 Samuel took Saul and his servant, brought them to the banquet hall, and gave them a place at the head of the thirty[e] or so men who had been invited. 23 Then Samuel said to the cook, “Get the portion of meat that I gave you and told you to set aside.”24 The cook picked up the thigh and what was attached to it and set it before Saul. Then Samuel said, “Notice that the reserved piece is set before you. Eat it because it was saved for you for this solemn event at the time I said, ‘I’ve invited the people.’” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 Afterward, they went down from the high place to the city, and Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof.[f]26 They got up early, and just before dawn, Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get up, and I’ll send you on your way!” Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went outside. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us, but you stay for a while, and I’ll reveal the word of God to you.” So the servant went on.10 Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it out on Saul’s head, kissed him, and said, “Hasn’t the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?[g] 2 Today when you leave me, you’ll find two men at Rachel’s Grave at Zelzah in the territory of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you went looking for have been found, and now your father has stopped being concerned about the donkeys and is worried about you, asking: What should I do about my son?’3 “You will proceed from there until you come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one bringing three goats, one bringing three loaves of bread, and one bringing a clay jar of wine. 4 They will ask how you are and give you two loaves[h] of bread, which you will accept from them.5 “After that you will come to Gibeah of God where there are Philistine garrisons.[i] When you arrive at the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place prophesying. They will be preceded by harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully on you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed. 7 When these signs have happened to you, do whatever your circumstances require[j] because God is with you. 8 Afterward, go ahead of me to Gilgal. I will come to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice fellowship offerings. Wait seven days until I come to you and show you what to do.”9 When Saul turned around[k] to leave Samuel, God changed his heart,[l] and all the signs came about that day. 10 When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully on him, and he prophesied along with them.11 Everyone who knew him previously and saw him prophesy with the prophets asked each other, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”12 Then a man who was from there asked, “And who is their father?”As a result, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” became a popular saying. 13 Then Saul finished prophesying and went to the high place.14 Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where did you go?”“To look for the donkeys,” Saul answered. “When we saw they weren’t there, we went to Samuel.”15 “Tell me,” Saul’s uncle asked, “what did Samuel say to you?”16 Saul told him, “He assured us the donkeys had been found.” However, Saul did not tell him what Samuel had said about the matter of kingship.
Saul Received as King
17 Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to the Israelites, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your troubles and afflictions. You said to him, ‘You[m] must set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”20 Samuel had all the tribes of Israel come forward, and the tribe of Benjamin was selected. 21 Then he had the tribe of Benjamin come forward by its clans, and the Matrite clan was selected.[n] Finally, Saul son of Kish was selected. But when they searched for him, they could not find him. 22 They again inquired of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”The Lord replied, “There he is, hidden among the supplies.”23 They ran and got him from there. When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else.[o] 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population.”And all the people shouted,[p] “Long live the king!”25 Samuel proclaimed to the people the rights of kingship. He wrote them on a scroll, which he placed in the presence of the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people home.26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, and brave men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27 But some wicked men said, “How can this guy save us?” They despised him and did not bring him a gift, but Saul said nothing.[q][r]
Saul’s Deliverance of Jabesh-gilead
11 Nahash[s] the Ammonite came up and laid siege to Jabesh-gilead. All the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.”2 Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I’ll make one with you on this condition: that I gouge out everyone’s right eye and humiliate all Israel.”3 “Don’t do anything to us for seven days,” the elders of Jabesh said to him, “and let us send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. If no one saves us, we will surrender to you.”4 When the messengers came to Gibeah, Saul’s hometown, and told the terms to[t] the people, all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was coming in from the field behind his oxen. “What’s the matter with the people? Why are they weeping?” Saul inquired, and they repeated to him the words of the men from Jabesh.6 When Saul heard these words, the Spirit of God suddenly came powerfully on him, and his anger burned furiously. 7 He took a team of oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by messengers who said, “This is what will be done to the ox of anyone who doesn’t march behind Saul and Samuel.” As a result, the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they went out united.8 Saul counted them at Bezek. There were three hundred thousand[u] Israelites and thirty thousand[v] men from Judah. 9 He told the messengers who had come, “Tell this to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Deliverance will be yours tomorrow by the time the sun is hot.’” So the messengers told the men of Jabesh, and they rejoiced.10 Then the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Tomorrow we will come out, and you can do whatever you want[w] to us.”11 The next day Saul organized the troops into three divisions. During the morning watch, they invaded the Ammonite camp and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. There were survivors, but they were so scattered that no two of them were left together.
Saul’s Confirmation as King
12 Afterward, the people said to Samuel, “Who said that Saul should not[x] reign over us? Give us those men so we can kill them!”13 But Saul ordered, “No one will be executed this day, for today the Lord has provided deliverance in Israel.”14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let’s go to Gilgal, so we can renew the kingship there.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there in the Lord’s presence they made Saul king. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings in the Lord’s presence, and Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
Samuel’s Final Public Speech
12 Then Samuel said to all Israel, “I have carefully listened to everything you said to me and placed a king over you. 2 Now you can see that the king is leading you. As for me, I’m old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have led you from my youth until now. 3 Here I am. Bring charges against me before the Lord and his anointed: Whose ox or donkey have I taken? Whom have I wronged or mistreated? From whom have I accepted a bribe to overlook something?[y][z] I will return it to you.”4 “You haven’t wronged us, you haven’t mistreated us, and you haven’t taken anything from anyone,” they responded.5 He said to them, “The Lord is a witness against you, and his anointed is a witness today that you haven’t found anything in my hand.”“He is a witness,” they said.6 Then Samuel said to the people, “The Lord, who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your ancestors up from the land of Egypt, is a witness.[aa] 7 Now present yourselves, so I may confront you before the Lord about all the righteous acts he has done for you and your ancestors.8 “When Jacob went to Egypt,[ab] your ancestors cried out to the Lord, and he sent them Moses and Aaron, who led your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place. 9 But they forgot the Lord their God, so he handed them over to Sisera commander of the army of Hazor, to the Philistines, and to the king of Moab. These enemies fought against them. 10 Then they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, for we abandoned the Lord and worshiped the Baals and the Ashtoreths. Now rescue us from the power of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 So the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Barak,[ac] Jephthah, and Samuel. He rescued you from the power of the enemies around you, and you lived securely. 12 But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was coming against you, you said to me, ‘No, we must have a king reign over us’—even though the Lord your God is your king.13 “Now here is the king you’ve chosen, the one you requested. Look, this is the king the Lord has placed over you. 14 If you fear the Lord, worship and obey him, and if you don’t rebel against the Lord’s command, then both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 However, if you disobey the Lord and rebel against his command, the Lord’s hand will be against you as it was against your ancestors.[ad]16 “Now, therefore, present yourselves and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Isn’t the wheat harvest today? I will call on the Lord, and he will send thunder and rain so that you will recognize[ae] what an immense evil you committed in the Lord’s sight by requesting a king for yourselves.” 18 Samuel called on the Lord, and on that day the Lord sent thunder and rain. As a result, all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.19 They pleaded with Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so we won’t die! For we have added to all our sins the evil of requesting a king for ourselves.”20 Samuel replied, “Don’t be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don’t turn away from following the Lord. Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart. 21 Don’t turn away to follow worthless[af] things that can’t profit or rescue you; they are worthless. 22 The Lord will not abandon his people, because of his great name and because he has determined to make you his own people.23 “As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way. 24 Above all, fear the Lord and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you. 25 However, if you continue to do what is evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”
God gave the people what they wanted, a physical king to rule over them. They already had a king, God himself, but that wasn’t enough for them, they wanted a physical king to rule them. We see God giving them Saul, who looked great on the outside, but was lacking inside. He wouldn’t even show up to his own crowning before all Israel.
Let’s not be like the Israelites and want someone, who isn’t God’s servant, to rule over us. I know, far too often, I am the one I want to rule over me and not God. Let’s put this foolishness aside and allow King Jesus to reign over us.