Ver. 1. Vial, in the form of a lentil. Plin. xviii. 12.
--- Oil. This anointing seems to have been peculiar to the kings, priests, and prophets of the Hebrews, who prefigured Jesus, the great anointed of God. S. Aug. in Ps. xliv. The custom was very ancient. Judg. ix. 8. It is thought that those kings, who succeeded their fathers by their birth-right, and without opposition, did not receive any unction. C.
--- But the silence of Scripture is no proof on this head; and the Fathers seem to be convinced that the custom subsisted till Christ appeared. S. Just. dial. &c. H.
--- The Rabbins pretend that the sacred ointment was used for the kings of Juda, but not for those of Israel. It is not probable that it was used for either. Ex. xxx. 32. 3 K. i. 39. We read that Jehu was anointed king of Israel; (4 K. ix. 6,) and we may suppose that common oil was used, in his regard, as well as for the other kings. The perfume or balm of Judea, does not spot the garments on which it may fall. Plin. xii. 25. It was poured on the head; the Rabbins say in the from of a crown, (C.) or cross. H.
--- But this is uncertain. The ceremony has been preserved, with respect to Christian kings, who, according to Innocent I, should be anointed on the shoulders and arms, while prelates receive the unction on the head.
--- Kissed him, out of respect. Ps. ii. 12. C.
--- Behold. Heb. "Is it not because?" &c. H.
--- And thou...prince. All this is wanting in the Heb. &c. But it is conformable to the Vat. Sept.; (C.) the Alex. has "to be prince over his people, over Israel? and thou shalt rule over the people of the Lord, and shalt save it from its enemies around;" as we have explained. C. ix. 16. H.
--- Saul was anointed with a small vessel, to signify that his kingdom should not subsist long; and with oil, to remind him of mercy, light, and health to his people. S. Greg. W.
Ver. 2. Rachel, near Bethlehem. Gen. xxxv. 16.
--- South. Sept. or "mid-day." Heb. Tseltsach, is very obscure. Some take it for a proper name. C.
--- Prot. "at Zelzah." Others for some musical instrument, as if these travellers were "dancing," as the Sept. insinuate, and playing on musical instruments, like the prophets, v. 5. It does not appear how Saul would come near Bethlehem, in his journey from Ramatha to Gabaa, unless Ramatha lay more to the south that it is represented, which is could not do, being in the tribe of Ephraim; so that we might translate the Heb. "Thou wilt find two men of Zelzelach, a place near the tomb of Rachel, on the borders of Benjamin, and they," &c.
Ver. 3. Thabor, very distant from the famous mountain (C.) in Zabulon. M.
--- Bethel. Where there was at that time an altar of God; it being one of the places where Samuel judged Israel, (Ch.) and which had always been considered as a place of devotion, since Jacob had his vision. Gen. xxviii. 19. It lay to the east of Gabaa, so that Saul might easily meet these pilgrims. C.
--- Wine, for libations, as the other things were for a sacrifice and feast, as well as for presents to the officiating priests.
BethelBethel, 1 see s.v. — 2 (Josh 12:16; Simeon) another name for Bethul. --- Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza. C. --- Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars. H.
Ver. 4. Hand. They would be very acceptable to Saul, who had none. The strangers might suppose that they could purchase more at Bethel. C.
Ver. 5. The hill of God. Gabaa, in which there was also at that time, a high place or altar. Ch.
--- The prophets were not molested by the infidels, in performing their devotions, as people consecrated to the Lord, who do not meddle with war, are privileged by the consent of nations. Grot. Jur. iii. 11. 10. C.
--- Prophets. These were men whose office it was to sing hymns and praises to God; for such in holy writ are called prophets, and their singing praises to God is called prophesying. See 1 Par. alias 1 Chron. xv. 22. and xxv. 1. Now there were in those days colleges, or schools for training up these prophets; and it seems there was one of these schools at this hill of God; and another at Naioth in Ramatha. See 1 Samuel xix 20. 21. &c. Ch.
--- The Jews say there were in every city of Judea congregations of this nature. They lived like monks, abstaining, for the most part, from marriage, though some had children, 4 K. iv. 1. They had a superior at their head, to whom God frequently revealed future things. The rest were instructed how to explain the prophecies, to compose and sing canticles. Some of them were inspired, like Saul, only for a time. It is supposed that Samuel instituted these colleges, and this is the first time we find them mentioned. C.
--- They were of infinite service in preserving the true religion. H.
Ver. 6. Spirit of piety. M.
--- Man. Thou shalt act, and entertain sentiments worthy of a great prince, (C.) and be no longer employed in rustic works. M.
--- Cape regis animum et in istam fortunam, qua dignus es, istam continentiam profer. "Adopt the sentiments of a king, said the deputies of Alexander to Abdalonymus, but carry along with you this moderation, when you assume the dignity which you deserve to enjoy." Curtius iv.
Ver. 7. Find. Undertake any enterprise, how difficult soever, which God may propose to thee. C.
Ver. 8. Galgal. Here also by dispensation was an altar of God. Ch.
--- To do. Saul went thither, after the victory which he had obtained over the Ammonites, when he was confirmed in his dignity. C. xi. 14. But the mention of seven days, seems to indicate that Samuel is here speaking of that event, when the war against the Philistines was at hand, and Saul neglected to wait the appointed term, before he ventured to offer sacrifice. C. xiii. 8. C.
--- Some think that Samuel engages always to meet him at Galgal, on any important business, within the space of seven days. Serar.
--- Others translate, "I will be at Galgal with thee, and we will offer sacrifices, for seven days." C.
--- Prot. "I will come down to thee to offer burnt-offerings," &c. which is conformable to the Sept. Indeed Saul was probably blamed for offering the victims himself. H.
--- Obedience was enjoined him to try his humility. S. Greg. W.
Ver. 11. Prophets. This proverb received a fresh confirmation, when Saul was going to seize David, and was forced by the Spirit to join with the college of prophets, in singing God's praises. C. xix. ult. H.
--- It may be applied to those who are unexpectedly raised to a high dignity, or enabled to speak or to do extraordinary things, like the apostles, when they spoke various languages &c. Delrio adag. 178. C.
Ver. 12. Their father. That is, their teacher or superior. As much as to say, Who could bring about such a wonderful change as to make Saul a prophet? (Ch.) but the Lord, whose Spirit breatheth where he will. Jo. iii. 8. H.
--- Sept. "Who is his father? is it not Cis?" The Jews seem to have been in a like consternation, when they observed respecting Jesus, who wrought such miracles, Is not this the carpenter's son? People are unwilling to reflect, that God can select his instruments and ministers from every profession, and make the tongues of infants eloquent. H.
--- The spirit of prophecy is a gift of God, not of parents. M.
--- But a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. Mat. xiii. 57. H.
Ver. 13. Place. Returning to his father's house, after the Spirit had ceased to inspire him, and the prophets had retired home. His relations, suspecting something more than common had been revealed to Saul by Samuel, began to ask him questions: but he had the prudence to keep (C.) his secret to himself, either in obedience to Samuel's injunction, when he sent the servant before, (H.) or out of humility, (M.) or to prevent the dangers of envy from his own kindred. Josephus.
Ver. 17. Lord, who always presided over such assemblies. This was convened to elect a king, whom God pointed out by lots. Some assert that the ark, and the high priest, in his pontifical ornaments, were present. C.
--- Adrichomius says Maspha was only three hours' walk from Cariathiarim. M.
Ver. 19. Families. Lots were first drawn to determine the tribe, then to find out which of the great families, and which house, was to give a king to Israel. H.
--- See Jos. vii. 14. M.
--- God was pleased thus to convince them that the election proceeded from him. S. Greg. W.
Ver. 21. Metri. We find none of this name, 1 Par. viii. 1. It is probably a title which some of the great patriarchs of Benjamin had acquired by shooting, as Metri means "an archer or bowman." C.
Ver. 22. Home. Heb. "he hath hidden himself among the stuff," (H.) instruments, or baggage, at Masphath. He acted thus out of modesty, judging himself unfit for the exalted dignity, (C.) and shewed that he did not seek for it. M.
Ver. 23. Upwards. God condescended to gratify the desires of the people, who chiefly regarded the stature and corporal qualifications of their king. "Many nations are accustomed to look with veneration on a majestic person, and think none are capable of great exploits except those whom nature has made very handsome." Curtius vi. See C. ix. 2. More civilized nations rather consider the qualities of the mind. Alexander, Agesilaus, &c. were not of a majestic stature.
Ver. 24. King. Our favourite song, "God save," &c. is an amplification of this sentiment. H.
Ver. 25. Before the Lord. It seems that the ark was therefore present. This record of Samuel is lost, so that we cannot determine what laws he prescribed on this occasion. C.
--- Josephus (vi. 5.) says that he wrote and read in the hearing of all, and in the presence of the king, what evils would ensue under the regal government; and deposited the writing in the tabernacle, that the truth of the prediction might be ascertained. He probably alludes to the denunciation of tyranny, which had been made C. viii. and which he says Samuel repeated on this occasion. But the prophet would also take a copy of the law of the kingdom, prescribed by Moses, (Deut. xvii.) and deliver it to Saul, that he might make it the rule of his conduct, and not imitate the wicked customs of tyrants. H.
--- The whole process of this memorable event he would also write down, (M.) as we read it at present in this chapter, placing it in the proper order, as a continuation of the sacred history which Moses and Josue had commenced; and like them, depositing the sacred volume beside the ark, or in the tabernacle. See Jos. xxiv. 26. H.
Ver. 26. Touched; to consider the appointment of Saul, as his act. Afterwards they retired home, and the new king returned to his wonted occupations. The army here denotes part of the assembly, as the young men came with their leaders ready, if called, to march to battle. Ex. vi. 26. Deut. xx. 9. C.
Ver. 27. Belial; seditious men, perhaps of the tribe of Ephraim, (Judg. xii.) or of Juda, to whom the regal power seemed to belong. Gen. xlix. Salien.
--- Presents, in testimony of their submission. See Judg. iii. 15. 3 K. iv. 21. The eastern kings still expect that ambassadors should bring noble presents, otherwise they deem themselves insulted. P. Martyr.
--- Subjects dare not appear before their king, in Thrace, without some such offering. Xenophon, Anab. vii. &c. C.
--- Not. He knew that the throne is established by mercy. Prov. xx. 28. Hence he chose to pardon these discontented people after he had obtained the victory, and was even solicited to make an example of them. Salien, A. 2962.
--- Severity might have alienated the minds of many, as he was hardly yet confirmed in his dignity, and the war against Ammon was threatening. M.