1 Samuel 9

Have You Seen My Father's Donkeys?

The encounter between Samuel and the elders was intense. Samuel watches the people and the elders make their way home, and he is left to contend with his frustration, thoughts, and emotions. The conversation must have been lively as the people made their way to their homes. Political opinions swirled, and the speculation began about who would be Israel's first king. God was not taken by surprise when Israel rejected him for this had been the pattern for them since the exodus from Egypt. The people mistakenly believed that being like everyone else would be better for them than being set apart as God intended. The people of Israel were so determined to have a king that they agreed to pay any price and endure any challenges associated with being led by a monarch. Scripture does not shed any light on the delay between this decision and its execution; it simply gives a brief paternity of a man named Saul. Saul was from the smallest tribe but belonged to prominent family from that tribe. Saul was quite the specimen for he was taller than anyone else and he was handsome. The people wanted a king like the other nations and Saul certainly looked the part. It was an odd set of circumstances that led to Saul's first brush with Samuel. Kish, Saul's father, had sent his son in search of his lost donkeys and Saul was not having any success in locating them. Saul was ready to abandon the search and feared that his father would be anxious about his whereabouts and well-being, but Saul's servant suggested they consult the local man of God because he had a reputation for accurate prophecy. Saul agrees but their provisions have run out, and he is concerned about what they might give as an offering for his services. The servant offers his quarter of a shekel of silver and the two head for Ramah. As they approached the city, the two travelers met some young women going out to draw water and learn that the seer has come to the city to officiate a sacrificial meal. The women advised the two to intercept the prophet on his way because only invited guests would be permitted at the feast. 

Here Is The Man

The previous day the Lord had revealed that tomorrow at a particular time he would send  a man from the land of Benjamin to Samuel, and this was the man to be anointed “prince.” Saul was to be given the commission to save the people from the Philistines. When the prophet saw Saul, God identified him and explained that he would restrain his people. Evidently, Saul did not know Samuel because when meets Samuel in the gate he asks for directions to the home of the seer. Samuel explains that he is the seer and invites Saul to the sacrificial meal as his guest. Before Saul has a chance to ask Samuel about the donkeys, Samuel assures him that they have been found and then he asks Saul two cryptic questions related to Saul being king. Saul seems to sense that he was being honored, but he does not understand why Samuel would speak to him this way. Saul was from the smallest tribe and his family had little status. Saul makes his way into the hall with Samuel and is given the seat of honor before all the guests. He is served the choice portion, and Samuel explains that it was set aside for him. Samuel indicates that the meal was intended to honor Saul and then invites Saul to stay for the night. Early the next morning, Samuel woke Saul and walks with him to the edge of the city. There Samuel asks Saul to send the servant ahead while he remains so that Samuel can declare the word of the Lord to him privately. Saul consents, sending his servant on while his mind races as he waits to hear what Samuel has to say.

Things To Consider:

  • Why do you think Saul's physical makeup is mentioned?  
  • What can be learned about God's work in our lives by Saul's circumstances which included the stress of a concerned father and the lack of success for Saul in finding the donkeys?
  • Why do we delay seeking God until we have exhausted all our resources?
  • Do you think it is strange that Saul did not know Samuel? Why? 
  • What do you think it was like for Saul to have a meal in his honor without knowing the host or the reason for the occasion?  
  • How do you think the servant felt when he left Saul with Samuel?
  • How do you think Saul felt when Samuel asked to speak with him alone?
  • Do you ever get alone to hear a word from the Lord? Why or why not?