Chapter nine starts out describing the new King of Israel, King Saul. But the King will not be anointed or proclaimed this chapter. This chapter weaves together the stories of Samuel the prophet and Saul the king. Here they will meet, become acquainted, and establish a modicum of trust in one another. Even though this is a seemingly simple chapter, there are some appropriate lessons we can learn.
We are introduced to Saul as very tall and handsome. He comes from a powerful lineage and we find that he is on a mission to recover his father Kish’s lost donkeys. Saul goes through many lands attempting to find the lost donkeys, but he does not find them. When Saul and his servant have come to a land called Zuph, Saul expresses the desire to return home, lest his father worry more about his son and the search party rather than the donkeys. The chapter has already shown us two aspects Saul’s character that are favorable. He has shown loyalty to his father and his father’s possessions by searching for the donkeys and he has shown care for his father by wanting to prevent unnecessary worry. But we will learn more about Saul later in this book that is not so favorable.
Saul’s servant has heard that there is a nearby city with a prophet that can help them. Saul was worried that they had nothing to offer the man of God, but the seer was prepared with one-fourth of a shekel of silver. When Saul and his servant got closer to the city, some young women were able to help the, find him. We can conclude that this city (Shiloh?) was known for being a holy city because Saul’s servant knew and these young women drawing water had full knowledge of where the priest was and could guide others to him.
Starting in verse 15 we find out that the holy man sought by Saul and his servant is actually Samuel. Samuel had been told by God beforehand to expect Saul, and in fact we know from the previous chapter that Samuel knew that God would appoint a king over Israel. We should pay attention to how Samuel treats Saul in this chapter. Samuel knew that Saul’s being sent there was a part of God’s plan and he also knew that Saul was the one chosen to be king by God, so Samuel treats him impeccably.
Samuel knows what is on Saul’s mind, so he takes care of his needs and tells him not to worry, that his father’s donkeys are safe. Samuel had Saul and his servant sit at the place of honor at the sacrificial feast. He also kept aside a special portion of the food, just for Saul. As the visit concluded, Samuel spent time with Saul and made provision to tell Saul in private what the will of the Lord was concerning him.
Chapter nine ends with Samuel preparing to tell Saul the things of God. Even though we are in the middle of learning about Saul, there are still things we can apply to our lives from I Samuel 9. For one, Saul and his servant understood when it was wise to seek counsel, particularly from God. Saul’s hesitation to visit the prophet was because he thought they did not have an appropriate gift to bring, as was the custom of the time. But when they saw they had the opportunity, they knew that seeking guidance from God was the best thing to do. We too, need to recognize when in life we need to pause and seek the help of our God.
Another great lesson from this chapter is from Samuel. His loyalty to God in treating Saul with respect, kindness, and favor showed his devotion to God and brought glory and honor to everyone involved. Samuel’s humility in service is impressive because even though Samuel knew that God did not desire a king for Israel, He was still going to give Israel a king and Samuel was showing love to God by honoring this decision through his superb treatment of Saul. We should all be so loyal to God and humble in our service. Samuel did not judge, second-guess, or complain. He obeyed and in so doing removed the possibility of any blame being laid at his feet for the type of king that Saul would turn out to be.