Today’s reading begins with Samuel searching for a king for Israel and concludes with Saul’s installation as king of Israel.
Israel had been ruled by judges who led the people of Israel through the wilderness, fought to conquer the land the God had promised, and fought against their enemies in the Promised Land. The people had grown tired of this way of life and asked God for a king to rule over them. As God’s prophet and priest, it fell to Samuel to seek out and find the man who God would choose to be the monarch and rule over the people.
Samuel traveled throughout the territory of the people of Israel acting as a priest for the people and one day a man of the tribe of Benjamin named Saul was out searching for some donkeys that his father had lost and came upon Samuel as he was tending to priestly duties in Zuph. The LORD had told Samuel that he would have a meeting with a man of the tribe of Benjamin on this particular day and that this man was whom God had chosen to be the king of Israel.
When Samuel told Saul that he was to be the king of Israel, Saul was surprised and humbled as he was a man of the tribe of Benjamin–a tribe that as indicated at the end of the book of Judges was nearly wiped out because of their grievous sins and rebellion against their fellow Israelites. At the time of Samuel revelation to Saul of his coming kingship, he anointed him and at the time that the two separated, the spirit of the LORD came upon Saul and he began to prophesy among some of the local prophets.
Samuel returned from meeting Saul and called the congregation of Israel together at Mizpah and told them that God had selected a king for them. Lots were cast by Samuel to discern God’s choice for the people and Saul’s family was chosen. Saul was afraid of what was to come for him and so he hid himself from the congregation in the luggage that his family had brought. When Saul was found, he was brought before the people of Israel and the people were overwhelmed with his stature and most welcomed him as their new king.
It wasn’t long after this time that the enemies of Israel sought to oppress them and when Saul was told of it, the Spirit of the LORD came upon him and threatened every family of Israel with the destruction of their livestock if they did not follow him into battle with the Ammonites. Saul and the men of Israel defeated and scattered the Ammonites and by this victory God elevated Saul to a position of greatness and they joyfully and willingly submitted to his leadership.