Saul Meets Samuel
1There was a wealthy and influential man named Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin; he was the son of Abiel and grandson of Zeror, and belonged to the family of Becorath, a part of the clan of Aphiah. 2He had a son named Saul, a handsome man in the prime of life. Saul was a foot taller than anyone else in Israel and more handsome as well.
3Some donkeys belonging to Kish had wandered off, so he said to Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4They went through the hill country of Ephraim and the region of Shalishah, but did not find them; so they went on through the region of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then they went through the territory of Benjamin, but still did not find them. 5When they came into the region of Zuph, Saul said to his servant, “Let's go back home, or my father might stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”
6The servant answered, “Wait! In this town there is a holy man who is highly respected because everything he says comes true. Let's go to him, and maybe he can tell us where we can find the donkeys.”
7“If we go to him, what can we give him?” Saul asked. “There is no food left in our packs, and we don't have a thing to give him, do we?”
8The servant answered, “I have a small silver coin. I can give him that, and then he will tell us where we can find them.”
9-11Saul replied, “A good idea! Let's go.” So they went to the town where the holy man lived. As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women who were coming out to draw water. They asked these women, “Is the seer in town?”
(At that time a prophet was called a seer, and so whenever someone wanted to ask God a question, he would say, “Let's go to the seer.”)
12-13“Yes, he is,” the young women answered. “In fact, he is just ahead of you. If you hurry, you will catch up with him. As soon as you go into town, you will find him. He arrived in town today because the people are going to offer a sacrifice on the altar on the hill. The people who are invited won't start eating until he gets there, because he has to bless the sacrifice first. If you go now, you will find him before he goes up the hill to eat.” 14So Saul and his servant went on to the town, and as they were going in, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way to the place of worship.
15Now on the previous day the Lord had told Samuel, 16“Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the tribe of Benjamin; anoint him as ruler of my people Israel, and he will rescue them from the Philistines. I have seen the suffering of my people and have heard their cries for help.”
17When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I told you about. He will rule my people.” 18Then Saul went over to Samuel, who was near the gate, and asked, “Tell me, where does the seer live?”
19Samuel answered, “I am the seer. Go on ahead of me to the place of worship. Both of you are to eat with me today. Tomorrow morning I will answer all your questions and send you on your way. 20As for the donkeys that were lost three days ago, don't worry about them; they have already been found. But who is it that the people of Israel want so much?#9.20: who is it … much?; or who is to have the most desirable thing in Israel? It is you—you and your father's family.”
21Saul answered, “I belong to the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important one in the tribe. Why, then, do you talk like this to me?”
22Then Samuel led Saul and his servant into the large room and gave them a place at the head of the table where the guests, about thirty in all, were seated. 23Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, which I told you to set aside.” 24So the cook brought the choice piece of the leg and placed it before Saul. Samuel#9.24: Some ancient translations Samuel; Hebrew He (that is, the cook). said, “Look, here is the piece that was kept for you. Eat it. I saved it for you to eat at this time with the people I invited.”#9.24: Probable text I saved it … invited; Hebrew unclear.
So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25When they went down from the place of worship to the town, they fixed up a bed for Saul#9.25: One ancient translation they fixed up a bed for Saul; Hebrew he spoke with Saul. on the roof,#9.25: on the roof: At that time houses had flat roofs, and it was common for people to sleep on them. 26and he slept there.#9.25: Some ancient translations and he slept there; Hebrew and they got up early.
Samuel Anoints Saul as Ruler
At dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get up, and I will send you on your way.” Saul got up, and he and Samuel went out to the street together. 27When they arrived at the edge of town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” The servant left, and Samuel continued, “Stay here a minute, and I will tell you what God has said.”