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Among the tribe of Benjamin was a man called Kish. He had a son called Saul.

One day, Kish’s donkeys strayed off so he sent his son and a servant to look for them. The donkeys went so far that Saul and the servant could not catch up with them. They could not see the donkeys anymore. Saul one moment wanted to return, but his servant pointed out to him that in a near town there lived a holy man who was a seer. The servant had a quarter of a silver shekel on him and proposed to go and give that to the man of God from him to tell them which way to go to find the donkeys. Saul acquiesced and they went to the town. As they were stepping through the gate Samuel came out to meet them. Samuel had had a revelation from Yahweh the day before. Yahweh had revealed to Samuel that he would the next day send a man from the Benjaminites to Samuel to save Israel from the Philistines. Saul was a Benjaminite. Samuel recognised Saul as the one sent by Yahweh. He told Saul not to worry anymore over the donkeys because they had been found. Samuel gave the men to at and told Saul already that the whole wealth of Israel was destined for him. The next morning Samuel told Saul to go to Gilgal. He prophesied various events would happen to Saul on his way and when all these happened as Samuel had predicted, Saul knew that Samuel was indeed a great prophet of Yahweh.

Samuel summoned the people of Israel to draw lots for a king. First the tribe of Benjamin was chosen among all the tribes of Israel. Then the clan of Matri was chosen among the Benjaminite clans. And from the clan of Matri the lots fell on Saul. Samuel explained a last time the king’s constitutional function to the Israelites and inscribed this in a book, which he placed before the Ark of God. Saul returned to Gibeah accompanied by only a few strong men who acknowledged him as king. But there were still many scoundrels in Israel who would not recognise Saul as king.

About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite marched with his army against Israel and laid siege to Jabesh in Gilead. The elders of Jabesh sent for Saul. Saul became very angry then for the fact that all the Israelites would not follow him in such dire situation. He cut a yoke of oxen to pieces and sent the pieces all over the country with the message that he would do the same to all who would not come with him to fight the enemies of Israel. The people flew into a panic then; they all marched out and assembled at Bezek where Saul could inspect them.

The next day Saul burst into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them. Saul then was officially proclaimed King of Israel at Gilgal. Samuel now made the Israelites remember all the great deeds of Yahweh and commanded them to obey Saul. Yahweh sent thunder and rain that same day and all held Yahweh and Samuel in great awe.

Saul did great deeds in Yahweh’s name. He killed the Philistine governor at Gibeah. The Philistines then threatened with three thousand chariots and six thousand horses and with this force they set up camp at Michmash. The Israelites were very frightened then. They started to desert Saul and dispersed in the land. Saul did not know what to do. He doubted. Did he have to attack the Philistines or leave them? Saul had been waiting for Samuel but as the prophet did not come soon enough to his taste, he made a burnt offering to Yahweh himself and pleaded for help. Samuel arrived at Gilgal at that very moment. He asked what Saul was doing and when he heard Saul’s doubts, he said that Saul had acted as a fool. Saul had not obeyed the order of Yahweh. Yet Yahweh’s order of destruction had bene clear. Saul had doubted Yahweh and a punishment would come. Samuel told that this was so, otherwise Yahweh would have confirmed Saul’s sovereignty over Israel forever. But now, Saul’s sovereignty would not last, for Yahweh had discovered a man after his own hearth and would designate this man as the leader of the people. This was the first time that Samuel told to Saul that he, Saul, would not found a dynasty. Samuel then got up and left Gilgal.

Saul and his son Jonathan confronted the Philistines. The Philistines had forbidden the Israelites to have blacksmiths, so the Israelite army had no spears or swords. Only Saul and Jonathan had such weapons. One day, Jonathan and his arm-bearer saw an outpost of the Philistines. They attacked the outpost and killed all the men. There was a panic then in the camp of the Philistines. When Saul saw the panic he now also attacked the Philistines and that day Yahweh gave a victory to the Israelites. Saul fought on and pronounced a curse on anyone who would eat food before evening, before he had taken full revenge on the Philistines. Jonathan had not heard his father however and when he saw a delicious honeycomb he put a stick into the honey and the stick in his mouth to eat. Only then did the Israelites around Jonathan tell him of the curse of his father. In the evening Saul consulted Yahweh to know whether he should stop or continue to pursue the Philistines. But Yahweh would not speak. Saul summoned all his army then and asked Yahweh to indicate who had sinned. The lots fell on Jonathan and Jonathan confessed having eaten. Jonathan should be killed now, but the people rallied around him and would not let Saul kill Jonathan for they knew that the victory of that day belonged to Jonathan. The people ransomed Jonathan and he was not put to death. Saul also did not pursue the Philistines then. Thus it was that a curse was laid on Jonathan and that Saul for a second time had not obeyed the order of destruction of Yahweh.

Throughout Saul’s life, there was fierce warfare with the Philistines. Saul fought the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Edomites and the king of Zobah. One day Samuel came back to Saul and told him that Yahweh had ordered Saul to destroy the Amalekites. Saul indeed fought and defeated the Amalekites but he kept their king Agag alive and spared him with the best of the sheep and cattle, the fatlings and lambs and all that was good of Amalek. Samuel heard of this and he was appalled. Saul had once more broken his allegiance to Yahweh by sparing Agag and the booty. Samuel went to Saul and reproached the king for not having obeyed the curse of destruction ordained by Yahweh. Saul answered that he knew he had sinned and asked for pardon. But Samuel would not hear of any pardon and also refused to go back with Saul. As Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed him at the hem of his cloak and tore the cloak. Samuel then said that today Yahweh had torn the kingdom of Israel from Saul and given it to a neighbour of Saul’s who was a better man than Saul was. Saul repented that he realised he had sinned and begged Samuel to show him respect in front of his people and to come back with him. Samuel followed Saul then, and went back with him. Saul worshipped God then and killed Agag as Yahweh had ordered. But this was the second time Saul had disobeyed Yahweh.

After these events Yahweh spoke to Samuel and told him to go to Betlehem, to a man called Jesse for Yahweh had found a king among Jesse’s sons. Samuel departed for Betlehem, not without a ruse, so that Saul would let him go. Samuel arrived in Betlehem and went to see Jesse. He purified Jesse and his sons and invited them to a sacrifice for Yahweh. When the sons of Jesse came, Samuel looked successively at Eliab, Abanadab and Shamash and Jesse presented all his seven sons. But each time Yahweh told that he had rejected these. Finally, Jesse told Samuel that he had only one son left and that this one, called David, was the youngest one. David was looking after the sheep. Jesse sent for David too and Yahweh told Samuel that this was the chosen one. David had ruddy cheeks, fine eyes and an attractive appearance. Samuel took his horn of oil and anointed David. Then Samuel set off and went to Ramah. From that day on Yahweh was on David.

An evil spirit of Yahweh afflicted Saul. The king’s servants said that only a skilled harpist could ease Saul’s afflictions. Harp music would do well to Saul and the servants knew a skilled harpist in the young David, the son of Jesse of Betlehem. Saul sent for David and so David entered King Saul’s service. Saul grew very fond of him and David became the king’s armour-bearer.

Copyright: René Dewil Back to the navigation screen (if that screen has been closed) Last updated: January 2007
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