Read 1 Samuel 10:1-9
The next morning as Saul and his servant prepare to journey back home, Samuel calls to them on the roof letting them know that whenever they are ready he wants to send them off. Samuel had one more word from the Lord that he needed to release to Saul, so he had Samuel send his servant ahead of him. As for Saul, Samuel asked him to stay for a while longer.
Samuel proceeds to anoint Saul’s head with oil. He pulls out a vial of oil, most likely balsam oil, and begins to pour it over him. Throughout the bible, there are a few instances where kings are consecrated by anointing. The act Samuel is performing is a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah. The name Messiah comes from the Hebrew word “Mashiach” which means anointed one or chosen one. Samuel will soon step down as judge, prophet, and priest. Saul will soon step into the position of King. The “Messiah”, Jesus, united all three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.
Samuel then kisses Saul as a sign of reverence and as a way of paying homage. In more modern terms he congratulated Saul on the office he was given and also as a sign that he was willingly handing over to him the task of running the government. Then he makes a declaration.
I imagine Saul giving Samuel this look of complete astonishment. Looking at Samuel like he had a few screws loose, wondering what in the world he was doing. Only priests were anointed with this oil and yet here he is pouring it down over his head and congratulating him on his new life. Samuel notices the look on Saul’s face and answering the unasked questions he states, “You wonder why I’m anointing you and honoring you with my deepest respect, is it not because you are chosen?” I’ll put it another way, “Do you still not understand that you have been chosen, you are the chosen one”.
Sometimes we need more convincing especially when the Lord takes us in a different direction than what we were expecting. I love how the Lord does just that in verses 2-7. The Lord gives Samuel a word of knowledge for Saul. This message includes three very specific events that will take place one after another. These are going to be signs that will convince Saul that God has his hand on him and this is his doing. These three events will further consecrate young Saul. Each of these three signs was meant to increase Saul’s faith and build his trust in Samuel. Each site contains historical significance and is a strong reminder that help comes from the holy place.
Sign 1: Saul will be in the area of Zelzah, specifically near the tomb of Rachel, where two men will come out to meet him. They are going to tell him the donkeys he was looking for have been found, but now his father is worried about him. Whenever a prophet or someone claiming to be a prophet gives you a message it’s always a good idea to test it because that is how you know they are legit speaking on behalf of the Lord. The way to prove a prophet is real is by what they say; if it comes true they are real prophets.
In this case, the Lord is working both through Samuel and the two men near Rachel’s tomb. The men may have just heard about Saul’s worried father, perhaps they recognized him from a few days ago. Either way, the Lord orchestrated for them to meet at this exact moment to fulfill this message. God will work out all the details when it is His plan.
Sign 2: This sign has even more specific details in it. Terebinth tree of Tabor; three men; three young goats; three loaves of bread; a skin of wine. The men will also greet Saul and give him two loaves of their bread. All are specific details that could be verified leaving no room to question the validity of Samuels prediction whatsoever.
These three men were on their way to Bethel to be with the Lord and with them they carried sacrifices and offerings. The sacrifices were the young goats and the wine. The bread was set aside for their offering. Do you remember what I’ve been saying over the past several weeks? It seems to be my new mantra, whenever you go to see one of the Lord’s anointed you are to give an offering to them. Well, it says in verse 4 they gave Saul two loaves of bread. These men under typical circumstances would not give a stranger two loaves of their bread, yet they did exactly that. They gave what was set aside as an offering to the man that carried the Lord’s anointing.
Sign 3: The third sign Saul was to experience came in the form of a school of prophets engaging in what is described to be like a parade. By the time Saul meets up with the prophets, he will be back in his hometown. In Saul’s hometown is a Philistine outpost. It appears even though the Israelites chased the Philistines off their land they eventually began to infiltrate themselves back in. Remember back in chapter 9 verse 16 Samuel mentioned that Saul would be the one to deliver his people from the Philistines. They started worming their way back in louring the Israelites into temptation.
I’m excited about the procession of prophets coming down from the high place. The commentaries all seem to agree that they are students who belong to a “school of prophets”. One of the accomplishments Samuel is most known for is his building these prophetic schools which in actuality are more like universities. He understood that special care and training are needed when it comes to utilizing these special callings. This became a safe place for the students to develop morally and mentally not just in biblical knowledge but also in education in general. Many of these prophets became public preachers while others acquired jobs based on their literary skills.
As for the third sign, Saul met up with the group of prophets who were worshipping with music and it says they were prophesying. People tend to lump prophecy into fortune-telling, this is most likely not what they were doing here. The group of prophets was playing their musical instruments. Instruments are a vital part of worship, we see this throughout the bible. They raised their voices in worship by singing. This likely sounded like words of highest praise to Jehovah being shouted and proclaimed boldly. Perhaps like a chant mixed with words of praise spoken in tune with the instruments.
When you sing a song that contains words of scripture, that would be a form of prophesying. Singing songs about days gone by no matter how spiritual they appear is not speaking prophetically, the Lord wants us to sing a new song. I picture this scene to be one of deep worship and connections to God of Heaven. Worshipping in this manner opens spiritual doorways. For Saul it caused him to leave behind his past and opened the door to his future as the king of Israel. Saul raised his voice louder and louder; more and more fervently and as he did his heart (vs. 9) began to change. Worshipping the Lord outwardly literally changes your heart. Saul was not a particularly religious man, yet the Lord touched his heart. Samuel poured the anointing oil on his head but it wasn’t until Saul poured out his whole heart and soul in thanksgiving to God that the Spirit of the Lord settled on him.
The filling of the Lord’s Spirit on Saul suddenly equipped him with skills, courage, wisdom, everything he needed to lead his nation. Previously he wasn’t qualified to serve in this capacity, but with the Lord’s spirit, he became qualified. Once those three signs were fulfilled the only thing left for Saul to do is to wait seven days for Samuel to come and visit him and tell him what to do next.