The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King
I Samuel viii: 1,
to x: 27.
Samuel, the good man and the wise judge, grew old he
made his sons judges in Israel, to help him in the
care of the people. But Samuel's sons did not walk
in his ways. They did not try always to do justly.
When men brought matters before them to be decided,
they would decide for the one who gave them money,
and not always for the one who was in the right.
The elders of all the tribes of Israel came to
Samuel at his home in Ramah, and they said to him,
"You are growing old, and your sons do not rule as
well as you have ruled. All the lands around us have
kings. Let us have a king also, and do you choose
the king for us."
This was not pleasing to Samuel, not because he
wished to rule, but because the Lord God was their
king, and he felt that for Israel to have such a
king as those who ruled the nations around them
would be turning away from the Lord. Samuel prayed
to the Lord, and the Lord said to him, "Listen to
the people in what they ask, for they have not
turned away from you; they have turned away from me
in asking for a king. Let them have a king, but tell
them of the wrong that they are doing, and show them
what trouble their king will bring upon them."
Then Samuel called the elders of the people
together, and he said to them, "If you have a king,
as do the nations around, he will take your sons
away from you, and will make some of them soldiers,
and horsemen, and men to drive his chariots. He will
take others of your sons to wait on him, to work in
his fields, and to make his chariots and his weapons
for war. Your king will take the best of your fields
and your farms, will give them to the men of his
court who are around him. He will make your
daughters cook for him, and make bread, and serve in
his palace. He will take a part of your sheep, and
your oxen, and your asses. You will find that he
will be your master and you shall be his servants.
The time shall come when you will cry out to the
Lord on account of the king that you have chosen,
and the Lord will not hear you." But the people
would not follow Samuel's advice. They said, "No, we
will have a king to reign over us, so that we may be
like other nations, and our king shall be our judge
and shall lead us out to war."
It was God's will that Israel should be a quiet,
plain people, living alone in the mountains, serving
the Lord and not trying to conquer other nations.
But they wished to be a great people, to be strong
in war and to have riches and power. And the Lord
said to Samuel, "Do as the people ask, and choose a
king for them."
Then Samuel sent the people to their homes,
promising to find a king for them.
There was at that time in the tribe of Benjamin a
young man named Saul, the son of Kish. He was a very
large man and noble looking. From his shoulders he
stood taller than any other man in Israel. His
father Kish was a rich man, with wide fields and
many flocks. Some asses that belonged to Kish had
strayed away, and Saul went out with a servant to
find them. While they were looking for the asses
they came near to Ramah, where Samuel lived. The
servant said to Saul, "There is in this city a man
of God whom all men honor. They say that he can tell
what is about to happen, for he is a seer. Let us go
to him and give him a present. Perhaps he can tell
us where to find the asses."
In those times a man to whom God made known his will
was called a seer; in later times he was called a
So Saul and his servant came to Ramah and asked for
the seer; and while they were coming the seer, who
was Samuel, met them. On the day before the Lord had
spoken to Samuel, and had said:
"To-morrow, about this time, I will send you a man
out of the tribe of Benjamin, and you shall make him
the prince of my people, and he shall save my people
from the Philistines."
And when Samuel saw this tall and noble-looking
young man coming to meet him, he heard the Lord's
"This is the man of whom I spoke to you. He is the
one that shall rule over my people."
Then Saul came near to Samuel, not knowing who he
was, and he said, "Can you tell me where the seer's
house is?" And Samuel answered Saul, "I am the seer;
come with me up to the hill. We are to have an
offering and a feast there. As for the asses that
were lost three days ago, do not be troubled about
them, for they have been found. But on whom is the
desire of all Israel? Is it not on you and on your
father's house?" Saul could not think what the seer
meant in those last words. He said, "Is not my tribe
of Benjamin the smallest of all the tribes? And is
not my family the least of all the families in the
tribe? Why do you say such things to me?"
But Samuel led Saul and his servant into the best
room at his house; at the table, where thirty had
been invited, he gave Saul the best place, and he
put before him the choicest of the meat, and he
said, "This has been kept for you of all those
invited to the feast."
That night Saul and his servant slept in the best
room, which was on the roof of Samuel's house. And
the next morning Samuel sent the servant on while he
spoke with Saul alone. He brought out a vial of oil
and poured it on Saul's head, and said:
"The Lord has anointed you to be prince over his
land and his people."
Then he told Saul just what he would find on the
way, where he would meet certain people, and what he
must do. He said:
"When you come to the tomb where Rachel is buried,
two men will meet you and will say to you, 'The
asses for which you were looking have been found,
and now your father is looking for you.' Then under
an oak you will meet three men carrying three kids,
three loaves of bread, and a skin-bottle full of
wine; and these men will give you as a present two
loaves of bread. Next you will meet a company of
prophets, men full of God's Spirit, with instruments
of music, and the Lord's Spirit shall come upon you
and a new heart shall be given to you. All these
things will show you that God is with you. Now go,
and do whatever God tells you to do."
And it came just as Samuel had said. These men met
Saul, and when the prophets came near, singing and
praising God, Saul joined them and also sang and
praised the Lord. And in that hour a new spirit came
to Saul. He was no more the farmer's son, for in him
was the soul of a king.
He came home, and told at home how he had met
Samuel, and that Samuel said to him that the asses
had been found. But he did not tell them that Samuel
had poured oil upon his head and said that he was to
be the king of Israel.
Then Samuel called all the people to the meeting
place at Mizpah. And he told them that they had
wished for a king, and God had chosen a king for
"Now," said Samuel, "let the men of the tribes pass
by, each tribe and each family by itself."
The people passed by Samuel, and when the tribe of
Benjamin came, out of all the tribes Benjamin was
taken; out of Benjamin one family, and out of that
family Saul's name was called. But Saul was not with
his family; he had hidden away. They found him and
brought him out; and when he stood among the people
his head and shoulders rose above them all. And
Samuel said: "Look at the man whom the Lord has
chosen! There is not another like him among all the
people!" And all the people shouted, "God save the
king! Long live the king!"
Then Samuel told the people what should be the laws
for the king and for the people to obey. He wrote
them down in a book, and placed the book before the
Lord. Then Samuel sent the people home, and Saul
went back to his own house at a place called Gibeah,
and with Saul went a company of men to whose hearts
God had given a love for the king. So after three
hundred years under the fifteen judges Israel now
had a king. But among the people there were some who
were not pleased with the new king, because he was
an unknown man from the farm. They said, "Can such a
man as this save us?" They showed no respect to the
king and in their hearts looked down upon him. But
Saul said nothing and showed his wisdom by appearing
not to notice them.