A. THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE:
The people had requested a king that they might be like the other nations around them and God gave them a man according to their own choice. The man that God chose for them was Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was one of the smallest tribes, situated between two of the largest tribes: Judah and Ephraim. Having a man chosen from Benjamin would prevent jealousy arising from either Judah or Ephraim.
Saul was tall and of striking appearance, none in Israel being a goodlier person than he (I Samuel 9:2). He was also very humble and timid when he was a young man.
His father sent him with a servant to search for some lost asses. When he came to Ramah to seek the advice from the prophet Samuel, he was told that the animals had been found and then the astonishing fact that he was actually to be Israel’s first king. Saul was invited to a feast where a special portion had been prepared for him. Early the next day Samuel went to the edge of the city with Saul and there he anointed him and proclaimed him captain over God’s inheritance (I Samuel 10:1). Samuel gave him three signs that Saul would experience as he traveled. He would meet two men who would tell him that the lost asses had been found. Then he would meet three men having goats, bread and wine, who would give him two loaves of bread and thirdly, he would encounter a company of prophets. He was to join the last party of the prophets and the spirit of the Lord would come upon him and he would prophecy and he would be turned into another man.
Samuel now summons representatives of the tribes to meet with him at Mizpeh and he went through the procedure of choosing tribes and families until he came to the tribe of Benjamin, to Saul’s family and finally to Saul himself. When the people looked for Saul, Saul had hidden himself among the wagons and baggage. He was summoned and when the people saw his kingly stature, they accepted him with shouts of approval. It is here that the people shouted: “God save the king.” (I Samuel 10:24).
B. A PROMISING BEGINNING:
An opportunity soon arose for Saul to establish himself as king. The Ammonites, who had been defeated by Jepthah, some 40 years earlier, now attacked the city of Jabesh-gilead across the Jordan. These people sent for help and their appeal came to Saul’s attention. Saul butchered a yoke of oxen and sent pieces to all the tribes. Three hundred and thirty thousand men responded to this appeal. From this group, Saul selected three army contingents, which he led against the Ammonites, winning a decisive victory. From this, the Israelites now fully accepted him as king. The formal ceremony was conducted at Gilgal with Samuel leading the proceedings. Saul was crowned as first king amidst an offering of sacrifice and rejoicing.
Saul began his reign in a most promising manner. His government was simple, and he did not demand too much from the people. He established his capital at Gibeah, his own hometown. The Bible records the name of one officer, Abner, captain of the army, who was a cousin of Saul. Saul began his reign in a most promising manner.