Saul and Samuel stand together in a quiet place. Samuel will fulfill his promise to tell Saul all about the words of God he received for Saul. Samuel anoints Saul in private.
This will be a private event for Saul and Samuel alone. Saul is still confused by all that has happened since he met Samuel. God is going to give Saul confirmation three times of His word as he makes his way home. But even this is not enough to make Saul go shouting through the streets proclaiming his future.
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Samuel and Saul watch as Zachar walks away. Once he is through the gates Samuel turns to Saul. “Kneel before me please my son” instructs Samuel.
Saul does as he is told. From the folds in his robe he pulls flask of oil. Saul’s face is turned towards the ground in a gesture of respect. Samuel opens the flask of oil in his hands and begins to pour it over Saul’s head.
Not having seen what Samuel was about to do, Saul is surprised by the feel of oil flowing into his hair and moving down his face. He looks up at Samuel and sees his face lit by a smile. While Saul is still kneeling in obedience Samuel grasps both sides of his face and kisses his forehead. Samuel then takes hold of Saul’s hands and pulls him to his feet. As Saul rises Samuel begins to tell him of the Lord’s plan for his life.
“Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies…
Saul tries to pull his hands from Samuel’s but the old man is determined to finish all that the Lord has to say to Saul.
“… And this shall be a sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage…”
Saul stops resisting at that instant and instead intently listens to the rest of Samuel’s words.
“… When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah,and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor, Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prohpets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you…”
Saul can’t help but wonder what it is he is supposed to ‘do’ at that point in time. He has to put these thoughts aside for now as Samuel isn’t finished with his instructions from the Lord.
“… Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do” (verses 1a -8).
Saul stares into Samuel’s eyes for a moment after the man of God had finished speaking. Samuel drops Saul’s hands and closes his own eyes. Saul takes this to mean that Samuel has finished speaking and he is free to go. Saul supposes he should be full of questions for Samuel but none seem to take form in his mind so he turns instead to begin his journey home. As he begins to walk away something shifts within him. He can’t describe this ‘shift’ but he can feel it. It feels like the world is a little bit brighter and lighter.
Saul quickly rejoins Zachar who has been waiting beside the city well. Zachar is full of questions but the look on Saul’s face tells him it is not the time to voice them. Instead he talks of the journey home.
“I’m glad we don’t have to go on looking for the donkeys. I’m ready to be on our way home.”
Saul nods his agreement but says nothing more. The two men walk on in companionable silence. Soon they are nearing the place Samuel told Saul he would receive his first confirmation. Saul’s straightens his spine and walks a little taller. There are two men approaching from the other direction.
As they approach one of the men calls out to Saul.
“Are you Saul, son of Kish?”
“Yes. I am he” answers Saul.
“The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, ‘What shall I do about my son?’” (verse 2b).
Zachar answers the man. “Thank you for your message. We had heard this and are currently making our way home.”
“That is good to hear! I will pass the word of your journey home to any others who may be seeking for you too.”
Saul thinks back on Samuel’s words. This was exactly what and where Samuel said it would. But these men could easily have learned this information and been searching him out. It could all just be a coincidence.
Saul and Zachar continue on their journey.
“I suppose we have been gone for some time” offers Zachar as they walk along. “It’s nice to know that we are missed.”
“I hope my father is not too concerned.”
“We will be home by tomorrow. I’m certain he will be well until then. It should make your reunion that much more enjoyable.”
Now that the silence is broken between the two men, light banter flows back and forth as they travel. Saul still has not volunteered any information of the private discussion he had with Samuel. Zachar is not about to bring it up. He figures that when the time is right Saul will tell him. And if Saul never chooses to tell him, he can live with that too.
Saul and Zachar are approaching the oak of Tabor. Saul began scanning the area as soon as this landmark came into view. He knows this is the second place Samuel prophesied about. Off to the left Saul sees three men moving in a group. One is a mountain of a man. Not as tall as Saul but built very sturdy. He is actually carrying three goats! One lies against his neck with its legs draped over his shoulders. The other two are tucked one each under his arms. The sight of them brings a chuckle from Saul. Zachar too once Saul points him out.
It looked like the three men were going to pass them by and this pleased Saul. He wasn’t excited about have the second prophecy fulfilled that same day. But at the last minute the men turned and headed right towards Saul and Zachar.
“Ho travelers” calls out the mountain of a man. “Where are you bound?”
“We are returning home to Gibea from Ramah” answers Saul.
“We are on our way to Bethel to offer sacrifice to the Lord. Would you walk with us a while?”
“As we are moving in the same direction, I see no reason not to.”
As they walked together they engaged in talk of the day and their own journeys. Soon they came to the point where they would have to part company.
“Safe travels to you my friends” offers Saul to the three men.
“And to you too my friends” says the man carrying a wine skin.
“This is for you” says the man carrying the bread as he holds two loaves out to Saul.
“What is this for? Don’t you have need of it?” asks Saul as he looks at the two loves being offered to him.
“Our journey is nearly over yet yours still has a ways to go. This is for the rest of your journey.”
“Thank you for your kindness” replies Saul as he takes hold of the bread being offered. “May the Lord bless you for your kindness.”
Saul hands one loaf to Zachar and they both put them in their empty bread bags. They had eaten what they brought from Ramah already.
Saul begins to think about this fulfillment of prophecy and wonder how ‘miraculous’ it was. The hospitality of the men was not uncommon in Israel. Travelers often met up, traveled together for a time, and shared supplies. This could have happened any day to anyone else. But then he thought back to the man carrying the goats. THIS was a sight you wouldn’t expect to come upon. Goats were led, not carried. That was especially true for THREE of them. Maybe this was a special and unique occurrence sent by the Lord.
Evening descended on Saul and Zachar as they journeyed towards home. They stopped by the roadside for the night. They were grateful for the bread they had been provided as it filled their bellies and allowed them to quickly drift off to sleep. In the morning they finished their bread and continued on the last leg of their journey.
Saul was anxious about this last leg of their journey. Samuel’s words kept circling in his mind. Already two of the three promised signs came to pass. Yes, he had finally accepted them as ‘signs’ after thinking about the man and his goats. But this last prophecy bothered him. He didn’t like not being in control. He was an unassuming man who didn’t like a lot of fuss about him. He knew he stood out in a crowd for his size and appearance but he didn’t like drawing attention to himself. If the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him and he prophesied would others be watching? Would reports of this get out? What would people say about him? And what was this with Samuel’s words of doing what his hands find to do? Just the thought of this made the bread in his stomach feel like a stone.
Saul and Zachar can hear the music being carried on the air as they approach the city with the garrison at Gibeath-elohim. As they draw nearer they also hear voices. At first they can’t make out these voices but as they near the gate the musical group emerges. Along with the music they are speaking the words of the Lord.
“Repent Israel! The Lord your God calls to you!”
“Return to His statutes for He is a jealous God!”
“He longs to give good gifts to His children but He will not bless those who chase after foreign gods!”
Saul hears these words and his spirit is stirred within him. He KNOWS they are true! He wants them in his life! He feels the Lord’s Spirit calling out to his spirit personally and inviting him to join Him. Instead of resisting, like Saul originally planned to do, he cannot keep the excitement he feels shut up inside himself and he begins to speak too.
“The Lord is doing a new thing in Israel. He has heard her cries and will deliver her from those who seek to do her harm; those who would oppress her. But she must turn back to him with her whole heart!”
Saul and Zachar are near enough to their home that they are easily recognized. When Saul joined the prophets people began to look at him. Some looked with awe while others looked with displeasure.
“What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” (verse 11b).
A man from that place speaks in response to their words; “And who is their father?” (verse 12a).
Saul and Zachar turn and follow the path up to the high place where this group had just come from. When they reach the pinnacle Saul sees his uncle among the people. Saul’s uncle spots him too as he clearly stands out in any crowd. His uncle makes his way to the two waiting travelers.
“Where did you go?” he asks.
“To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel” (verse 14b).
With wide eyes Saul’s uncle asks for more details. “Please tell me what Samuel said to you” (verse 15).
Saul wasn’t ready to talk about all that had transpired while with Samuel. He still had much to work out in his own heart. But he couldn’t tell his uncle nothing was spoken of by the prophet. He settled on a SMALL portion of their conversation instead. “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.”
Zachar looked at Saul for a moment, wondering why his companion didn’t share the news of the sacrifice and feast. He held his tongue though and looked away. Saul would share what needed to be shared in his own time. He was not Saul’s keeper.
Saul and Zachar finally arrive home. Kish rushes out to embrace his son.
“I thought you were lost! I have never been more pleased to be proven wrong” cries Kish.
“I am happy to be home father. I am also glad to know that you are not bereft of your donkeys.”
Saul and Kish embrace one more time before Saul is ushered into the home so he can clean-up, eat and rest from his journey. Zachar will do the same but at his own quarters among the servants. Both men are happy to be home and have no plans for travel again for some time.
(to be continued)
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Thinking about the signs that Samuel told Saul to expect makes me wonder. I look for signs in my life. Sometimes I’m quick to dismiss what ‘might be’ and other times quick to ascribe meaning where their might not be. I would LOVE to have someone set out for me in advance a list of the signs I would be encountering! But then maybe I would try and disprove them as Saul did in our story. I’m pretty sure he was trying to disprove them to himself because of his actions in the next part of our story; which will have to wait until next time.
Father God, thank You for the signs You send into my life. I’m certain I don’t recognize all of them at the time they appear. Some of them make it into my “finger prints of God” file later on. It doesn’t matter if I recognize EVERY instance where You touch my life. I know that You are ALWAYS with me and have me firmly in Your grasp.
I’m still struggling with a couple issues. The long term one of food. Thank you that it is not as big as it has been in the past but I wish it would just disappear from my life forever! The other one is issues surrounding my website. You know my heart on this matter. I want to serve and glorify You in all I do. Give me YOUR direction here Lord. I want to eliminate the lies that I keep being fed from those who claim to be working on my behalf. I NEED to know if I am to continue to wait or to end my association all together in this. Speak clearly to my spirit Lord. Speak as clearly as You did to Saul that morning. I PROMISE I won’t go looking for ways to disprove Your signs when You send them.