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Poole on 1 Samuel 10:26, 27: A Mixed Reception of the New King

Verse 26:[1] And Saul also went home (Judg. 20:14; 1 Sam. 11:4) to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.

[Saul departed unto his own house] As if he had not changed his old manners because of new honors, but he was retaining his former humility in his new dignity; he returned to the same poor and plain house (Mendoza).

To Gibeah: not being actually inaugurated into his kingdom, he thought fit to retire to his former habitation, and to live privately till he had an occasion to show himself in a more public and illustrious manner, which he speedily obtained.

[A part of the army departed with him, הַחַיִל] The army (Pagnine, Montanus); soldiers (Arabic); troops (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator); the more hearty (Munster); a part of the people (Jonathan); a part of the army (Osiander); the sons of the armies (in the Royal Codex of the Septuagint, but in the Sixtine, sons of powers [Mendoza]). At that time a King that might constitute the Republic was not so necessary, as one that might repulse an enemy. Therefore, Saul is followed, not so much by elders, as by soldiers (Sanchez).

And there went with him a band of men, to give him safe and honourable conduct to his house, though not to abide with him there, which did not suit with his present circumstances.

[Whose hearts God had touched[2] (thus the Septuagint, Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Montanus, Piscator)] Or whose souls (Junius and Tremellius). Whom the authority of the prophet Samuel was moving (Grotius). Some that were fearing God (Vatablus); men fearing sin, and this fear was given from before the Lord into their hearts (Jonathan); into whose hearts God had instilled His obedience (Arabic). Namely, those whom the divine Spirit impelled to show that obedience to the new King (Menochius out of Sanchez); for otherwise Saul, not yet confirmed in the possession of the kingdom, was not easily able to compel recusants (Menochius). By His external call, God had touched the hearts of all. For God had set forth His decree to all. But that was not enough; It is necessary that God prevail upon souls internally (Martyr).

Whose hearts God had touched, that is, either 1. Disposed or inclined to this work; or, 2. Affected or renewed by his grace and good Spirit working upon their hearts; those that feared God and made conscience of their duty; for they are opposed to the children of Belial in the next verse. These, though they did not desire a king, as the generality of the people did, yet when God had given them a king, they were most forward to pay him that reverence and obedience which they owed him; both which proceeded from the same principle, that they were in both cases guided by God’s will; which was, that they should not desire a king in their circumstances; and yet they should obey him, when God had set a king over them.

Verse 27:[3] (1 Sam. 11:12) But the (Deut. 13:13) children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, (2 Sam. 8:2; 1 Kings 4:21; 10:25; 2 Chron. 17:5; Ps. 72:10; Matt. 2:11) and brought him no presents. But he held his peace (or, he was as though he had been deaf[4]).

[The sons of Belial, etc.] These, in all their dearest hopes, desired a King; but now they refuse him. Thus it generally happens among men, that they desire what they have not, and detest what they have (Mendoza out of Tostatus).

[Is this man able to save us?] That is, that mean, common, unknown, inexperienced man, what shall he do? (Lapide). They do not call him by his proper name, out of hatred and contempt; just as in Genesis 37:19, behold the dreamer; and in 1 Samuel 22:9, I saw the son of Jesse (Mendoza).

[מַה־יֹּשִׁעֵ֙נוּ֙ זֶ֔ה] In what shall he save? that is, in what matter or manner shall he that is of the lowest sort protect and defend us? (Vatablus).

This man; so mean a person, and of the weakest of all the tribes.

[And they did not bring presents to him] That is, so that they might acknowledge him as King. The Chaldean Paraphrase: they did not come to salute him. This ought to be understood of the first paying of respects, which was not done without gifts (Vatablus). It was customary to offer gifts to the King when he was inaugurated (Drusius). Now, these gifts were offered to signify, either, 1. Peace and friendship. Or, 2. Congratulations and joy. Or, 3. Subjection and obedience (Mendoza). They furnished no signs of a friendly disposition (Sanchez). Without gifts the Kings of the East were not wont to be approached. See Matthew 2:11 (Grotius). It was the custom among the Persians, Cælius Rhodiginus’ Ancient Readings[5] 13:16; and among the Parthians, Seneca’s Epistles 17. And hence the Magi Kings from the East offer gifts to Christ. Among the Hebrews the same custom was found, Judges 3:15; 1 Kings 4:21 (Mendoza).

Brought him no presents; as subjects in those times and places used to do to their kings; see 1 Kings 10:25; 2 Chronicles 17:5; Matthew 2:11; and as Saul’s mean condition, herewith they upbraided him, required.

[But he was concealing that he heard, וַיְהִ֖י כְּמַחֲרִֽישׁ׃[6]] And he was as if deaf (Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint). As one silent (Jonathan); he fell silent (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Munster). He feigned silence (Syriac). But he connived at them, and restrained himself from inflicting punishment upon them (Arabic). The sense: He lost his speech for casting back insults, as if he were deaf for hearing them (Mendoza). This is a singular testimony of Saul’s prudence. Since it was troublesome to punish them, and not expedient to leave them unpunished, he feigns that he received nothing, or knew nothing of those things that murmured against him (Sanchez).

[He was concealing, etc.] That is, because to those founding a new empire, a reputation for clemency is useful, says Tacitus, Histories 4. See also Histories 11:13 (Grotius). Saul was unwilling to begin his kingdom in disturbance, strife and blood (Dionysius in Mendoza).

He held his peace; thereby manifesting his prudence and clemency, which was of great use in the beginning of his government.

[1] Hebrew: וְגַ֙ם־שָׁא֔וּל הָלַ֥ךְ לְבֵית֖וֹ גִּבְעָ֑תָה וַיֵּלְכ֣וּ עִמּ֔וֹ הַחַ֕יִל אֲשֶׁר־נָגַ֥ע אֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּלִבָּֽם׃ [2] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁר־נָגַ֥ע אֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּלִבָּֽם׃. [3] Hebrew: וּבְנֵ֧י בְלִיַּ֣עַל אָמְר֗וּ מַה־יֹּשִׁעֵ֙נוּ֙ זֶ֔ה וַיִּבְזֻ֕הוּ וְלֹֽא־הֵבִ֥יאוּ ל֖וֹ מִנְחָ֑ה וַיְהִ֖י כְּמַחֲרִֽישׁ׃ [4] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֖י כְּמַחֲרִֽישׁ׃. [5] Cælius Rhodiginus (1469-1525) was a Venetian professor of Greek and Latin. His magnum opus, Antiquarum Lectionum, a collection of observations on the classics and general topics, was published in sixteen books. [6]חָרֵשׁ, in the Hiphil conjugation, signifies to be silent.

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