top of page

Poole on 1 Samuel 10:7, 8: Samuel's Instructions to Saul

Verse 7:[1] And let it be, when these (Ex. 4:8; Luke 2:12) signs (Heb. it shall come to pass that when these signs,[2] etc.) are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee (Heb. do for thee as thine hand shall find;[3] Judg. 9:33[4]); (Judg. 6:12) for God is with thee.

[When these signs are come] Namely, the signs of thy calling to the royal office (Piscator). As long as we are uncertain of our calling, we act timidly and diffidently (Martyr).

These signs were certain evidences of God’s calling of him to the kingdom, because they were all future contingencies, which none but God could infallibly know or foretell.

[Do whatever thine hand shall find (similarly Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, Vatablus), עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּמְצָ֣א יָדֶ֔ךָ] The לְךָ, for thyself, in עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙, do for thyself, is superfluous (Vatablus). Do whatever thy hands shall be able (Syriac). Do what is fitting for thee to do (Arabic). Do for thyself whatever thy hand shall find (Munster). Do whatever shall come to thee into hand; that is to say, Fear not to undertake war against thine enemies, if the occasion presents itself: This is said by way of anticipation (Vatablus). Samuel advices him to undertake a military expedition, with as much exertion as he was able: not indeed immediately after the fulfillment of the signs; because at that time he was still appearing as a private man: but after the promulgation of him to Kingship (Mendoza). Just as thou sensest thyself to be called, so walk; and at the appropriate time show thyself king, as he is read to have done, 1 Samuel 11:7; 13:2, 3 (Junius, Piscator). Jonathan thinks that this was said concerning adornments of arms, which are necessary for the Kingdom. Others understand this of all things necessary for the beginning of the Kingdom (Munster). In whatever happens, take to thyself a Royal spirit, and in a Royal manner manage and dispose (Hebrews in Sanchez). Or rather, hope for blessed success in things that thou attemptest (Sanchez). Then, when use requires, boldly take the republic; undertake the offices of thy vocation, if so the situation stands; and certainly know that thou art chosen as king (Osiander).

Do as occasion shall serve thee; Hebrew, do what thy hand findeth to do, that is, as thou shalt have a call and opportunity. He doth not intend that he should take the kingly government upon him, before his call to it was known to and owned by the people, which had been preposterous and dangerous; but that he should dispose his mind to a readiness of undertaking any public service when necessity required it, and he should be called to his office.

Verse 8:[5] And thou shalt go down before me (1 Sam. 11:14, 15; 13:4) to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: (1 Sam. 13:8) seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.

[And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal] The difficulty in this place is manifold. Samuel does not prophesy this, but rather commands it (Mendoza). Some take it absolutely of going down to Gilgal in order to sacrifice, as often as great danger threatens (thus Tostatus in Mendoza). This does not satisfy; Thus, as many times as Saul in danger descended not to Gilgal, he sinned; which seems strange. The words of Samuel do not express any such thing. Therefore, others more rightly think that this was to be done once; namely, when some certain danger had occurred. But it is uncertain what this danger was. Cajetan understands it of the danger from the Ammonites in the next chapter. If you should say that Saul did not go down to Gilgal before the coming of the Ammonites, Cajetan will respond that this was done that he was forestalled by the sudden coming of the enemy. But Lyra [perhaps more correctly] understands it of the danger from the Philistines, concerning which 1 Samuel 13 [see what things are said there]. Objection: But Saul ought to have been forewarned concerning avoiding the former danger of the Ammonites. Response: That was not necessary; because Samuel was then present, who could readily direct Saul by his counsel; Saul was not yet confirmed in the kingdom. But Samuel has regard to this, that he would forewarn Saul, already confirmed in the kingdom, concerning avoiding the next danger. Rejoinder: That danger from the Philistines was two years afterwards. Response: But Samuel foresaw this prophetically; or (which interpretation is perhaps closer to the truth) these words, and thou shalt go down before me, etc., were written in this place by way of anticipation; although they were actually spoken by Samuel afterwards; namely, after the final confirmation of Saul in the kingdom; and a little before the coming of the Philistines (Mendoza). Thou shalt go down, etc. This was not going to happen immediately, but rather after he was anointed as King; but he instructs him now, what he ought to do afterwards (Mariana). These are the words of Samuel, sending Saul away, who had followed him to that point; that is to say, Thou shalt betake thyself to Gilgal, etc. These things appear to have been said by way of anticipation. For Samuel had said these things in Gilgal; yet [Saul] did not way, but sacrificed alone without Samuel: on account of this his Kingdom was not stable (Vatablus). Afterwards thou wilt go down to Gilgal, that is, after the Philistines have gathered themselves to wage war against us, 1 Samuel 13. Indeed, that these words are to be referred to that time, is evident from 1 Samuel 13:8, if they be compared with the following words of this verse. For which reason, these word are not rightly referred to that gathering, which was celebrated at Gilgal soon after the victory over the Ammonites; at which the kindom of Saul was confirmed, as it is narrated in 1 Samuel 12 (Piscator). [Yet others understand it of that next coming to Gilgal:] Thou shalt go down to Gilgal; but understand, first to Mizpeh, as it appears from 1 Samuel 10:17; 11:14 (for, there Saul was chosen by lot), then to Gilgal (where Saul was inaugurated) (Dutch). Thou shalt go down, etc., namely, when thou hast conducted those things against the Ammonites, 1 Samuel 11. Now, he said Gilgal here; for the appointment of the gathering was indeed at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 10:17, but the popular assembly of the kingdom for the consecration and confirmation of the king was held at Gilgal, 1 Samuel 11:14, 15; 12:1, etc. (Junius). He did not appoint a certain day, when he would proceed to Gilgal. Nevertheless, I suspect that he departure was appoint for some certain time, which, although somewhat obscurely, he indicates in 1 Samuel 13 (Sanchez). It would be best to join the expositions of Lyra and Tostatus; that is, both that at the time for the inauguration of the kingdom he went down to Gilgal; and that ever afterwards he was obliged to do it by previous agreement: as it is understood out of Josephus, and 1 Samuel 13:8, 13 (Serarius). But why is he commanded to go down to Gilgal? Responses: 1. Because of the advantageousness of the place, for meeting enemies (Mendoza out of Cajetan). Gilgal was near the Jordan, to defend it against enemies, lest they cross it into Judea (Lapide). 2. Because of the frequent coming of Samuel unto Gilgal (Mendoza out of Tostatus). 3. That place was dedicated to prayer and sacrifice, where the Hebrews passed over Jordan; a monument of which crossing was erected there (Mendoza, Lapide).

[Seven days shalt thou wait[6] (similarly all interpreters)] Seven days were determined, because that space seemed necessary and sufficient for Samuel to be summoned and arrive (Mendoza). These seven days are not to be numbered from the time of the anointing; nor from the time when Saul became acquainted with these signs: because so many things were done from this time to that going forth of Saul, that they were not able to be accomplished in seven days (Sanchez); but from the day when Samuel had been separated from Saul at Gilgal; and this was after the establishment of the kingdom, to which both had come to Gilgal with all Israel: and, when Samuel had spoken his words, he departed; but Saul did not leave Gilgal, but was there from the establishment of the Kingdom unto the time of the war (Drusius). But some join that seven days with to sacrifice, so that the sense would be, that thou mightest sacrifice seven days (thus Rupertus and both Glossæ in Mendoza). For, 1. Just as in the consecration of the High Priest seven days were devoted to completing the sacrifices, as it is evident from Exodus 29:30; Leviticus 8:33: So it was done in the consecration of the King. But the setting up of the King was not lasting seven days; as is taught by the example of Saul, 1 Samuel 10:24; 11:15, and of the other kings. 2. If Saul is commanded to wait only seven days, he did not since; since he actually did wait seven days, 1 Samuel 13:8. [But he did not wait seven complete days. See what things are noted on that passage.] But Samuel is commanded to wait, so that he himself might come, both to sacrifice to God, and to instruct Saul (Mendoza).

Seven days shalt thou tarry till I come to thee: this, though now mentioned and commanded, yet was not immediately to be performed; as is evident, partly from the whole course of the story, which shows that Saul, and Samuel, and the people first met at Mizpeh, verse 17, etc., where Saul was chosen by God and accepted by the people as king; and afterwards went to Gilgal, once before the time here spoken of, 1 Samuel 11:14, 15; and partly by comparing this place with 1 Samuel 13:8, etc., where we find Saul charged with the violation of this command two years after the giving of it, as appears from 1 Samuel 13:1, 2. Question: How then is this to be understood? Answer 1: This may be given as a standing rule for Saul to observe while Samuel and he lived; that in case of any great future difficulties, as the invasion of enemies, Saul should resort to Gilgal, and call the people thither, and tarry there seven days, which was but a reasonable and necessary time for the gathering of the people, and for the coming of Samuel thither. For though this be related as but once done, 1 Samuel 13, yet Josephus affirms that it was to be constantly practised upon all such occasions. And Gilgal was chosen for this purpose as a very fit place; partly because that place was famous for the solemn renewing of the covenant between God and Israel, Joshua 4, and for other eminent instances of God’s favour to them, the remembrance whereof was a notable confirmation of their faith; and partly because it was a very convenient place for the tribes within and without Jordan to assemble, and consult, and unite their forces together upon such occasions. If you ask, Why then Saul did not practise this precept upon the first invasion of the Ammonites? it may be answered, that this was a rule for Saul when he and Samuel were asunder, whereas they were together in that expedition, 1 Samuel 11:7. And further, that necessity did excuse the violation of this precept then, because Saul could not wait for Samuel, nor forbear his action for seven days, as is evident from 1 Samuel 11:3, 9, 10. Or, 2. (which I propose with submission to the learned and judicious) This may be here added as another sign to confirm his faith, which having strengthened by three foregoing signs, he now fortifies it by another sign which was to follow afterwards; it being very usual for God to give men signs to confirm their faith from future events; as Exodus 3:12; 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 7:13, 14. So the meaning maybe this, Another sign will I add to strengthen thy faith: Thou shalt in due time, and upon a great occasion which shall then happen, go down before me to Gilgal, and there I will come down unto thee to offer—sacrifices, etc. But when thou comest thither, be sure thou tarry there seven days, and then I will come, as I have said, and give thee necessary instructions and assistance, as the matter shall require.

[I will show to thee what thou shalt do] That is, what thou oughtest to do (Piscator). Others thus: I shall say to thee whether thy Kingdom is going to be stable (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֗ה כִּ֥י תְבֹ֛אֶינָה הָאֹת֥וֹת הָאֵ֖לֶּה לָ֑ךְ עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּמְצָ֣א יָדֶ֔ךָ כִּ֥י הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים עִמָּֽךְ׃ [2] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֗ה כִּ֥י—הָאֹת֥וֹת הָאֵ֖לֶּה. [3] Hebrew: עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּמְצָ֣א יָדֶ֔ךָ. [4] Judges 9:33: “And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion (וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ לּ֔וֹ כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר תִּמְצָ֥א יָדֶֽךָ׃).” [5] Hebrew: וְיָרַדְתָּ֣ לְפָנַי֮ הַגִּלְגָּל֒ וְהִנֵּ֤ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ יֹרֵ֣ד אֵלֶ֔יךָ לְהַעֲל֣וֹת עֹל֔וֹת לִזְבֹּ֖חַ זִבְחֵ֣י שְׁלָמִ֑ים שִׁבְעַ֙ת יָמִ֤ים תּוֹחֵל֙ עַד־בּוֹאִ֣י אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְהוֹדַעְתִּ֣י לְךָ֔ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֶֽׂה׃ [6] Hebrew: שִׁבְעַ֙ת יָמִ֤ים תּוֹחֵל֙

Recent Posts

See All


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday

Matthew Henry: 'He directs him to proceed in the administration of his government as Providence should lead him, and as Samuel should advise him. 1. He must follow Providence in ordinary cases (1 Samuel 10:7): "Do as occasion shall serve thee. Take such measures as thy own prudence shall direct thee." But, 2. In an extraordinary strait that would hereafter befal him at Gilgal, and would be the most critical juncture of all, when he would have special need of divine aids, he must wait for Samuel to come to him, and must tarry seven days in expectation of him, 1 Samuel 10:8. How his failing in this matter proved his fall we find afterwards, 1 Samuel 13:11. It wa…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday

Study 1 Samuel in detail with Matthew Poole!

bottom of page