top of page

Poole on 1 Samuel 16:1-5: Samuel's Search for a New King

[circa 1063 BC] Verse 1:[1] And the LORD said unto Samuel, (1 Sam. 15:35) How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing (1 Sam. 15:23) I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? (1 Sam. 9:16; 2 Kings 9:1) fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for (Ps. 78:70; 89:19, 20; Acts 13:22) I have provided me a king among his sons.

[How long wilt thou mourn Saul] And, in mourning, thou prayest for his restoration (Lapide,[2] similarly Sanchez,[3] Menochius[4]). It is the question of one reproving (Piscator[5]).

How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, and pray for his restitution? which the following words imply that he did. I have rejected him from reigning over Israel: the manifestation of my peremptory will should make thee submit to my pleasure.

[Fill thine horn] Not a small vessel, as in 1 Samuel 10:1,[6] which notes, either, the abundance of grace to be conferred upon David (Lapide out of Rupertus[7]); or, the stability of the Davidic kingdom, because a horn is solid, but a clay vessel is fragile (Lapide out of Lyra,[8] Tostatus[9]).

[With oil] That is, of anointing (Vatablus[10]).

Fill thine horn with oil; which was used in the inauguration of kings, as 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Kings 1:39. But here it is used in the designation of a king, though David was not actually made king by it, but still remained a subject, as is evident from 1 Samuel 24:6. And the reason of this anticipation was, partly the comfort of Samuel, and other good men, against their great fears in case of Saul’s death, of which they expected every day to hear; and partly the assurance of David’s title, which otherwise would have been very doubtful. For the prevention of which doubts, it was very meet that the same person and prophet who had anointed Saul, might now, upon God’s rejection of Saul, anoint David to succeed him upon his death; and because Samuel was now not far from his death, and was to die before Saul, it was fit that David’s anointing should be hastened and done before its proper time.

[For I have provided, etc., רָאִיתִי] I have seen (Montanus[11]); I have provided, or foreseen (Munster,[12] Pagnine,[13] Tigurinus,[14] Junius[15] and Tremellius[16]).

I have provided me a king: this phrase is very emphatical, and implies the difference between this and the former king. Saul was a king of the people’s providing, he was the product of their inordinate and sinful desires; they desired him for themselves, and for their own glory and safety, as they supposed; but this is a king of my own providing, one that I have spied out, one of that tribe to which I have allotted the kingdom, Genesis 49:10. A king for me; not one to gratify the people’s desires, but to fulfil all my will, as is said, Acts 13:22, and to serve my glory. Or, my king; the Hebrew phrase, to me, or for me, being commonly used for the word mine.

Verse 2:[17] And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee (Heb. in thine hand[18]), and say, (1 Sam. 9:12; 20:29) I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

How can I go, to wit, safely? a question which seems to savour of human frailty; for he should have strongly believed that God, who had set him upon the work, would carry him through it.

[A calf from the cattle, עֶגְלַ֤ת בָּקָר֙] That is, a young heifer of the cattle; or a young heifer, daughter of an ox, as it often is (Vatablus).

[Thou shalt take in thine hand] I imagine that Samuel was carrying in his hand a bound calf, as a sign that he was going to sacrifice (Sanchez).

[And thou shalt say, To sacrifice to the Lord have I come] It is plausible that Samuel was wont often to sacrifice for the state and safety of the Republic; and that for this reason he visited diverse cities (Martyr[19]). This was not a lie: Indeed, this was a true reason, but not the only reason (Menochius out of Sanchez). He discloses one reason, but conceals the other; this was civil, not illicit, prudence (Martyr, similarly Lyra).

[לִזְבֹּ֥חַ לַֽיהוָ֖ה בָּֽאתִי׃] To celebrate a feast to Jehovah am I come (Junius and Tremellius). Thus the same word is taken below for a feast below;[20] and in 1 Samuel 9:12, 13.[21] It is added, to Jehovah, so that it might be understood it was instituted by commandment of Jehovah for some divine purpose (Junius). This does not satisfy; זָבַח nowhere signifies to celebrate a feast, but either to slaughter, or to sacrifice (Piscator). Others translate it, to sacrifice (Septuagint, Jonathan,[22] Syriac, Arabic, Piscator, Malvenda[23]). Objection: But this feast was celebrated within the private house of Jesse: but sacrifices by law were only to be sacrificed in the designated place[24] (Junius). Responses: 1. That it was not celebrated in the house of Jesse, appears from this, that Samuel invited Jesse and his sons, verse 5; he would not do this, if it were at the house of Jesse himself (Piscator). 2. The authority of a Prophet brings it to pass that that a sacrifice, wherever he is present and orders it, is rightly done. For ceremonial Laws are subject to the authority of a Prophet, as the Hebrews confess (Grotius[25]). Samuel did this by special mandate. Thus in 1 Samuel 7:17; 10:12 (Piscator).

I am come to sacrifice to the Lord; which he used oft to do, sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, that so he might encourage and keep up the worship of God in all of them. This was one cause, though not the only cause, of his coming; nor was he obliged to declare all the causes of it.

Verse 3:[26] And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and (Ex. 4:15) I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and (1 Sam. 9:16) thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

[And thou shalt call Jesse to the victim, בַּזָּבַח] To the sacrifice (Vatablus, Piscator, Malvenda), that is, on account of the victim to be eaten (Vatablus), or to the feast (Vatablus out of Jonathan), which will be celebrated from the flesh of the sacrificed peace offering (Vatablus). Feasts were joined to Eucharistic Sacrifices (Piscator).

Call Jesse to the sacrifice, that is, invite him to the feast, which, after the manner, was made of the flesh of the sacrifice; and it belonged to Samuel, as the offerer of the sacrifice, to invite whom he pleased. Whom I name, that is, whom I shall describe, as it were, by name.

Verse 4:[27] And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town (1 Sam. 21:1) trembled at his coming (Heb. meeting[28]), and said, (1 Kings 2:13; 2 Kings 9:22) Comest thou peaceably?

[They marveled, וַיֶּחֶרְדוּ[29]] And they trembled (Montanus, similarly Piscator, Mariana,[30] Vatablus). It is an Ellipsis, because and they went is understood (Piscator); frightened, they came up (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus); they went out (Syriac, Arabic); they were assembled (Jonathan, thus many in Munster); they were confounded (Osiander[31]); they were amazed (Tigurinus). For he, by whom the King was given, was wont to keep himself for the most part, especially after the sin of Saul (Menochius out of Sanchez).

[Hastening to meet him[32]] They, as a body, went out to meet him in the way, for the sake of honor (Vatablus).

The elders of the town trembled at his coming; partly because it was strange and unexpected to them, this being but an obscure town, Micah 5:2, and remote from Samuel, and therefore they justly thought there was some extraordinary reason for it; and their guilty consciences made them fear that he came to denounce some dreadful and particular judgment of God upon them; and partly lest Saul, whose heart was estranged from and incensed against Samuel, should upon this occasion conceive a jealousy of them, and a displeasure against them.

[And they said, וַיֹּאמֶר] And he said, namely, their senior (Munster), who was the chief or noblest of all (Vatablus). He said, either some one (Tigurinus), or, every one (Junius and Tremellius). A singular verb, joined with a plural noun, generally denotes distribution. Thus in Genesis 35:26, the sons, which were born; Hebrew, יֻלַּד, he was born. In Exodus 17:12, his hands [plural] was firm;[33] and in Exodus 31:14;[34] Numbers 32:25.[35] The same is the account of the participle, as in Psalm 87:3;[36] Proverbs 3:18[37] (Glassius’[38] “Grammar” 397).

[Is thy coming peaceable? (thus the Syriac, Pagnine, Munster), שָׁלֹ֥ם בּוֹאֶֽךָ׃] Is thy coming peace? (Jonathan, Montanus, similarly the Septuagint). Is thine arrival peace? (Junius). Prosperously (safely [Tigurinus]) art thou coming? (Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus). Because of the unexpected (and solitary [Lapide]) coming of the Prophet, they were fearing (Munster). That is to say, Has something bad happened; or dost thou carry something of an inauspicious message? (Menochius). They were fearing, either, 1. That something evil might be arising in their town (Munster), which was to be expiated by him (Martyr); that he might wish to punish someone (Menochius, Mariana). Or, 2. That he was fleeing ferocity of Saul (Martyr, similarly Sanchez, Lyra); and that he might transfer his anger to the men of Beth-lehem, as if receiving Samuel. Or, 3. That he might foretell, or report, something sorrowful (Lapide), either from an external enemy, or from Saul (Sanchez).

Peaceably; Hebrew, in or with peace;[39] either, first, To thyself. Comest thou voluntarily, or to flee from the rage of Saul? Or, secondly, To us. Comest thou with no evil tidings to us, either from God or from Saul? The Hebrew phrase, Comest thou in peace?[40] being as much as to say, (in our phrase,) Is all well?

Verse 5:[41] And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: (Ex. 19:10, 14) sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.

[Be sanctified] From that verb it is able to be perceived that sacrifice is treated here (Piscator).

[הִתְקַדְּשׁוּ] Prepare (compose [Junius and Tremellius], sanctify) yourselves (Vatablus). To be sanctified is the same thing as to be prepared. See Exodus 19:10, sanctify them; and a little afterwards in verse 15, be ye ready. It is fitting that those wishing to be present at sacred rites should be pure and clean, when they approach; but those especially that were not only present at sacrifices, but were also feeding upon the meat from the sacrificial victim (Sanchez). Now, that sanctification was consisting in the washing of the garments, and abstinence from intercourse with their wives; as in Exodus 19:14, 15 (Piscator, similarly Lyra, Tirinus,[42] Lapide).

Sanctify yourselves; prepare yourselves in the manner expressed, Exodus 19:14, 15.

[Then he sanctified Jesse, etc.] Hebrew: and he prepared,[43] that is, he commanded them to be prepared, that is, by name (Vatablus). He did this the day before the sacrifice. He called these, not only so that they might be present at the sacrifice with others of the common people; but also so that they might be partakers in the sacrificial victim, which was not even lawful for Priests; see 1 Samuel 2 (Sanchez).

To the sacrifice; Hebrew, in the sacrifice,[44] that is, join with me in this act of worshipping God, and offering this sacrifice, thereby to give thanks for the blessings you have received from him, and to pray for what you want. It seems evident that there was something peculiar in Jesse’s invitation. For, first, Both he and his sons were invited, whereas the others are only invited for their own persons. Secondly, The different phrase here used, that he sanctified these, when he only bade the other sanctify themselves, argues a singular care and agency of Samuel in their sanctification; (unless we should say, He sanctified them, is no more but that he caused them to be sanctified; that is, these in particular amongst others;) which makes it probable that the rest were only to join with him in the act of sacrificing; but these, and only these, were invited to feast upon the remainders of the sacrifice; which feast is here called a sacrifice, as it is above, verse 3. And the only inconvenience of this interpretation is, that the word sacrifice is taken in different senses in the same verse, which is no unusual thing. See Matthew 8:22. And this difference may possibly be intimated by the differing prepositions prefixed to the same word, the first being בַּזָּבַח/bazzabach, and the latter לַזָּבַח/lazzabach.[45] Howsoever, that only Jesse and his sons were present at the feast may seem probable, from Samuel’s design of privacy, and from the following relation.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל עַד־מָתַי֙ אַתָּה֙ מִתְאַבֵּ֣ל אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל וַאֲנִ֣י מְאַסְתִּ֔יו מִמְּלֹ֖ךְ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל מַלֵּ֙א קַרְנְךָ֜ שֶׁ֗מֶן וְלֵ֤ךְ אֶֽשְׁלָחֲךָ֙ אֶל־יִשַׁ֣י בֵּֽית־הַלַּחְמִ֔י כִּֽי־רָאִ֧יתִי בְּבָנָ֛יו לִ֖י מֶֽלֶךְ׃ [2] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar. His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome. Although his commentaries (covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms) develop the four-fold sense of Scripture, he emphasizes the literal. His knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the commentators that preceded him is noteworthy. [3] Gasper Sanchez (1554-1628) was a Jesuit scholar. He served as Professor of Divinity at Alcala. He wrote Commentarius et Paraphrasis in Libros Regum, as well as commentaries on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Song of Solomon. [4] John Stephen Menochius (1576-1656) joined the Society of Jesuits at an early age. His superiors in the order, recognizing his academic abilities, set him apart for training in the exposition of Holy Scripture. His critical acumen and commitment to the literal sense of the text are on display in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam. [5] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine. He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584). His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther. Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians. He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator. [6] 1 Samuel 10:1: “Then Samuel took a vial of oil (אֶת־פַּ֥ךְ הַשֶּׁ֛מֶן), and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” פַּךְ/vessel is related to פִּכְפֵּךְ/trickle. [7] Rupertus (1091-1135) was a learned Benedictine, Abbot of Tuits on the Rhine. [8] Little is known about the early life of Nicholas de Lyra (1270-1340). He entered the Franciscan Order and became a teacher of some repute in Paris. His Postilla in Vetus et Novum Testamentum are remarkable for the time period: Lyra was firmly committed to the literal sense of the text, as a necessary control for allegorical exposition; and he drew heavily upon Hebraic and Rabbinical materials. His commentary was influential among the Reformers. [9] Alonso Tostado, or Tostatus (c. 1400-1455), was a Spanish, Roman Catholic churchman and scholar. He was trained in philosophy, theology, civil and canon law, Greek, and Hebrew. He wrote commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament (Genesis-2 Chronicles), and on the Gospel of Matthew. [10] Francis Vatablus (c. 1485-1547) was a prominent Hebrew scholar, doing much to stimulate Hebraic studies in France. He was appointed to the chair of Hebrew in Paris (1531). Because of some consonance with Lutheran doctrine, his annotations (Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum), compiled by his auditors, were regarded with the utmost esteem among Protestants, but with a measure of suspicion and concern by Roman Catholics. Consequently, the theologians of Salamanca produced their own edition of Vatablus’ annotations for their revision of the Latin Bible (1584). [11] Benedict Arias Montanus (1527-1598) was a Spanish Benedictine monk. He attended the Council of Trent, and he was heavily involved in the production of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible. Montanus also commented on a number of Biblical books, including Joshua, Judges, Isaiah, the Minor Prophets, and the New Testament. [12] Sebastian Munster (1489-1552) was a German scholar of great talent in the fields of mathematics, Oriental studies, and divinity. He left the Franciscans to join the Lutherans, became Professor of Hebrew at Basil (1529-1552), and produced an edition of the Hebrew Bible with a Latin translation and important early Reformation annotations (Annotationes in Vetus Testamentum). [13] Pagnine (1466-1541) was an Italian Dominican. He was gifted as a Hebraist, exegete, and preacher. He was commissioned by Pope Leo X to produce a new Latin translation of the Scripture. [14] Leo Jud (1482-1542) was a co-laborer of Ulrich Zwingli during the time of the Swiss Reformation. His translation work might be his most important contribution to the reformation of Zurich. He labored with other divines to produce a vernacular version for the Swiss people, and he produced a Latin version of the Old Testament, usually known as “Tigurinus”, which would be translated, “of Zurich”. [15] Francis Junius (1545-1602) was a Huguenot divine of great learning. He suffered the varied fortunes of his people; but he had the opportunity to study in Geneva, and he was eventually appointed Professor of Divinity at Leiden (1592). Junius’ De Vera Theologia was massively important in the development of the Dogmatic structure of Reformed Scholasticism. He also labored with Tremellius in the production of their famous Latin Version of the Old Testament. After the death of Tremellius in 1580, Junius produced four corrected editions of their translation and annotations until his death in 1603. [16] John Immanuel Tremellius (1510-1580) converted from Judaism to Christianity and quickly embraced the principles of the Reformation. He taught Hebrew at Strasburg (1541) and at Cambridge (succeeding Paul Fagius in 1549), and served as Professor of Old Testament at Heidelberg (1561). [17] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֵ֣יךְ אֵלֵ֔ךְ וְשָׁמַ֥ע שָׁא֖וּל וַהֲרָגָ֑נִי ס וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֗ה עֶגְלַ֤ת בָּקָר֙ תִּקַּ֣ח בְּיָדֶ֔ךָ וְאָ֣מַרְתָּ֔ לִזְבֹּ֥חַ לַֽיהוָ֖ה בָּֽאתִי׃ [18] Hebrew: בְּיָדֶךָ. [19] Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) began his career as an Augustinian monk, preacher, and lecturer in Italy. Through personal study of the Scripture and the Reformers, he came to embrace the Protestant doctrines. He settled in England and served as Professor of Divinity at Oxford and as Canon of Christ Church. Unhappily, he was forced to flee from England as well, when Mary Tudor took the throne. He settled in Zurich and became Professor of Divinity there. Vermigli wrote In Duos Libros Samuelis Prophetæ Commentarii Doctissimi. [20] 1 Samuel 28:24: “And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it (וַתִּזְבָּחֵהוּ), and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof…” [21] 1 Samuel 9:12, 13: “And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a sacrifice (זֶבַח) of the people to day in the high place: as soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice (הַזֶּבַח); and afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.” [22] Jonathan ben Uzziel (first century) was one of the great pupils of Hillel. It is a matter of some doubt whether Jonathan ben Uzziel is actually responsible for the translation of this portion of the Chaldean Version. For the most part, Targum Jonathan tends to be more paraphrastic and expansive than Targum Onkelos. [23] Thomas Malvenda (1566-1628) was a Spanish Dominican. Within his order, he was widely regarded for his abilities in philosophy and divinity. [24] See Deuteronomy 12. [25] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis. He was a strict practitioner of the historical-contextual method of exegesis, and both his methods and conclusions are on display in his influential Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. He is also remembered for his role in the Arminian controversy, siding with the Remonstrants, and for his governmental theory of atonement. [26] Hebrew: וְקָרָ֥אתָ לְיִשַׁ֖י בַּזָּ֑בַח וְאָֽנֹכִ֗י אוֹדִֽיעֲךָ֙ אֵ֣ת אֲשֶֽׁר־תַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה וּמָשַׁחְתָּ֣ לִ֔י אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־אֹמַ֖ר אֵלֶֽיךָ׃ [27] Hebrew: וַיַּ֣עַשׂ שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל אֵ֚ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֶּ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה וַיָּבֹ֖א בֵּ֣ית לָ֑חֶם וַיֶּחֶרְד֞וּ זִקְנֵ֤י הָעִיר֙ לִקְרָאת֔וֹ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר שָׁלֹ֥ם בּוֹאֶֽךָ׃ [28] Hebrew: לִקְרָאתוֹ. [29]חָרַד signifies to tremble, or to be terrified. [30] John Mariana (c. 1536-1624) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and scholar. While teaching theology in Rome, Robert Bellarmine was among his pupils. He wrote Scholia in Vetus et Novum Testamentum, and his is magnum opus was the thirty-book history of Spain, Historiæ de Rebus Hispaniæ. [31] Lucas Osiander (1534-1604) was a Lutheran theologian. He produced an edition of the Vulgate with supplemental annotations and corrections, inserting Luther’s translation in the places in which the Vulgate departs from the Hebrew. He was also an accomplished composer of music. [32] 1 Samuel 16:4b: “…And the elders of the town trembled at his coming (לִקְרָאתוֹ; occurrentes ei, hastening to meet him, in the Vulgate), and said, Comest thou peaceably?” [33] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֥י יָדָ֛יו אֱמוּנָ֖ה. [34] Exodus 31:14: “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death (מְחַֽלְלֶ֙יהָ֙ מ֣וֹת יוּמָ֔ת, those defiling it, he shall surely be put to death): for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” [35] Numbers 32:25: “And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spakeוַיֹּ֤אמֶר) בְּנֵי־גָד֙ וּבְנֵ֣י רְאוּבֵ֔ן, and he said, namely, the children of Gad and the children of Reuben) unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth.” [36] Psalm 87:3: “Glorious things (נִכְבָּדוֹת, plural) are spoken (מְדֻבָּר, singular) of thee, O city of God. Selah.” [37] Proverbs 3:18: “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and those retaining her (וְתֹמְכֶיהָ, plural) are happy (מְאֻשָּׁר, singular).” [38] Solomon Glassius (1593-1656) was a German Lutheran divine and critic. He was Professor of Divinity at the University of Jena. His Philologia Sacra was a groundbreaking work in Biblical Hebrew. [39] Hebrew: שָׁלֹם. [40] Hebrew: שָׁלֹ֥ם בּוֹאֶֽךָ׃. [41] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר׀ שָׁל֗וֹם לִזְבֹּ֤חַ לַֽיהוָה֙ בָּ֔אתִי הִֽתְקַדְּשׁ֔וּ וּבָאתֶ֥ם אִתִּ֖י בַּזָּ֑בַח וַיְקַדֵּ֤שׁ אֶת־יִשַׁי֙ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֔יו וַיִּקְרָ֥א לָהֶ֖ם לַזָּֽבַח׃ [42] James Tirinus (1580-1636) was a Flemish Jesuit priest. His abilities as a commentator are displayed in his Commentaria in Sacram Scripturam. [43] Hebrew: וַיְקַדֵּשׁ. [44] Hebrew: בַּזָּבַח. [45] 1 Samuel 16:5: “And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice (בַּזָּבַח). And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice (לַזָּבַח).”

54 views6 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page