Verse 18: Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is.
[Saul drew near to Samuel in the midst of the gate] That is, he met Samuel immediately upon passing the very gate (Vatablus). Here, אֶת is put in the place of אֶל/to; as, on the other hand, אֶל is put in the place of אֶת in Psalm 2 (Drusius). Understand the gate (not of his house, out of which Samuel had come, as Tostatus maintains, but) of the city (Mendoza, similarly Calvin).
In the gate; the gate, either, first, Of Samuel’s house. But he was come out thence before, verse 14. Or rather, secondly, Of the city; for the word gate being put by itself, according to reason and common use, must be understood of the most eminent in its kind, which the gate of the city is. And through this gate Samuel seems now to have been passing to go to the high place, which probably was without the city; and there he makes a stand, to hear what these persons now approaching to him were about to speak.
[And he says, Tell, etc.] Note that Samuel, although the judge, went forth without any fanfare, and lived among the common people as one equal to them (Mendoza, similarly Calvin).
[Where is the house of the seer?] He wanted to meet Samuel at his house, so that he might speak with the Prophet, not only in passing, but at length (Mendoza).
Verse 19: And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to day, and to morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.
[I am the seer] He is not boasting, but testifying to the truth (Calvin).
[Go up before me] He did not say, follow me, or proceed with me, but go up before me (Carthusianus in Lapide). 1. For an example: both of humility, because he yields the better part to Saul, following behind him: and of obedience, and reverence toward the King, although yet to be chosen (Mendoza). 2. Samuel was old, and was not able to ascend that hill with equal swiftness (Carthusianus in Lapide).
[And I will dismiss thee in the morning] It is to be observed here, that it was the custom of that time and people to take food towards evening; for midday meals were not ordinary and customary (Calvin).
[And all things that are in thine heart] Whatever thou thinkest to ask of me; as the following verse explains (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda).
Will tell thee all that is in thine heart: Either all that thou desirest to know, as concerning the asses; or rather, the secret thoughts of thy heart, or such actions as none know but God and thy own heart; that so thou mayst be assured of the truth and certainty of that which I am to acquaint thee with. And this might be done, though it be not here particularly related.
Verse 20: And as for (1 Sam. 9:3) thine asses that were lost three days ago (Heb. to day three days), set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom (1 Sam. 8:5, 19; 12:13) is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father’s house?