The First Meeting of Saul and Samuel -- By: G. Coleman Luck

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 124:495 (Jul 1967)
Article: The First Meeting of Saul and Samuel
Author: G. Coleman Luck


The First Meeting of Saul and Samuel

G. Coleman Luck

[G. Coleman Luck, Member of Faculty, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois.]

Young Saul, the son of Kish, accompanied by an unnamed servant, had been searching for some lost asses. Finally, Saul was ready to admit failure and give up the attempt. His servant however was more resourceful. He suggested: “There is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can show us our way that we should go” (1 Sam 9:6).

The Unnamed City

What was the name of the town which the servant called “this city”? “Nearly all the commentators suppose it to have been Ramah, Samuel’s home. But this assumption has no foundation at all in the text, and is irreconcilable with the statements respecting the return in chapter 10:2–5 .”1 The town in question was close to Rachel’s tomb (10:2), which was at Bethlehem (Gen 35:19–20). In fact, on his way back to his home at Gibeah, Saul passed Rachel’s tomb (10:2). So Bethlehem was not only near the unnamed city, but between it and Gibeah. This would not at all fit Ramah (or Ramathaim), where Samuel lived, as it is said to be in Mount Ephraim (1:1). It should also be carefully observed that Saul’s servant did not say: “There dwells in this city a man of God,” but “There is in this city….” It was Samuel’s custom to travel “in circuit” (7:16), and it was evidently known by the servant that he was scheduled to come to town for a special feast (cp. 9:12, “he came today to the city”).

The fact that Samuel seemed to take charge of things at the feast does not necessarily prove that he must have been in his home town. At this time he was the leading man of the nation, both politically and spiritually; so it was natural that when he came to town for a special occasion, he should take the chief place.

Saul agreed to the suggestion of his servant; they turned their steps to the adjacent city, which was built on a hill (1 Sam 9:11). On the outskirts they passed the town well, just at a time when young women were drawing water. This one well may have supplied the entire village. The two strangers in...

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