Lighthouse Leader Study Guide

Date: February 19, 2017

Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 9-10

This Week’s Printable Resources:

Overview of this Lesson

In this week’s lesson we see a great illustration of what is known as the providence of God. My favorite verse in the Bible that illustrates the providence of God is Ruth 3:2 – “Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.” Catch the words in the second sentence: “And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz…”

The purpose of the Book of Ruth is to set the stage for David, the king from whom God would use to bring the Messiah into this world. To emphasize the importance of Ruth, she is one of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.

And yet, the entire story turns on this little verse: Ruth happened to wander into the field of Boaz. This makes it sound like instead of turning right into the field of Abijah, she turned left into the field of Boaz. How fortunate! What a piece of luck!

That is the providence of God. There are many things in life that seem to happen by chance, but in truth, it is the hidden hand of God directing and leading us. We see this clearly this week in 1 Samuel 9-10.

Young Saul is sent on a mission by his father to find some missing donkeys. Instead, he happens to end up at the home of Samuel, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As Christians, we often talk about God’s will for our life, and we go looking for it. We often conclude God’s will is difficult to find. As we shall see in this week’s lesson, while we are least expecting it, looking for the proverbial donkey, God’s will finds us.

Memory Verse for This Week

“And he said to him, ‘Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.’” – 1 Samuel 9:6

This Week’s Core Practice

Stewardship (1 Timothy 6:17-19): We believe that everything we have, including our very life, belongs to God.

This Week’s Take Home Truth

“The full effect of our sin never looks ugly initially, but ultimately it always shows itself to be the monster God warned us about.


  1. Can you remember a time in your life when something fortunate happened to you and you though, “that was lucky”?
  2. How much of your life do you think is the result of chance or luck vs. deliberate planning and strategy?
  3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.

Read the Text (1 Samuel 9:1-10:27)

We read this week of Saul’s selection as the first king of Israel. Like many things in life, Saul’s assent to becoming king was a twisty, windy path that only makes sense when read with hindsight. Read 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27.

1 Samuel 9–10 (ESV)

Saul Chosen to Be King

1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.

5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” 6 But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.” 7 Then Saul said to his servant, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 The servant answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today’s “prophet” was formerly called a seer.) 10 And Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.

11 As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 They answered, “He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14 So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”

22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’ ” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.”

So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 And when they came down from the high place into the city, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.

27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”

Saul Anointed King

1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?” ’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” 9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Saul Proclaimed King

17 Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.” 20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home. 26 Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.

  1. What is the irony of Israel’s demand for a king in 1 Samuel 9?

Israel demanded a king, but no man is suggested or promoted. This is an odd circumstance leading Matthew Henry to note, “Most governments began in the ambition of the prince to rule, but Israel’s in the ambition of the people to be ruled.”

This shows the raw human heart of rebellion within Israel. They were not wooed or won over by some charismatic leader who promised them the moon. Instead, they simply wanted a king, any king except God.

Lest we start to judge Israel for their foolishness, we must remember that the same heart of rebellion beats inside each one of us. What are some ways we make similar choices today in our life?

Let your group discuss this a bit. Here are some thoughts to guide your discussion:

  • We seek to “take control” of our life rather than walk by faith. Walking by faith means trusting in the providence of God. It’s tough. Many times it makes sense to try and bend others or events to our liking.
  • How do we know when to “ask for a king” and when to “trust God for the outcome”? We need to ask God for direction and ask Godly counselors for feedback.
  1. What do we know about Saul the man?
  • He was from the tribe of Benjamin (9:1)[1]
  • He was a strong, tall, good looking young man (9:2)
  • He was chosen by God to become Israel’s first king (9:16)
  • He had a humble heart (9:21)
  • He had the power of God with him (10:10)
  • He lacked courage (10:22), but
  • He had courageous friends with him (10:27)
  1. How does 1 Samuel 9-10 illustrate the concept of the providence of God?

The providence of God is often referred to as God’s hidden hand at work in the lives of His people.

J. Vernon McGee defines providence as follows:

Providence is the means by which God directs all things – both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil – toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. Or as the psalmist said, “his kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19). In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Our God is running the universe today, friends, even though there are some who think that it has slipped out from under Him.

The first part of 1 Samuel 9 perfectly illustrates for us providence of God at work. Saul is sent on a mission to find his father’s lost donkeys. He fails to find the donkeys, but instead stumbles into the hometown of Samuel, the man God has told to be looking for a king. As with many narrative stories in the Bible, it’s too easy for us to read over these words and miss the obvious yet miraculous hand of God at work. This day starts as any other day for young Saul. I’m sure like most young men who are assigned a menial task by their father, Saul grumbled and moaned at the thought of having to chase after some lost donkeys. That’s just how any young man would like to spend their day. Right?

Instead of finding the donkeys, however, Saul finds God’s will for his life. He wasn’t looking for God’s will, but by God’s divine providence, God’s will found him!

The commentator R. P. Smith captured this well: “So strangely is the trivial ever united with events most solemn and weighty, that Saul set out upon this journey, in which he was to find a kingdom, with no other object than to look for some lost asses.”

  1. Does our stubborn will and rebellious decisions defeat the providence of God?

No, not at all. There are times when we sense we’ve really blown it, that we made a mess of things. This is often the case. But God can use our messes to accomplish His will.

This is an important truth to remember about the providence of God: even when we rebel against God, God controls the outcome to accomplish His Divine purpose.

  1. Does God’s providence in our life mean we are not held accountable for our sins?

We are all held accountable for our sins (Romans 6:3). But through His Divine providence, God works the outcome so that it is according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

Think for a moment of the story of David and Bathsheba. This sin in David’s life had devastating consequences on his family. It is, without question, the single greatest tragedy in David’s life. Moreover, he brought it upon himself. It was his willful act of sin that caused all of the harm that followed. David paid the penalty for his sin.

And yet, if you jump ahead to the Gospel of Matthew, you will see in the genealogy of Jesus listed in Matthew 1 that God used the relationship of David and Bathsheba to bring the Messiah into the world (Matthew 1:6).[2]

  1. How should we respond to our understanding of God’s providential will?

As we noticed last week in our lesson, following in the will of God requires faith. We must walk by faith. Understanding God’s providence requires another difficult human endeavor: self-surrender.

Paul illustrates well for us in Philippians 2:3-5 this easy-to-understand but (very) difficult act to follow. Paul gives us four commands that are all rooted in the model of Jesus Christ:

  • Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit (v. 3).
  • With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves (v. 3).
  • Do not merely look out for your own personal interests (v. 4).
  • [Look out] also for the interests of others (v. 4).

When things are happening in your life that don’t seem to make sense, rather than try and wrestle control away from God, submit to His will. Trust Him. Ask God to give you patience and humility and wisdom as you live your life surrendered to His purposes and plan for you.

Concluding Thoughts

These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.

  1. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
  2. On a sheet of paper, review your life and make note of times when things seemed to happen by chance, but you now recognize these events as the sovereign providence of God in your life.


[1] It’s easy to miss the subtle, tragic humor of Saul’s selection from the tribe of Benjamin. Being from the tribe of Benjamin had a strong negative connotation in Israel at this time. To get the full picture, you must read Judges 19-21. In summary, the men of Benjamin took a young concubine from a Levite and viciously raped and murdered her. Their crime was so horrendous, that the other tribes of Israel sought to bring the men who perpetrated the crime to justice. The tribe of Benjamin refused to give up the men and instead declared war on the other tribes of Israel! In the ensuing civil war, the entire tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. The book of Judges ends with the following observation: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Imagine the thoughts of Israel when the man selected to be king is from the tribe of Benjamin! To put this in cultural context, most Americans would associate the people from the hill country of Appalachia as hillbillies. When we refer to someone as a “hillbilly,” it has a clear connotation. We don’t think refined, educated, well-to-do; we think poor, red neck, hicks. The people of Benjamin would have had the reputation of being lawless, ruthless, violent rapists at this time. It’s from this tribe that God selects their first king to rule over them and maintain law and order.

[2] The first son of David and Bathsheba died at childbirth as a result of David’s sin (2 Samuel 12:14). It is through Solomon, the second son of David and Bathsheba, that Matthew lists in the genealogy of Jesus.