WHEN Samuel became old, his sons, Joel and Abiah, assisted him in judging Israel. They were not God-fearing men, like their father. They took bribes from the people, and in this way were hired to decide cases unjustly. The people were so displeased with this that they came to Samuel, and asked that they might have a king. This made Samuel feel very sad, but the Lord told him to let them have a king. 

"And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."

Then the Lord told Samuel to tell the people just how a king would treat them; how selfish and cruel he would be; how he would take their sons and daughters to do his work; how he would take a tenth of their grain and fruit and cattle, and the best of their fields and vineyards and olive-yards, and give them to his officers and servants. Yet the people, after being told all these things, still wanted a king that they might be like the nations around them. So the Lord chose Saul to reign over them.

The Bible says that Saul was "a choice young man and a goodly; and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person then he; from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people."

At one time Saul's father sent him with a servant to look for some asses that had strayed away. After they had searched several days for the lost animals, Saul and his servant went to Samuel to see if he could tell them where they were. "Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel. And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! This same shall reign over my people."

Samuel kept Saul over night, and treated him very kindly. In the morning, when he was about to go away, Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it upon Saul's head, and kissed him, telling him that the Lord had anointed him to be captain, or king, over his people. When Saul turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart; and that day, when he met a company of prophets, he prophesied with them, and the people who heard him were astonished. 

"And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh. And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king. Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord, and Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his home."



WHEN Saul had reigned two years over Israel, he chose three thousand men to be constantly with him. He kept two thousand with himself in camp at Michmash, and one thousand encamped with Jonathan at Gibeah.  Jonathan and his men smote a garrison of the Philistines. This made the Philistines so angry that they gathered a great army, and came up to make war with the Israelites. They had "thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude." At this, the men of Israel were so frightened that they hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in rocks, and in pits; and some of them fled across the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was in Gilgal, and the few that were with him trembled for fear of the Philistines. Saul waited at Gilgal seven days for Samuel to come down to make an offering unto the Lord; but Samuel did not come, and the people were continually scattering, so Saul, fearing that he would soon be left alone, took the place of a priest, and offered up sacrifices to the Lord. As soon as Saul had finished making the offering, Samuel came; and when Saul went out to meet him, Samuel said, "What hast thou done?" and when Saul told him, he said, "Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee; for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee." Then Samuel left Saul, and went up to Gibeah.

And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, " Let us go over to the Philistines' garrison; it may be that the Lord will work for us; for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few." So these two men went over to the Philistines, and when they had slain about twenty men, great fear came upon their enemies. "And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked." The Philistines, by this time, were so terrified that they could not tell who were their enemies, and fell to fighting one another. When Saul and his men heard the confusion among the Philistines, they came on to battle; and when the men that had hid themselves saw that their enemies fled, they joined in the pursuit, and many of the Philistines were slain that day.