Returning to his hometown, Saul was approached by his uncle, who “asked him and his servant, ‘Where have you been?’ ” (1 Samuel 10:14). Saul told his uncle that they had been several places but had ultimately gone to visit Samuel. Mention of Samuel sparked further questions from Saul’s uncle: “Tell me what Samuel said to you” (1 Samuel 10:15). Saul’s response was deceptively incomplete: the prophet had informed them that the donkeys had been found. What Saul did not say was more significant than what he said: “he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship” (1 Samuel 10:16). At this time none of Saul’s servants or family members were aware of Saul’s divine selection; it remained a secret shared only by Saul and Samuel.
In response to the peoples’ desire to have Samuel “set a king over us” (1 Samuel 10:19), Sanuel summoned the people to Mizpah (1 Samuel 10:17) to anoint him publically. Samuel knew it was God’s will to select Saul as king, but he also understood that the day’s events were motivated by Israel’s rejection of God as king.
At the public convocation in Mizpah, Samuel acted not as judge but as prophet. His first act in the assembly was not to proclaim Israel’s new leader but to reveal the Lord’s prophetic judgments. In classic prophetic fashion Samuel said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says” (v. 17). What followed were words of severe condemnation. Israel had failed to keep the most basic requirement of Israel’s covenant with God, the true King! This decision could only result in devastating judgment
Saul’s selection was a divine judgment against Israel. Curiously, when Saul was chosen, “he was not to be found” (1 Samuel 10:21). Human efforts failed to locate Saul, and it was only after inquiring of the Lord that they learned that he had “hidden himself among the baggage” (1 Samuel 10:22), probably a location at the perimeter of the camp.
Saul’s actions, however odd, were consistent. Saul had already shut out both his servant (1 Samuel 9:27) and his uncle (1 Samuel 10:16) from any knowledge of his destiny. Saul’s hiding at his own royal coronation foreshadows his reign. This won’t be the last time Saul hides from responsibilities. This won’t be the last time Saul demonstrates a lack of wisdom. Saul was indeed the Lord’s answer to Israel’s demand for a king “like the other nations.”