Saul Looks for His Father’s Donkeys
1 Kish was an important man from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel. Abiel was the son of Zeror. Zeror was the son of Becorath. Becorath was the son of Aphiah, a man from Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son named Saul, who was a handsome young man. There was no one more handsome than Saul. He stood a head taller than any other man in Israel.
3 One day Kish’s donkeys got lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants and go look for the donkeys.” 4 Saul went to look for the donkeys. He walked through the hills of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha. But Saul and the servant could not find Kish’s donkeys. So they went to the area around Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there either. Then Saul traveled through the land of Benjamin, but he and the servant still could not find the donkeys.
5 Finally, Saul and the servant came to the town named Zuph. Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go back. My father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”
6 But the servant answered, “A man of God is in this town. People respect him. Everything he says comes true, so let’s go into town. Maybe the man of God will tell us where we should go next.”
7 Saul said to his servant, “Sure, we can go into town, but what can we give to him? We have no gift to give the man of God. Even the food in our bags is gone. What can we give him?”
Again the servant answered Saul. “Look, I have a little bit of money.*
Let’s give it to the man of God. Then he will tell us where we should go.”
9-11 Saul said to his servant, “That is a good idea. Let’s go.” So they went to the town where the man of God was.
Saul and the servant were walking up the hill toward town when they met some young women on the road. The young women were coming out to get water. Saul and the servant asked the young women, “Is the seer here?” (In the past, people in Israel called a prophet a “seer.” So if they wanted to ask something from God, they would say, “Let’s go to the seer.”)
The young women answered, “Yes, the seer is here. He is just up the road. He came to town today. Some people are meeting together today to share in a fellowship offering at the place for worship.† 13
So go into town and you will find him. If you hurry, you can catch him before he goes up to eat at the place for worship. The seer blesses the sacrifice, so the people won’t begin eating until he gets there. If you hurry, you can find him.”
14 Saul and the servant started walking up the hill to town. Just as they came into town, they saw Samuel coming out of town, walking toward them. He was on his way to the place for worship.
The day before, the LORD had told Samuel, 16
“At this time tomorrow I will send a man to you. He will be from the tribe of Benjamin. You must anoint him and make him the new leader over my people Israel. This man will save my people from the Philistines. I have seen my people suffering,‡
and I have heard their cries for help.”
17 When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to Samuel, “This is the man I told you about. He will rule my people.”
18 Saul went up to a man near the gate to ask directions. This man just happened to be Samuel. Saul said, “Excuse me. Could you tell me where the seer’s house is?”
19 Samuel answered, “I am the seer. Go on up ahead of me to the place for worship. You and your servant will eat with me today. I will let you go home tomorrow morning. I will answer all your questions. 20 And don’t worry about the donkeys that you lost three days ago. They have been found. Now, there is something that everyone in Israel is looking for and that something is you and your family.”
21 Saul answered, “But I am a member of the tribe of Benjamin. It is the smallest tribe in Israel. And my family is the smallest in the tribe of Benjamin. Why do you say Israel wants me?”
22 Then Samuel took Saul and his servant to the eating area. About 30 people had been invited to eat together and share the sacrifice. Samuel gave Saul and his servant the most important place at the table. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the meat I gave you. It is the share I told you to save.”
The cook brought out the thigh§
and put it on the table in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Eat the meat that was put in front of you. It was saved for you for this special time when I called the people together.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
After they finished eating, they came down from the place for worship and went back to town. Samuel made a bed for Saul on the roof, 26
and Saul went to sleep.*
Early the next morning, Samuel shouted to Saul on the roof and said, “Get up. I will send you on your way.” Saul got up and went out of the house with Samuel.
27 Saul, his servant, and Samuel were walking together near the edge of town. Samuel said to Saul, “Tell your servant to go on ahead of us. I have a message for you from God.” So the servant walked ahead of them.