Samuel had already appointed Saul to be Israelís king (10:1). However, that had happened in private, and nobody else knew about it yet. So the purpose of the process in 1 Samuel 10:20-21 was not in fact to select the king. It was to show publicly the king whom God had chosen.
Probably Samuel did this by lot. In other words, it seemed to be by chance. Really, however, this was not a matter of chance; Samuel was allowing God to make the decision (Proverbs 16:33). This was an ancient way to make decisions in Israel (Numbers 26:55-56). People asked God to make the decision, and they trusted him to do that (Acts 1:24-26). It was clear that no person had made the decision.
This was a sacred matter. Samuel brought each family group forward, in front of God. He then allowed God to decide between them.
The process began with the largest family groups, that is, Israelís 12 tribes. God chose the tribe of Benjamin. Then the process continued with the smaller family groups in that tribe, which were called clans. God chose the clan of Matri. Then it was necessary to choose from the families in that clan, and then the men from that family.
The name that the lot selected was Saul, the son of Kish. No person had any part in Saulís selection. Although Samuel organised the lots, he did not make the decision. He wanted it to be clear to everyone that God had chosen Saul to be Israelís king.
Next part: Saul hides (1 Samuel 10:22-24)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.