I Samuel 10
1. Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?
Now that they are alone together on the outskirts of the city where none can overhear, Samuel delivers the LORD’s message to Saul. First, he performs a significant ritual act. He takes a flask of oil and pours it on his head. There was doubtless nothing special about this flask of oil. Men of that day in that part of the world appear to have used oil much like we use soap, perfume, or deodorant today. It is very likely that any traveling man like Samuel would constantly have a flask of oil in his possession. Therefore, there was nothing special in this flask, nor in the act of pouring it over a man’s head. When cleaning himself, Saul had probably done something similar many times. Yet in this case, this very ordinary action had very extraordinary implications. This little ritual was a symbolic act, signifying the fact that the LORD had chosen Saul to be the next king.
Now the important part of this ritual was not the pouring of the oil itself, for that was only symbolic. As I said, Saul himself might have poured oil over his own head many times before this. What was important here was the choice the LORD had made of Saul as king, and the fact that Samuel had the authority to communicate that choice to Saul. In other words, there was a ritual here of anointing, but what it pointed to was the reality of Saul’s anointing. The real anointing of Saul was when the LORD chose him to be king. The ritual was significant only in that it communicated that reality.
Once he has anointed Saul with oil, Samuel kisses him, and tells him plainly that the LORD has anointed him to be the king. We usually think of an inheritance as being something you receive from someone when he dies. Yet the reality is that to have an inheritance is to enjoy a portion. The inheritance here refers to the portion of the LORD, which was the people He had chosen. Saul was now commander over that portion, even the twelve tribes of Israel. Read the rest of this entry »