1 Samuel 10:1 - 27
NKJV - 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? 2 "When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, 'The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, "What shall I do about my son?"'
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As indicated in the chapter cited in the question, Samuel anointed Saul as king at God's direction in the first verse of the chapter. He was publicly presented to the people as king (indicating the actual beginning of his rule) after Samuel had summoned all the people to Mizpah in that same chapter. The only indication given as to a passage of time in the interim was "seven days", as noted in verse 8 of that chapter. After all the people had been summoned, lots were progressively cast to determine who the king would be, and the selection of Saul as king was confirmed by that process, after which Samuel presented Saul to the people as king in verse 24 of the same chapter. Saul would thus have been the same age (thirty) at both his anointing, and at the beginning of his actual reign. After Saul had rescued the city of Jabesh from its seizure by Nahash the Ammonite, Saul's selection as king was confirmed again at Gilgal, as noted in 1 Samuel 11:15. However, God later withdrew His favor from Saul during his reign because of Saul's failure to carry out God's direction given to Saul through Samuel to completely destroy the Amalekites, including all their livestock (1 Samuel 15:1-11).
This is a good question! There is significant disagreement. 1 Samuel 13:1 is a DIFFICULT passage. How can you tell? There are many variations to how bible versions translate the verse. This indicates that the Bible translators are not sure how to bring the Hebrew into English. The ESV is quite close: 1 Sam. 13:1 Here are some options: NIV - Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty- two years. King James - Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Jewish Publication Society - Saul was --years old when he began to reign; and two years he reigned over Israel. Douay-Rheims Bible - Saul was a child of one year when he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel. Paul tells us that Saul reigned for "forty years" in Acts 13:21 and some of the Bible versions - like the NIV above - use this number and add it to the "two" mentioned in Hebrew. That is how they arrive at "forty-two." Perhaps only God knows the answer to this perplexing question.
Not much is given about Saul’s reign. Paul states he ruled for forty years, Acts 13:21. This is not rounded off, but the actual number. But it is not known how old Saul was when he was anointed king or when he died. David, Saul’s successor, was 30 years old when he began to reign, II Samuel 5:4. This means he was born in Saul’s eleventh year of reign. The only other information is the enigmatic verse, I Samuel 13:1, which has had a variety of explanations. Literally the verse reads, “A son of a year [is] Saul in his reigning, and two years he ruled over Israel.” The first phrase means ‘son of his first year.’ Yet, this cannot mean Saul reigned one year or was just a year old. The next verse shows his full-grown son, Jonathan, commanding a thousand men. However, there is an explanation that works. Time can be reckoned in different ways. We date ourselves by how old we are or from the (supposed) year of Christ’s birth, designated by a year AD. When Abraham Lincoln wrote the Proclamation of Emancipation, he noted two date markers, the second being very appropriate to the occasion. It was as follows: “...in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh...” In the Old Testament, many events served as time marker such as the Division of the Kingdom (as Jehoiada, II Chronicles 24:15, likely died 130 years after it, rather than at that age), or certain deportations into the Babylonian Captivity (as Darius, Daniel 5:31, who was 62 years after the second deportation, the 70th year of the first deportation). An epochal age might not be stated but was well understood at the time. This interpretation helps in understanding I Samuel 13:1. As it could not be his birth year, Saul was ‘the son of its first year’ according to some event. Leslie McFall pointed out in his article, “The Chronology of Saul and David,” that this refers to the era of David, specifically his birth. I Samuel 13:1 marks David’s first year and Saul’s 11th year. It shows the text of this verse is faithfully transmitted. The second part of I Samuel 13:1 speaks of an event that happened two years later, when Saul was rejected as king, but God had someone in mind to succeed him. So, I Samuel 13:2 to 31:13 represent 27 years. This includes Saul’s failure to utterly destroy the Amalekites, the secret anointing of David, a number of skirmishes with the Philistines, David’s victories, Saul’s persecution of David, the death of Samuel, David fleeing to Gath, and the final battle in which Saul and Jonathan were slain. Of these events, there are no specific dates to go by. There is little chronological information about Saul, except for this connection in his 11th year to the birth of David. While his star is dimming, another star begins shining.
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