As we have seen, Caul received conclusive evidence of Samuel’s prophetic calling. Samuel told Saul that the asses had been found and when. He proved that he knew of Saul’s coming. He told all that was in Saul’s heart. He predicted what would befall Saul on his way home and in his place of residence. As the source of all this knowledge could be none other than the Lord, the possession of it by Samuel was of greatest significance for Saul. It proved to him Samuel’s prophetic calling. It told him that in Samuel, in his commands and instructions, he had to do with none other than Jehovah, Israel’s invisible King. Saul, as was stated, had to know this in order that in his rebellions and self-will as king lie might be without excuse.
As was also explained, Samuel’s three predictions, as fulfilled, were so many signs, the unmistakable speech of which was that Saul had been called of Samuel and therefore of God Himself to the office of theocratic king, and that for the duties of this office he had also been qualified by the Spirit of the Lord that had come upon him. Therefore Samuel could say to Saul, “And it will come to pass, when these signs are come unto thee, do for thee what thy hand will find, for the Lord is with thee.” The reference is to the impossible task of delivering God’s people from the oppressions of their enemies. This task was now Saul’s he being king. He must not shrink from the performance of it, for the Lord was with him for the sake of the true Israel but not for the sake of Saul as such.
Saul now received the command that occasioned his first rebellion, “And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and behold I will come down to thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.” The question is whether, in addressing this word to Saul, the prophet was commanding him or simply telling him what he would do. Whether we deal here with commands or predictions can be known not from the forms of the Hebrew verbs—the verbs are not imperatives or jussives but perfects—but solely from the obvious meaning of the text and from the context. The same is true of the shall sentences of the preceding verses. In saying to Saul, “When thou art departed from me this day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulcher. . . . Then thou shalt go forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet three men. . . . And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands. And thou shalt come to the hill of God. . . . and thou shalt meet a company of prophets. . . . and thou shalt prophecy with them.” In directing this word to Saul, the prophet was obviously not commanding but predicting what were to be Saul’s doings and experiences on his way home and in his place of residence. Especially the statement “And thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulcher,” and the statement, “And thou shalt prophecy,” are obviously not commands but pure predictions. That in the translation the auxiliary shall appears instead of will is to be explained by the fact that the Hebrew verbs, setting forth, as they do, infallible prophecies, are, without exception, in the perfect tense. (In English, will is used with the first Person, and shall with the second Person in expressing strong emphasis or determination on the part of the speaker). As predictions, these shall clauses have no little significance. In their fulfillment they formed that much more evidence to Saul of Samuel’s, prophetic calling. Besides, as fulfilled prophecies, they would demonstrate to the unbelieving Saul that in all his doings and experiences he came forth from the womb of a sovereign providence.
Saul was told that on his way home he would come to the hill of God., It is not revealed why he went up thither. The explanation may be simply that the route homeward led over this hill. But others suggest that he went up thither to pray and to sacrifice in the holy place “after his great experiences of divine favor and goodness”. But Saul was reprobated, and therefore experienced no divine favor. This hill of, God, where he, as joined to the procession of prophets, had prophesied, must have been near the place where he dwelt, for the thing next related is the uncle’s asking what Samuel had said to him. As the relative must have known that the lost property had been recovered, his question would seem to indicate that for some reason he wanted to know Samuel’s exact words. Saul’s disposing of his relative with the short answer, “He said that they were found,” must be referred to the fact that Samuel had plainly indicated that, for the time being, he wanted the matter of the kingdom kept a secret. The reason of this secrecy has already been noticed. Saul’s natural modesty and his apprehension of his uncle’s incredulity and envy may also have had something to do with his reticence. The writer states that “all those signs came to pass that day”, and then hastens on to narrate the fulfillment of the third sign only as the most important.
Coming back to verse eight, the context seems to indicate that the first part, “And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal,” is not a command but rather a pure prediction. But the second part, “And, behold, I will come down unto thee to offer burnt offerings. . .” has for Saul the force of a command. For it declares what Samuel will do and what Saul must refrain from doing, to wit, offer burnt offerings and sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings. The third part, “seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do,” is obviously a command, as also the context plainly indicates.