1 There was a wealthy and influential man from the tribe of Benjamin, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Bekorath, son of Aphiah, a descendant of Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son called Saul, the most handsome young man in all of Israel. He was head and shoulders taller than anyone else.
3 One time the donkeys of Saul's father Kish went astray. Kish told to his son Saul, “Please go and look for the donkeys. You can take one of the servants with you.” 4 Saul searched the hill country of Ephraim and then the land of Shalishah, but didn't find the donkeys. He and the servant searched the region of Shaalim, but they weren't there. Then they searched the land of Benjamin, and they still couldn't find them.
5 When they got to the land of Zuph, Saul told his servant, “Come on, let's go back, otherwise my father won't be worrying about the donkeys, but about us.”
6 But the servant replied, “Hold on! There's a man of God here in this town. He's very well thought of, and everything he says comes true. Let's go and see him. Maybe he can tell us which way we should take.”
7 “But if we do go, what can we give him?” Saul replied. “All the bread in our bags is gone. We don't have anything to take to the man of God. What do we have with us?”
8 “Look, I've got a quarter shekel of silver with me. I'll give it to the man of God so he can tell us the way we should take,” the servant told Saul.
9 (In the old days in Israel, someone who went to inquire of God would say, “Come on, let's go to the seer,” because prophets used to be known as seers.)
10 “That's good,” Saul told his servant. “So let's go.” They went to the town where the man of God was.
11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water and asked them, “Is the seer here?”
12 “He is,” they replied, “up ahead of you. But you'll have to hurry. He's come to town today because the people are having a sacrifice at the high place. 13 When you enter the town you can find him before he goes up to eat at the high place. The people won't eat before he comes, because he has to bless the sacrifice. After that, those who've been invited will eat. If you leave now you'll catch him.”
14 So they carried on their way up to the town. As they arrived there was Samuel going in the opposite direction. They met him on his way up to the high place.
15 The day before Saul arrived, the Lord had told Samuel, 16 “Around this time tomorrow I'm going to send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him as ruler over my people Israel, and he will rescue them from the Philistines. I have seen what's happening to my people and I have heard their cry for help.”
17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I told you about. He is the one who is going to rule my people.”
18 Saul went up to Samuel in the gateway and asked him, “Could you please tell me where the house of the seer is?”
19 “I am the seer,” Samuel told Saul. “Go up ahead of me and we will eat together. Then in the morning I will answer all your questions and then send you on your way. 20 About the donkeys you lost three days ago—don't worry about them because they've been found. But now—doesn't the hope of all of Israel rest on you and your family line?”
21 “But I'm from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least significant of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin!” Saul replied. “Why are you telling me this?”
22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall, and sat them at the head of the thirty people who'd been invited. 23 Samuel told the cook, “Bring the special piece of meat I gave you and told you to keep to one side.”
24 So the cook took the upper thigh* Saul was given the meat that only priests were meant to eat. See Leviticus 10:14-15. of meat and what was with it and placed it before Saul. Then Samuel said, “See, this is what was kept to one side. It was reserved for you. Eat it, for it was kept for you for this particular time, right from when I said, ‘I have invited the people.’ ” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
25 Once they had returned from the high place to the town, Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof of his house.† In the absence of other rooms, the flat roof of the house was used as temporary accommodation. 26 At dawn the next day Samuel called out to Saul on the roof, “Get up! I need to send you on your way!” So Saul got up, and he went outside with Samuel. 27 As they approached the edge of town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell your servant to go on ahead of us. Once he's gone stay here for a while, because I have a message from God to give you.” So the servant went on ahead.
†9:25 In the absence of other rooms, the flat roof of the house was used as temporary accommodation.