This is a follow-up question to: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/30959/would-saul-actually-have-killed-samuel-if-he-found-out-that-samuel-had-annointed

Again, from 1 Samuel 16:1-3 (NASB):

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”

My previous question was "would Saul actually have killed Samuel?" There's a fair amount of textual evidence that suggests that he would have, given his later violent and erratic behavior (combined with the fact that God gave Samuel a cover story rather than contradicting his prediction).

With that said, why did Samuel think that Saul would kill him? He was apparently correct to do so, but the violent and erratic behavior that the text records happened later. Still, the text doesn't directly mention any kind of threat against Samuel.

Verse 14 says "Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him." (NIV) This verse is after Samuel had anointed David, but it's written in past tense (meaning that this may have happened before Samuel went to see David). Is this possible? If so, would Samuel have known about it, given that he wasn't seeing him at the time? Would this explain why he thought that this was a possibility?

  • The narrative presents this situation as fact, without background. Whether or not Saul would have killed Samuel is not important to the narrative. What is important to say is that the recognized national prophet Samuel feared for his life and that God takes this into account. That in itself is the statement. Most of the questions in this post are unanswerable by hermeneutic methods.
    – user17080
    Dec 12, 2017 at 7:15
  • I like your follow-up question. And I think I have an answer for it.
    – user20490
    Dec 13, 2017 at 5:17
  • 1
    I hope I have answered your question. Not all of Saul's erratic behavior happened later. The killing of the Gibeonites happened earlier but was not recorded until 2-Sam 21. The Gibeonites were covered by oath and they served alongside Samuel in the tabernacle of meeting. By killing them, Saul was going against God and samuel. Samuel would have tried to stop him but to no avail. This would later cause Samuel to fear for his life when asked to anoint a new king.
    – user20490
    Dec 13, 2017 at 6:22

2 Answers 2


There are about three explanations for Samuel's ability to predict Saul's murderous tendencies.

1) The slaughter of the Gibeonites:

2-Samuel 21:1-3 (NKJV)

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites." So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah.

Notice that God refers to the house of Saul as bloodthirsty. The Gibeonites served as labourers in the tabernacle of meeting which was at Shiloh. Samuel grew up knowing them and their history in Israel. Yet he couldn't stop Saul from slaughtering them. Since the days of Joshua (Jos 9:16, 20), Israel had sworn protection to the Gibeonites. Samuel was obviously not in support of this unnecessary slaughter nevertheless, Saul went ahead to violate Israel's ancient oath irreverently. It is at a point like this that Samuel may have begun to fear Saul.

2) Saul ripped Samuel's clothing disrespectfully:

1 Samuel 15:27 (NKJV) And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore.

This action by Saul is important for reasons I will give below.

a) One of the most important events in Samuel's early life was that his mother used to sew him a new robe yearly. The writer includes this detail deliberately. 1-Sam 2:19

b) Samuel used to wear a linen ephod from his childhood. 1-Sam 2:18

c) When Samuel's ghost was called up by the witch of Endor, Saul was able to identify him by his mantle.

1 Samuel 28:14 (NKJV) So he said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle." And Saul perceived that it was Samuel

As a prophet, seer and priest, his garments were sacred but Saul ripped them off mistakenly but unapologetically. Samuel responded to this by saying.

"The Strength of Israel will not lie nor change his mind"

He counters the Saul's aggression and show of strength with a reminder about the strength of God.

3) Saul was very self absorbed as king:

a) He built a monument to himself after failing to obey the command concerning Amalek. 1-Sam 15:12

b) After being rejected by God all he cared about was that Samuel would honor him before the elders of Israel. 1-Sam 15:30

A person who thinks like this would never tolerate another anointed king. This much was clear.


Saul might try to. He showed himself one who'd sacrifice others for personal glory. He tried to sacrifice religiously, which is only allowed to be done by religious people such as priests and prophets, so he be worshipped. And he chose to preserve stock for personal gain and to hold the king for ransom to get money. And his aggressive assault on Samuel's robe was more proof he'd sacrifice one of his own people for personal gain. So yes. He'd try to.

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