Bible Reference: First Samuel 10.
Immediately after God told Samuel that he would give the Israelites a king, the Bible turned to a story about Saul, a Benjamite. Saul was described as an impressive young man, a head taller than others, and without equal among the Israelites. While Saul and his servant are looking for lost donkeys, they come to a town where Samuel was to make a sacrifice. When Samuel saw Saul, God revealed Saul was to be the leader (not king) over Israel to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. Samuel invited Saul for a meal at his home; they stayed together all night talking. In the morning, Samuel anointed Saul and told him that “the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance” (I Samuel 10:1).
To confirm that Saul was to be Israel’s leader, Samuel gave Saul a detailed prophecy of who he would meet that day and where the meetings would occur. One part of the prophecy was that Saul would meet three men near the great tree of Tabor. One man carrying three loaves of bread would offer Saul two loaves of bread. Each meeting occurred exactly as Samuel had prophesied. When Saul returned home, he told no one that Samuel anointed him as leader of Israel.
Later the Samuel gathered the Israelites together to determine who would be king over Israel The choice fell to Saul. When the men looked for Saul, he could not be found. They inquired of God whether or not Saul came to the gathering. The Lord responded that Saul was hiding himself among the baggage. When they brought Saul forward and the Israelites saw him, the people shouted, “long live the king” (1 Samuel 10:24). After Saul was declared king, Samuel explained to the people the regulations for the kingship. He wrote these regulations on a scroll and deposited them before the Lord. Possibly the regulations were put in or kept in front of the Ark of the Testimony.
The Tabor Oak
The tree at Tabor was the Quercus ithaburensis, an oak tree commonly called the Tabor oak. The Tabor oak is indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region. Tabor oaks grow in northern Israel at Mount Hermon and Golan and in central Israel valleys and hills. Although Tabor oaks can tolerate strong winds, maritime exposure stunts their growth. Usually, the Tabor oak is about 33 feet tall with a canopy circumference of 20 feet; however, it can grow as tall as 82 feet with a 65 feet crown circumference. The Tabor oak is deciduous, however, leaves bud or drop at different times of the year based on weather patterns. In Israel, the oldest Tabor oak is over 500 years old. It is located near the tomb of Rabbi Abba Halfeta in lower Galilee.
Symbolism: God’s Providence
The Hebrew name for oaks is derived from the word “providence.” God’s providence means that everything in the universe, on earth, and every action of people work according to God’s will. God’s will was for Saul to be king despite Samuel’s reluctance for Israel to have a king and Saul’s doubts about assuming the kingship.
Soon after Saul was anointed leader over Israel he met an Israelite under a Tabor oak who gave him bread. The man gave Saul two out of three loaves. Perhaps the man giving the majority of his bread to Saul was an omen of the amount of tribute kings would take from Israel citizens.
When God gives a person a task or a role, he gives them the ability to carry it out. Part of Samuel’s initial prophecy to Saul was that God’s spirit would come upon Saul and Saul would be changed into a different person (1 Samuel 10:6). Soon after he left the Tabor oak, the Spirit of God descended on Saul; unfortunately, because of Saul’s later disobedience, God’s Spirit left him.
Reflection. Are you accepting God’s providence in all areas of your life? Do you compartmentalize your life and give some areas over to God’s providence, but keep other areas for yourself? I did and do. At one time in my life, I thought it was okay if I went to church on Sunday and did whatever I wanted to do during the week. After all by going to church on Sunday, I identified myself as a believer. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I know now that it is important to give all aspects of my life to God 24/7.
Copyright August 9, 2013, Carolyn A. Roth; Updated 3/24/21