1 Samuel 9 goes to the well

What I’m looking at now are verses 11-13 — Saul and the boy have found a bit of silver, they are in the town with the seer/holy man/prophet and their goal is to ask him about their journey, to have him “tell us our way.” (verse 8)

But suddenly they met girls who were going to draw water.

This is significant. Rachel and Jacob; Moses and his wife; Isaac (via a surrogate) — you find women at a well, you find love, you find hope, you find the future — you find something. Jesus found a way to gift all of us with “living water” when he encountered a woman at a well. What does Saul find?

Saul doesn’t even get that far; he doesn’t even mention the well. The girls tell them where to meet the seer, and to hurry. In fact, the language changes to that of hurry/at once/just now/before it is too late/immediately. The girls don’t seem interested in this handsome tall young man — and we were told explicitly that he is tall and handsome. The girls don’t need help drawing water. Importantly Saul doesn’t see them. There is an information exchange — the girls talk rather a lot — but Saul is task-focused. Perhaps he is focused to an extreme? Perhaps he doesn’t get nuance? Perhaps it is the girls — was there something off-putting about young Saul? Perhaps the “some girls” were too young/too old/already married?

Whatever the circumstances, this is a (I think) “broken” meeting-at-a-well story. And it raises an eyebrow with me. It makes wonder what the original hearers of this story would have thought. Would they admire this focus? Would they see inevitable fate hurrying Saul to his sad future? Would they have groaned at the loss of romance? Was this — is this — a welcome subversion of a trope or an ominous forewarning that Saul isn’t the right leader for the people of Israel?

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