1 Samuel 11:6–7 – Fear can sometimes be a great motivator.
1 Samuel 11:8 – It’s always interesting to see Israel and Judah distinguished before the kingdoms split (11:8). The note in the The New Oxford Annotated Bible says, “The distinction between Israel and Judah either is an anachronism or reflects a differentiation that was always felt if not institutionalized until after Solomon’s reign.” I’ve never spent any real time in looking into the dating of the books of the Hebrew Bible. If Samuel was written after the kingdoms split then I can see anachronism as a viable option, but if it was written before then I’d ask why a differentiation of that sort was felt.
There’s a textual variant here concerning the numbers gathered. Interestingly, the NET Bible notes the discrepancy between the MT’s 300,000 vs. the LXX and two Old Latin MSS’s 600,000 for Israel’s number but that’s it. The NRSV has 70,000 for Judah’s number while the ESV and NET have 30,000. The NRSV notes the variant here between the MT and a Qumran MSS and has obviously opted for the latter. I find it interesting that the NET hasn’t noted this variant alongside the other one, but also that the NRSV found this as the more likely reading.
1 Samuel 11:14–15 – The NOAB makes a big deal about renewing Saul’s kingship here. They take the story to be an editorial addition that hearkens back to 1 Samuel 10 and paints Saul in a positive light. The original story, according to the annotator, is that here Saul is made king for the first time. The NJPS translates חדש as “inaugurate” rather than “renew” as the JPS and most other translations render it. I can’t really see the need for this to be an editorial addition. Bruce Waltke suggests that the text wants to “reaffirm the kingship,” which he understands to mean “restore and repair that which already exists between I AM and Israel and to adjust it to monarchy” (An Old Testament Theology, 636).
1 Samuel 12:12–15 – This passage leads me to believe that Waltke’s interpretation of above-mentioned passage is correct. Israel wanted a king even though God was their king. But even when God sets a king over them he says, “If you will fear the Lord and serve him and heed his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; but if you will not heed the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.” The king is an extension of God, but has to obey the LORD just like Israel does.