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Why was Shmuel afraid that Shaul would kill him for anointing David (Samuel 1 16:2)? If Hashem told Shmuel through prophecy to do this, why would Shaul (who was a righteous man) kill Shmuel for it (even if it seemed like a rebellion against the king of Israel)?

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I think that Shmuel really was afraid that Shaul would kill him (Shmuel I 16:2):

יֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל אֵיךְ אֵלֵךְ וְשָׁמַע שָׁאוּל וַהֲרָגָנִי ס וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה עֶגְלַת בָּקָר תִּקַּח בְּיָדֶךָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִזְבֹּחַ לַיהֹוָה בָּאתִי

And Samuel said, "How shall I go? For, if Saul hears, he will kill me." And the Lord said, "You shall take a heifer with you, and you shall say, 'I have come to slaughter (a sacrifice) to the Lord.'

As to your question "why would Shaul (who was a righteous man) kill Shmuel for it;" I don't think that's so much of a problem because even though Shaul was described earlier in sefer Shmuel as a good person (see Metzudas David to 9:2), that couldn't be relied on anymore because he was struggling with insanity and no longer in control, and became very paranoid in his later years, starting at around this time (Shmuel I 16:14):

וְרוּחַ יְהֹוָה סָרָה מֵעִם שָׁאוּל וּבִעֲתַתּוּ רוּחַ רָעָה מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה

And the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord frightened him.

  • Two questions: 1- The evil spirit may have come after, as the order of the verses imply. 2- Was Shaul that insane that he would not believe in Shmuel anymore? I have the more romantic notion of the great people of the Bible and I expect a deeper answer. However, you may be correct. – Emet v'Shalom Jan 22 '15 at 2:00
  • @Emetv'Shalom 1- maybe. 2- I'm not saying anything more than the pesukim are. We find Shmuel does some really strange stuff later; that might not have been all his fault. – MTL Jan 22 '15 at 3:01
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    @Emetv'Shalom Consider what Shaul did to the city of Nov. Once he started turning paranoid, he kept getting worse. – sabbahillel Jan 22 '15 at 11:01
  • @sabbahillel: My diyuk is that Shmuel is not in doubt; he is sure that Shaul will kill him. How can he be so sure? I don't believe Shaul was that crazy. Also, Nov had a reason behind it. Shaul thought they were supporting a rebellion to his kingship. Shmuel on the other hand merely had to tell him the truth about Hashem's prophecy concerning David. It's very strange. – Emet v'Shalom Jan 22 '15 at 14:39
  • @Emetv'Shalom Shmuel had already informed Shaul that he was going to lose the kingdom after Amalek and Agag. As long as a new king had not been chosen, the prophesy could have been canceled (prophesy for ra). Once a new king had been anointed (now good for someone) it could no longer be withdrawn. – sabbahillel Jan 22 '15 at 21:28

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