Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:1
Nahash was king of the children of Ammon, as appears from Sa1 12:12. He seems to have been connected with the family of David, since Abigail, David's sister, was "the daughter (perhaps granddaughter) of Nahash" Sa2 17:25; Ch1 2:16-17; and, perhaps, in consequence of this connection, he and his family were very friendly to David Sa2 17:27.
Jabesh-Gilead must have been re-populated after its destruction (see marginal reference). The Ammonites and Moabites resented the possession of Gilead by the Israelites Jdg 10:6-18; 11.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:3
The elders - Observe the universal form of civil government among the Israelites, by elders (Jdg 8:14, Jdg 8:16, etc.).
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:4
They came to Gibeah on account of the connection between the Benjamites and the people of Jabesh Judg. 21.
In the ears of the people - They did not even inquire for Saul, so little was he looked upon as king. Sa1 11:5 shows how completely he was still in a private and humble station.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:6
This time the Spirit of God came upon him, as upon the Judges before him, as a Spirit of supernatural energy and power.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:7
Though not expressly stated, it is doubtless implied that he sent the portions by the messengers to the twelve tribes, after the analogy, and probably in imitation, of Jdg 19:29. He made use of the revered name of Samuel to strengthen his own weak authority. Samuel accompanied Saul in the expedition Sa1 11:12.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:8
He numbered them - This was done to see who was absent (compare Jdg 21:9).
Bezek has been conjectured to be the name of a district rather than of a town. Two villages retained the name in the time of Eusebius 17 miles from Nablous, on the way to Beth-shean.
The children of Israel and the men of Judah - This looks like the language of later times, times perhaps subsequent to the establishment of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Israel here (including Benjamin) is as ten to one compared with Judah. This is about the true proportion.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:9
The distance from Bezek to Jabesh-Gilead would perhaps be about twenty miles.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:10
Tomorrow - Probably the last of the "seven days' respite" Sa1 11:3. Their words were spoken in guile, to throw the Ammonites off their guard.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:11
The march from Bezek may have begun the night before. This disposition of the forces "in three companies" (imitating Gideon's strategy, compare the marginal reference.) would not have been made until the morning when they were very near the Ammonitish forces. "The morning watch" was the last of the three watches, of four hours each, into which the night was anciently divided by the Hebrews. (See Jdg 7:19 note.) The time thus indicated would be between two and six in the morning.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:13
There shall not a man ... - An instance of great moderation, as well as good policy, on the part of Saul. Compare David's conduct (marginal reference).
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:14
Let us go to Gilgal - i. e., to Gilgal by Jericho, where was a famous sanctuary, in the tribe of Benjamin.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 11:15
Made Saul king - The Septuagint has another reading, "and Samuel anointed Saul king there." The example of David, who, besides his original anointing by Samuel Sa1 16:12-13, was twice anointed, first as king of Judah Sa2 2:4, and again as king over all Israel Sa2 5:3, makes it probable that Saul was anointed a second time; but this may be included in the word "made king" (see Sa1 12:3, Sa1 12:5).