COULD YOU EXPLAIN, “FROM HIS SHOULDERS AND UPWARD HE WAS HIGHER…?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
The Bible says in 1 Samuel 9:2, “And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” What does it mean that Saul “from his shoulders and upward… was higher than any of the people?” Did he have some physical disfigurement? Let us search the Scriptures!
Some years ago, I read a complaint written by a King James Bible critic (another one such boastful “scholar,” of course). He argued that there were a number of problems with the Authorized Version. One verse he griped about was this description of (future Israeli king) Saul. He contended that the King James translators made it appear that Saul was deformed in some way about his head and shoulders. While the fellow never did explain what he meant, I suppose he was trying to say that the Authorized Version portrayed Saul as having a “giraffe neck?” Based on his words, he was not interested in the truth. He just wanted to argue. However, we ask in faith. What about this nebulous phrase—“from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people?”
If we keep on reading in the Bible text, we come across chapter 10, verse 23: “And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.” There is more detail here, please notice. Rather than just stopping at chapter 9, verse 2, we appeal to the Bible to supply us with extra information. In reference to Saul standing, “he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.” Saul’s physical appearance was accentuated when he stood. Could it be any clearer, friends? Is it so difficult to see? Israel’s King Saul was a very tall man!
Using just a little common sense, friends, it is not hard to figure out the meaning of, “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” We have no reason to believe that Saul had a giant head, a long neck, or any other physical disproportionality. First Samuel 10:23 reveals the answer. What made him unique was that he was a very tall man. Taller people literally stand above the crowd (I know from personal experience—“Hi, from high above!”). When a tall person stands in a crowd of average-sized people, seen from a distance, that individual’s head and shoulders seem to “float above” all the other heads. That is the Bible’s language concerning King Saul. He was so tall that his head and shoulders could be seen towering above the crowd of Jews of average height!