Kish was Saul’s father. Kish, whose name means “bow” or “power,” was patriarch of the dynasty that could have been. Described simply as
“a man of standing” (1 Samuel 9:1),
Kish apparently belonged to a well-respected family. That regard, however, came to an end with Kish’s son, Saul.
Saul’s unlikely path to the throne began, oddly enough, when his father misplaced a pack of donkeys. Kish instructed Saul to accompany one of the family servants and scour the countryside until they recovered the animals. After three days of searching, Saul was ready to give up— convinced that Kish would start worrying about him more than the donkeys—but his servant urged him to consult a local prophet before abandoning the search altogether.
The prophet Samuel confirmed that Kish had grown worried for his son and was wondering what to do about him. Samuel had more pressing business, however. Directed by God, he anointed the son of Kish to be Israel’s first king. Saul was disbelieving, so Samuel gave him numerous signs to watch for on his way home, in order to confirm that this was indeed God’s plan for him. Among those signs was that Saul would encounter a procession of prophets and would join them in prophesying.
Things came to pass just as Samuel predicted—much to the bewilderment of those who knew Kish’s son. Watching Saul prophesy, they responded with skepticism, asking, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” It seems the people of Israel had difficulty accepting that Kish’s son could be a prophet. The “man of standing” had passed his legacy to a man whose kingly career would end in disgrace.
Kish belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. The Benjamites were renowned for their bravery—somewhat ironic, since Kish’s son tried to hide during his own coronation.