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experienced under the immediate direction of the LORD; and assured them that, if they wished for happiness, they must still place their whole dependance on their heavenly king, and then their new king might prove a blessing to them; but to shew that the Lord was really displeased with them, a miraculous sign was given : this brought the people to a sense of their sin, and they were glad to implore Samuel to intercede for their pardon, who assured them of his willingness to instruct them in their duty, and of his earnest prayers for their welfare ; and comforted them under their present fears, in the name of the LORD, with promises, that if they would abstain from idolatry, and kept stedfast in the way of God's commandments, the Lord would still continue to bless both them and their king ; but he warned them at the same time, that if they did wickedly, they would be consumed.
Samuel's instructions to Saul and the Israelites are suitable to all kings, and all people. An observance of ' the rules he prescribes, will infallibly bring prosperity and happiness on any nation. The violation of them will as certainly provoke the LORD to send down His judgments. A proper consideration of the numberless national and private blessings which are bestowed by the bountiful hand of Providence, will furnish the best motive for obedience. Let us then, as Samuel advised the Israelites, “ consider how great things the LORD has done for us, that we may fear Him, and serve Him in truth, with all our heart; and never turn aside after vain things that cannot profit por deliver.”
SAUL OFFERETH A SACRIFICE-SAMUEL REPROVETH
From 1 Samuel, Chap. xiii.
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Beth-el, and a thousand
with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin : 'and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba ; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel was had in abo. mination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen and people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude : and they came up,
and pitched in Michmash eastward from Beth aven.
When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were distressed) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. “As for Saul he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal: and the people were scattered from him.
And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt-offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt-offering
And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt-offering, behold, Samuel came: and Saul went out to meet 'him, that he might salute him. :
And Samuel said. What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together to Michmash; Therefore, said I, the Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt-offering.
And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly : thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God which he commanded thee ; for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for
But now thy kingdom shall not continue : the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
And Samuel arose and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men,
And Saul and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin : but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.
And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Phi. listines in three companies : one company turned unto the
way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual : and another company turned the way to Beth-horon :
and another company turned to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel : for the Philistines had said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears.
But all the Laraelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his ax, and his mattock.
Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.
So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any
of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan : but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.
And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Saul's conduct in respect to disbanding his army was both impolitic and impious, for he had received no commandment of the Lord to do so : Jonathan his son was a person of great bravery, but in smiting a garrison of the Philistines he was guilty of a very rash action; it is supposed he did it at his father's command, and that it was a breach of some treaty between Israel and the Philistines ; which so enraged the latter, that they thirsted for revenge. When the enemy
had a vast army ready, Saul began to collect forces to oppose them ; but we find his troops had no heart to the combat, and expressed the utmost consternation and despair. As Samuel was absent, they knew not how to have re. course to the LORD; and without an assurance of the Divine assistance, their spirits sunk within them. It appears to have been a rule established by Divine
authority, that the king should wait seven days without engaging in any important nndertaking, till the prophet of the Lord should arrive: Samuel had publicly declared, that the condition of Saul's establishment on the throne, was, his fearing God, and obeying his commands ; and that if he rebelled against the LORD, he should be consumed. Saul, regardless of this, in the first insta ice he had of shewing his obedience, determined to act for himsef, as if the LORD was subject to his will, and he had a right to expect an answer from Him, by any means he him:elf chose ; he therefore, though he was neither priest nor prophet, presumed to offer sacrifices*, contrary to the law of Moses. By this precipitate step, Saul highly provoked God, and forfeited his right to the crown. When Samuel reproved him, Saul began to justify himself by false and mean excuses, which proved that t he knew he had behaved wrong ; and his whole conduct shews, that he intended to act in an arbitrary manner, independent of God and his prophet, therefore he was threatened to be rejected by the LORD. Though Saul's crime may appear at first a very trifling matter, we may be certain, from the heavy displeasure of God, that it proceeded from the worst motives. He acted as an independent Sovereign, not as Captain of the Lord's inheritance.
The Philistines, in their former conquests, having captured all the smiths, and prevented their return, the Israelites were ill-furnished to contend with such mighty armies, having no weapons besides their utensils for husbandry, excepting bows and arrows, slings and stones, with which some of them were very expert.
It is supposed that there is an error in the transla.
* Numb. xviii, 7. * Chandler's Life of King David. # Essay for a new Translation,