Page images
PDF
EPUB

tion, respecting the number of chariots which the Philistines are said to have had, and that instead of thirty thousand chariots, they had only thrce thousand.

From this part of sacred history we should learn, that it is our duty to obey all the ordinances of God, to honour his ministers, and never to invade the priestly offices.

SECTION LXXV.

SAUL'S INTERDICTION-JONATHAN'S DANGER.

From 1 Samuel, Chap. xiv. Whilst Saul and his little army remained in a state of suspense, fearful of attacking the Philistines, yet unwilling to flee from them, his son Jonathan, who had not only a considerable share of natural courage, but great faith in God, was impatient for action : but as he had not received orders from Saul, he could not march his forces to battle ; he therefore proposed to his armour-bearer to make an experiment, by which he should discover whether the Lord would be with thein or not : this was to shew themselves to the Philistines from the rock; and if they should say, come up to us, he should regard it as a sign that the Lord approved his zeal, and would exert His Divine power ; which could render one man equal to an host, as the Lord could save by many or by few. His armour-bearear agreed to the proposal, and they received the very sign they wished for ; upon which they climbed the rock, and, confident of the aid of the Lord, they immediately attacked the Philistines ; who, seized witła sudden fear, fell before them. There was at tlie same time an earthquake, and the Philistines, in the utmost confusion, destroyed each other, turning every man his sword against his fellow ; 80 that the care they had taken to prevent the Israelites having any swords proved ineffectual.

fellow; than

Saul being apprized by the watchman that there was a slaughter amongst the enemy, began numbering his troops ; when to his astonishment, none were missing but Jonathan and his armour-bearer, Saul had with him in the camp a priest named Ahiah, of the house of Eli, whom he had, as is supposed, sent for when Sa

muel left him, and Ahiah had brought the ark with him; the king therefore desired the prie it to enquire of God, for he found himself quite at a loss what course to take. Before the priest had done so, he heard the shouting in the camp of the enemy, and understood that the Lord fought for Israel ; upon this, the king gave immediate command for his troops to follow him, and hastened to the combat ; which he pursued with such fury, that there was a great slaughter of the enemy; many who had deserted him, returned to their duty, and tbose who had hid themselves came forth to join him, so the LORD saveil Israel that day.

Saul being apprehensive that the people, on finding plenty of provisions in the enemy's camp, would be tempted to stay and feast themselves, instead of pursuing the victory, gave a severe order, that none should touch any kind of food that day on pain of death, and bound himself with an oath to put it in execution. Jonathan and his armour-bearer were absent when this curse was denounced, and marching their army through a wood, in which there was such plenty of honey that it even dropped on the ground, Jonathan took up a little upon the end of his staff, which refreshed him exceedingly, after the great fatigue he had undergone. He was then informed of his father's oath, of which the people were so observant, that though extremely faint, not one ventured to indulge his appetite. Jona

than remarked how unreasonable his father's conduct was, since the troops might have extended their conquests, if their strength had been renewed by a little pourishment.

In the evening, when the restraint was taken off, the people were so eager for food, that they had not patience to stay till their meat was dressed ; but, contrary to their law, and like a set of savage barbarians, they began to devour their food whilst the blood ran, When Saul was informed of it, he commanded that they should, for the future, kill their cattle at a place appointed by him : the people immediately complied. On this occasion, Saul built an altar, that he might offer sacrifice, either by way of atonement for the people's sin, or in acknowledgment of the late victory. He then desired to renew the pursuit of the Philistines : but the priest proposed that they should first enquire of God: he accordingly did so, but received no answer. Saal, unwilling to suppose himself in any fault, immediately concluded that there was some in the camp who had incurred his curse by eating food; he therefore made a rash vow, that the offender should be put to death, even if it were Jonathan his son.

The people would make no discovery; on which he proceeded to cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonathan, who readily confessed, that being overcome with faintness, he had tasted a little honey, not knowing of his father's interdiction. Saul, instead of expressing that grief which a discovery like this would naturally occasion in the breast of an affectionate father, and without one expression of tenderness and regret, condemned him to instant death ; saying, God do so to me, and more also ; but thou shalt surely die, Jonathan. The people however rescued him, for they were resolved that this valiant prince, who had been so eminently distinguished

by

by the favour of the LORD, in that day's signal victory, should not be put to death for an offence which he had ignorantly committed ; not doubting but that the LORD would accept an atonement for his sin, if it weré one. As for Saul, he certainly had exposed himself to the curse of God, and it afterwards fell

upon

him.

SECTION LXXVI.

SAMUEL SENDETH SAUL TO DESTROY THE AMALE

KITES-HE SPARETH THE KING AND THE BEST OF

THE SPOILHE IS REJECTED BY GOD FOR HIS DIS

OBEDIENCE.

From 1 Samuel, Chap. xv.

Then Saul went up from following the Philistines : and the Philistines went to their own place.

So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines : and whithersoever he turned himself he vexed them.

And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul : and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.

Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel; now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the

LO. D.

Tlus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way when he came up from Egypt.

Now

Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not ; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

And Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.

And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get ye down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them : for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah, until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.

And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them : but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king; for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Sa-* muel : and he cried unto the Lord all night.

And when Samuel rose early to meet Suul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Car-, mel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said unto him,

Blessed

« PreviousContinue »