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fear, for she saw what she called "gods ascending out of the earth," and among them Samuel ; and in some way of which we are not told, it was also made known to her that the stranger was Saul himself.
Whether these appearances were Satan's work, (as we read that he can appear like an angel of light,) or whether God permitted Samuel indeed to appear, and confound Satan's work-even as He turned Balaam's curses into blessings, we cannot tell, and it beseems us not to inquire too curiously.
Saul asked the woman what form Samuel was of, and she said, “An old man cometh up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And when Saul knew that it was Samuel, he bowed to the ground in awe. There is something very solemn in the conversation that followed, remembering how Saul had revered Samuel, and how the prophet had loved his rebellious son, and mourned over him, if haply he might yet return to God's ways; and then their last sad parting, never to meet again on earth. Now all that was past, and the prophet rested in Abraham's bosom, where earth and its jars cannot reach. Therefore he met Saul with the inquiry, “Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up ?"
Then Saul poured out his sorrows fully. "I am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams; therefore have I called thee, that thou mayest make known to me what I shall do."
There was no comfort to be found in the prophet's answer. Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? And the LORD hath done as He spake by me; for the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David; because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD. .. or executedst His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.”
Then Samuel told the unhappy king that the LORD would deliver him into the Philistines' hand, and that the next day he and his sods should have passed into the world of spirits, where Samuel himself was, and be no more among the living. When he heard this solemn foretelling, and knew his end so near, Saul's courage and spirit failed wholly, and he fell helpless to the ground, in bitter fear and agony.
His misery caused even this woman to pity him, and she and his servants forced him to sit upon the bed, and to eat some food which the woman prepared hastily, for he had not tasted food all that night or day. Then they rose up, and took Saul away: broken in spirit, forsaken of God, how could he but tremble before his enemies !
THE DEATH OF SAUL AND JONATHAN.
The last day of the monarch's life had come. What a change from the day when the holy oil was poured upon his head, and he was anointed king over Israel, with hope and promise of the Lord's favour before bim, all thrown away by his own pride and wilfulness.
The Philistines began the battle, and the LORD not fighting with Israel, they were overcome; they fled before the enemy, and very many
fell down slain in Mount Gilboa. Saul's three sons,—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Melchishua,—were all killed, and Saul himself was sorely wounded by the archers. When the king saw that he could not escape, he bade his armour-bearer draw his sword, and thrust him through, that he might not fall alive into the enemy's hand. But the armour-bearer durst not slay him even at his own command, so Saul took a sword himself, and fell upon it, and thus died by his own hand. When the armour-bearer saw that his master was dead, he too killed himself, and died with him. When the Israelites saw that their king and all his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled ; and the Philistines took the cities. And when they came to strip the slain on Mount Gilboa, they cut off Saul's head, and sent it in triumph about the land. They fastened his body, and those of his sons, to the wall of Beth-shan, and his armour they hung up in the temple of their false god Ashtaroth. But all the valiant men of Jabesh-gilead came by night, and took away the bodies, and buried them with honour under a tree at Jabesh.
Meanwhile David had returned to Ziklag, after he had beaten the Amalekites, and recovered his household. On the third day after Saul's death there came a man to Ziklag, with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head. He came to David, and fell to the earth, and did obeisance to him. David asked whence he came, and how the armies had fared ? The man told him, “The people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.” David could not believe what he heard, and asked to be told more. Then the young man who brought the tidings, thinking to win favour with David, told him a false tale, how that he had seen Saul on Mount Gilboa, leaning on his spear, sore pressed by the chariots and horsemen which followed after him, and that Saul had called to him to come and slay him. He ended by saying that he had killed Saul, and taken his crown and his bracelet, and brought them now as tokens to David.
David's heart was filled with grief at what he heard; he caused the man who said he slew Saul to be put to death, saying, “ Thy blood be upon thy head, for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's Anointed.” So the deceitful Amalekite was punished for his lie, by which he thought to gain reward.
David rent his clothes, and he and all his men mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and Jonathan, and all the people that were fallen. David poured out his sorrow in a song of lamentation.