Page images

istines ; he brought no man to Gath to tell how the matter was ; and the Philistines were not likely to know any other way, being

at a great distance, and busy in preparation for war with Israel. 12 And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people

Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever; he can now have no thoughts of returning to Israel, but will continue with me, and do me service as long as he lives. It was happy for David that he was settled at Ziklag, it being a piroper place for the reception of those who came to him ; as we find great numbers did, see 1 Chron. xii, 1–22.


REFLECTIONS. 1. E see there may be remainders of unbelief in a pious

mind. David did wrong in going to an idolatrous country, where he had before complained of being driven. He had been commanded to stay in Judah, and was assured of the kingdom ; and though he could not trust Saul, he might have trusted God. Unbelief is a sin which easily besets good men. They advise with themselves and their friends, but not with their God, and do not look up to him for direction. Let us mourn over the remainder of unbelief in our own hearts, and pray that God would increase our faith.

2. Another fault of David, which should be matter of lamentation and warning, is, that he deceived Achish. Though it was not a direct lie, it had the same consequences and guilt, being intended to deceive him. How mean and dishonourable is such a conduct in any, especially in men of distinguished rank and eminence! Let it be our care to avoid this, as every degree of deceit, though it should do others no harm, yet it warps the mind from truth, makes men think lightly of it, and prepares the way for lying. May we guard against every species of deceit, for it will

, if encouraged, increase to more ungodliness; it will lead not only to injustice to men, but to hypocrisy toward God. Therefore, as we are brethren, let us not lie one to another, but see to it that our conversation be in simplicity and godly sincerity. He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely. We should remember that our words are all heard in heaven ; and that by our words we shall be condemned or justified. We may deceive men, but cannot deceive God ; and he has entered it in the decrees of heaven, that no liar shall inherie eternal life.

CHAP. XXVIII. We have in this chapter Saul's terror on account of the attack which

the Philistines made ; the application he made to a witch that he might see Samuel ; the conversation he had with Samuel, and the effect it had upon him. ) ND it came to pass in those days, while David was


together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Acbish, who

depended on David and his men to help him, said unto David, Know thou işsuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men. And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do.* And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever ; thou art he in whom I put most confidence for the protection of my

life. 3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel bad lamented him, and

buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. This is added, to show that Saul was now sensible of his l088. And Saul, at the beginning of his reign, when Samuel had some influence over him,

had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, 4 out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves toļ' gether, and came and pitched in Shunem ; and Saul gathered

5 all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul, í from a neighbouring hill, saw the host of the Philistines, he was į, afraid, and his heart greatly trembled, through the terrors of a 6 guilty conscience, and his own impending doom. And when Saul

inquired of the Lord, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.t

Then said Saul unto his servants; Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, (there is] a woman that

hath a familiar spirit at Endor, a place near where the army was 8 encamped. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other rai

ment, that he might not be known, otherwise the woman would not have fıractised her arts before him ; and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night : and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me [him] up from the grave whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land : wherefore then layest thou á snare

for my life, to cause me to die? Providence ordered it so that 10 Saul should be told this to his face, to convince him of his sin. And

Saul assured her of safety, and sware to her by the Lord, saying,

[As) the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to theç !1 for this thing.ll Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up

* This yas an ambignous answer. David no doubt wished to put him off, and to consult God first, in so nice an affair. But Achish understood him to intimate that he would do his best to serve himn.

+ It is said, 1 Chron. X. 14. he inquired not of the Lord. He did not do it for a long time, but neglected him; and at last did not do it with a sincere, upright heart; wherefore God ese teemed it as not donc.

Saul here acts like a distracted man, driven to despair ; for he knew this practice was contrary to the law of God, and so did all the people, but notwithstanding this, there were fone who privately used necromancy, or consulting the dead, which was a practice common 100g the Gentiles.

This story is attended with many difficulties. Commentators have often strangely confounded it and themselves. There are three opinions concerning it. One is, that was all a jugxie ; another, that an evil spirit personated Samuel; a third, which seems most likely, that it was really Samuel. The first, that it was a juggle, is absurd in itself, as Saul was dot vikely to be the dupe of the woman. He and his companions were brave men, and not to be easily imposed upon; they were not frightened, though she wa; their whole answer was

*12 unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. And when*

the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice, shrieked out in surfirise and terror, having never seen such a sight before :

and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou decéited 13 me? for thou (art] Saul.t And the king said unto her, Be not

afraid : for what sawest thou ? And the woman said unto Saul, 14 I saw godst ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her,

What form [is] he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he [is] covered with a mantle, such as prophets wear. And Saul perceived that it (was) Samuel himself and he stooped with (his] face to the ground, and bowed hiinself with great

reverence before him. 115 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to

bring me up ?* And Saul answered, 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 I have called thee, that thou mayest make 16 known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Where

fore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? Nothing can be more

senseless than to imagine that I can do any thing for thee, when 17 God, whose servant I am, hath forsaken thee. And the LORD . hath done to him, as he spake by me : for the Lord hath rent

the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, 18 [even) to David. Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the

LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day. It is ree markable he does not mention his killing the priests, because the

decree of cutting off the kingdom from him was denounced before 19 that was done. Moreover, the Lokd will also deliver Israel with eruite rational. They came suddenly and unexpectedly, so that there was no time for áreffice. Had it been a juggle, the woman would not have been frightened. When she knew Saul, she would have flattered him, and have given him some favourable answer ; she would not have foretold his death, lest she should sutter for it, and it should be inputed to her enchantments. The reasons why it was not an evil spirit, and that it was really Samuel will be given as we proceed.

It must be observed carefully, that the word when is not in the originál; the instant Saul pronounced Samuel's naine, she saw him in her cell.

† Seeing the venerable prophet himself, she immediately concluded, that he would not apo pear in this extraordinary manner to any but the king of Israel, and therefore it must be Saut. 'This plainly proves that her whole art was designed to deceive; and that it was not an evil spirit. If it had becn one, and brought up by her art, she would not have been so frightened.

| The word often signifies a god, and is applied either to the true God, to a magistrate, or personages of great honour,

Here a most important word is omitted in the translation, which is in the original. He perceived that it was Samuel himself, the very same person he had so often seen and conversed with.

• This passage is urged as a proof that it was an evil spirit. Bat the plain meaning it, that he was grieved to be called on such an errand, to be a witness and reprover of Saul's

impicty and madness. He says, Why hast thou disquieted me : provoked my spirit ? It was not the witch thar hath done it, but thou.

+ To him. Dr. Kennicott proves from three Hebrew MSS. and the Greek and yulgate vere sions, that it should be rendered, to tkec.

[ocr errors]

thee into the hand of the Philistines : and tomorrow* (shah] thou and thy sons (be) with me in the state of the dead it the

LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the 29. Philistines. Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth,

and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel : and there was no strength in him ; for he had eaten no bread all the day,

nor all the night. 21 And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore

troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obey

ed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have heark. 22 ened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me. Now there

fore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine hand. maid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee ; and eat, that

thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way, other23 wise thou wilt not be able to reach the camp. But he refused,

and said, I will not eat; he chose rather to die there, than by the Philistines. But his servants, together with the woman, by earnest importunity, compelled him ; and he hearkened unto

their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed. 24 And the woman had a fat calf in the house ; and she hasted,

and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded [it,) and did bake un. 25 leavened bread thereof : And she brought [it] before Saul, and

before his servants, and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.


1. HIS remarkable story throws some light upon what has

been matter of much debate in the world, concerning 'witches and apparitions. As to the former, it seems to intimate that witches were nothing but mere cheats, or else this poor witch would never have been so much frightened. I never saw any satisfactory evidence that persons ever had, or can possibly have, evil spirits under their command, and by which they were capable of doing mischief. Many such stories, which have been best attested, have been found nothing but frauds; and all the rest may reason

The word often signifies soon, see Deut. vi. 20. but it might be literally on the morrow. for any thing that appears in the story to the contrary, if this was past midnight, which is probably was.

† This is a convincing proof that it was really Samuel, for no juggler could have foretoke events so precisely, no evil spirit could do it; we have no reason to believe that God vould reveal these things to them. Beside, an evil spirit would not have reproved Saul, as this appar rition did, nor blame him for inquiring in this way; but would rather have encouraged and countenanced it:

Satan is not divided against himself. If it be asked, Why God answered him thus, when he refused to do it in anocher way? It may be answered, that there was no prophet with Saul. The Urim was with David; and he could not expect dreams or visions. God might wisely suffer Samuel to appear, to make the greater impression on Saul, who had paid so little regard to him whilst living; and to reprove him for his former crimes, especially this last. And how could God have taken a more effectual method to discountenance such a practice? Had shere been no answer, or had Saul only

been frightened by this wicked woman, their faith in this wretched creature might have been confirmed. But when he caused Samuel to appear in his own person, and declare, what none but infinite wisdom could reveal. it was a remarkable way of showing his detestation of such practices, and a strong proof of the im nortality of the soul. If it be asked, Why did not Samuel exhort him to repent?

I answer, the reproof itself is an exhortation, but probably there was no room for repentance, after all that had besa said to lim, and done for him.

[ocr errors]

ably be suspected, because there does not appear any good end that they can answer. It is remarkable, that none have appeared among us since the act which was made against them was repealed ; and very probably there never will be any more. For a man to pretend to it under the Jewish law, was death. And such persons deserve severe punishment now, because it tends to lessen a regard to Prove idences and to introduce impiety.

With regard to apparitions, this story seems to me to prove, that God, for wise and good reasons, may suffer departed spirits to take some vehicle or light kind of body, by which they may become the objects of sense, and be capable of conversing with us. Suèh instances I believe have been ; yet never but on extraordinary occasions. The great thing to be regarded is the design or the end to be answered by such an appearance, for Providence never acts but for a wise and good end; and if that was not to be seen by ås, why was the apparition? God does not take delight in terrie fying meni ; and not one of them can appear without his permission. This single remark carried with us, would overthrow a thousand of those foolish stories, which tend only to frighten children. But we have no need to give ourselves any pain about this, if we will but attend to the next reflection whiċh this chapter suggests to us.

2. We see here the horrors of a guilty conscience, and how solicitous we should be to make God our friend. When the Philistines came against Saul, he remembered the guilty blood of the Amalekites which he had spared, and the innocent blood of the priests which he had shed. His iniquities were set in order before him. This drove him in the wild disorder of his mind to consult a witch. He who wouid not serve God, became a slave to his own fears and folly. When he heard his doom confirmed by the same prophet who had delivered it before, what remorse and despair, what hórror of conscience, what terror and anticipation of the divine vefigeance did he feel! What a dreadful situation must his mind be in ! from which his crown and sceptre, his dominions and armies could not secure him. God grant that we may all learn from this awful story, the evil of sin, the sad consequence of combating with conscience, grieving the spirit of God, and causing him to withdraw. May we never provoke the Lord to anger, lest hê give us up to a hard and reprobate mind. Let us secure an interest in his friendship, by faith in Christ, and holy obedience to his will : theni, evil spirits can do us no harm, and good spirits will not. Hanny is that feareth the Lordi for he shall be satisfied from hima self; and instead of terror, remorse, and despair, bis hifc shall be comfortable, and his end shall be pleácé.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »