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1. is a happy thing to see those who have apostatized from
God, and been indifferent to him and religion, begin to be sorry
for their sins, and to return to him. Israel had lost the ark many months ; when it returned, it lay in obscurity on the borders of the Philistines ; only a few ventured to pay their respects to it; but at length a national reformation took place ; and they began with lamenting their folly, and inquiring how they must return unto the Lord. An happy time indeed was this to Israel ! And nothing can be more agreeable to a pious mind, than to see those who have for-/ gotten God, and lived without him, been insensible of his presence, and unconcerned about his glory and favour, beginning with grief and concern to inquire after him, and to be uneasy till they have recovered his favour. Would to God this were more frequently seen in our days ! and that one and another were asking the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward ! ,
2. If we desire to be approved of God, and to obtain his favour, our répentance must be sincere and genuine ; we must prepare our hearts, by close reflection on our past conduct. We must think on our former ways ; turn from every sin ; particularly from that which most easily besete us. We must dismiss every idol that has twined about our hearts. No man can serve two masters. We must not tolerate any known sin, but renounce every one. With. out this we shall only affront God, injure ourselves, and make our condemnation the more aggravated.
3. National deliverances ought solemnly to be commemorated, and the glory of them given to God. Samuel's raising these stones, suggests to us, that care should be taken to perpetuate the remembrance of signal appearances of Providence in our favour ; and though God does not answer by thunder and lightning, or in any extraordinary way baffle our enemies, still it is his doing ; and we should celebrate his praises, and be careful to remember his works, as a motive to serve him faithfully, and improve the privileges and blessings which he continues to us.
4. How happy was Israel under the government of such a pious, active, generous man, as Samuel was, who administered justice so faithfully ; who took so much pains to travel through the land of Israel, to promote righteousness and peace; and who kept up the public exercises of religion. We should esteem it an happiness, that we live under a good government ; that we have judges who go their several circuits to judge our Israel ; and that we have the means of religion continued among us. These are great mercies, and God should be acknowledged as the author of them. We should earnestly pray for judges and magistrates, that they, like Samuel, may be able men, men of truth, fearing God, and hating fopetousneus.
The Israelites, of account of the ill government of Samuel's, sons,
petition to have a king : God (lirects Samuel how to act ; he faithfully tells the people what they must expect from one ; but they obstinately persist in their determination. 3 ND it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he
made his sons judges over Israel ; he found the labour of going the circuits was too great, therefore he appointed his sons
to be his deputies, and fixed them in the southern parts of the land. 2 Now the name of his firstborn, was Joel ; and the name of his 3 second, Abiah: (they were] judges in Beersheba. And his
sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and
took bribes, and perverted judgment, they behaved wickedly, 4 through covelousness and the love of money. Then all the elders
of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel
unto Ramah, to remonstrate in a respectful manner concerning 3 their grievances, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and
thy sons walk not in thy ways : now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. This was a very foolish conclusion ; for though Samuel was old, he was as fil to counsel and govern as cver; and had he known his sons did ill, he would no doubt have chosen others in their place. But the chief reason was pride ; a poor prophet in a mantle was too mean for them; they wanted more pomp and magnificence, officers, and a guard, and to make a figura
among the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a
king'to judge us, as it was ungrateful to him, after all the delive
crances they had received through his means. And Samuel prayed 7 unto the LORD for direction what to do in this case. And the
LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee : for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. Samuel was displeased, but God told him that He had more reason to be so, for they had in fact rejected him as their king ; He had ected as such in times past, making their laws, choosing their govcrnors, directing in all difficult cases, making war and peace, and this ordering all those things, which in other states were left to
their king. Thus it appears that their government was a theoc& racy. According to all the works which they have done since the
day that I have brought them out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do
they also unto thee, it is their old way; they have chosen other 9 gods to worship, no wonder they now want another ruler. Now
therefore hearken unto their voice, let them have their own way, and a king like the nations about them : howbeit, yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them, what difficulties and slavery they may de brought into; that they may be without excuse, and have no one
to blame but themselves. * 10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people 11 that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the man.
ner of the king that shall reign over you : he will take your sons, and appoint (them) for himself, for his chariots, and (to be] his horsemen ; and (some) shall run before his chariots ; they should not be treated like freeborn subjects, but be made guards
and footmen, to look after his horses, and run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains
over fifties ; and (will set them) to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. He will have military officers higher and lower, and will set them to plough and reap his corn when they
should be in their own fields, and set them all to hard labour of 13 one kind or another. And he will take your daughters [to be]
confectionaries, and [to be) cooks, and (to be] bakers ; employ them in servile work without any wages, or only such as he pleases,
and in places where they will be likely to be ensnared and cor14 rupted. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and
your oliveyards, [even] the best of them, and give [them) to
his servants ; take your estates by force, and give them to his 15 hungry courtiers and favourites. And he will take the tenth of
your seed, and of your vineyards, and give it as a salary to his
officers and to his servants. This was a heavy burden, as a tenth 16 also was given by the law of God to the Levites. And he will
take your men servants and your maid servants, and your good. liest young men, and your asses, and put (them) to his work,
whatever becomes of your own, and however that is neglected. 17 He will take the tenth of your sheep ; and ye shall be his ser
vants ; you shall lose the liberty and privilege of freeborn Israel. ites, and live in a servile and slavish condition. As they would be like the nations in grandeur, 80 they should be like them in misery ;
and all this was fulfilled, for they had many bad kings in Judah, 18 and not one good one in Israel. And ye shall cry out in that day
because of your king which ye shall have chosen you ; and the LORD will not hear you in that day, but justly leave you under
the heavy yoke ye have chosen for yourselves. 19 Nevertheless, the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel;
and they said, Nay ; but we will have a king over us ; they
cared not how Samuel himself, resented it ; they would have a 20 king, be the consequence what it would. That we also may be
like all the nations ; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. God had fought their
batlles under Samuel and the former judges, and always with 21 success; but now they cast off God's care. And Samuel heard
all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. The Lord knew all this ; but Samuel did it for
They had not sense enough to ask for a wise and good king, but one like the nations abous neem, who were all arbitrary princes; and such a one they should have.
22 his own vindication, and as a foundation for his prayers. And
the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city, God will give you a king in his own time. Indeed it appears from the law of Moses that God intended to give them a king, and had they waited a little longer they would have had a good one ; but now he left them to their own hearts' lusts, and they suffered sufficiently for it. See Hosea xiii. 10,11.
ET us reflect, with sorrow, on the degeneracy of the chil.
to deliver a threatening message to Eli, and had seen the calamities of his family ; and we might conclude from hence, as well as from the temper he expresses, that he took good care in the education of his own children. He no doubt prayed with them and for them, and set them a good example ; but they did not follow it, they forsook the good way ; power and authority spoiled them. Being too soon their own masters, and having the oversight of others, corrupted their morals. Instances of this melancholy nature we often see or hear of. Samuel's sons perhaps behaved well, or else they had never been made judges. Thus, many children, who begin well, and who prom. ise fair, when they get abroad from under the eyes of their parents, become vicious, and the companions of fools. Preferment and power have spoiled multitudes, who in inferior stations might have kept their integrity. Parents should learn from hence, to keep a watchful eye over their children ; especially in that dangerous time of life, when they are setting out in the world. They should not en, tertain too sanguine hopes of them ; but follow them with their instructions and prayers wherever they go.
2. Let not good magistrates and ministers wonder that they are treated ill, or even rejected and affronted ; since God himself often is so. God tells Samuel he must not think it strange and hard that he was rejected, for Jehovah himself was so ; this was a reason why he should bear such ingratitude and obstinacy patiently. God bears wonderfully with such provocations, therefore we can have no reason to complain. Rather let us commit our cause to him, who (as appears from the instance before us) interests himself in the indignation offered to his servants and prophets ; and will repay their labours of love, though men should reject them ever so much, and treat them ever so ill.
3. God desires not the misery of his creatures, but would have them to be comfortable and happy. He was willing to let this people know the power of a king, before he would change their form of government. Thus he deals with sinners ; before he gives them up to their own hearts' lusts, he gives them fair warning what will be the issue of their desires and pursuits ; sets life and death before them ; lets them know the worst; so that if sinners perish, they have none to blame but themselves. This deserves thankfully
to be owned, as an instance of divine compassion and mercy; and it should deter sinners from pursuing evil ways, and lead them to repentance.
4. See the great misery of an arbitrary and tyrannical government. We have reason to be thankful that ours is not such. This is the way of heathen kings; this is the way of some who are called christian kings; they invade the liberty and property of their subjects, and make sport with their lives. What a wretched land must such an one be ! Let us bless God for our liberty and safety ; that our properties are secure ; that our children are not torn from us by violence; that we can eat of the labour of our hands, none making us afraid. This is owing to the care and goodness of God to us. Let us be thankful for our freedom as Britons ; for our good constitution ; for wise and righteous princes. The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage.
5. See the great folly of an obstinate, untractable spirit. They would have a king at all adventures, though they knew what sort of a one he would be ; they would indulge their pride at the expense of their liberty. Strange infatuation and stupidity ! They knew not when they were well ; were not sensible of their happiness ; and forgot all the miracles that had been wrought for them. They would have a king, with all the pomp and grandeur of an eastern monarch, imagining this would be a greater honour to them than a theocracy. This is the case with sinners, they will not have this man to reign over them. They choose the world and the flesh for their sovereigns, though they are hard masters ; their government is terrible, and their wages is death. They choose without thought and reflection, and, as in the instance before us, their sudden resolves, and hasty conclusions make work for long and bitter repentance. Let not sin reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the luse thereof.
6. How foolish and miserable must they be, who imitate bad examples because they are numerous ! The Israelites would have a king like other nations : they would not be singular, and differ from them, though their singularity was their glory. Thus men follow a multitude to do evil ; though there is no readier way to sin and ruin, than doing so, and choosing that which is the way of the world. Those that share in their sins, must share in their plagues. May we guard against a disposition so fatal, and yet so common. Let us dare to be singularly pious, and steady in our adherence to God, though all men should forsake him. Let this be the determinate resolution of each of us, Let others do what they will, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."