Page images

for the good of Israel, for God will be with thee, and give success 8 against all its enemies. And thou shalt go' down before me to

Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, [and] to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings : seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and show thee what thou shalt do.*

And it was ($0,] that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart : and all those signs came to pass that day ; he had no longer the heart of an husbandman, but of a general, or prince ; and thought of nothing but fighting the Philistines and delivering Israel. A spirit of wisdom

and courage came upon him, which afterward, for his sins, was 10 taken away. And when they came thither to the hill, behold

a company of prophets met him ; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them, he sung the praises

of God, and spoke of divine things beyond his natural ability. 11 And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw

that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What [is] this [that] is come unto the son of Kish? It is strange to see him employed in a way quite

different from his education and former course of life. [IS] Saul 12 also among the prophets? And one of the same place answered

and said, But who [is] their father? Is it not God who makes prophets, and who can bestow his gifts on any one ? Therefore it

became a proverb, when any man acted beyond expectation, [[s] 13 Sařil also among the prophets? And when he had made an

end of prophesying, he came to the high place. This gift was only for a short time, and he then went to the high place to thank

God for the honour done him, and to pray for wisdom to manage 14 his trust faithfully. And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his

servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses :

and when we saw that they were) no where, we came to Sam15 uel. And Saul's uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel 16 said unto you. And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly

that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not, lest he should seem to have been seeking the crown, or they should envy

pecially as Samuel thought fit to keep it a secret hitherto, 17 And Samuel called the people, the elders and heads of tribes,

together unto the LORD to Mizpeh, to commemorate God's former 18 favours to them at the pillar called Ebenezer ; (ch. vii. 5.) And

said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out

of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all king19 doms, (and) of them that oppressed you : And ye have this day

him ;

and es

Gilgal was a famous place near Jordan and the twelve stones. Some suppose that he was to sacrifice there seven days; others apprehend this refers to what happened near two years after, see ch. xiii. I rather think it was a standing rule which Samuel gave him, that in all difficult cases he should go to Gilgal, and send for Samuel, who would meet him there, to consult with him, and ask counsel of God; but that he should wait seven days, to try his faith and obedience, and to curb his rash and lasty spirit.

[ocr errors]

rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your ado versities and your tribulations ; and ye have said unto him, [Nay,] but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands. He reminds them of their folly and sin in rejecting God, who had raised them up judges and deliverers ; and, knowing their disposio tion to suspect intrigue, or not to submit to his choice, he directs that lots should be cast to know whom God had chosen ; he there.

fore calls them by their tribes and their thousands, every tribe being 20 divided into a thousand, as our counties are into hundreds. And

when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near

to the place where the lot was drawn, in the presence of their elders 21 and heads, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. When he had

caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken :* and when they sought him, he could not be found ; he absented himself, either because he thought he was unfit, or 10 escape the envy of his neighbours ; and considering the present

perilous state of Israel under the oppression of the Philistines. 22 Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, probably by the

high priest and the ephod, if the man should yet come thither.

And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among 23 the stuff, the baggage or furniture of the tent. And they ran

and fetched him thence : and when he stood among the people,

he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and 24 upward. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom

the Lord hath chosen, that (there is) none like him among all the people? Here is such a one as you wished for ; let your own eyes be judges ; is he not a brave man, who hath majesty and grandeur in his very countenance and stature ? And all the people

shouted, and said, God save the king, or, as in the Hebrew, 25 Let the king live, let him have a long and prosperous reign. Then

Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote [it] in a book, and laid [it] up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. He explained the duties of a king and his subjects ; particularly, what was in the law of Moses upon this head, and probably added other particulars,

And Saul also went home to Gibeah, and lived privately there till God should call him to take the public administration of affairs upon himself ; and there went with him a band of men, whose

hearts God had touched; some stoul, valiant men, whom God in27 clined to follow him as his lifeguard. But the children of Belial,

some lewd, profane fellows, who hated all government, and perhaps were of some great family who despised the meanness of Saul's house, said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents, as was customary to the king, especially at his accession, and in token of their subjection and joy. But he held his peace, or, he was as though he had been

The lot was cast four times ; first for the tribe of Benjamin, second for the family of Matri, third for the household of Kish, and fourth for Saul.

deaf. This was the effect of the spirit of prudence which was given him ; it would have been very impolitic to have begun his reign with an act of severity.


1. A

S this is the first account of the prophets and their comin appointing this order of men, and these seminaries for their in. struction. We read of several colleges : Bethel, Jericho, Gibeah, and Naioth in Ramah, of which Samuel was president, and probably founded them. The priests and Levites were appointed to teach the law, and to judge and decide in controversies ; but as a great part of their time was taken up about the tabernacle, and as they were perhaps ready to lay too great a stress on those rituals in which they were concerned ; therefore prophets were ordained to be a check upon the priests, and to be guardians of the spiritual or moral part of the law ; as the priests were of the ceremonial. Prophets were trained up, by a long course of study, temperance, and discipline, to be preachers of righteousness ; and to receive upon extraordinary occasions the inspiration of the Spirit. God generally chose prophets out of such as were educated in these colleges. The presidents were called fathers, or masters. Here, it is generally thought, they studied, not only the law, but music, arithmetic, astronomy, and other sciences that qualified them the better for the service of God, and the instruction of the people. This was a very wise institution ; let us be thankful that we have such among us ; and pray for the schools of the prophets, that from these fountains, such streams may issue forth, as shall make glad the city of our God.

2. Those whom God raises up for any service shall be qualified for it ; Saul had another heart when he was anointed king. God proportions our abilities to the duties to which he calls us ; we have therefore the highest reason to follow the leadings of his prove idence, and to trust in him at all times ; then we shall find that as our day is, 80 will our strength be.

3. From the different treatment which Saul met with from his subjects, we may reflect upon the different manner in which men are affected toward our blessed Redeemer, God's anointed Son. Some pay him homage, bring him presents, and yield their whole selves to him. It becomes us all to inquire whether we are among the number of those who are disposed to reverence him ; and are become his dutiful subjects. If we are, it is because God hath touched our hearts, and let him have the praise. Others will noc have this man to reign over them ; they despise him, distrust his power, and reject his authority. For a while Christ may hold his peace ; but he will not always do it ; in the end they shall all be brought forth, and slain before him. Remember, Christ is God's anointed Son; he has chosen him to reign over us, and to reign for ever. Kiss the Son, therefore, lest he be angry, and ye picrish from the way when his wra:h is kindled but a little. Psalm ii. VOL. III.


[merged small][ocr errors]


This chapter informs us of the extremity to which the inhabitants of

Jabesh were reduced ; of their deliverance by Saul, and the confirmalion of him in the government, with the consent of all the people.

HEN Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped

against Jabeshgilead :* and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee: they agree to be his subjects and pay tribute, contrary to the com

mand of God to make no covenant with those accursed nations. 2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this (condi.

tion) will I make [a covenant) with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel ;

a barbarous, reproachful condition, both to themselves and to all 3 Israel, only fit for slaves and cowards to comply with. And the

elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days 'respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel ; and then, if [there be) no man to save us, we will come out to thee. They were afraid Saul could not, or would not help them ; but they were resolved to try ; and Nahash, from a foolish confidence in

his strength, gave them time to do 80. 4 Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Sanl, and told the

tidings in the ears of the people : and all the people listed up their

voices, and wept, out of compassion for their brethren, despair of their relief, and fear for themselves ; they were relations 5 to them, for the Benjamites had their wives from thence. And,

behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field ; and Saul said, What (aileth] the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh. After his election (ch. x. 24.) he retired again to his firivate capacity, till some fit opportunity offered itself for him to assume the throne and royal dignity;

in the mean time the management of affairs was left to Samuel. 6 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those

tichings, and his anger was kindled greatly. He found a strong impulse on his mind, and great courage and resolution to act like

the king of Israel. He was angry at Nahash, at the mean spirit 7 of the freuple of Jabesh, and at Israel weeping. And he took a

yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent (them) ihroughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent": as the sight of the eyes affects more than a bare report, he accompanied his threatenings with a part of the ox. He adds the name

This city lay beyond Jordan, on the borders of the Ammonites. It had formerly been destroyed, and had but few inhabitants. The Ammonites had proclaimed war against thing before this, which was the reason why they desired a king, see ch. xii. 12. Probably they had sow heard that some were disaffected to Saul, and were in hopes this issael would not help them, therefore they make an attack upon this place.

of Samuel, to engage those to come who might not have regarded

himself; and God was pleased to possess the hearts of ihe Israel. x ites with a fear of offending him, so that they came after him. And

when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. Perhaps Judah is mentioned singly, to show their readiness to submit to a king who was of a tribe much meaner than their own, or

because of their precedency in all affairs, both civil and military. 9 And they said unto the messengers that came, whom they keng

till they saw what success they should have; Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabeshgilead, Tomorrow by (that time] the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came

and showed [it] to the men of Jabesh ; and they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, Tomorrow we will come out

unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto

you, if help does not come according to v. 3, the hopes of which 11 they conceal, in order to make the Ammonites more secure. And

it was (so] on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies ; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day, the Israelites on three sides, and the men of Jabesh on the fourth, so that they were completely hemmed in : and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of ahem were not left together ; they gained a complete victory : and thus God established Saul's authority. The inhabitants of Jabeshgilead remembered and requited this kindness long after, ch.

xxxi. 11-13. 12 And the people said unto Samuel, Who [is] he that said,

Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death. Samuel attended the army to encourage and animale the Israelites ; and the people who before had borne the contempt thrown upon Saul without any resentment, now, charmed

evith his valour and prudence, would have the offenders all put to 13 dea!h, And Saul, with great wisdom and clemency, said, There

shall not a man be put to death this day, we will not have a day of joy and triumph stained with severity, or with an act that shall cause mourning among the people ; for today the LORD, in great mercy, hath wrought salvation in Israel, therefore let us imitate

the divine compassion and goodness. 14 Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gil

gal, and renew the kingdom there. Samuel seized the opportunity to confirm Saul in the kingdom, and took the people to Gilgal, a place convenient for the inhabitants on both sides of Jordan, in order to renew the covenant between Saul and the people concern

ing the kingdom, and install him publicly and solemnly into it. 15 And all the people went to Gilgal ; and there they made Saul

king before the Lord in Gilgal ; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD ; they owned and ac. cefited him for their king by general consent, and anointed lüm publicly, whick was done only frivately before,) and fierformed al

« PreviousContinue »