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Blessed be thou of the LORD : I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites : for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God, and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go, and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way
which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
But the people took of the spoil, sheep, and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? B hold, to obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubboraness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast
e rom being king over
rejected the word of the LORD, he also hath rejected thee from being king.
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned : for I have transgressed the "conimandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.
And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee : for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the LORD 'hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon
the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. - And Samuel said unto him, the Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine that is better than thou.
And also the strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man that he should
repent. Then he said, I have sinned : yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
So Samuel turned again after Saul: and Saul worshipped the LORD,
Then said Samuel, Bring yê hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites, And Agag came unto him delicately." And "Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
And Samuel said, " As thy sword hath made women childless, so shåll thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
Then Samuel went' to Ramah ; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. Vol. II.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The Amalekites were a people who originally descended from Amalek the son of Eliphaz, Esau's first-born; they had, it seems, been driven qut from the land of Edom, and suddenly sprang up into a great and powerful natioo. Though the true religion must have known amongst them, they gradually lost it, and became abominable idola. tots.
We read in a former section, that when the children of Israel were advanced a little way on their journey towards the land of Canaan, the Amalekites attacked them in their rear, without any provocation, whilst they were feeble, faint, and weary; and that this action proceeded from defiance of God, and was so heinous a sin, that the LORD commanded Moses to record in a book, and rehearse in the ears of the people, that Joshua had defeated them by the aid of the LORD; who would have war with Amalek from generation to generation, and utterly destroy them *. The LORD knew what the Amalekites would do in future; that the whole race of them would be addicted to the same crimes, and deserve the like punishment; and that all the wonders he should work would have no effect on them, but that, they would still con., tinue to defy his power, and resist his will; and that they would be objects of Divine justice, and not of mercy, he therefore passed condemnation upon them in the beginning, but delayed the threatened judgment till they had committed the sige be foreknew they would be guilty of. There are several instances of the Amalekites endeavouring to defeat the Divine designs in favour of Israel; particularly in the days of Ehud, Gideon, and Jephthah ; for they feared not God, but * Exod. xvii, 14, 16.
their hand was lifted up against the throne (or authority) of the LORD.
The time was now arrived which the LORD had a pointed for the destruction of the Amalekites, and Saul was chosen as the instrument of Divine vengeance upon them. He received particular directions from the prophet of the Lord to extirpate them entirely; and as Captain of the Lord's inheritance, it was his duty to pay implicit obedience to the divine contintand; but we find he did not, and when Samuel reproached him, he pretended that he reserved the best of the spoil out of 2 principle of devotion.
Saul's sin was as great as witchcraft, (or endeavouring to procure the assistance of evil spirits), because it implied disbelief, and defiance of Goo. And as he had presumed to rebel against the LORD, and set the LORD's people so bad an example, he was unworthy to govern them.
Saul professed to be very penitent'; but there is reason to suppose his repentance was not sincere ; for he attributed what he had done to fear of the people; when it is erident, from the preceding part of his hire tory, that he ruled them with the most arbitrary sway: and it appears, that he was more solicitous to maintala his own dignity, and to be treated with respect by Samuel, that to obtain the pardon of God in short, we may be sure that he was not heartily sorry for hig fault, and disposed to amend it, or he would not have been treated with so much rigour.
It is said that Samuel herved Agag in pieces BEFORI Tht Lord. This action of the prophet appears very inconsistent with the mildness of his character; ia order to reconcile it, we must consider the difference bee tween God's people and idolators. The former, in ackoowledgment that their lives were forfeited by their sins, bffered the sacrifices appointed by the LORD, which
were accepted, and on account of their repentanee, faith, and willingness to obey, God was reconciled to them.
The people of the idolatrous nations repeatedly committed presumptuous sins : so far from wishing to be reconciled to God, they despised His power, resisted His will, and scorned His mercy, and no ATONEMENT could be made for them for want of that repentance and faith which gave efficacy to ALL SACRIFICES; and God had an undoubted right to require their lives by any means that seemed proper to His infinite wisdom. His peculiar people, the Israelites, were appointed to extirpate these sioners, and whenever they did so, they might be said to slay them beFORE THE LORD, (or, out of regard to the will of the LORD, not on their own account.) So we see that Samuel, if he had even killed Agag with his own hands, only did that in Gılgal which Saul ought to have done in the field of battle ; and had he permitted Agag to live, he would have been an accomplice with Saul in his disobedience. Learned authors suppose, from the evident meaning of similar passages, that Samuel only commanded Agag to be slain.
We learn from Samuel's reproof to Saul, that a careful conformity to the divine commandments will recommend us more to God than any ceremonial observances ;, at the same time, we are not to omit the latter, for they are the appointed means for testifying our faith and obedience.
It has been repeatedly observed, that when the inspired writers make use of the expression, God repented, it is not to be understood as implying a change in God, but only in His dispensations, and the prophet Samuel confirms this idea; for he positively declares, that the LORD does not change His purposes like men. We are pot howeverto infer, from the invariableness of the SUPREME Being that prayer and repentance have no