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up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not : but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'
Saul having assembled an army of 210,000 men, proceeded against Amalek, and lay wait in the valley, having first sent messengers to the Kenites, to separate themselves from that people,t lest he should destroy both together. The Kenites obeyed the admonition, and Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah, until thou comest to Shur, over against Egypt, and destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword: but spared Agag alive, and the best of the sheep and oxen, and all that was good; and destroyed only what was vile and without value.
Here again Saul was guilty of another express act of disobedience; and appears to have been so conscious of it, as to wish to have avoided Samuel; for on coming to Mount Carmel, he went about, and passed on down to Gilgal. Still however upon Samuel coming to him, he had the effrontery, and must we not say, the hypocrisy, to exclaim, “ blessed be thou of Jehovah, I have performed the commandment of Jehovah. But Samuel said, what meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” How pitiful was the excuse of the deluded monarch?
and how unceasingly he watches over their interests, and revenges their wrongs.—Deut. xxv. 17, 18, 19. Rom. xii. 19.
* 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. + This affords another strong encouragement to assist and relieve the people of God; for the reason which Saul, speaking as from God, gives for sending them this friendly intimation was “ for ye shewed kindness to all the Children of Israel."'- Exodus xviij. 10. 19. Numb. x. 29. 32. The Kenites were the descendants of Hobab or Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses.-1 Bp. Hall, 304. Matt. x. 42 So God could not punish Sodom till Lot was removed to a place of safety Gen. xviii. 25. xix. 22.
“ The people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto Jehovah thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” Surely this, if true, made the sin the greater ; for was it of the cattle of the Amalekite that sacrifices were to be offered unto God-he to whom nothing was to be offered that was unholy ?* But it was not true; for the real object was either to increase or to spare their own herds and flocks; and therefore, at bottom, not only avarice, but avarice of the worst kind ; viz. defrauding Jehovah of the prescribed amount of sacrifice. Besides, why spare Agag? Was he to be spared for a sacrifice? Surely rather for a ransom.
For this serious offence the prophet pronounces the judgment of God, “Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry : because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king." Upon this Saul expressed contrition, and laid hold on the skirt of Samuel's mantle, who, in breaking away from him, rent it, when the prophet said, Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and given it to a neighbour of thine that is better than thou. At the earnest intreaty however of Saul, that Samuel would continue to honour him before the people, the prophet turned again after him, and it is said that Saul worshipped Jehovah. Samuel, however, to fulfil the judgment of God, ordered Agag to be brought before him, and whilst hewing him in pieces before Jehovah in Gilgal, we find the prophet declaring one at least of the causes which justified the proceedings of God respecting him.-" As thy sword hath made
* Numb. xviii. 9, 10.
women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women."
After this Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul to Gibcah; but Samuel mourned bitterly for the rejection of the monarch, and even interceded all night with Jehovah for a reversal of the sentence. I
Jehovah having rejected Saul from being king over his people, yet had respect so far to their wishes, that he provided a successor who should be a different character; a man, as he is emphatically called, after God's own heart; and as the great Saviour of mankind descended from the loins of this monarch, we may well suppose, that this purpose of God, which had existed from all eternity, was the chief reason for his fixing upon David, the son of Jesse. Jehovah, however, did not communicate to Samuel which of the sons of Jesse he had selected for this distinguished honour, but merely told him to fill his horn with oil and go, for that he had provided himself a king among the sons of Jesse, the Bethlehemite.
It appears that Jesse had eight sons, the eldest seven of whom passed in succession before Samuel, who, under the teaching of Jehovah, rejected them all; but upon David, the eighth, who was then keeping his father's sheep, being sent for, Jehovah said to the prophet, “ arise, anoint him : for this is he."* Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren : and the Spirit of Jehovah came upon David, from that day forward, so Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
* 1 Sam. xv. 33. Harm. iv. 225. Burder, O. L 439. And we have here another instance of the forbearing mercy of God towards the most abandoned nations. The battle of Rephidim, where the irreversible decree went forth from Jehovah, took place 100 years before this event, and God forbore the execution, till now the period was arrived when their iniquities were full. Exod. xvii. 16.-So when God promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham, he told him he could not have it for 430 years, for this very same reason, viz. that the iniquities of the Amorites were not yet full. Gan, xy. 16.
+ 1 Sam. xv. 35. * 1 Sam. IV. 11.
One cannot read the next remark of the sacred writer, without the most painful emotions : “ but the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.” We are not informed what particular species of affliction this was ; but it was evidently such as to be discernible to the attendants of the monarch, who said to him, “ behold now an evil spirit from God troubleth thee :” and they recommended him to send for a skilful player upon the harp, in order to cure him. Saul having consented, and required to know where such a person might be found; one of them answered, “ behold I have seen a son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with bim.” Most of our Bibles place this transaction in the same year with that of the anointing by Samuel ; but there is probably some defect in the chronology, as it is not very likely that David, who was the youngest son of Jesse, and quite a youth, could have distinguished himself, and obtained such a character, in so short a time, or even have had the opportunity to display the talents here ascribed to him ; so that we may take it for granted, that some years had intervened before this introduction to Saul had taken place.
However that was, Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and desired that he would send David, his son, who was with the sheep. With this request, Jesse complied; and according to the custom of the east, from all antiquity, sent the
• 1 Sam, xvi. 12.
monarch an humble, but respectful present of bread, wine, * and a kid.
Saul was at first much pleased with David, and, it is said, loved him greatly, and made him his armour bearer, and required Jesse to allow him to become one of his attendants. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand, so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
How long David remained at the court of Saul, we are not informed; but it is clear that he had returned home to his father, and resumed his pastoral occupations, before the Philistine war began-for it is said, “ David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem.”
The Philistines having collected a large army at Shochoh, of Judah, Saul drew up his army in the valley of Elah, Whilst the two armies lay in this position, Goliath of Gath, a giant in stature, and a man of war from his youth, came out from the Philistines' host, and defied the army of Saul, from day to day, and proudly conscious of his own bodily strength, offered to put the issue of the contest upon a single combat between himself and any champion the Israelites could produce, vauntingly exclaiming, “ give me a man, that we may fight together."
There can be no doubt that all this was preordained of God, to shew forth his own glory, and not only to give his servant David a high reputation and renown amongst the people whom he was afterwards to govern, but to inspire the Philistines, and other surrounding nations, with terror at his name.
* The Hebrew word means literally a skin of wine ; what the quantity therefore was we have no means of knowing. 1 Sam. xvi. 20. + 1 Sam. xvi. 21-23. 11 Sam. xvii. 13. Burder, O. C. 1130.
$ 1 Sam. xvii. 10.