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the servant recollected that he had in his pocket a piece of money, “ the fourth part of a shekel of silver,” which was worth about ninepence of our money; and this, though trifling and hardly worth acceptance, was enough to show respect: so it was agreed that he should make Samuel a present of this piece of money.
And as they went up the hill to the city, they met with some young women going to draw water, and asked them if the Seer was there,—for that was the name by which Samuel was known,-Seer meaning nearly the same as prophet, a person who sees or foretels things to come.
Now, Samuel was just then going to sacrifice at Ramah, for the ark not being at Shiloh, divine worship was not now confined to that place. And as they hastened up the hill they met him.
God had impressed on the Seer's mind that he would on that day send a man to him whom he should anoint on the head with oil, or pour oil on it according to the ancient custom of appointing kings,—and that he should rule over Israel, whose cry of distress, notwithstanding all their ill conduct, he had graciously heard, being oppressed by the Philistines ; and this king should deliver them. As soon, therefore, as he saw Saul, he knew that he was the man; and God again impressed it on his mind.
Saul, not knowing Samuel, went up to him, and asked him to direct him to the Seer's house.
Then Samuel told him that he was the Seer, that he was just going to feast at the sacrifice, that he must go up with him and partake of it, and he should return on the morrow; that he need not trouble himself further about the asses, for they were found, and that he should be ruler over Israel.
Samuel's knowledge of his business showed that he was a prophet, but his telling him that he was to be king of Israel rather surprised him, and he spoke humbly about his being raised to so great an honour.
There were about thirty persons at the feast, and Samuel put Saul " in the chiefest place,” and gave him the best dish, already doing him honour as the king appointed by God to rule over Israel.
After the feast Samuel took Saul to the top of his house, which being flat on the roof, was convenient for walking and taking the air, as we would in our gardens; here he communed or talked privately with him, and told him, no doubt, how God had chosen him to be king; that he himself was quite willing to resign the authority of chief to him, and how he ought to perform his office for the good of the people.
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The next morning, as Saul was leaving Ramah, Samuel went with him, and when they had reached the end of the city, he told him to send his servant on before, as he had particular business with him.
Then Samuel anointed him, and kissed him, according to the custom of the East.
Before parting with him, Samuel also gave him some signs of what should happen to him as he went on, which must further confirm his faith in him as a true prophet of God. First, he should meet with some who should tell him that the asses were found, and that his father was in trouble at his long absence. Then he should meet with others going to Bethel, where there was a place for the worship of God, to which they would be taking their sacrifices; they should have kids, loaves, and a bottle of wine, designed for sacrifice, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings,--and he and the servant need not fear them, for they would find them to be friends, and they would show their friendship by bidding them good speed, and also giving them two loaves, which they would need in the remaining part of their journey: afterwards they were to come to a high hill, where there was a company or garrison of Philistines, who probably kept the poor Israelites there in subjection to them. There was a school of the prophets, where men were engaged in learning the law of God, and Saul would find himself strongly moved in his mind to join them, as they should meet them coming down from the high place : they would probably have been sacrificing, and they should meet them returning with music, and prophesying or praising God; praising God being one sort of prophesying.
After this Saul was to go to Gilgal, and to wait for Samuel to join him in offering sacrifices to God.
Well, “ all these signs came to pass.” And when all that knew Saul before, saw him among the company of prophets, they asked each other in wonder, “Is Saul also among the prophets ?"
And Samuel called the people together at Mizpeh, and told them of what great things God had done for them, from time to time, ever since he delivered them out of Egypt; and how ungrateful it was in them to want a king to rule over them; and then the king was chosen by lot. By the first lot, the tribe of Benjamin was singled out from all the tribes; then the family of Matri, of that tribe to which Saul belonged; and then Saul, the son of Kish. And he had modestly hid himself among the stuff, supposed to be the carts and baggage, brought by the people to Mizpeh, and when he was fetched, "he was higher than any of the people, from his shoulders and upwards ;"
or, as we said before, by his head and shoulders. And when Samuel showed him to the people, they were quite delighted with him ; and they all shouted, “God save the king !"
Then Samuel told the people “ the manner of the kingdom ;" that it was the office of the king to rule justly, and of the people to obey his lawful commands. These things were written in a book, as a kind of agreement between them, which was carefully laid up among the records of the kingdom.
Thus you have the beginning of the Kings of Israel, whose history we shall now for some time have to read.
1 SAMUEL XI. Saul began his reign by a very brave action. Nahash, who was probably a king of the Ammonites, went and encamped, or sat himself down with his army in tents, round Jabesh-Gilead, a fortified place belonging to the Israelites, near the country of the Ammonites.
So as he was very strong, and the garrison were very weak,—and still weaker in faith, or they would have trusted in God, and tried their force against the enemy,—it was proposed to Nahash that they would surrender and be his slaves, if he would tell them on what terms he would spare their lives.
Nahash told them that they must all have their right eyes thrust out.
The men of Jabesh then asked for seven days to settle the matter, and promised that if, at the end of that time, they could get no help they would surrender.
When the news reached Gibeah, where Saul was, the people, after the Eastern manner, lifted up their voices and wept so loudly, that when Saul, who, after the simple manner of living in those days, came—not from & palace, but from the fields where he had been attending to the herds-he was attracted by their distress, and asked what was the matter. When he was told what Nahash intended to do, the Spirit of God came upon him, and gave him courage and wisdom. “And he took a yoke of oxen and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout 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."
Saul soon collected an army of three hundred and thirty thousand mon, and the messengers went back to Jabesh-Gilead to tell the garrison that by the time the sun was hot,—or about the noon of the morrow,—they should have help; and they were glad enough at the news.
Early on the morning of that day in which the Ammonites expected to enjoy their cruel triumph over the people of Jabesh-Gilead, Saul came suddenly upon them with his great army, which he divided into three parts, so that it fell upon the foe in three places at once, and being taken by surprise, they ran away in all directions, and Saul chased them till the heat of the day.
Pleased with Saul's bravery and success, the people now said, “Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us ? bring the men, that we may put them to death.” But Saul very generously forgave those that had insulted him, and said, “ There shall not a man be put to death this day ; for to-day the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel.”
And now his right to the kingdom was renewed at Gilgal, sacrifices were offered to the Lord, and the day was spent in rejoicing.
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Samuel's Farewell Address to Israel.
I SAMUEL XII. Samuel now grew old; and, as the people had got the king whom they had chosen, he gave up the power which he had held for their good.
In taking his farewell, as the ruler of Israel, Samuel reminded them of God's goodness to them and their fathers—of the miseries their fathers had suffered, when they forsook God—of their repentance—of God's gracious regard to them, and his glorious deliverances of them from their enemies, and then, of his even condescending to give them a king, when they so much wished for one. And now, he would also tell them, that under this new government they were still not to think themselves free from the government of God, whom, if they obeyed, they should be happy; but if they disobeyed, they must be miserable.
Then, to show that what Samuel spoke was true, and by his direction, God, at Samuel's word, sent “thunder and rain," at a time of the year when, in that country, the like was never known. It was the time of “wheat harvest," which is there about the end of June or beginning of July; and one who lived there for several years, says, that at that time he never saw any rain in Judea. So “all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.”
Saul rejected from being King.
I SAMUEL XIII. “Saul reigned one year," and when he entered upon the second year of his reign, he did very foolishly.
He raised an army, much too small to contend with the Philistines, and then his son Jonathan smote a garrison of them that was in Geba; and it is thought that this was done treacherously, while all the parties were in a state of peace, and resting on each other's word; for something of the kind is meant by its being said, that “all Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines.” The Philistines vowed vengeance against them for such unfair dealing, and abominated them on account of it.
And now “the Philistines gathered themselves together, to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people, which is as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude.”
The Israelites now found, that though they had a king, like the heathen, yet he could not give them courage, for never were their hearts so faint. “For the people were distressed; then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.” Some, also, went a great way off, over Jordan, and all those that stayed with Saul “ followed him trembling."
Now Samuel had told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait there for him seven days, and he would come and meet him and offer sacrifices for him and the people. So Saul went to Gilgal, and waited till the seventh day; but not having patience to wait till the end of the day, as Samuel had not comehe thought that he would not be there at all, and so he called for the sacrifices, and offered them himself. Now this was very wicked, for he was only a king, and neither a priest nor a prophet: so that, in offering sacrifices, he had profaned the most sacred things, and dared to take upon himself the most solemn office without God's command.
Presently came Samuel, according to his promise ; and Saul told him that he had waited so long that he began to think he would not come, and he was afraid that the Philistines would fall upon him before the sacrifices were offered up; and so, much against his will, he had turned priest himself. Then Samuel told him how foolishly he had done, and that, for this act of disobedience to God, against which he had had sufficient warning, he should lose his kingdom, and it should go to another man-one after God's own heart, who would not so profane his holy things.