|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:17-27 Samuel tells the people, Ye have this day rejected your God. So little fond was Saul now of that power, which soon after, when he possessed it, he could not think of parting with, that he hid himself. It is good to be conscious of our unworthiness and insufficiency for the services to which we are called; but men should not go into the contrary extreme, by refusing the employments to which the Lord and the church call them. The greater part of the people treated the matter with indifference. Saul modestly went home to his own house, but was attended by a band of men whose hearts God disposed to support his authority. If the heart bend at any time the right way, it is because He has touched it. One touch is enough when it is Divine. Others despised him. Thus differently are men affected to our exalted Redeemer. There is a remnant who submit to him, and follow him wherever he goes; they are those whose hearts God has touched, whom he has made willing. But there are others who despise him, who ask, How shall this man save us? They are offended in him, and they will be punished.
Verse 25. - The manner. The difficult word already discussed in 1 Samuel 2:13; 1 Samuel 8:11. Here, however, it is not used for rights so exercised as to become wrongs, but in a good sense, for what we should call a constitution. The heathen kings were despots, subject to no higher law, and Samuel, in 1 Samuel 8:11-18, speaks with merited abhorrence of their violation of the natural rights of their subjects; but under the theocracy the king's power was limited by laws which protected, in the enjoyment of their privileges, the people, the priests, and the prophets. The latter class especially, as being the mouthpiece of Jehovah, formed a powerful check upon the development of despotic tendencies. In sketching Saul's kingly rights Samuel would be guided by Deuteronomy 17:14-20, and would give the king his true position as the representative of Jehovah both in all matters of internal administration and of war. And laid it up before Jehovah. Probably by the side of the ark. We are not to suppose that Samuel wrote this at Mizpah. He would fully explain to Saul and the people there what a theocratic king ought to be, and would afterwards draw up a formal document both as a memorial of what had been done, and for the use of future sovereigns, and place it within the sanctuary. It is noteworthy that this is the first notice of writing since the days of the illustrious scribe Eleazar.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, According to Ben Gersom, he laid before them the power a king had over his people, and the punishment he might inflict upon them, if they rebelled against him; and some think this is the same he delivered in 1 Samuel 8:10 concerning the arbitrary power of their kings, and how they would be used by them; and which he here repeated, and then wrote it, that it might be a testimony against them hereafter; with which what Josephus (m) says pretty much agrees, that in the hearing of the king he foretold what would befall them, and then wrote it, and laid it up, that it might be a witness of his predictions; but that in
1 Samuel 8:10-17. Samuel said, was the manner of their king, or how he would use them, but this the manner of the kingdom, and how the government of it was to be managed and submitted to, what was the office of a king, and what the duties of the subject; and yet was different from, at least not the same with that in Deuteronomy 17:15, for that had been written and laid up already:
and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord; in the ark of the Lord; as Kimchi; or rather by the ark of the Lord, on one side of it, as Ben Gersom; or best of all, as Josephus (n), in the tabernacle of the Lord, where recourse might be had to it, at any time, at least by a priest, and where it would be safe, and be preserved to future times:
and Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house; for though Saul was chosen king, he did not take upon him the exercise of government directly, but left it to Samuel to dismiss the people, who had been for many years their chief magistrate.
(m) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 4. sect. 6. (n) Ibid.
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