1 Samuel 13
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1 Samuel 13:1-7. (MICHMASH, GIBEAH, GEBA, GILGAL.)
And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

1. The great conflict between good and evil which has been waged from the first (Genesis 3:15) has been concentrated in every age on some particular issue. At this time it was whether Israel and the worship of the true God or the Philistines and the worship of idols should prevail. It was thus of the highest importance in relation to the kingdom of God upon earth.

2. The Philistines were old enemies and powerful oppressors (Judges 3:3; Judges 10:7; Judges 13:1; 1 Samuel 7:2). During the administration of Samuel they were held in check (1 Samuel 7:13), although they appear to have had military posts or garrisons in the land (1 Samuel 10:5; ver. 3), and the overthrow of one of these by Jonathan (at Geba, four miles north of Gibeah, and opposite Michmash) gave the signal for renewed conflict. Having evacuated Michmash, where he had stationed himself with an army of 2000, Saul summoned all the men of Israel to gather to him at Gilgal; but the advancing hosts of the enemy filled the country with terror, so that he was left with only 600 followers, and found it necessary, after his interview with Samuel, to join his son Jonathan at Gibeah (Geba) (vers. 2, 16; ch. 14:2). Meanwhile the enemy occupied Michmash, whence three companies of spoilers issued, plundering the plains and valleys. A second and greater exploit of Jonathan, however, drove them out of Michmash, and it was followed by a general engagement, in which large numbers of them were slain, and the rest "went to their own place" (1 Samuel 14:23, 31, 46).

3. The conflict to which Israel was summoned represents that to which Christians are called. It is a conflict with physical and moral evil, with the world, the flesh, and the devil (John 15:19; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 2:16), and with men only in so far as they are ruled by sin, and in order to their salvation; a conflict which is good ("the good fight of faith" - 1 Timothy 6:12) and necessary, and affords full scope for whatever warlike instincts and energies are possessed. What does the sound of the trumpet signify? (1 Corinthians 14:8).

I. A BLOW HAS BEEN STRUCK AGAINST THE FOE. The greatest blow that was ever inflicted upon the "power of darkness" was struck by "the Captain of our salvation" in his life and death and glorious resurrection (John 12:31; John 16:33; 1 John 3:8); and in the spirit and power of his victory his followers carry on the conflict (Matthew 10:34). At times there seems to be something like a truce, but it never lasts long; and when a fresh blow is struck by "a good soldier of Jesus Christ" it -

1. Reveals the essential difference between the spirit that is in "the Israel of God" and "the spirit that is in the world."

2. Intensifies their antagonism (ver. 4).

3. Commits them to more definite and decisive action. And to this end the fact should be proclaimed. "When Saul the king of the Hebrews was informed of this (ver. 3), he went down to the city of Gilgal, and made proclamation of it over all the country, summoning them to freedom" (Josephus).


1. Exceedingly numerous, "as the sand which is on the sea shore."

2. Skilful, crafty, and deceitful (2 Corinthians 11:14).

3. Very powerful. There is at the present day an extraordinary combination of anti-christian agencies (2 Timothy 3:1-9; Revelation 13:11-18), threatening Christian faith and practice, which might well fill us with fear, did we not believe that "they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16). "The spirits of the unseen world seem to be approaching us. Times of trouble there have been before; but such a time, in which everything, everywhere, tends in one direction to one mighty struggle of one sort - of faith with infidelity, lawlessness with rule, Christ with antichrist - there seems never to have been till now" (Pusey).

III. THE FAITHFUL MUST RALLY AROUND THEIR LEADER. The gathering forces of the enemy should constrain us to closer union, and the proper centre of union is he of whom the greatest kings and heroes were feeble types and shadows.

1. He has been Divinely appointed, and claims our obedience and cooperation.

2. He is fully qualified as "a Leader and Commander of the people."

3. He is the only hope of safety and success. "God is with him" (1 Samuel 10:7).

"With force of arms we nothing can,
Full soon were we down ridden,
But for us fights the proper man,
Whom God himself hath bidden.

Ask ye, Who is this same?
Christ Jesus is his name;
The Lord Sabaoth's Son;
He, and no other one,
Shall conquer in the battle"



1. What triumphs has he gained in former days I

2. They are an earnest of "still greater things than these."

3. And they should inspire us with the confidence and courage which are needful to participation in his victory and glory (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:11). "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." - D.

1 Samuel 13:8-15. (GILGAL.)
All men are subjected in life to various tests which prove "what spirit they are of." These tests may appear insignificant in themselves (like that which was applied to Adam and Eve - Genesis 2:17), but they involve important principles, and the manner in which they are endured is followed by serious consequences. The position of Saul necessitated a trial of his fidelity to the fundamental principle of the theocratic kingdom, viz., unconditional obedience on the part of the king to the will of God as declared by his prophets. He was directed

(1) to wait for Samuel seven days, and

(2) to attempt nothing till he came (1 Samuel 10:8). He omitted the former and did the latter, and thus took his first wrong step - a step never retraced, and leading to a course which ended on the fatal field of Gilboa. Observe -

I. ITS APPARENT EXPEDIENCY. His conscience told him that it was not right, as he virtually acknowledged in the defence he offered for his conduct (vers. 11, 12). Yet he persuaded himself (as others are accustomed to do) that it was venial, expedient, and even necessary, because of -

1. The pressure of worldly circumstances. "Because I saw that the people were scattered from me," etc. Resources diminish, and danger is imminent. When they are considered in themselves alone, anxiety and fear increase, and temptation becomes strong to make use of any means of relief that may be presented. How often are men tempted by the plea of necessity to disobey the voice of conscience! The tempter says, "It is better to steal than starve, better to sin than perish."

2. The disappointment of religious expectations. "And that thou camest not at the appointed time." "Help has been long waited for, but it comes not; nor is it likely, now that the seventh day is drawing to a close, that it will come at all. The promise has not been fulfilled. The time for action has arrived, and the long delay indicates that the most expedient course must be taken. Nothing else remains. If there be any blame, it cannot be attributed to one who has waited so long, has been left in such extremity, and acts for the best."

3. The efficacy of ceremonial observances. "And I forced myself, and offered a burnt offering." Inasmuch as such an offering was required on entering upon his enterprise against the Philistines, he could not hope to succeed without it, and he had at all times great regard for the external ceremonies enjoined by the law (1 Samuel 14:33, 35). A doubtful or wrong act is often supposed to be blameless when performed in connection with sacred rites, or with a righteous end in view (John 16:2); and disobedience is sometimes clothed in a religious guise, its real nature being thereby obscured to the view of conscience, and its commission rendered easy.

4. The prospect of immediate advantages. Apparent and immediate good is the first and last and most powerful incentive to departure from the path of duty. "The tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes," etc. (Genesis 3:6). "And the history of Adam is as ancient as the world, but is fresh in practice, and is still revived in the sons of Adam."

II. ITS REAL CULPABILITY. "What hast thou done?" said Samuel, speaking' as with the voice of God, and seeking to arouse his conscience and lead him to repentance. He had been guilty of -

1. Disobedience to a plain commandment. "Thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God" (ver. 13). The fact could not be denied. He had not waited all the appointed time, and he had acted without Divine direction. He had rejected the supreme authority of the Divine King, and no excuse that might be made could do away with his guilt. "Sin is not estimated by God according to its outward form, but according to the amount and extent of the principle of evil embodied in that form."

2. Distrust of promised help. Men sometimes wait long for the fulfilment of Divine promises, but not long enough; and their lack of perseverance shows weakness or absence of faith. The force of adverse circumstances is exaggerated by being exclusively dwelt upon; doubt of the power of God prevails through disregard of preservation from harm hitherto afforded; and as faith unites the soul to God, so unbelief severs it from him, leaves it a prey to disquiet and impatience, and leads it to adopt worldly and godless expedients. Unbelief was the root of the transgression of Saul, as it is of the transgression of men generally.

3. Formality in religious service. A burnt offering was a symbol and expression of consecration, and when offered aright, in a spirit of obedience, it honoured God and obtained his blessing; but when wrongly offered it was worthless, dishonoured him, and was abomination in his sight (1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 21:27; Isaiah 1:13). It is the same with other outward forms of service. "Saul is a specimen of that class of persons who show a certain reverence and zeal for the outward forms of religion, and even a superstitious reliance on them, but are not careful to cherish the inner spirit of vital religion" (Wordsworth's 'Com.').

4. Self-will, pride, and presumption. In disobeying the will of God he set up his own will as supreme, and was guilty of pride, "by which sin fell the angels." It is not said that he offered sacrifice with his own hand, and he may have simply directed it to be done by the priest who was with him (1 Samuel 14:18); nor is it certain that if he had done so he would have gone beyond the privilege and prerogative possessed by other kings. His sin did not consist of intrusion into the priestly office. It was nevertheless very great. "He had cast away his obedience to God. The crown he thought was his own. From that moment he fell; for all our good qualities retain their ascendancy over our evil passions by the presence and power of God claiming them as his." "Samuel, according to modern expositors of the story, was angry because he felt that he was losing his own influence over the mind of the king. No; he was angry because the king was so much the slave of his influence, or of any influence that was exerted over him for a moment; because he was losing the sense of responsibility to One higher than a prophet, to One who had appointed him to rule not in his own name, but as the minister and executor of the Divine righteousness" (Maurice).

III. ITS EXCEEDING FOLLY. "Thou hast done foolishly" (ver. 13). The folly of the sinner appears in his -

1. Being deceived by the appearances of things - the magnitude of danger, the false promises of advantage, the specious arguments of expediency. He is like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, instead of "digging deep and laying the foundation on a rock" (Luke 6:48). He is infatuated, fascinated, and under a glamour cast over his mind by his own evil desires and the spell of the tempter.

2. Making light of the enormous evil of sin. It is the only real evil. But he is thoughtless, ignorant, and foolish enough to account it a trivial thing, which may be easily excused and passed by. As he who says in his heart "No God" is called a "fool," so he who deems it a little matter to offend him is appropriately designated by the same name. "Fools make a mock at sin" (Proverbs 14:9); and he who makes light of sin makes light of God.

3. Leaving the only path of safety and honour. "For now" (if thou hadst obeyed his commandment) "the Lord would have established thy sovereignty over Israel forever."

4. Entering on a course of certain loss and misery.

(1) Inward - weakened moral power, increased tendency to sin, unsteadiness, rashness, etc. What a man does once he is almost certain under similar circumstances to do again. Saul's subsequent course was a continuation and complete development of the same kind of transgression as he now committed. He was already so blinded by sin as not to repent.

(2) Outward. "But now thy sovereignty shall not continue," etc. (ver. 14). The sentence "embodied the principle that no monarchy could be enduring in Israel which did not own the supreme authority of God," and it declared that Saul's crown would not be transmitted to his descendants; but not until afterwards was he personally rejected from being king (1 Samuel 15:23). Having failed to endure the trial to which he was subjected, he was left by Samuel (ver. 15), and nothing is further recorded of his intercourse with the prophet for some years. "He had not even accomplished the object of his unseasonable sacrifice, viz., to prevent the dispersion of the people" (Keil). O that he had waited a little longer! "Saul lost his kingdom for want of two or three hours' patience."

1. Beware of the first wrong step. "It is always marked by a peculiarity of evil which does not attach to any subsequent offences". (Miller). Principiis obsta.

2. If you have taken such a step, instantly repent of it. "It is not sinning, that ruins men, but sinning and not repenting, falling and not getting up again." - D.

I. THE STORY. Saul's bright morning was a very short one, and his sky soon gathered blackness. Beginning with popular acclamation, succeeded after the exploit in Gilead by popular enthusiasm, he lost in a very short time the respect of his subjects. Beginning with a Divine sanction signified through the prophet Samuel, and with appearances of religious fervour, he quickly forfeited the favour of the Lord and the good opinion of the prophet. The ship of his fortunes had hardly left the harbour, with sails set and flags flying, before it ran aground on a rock of wilfulness, and though it kept afloat for years, it ever afterwards laboured uneasily in a troubled sea. The critical question for Saul was whether or not he would be content to act simply as executant of the Divine will. Samuel had pressed this upon him again and again. Would he wait on God, and act for him; or would he act for and from himself? Would he lead the people still to look up to Jehovah as their real King and Lawgiver; or would he imitate the heathen kings, who themselves took the initiative, and then called on their gods to be propitious to them, giving them success in their expeditions and victory in their combats? Would Saul do his own will, expecting the Lord to follow and favour him; or would he set the Lord always before him, follow and obey his voice? It is a great mistake to think that Saul was hardly dealt with on a point of small importance. The principle at stake was great, was fundamental. The test was definite, and was applied in the most public manner before all the army of Israel. The courage which had been roused against the Ammonite invaders of Gilead was now turned against the still more formidable Philistines. The gallant Jonathan struck the first blow, and then his royal father, knowing that the Philistine army could and would be very soon mobilised (as the modern phrase is) and hurled against Israel, summoned his people to arms. But, alas, the greater part of them were afraid to come, and in the threatened districts hid themselves. So the king found himself at Gilgal in a terrible plight, at the head of a small and dispirited force. He must have known that, unless Jehovah came to their help, all was lost. Let it not be said that it was unreasonable to judge and punish a man for anything done by him in such an emergency. Saul had received long notice of this week of patience. On the morning when Samuel anointed him three signs were given him, all of which had been exactly fulfilled. Then he had been told that he would have to tarry seven days at Gilgal for the coming of Samuel to offer sacrifice. But he had forgotten this. The word of the prophet had made no lasting impression on his mind. There was nothing profound about the man. He had no controlling reverence for God, no abiding faith. So he acted from himself, only calling on God to help him in what he was going to do, instead of waiting to know what the Lord would have him to do, and acting as his servant. He bore the strain of anxiety for days, but not till the end of the time appointed. The troops (if one may give such a designation to hastily collected and ill-armed levies) were faint hearted, and but loosely attached to the standard of their king. They wondered why the sacrifice was delayed. They feared that God would be displeased, and not fight for them. Then Saul, impulsive and unwise, ordered that the sacrifice should proceed. Rather than wait a few hours more, he violated the direction he had received from the prophet of the Lord, and betrayed once for all an unreliable character and presumptuous heart.


1. God rules men on large principles, but proves them by specific tests. His law is great and equitable; the trial of obedience to it is sometimes quite minute. In the garden within the land of Eden man and woman were put under a rule of universal obedience to the voice of the Lord, and they were tested by this specific requirement, to abstain from the fruit of one of the trees in the garden. Lot, his wife, and daughters were rescued by angels from a doomed city, and enjoined to flee to the mountains; "but his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." Hezekiah, devoutly referring everything to God, had great deliverances, and a prosperous reign; but failing to consult the Lord when a flattering embassy came to him from Babylon, he revealed vain glory lurking in his heart, and broke down the wall of defence which his previous piety had reared round his throne. Saul was tested more than once, but this one trial at Gilgal was enough to prove his unfitness to rule over God's heritage. The fact is, that one act may show character as clearly and decisively as a score or a hundred could do; not, indeed, an incidental act of inadvertence or error, but a thing done after explicit instruction and warning, lie who breaks through the line of obedience at one point, out of self-will, is not to be depended on at any point. He disentitles himself to confidence by one instance of misconduct, not because of its intrinsic importance, but on account of the key which it gives to his inward tone of character.

2. One action, hastily performed, may carry irremediable consequences. Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, and he could never reverse that fatal act. Cain struck down his brother, and was from that day a wanderer and an outlaw on the earth. Esau sold his birthright, and never could recover it. Moses erred once at the rock in Kadesh, and forfeited his entrance into the promised land. The sins of those who are penitent are forgiven; but there are consequences of sinful habits, nay, even of one sinful act, which have no cure or corrective. It is well that this should be kept sternly before the eyes of men; for the moral nature of many is slippery and self-excusing, and they are too ready to count on impunity, or on finding some easy corrective for what they do amiss. The truth is, that one action may spoil a whole life, and, indeed, may hurt not oneself only, but many others also; just as Saul's impatience at Gilgal injured not himself alone, but the nation of Israel during all his unhappy reign.

3. He whom God will exalt must first learn patience. For want of this was Saul rejected from being king. By means of this was David educated for the throne. The son of Jesse was privately anointed by Samuel, as the son of Kish had been. Thereafter he came into public notice by his promptitude and bravery against Goliath, just as Saul had come into public favour by similar qualities against Nahash. So far their paths may be said to have corresponded; but then they quite diverged. Saul, impatient, behaved foolishly, and fell. David, when tried, "behaved himself wisely," made no haste to grasp the sceptre, waited patiently till God should lift hint up. So when the time at last came for his elevation, he knew how to reign as God's king on the hill of Zion. How beautiful is this in the Son of David, the meek and lowly One, who, because he patiently observed the will of God, has now a name above every name! Jesus pleased not himself. He always spoke and acted as in behalf and by direction of his Father in heaven. Therefore has God highly exalted him.

4. It is a dangerous thing to ask for, or accept, a vicegerent of God on earth. It betrays unbelief rather than faith, and it entails tyranny and confusion. What a calamity it has been to the Latin Church to have an alleged vicar of Christ on earth! The arrangement quite falls in with the craving for a spiritual ruler who may be seen, and the uneasiness of really unspiritual men under the control of One who is invisible. So there is a Popedom, which began indeed with good intentions and impulses, as did the monarchy of Saul, but has long ago fallen under God's displeasure through arrogance, and brought nothing but confusion and oppression on Christendom. We are a hundred times better without any such vicegerent. Enough in the spiritual sphere that the Lord is King. Our Divine Saviour, now unseen, but in due time to appear in his glory, is the only as well as the blessed Potentate, Head of the Church, Captain of the host, Lord of all. - F.

1 Samuel 13:14. (GILGAL.)
This expression occurs only here and in the quotation (Acts 13:22), "I have found David the son of Jesse (Psalm 89:20), a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will."

1. It was uttered by Samuel on the occasion of his reproving Saul for not obeying the commandment of the Lord (ver. 13).

2. It formed a part of the announcement of the purpose of God to appoint another man to be "captain over his people" in consequence thereof. The time of its fulfilment was not defined, nor was it known to the prophet who he should be; it is uncertain even whether David was yet born.

3. It was descriptive of his character in contrast to that of Saul, and it had respect to him in his public official capacity as theocratic sovereign rather than in his private moral life, although it is impossible wholly to separate the one from the other. He would obey the commandment of the Lord, and, as it was predicted of "a faithful priest" (1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Samuel 3:10), "do according to that which was in his heart and in his mind;" he would "serve the will of God in his lifetime" (Acts 13:36), and second and carry out his purposes concerning his people (Isaiah 44:28); he would be truly "his servant," and therefore his throne would continue and (in the full realisation of the theocratic idea it represented) be established forever (Psalm 89:19-37). In "a man after God's own heart" (such as David was) there is -

I. THE RECOGNITION OF THE WILL OF GOD as supreme. His will is above that of king and people; declared in manifold ways, it is the rule of human life; and he who perceives it most clearly and observes it most humbly and constantly approaches nearest to perfection. Saul paid but little regard to it, and, when it was opposed to his own inclination or judgment, set it aside and went his own way. With David it was otherwise. In his royal office especially he embodied the spirit of loyalty to the invisible King of Israel, and of zeal for his law and ordinances. "The vain cavils of infidels appear to have arisen from not considering that the phrase to which they object may be interpreted with equal propriety as referring to the Divine purpose, design, or intention as to designate peculiar favour and affection. The latter undoubtedly was true, yet the former is most clearly the meaning intended here" (Poole).

II. THE CONVICTION OF THE CALL OF GOD to his service. Unlike Saul, he felt deeply and constantly that he was individually an object of Divine regard, and appointed to do a certain work from which he neither desired nor dared to shrink. And a similar feeling exists in every true servant of God. "The life of David is the life neither of a mere official fulfilling a purpose in which he has no interest, nor of a hero without fear and without reproach; but of a man inspired by a Divine purpose under the guidance of a Divine teacher" (Maurice).

III. DEVOTION TO THE HONOUR OF GOD from the heart. Although Saul possessed many admirable qualities, he sought to honour God by outward sacrifices rather than real obedience, his noblest deeds were the offspring of sudden and transient impulses, and his predominant motive was his own honour and glory. "He had none of the work of Divine grace upon the heart, turning impulses into principles, ruling all actions by the law of an unseen Judge. He never experienced what the apostle calls the powers of the world to come, that is to say, the sense of God, of another world, smiting upon his soul through the veil of visible things, and making him feel the presence and the real, awful personality of his Maker. His soul was not like David's, a harp touched by the hand of the Almighty, and attuned to celestial melodies. It was only an instrument over which the wind swept wildly, waking a fitful and irregular music which soon died away into the confused murmurs of a harsh and tuneless discord" (A. Blomfield).

IV. DEPENDENCE ON THE HELP OF GOD for success. Saul was proud of his own strength, and both in ruling the people and contending against their enemies he relied on his own skill and prudence, and "an arm of flesh." David trusted in God foreverything. "He never represents himself as a compound of strength and weakness. He represents himself as weakness itself - as incapacity utter and complete. The Lord is his strength. He has faith in God as his physical Inspirer or Protector. He has a deeper, a far deeper instinct than even that - the instinct of a communion, personal, practical, loving, between God, the Fount of light and goodness, and his own soul, with its capacity of darkness as well as light, of evil as well as good. In one word, David is a man of faith and a man of prayer" (Kingsley, 'Four Sermons').

V. REPENTANCE AT THE REPROOF OF GOD on account of sin. The heart of Saul trembled not at the word of the Lord. When the prophet said, "What hast thou done?" he offered excuses for his conduct, and when on a subsequent occasion he was constrained to say, "I have sinned," his confession was insincere and hypocritical. How different was it with David when Nathan said to him, "Thou art the man." "Never was repentance more severe, or sorrow more sincere; so that he may justly be said (his repentance included, though not his fall) to be a man after God's own heart" (Yonge).

VI. SYMPATHY WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD in their experience. He identified himself with them, made their varied joys and sorrows his own, and thereby (as well as by other means) promoted their highest good. His character "gathered into itself - so far as might be - all the various workings of the heart of man. This is the special attribute of the life and character of the son of Jesse. There is a hard, narrow separateness of soul marked in every line of the character of Saul. He is a wayward, wilful, self-determined man, well nigh incapable of any real sympathy with others. Such an one could learn little of the workings of the human heart, which is so immeasurable in the multitude and compassion of its tones. Deep as were his sorrows, he never knew the grace of contrition. Thus his dark heart is full of sullenness and suspicion, inviting the entrance of the evil one, who came at his bidding, and closed with yet sterner bars all the avenues of his soul. In every one of these particulars David is the most complete contrast to Saul" (Wilberforce, 'Heroes of Heb. Hist.').

VII. SINCERITY IN HIS WHOLE RELATION TO GOD and in the main course of his life. "What are faults - what are the outward details of life, if the inner spirit of it, the remorse, temptations, true, often baffled, never ended struggle of it be forgotten?... David's life and history, as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider to be the truest emblem ever given of a man's moral progress and warfare here below. All earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful struggle of an earnest human soul towards what is good and best; struggle often baffled, down as into entire wreck, yet a struggle never ended; ever with tears, repentance, true, unconquerable purpose begun anew" (Carlyle, 'Heroes'). - D.

1 Samuel 13:16-23. (MICHMASH.)
Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel (ver. 19). The invasion of the Philistines produced great fear and distress among the people. Many hid themselves in caves, and thickets, and cliffs, and vaults, and pits; others fled across the Jordan; those who followed Saul did so with trembling (vers. 6, 7); his army melted away - some deserted to the enemy, or were pressed into their service (1 Samuel 14:21); their homes and fields were plundered by marauding bands (ver. 17; 1 Samuel 14:22), which went forth from Michmash without fear of resistance, for the people had been disarmed and deprived of the means of making weapons of war, and even of sharpening their implements of husbandry (2 Kings 24:14) when they became blunt (literally, "there was bluntness of edges;" A.V., "they had a file), except at the pleasure of their oppressors (ver. 21). The result of the burdensome necessity of going to the Philistines was, that many tools became useless by dulness, so that even this poorer sort of arms did the Israelites not much service at the breaking out of the war (Bunsen). How long this state of things continued is not recorded; but it was sufficiently long for those who remained with Saul and Jonathan (ver. 22) to be left without "sword or spear," or any regular armament. Their condition was thus one of helplessness, dependence, and wretchedness, and affords a picture of that to which men are reduced by error and sin. In it we see -

I. THE MANIFEST FAILURE of a self chosen way. "Nay; but we will have a king over us" (1 Samuel 8:19). They have a king self-willed like themselves; but their way fails, as the way of those who prefer their own plans to the guidance of God must ever fail.

1. In delivering them from the evils of which they complain (1 Samuel 8:5), or which they fear (1 Samuel 9:16).

2. In preserving to them the advantages which they possess. "Ye dwelled safe" (1 Samuel 12:11). Where is their safety now?

3. In procuring for them the good which they desire - liberty, power, victory, prosperity, honour, and glory (John 11:47, 48; Romans 10:2, 3). How completely do the prospects that lure men onward in their self-chosen way vanish before them as they advance!

II. THE MISERABLE SUBJECTION of those who forsake God. "They have rejected me" (1 Samuel 8:7). With what result? They are "delivered unto the will of them that hate them" (Ezekiel 16:27; Deuteronomy 28:48), and endure -

1. Oppression that cannot be effectually resisted. "Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (2 Peter 2:19), and without the means of freeing himself.

2. Increased difficulty, toil, and trouble in the necessary pursuits of life. Life itself without the friendship of God is a burden too heavy to be borne.

3. Shame and contempt continually (ver. 4). "Is this the grandeur and power which they fondly expected under their king? Was it for this they rejected the Shield of their help and the Sword of their excellency?"

III. THE MERCIFUL PURPOSE to which trial is subservient. "The Lord will not forsake his people" (1 Samuel 12:22). Their distress has some alleviation, and it is designed (in his abounding goodness) -

1. To convince them of the evil of their way.

2. To teach them to put their trust in God, and serve him in truth (1 Samuel 14:6).

3. To prepare them for help and Salvation. Learn that -

1. The highest wisdom of man is to submit to the wisdom of God.

2. The service of God is the only true freedom; the way of honour and happiness. "To serve God is to reign."

3. They who refuse the free service of God fall into the forced service of their enemies.

4. In the greatest of earthly calamities there is no room for despair. "If from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him" (Deuteronomy 4:29). - D.

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