Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1 Samuel 19:1-7. (GIBEAH.)1 Samuel 21:7; 1 Samuel 22:22) and Cush (Psalm 7., inscription), are ready to carry out their evil wishes. The danger of David was now imminent. And with the revelation of it to him by Jonathan his troubles began. Whilst adversity shows the insincerity and worthlessness of false friends, it also shows the sincerity and worth of true. "In adverse hours the friendship of the good shines most." The proof of true friendship appears in -
I. THE STEADFASTNESS OF ITS ATTACHMENT. "Jonathan delighted much in David." Notwithstanding -
1. Misrepresentation on the part of enemies. There can be no doubt that Saul spoke of David as treacherously aiming at the throne. The mouths of others were full of detraction and calumny, by which they sought to destroy him as with sharp swords (Psalm 59:7).
2. Urgent claims on the part of friends and kindred. A father's wishes are sometimes opposed to a friend's welfare.
3. Self-interest. If David were spared Jonathan's accession to the throne would be jeopardised (1 Samuel 21:13). But true friendship stands the test. It "thinketh no evil" of a friend, will do him no wrong, nor admit the least feeling of jealousy or envy. The wintry storm only serves to strengthen its attachment. "Yet these two charges of inconstancy and of weakness condemn most men: either in their prosperity they despise a friend, or in his troubles they desert him" (Cicero).
II. THE FAITHFULNESS OF ITS COMMUNICATIONS. "And Jonathan told David," etc. (vers. 2, 3).
1. It reveals the whole truth and conceals nothing. "If you think any one your friend in whom you do not put the same confidence as in yourself you know not the real power of friendship" (Seneca).
2. It gives the best counsel in its power.
3. It promises aid as it may be needed.
III. THE SELF-DEVOTION OF ITS ENDEAVOURS. "And Jonathan spake good of David," etc. (vers. 4, 5).
1. It undergoes personal risk in undertaking the cause of a friend.
2. It makes earnest entreaty on behalf of the absent one; asserting his innocence, enumerating his services, setting forth his claims upon gratitude and esteem, and remonstrating against his being injured "without cause" (ver. 5; John 15:25).
3. It shows a prudent and respectful regard for those whom it wishes to influence. In Jonathan prudence and principle were combined. "Prudence did not go so far as to make him silent about the sin which Saul was purposing to commit; principle was not so asserted as to arouse his father's indignation" (W.M. Taylor).
IV. THE VALUE OF ITS ACHIEVEMENTS. "And Saul hearkened," etc. (vers. 6, 7). "How forcible are right words!" Even the heart of Saul is moved, and his better feelings gain the ascendancy. How often by a generous and prudent attempt at peace making is -
1. A threatening evil averted.
2. A reconciliation, of the alienated effected.
3. Intercourse between friends renewed, "as in times past." "Blessed are the peacemakers," etc. (Matthew 5:9). "There are four, young man" (says an Eastern sage), "who, seeming to be friends, are enemies in disguise - the rapacious friend, the man of much profession, the flatterer, and the dissolute companion These four, young man, are true friends - the watchful friend, the friend who is the same in prosperity and adversity, the friend who gives good advice, and the sympathising friend" ('Contem. Rev.,' 27:421). - D.
1 Samuel 19:8-18. (GIBEAH.)1 Samuel 17; 1 Samuel 18:5, 30), victory by David again, an evil spirit upon Saul again (1 Samuel 16:23; 1 Samuel 18:10); and, as David once more sat in the palace, "playing with his hand," the king not merely brandished his spear as before, but hurled it at him. It was his last attempt of the kind. After what had taken place he might not be trusted again; and David fled, first to his own house, and during the night from the city. It is one of the memorable nights of the Bible.
1. That night was the commencement of his open persecution by Saul, and of the long and varied troubles he experienced as an outlaw. He had been at court some three or four years, and now at three and twenty went forth to his seven years' wanderings (2 Samuel 5:5: "He lived seventy years" - Josephus).
2. That night was, as is commonly thought, the occasion of the composition of the first of David's psalms. Psalm 59., 'the refuge of the persecuted,' "is perhaps the oldest of the Davidic psalms that have come down to us" (Delitzsch). It is not necessary to suppose that it was actually written on the night of his escape. The thoughts and feelings then entertained may have been penned subsequently; perhaps while he continued at Ramah with Samuel and "the prophets" (vers. 18, 20). Other psalms have been referred by some to the same occasion - viz., Psalm 6., 7., 11. "His harp was his companion in his flight, and even in the midst of peril the poet's nature appears which regards all life as materials for song, and the devout spirit appears which regards all trials as occasions of praise" (Maclaren). How wide and deep was the stream of sacred song of which this was the commencement!
3. That night afforded one of the most remarkable instances of the protecting and guiding providence of God by which the life of David was manifestly ordered. Notice -
I. HIS DANGER, and the anxiety and distress by which it was naturally attended (vers. 11, 14, 17, compared with Psalm 59.). Adversity -
1. Often follows closely upon prosperity. In the morning David occupied a position of high honour as the king's son-in-law, the successful general, the popular hero; at night he was hiding in secret and fleeing for his life. Vicissitude is the law of life; and none, however exalted, may boast of their security or continuance (Job 29:18).
2. Appears sometimes to fall most heavily upon the godly man. "Not for my transgression nor for my sin" (Psalm 59:3). Why should it be permitted? To test, manifest, strengthen, and perfect his character. David had been tried by prosperity, he must also be tried by adversity.
3. Is due, in great measure, to the opposition and persecution of the ungodly. What a picture is here presented of the enemies of David, "when Saul sent messengers, and they watched the house to kill him"! (Psalm 59:3, 6, 14). And what a revelation does it make of the wickedness of the human heart, which was consummated in the crucifying of the Lord of glory! "As then he that was born after the flesh," etc. (Galatians 4:29). The conflict is renewed in every age and in every individual life. "All that will live godly," etc. (2 Timothy 3:12).
4. Leads the good man to more entire trust in God and more earnest prayer. This is one of its chief purposes.
"Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God!... 5. Is never so bitter to him as trouble to the wicked, for he has peace within and undying hope. How different was it with David in this respect from what it was with Saul] 6. However long the good man may suffer from the persecution of the wicked, his deliverance is certain for "God is Ruler in Jacob," etc. (Psalm 59:13). "By him actions are weighed." II. HIS DELIVERANCE (vers. 11, 12, 17, 18). The interposition of Providence, to which it was due - 1. Is not made without the watchful and diligent use of appropriate means. David did not presumptuously wait in the palace or his own house, but availed himself of the opportunity of escaping. "When they persecute you," etc. (Matthew 10:23). 2. Is shown in turning to good what was meant for evil. The snare that was woven for his soul (1 Samuel 17:21; ver. 11; Psalm 59:3) aided his escape. 3. Often fills the wicked with disappointment and confusion when most confident of success (ver. 17). 4. Provides a home for the good man when driven out of their society. "Came to Samuel and told him all," etc. That night he was received by his revered friend, to whose instructions he had doubtless often listened; and with whom else could he have found such sympathy and shelter? 5. Causes him to render praise to God. "But, as for me, I will sing of thy strength, 6. Conduces to the benefit of many. These Psalms of David - the result (under "an unction from the Holy One") of his distresses and deliverances - are among our greatest spiritual treasures. "They are for all time. They never can be outgrown. No dispensation while the world lasts and continues what it is can ever raise us above the reach or the need of them. They describe every spiritual vicissitude, they speak to all classes of minds, they command every natural emotion. They are penitential, jubilant adorative, deprecatory; - they are tender, mournful, joyous, majestic; - soft as the descent of dew; low as the whisper of love; loud as the voice of thunder; terrible as the almightiness of God ["(Binney, 'Service of Song in the House of the Lord'). - D.
5. Is never so bitter to him as trouble to the wicked, for he has peace within and undying hope. How different was it with David in this respect from what it was with Saul]
6. However long the good man may suffer from the persecution of the wicked, his deliverance is certain for "God is Ruler in Jacob," etc. (Psalm 59:13). "By him actions are weighed."
II. HIS DELIVERANCE (vers. 11, 12, 17, 18). The interposition of Providence, to which it was due -
1. Is not made without the watchful and diligent use of appropriate means. David did not presumptuously wait in the palace or his own house, but availed himself of the opportunity of escaping. "When they persecute you," etc. (Matthew 10:23).
2. Is shown in turning to good what was meant for evil. The snare that was woven for his soul (1 Samuel 17:21; ver. 11; Psalm 59:3) aided his escape.
3. Often fills the wicked with disappointment and confusion when most confident of success (ver. 17).
4. Provides a home for the good man when driven out of their society. "Came to Samuel and told him all," etc. That night he was received by his revered friend, to whose instructions he had doubtless often listened; and with whom else could he have found such sympathy and shelter?
5. Causes him to render praise to God.
"But, as for me, I will sing of thy strength, 6. Conduces to the benefit of many. These Psalms of David - the result (under "an unction from the Holy One") of his distresses and deliverances - are among our greatest spiritual treasures. "They are for all time. They never can be outgrown. No dispensation while the world lasts and continues what it is can ever raise us above the reach or the need of them. They describe every spiritual vicissitude, they speak to all classes of minds, they command every natural emotion. They are penitential, jubilant adorative, deprecatory; - they are tender, mournful, joyous, majestic; - soft as the descent of dew; low as the whisper of love; loud as the voice of thunder; terrible as the almightiness of God ["(Binney, 'Service of Song in the House of the Lord'). - D.
6. Conduces to the benefit of many. These Psalms of David - the result (under "an unction from the Holy One") of his distresses and deliverances - are among our greatest spiritual treasures. "They are for all time. They never can be outgrown. No dispensation while the world lasts and continues what it is can ever raise us above the reach or the need of them. They describe every spiritual vicissitude, they speak to all classes of minds, they command every natural emotion. They are penitential, jubilant adorative, deprecatory; - they are tender, mournful, joyous, majestic; - soft as the descent of dew; low as the whisper of love; loud as the voice of thunder; terrible as the almightiness of God ["(Binney, 'Service of Song in the House of the Lord'). - D.
1 Samuel 19:11-17. (GIBEAH.)
1. Impressionable and impulsive. Fascinated by his personal appearance and popularity, the young princess "loved David," and made no secret of her affection; but she does not appear to have perceived anything of his highest qualities. The relation of husband and wife, no less than that of friends, is firmest when sanctified by common faith and love toward God.
2. Capable of a noble action. Under the influence of strong feeling she warned David of his danger and aided his escape, at the risk of her own life.
3. Designing and deceptive. Her quick wittedness devised the means of escape, deceived the messengers of Saul to gain time, and invented a ready story to disarm her father's wrath. Her fear of her father was greater than her love for truth; and her love for her husband greater than her hatred of sin. "She could tell lies for David, but she had not the courage and the faith to go with him into suffering, or to tell the truth for him" (W. M. Taylor).
4. Superstitious. Teraphim (1 Samuel 15:23). See Bible Dictionaries. It is not said that David knew of her possession of these idolatrous objects.
5. Changeable and wayward. During the wanderings of David she was given in marriage to Phalti, apparently without reluctance (1 Samuel 25:44); and (as appears when restored to David) "she had evidently gained his affections; he most likely had won hers" (2 Samuel 3:16).
6. Proud, jealous, and scornful. Proud of her birth and rank, jealous of her rivals, Abigail and Ahinoam (2 Samuel 6:16, 20-23; Blunt, 'Script. Coincidences,' p. 126), and scornful toward her husband. "She despised him in her heart."
"Preceding the blest vessel, onward came,
7. Unspiritual, and destitute of sympathy with the feelings of boundless gratitude, joy, and adoration expressed before the Lord. - D.
I. CONSOLATION. We are not surprised to learn that David, when driven from his house by the deadly malice of the king, betook himself to the prophet Samuel at his residence in Ramah. In reporting the treatment he had received to the venerable prophet, he reported it to God, whose authority was represented by Samuel. The path of his life seemed to be blocked by the undeserved ill will of Saul. Was there any further instruction for him from the Lord? There is no evidence that Samuel had held any communication with David from the time of his visit to Bethlehem to anoint the young shepherd; but it may be assumed that he had kept a watchful eye on his career, and prayed much for a youth with so great a destiny. Some painter ought to show us their meeting: the aged prophet, his countenance traced with sorrow for his own unworthy sons, and not less for the untoward career of Saul, receiving with outstretched arms and ready sympathy the fugitive David, in the very perfection of his gallant youth, yet coining with weary steps and dejected visage. The old man took the young chief to shelter with him in Naioth, where was a settlement of prophets - a group of dwellings where servants of God lived in retreat and cultivated sacred song and fraternal fellowship. David was not to tarry long in such a refuge, but it was good for him to visit it. It solaced and strengthened his spirit in God. Undisturbed by the jealousies of the court and the dangerous frenzy of the king, surrounded by an atmosphere of devotion, mingling not merely with aged seers like Samuel, but also with young men of his own age whose time was spent in sacred study and brightened with music and song, David must have been in his best element. He was a good soldier, and happy at the head of his troops, charging the Philistines. But he was still more a thinker, a poet, a minstrel, a prophet, a man of fervent spirit toward God, and so must have been happier in the goodly fellowship of the prophets at Naioth than in the rush of battle and the pride of victory. There is no record of the words of consolation and counsel which Samuel spoke to him; but doubtless we have traces and echoes of them in those psalms in which David has discussed the afflictions of the servants of Jehovah, and sung of their ultimate deliverance and reward. Psalm 59. is traditionally ascribed to the period when the armed men sent by Saul surrounded David's house to put him to death. As it is highly artificial in structure, it can hardly have been composed on the spur of the moment. Very probably it was written at Naioth while the impression of the danger was fresh, and was sung among the prophets there. In the case of David we read of no agitation or excitement. It would be little surprising if he, fleeing for his life, had been overcome by emotion when he found himself in safeguard. But all we read of his bearing is rational and calm.
II. EXCITEMENT. It was in the servants of Saul, and subsequently in Saul himself, that a religious excitement appeared. Three successive bands were despatched by the king to seize his son-in-law, but with a strange result. As each band saw the venerated Samuel stand forth at the head of the prophets, they feared to do violence to one under such august protection. Nay, more; the spiritual enthusiasm of the prophets communicated itself to them and overmastered them, so that they forgot their errand and joined in the burst of holy song. King Saul himself, provoked by the failure of his emissaries, went to Naioth, and he was more completely overpowered than they. We have seen already that his temperament was exceedingly amenable to the impressions of music and song. We remember how he had flung himself among the prophets in the very outset of his history; and although sadly deteriorated in character, he still retained his early sensibilities. Indeed, through the very disorder of his faculties he had become more susceptible than ever of religious excitement; so when he reached Naioth he was quite beyond himself. The spiritual electricity of the place was too much for him, and he fell into a very paroxysm of enthusiasm. At first when, on the way to Naioth, he lifted his voice m some sacred chant, it was well, and the historian does not hesitate to say that "the Spirit of God was upon him." But at Naioth he behaved like a fanatical devotee of some heathen god, or a wild dervish of the East. He threw off his royal tunic, and after long and exhausting exercise of body and spirit lay in nothing but his under dress, prone and probably motionless, on the ground for "all that day and all that night." But though "among the prophets," he was not of them. It was a mere fit of fervour soon to pass away. The heart of Saul was by this time hopelessly "jangled and out of tune." The subject of temporary religious excitement needs to be carefully thought out and discreetly handled. But it can never be fully explained - at all events not till more is known of the action of the nervous system, and till more light falls on the mysterious question of contagious emotion and imitative cerebral stimulation. One or two things, however, are plain enough, and deserve to be noted; e.g. -
1. There is a religious excitation which carries with it no moral influence whatever. It is not feigned or insincere. He who is the subject of it is really lifted up or carried along as with a rush of earnest feeling. He cries for mercy; he prays with strong supplication; or he sings of pardon and of unutterable joys. His emotions are all aglow, and his brain is stirred to unusual activity. This occurs the more easily if one who is constitutionally accessible to such gusts of feeling falls among others who are much in earnest. He finds himself where prayers burst forth from importunate souls, and hymns are sung with a swing of enthusiasm. At once he feels as those around him do. Yet there is no change of his moral nature; he is merely a person of susceptible or imitative constitution, who has caught the contagion of religion from others, yet has not come, and may never come, to repentance. It is not for a moment to be denied that in many cases a real moral and spiritual change is produced in the midst of much excitement; but the excitement is only an accompaniment of the change - perhaps necessary for some minds, but always fraught with some degree of danger. The only thing of lasting value is the exercise of conscience, and the turning of the affections and will to God in Christ.
2. The degree in which new religious emotion overpowers the body is generally proportioned to the previous ignorance of the mind, or its estrangement from God. David at Naioth fell into no frenzy, lay in no swoon, because he was a man of God, and devout feeling flowed through him unimpeded, found in him a congenial heart. But Saul had been in an evil mood; envy and murder were in his breast. So, when a pure and sacred impulse came upon him, it met resistance; and there were bodily manifestations which, far from being marks of grace, were signs of a moral state at variance with the Spirit of God. This case should teach caution in ascribing any religious value to prostrations, trances, and long fasts. These things most frequently recur in cases of a morbid hysterical temperament, or in very ignorant persons who are disturbed and terrified, or in instances where religious feeling, suddenly flowing in on unprepared minds, encounters obstinate obstruction. When the mind is thoughtful and refined, or when the heart is gentle and open to any good influx, religious fervour seldom causes any disorder in the nervous system or the physical constitution. We may be reminded here that David could show no small excitement, for he danced before the ark in the sight of all Israel (2 Samuel 6:14). True; but in all the enthusiasm of that great occasion King David was sober minded and self-possessed. He had good reasons for leading the sacred processional dance, as may afterwards be shown; but, far from giving way to excitement, or losing his senses like Saul, he went calmly through the duties of an eventful and fatiguing day. He offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he blessed the people, causing provisions to be distributed among them. And after all this "David returned to bless his house." Such is the enthusiasm we desire. To be full of joy before the Lord, but at the same time to be of a healthy mind, ready for public or private duty hour by hour. But we see no good in nervous excitement or hysterical ecstasy. When we consider that the Bible is a collection of Eastern books, and that the East has always been the home of strange religious extravagances, we recognise in the well balanced sobriety of mind which pervades the Bible a new proof of its Divine inspiration. It takes notice of the varied phenomenal effects of strong religious feeling on the human frame; it tells of long prostrations, excited movements, and prophetic trances; but it always attaches moral significance and value not to such abnormal conditions, but to the effects which appear and remain in character and life. The greatest of all, the Man Christ Jesus, the Lord whom we are to love and follow, is shown to us full of a sublime enthusiasm, but full at the same time of meekness and of wisdom. The Scriptures teach us to be calm and fervent, fervent and calm. If rushes of devout emotion come upon us, be it so. If men who have no faith call us fanatical and mad, be it so. Such men said of our Master, "He rageth, and hath a demon;" and of Paul, "Thou art beside thyself." But let the evidence of our Christian faith and principle be found not in any moods of excitement, but in the moral excellence we exhibit, the fruit of the Spirit we bring forth. So shall we find consolation and strength when others only expose their weakness; and every pause at Naioth, or the place of prayer and holy fellowship, will brace our spirits for the trials that must yet befall us before we are perfected. - F.
1 Samuel 19:20. (RAMAH.)1 Samuel 10:10), in the neighbourhood of Ramah. It was the chief home of order, light, and religion; the centre of spiritual influence. "He found there only temporary safety, indeed, from Saul's persecution, but abiding consolation and strength in the inspired prophetic word, in the blessings of the fraternal community, and in the consoling and elevating power of the holy poetic art, whereby he doubtless stood in peculiarly intimate connection with the community" (Erdmann). "God intended to make David not a warrior and a king only, but a prophet too. As the field fitted him for the first and the court for the second, so Naioth shall fit him for the third (Hall). How long he continued is not stated; but, on hearing of his refuge, Saul sent three times to take him by force, and ultimately went himself for the purpose. The messengers found an assembly (lahak, used here only, probably by a transposition of letters, i.q. kahal - Gesenius) of prophets engaged in religious exercises under the presidency of Samuel. It is not necessary to suppose that the service, which may have had a special character, was conducted in a large hall, though there may have been such; it was probably in the open air, and capable of being seen and heard from a distance (ver. 22). With respect more particularly to Samuel, notice -
I. HIS HONOURED POSITION - "standing as appointed over them," or as leader; not probably appointed by any official act of theirs, but generally recognised and honoured, and directing their holy exercises. The honour in which he was held was due to -
1. The pre-eminent authority he possessed as a prophet of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:19).
2. The high character he had so long sustained in that office, and the course of labour he had pursued.
3. The special work he had accomplished in gathering around him such young men as seemed to be qualified by their gifts and piety to act as prophets in Israel, and forming them into a school or college of prophets. He was the venerable founder of their order, and reaped the reward of his labours in their reverence and affection, and still more in their devotion to Jehovah and their zeal for his honour.
II. HIS PROPHETIC ASSOCIATES. They were '"prophets," not "sons" or disciples "of the prophets" (2 Kings 2:3), who seem to have occupied in later times a more dependent and inferior position. They were a union or free association of men "endowed with the Spirit of God for the purpose of carrying on their work, the feeble powers of junior members being directed and strengthened by those of a higher class" (Kitto, 'Cyc. of Bib. Lit.'). Among them probably were Gad (1 Samuel 22:5; 2 Samuel 24:11), Nathan (2 Samuel 7:2; 2 Samuel 12:1), and Heman, the grandson of Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:33; 1 Chronicles 25:5; "the king's seer," etc.).
1. They had been under his instruction in the knowledge of God and his law, and, as subservient to this, in reading and writing, poetry, music, and singing. "Education is not a panacea for all human ills, but it is an indispensable condition both of individual and of national progress" ('Expositor,' 3:344).
2. They were in sympathy with his purposes concerning the true welfare of the people of Israel, and strove to carry them into effect. They formed "a compact phalanx to stand against the corruption which had penetrated so deeply into the nation, and to bring back the rebellious to the law and the testimony" (Keil).
3. They were endowed, like Samuel himself, with a peculiar measure of the Divine Spirit for the accomplishment of their work. By his influence they were drawn together, variously gifted, and sometimes impelled to ecstatic utterances.
III. HIS DEVOUT OCCUPATION. He presided over the prophets, and took part with them in "prophesying," or uttering with a loud voice the praises of God. His last recorded act was one of worship, and under his influence David's intense love for public worship was probably acquired. The service was -
1. Accompanied with music (as in 1 Samuel 10:10). "A principal part of their occupation consisted - under the guidance of some prophet of superior authority, and more peculiarly under the Divine influence, as moderator and preceptor - in celebrating the praises of Almighty God, in hymns and poetry, with choral chaunts, accompanied by stringed instruments and pipes" (Lowth).
2. Edifying. Whilst their utterance expressed their inward feeling, it was also the means of teaching and exhorting one another, and of "awakening holy susceptibilities and emotions in the soul, and of lifting up the spirit to God, and so preparing it for the reception of Divine revelations."
3. United. which tends by the power of sympathy to intensify feeling, strengthen faith, enlarge desire, and perfect those dispositions in connection with which worship is acceptable to God.
IV. HIS POWERFUL INFLUENCE. "The Spirit of God came upon the messengers," etc. The immediate effect was to transform these men, to protect David from their power, and to afford a sign of the opposition of God to the designs of Saul. More generally, the influence of Samuel was put forth in and through the "company of prophets" for -
1. The maintenance of the principle of the theocracy, which was imperilled by the conduct of Saul. The prophets were its true representatives and upholders in every subsequent age.
2. The elevation of the people in wisdom and righteousness. Their work was to teach, reprove, and exhort those with whom they came into contact; and "through such a diffusion of prophetic training the higher truths of prophecy must have been most rapidly diffused among the people, and a new and higher life formed in the nation" (Ewald).
3. The preparation of men for a better time - the advent of Christ, the outpouring of the Spirit, and the proclamation of the gospel. The prophets, not the priests, were the true forerunners of the gospel ministry. - D.
1 Samuel 19:22-24. (RAMAH.)Exodus 10:16; 1 Kings 18:16; Acts 25:24). Besides the three men just mentioned, there was also present One infinitely greater, and, although invisible, his power was displayed in a marvellous manner. Considered in relation to the Divine power, the narrative sets before us -
I. AN AGED PROPHET IMBUED WITH FEARLESS DIGNITY. His danger was great. What Saul might do may be judged from the fear which Samuel expressed on a former occasion (1 Samuel 16:2), and from what he actually did not long afterwards (1 Samuel 22:18, 19). But the prophet went on with his holy service calm and undismayed. He was inwardly sustained by Divine power, as others have since been in danger and suffering (Acts 16:25). Such fearlessness is possessed by God's servants in connection with -
1. A firm persuasion that they are in the path of duty. They have within "a peace above all earthly dignities, a still and quiet conscience." If conscience "does make cowards of us all," it also makes us heroes. And
"He that hath light within his own clear breast
2. A vivid realisation of the presence and might of the Lord. Faith "sees him who is invisible" and "the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire" (2 Kings 6:17).
3. A strong assurance of deliverance from their adversaries.
II. A PERSECUTING MONARCH TURNED INTO A HARMLESS ENTHUSIAST. The Divine power was exerted first upon Saul's messengers and then upon himself. In a somewhat similar manner, if not to the same extent, it is often exerted upon evil and persecuting men -
1. In connection with the utterances of the praises of God by his servants (2 Chronicles 20:22; Psalm 149:6). Instances are not unknown in which "one that believeth not" has come into their assembly, and, hearing their praises, has fallen down on his face and worshipped God (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). This was not the first time that Saul was so affected, and the recollection of his earlier experience had probably some influence upon him. But then it was a sign that the power of God was for him, now that it was against him.
2. In order to restrain the wicked from carrying out their evil designs. He who holds the hearts of men in his hand thereby says, "Do my prophets no harm" (1 Chronicles 16:22).
3. In order to restore them to the right way. It was to Saul more than a warning that he was fighting against God. "He was seized by this mighty influence of the Spirit of God in a more powerful manner than his servants were, both because he had most obstinately resisted the leadings of Divine grace, and also in order that, if it were possible, his hard heart might be broken and subdued by the power of grace. If, however, he should nevertheless continue obstinately in his rebellion against God, he would then fall under the judgment of hardening, which would be speedily followed by his destruction" (Keil).
III. AN INNOCENT FUGITIVE RESCUED FROM IMPENDING DESTRUCTION. David was saved from the hand of Saul, and even (as it would appear) formally reconciled to him (1 Samuel 20:18, 27). The putting forth of the power of God was to him -
1. An indication of the varied and abundant resources of God to protect in the greatest peril.
2. An assurance of Divine approbation in the way of trust and obedience.
3. An encouragement to patient endurance. He might be tempted to reach the goal for which, as he was now probably fully aware, he was destined (1 Samuel 20:15; 1 Samuel 23:17) by violent measures; but ever as he thought on this scene, together with the counsel and the whole course of the venerable prophet, he would feel that "the way of order is the best."
"The way of order, though it lead through windings,
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