So again they inquired of the LORD, "Has the man come here yet?" And the LORD replied, "Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage."
1 Samuel 10:17-25. (MIZPAH)1 Samuel 8:5); of securing their united and hearty acceptance of "him whom the Lord chose," so that the purpose of his appointment might be effected; and of guarding as far as possible against the abuse of the royal power. With these ends in view he spoke and acted on that eventful day. The choice of Saul was -
I. PRECEDED BY A SALUTARY REPROOF OF SIN (vers. 18, 19).
1. Based upon the gracious help which their Divine Ruler had afforded them. He brought them out of Egypt, delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh and his hosts, and saved them from all who afterwards fought against them and oppressed them. Remembrance of the compassion, faithfulness, and aid of God, so great, so long continued, and so effectual, should lead men to cleave to him with all their heart (Joshua 23:11), even more than fear of the consequences of disobedience (1 Samuel 8:11). The goodness of God, as displayed in "his wonderful works to the children of men," is the mightiest incentive to repentance of sin and the practice of righteousness.
2. Consisting of a charge of flagrant disloyalty. "And ye have this day rejected your God," etc. Their conduct was unreasonable, inasmuch as no other could do for them what he had done; ungrateful, viewed in the light of the past; and wilful, because, in spite of expostulation, they had said, "Nay, but a king thou shalt set over us" (ver. 19). It was, therefore, inexcusable, and deserving of severest reprobation. And it must be plainly set before them, that they might be convinced of their guilt, humble themselves before the Lord, and seek his pardon. "Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you" (Isaiah 30:18). "The Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake" (1 Samuel 12:22).
3. Associated with instruction concerning the proper course they should pursue. "And now present yourselves before the Lord," etc., at his altar, where your relation to him may be set right, and his guidance may be afforded. Although sinful requests may be granted by God, yet the spirit in which they are made must be renounced. And the ready submission of the people to the direction of Samuel shows that his reproof was not without effect.
II. CONDUCTED UNDER THE SPECIAL DIRECTION OF GOD (vers. 20-22).
1. He determined, by means of the sacred lot, who should be their king. As the result of the lot was regarded as a Divine decision, not only was Saul to be accredited by this act in the sight of the whole nation as the king appointed by the Lord, but he himself was also to be more fully assured of the certainty of his own election on the part of God" (Keil). "The lot is cast into the lap (bosom of a garment), but from Jehovah is all its decision" (judgment) (Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 14:37; Proverbs 16:33). "A lot is properly a casual event, purposely applied to the determination of some doubtful thing. As all contingencies are comprehended by a certain Divine knowledge, so they are governed by as certain and steady a providence. God's hand is as steady as his eye. Now God may be said to bring the greatest casualties under his providence upon a twofold account: -
(1) That he directs them to a certain end;
(2) oftentimes to very weighty and great ends" (South, 1:61).
2. He indicated, in answer to special inquiry, where he was to be found. Assured beforehand of what the result would be, and out of the same diffidence, modesty, and humility as he had previously exhibited (1 Samuel 9:21), Saul "preferred to be absent when the lots were cast." Hence inquiry was made (apparently by Urim and Thummim) concerning him (1 Samuel 22:10; 1 Samuel 23:2), and the response of the oracle was definite and conclusive. God mercifully adapts his modes of communication with men to their common modes of thought, their capacity and need; and those who humbly and sincerely seek his guidance are not long left in uncertainty. His communications to men, moreover, carry in themselves the evidence of their Divine origin to those who truly receive them, and are further verified by the events to which they lead (ver. 23).
3. He presented him before them, through his recognised servant, as chosen by himself. "See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people?" (ver. 24). The conduct of Samuel herein was singularly generous and noble. He did not exhibit the slightest trace of jealousy or distrust of the king into whose hands his own power as civil magistrate was just about to be transferred. "No man ever resigned the first power in the state into other hands with so much courtesy, tenderness, dignity, and grace." Having ascertained the will of the Lord concerning his people, he aimed at nothing else but to carry it into effect.
III. CONFIRMED BY THE GENERAL APPROBATION OF THE PEOPLE (vers. 23, 24). Although the choice was of God, it was necessary that it should be recognised and accepted by them; and their approbation -
1. Accorded with the commendation of Samuel.
2. Was influenced by Saul's outward appearance: "higher than any of the people from his shoulders upward" - just such a man as they wished "to go out before them and fight their battles. "
3. And was expressed in the acclamation, "God save the king" (literally, May the king live). The people had now the object of their desire; but the Divine providence which had guided Saul guided them to the result. Nations, as well as individuals, are subject to the direction and control of him "who stilleth the noise of the sea and the tumult of the people." "Every act of every man, however it may have been against God in intention, falls exactly into the even rhythm of God's world plan."
IV. FOLLOWED BY PERMANENT REGULATIONS FOR THE MONARCHY (ver. 25). "The manner (mishpat) of the kingdom" - "the laws and rules by which the kingly government was to be managed" (Poole), and differs from "the manner (mishpat) of the king" (1 Samuel 8:11); being designed by the wisdom and forethought of Samuel to guard against the evils incident to royalty. "Thus under the Divine sanction, and amidst the despotism of the East, arose the earliest example of a constitutional monarchy" (Kitto). But there was no stipulation or compact between the people and the king. His rights and duties were prescribed by the will of God, whose servant he was. His power was restrained by the living voice of prophecy, and sometimes justly opposed by the people themselves (1 Samuel 14:45). "This much, however, is clear upon the whole, that the king of Israel was not an unlimited monarch, as the defenders of the Divine right of kings and of the passive obedience of subjects are wont to represent him" (Michaelis, 'Laws of Moses,' 1:286). The regulations for the monarchy were -
1. Founded upon the existing law of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:14-20), although, doubtless, not entirely confined to it. The king must not be ambitious, occupied in military preparations and aggressive wars, vying with heathen despots, relying on "an arm of flesh" rather than on God. He must not be given to sensual indulgence, forming a large harem and luxurious court; nor to the accumulation of wealth, taxing and oppressing the people for that purpose. But he must make himself familiar with "the law," and humbly obey it like his brethren (2 Kings 11:12). His work was not to make new laws, but to administer those which Jehovah had given, and "do all his pleasure." "Then must he constantly bear in mind that above him there abides another King - the Eternal; and that only in as far as he works together with God, and consequently with all spiritual truth, can any earthly monarch be a king after the heart of the King of kings" (Ewald). O that Saul had borne these things in mind!
2. Expounded in the hearing of the people.
3. Recorded and carefully preserved for future reference. "That the law of the king should not be a dead letter, that royal self-will should be kept within bounds, was to be the care, not of a representative popular assembly, but of prophecy, which stood as theocratic watchman by the side of royalty" (Oehler). - D.
He hath hid himself amongst the stuff.
1. Men hide themselves among feeling arising from a sense of unworthiness. Such a sentiment must be cherished, but not elevated above the call of God. We have a large number of good people who withhold their persons and their influence from the Church of Christ, because they are unfit. Poor stuff! Come to your own coronation, God is calling. Your first fitness is obedience to the call. Be ruled by a sense of the greatness of the Saviour.
2. Men hide themselves among their good intentions. Intentions are good when they are followed by actions, but they are bad when they are mere substitutes. Some lives are made up of intentions, and, like castles in the air, they are blown down by the rough winds of circumstances. Many would be rich without work, wise without learning, and famous without a passport. Very many people sincerely hope to become serious and religious some day.
3. Men hide themselves among their doubts and unbeliefs. Those who set themselves up as harmonisers of the Divine method and fail are not a few. No vessel anchors in fogs on the Banks of Newfoundland, but every one drives through. To live in doubt is to anchor in a fog. Every one knows something of the perplexities of belief. The unrest of the soul calls for the rest of faith; but, he who rests in the unrest of doubt is condemned already.
4. Men hide themselves among worldly cares and anxieties. The motto of many is, "Business must be attended to." Certainly, and religion must be attended to likewise.
5. Men hide themselves among the pleasures of life. The pleasure seeker is everywhere, and is catered for most extensively, but it is poor stuff.
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