Under the Heel of the Oppressor
1 Samuel 13:16-23
And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, stayed in Gibeah of Benjamin…

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.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

WEB: Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people who were present with them, stayed in Geba of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

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