1 Samuel 10:24
And Samuel said to all the people, See you him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is none like him among all the people?…
There are two forms in which the man who is steering his vessel over the perilous ocean may ascertain the course which he should keep, and receive admonition of the dangers which he should avoid. There may be the well-known sea mark, reared near the treacherous rocks, speaking its language of caution, and yet at the same time affording its tranquilising assurance, that so long as that caution is followed, there will be safety. But there is another beacon which the sailor sometimes discovers, whose warnings are conveyed in a still more emphatic form. It is not the lighthouse which the hand of science, directed by kindness, has reared — it is not the buoy that floats over the treacherous sand; but it is the shattered vessel which has come too near the point of danger — its timbers breaking, its stores floating, its passengers lost. Now, what these two forms of admonition are to those who "go down upon the deep and do business in the great waters," the precepts of God's holy word on the one hand, and its historic warnings on the other, are to those who are voyaging over life's ocean to the haven of eternity. The language of God's precepts is kindly admonitory: these say enough to keep us right; but we are apt to get so used to their teachings, as that they lose their power — used to them, as the sailor is to the beacon on the rock, or to the buoy floating over the sand. We want something more. We want something that shall tell upon our security and heedlessness more vividly, and with more realised impression; and we have it, we find it in the historic warnings of God's word — in wrecks — the wreck of peace — the wreck of character — the wreck of comfort — the wreck of hope — in the cases of those who have trifled with the voice of Divine precepts, and have refused the blessings of heavenly direction. Such is the spectacle which is presented to us in the history before us — it is a wreck, and one of no ordinarily distressing character. But among the spectators of a vessel driven on the rocks, and dashed to pieces by the violence of the surge, none would be so much moved as those to whom it might have occurred to see that very barque when it was launched. To spectators who could recur to past hopes thus excited, the effect of beholding the wreck would be additionally distressing; the contrast between what had been, and what was then before the eye would be telling in the extreme. And this enhancement of melancholy interest undoubtedly attaches to our present theme. Nothing could be more auspicious, nothing more attractive, than the commencement of that career which terminates in a moral wreck. There were actual manifestations of conduct on his part which looked like promise of the brightest future. We particularise two.
I. THE FIRST WAS HIS DUTIFULNESS AS A SON AND THE CONSEQUENT REGARD IN WHICH HIS FATHER HELD HIM. In these respects, he really stands before the young as an example and a model. The Spirit of God, who has recorded the perversity of Eli's sons, and the unworthiness of Samuel's sons, has brought into notice the immediate and ready obedience of the son of Kish (1 Samuel 9:3, 4). We are not surprised to find, as another part of this interesting history, the regard which Saul's father entertained for him, as evinced in the incident, recorded 1 Samuel 10:2, that when Saul and his servant were departed from Samuel, and had reached Rachel's sepulchre, in the border of Benjamin, at Zelzah, two men met them, who having announced that the lost property was found, added (and with what naturalness and simplicity does the addition fall upon our ears), "Lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?" The loss of his property was considerable; but the loss of his son was a far greater privations. "A wise son maketh a glad father;" and now that the father missed the son who had often made him glad, he could not help exclaiming, in his deep solicitude, "What shall I do?" Saul occupied at home a place of important interest in his parent's view, and now that his place was vacant the blank was painful. It is painful to see children outliving the esteem of their own parents. We cannot read the varied references which Scripture makes to the parental relationship, and not feel that the test which Saul applied in ascertaining the course of duty is one which God often and urgently demands that we should employ. "The joy of a father," or "the heaviness of a mother," are considerations of vast moment with God; and are, therefore, matters which cannot safely be trifled with by children, even of elder growth. "Will this rob my father of rest; will this add to my mother's sorrow?" — let this be the question before you take your course, and shape your plan and purpose.
II. BESIDES THE PARTICULAR POINT WHICH WE HAVE REVIEWED THERE WAS IN SAUL'S CHARACTER A LARGE AMOUNT OF RIGHT-MINDEDNESS UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH MIGHT HAVE PROVED A STRONG TEMPTATION TO MANIFESTATIONS OF AN OPPOSITE KIND. Sometimes we see, among our fellow creatures, great excellences overborne by great and lamentable defects. We hear it said of a young man, "Yes, he is a good son; but when you have said that, you have said all. He is so conceited, so upstart, so perverse towards all but his own immediate friends, that you lose many a time the recollection of his excellence in the personal inconvenience which you suffer from the other features of his conduct." No such thoughts as these, however, are suggested by the narrative of Saul.
1. There would appear to have existed, in his case, what might have been a considerable temptation to personal vanity; and yet, in the earlier portion of the narrative, there cannot be traced the slightest approach to it in his demeanour. To be vain on the ground of personal charms is to act a senseless part, for these imply no merit, and promise no long duration. The winger of age must be contemplated, as well as the spring tide of youth and the summer of manhood and womanhood. Besides, it is the mind that gives value to the man: and what is the casket if it be empty? However beautiful its exterior, it disappoints if there be no gem within.
2. If Saul's appearance did not lift him up, neither does he at first seem to have been rendered vain nor to have been unduly elated by his new circumstances. There is nothing more difficult to bear than a change from a lower position to one which is several grades above it. There are some beautiful instances, indeed, in which men have stood the trial well, and have carried into an elevated sphere all the humility and simplicity which marked them in the ordinary walks of life. But these are rather the exceptions than the rule. With many a man the very day of his transition to a higher path in outward condition has been the period from which is to be dated his pitiful absurdness — his perfect uselessness — his moral fall.
3. He manifested the same right mindedness in bearing without restraint conduct which was intended to irritate him, and which was very much calculated to produce that effect. "The men of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents" (chap. 1 Samuel 10:27). And how did Saul act? With what significance the sacred writer adds, "But he held his peace." Now it was much to be so quiet where human nature — as we, perhaps, know from experience — is very apt to be excited. But the secret of this silence is to be found in that characteristic which we have just been considering. If he had attached an overweening importance to himself, you would have seen a very different course of conduct. But it was the absence of this which saved him. Such are the representations afforded by Scripture of the character of Saul at the time at which he was called to the throne. And from all we have said, what might not have been hoped for in regard to the future? Yet our hopes are destined to be disappointed. Be all that Saul was when he set out in life, but secure the same endowments of character from a higher source than mere nature. Seek them from God, as the result of His Spirit's teaching — His Spirit's operation in the heart. This will be the great security against that disappointment which arises from such a deterioration of character as a little later we have before us in the history of Saul.
(J. A. Miller.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.