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began the attack. But, as Samuel prayed, God thundered, in token of his kindness to Israel, and in wrath towards their foes. Lightnings flashed out, and destroyed many of the Philistines; whose weapons the Israelites, it is conjectured, seized, and, by means of them, urged on the slaughter. more effectually.
Let us hasten to the sequel. The triumph of Israel was complete. So broken and dispirited. were the Philistines, that, for a long season, they did not again pass the frontier of Israel, nor otherwise attempt to molest the people of God. In view of that day's signal interposition on the part of God, and as a memorial of his wonderful deliverance of Israel, Samuel directed a monument to be erected, between Mizpeh and Shen, which he called Ebenezer-" Hitherto the Lord hath helped us."
Two important reflections are suggested by this narrative: 1. God is far more ready to hear the prayers of his people, when repentant and reformed, than when unhumbled and disobedient.
While the people of Israel do not acknowledge God, he will not acknowledge them. If they look to idols for help, they must expect no help from God. And, under such circumstances, their enemies triumph. They slaughter them by thousands. The ark is taken. Their priests are slain. Their hopes are crushed. But, no sooner do they repent and return, than God hears them, and gives them victory over their foes; and, for that purpose, enlists even the elements in their favor.
2. God's ministers can pray with far more comfort and confidence for a repentant, than an impenitent people.
During the removal of the ark to Shiloh, and while the Israelites are experiencing sad reverses, we hear no tidings of Samuel. Where is the prophet of Israel? At his residence, perhaps, weeping in secret over a backslidden and an idolatrous people.
But, no sooner does he learn that there is an humble spirit pervading the nation, than he is abroad: praying, teaching, exhorting, guiding. And now, his mouth is open in prayer; and he has arguments to use; promises to plead; repentance to show. Oh! how easy and delightful to pray, when sinners are trembling and repenting! How difficult, when every heart is callous, and every affection is frozen! No marvel that ministers are sometimes dull and formal!
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us: and Samuel prayed unto the Lord.-1 Sam. viii. 6.
THUS far, the people of Israel had been under the special government of God, who had employed Moses, Joshua, and the Judges, to superintend their affairs. They had experienced great vicissitudes; but, from one calamity they had been exempted: no man had tyrannized over them. Not a tax had ever been imposed, to administer to the pomp and pleasures of a king, or to support the extravagance of a
But the people were no longer satisfied with such simplicity. They aspired to be like other nations. They coveted a king, and the splendors which would gather around him. To Samuel, therefore, the elders repair, and represent that he is becoming advanced, (old servants are often cast off,) and that his sons do not walk in his ways: "therefore," said they, "give us a king to judge us."
They do not solicit the advice of this old and tried friend; nor do they request him to ask counsel of God, who had borne them " as on eagle's wings;" and who, for their preservation, had enlisted the elements: hail lightning, and
tempest. No such humble and befitting requests as these, but a stern and bold demand: "Give us a king.”—We will have one.
Samuel listened to the demand. But what must have been his surprise and displeasure! He might have felt for himself for how could he avoid perceiving the neglect involved in the design?--but more did he feel for the honor of God, which, to the reproach of the nation, was insulted. Besides, how ungrateful in a people, to cast off one who had been their benefactor, as well as their sovereign! Samuel was perplexed, and, for a time, doubtful, as to the part he should act.
But we soon find him, at a throne of grace, spreading the case before God. And, though he knew full well how sad the consequence, should God decide that they should have their choice, he had no demurrer to make.
The result is not to our present purpose; and, therefore, we leave the narrative-deriving, from the course pursued by Samuel, in a case of great perplexity and trial, the good rule, viz: in all seasons of trouble and perplexity, to repair to God, and spread the case before him.
"Casting all thy cares upon him," says an apostle, and one richly experienced in these matters, "for he careth for thee." Whatever concerns the child of God, concerns God himself. Whatever troubles him, may be said to trouble God. In all their afflictions, he was afflicted. Is it temporal trouble, or spiritual trouble? Trouble experienced by the minister the missionary-the magistrate? by parent, child, citizen? by the rich man, or the poor man? the bond, or the free? the appropriate place for each and every one is the footstool. And there are many reasons why it is so. Two only, however, can be specified.
1. Troubles, especially those of an unavoidable nature, can be told to God more freely and fully than to the dearest friend on earth.
2. Troubles, which admit of a remedy, can be best remedied by God. By a single change of circumstances, which are always under the control of his providence, he can alleviate our sorrows; remove our troubles and perplexities, and improve, and even make happy and joyful our condition.
Is the faithful minister of Jesus Christ likely to be cast off by a people, to whom he has long preached, and in whose service he has spent the vigor of his days? Let him spread his case before God, and suffer him to order his affairs. I once knew a clergyman, who, on the eve of being dismissed, (nearly his entire flock were even anxious to bid him "farewell,") carried his case to God; and, having done so, preached a discourse to his people, which, by the blessing of God, in a single day, quelled all tumult; harmonized all minds, and led to an interesting revival of religion and there, among that people, did that minister spend his days. And, when death came, and closed his lips, many a tongue spoke his praise, and many an eye wept his departure.
Is a wife in trouble? Let her also go to a prayer-hearing God. The writer once knew a pious woman, who was desirous of honoring her Divine Master by a public profession of religion, but was prohibited by her husband. For a time, she yielded to his wishes and authority. At length, however, feeling the claims of the gospel to be paramount to those even of a husband, she kindly, yet firmly, made known her determination. The announcement gave birth to great irritation on his part. He talked loud, lordly, cruelly, and left her for a neighboring town. Soon after his departure, she retired to her closet, and spent the entire day in humble, fervent, affectionate pleading with God for that husband.
During his absence, as it afterwards proved, he was restless, agitated, distressed. Conscience upbraided him. A painful struggle, between his sense of right and his prejudices, tortured his mind. Towards evening, he returned; and, on entering the house, ascertained that his wife had
kept her closet during the day. He ascended the stairs; softly made his way to the door of her chamber, and gently knocked. It was opened by one whose face was radiant with light and joy, that day gathered in communion with God. Her husband stood before her, a subdued and speechless man. He gently took her by the arm, and, at length, in tones of kindness, inquired—it was all he could say, and that only in a whisper-"My dear wife, will you pray for me?" Let it suffice to add, that prayer brought that rude, ill-tempered husband back; prayer humbled him; prayer made him all that a pious and affectionate wife could wish. Oh! it is well to carry such troubles to our Heavenly Father, who has said, and never forgets what He has said, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will answer thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
PRAYER OF SAMUEL FOR RAIN.
Is it not wheat-harvest to-day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king. So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way.-1 Samuel xii. 17-19, 23.
THE change which has recently been effected in the government of Israel, from a theocracy to a monarchy, as we have had occasion to notice in a previous page, was contrary to the divine will, and in opposition to the judgment of Samuel. But the people being determined on such a change, God directs Samuel to anoint Saul as king, and to establish him in that exalted and responsible office. Accordingly, the consecration is made, and Saul, whose conduct appears dig