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king-whether he had not administered the government with uniform uprightness. With one accord, they attested his integrity ; he then showed them that an immediate judgment should convince them, that they had displeased the Almighty-not him, in asking for a king. Thunder, and unseasonable rain upon their fields, now in the time of harvest, reduced the inconsiderate people to a sense of their sin, and they earnestly besought their prophet to pray for them !!' “God forbid,” he replied, “ that I should sin against him by ceasing to pray for and instruct you, nor will He abandon you ;-if ye serve him in sincerity and truth, he will
your king.” The flattering anticipations indulged by the nation from the indications of excellence in their royal ruler, were in a short time reversed: he continued indeed active and successful in expelling the invaders of his country on every side, but in the prosecution of his wars he was guilty of disobedience to the Divine law—and in his private character he became jealous, arbitrary, and cruel. 'Amongst the heathens by whom Israel was encompassed, the Amalekites, a powerful people, had manifested their enmity so early as in the beginning of the passage through the wilderness, when the feeble emigrants were without confidence either in themselves, or in their Divine Leader, and had continued their hostility to the present time. For their opposition in the first instance, judgments had been denounced, and now that their cup of iniquity was running over with the most abominable idolatry, complete extermination, both of themselves and of every living creature in their possession, was commanded. In the prosecution of
. this awful decree, the Hebrew monarch was prompt and successful-yet, although he was expressly the minister
of God's wrath, he spared Agag, the king, of whose ruthi less warfare we may form some idea from the reproach of Samuel when he afterwards inflicted the death the tyrant had well merited—“. Thy sword hath made women childless.". Nor was this all : Saul reserved the best of the captured cattle for sacrifice, and then presumptuously invaded the priest's office, by offering them with his own hands!
This last palpable act of disobedience, aggravated by the pretext of religious zeal, received a reproof not less instructive to us, than to him to whom it was addressed for we are all prone to excuse our transgressions, by some plausible apology, whilst an honest conscience would de tect the deceit, and remind us with Saul, that, “ to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
But this gentle reproof was not the chief punishment of the rebellious king. In daring to substitute his own will in place of the divine law, he had shown that he was unfit to be the vicegerent of Jehovah, the bitter sentence was added—" Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath rejected thee from being king”-and “ hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine that is better than thou.” · CHARLES. Was Saul then immediately deprived of the crown?
Mrs. M. No. The rejection of Saul, was the exclusion of his house from the succession : the pitying prophet, therefore, when he professed himself sensible of his sin, yielded to his entreaty “ not to dishonour him before the elders and the people," and continued near him for a time, but at length he retired to his own house at Ramah, and left the fallen king to his own counsels. At Ramah
he remained in melancholy reflection on the defection of Saul, and the disappointment of his country-until he was aroused by a command to grieve no more for Saul, but hasten to Bethlehem, and in the family of Jesse he would find him whom he should anoint in the place of the rejected monarch.
Taking therefore an heifer for an offering, he went to Bethlehem, and after he had invited the elders of the town to attend at the sacrifice which he was come to celebratehe went to the house of Jesse, and desired that he and his sons would sanctify themselves for the approaching solemnity.
CHARLES. How were they to sanctify themselves ?
Mrs. M. The legal purification of their persons by washing, or purifying with water, to signify the purity of heart required in every act of worship to the Creator, is intended in this and in every similar text. The propriety of the principle, and the aptitude of the sign, have been so universally felt, that ablutions have been adopted into the religious rites of almost all nations : and with some, appear to constitute the very essence of their religion. Objects of sense are indeed very imposing, and too often captivate our understandings. Even the penetrating eye of Samuel beheld with much complacency the noble form of Eliab, Jesse's eldest son, when he came into his presence : this surely, he thought, must be he whom the Lord had sent him to anoint in the place of Saul—but his secret monitor commanded him to “ look not on his countenance, por the height of his stature, for the Lord seeth not as men seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” In like manner seven sons of Jesse passing in review before Samuel, were
rejected, until he enquired if these were all his children. Being informed that there remained yet the youngest, who kept the sheep, he refused to sit down to dinner until he should appear. David, the young shepherd, and who will be to the end of time, the famous king of Israel, was summoned from the field-approved, and anointed in the presence of his family.
The reigning monarch mean while, no longer comforted by the presence of Samuel, became a prey to chagrin. A mental malady, which is described in terms opposed to those I lately explained to you, or as an “evil spirit from the Lord,” afflicted him. His servants proposed to soothe him by.music; and recommended David the Bethlehemite as a young person skilful in playing on the harp ; of a beautiful form, and courageous and prudent in his conduct. At the king's request, therefore, David, laden with presents from his father, was sent, and succeeded in tranquillizing his perturbed spirit. Again the Philistines invaded Canean, and pitched their camp on a mountain of Judah, whilst Saul with his army took his stand on an opposite elevation. Whilst they lay thus with only a narrow valley between them observing each other, a champion of most terrific appearance advanced from the camp of the Philistines, and defied the king to send out a man to decide the contest with him by single combat. More than seven feet in height, and covered from head to foot with brass, armed with a weapon of proportionable strength, and attended by a page bearing a shield, this giant filled the camp of his adversaries with dismay ! Forty days, morning and evening, he had thundered his insulting challenge across the valley, when, to the utter astonishment of the king, the stripling David proposed to encounter him. He had
retired from his accidental attendance on Saul; to his father's house, and now coming to the camp on a visit to three of his brothers who were with the army, he heard the impious menace of Goliath, and the vain efforts of his countrymen to inspirit one another, by detailing the privileges which would distinguish the man who should kill this tremendous enemy. “The king," said they, “ will give him his daughter-will enrich him, and exempt his father's house from taxation."
The indignant remarks of David, intimating his readiness to engage the formidable Goliath, alarmed his brothers, and they tried to repress bis ambition-but David was designed to vindicate the aspersed honour of the
living God.” His contempt of the boaster reached the tent of the king ; he was sent for, and admonished that he was but a youth, whilst the man he despised was not only of preternatural strength, but a warrior trained from his youth. Thy servant,” replied the son of Jesse, “ slew both a lion, and a bear, who attacked his flock-He who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me out of the hand of this giant—therefore,” added he, with modest fortitude, “ let no man's heart fail because of him thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
Presumptuous as this bold resolution might appear to the monarch, he nevertheless arrayed the champion in his own armour, and put his own sword into his hand-but the elastic limbs of youth, invigorated by the healthful air of Bethlehem, refused the unnatural restraint. A sling and a stoue, the implements of his rural pastime, were the weapons he chose; with these, he advanced to the wondrous enterprize--and with these, one fatal blow laid the vaunting Philistine prostrate on the earth! Seeing him fall,