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respectful distance to see what would become of it, who, when they saw it arrive safely at Bethshemeth, returned to Ekron. The Bethshemites, who were reaping in the talley, seeing the Ark, were overjoyed. The kine having drawn the cart into the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite, stood still there by a great stone, called the stone of Abel; which the Levites* observing, they took down the Ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, and laid them upon the great stone. Then, cleaving the wood of the cart for fuel, they offered the kine for a burnt-offering to the Lord. But some of the Bethshemites, whether moved by joy or curiosity, took the liberty of looking into the Ark, contraryt to the Law; for which presumption the Lord slew seventy$ of them, which so terrified the rest, that they cried out, “Who is able to stand before this “ Holy Lord God? And to whom shall he go from us?” This made them desirous of removirg the Ark; they therefore sent to Kirjath-jearim, to acquaint them that the Philistines had sent back the Ark of the Lord, and desired them to come and fetch it. Accordingly they came, and conveyed the Ark to the house of Abinadab on the hill, whose son Eleazer was consecrated to keep it, and where it abode twenty years.
Samuel, having upon the death of Eli, and the loss of the Ark, taken upon him the administration, governed Israel twenty years; when, finding in the people a disposition to repent and return to the Lord, he exhorted them to put away the strange gods, Baal and Ashteroth, and to serve the Lord only; promising, that if they would do so, they should be delivered from the Philistines : then ordering all Israel to meet him at Mizpeh, :hey humbled themselves there with prayer and fasting. The Philistines, having notice of this general meeting, approached them armed, and occasioned a terrible con
* Levites. Bethshemeth was a city which belonged to the Levites. See Josh xxi. 16.
+ Contrary. See Numb. iv. 40.
| Seventy. Bochart proves that the number mentioned, 1 Sam. vi. 19 should be translated Seventy: VOL. I:
sternation. The Israelites thus alarmed, begged of Samuel to intercede for them to the Lord. Samuel, thereupon, took a sucking lamb, and offered it whole for a burnt-offering, praying to the Lord for the people. His prayers were so effectual, that the Philistines coming to attack them at the same instant, the Lord sent down such a peal of thunder on them, just as they were ready to engage, that the Israelites obtained a mighty victory, and pursued them froin Mizpeh beyond Beth-car. From which time the Philistines came not into the country of the Israelites, who recovered the towns those people had taken from them, from Ekron to Gath. And Samuel, in memory of this great deliverance, set up a monumental stone between Mizpeh and Shen, calling it Eben-Ezer, that is “ The " Stone of Help.” • After this, Samuel, for the better administration of justice, took a circuit through Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, returning every year to Ramah : but growing in years, and unable to travel, he constituted his two sons, Joel and Abiah, Judges over Israel ; who, degenerating from their pious father, were corrupted with bribes, and acted unjustly. In consequence of which, the Elders of Israel assembling, went in a body to Ramah, and complained to Samuel; saying, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons “ walk not in thy ways : now make us a king to judge us " like all the nations." The cause of their complaint was just ; but in demanding a king, they forfeited the care of God, as well as the favour of Samuel. He, however, consulted the Lord; who ordered him to give them a king, as they desired, but reproached them for their ingratitude to himself and to Samuel : and to warn them of the dangerous consequences of rejecting him and his prophet, for the purpose of having a king, he gives him instructions to lay before them what they were to expect from this wanton and fickle temper; That their monarch should enslave them and their children, by making them subject to every menial office; that they should be always in arms and tumults; liable to the inconveniences of a constant war, and subjected to heavy taxes; and that then they would cry to the Lord, but he would not hear them.
Notwithstanding this caution, which Samuel expressly delivered to the people, they persisted in their resolution, positively saying, “We will have a king over us, that we
may be like other nations, and that our king may judge
us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” Samuel seeing them so positive, again consulted the Lord, who ordered him to comply with their desire, and make them a king. Upon this, Samuel dismissed the Elders of Israel to their cities; and since the setting up of a king at that time was but to gratify the humour of a fickle peo. ple, God accommodated them with a man extraordinary in his person, being taller by the head and shoulders than any of the people. This was Saul, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, a handsome youth. The asses of Kish, his father, having gone astray, he sent his son Saul with a servant to seek them; who after much wandering about, came to the town of Ramah-Zophim, Samuel's residence, without hearing any news of what they sought for. Here Saul's servant said to him, “ There is a Seer (or
Prophet) in this town who perhaps may tell us where “ the asses are.” Saul approved what his servant proposed, and went into the town, enquiring for the Seer. God had, the day before, given Samuel notice of Saul's coming, and declared to him that he was the person whom he had chosen to be king. Saul meeting there with Samuel, who was going up to a high-place to offer sacrifice, asked him where was the house of the Seer? Samuel understanding that he was the person whom God had appointed to be king, answered, “ I am the Seer; go up wit me
to this high-place : you shall dine with me to-day, and “ I will dismiss you to-morrow.
As for the asses which “ were lost three days ago, be not concerned for them, " they are found again.” Then he assured him, that all the best things in Israel should be his : And bringing him home with him, he invited thirty persons to bear him company, seating Saul and his servant at his table, but placing Saul above all the other guests, and distinguishing him also by setting before him the best of the meat.
: After they had eaten, Samuel, taking Saul to the top of the house, had further communication with him ; and early in the morning calling him up, that he might dismiss him, they went out together; and as they were going down towards the end of the city, Samuel bid Saul order his servant to go before, but stand still himself for a wbile, that he might shew him what God had said concerning him. The servant being gone out of sight, Samuel, taking a vial of oil, * poured it upon the head of Saul, and kissedt him ; adding that he did this because the Lord had appointed him to be a prince over his inheritance. Then, as a token that what he had communicated was true, he foretold several particulars which should happen to him in his return; That near Rachel's tomb he would meet two men, who should inform him that his father's asses were found again; That departing thence, he should meet three men going to Bethel, one of them carrying three kids, the second three cakes of bread, and the third a bottle of wine, and that they should give him two parts thereof: and lastly, That when he came to the Mountain of God, where was a garrison of the Philistines, he should meet a company of prophets going into the city, where the Spirit of God should fall upon him, and he should prophesy among them. After this, he ordered Saul to go to Gilgal, where in seven days he might expect to see him, because there Samuel intended to offer a peace-offering. All which signs Saul found punctually fulfilled.
And now, though Samuel had thus privately anointed Saul, which was known only to themselves, yet, for the general satisfaction of the people, and that the choice and inauguration of the king might be more public and solemn, Samuel summoned them to appear before the Lord at Mizpeh ; to which place the Ark of the Lord was brought,
Oil. Saul was the first king of Israel that was anointed, though unction was in use before, as we may see in Judges ix. 8.
+ Kissed. This signified a communication of grace and mutual concord between the reguland sacerdotal offices, a kiss being an emblem of friendship and peace.
that the choice might be openly made, and declared by casting lots among all the tribes of Israel, to know from which of them the king was to be chosen. The lot fell on the tribe of Benjamin ; and casting the lot again among the families of Benjamin, the lot tell upon the fa. mily of Matri, and at last on Saul, the son of Kish. Saul being before assured that the choice would fall on him, was not present at the casting of the lot; but the people enquiring of the Lord whether they should fetch hin or not, he not only consented, but expressly directed them where to find him. Accordingly they went for him; and having brought him, they set him among them, where he appeared taller than any of the people, from the shoulders upwards; which Samuel observing, said to them, “ Behold him whom the Lord hath chosen; there is none " like him among all the people !” At which words the people gave a general shout, saying, "God save the king. Then Samuel stated to them the duty of a king, and the manner of the kingdom, writing it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. Which done, he dismissed the people, and Saul went home to Gibeah, attended with a pariicular company of men, whom God had inclined to wait
But there were other persons* who felt dissatisfied with the election; and though they concurred in the general wish of having a King, despised Saul in their hearts, and expressed their dislike by refusing to make such presents
* Orber persons. These are called sons of Belial; 1 Sam. x. 27, that is, men of a rebellious, proud, disobedient spirit: who, though they had desired a king, yet now refused him ; desiring what they had not, and despising what they had. They did not express their contempt of him by name, but did it worse, in a more general way, saying, o. 27; “Shall He save us ?”
† Presents. Presenting the king with gifts was one way of recognizing him. The Chaldee paraphrase says, “ They came not to salute him,” which is the same thing; for the first salutation offered to a king was always attended with presents, which presents carried with them a sign of peace and friendship, of congratulation and joy, and of subjection and obedience. It was a general custom, and still continues among the Eastern potentates, to bring presents; there being no approaching them without.