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A. M. 2889. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301. A. C. 1110. 1 SAM, i, TO THE END. not dare to look into the ark, or any other of the holy | ceremony was performed with the greatest order and utensils, belonging to the service of God, upon pain of solemnity ; but wby it was not carried to Shiloh, and redeath; and the severity of this law will not seem so un-posited in the tabernacle, the most probable opinion is, reasonable, when it is considered, that in every nation it that after the death of Eli, the Philistines had destroyed was always accounted a great profaneness, and frequently the place, and the tabernacle was removed from thence attended with exemplary punishments, for such as were to Nob, where it continued until the death of Samuel. not initiated,'to obtrude into the mysteries of religion; As Kirjath-jearim therefore stood at no great distance, and that, if the Philistines, for their irreverence to the was a place of considerable strength, and had a remarkark, were treated with less rigour than the Bethshemites, able eminence in it, proper for the reception of the ark, it was because the former were not instructed in the laws thither it was ordered to be removed for the present, of God, nor obliged to observe them.
with a design, no doubt, to have it restored to its anIt must be acknowledged, indeed, that there is a mis- cient seat, at a convenient season : but through the take in our translation, as well as in several others. neglect of religion, as well as the disturbance of the Bethshemesh is a place of no great note in sacred history, times, its removal was deferred from day to day: 50 and 2 by Josephus it is called no more than a village; that, though David first brought it to the house of Obedand therefore it is hardly conceivable, how it could edom, and then to his palace at Sion, yet we nowhere contain such a number as fifty thousand and threescore read 6 of its being replaced in the tabernacle any more. and ten inhabitants, or why God, who is goodness itself, When Samuel was highly displeased with the elders should make such a slaughter among those who received of Israel for desiring a king, and thereupon applied his ark with so much joy, and testified their gladness, himself for advice, the answer which God returned him by their oblation of sacrifices. To solve this difficulty, was this : “ Hearken unto the voice of the people in therefore, some have observed, that the words in the ori- all that they say unto thee ; for they have not rejected ginal, and according to their natural construction, stand thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign thus:-He smote of the people threescore and ten men,
over them. These are, no doubt, the words of an angry fifty thousand men ;' where there is plainly wanted some sovereign, resenting the slight upon his government, and particle or other, to make the sense complete. They the indignity done to his person; and therefore, to give observe further, that if this is to be taken for a total sum, a full answer to the objection, we shall first consider the the order of the words is plainly inverted, and that nature of the government they were under, and of that the thousands should go before the inferior numbers, as
which they desired, and from thence deduce the several is usual in all languages ; and therefore, since there aggravations of their guilt, in being so importunate for is a manifest defect in the copy, they think it not
a change. amiss to supply it with the particle mem, out of, which in Josephus 'in his book against Apion has these remany other instances is known to be omitted, and here markable words : “ Several nations have their several makes the sense complete, namely, that of the people of forms of government, and their diversities of custons. Bethshemesh, for their irreverence to the ark, he smote Some governments are committed to a single person, seventy men out of fifty thousand.' For though fifty others to a certain number of select men, and others thousand men can hardly be supposed in so small a
again to all the people in general; but our lawgiver," place; yet, upon hearing of the arrival of the ark, the says he,“ has declared that ours shall c be a theocracy
, country might flock in from other parts, and in a few days make up that number; and though possibly most of
* 1 Sam. viii.
* B. 2. them might be guilty of the same profane rudeness, yet b The future history of this sacred ark is this. After the God, in his great clemency, might punish no more than building of the temple at Jerusalem, Solomon had it removed seventy of them, and that on purpose to deter others it remained with all suitable respect, till the times of the latter
from Sion, into a proper place that was consecrated for it, where from the like irreverence. a For it is not unlikely, that kings of Judah, who gave themselves up to idolatry, and were these people might hold the ark in more contempt, since not afraid to put the images of their gods in the holy place itself
. the time that it had been conquered, as it were, and led Hereupon the priests, being unable to endure this profanatie, captive by their enemies ; and for this reason, God took the ark, and carried it from place to place, that by this might the rather exert his vindictive arm, on purpose to Josiah, who was a good man, and restored the true worship of teach them, that this symbol of his presence had lost God, commanded them to bring it back to the sanctuary, and none of its miraculous power, by the ill usage it had met forbade them to carry it into the country, as they had done. with in its absence.
The Talmudists, however, have a tradition, that Solomon having Upon the removal of the ark from Bethshemesh, it the temple, which he had lately built, and carry away all the
learned by revelation, that the Assyrians would one day baru is not unlikely that there was a general assembly of the rich materials which he had placed there, took care to have : elders of Israel, and that to prevent the like offence, the private hole made under ground, where in case of necessity, he
might conceal the most valuable things belonging to it from the See Hueti Quæst. Alent, b. 2, c. 12. p. 200.
knowledge of any enemies; and that Josiah, having a foresight
of the calamities which were coming upon the Jewish nation, Jewish Antiquities, b. 6. c. 2. * Calmet's Commentary. here hid the ark of the covenant, together with Aaron's rod, the
a There is without doubt an interpolation in the Hebrew text pot of manna, the high priest's pectoral, and the holy oil; buf here, as fifty thousand is too great a number. Boothroyd and Dr that during the Babylonish captivity, the priests having lost all Clark follow the reading of Josephus adopted by the author, and knowledge of the place where these things were concealed, they makes the whole number 70 men, while Dr Hales contends for were never seen more, and were not in the second temple.the reading of the Syriac and Arabic versions, which have 5070 Calmet's Dictionary, under the word Ark. men. See Clarke and Boothroyd on the passage, and Hales' Analysis, vol. ii. p. 304. Seventy men out of a small place in a of mankind, was to perpetuate the knowledge of himself, and the
c As God's design in separating the Israelites from the rest harvest day, was a great slaughter. -Ed.
doctrine of his unity, amidst an idolatrous and polytheistic world;
A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A.M. 4301. A. C. 1110. I SAM. i. TO THE END. and bas ascribed all rule and sovereign power to God | slaves, argues at least a great pitch of folly and indisalone.” For though it was necessary, for the due exe- cretion, a baseness of mind, an ingratitude of temper, cution of his commands, that there should be some visible a spirit of rebellion, and a secret attachment to the minister between him and his people, such as Moses and idolatrous practices of those people, whose king they Joshua were in the time of their administration; yet it is were so eager to imitate. For, ‘make us a king to certain, that they never ordained any thing of moment judge us,' was equivalent in their mouths, as without a special command from him. The same direc-presses it, to what their forefathers demanded of Aaron, tion which was given Joshua, that " he should stand make us gods that they may go before us; because in before Eleazar the priest, who should ask counsel for this manner, he who best knew the secrets of their hearts, him, after the judgment of Urim before the Lord,' was in his answer to Samuel, has expounded their meaning : required of all other persons that presided in public. They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected affairs.? In all cases of weighty concern, they were to me, that I should not reign over them; according to all have recourse to him, who always reserved to himself the works which they have done, since the day that I the sole power of establishing laws, and appointing ma- brought them up out of Egypt, even unto this day, they gistrates, and making war. Nay, so very desirous was have forsaken me, and served other gods.' God to show himself to be King of the Hebrews, that We have but one thing more to remark upon this subthere was no ensign of royalty belonging to earthly ject, and that is, that the manner in which they demanded princes that, by his own appointment, was not provided a king, was no less culpable than the ends they proposfor him, on purpose to engage the people's attention, ed by it: for instead of consulting God upon an affair (as the Commentator on Maimonides speaks,) and to of this consequence, they went hastily to Samuel, and make them perceive, that their King, who was the Lord when, by fair remonstrances, he is attempting to dissuade of hosts, was in the midst of them.
them from so dangerous an enterprise, they turn impetuWhat design God Almighty had in constituting him- ously upon him, and say, ' nay, but we will have a king;' self the King of this people, is evident from the instruc- and this may be the reason perhaps why God gave them tions which he gives Moses ; • 3 Thus shalt thou say to one in his anger, descended of the meanest tribe in Isthe house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel, ye rael, and of the meanest family in that tribe, to show have seen what I have done unto the Egyptians, and them, that he himself was not satisfied with their prohow I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto ceedings, nor could be pleased with any thing that was myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice in-extorted from him by undutiful importunities. deed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar The meanness of Saul's family indeed was the reason treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is that some, who were present at his election, openly demine, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and spised bim, and said, 6 • How can this man save us ?' And an holy nation.'
therefore it is not unlikely, that as these seditious men No government can certainly be imagined more happy, refused to submit to bis government, he might leave the more safe, more free, more honourable, than that wherein public affairs in Samuel's hands, and return to his fathe fountain of all wisdom and power, of all justice and ther's house, and there live privately, until some opporgoodness, presides ; and therefore the least that we can tunity of better establishing his authority should happen say of the Israelites, in desiring to change this form for to present itself. But even in this interval, supposing such a one as was in use in the nations round about he did betake himself to some rural employment; yet them, that is, for an absolute and despotic government, where is the great disparagement of this, when we find where the princes were tyrants, and the subjects all the same done in other nations, by persons of the like
rank and quality ? When we find your Curii, your AtNum. xxvii, 21. * Patrick's Commentary.
tilii, your Cincinnati, and several other illustrious RoSaurin's Dissertation 25. vol. 4; Exod. xix. 3, &c.
mans, leaving the plough to assume the reins of goso was he pleased to stand in two arbitrary relations towards vernment, and afterwards leaving the government to them, in that of a tutelar deity and protector, and in that of a
return to the plough. supreme magistrate and lawgiver; besides the natural relation It must be acknowledged, however, that Saul's exterin which he stood towards them and all other nations in common: nal qualifications, namely, the stature and comeliness of but how long this theocracy continued among the Jews, the his person, was no small recommendation to a people learned are not so well agreed; some thinking, that from the first commencement of regal power, or especially from its settle who desired a king, such as their neighbours had. For ment in the line of David, it ceased, as God's words to Samuel whatever we may think of the matter, the people of the seem to import, “they have not rejected thee, but they have re- east had always a regard to these in the choice of their jected me, that I should not reign over them,' 1 Sam. viii. 7. kings; and accordingly Herodotus, having taken a reWhilst others imagine, that from God's first espousing the cause of the Israelites, in the time of their tribulation in Egypt, even
view of Xerxes's whole army, after a short pause deto the coming of his blessed Son our Saviour Christ in the flesh, clares himself thus ; that ' among such a multitude of it all along subsisted, though with some abatements, sometimes people there was not one, who, for tallness and goodliwith seeming interruptions; and to this they apply that famous ness of person, did deserve the throne so much as he;' prophecy of Jacob, «The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, por the lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come,' and in another place assures us, that the Ethiopians Gen. xlix. 10: that is, the theocracy shall continue over the always esteemed him who was of the most advantageous Jews, until Christ come to take possession of his father's king- stature, the fittest to be chosen king ;' which cannot but dom. For what lawgiver was there ever in Judah, until the remind us of what Samuel says to the people when he coming of Christ, but God, by the ministry of Moses.- Opinions of several Theologians, letter" 7. Simon's Critical History of the 4 Saurin's Dissertation 25. vol. 4; Exod. xix. 3, &c. Ou Testament; and Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, 5 Exod. xxxii, 1, 6 1 Sam. x. 27. Herodotus, b.6. c. 77.
* Ibid, b. vi. c. 20.
vol. 2. part 2.
A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301. A. C. 1110. I SAM. i. TO THE END. presents Saul to them : " See ye him whom the Lord | find the beginning of his reign so prosperous, and the hath chosen, that there is none like him among the latter part of it ending in so sad a catastrophe. people ;' for the historian hath told us before, that Whether Saul deserved this fate or no, we may best ?• from his shoulders and upwards, he was bigher than perceive by a review of some instances wherein he is any of the people.'
said to have oftended God. In the beginning of the Nay, had i leisure to gratify the curious, I might third year of his reign, the Philistines raised so powerful show, that not only in the east, but in the western and an army against him, that his own forces for fear of them, most polite countries, this tallness of stature, and grace- deserted in great numbers. Gilgal was the place of fulness of appearance were always deemed no unbecom- their rendezvous, and Samuel, who had hitherto transing qualifications for the regal dignity; and therefore acted matters between God and Saul, had given him we find Pliny, who certainly was a fine speaker, and assurance, that in seven days' time, he would come thiknew how to single out the proper qualities in any great ther, &• to offer sacrifices and peace-offerings, and to man, telling his audience, in his panegyric to Trajan, show him what he was to do ;' but, as Abarbinel has obthat“ the strength and tallness of his body, the noble- served, every one of these articles he transgressed. For, ness of his aspect, the dignity of his countenance, and besides that he distrusted Samuel's word, or thought it the gracefulness of his speech, did everywhere denote scorn perhaps, that the king should stay for a prophet, and proclaim the prince.” As on the contrary, what instead of waiting till the appointed days were expired, notions the ancients had of a prince of a low stature, he called for the sacrifices on the seventh morning; inand mean appearance, we may gather from the fine stead of ordering a proper person to officiate, himself which Plutarch tells us the Lacedemonians set upon adventured to offer up the sacrifice; and instead of their king, for marrying a little woman, who was likely inquiring of God in a regular way, he was determined to to bring not kings, but kinglings,' to reign over them. begin the war without any previous consultations : 80
It must be remembered, however, that tallness of sta- that, in this behaviour of his, there were all the signs of ture was not the only thing that recommended Saul to pride and ingratitude, impatience and distrust, neglect of the kingdom. His father is said to have been * a mighty God, contempt of his prophet, and an apparent invasion man of power ;' which though it may not signify his of the priestly office; upon which accounts Samuel degreat wealth, and interest in his country, because · Saul clares, that ' God would reject him, and not continue himself declares the contrary, yet it doubtless denotes the kingdom in his family. his strength, and courage, and fortitude of mind, which God, no doubt, by his divine omniscience, foresaw what in a great measure he transmitted to his son. For who other sins Saul would commit, and might therefore within war was more brave and undaunted than he, had he out any breach of his mercy, have pronounced a perbut known how to use his victories as well as acquire emptory sentence against him; but the passage before them? But here was his great misfortune, that when he us implies no such thing. It is no more than a threat, was successful, he was too apt to be unmindful of what or a simple denunciation of what God would do, if he God had enjoined him. Who in peace was more pru. were not more observant for the future, and might dent and politic than he, till his fears and jealousies of have been revoked, had he not persisted in his disobediDavid, mixed with an unhappy temper of blood, made ence, and committed a much greater offence against the him malicious and implacable ? Nothing can be sup- divine Majesty in the war against Amalek. posed more wise and discreet, than his holding his The opposition which these people gave the Israelites, peace,' and taking no notice of the slights which were while they were on their journey to the land of Canaan, put upon him at his first election; nothing more great provoked God to such a degree, that, as the bistorian and generous, than his answer to some who would have relates the matter, he swore, that so he would have war prompted him to revenge, after he had established his with Amalek from generation to generation ;' and therethrone by a glorious conquest; “7 There shall not a fore commanded Moses' to write it, for a memorial, in a man be put to death this day; for to-day the Lord hath book, and to rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, that he wrought salvation in Israel.'
would utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from Nothing certainly was more different, than Saul's mo- under heaven: and when they were upon the point of destly declining the offer of a kingdom; when elected, entering upon the promised land, they were reminded passing by indignities, and returning to a private life; of the same divine decree against that wicked people : when called out to action, mustering bis forces, leading " Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, out his armies, vanquishing his enemies, relieving his when ye were come forth out of Egypt, how he met friends; and when settled in peace, forgiving injuries, thee by the way, and smote the hindmost
thee and conferring benefits ; and the same Saul, sullen and even all that were feeble behind thee, wben thou wast discontented with himself, false to his promises, jealous faint and weary, and he feared not God: therefore of his friends, listening to sycophants, quarrelling with his it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee relations, attempting the life of his own son, murdering rest from all thine enemies round about in the land, a whole city of God's priests, and instead of consulting which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance the divine oracle, flying to the devil for advice in his to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of distress ; and therefore we need less wonder, that we Amalek from under heaven ; thou shalt not forget it.' In
this passage we have some reasons assigned, why God 11 Sam. x. 24, * 1 Sam. ix. 2.
was so highly incensed against the Amalekites. They 'In the beginning of his hook on the Instruction of Children, • 1 Sam. ix. 1. 31 Sam. ix. 21. . 1 Sam. x. 27. & I Sam. x. 8.
91 Sam. xiii. 14.
10 Exod. xvii. 13, 14. ' 1 Sam. xi, 13.
" Deut. xxv. 17, &c. 12 Gen, xxxvi. 12.
A M. 2888. A. C. 1116 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301. A. C 1110. I SAM, i, TO THE END. were descendants of Esau, and therefore by pedigree, oppressions which occasioned the exploits of Ehud, Giwere allied to the Israelites, and of the stock of Abra- deon, Jephthah, and Saul, will soon perceive, that these ham. They seem to have broke off with the Edomites later generations were every moment renewing the ranvery early, and to have joined themselves with the old cour and hostilities of their forefathers against the Horites, a nest of idolaters, that lived on Mount Seir ; children of Israel, and consequently were very justly and so turned apostates from the religion of Abraham. comprised under the sentence which had originally passThese apostates were the first that drew the sword against ed upon them. the Israelites, who were their brethren in blood, and 3. Children indeed shall not be put to death for their without any manner of provocation, took the advantage, fathers :' but this prohibition, we must observe relates and came upon their rear, while they were feeble, faint, men, and not to God. Men, when they put a child to and weary, which was not only a great inhumanity, but death for the sin of his father, assume an authority that done with an intent to defeat God's design in bringing they have no right to. The law which authorizes them up the people of Israel, and to hinder, if possible, their to punish the father, gives them no power over the life of entrance into Canaan; for which reason the impiety of the child, a but God is sovereign Lord and Master of the these people is particularly taken notice of, namely, lives of both. Men who kill the child, to aggravate the that they feared not God, but that their hand was lifted up punishment of the father can give the child no equivalent against the throne of the Lord, against the throne of the for the loss of his life ; but God, in the future dispensaGod of Abraham,' their father, which was no small ag- tion of things, can render him an ample compensation for gravation of their crime. It was for these reasons, then, it: and therefore, since in a general devastation, whethat God had determined to destroy the whole race of ther of war, famine, or pestilence, without a divine Amalek, and had made choice of Saul to put his decree interposition for every particular person, the innocent in execution : and if, to indulge his own covetousness, he must necessarily suffer with the guilty, it is satisfaction thought proper to prevaricate in the matter, he became enough to think, that these innocent persons do not guilty of the like sin (to use the words of the learned finally perish when they die, but are thenceforward taken Dr Jackson) “ as if a judge or inferior magistrate, being under God's immediate care, and in the world to come, intrusted to do justice in a matter unto which his sove- will find their retribution. Those, of all others who die, reign bad peremptorily and determinately sworn, should in their infancy, in what manner soever it be, have upon a bribe, or other sinister respect, neglect his duty, reason to bless God, what grief soever it may give their and, as much as in him lay, make his master forsworn." parents, for being delivered out of the miseries of this life, And as a judge that would dare to do this, deserves more in order to be made happy in another. deaths than one; 80, considering the infinite difference Several of the Jewish doctors are of opinion, that after between God and man, and the long train of wickedness the death of Eli and his sons, Samuel, by God's partiwhich Saul afterwards ran into the severity can hardly cular election, succeeded to the high priest's office ; and be thought excessive, in God's punishing his contempt of this they are the rather induced to believe, because they this great command, by the alienation of the crown from read of his offering sacrifices in places distinct from the his family.
tabernacle; of his wearing an ephod, which was a vest“But why should the Amalekites, for offences comment peculiar to the priest ; of his consecrating two mitted by their forefathers so many years before, deserve kings, Saul and David ; and find the Psalmist placing this punishment ? Or suppose they did, why should young him among persons of that order and distinction. But children and infants suffer as guilty, for the crimes of the more probable opinion is, that he was no more than their parents ?" Our blessed Saviour, in a case some- a Levite, and, by birth, incapable of the priesthood, what like this, has helped us to a solution of the former which was only annexed to Aaron's family; that there is part of this question, when he tells the Jews of his time, no mention made in Scripture of his having any particuthat ? " they built the sepulchres of the prophets, which lar designation to that office ; that there is no reason to their fathers had killed : that in so doing, they allowed think, that God would break through his own laws and oror approved of their deeds : and that therefore the blood dinances, in favour of him, when there was no occasion for of all the prophets, which had been shed from the foun- it, since Hophni and Phinehas, when they died, might dation of the world, should be required of that genera- have sons of sufficient age to succeed them; that his puttion.' From whence we may draw this inference,—That ting on an ephod, was no more than what David did ; his when any particular people commit the same crimes that sacrificing from the tabernacle, what Gideon and Saul their ancestors did ; when they approve of them, when they imitate them, and, by the like actions, declare, that
s Deut. xxiv. 16. "Saurin's Dissertation 30, vol. 4. if they were in their circumstances, they would pursue $ Le Clerc's Comment. on 1 Sam. xv. 3. . Ps. xcix. 6. the same steps, they are justly punishable, even in virtue
a God, indeed, in a law given to the Jews, threatens that he of the sentence which passed upon their ancestors ; and will punish the children for their fathers' iniquity; but God hath that the divine suspension of that sentence, in order to the highest right of authority both over our aflairs as well as our try whether they would reform and amend, is so far from life, since it is but his gift, which he, without any cause, and at
any period, can take from man when he pleaseth.—Grotius on being an hardship, that the longer it is continued, the the Right of War, vol. 2. more it is an instance of God's mercy, and patience, and b It is generally supposed, but without any grounds that the long-suffering.
exercise of the high priest's function was not entered upon till Now, whoever looks into the conduct of the descen- such an age; and that Eli's grand-children were not as yet quali
fied for it: but Josephus (Antiq. b. 15. c. 2.) informs us, that dants of these old Amalekites, and considers the several Aristobulus the brother of Mariamne, was both admitted into that
place, and officiated in it, when he was no more than seventeen Scripture Viudicated, part 2.
' Luke xi, 47, &c. years old.-Calmet's Commentary, on 1 Sam. xxv. 1.
A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301, A. C. 1110. I SAM. I. TO THE END. did ; and his anointing kings, what both Elias and Eli- quence to transact at the same time; but I cannot see sha did : so that these little incidents of his life could under what obligation he was to discover that. “Secrecy never give him that character. And though it be granted is of great use in all important negotiations, and the that the Psalmist has thought proper to place him in concealing of one design, under the umbrage of another, company with Moses and Aaron, yet, at the same time, is as just and laudable a practice, as the drawing of a he has taken care to point us out the difference between curtain to keep out spies. Acts of religion indeed are them ; Moses and Aaron among the priests, and Samuel sometimes made cloaks for iniquity; but it is hard to
among such as call upon his name,' that is, who sing conceive, what possible prevarication there could be, in God's praise, which was the common employment of the performing one act of obedience towards God, in order Levites. Put the case, then, that Samuel was no priest, to facilitate the performance of another. The short of yet it seems to be a privilege indulged to some great the matter is, when there are two ends of any action, as men, upon some extraordinary occasions, to offer sacri- there were in the case now before us, a man may, withfices, where there was neither the tabernacle, nor any out any injury to truth, declare the one, and conceal the altar, but what they themselves erected. Thus 'Gideon other ; nor can any imputation justly fall upon God, for and Manoah both, by the directions of an angel, made suggesting an expedient to his servant, in the execution their burnt-offerings just by their own habita ns, and of which there confessedly was no sin. upon no other altar than a rock; and yet, that they were And for the same reason, 'because it was by God's accepted by God, is evident from the miraculous fire direction, or the instigation of his Holy Spirit
, that that did consume them.
Samuel cut Agag in pieces, we cannot say that this reIn most countries, indeed, the priesthood was a privi- sentment carried him beyond the bounds of respect that lege annexed to the regal dignity, and even in the Jewish was due to his sovereign. Agag had been a bloody economy, where the sacerdotal office was distinct. Thus tyrant, and was now cut off, not for the sins of his anDavid, upon the reduction of the ark, sacrificed oxen and cestors only, but for his own merciless cruelty. His fatlings, 2 and Solomon, in the beginning of his reign, death had been predicted above 400 years before, by and before the temple was built, sacrificed in high places. the prophet Balaam; but Saul, out of a mistimed comBut there is much more to be said for Samuel : he lived passion, and in opposition to the express commands of in a place that was an academy of the prophets, and God, had thought proper to spare him. Here therefore whither much people resorted to be instructed in the law. was a fit occasion for Samuel to exert himself, and, notShiloh was now laid desolate, and the ark, which was withstanding the presence of his prince, to vindicate the the tabernacle's chief furniture, was separated from it; honour of his God, by expressing a zeal suitable to that so that till God had declared his choice of some other of Phinebas, in slaying Zimri, or of that noble band of place, the people were, in a great measure, at liberty Levites, & who destroyed the worshippers of the golden where to offer their devotions; and Samuel more especial-calf, though it does not necessarily follow, that he slew ly, in a city of so great concourse, and where he himself him himself, ' because what he commanded might be presided, was obliged in conscience to provide the peo- called his own act, though it was nevertheless done by ple in the best manner he could, with a public place of the public executioner of justice. worship. He himself did but rarely, and upon extraor- Some cominentators have been so far carried away dinary occasions, officiate in the sacrifice, yet that, with the manner of the Scripture expression, viz., that whenever he did it, he did it with the acceptance and 10. an evil spirit from the Lord troubled Saul,' as to think approbation of God, is plain from the testimony of that he was really possessed with a devil, which at cerScripture, and the success which God gave him against tain times came strongly upon him, and threw him into his enemies, after he had performed such an act of devo- all the mad fits whereof we read : but it should be consition: for thus the account is, 4 • And Samuel took a dered, that the word ' spirit,' in the sacred language, is sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt-offering wholly of a very extensive signification, and denotes frequently, unto the Lord; and Samuel cried unto the Lord for not only the dispositions of the mind, " but those of the Israel, and the Lord heard him, and the Lord thundered body likewise ; that the custom of the Jews was to with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, imagine, that every affliction, whose cause they were and discomfited them, and they were smitten before ignorant of, proceeded immediately from God; and that Israel.'
it is a very common thing to find the Scripture phrase a The Jews themselves acknowledge, that a prophet is accommodating itself to this vulgar prejudice. Now, in not subject to the ceremonial law, but may, at any time, our interpretation of Scripture, this I think should be a himself sacrifice in what place he pleases : and therefore, rule :—That when a passage is capable of two senses, when Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint David, it whereof the one supposes a miracle, and the other a cannot be questioned, but that he had a right to sacrifice natural event only, the latter should take place, especithere, though there was neither ark nor tabernacle in the ally when there are no circunstances to determine us to place; nor can it be denied, but that one part of his er- the contrary. But now in the case before us, " the frerand was to offer the sacrifice which he carried along quent access of Saul's malady, the symptoms that attended with him. He had indeed an affair of greater conse- it, and the remedy made use of to assuage it, do sufi
ciently denote, that it proceeded from a deep melancholy, Judg. vi. 20. and xiii. 19.
? 2 Sam. vi. 13. i Kings iii. 2, 3.
* 1 Sam. vii, 9, 10. a The authority of a prophet causes, that whenever he is pre- * Scripture Vindicated, part 2. 6 Num. xxiv. 7. Num. xIv. 7. sent, and superintends, sacrifice may be done in the due form; for Exod. xxxii. 27. Patrick's Comment, on 1 Sam. xii. 33. by the confession of the Jews, the ritual laws are subject to the ' I Sam. xvi. 14. " See Job xvii. 1. and Hosea iv. 12. command of a prophet.-Grotius on Sam. xvi. 2.
1 Calmet's Commentary on 1 Sam. . vi. 14.