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study of character. In comparison with other Scripture memoirs, little has been written upon this piece of biography; and I felt, therefore, that it afforded an open field for observation and prayerful research.
I look up to the God of the Bible, and laying at His feet this effort to illustrate a portion of His word, I humbly beg, and ardently long for, His blessing.
J. A. M.
A KING DESIRED.
“ Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of
Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”—1 Sam. viii. 19, 20.
THESE words afford an appropriate introduction to the narrative of the life and reign of Saul, the first king of Israel. They embody the circumstances under which the sacred writer presents him to our notice. On many grounds the history of Saul should fix upon itself the attentive gaze of the student of Scripture. The son of Kish stands before us as the type of a new order of things in the administration of public affairs among the people of the covenant. He was the first of Israel's kingly rulers; he was elected under circumstances of the most exciting character; yet did he not retain the kingdom in his family, but made way for David and the long line which succeeded him as their father and their head. But chiefly on moral grounds his life and history will repay a careful study.
SAUL'S CHARACTER DISAPPOINTS US.
Its interest is peculiar. It is not the interest of long-continued excellence commanding our satisfaction, nor of high-toned piety appealing to our reverence and exciting our gratification ; there is nothing of this, but precisely the opposite of it all. If we were asked what is the prevailing feeling which the study of this history is calculated to produce, we should answer in one word — DISAPPOINTMENT. It presents a thoroughly disappointing character. We have the opportunity of looking at it in no abbreviated form; of contemplating it in a great variety of circumstances; of contrasting that which was outward in conduct with subsequently revealed and ascertained motive; and when to the full we have availed ourselves of this opportunity, we cannot describe our emotions in any other expression than that of the most painful disappointment.
Should such a statement as this have at first a tendency rather to repel us from the theme than to invite us to it, yet on reflection it will be felt that this peculiar feature of the history furnishes a strong reason for serious scrutiny and for cautious examination; and this for the sake of our spiritual health, that we may ascertain the cause of a long and painful series of failures of which the life of Saul is made up. As in regard to our bodily health, it is pro