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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 with 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 while, 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 kissed 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 regal and 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 fell upon the family 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 him 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 particular company of men, whom God had inclined to waiton him.
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 t
* Other 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, v. 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.
to him as others did on this occasion. This contemptuous conduct might naturally have excited his keen resentment, armed as he now was, with the supreme power; but Saul, with equal meekness and policy, passed by the offence, and "held his peace.”
* Passed by. The Hebrew says he was deaf, that is, seemed or pretended not to hear. In which he was very politic, being unwilling to begin his reign with any tumult, which his just resentment of such an affront might have occasioned. If he had taken any notice of the affront, and not revenged it, he had shewn himself mean-spirited, and if he had resented it, the people might have charged him with severity and cruelty.
END OF VOL. I.
TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE LONDON EDITION.
AVING proceeded thus far with the History, and concluded the First Volume, we shall take a retrospect of the events which it contains, and glance at the causes which produced them.
Of the formation of the world out of nothing, and the creation of a moral agent in the person of the first man, we have in the Scriptures the earliest and only rational account. Without the aid of divine revelation, we attempt with a trembling hand to lift the veil that hides the arcana of those primeval and momentous scenes. Nothing presents itself to the unassisted eye of human reason but
"Illimitable ocean without bound,
"Without dimension; where length, breadth and height,
With this divine light, we have seen in the events narrated in the preceding volume, that man was actually created in the image of God. This strong expression has given rise to much conjecture, and to some argument; but a small degree of attention to the fall of man, and his subsequent expulsion from Paradise, will place it in a clear and perspicuous light. For though it is certain, that man could not resemble God in his incommunicable attributes of self-existence, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, yet did he bear a resemblance to the divine nature in four different particulars, which though darkened and obscured, are still discernible amidst the gloom of sin, and the ruins of his apostacy and fall. First,