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hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods.--And they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us, for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god 8.” And they sent it from place to place; but whithersoever it came, the people were smitten". At length, they laid it upon a cart, and tied two milch kine to the cart and sent them away. And the kine took it into the land of Bethshemesh, a city of Judah. And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and, because they looked into the ark, the Lord smote themi.
And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, “ If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord onlyk.” And they fasted and said, “ We have sinned against the Lord.” And the Philistines went up against Israel. And the children of Israel were afraid, and they said to Samuel, “ Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord. And Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel, and the Lord heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel ; but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them, and they were smitten before Israel"."
8 1 Sam. v. 6, 7. h 1 Sam. v. 8–12.
i 1 Sam. vi. 19. See Numb. iv. 20.
Thus, when the people repented and “served the Lord only,” and when Samuel pleaded the covenant of Christ, by offering up a lamb, God interfered in their behalf, and smote with His thunders that nation whom He had before permitted to be captors of the ark of His covenant. “ This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faithm;" but that faith must be linked with virtue and obedience"; for mere faith, without these necessary accompaniments, was, in the Israelites, a blind and impious confidence which led them to trifle with the holy ark; and, in the Philistines, superstitious fear, which made them dread the presence of the ark both among their enemies and among themselves; their belief in its power was like the belief of the evil spirits : “ the devils believe and trembleo.”
' 1 Sam. vii. 8-10. m 1 John, v. 4.
n 2 Peter, i. 5, 6. • James, ii. 19.
The necessity of obedience is further illustrated by the history of Saul, who had been anointed king over Israel. He arrogantly and impatiently called for a burnt offering and a peace offering, and he offered the burnt offering P, whereas it was the office of Samuel to make the offering, and Saul had been directed to wait until Samuel came4. And Samuel said to Saul, “ Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which He commanded thee ;-thy kingdom shall not continuer." And when Saul, in his expedition against the Amalekites, had failed to fulfil the commandments of the Lord, and had brought away alive the cattle which he was directed to slay, excusing himself for this breach of command, by saying, that he saved the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the Lord God; “ Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams; for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Behold, thou hast rejected the word of the Lord; he hath also rejected thee from being kings." It was absurd, as well as
impious, in Saul, to suppose that an act of disobedience could be regarded as an act of service; and that the contempt of God's word should be accepted as the fruits of faith. “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I sayt?"
After Saul had been anointed kingu by Samuel, “ the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he prophesied,” and “God gave him another heartw," as Samuel had predicted, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and thou shalt be turned into another man x.” Yet we find, that Saul, notwithstanding his regeneration, acted disobediently, and that he was, upon that account, deprived of his station; and, moreover, " the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him y." Thus, the history of Saul proves, that the “ regeneration” which is produced by the gift of the Holy Ghost, does not relieve a man from the necessity of keeping his heart and affections in continual subjection to the declared will of the Deity ; . the Spirit is given to direct and assist his own exertions, not to supersede them ; to guide, but not to force him?. So that, although a man possess the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be reges
+ Luke, vi. 46.
! * 1 Sam. x, 6.
y 1 Sam. xvi. 14. ? See PART VI.
nerated, have another heart, and be turned into another man, he is not thereby necessarily secured from sin; he is offered light, assistance, counsel, but he is left at liberty to adopt or to refuse these; he is left exposed to the temptations of Satan and of his own nature; and, . unless he be ever on the watch, and ever armed against these spiritual enemies, he will, notwithstanding his regeneration, be “ entangled again with the yoke of bondagea.” “Wherefore," says the Apostle, most justly, “ let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fallb.”
Saul having been rejected from being king, Samuel, by the direction of the Deity, made choice of David, the youngest son of Jesse the Bethlemite (who was the ninth in direct descent from Judah c), to succeed him. And he “ took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward d.” Thus David received "an unction from the Holy One," of which the anointing with oil was a figure.
David, “ of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ camef” (Christ being, in many instances,
• Gal. v. 1. 51 Cor. x. 12.
c Gen. xxxviii. 29. Ruth,
d 1 Sam. xvi. 13. • 1 John, ii. 20.
Rom. ix. 5.