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Philistines having parted their army into three troops, that they might spoil and destroy many parts at once ; Jonathan, strengthened by God, and followed with his esquire only, scaled a mountain, whereon a y company of Philistines were lodged; the rest of their army (as may be gathered by the success) being encamped in the plain adjoining. And though he were discovered before he came to the hill top, and in a kind of derision called up by his enemies; yet he so behaved himself, as, with the assistance of God, he slew twenty of the first Philistines that he encountered. Whereupon the next companies taking the alarm, and being ignorant of the cause, fled away amazed altogether. In which confusion, fear, and jealousy, they slaughtered one another instead of enemies: whereupon those Hebrews which became of their party, because they feared to be spoiled by them, took the advantage of their destruction, and slew of them in great numbers. And lastly, Saul himself, taking knowledge of the rout and disorder, together with those Israelites that shrouded themselves in mount 2 Ephraim, set upon them, and obtained (contrary to all hope and expectation) a most happy and glorious victory over them. Here was that prophecy in Deuteronomy fulfilled by Jonathan,
That one of those which feared God should kill a thousand, and two of them ten thousand.
This done, the small army of Israel made retreat from the pursuit. And though Saul had bound the people by an oath not to take food till the evening, yet his son Jonathan, being enfeebled with extreme labour and emptiness, tasted a drop of honey in his passage ; for which Saul his father would have put him to death, had not the people delivered him from his cruelty.
The late miraculous victory of Saul and Jonathan seems to have reduced unto the Philistines remembrance of their former overthrow, likewise miraculous, in the days of Samuel; so that for some space of time they held themselves quiet. In the mean while Saul being now greatly encouraged, undertook by turns all his bordering enemies; 'y i Sam. xiv. 12.
2 ; Sam. xiv.
namely, the a Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and the Arabians of Zobah; against all which he prevailed. He then assembled all the forces he could make, to wit, 210,000 men, and receiving the commandment of God by Samuel, he invaded Amalec, wasting and destroying all that part of Arabia Petræa, and the Desert, belonging to the Amalekites, from Havilah towards Tigris unto Shur, which bordereth Egypt; in which war he took Agag their king prisoner. But whereas he was instructed by Samuel to follow this nation without compassion, because they first of all other attempted b Israel, when they left Egypt in Moses's time: he notwithstanding did not only spare the life of Agag, but reserved the best of the beasts and spoil of the country, with pretence to offer them in sacrifice to the living God. Therefore did Samuel now a second time make him know, that God would cast him from his royal estate to which he was raised when he was of base condition, and, as the text hath it, little in his own eyes. And though the offence was great in Saul for not obeying the voice of God by Samuel, had there been no former precept to that effect ; yet seeing Saul could not be ignorant how severely it pleased God to enjoin the Israelites to revenge themselves upon that nation, he was in all unexcusable. For God had commanded that the c Israelites should put out the remembrance of Amalec from under heaven. For the cruelty which the predeces sors of this Agag used against the Israelites, especially on those which were overwearied, faint, sick, and aged people, was now to be revenged on him and his nation above 400 years afterwards; and now he was to pay the debt of blood, which his forefathers borrowed from the innocent ; himself having also sinned in the same kind, as these words of Samuel witness; d As thy sword hath made other women child less, so shall thy mother be childless among other women : at which time Samuel himself (after he had been by many bootless entreaties persuaded to stay a while with Saul) did cut Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal, and soon after a 1 Sam. xiv. b Exod. xvii. • Deut. xxv. 15. d 1 Sam. xv. 33.
he departed to Ramath, and came no more to see Saul, until the day of his death.
NOW while Samuel mourned for Saul, God commanded him to choose a king for Israel among the sons of Ishai ; which Samuel (doubting the violent hand of Saul) feared in a sort to perform, till it pleased God to direct him how he might avoid both the suspicion and the danger. And if Samuel knew that it was no way derogating from the providence of God, that by his cautious care and wisdom he sought to avoid the inconvenience or dangers of this life, then do those men mistake the nature of his divine ordinance, who, neglecting the reason that God hath given them, do no otherwise avoid the perils and dangers thereof, than as men stupified in the opinion of fate or destiny, neglecting either
to beg counsel at God's hand by prayer, or to exercise that it wisdom or foresight, wherewith God hath enriched the mind
of man for his preservation. Neither did the all-powerful God (who made, and could destroy the world in an instant) disdain here to instruct Samuel to avoid the fury of Saul by the accustomed cautious ways of the world.
Of the sons of Ishai, Samuel, by God directed, made choice of David the youngest, having refused Eliab the first-born; who, though he were a man of a comely person and great strength, yet unto such outward appearance the Lord had no respect. For, as it is written, eGod seeth not as man seeth, &c. but the Lord beholdeth the heart. He also, refusing the other six brethren, made choice of one whom his father had altogether neglected, and left in the field to attend his flock, for of him the Lord said to Samuel, Arise and anoint him, for this is he; which done, Samuel departed and went to Ramath. Neither was it long after this that Saul began to seek the life of David ; in which bloody mind he continued till he died, overcome in battle by the Philistines.
ei Sam. xvi. 7.
The Philistines having well considered, as it seems, the increase of Saul's power through many victories by him obtained, whilst they had sitten still and forborne to give impediment unto his prosperous courses, thought it good to make new trial of their fortune, as justly fearing that the wrongs which they had done to Israel might be repaid with advantage, if ever opportunity should serve their often injured neighbours against them, as lately it had done against Moab, Ammon, and the rest of their ancient enemies. Now for the quality of their soldiers, and all warlike provisions, the Philistines had reason to think themselves equal, if not superior to Israel. The success of their former wars had for the most part been agreeable to their own wishes : as for late diasters, they might, according to human wisdom, impute them to second causes, as to a tempest happening by chance, and to a mistaken alarm, whereby their army possessed with a needless fear had fallen to rout. Having therefore mustered their forces, and taken the field, encamping so near to the army which king Saul drew forth against them, that they could not easily depart without the trial of a battle, each part kept their ground of advantage for a while, not joining in gross, but maintaining some skirmishes, as refusing both of them to pass the valley that lay between their camps. Just causes of fear they had on both sides ; especially the Philistines, whose late attempts had been confounded by the angry hand of God. Upon this occasion perhaps it was, that they sought to decide the matter by single combat, as willing to try in one man's person, whether any stroke from Heaven were to be feared. Goliath of Gath, a strong giant, fearing neither God nor man, undertook to defy the whole host of Israel, provoking them with despiteful words to appoint a champion that might fight with him hand to hand, offering condition, that the party vanquished in champion should hold itself as overcome in gross, and become vassal to the other. This gave occasion to young David, whom Samuel by God's appointment had anointed, to make a famous entrance into public notice of the people. For no man durst expose himself to encounter the great strength of Goliath, until David (sent by his father of an errand to the camp) accepted the combat, and obtained the victory, without other arms offensive or defensive than a sling, wherewith he overthrew that haughty giant, and after with his own sword struck off his head. Hereupon the Philistines, who should have yielded themselves as subjects to the conqueror, according to the covenant on their own side propounded, fled without stay, and were pursued and slaughtered even to their own gates. By this victory the Philistines were not so broken, that either any of their towns were lost, or their people discouraged from infesting the territories of Israel. But David, by whom God had wrought this victory, fell into the grievous indignation of his master Saul, through the honour purchased by his well deserving. For after such time as the Spirit of God departed from Saul and came upon David, he then became a cruel tyrant, faithless and irreligious f. Because the high priest Abimelech fed David in his necessity with hallowed bread, and armed him with the sword of his own conquest taken from Goliath ; Saul not only by his wicked Edomite Doeg murdered this Abimelech, and eighty-five priests of Nob, but also he destroyed the city, Sand smote with the edge of the sword both man and woman, both child and suckling, both ox and ass, and sheep. And he that had compassion on Agag the Amalekite, who was an enemy to God and his people, and also spared and preserved the best of his cattle, contrary to the commandment and ordinance of God, both by Moses and Samuel, had not now any mercy in store for the innocent, for the Lord's servants, the priests of Israel. Yea, he would have slain his own son h Jonathan, for pitying and pleading David's innocency, as also once before for tasting the honey, when his fainting for hunger made him forget his father's unreasonable commination. The companions of cruelty are, breach of faith towards men, and impiety towards God. The former he shewed in denying David his daughter, whom he had promised him; and again in taking her away from him to whom he had given