1 Samuel 14:47
After Saul had assumed the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side--the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he routed them.
A Bad Saving of TimeWayland Hoyt, D. D.1 Samuel 14:24-52
Acting from Mere ImpulseJ. A. Muller.1 Samuel 14:24-52
Great Issues Hang on a King's Rash WordFootsteps of Truth.1 Samuel 14:24-52
Saul's WilfulnessW. G. Blaikie, D. D.1 Samuel 14:24-52
The Rash OathHelen Plumptre.1 Samuel 14:24-52
The Restless KingD. Fraser 1 Samuel 14:47, 48
Saul's Sovereignty and Wars, His Army and FamilyB. Dale 1 Samuel 14:47-52

From this summary observe that -

I. THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE BESET BY NUMEROUS ADVERSARIES. Moab, Ammon, etc. - "on every side," of varied character, imbued with the same enmity, and threatening their existence. Conflict is necessary to self-preservation.

II. THE CHASTISEMENT OF THE WICKED IS INFLICTED BY SUITABLE AGENTS, "And Saul took the kingdom," etc. "Whithersoever he turned himself he chastised them. For this work he was well qualified by warlike courage and skill, indomitable energy and zeal, and in it he met with success. God often employs men to carry out his purposes who possess little of the spirit of obedience.

III. DIVERSITY OF CHARACTER IS OFTEN MANIFESTED IN THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCES. "Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui (Abinadab), and Melchishua." The fourth, Esh-baal (Ishbosheth), is not here mentioned. "And the names of his two daughters were Merab and Michal," etc. (vers. 49-51). What a contrast of character is presented in this family - e.g. between Jonathan and his father and sister (Michal). Hidden hereditary influences and special associations may have contributed to the difference, but much more the voluntary use or abuse of preliminary conditions, outward circumstances, and spiritual gifts.

IV. THE MISUSE OF POWER IS the RUIN OF ITS POSSESSOR. "He gathered a host" (ver. 48), or acquired power. He formed a standing army, as it had been predicted (1 Samuel 8:11, 16; 1 Samuel 22:7). He employed his power for his own aggrandisement. "If he could have done as he wished, there would have been an end to the supremacy of God in Israel. Rude despotism would have usurped its place" (Hengstenberg). Samuel's antagonistic working preserved the principle of the theocracy, and Saul's kingdom departed from him (Daniel 4:31).

V. THE PERVERSITY OF MEN INVOLVES THEM IN SORE DISTRESS. "There was sore war," etc. (ver. 52). "Very different had been the state of things when Samuel ruled Israel (1 Samuel 7:13). And the people who looked for protection to an arm of flesh rather than to God, who was their King, were punished by that instrument - Saul - which they had chosen for themselves in order that they might be saved by it" (Wordsworth's 'Com.').

VI. THE KINGDOM OF GOD MUST PREVAIL OVER ALL OPPOSITION, whether from open adversaries or disloyal adherents. That which seems to hinder it is often made a means of its furtherance. The Divine purpose concerning it cannot be defeated. It endured, wrought, and was developed amidst all the vicissitudes of Israel's history until the advent of "the King Messiah," and it is still advancing toward its perfect and eternal consummation (1 Corinthians 15:24, 25). - D.

And the people said unto Saul, shall Jonathan die.
This historical fact was recorded for our instruction; and teaches us that when a people properly remonstrate against the unlawful, unjust, or cruel conduct of their rulers, they may reasonably hope to succeed.

I. I am TO SHOW, THAT A PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO REMONSTRATE AGAINST THE UNLAWFUL, UNJUST, OR CRUEL CONDUCT OF THEIR RULERS. To remonstrate properly signifies, to make a strong representation, or to offer reasons, against something said, proposed, or done, which appears to be improper, unjust, unlawful, or cruel. This bare explanation of the term applies, that it is the natural and unalienable right of all mankind, to remonstrate whenever they think they are really abused by those in authority. The child has a natural and unalienable right to remonstrate against any treatment of his parents which appears to be cruel, or unjust, or ever: highly improper. The servant has a natural and unalienable right to remonstrate against the unlawful, unjust, or oppressive conduct of his civil ruler. This natural and unalienable right of remonstrance is essential to all civil liberty. The British Government certainly grants this right to the people, who have often and lately remonstrated with success. Our federal and state constitutions expressly allow the people to remonstrate, and they have exercised this right on many occasions. If we have not the right of remonstrance, we have no right at all. Any other people bare a right to remonstrate, or offer good reasons against the unlawful, unjust, or cruel conduct of their rulers. They are neither to be punished, nor even blamed for remonstrating in a proper manner, on any proper occasion.

II. THIS IS NOT ONLY THEIR RIGHT, BUT THEIR DUTY. Rulers are clothed with authority for the purpose of doing good, and not for the purpose of doing evil. Their civil powers are all derived and limited, and consequently they are responsible for their official conduct This is a duty which they owe to God and to one another. It was the duty of Judah to remonstrate against the unnatural and nefarious conduct of his brethren, who proposed to shed and conceal the innocent blood of Joseph. It was the duty of Ahimelech the priest to remonstrate against Soul's slaying him and his father's house, for his innocently and benevolently supplying David's wants It was the duty of Esther to remonstrate against the fatal decree of Ahasuerus, and had she neglected or refused to remonstrate against it, she would have been guilty of bringing destruction upon herself, her friends, and her whole nation. After Jeremiah had been unjustly east into the dungeon, and taken out by Jedekiah the king, it was his duty to remonstrate against being remanded back again It was the duty of Stephen to remonstrate, with his dying breath, against the unrighteous and cruel conduct of his malignant persecutors. And it was a duty which Paul owed to himself, to remonstrate against the high priest, who commanded him to be smitten in an unjust and illegal manner. If it was the duty of the people of Israel to remonstrate against the maladministration of Saul and David, who were the Lord's anointed, we may justly conclude, that it is the duty of the people of this day, to remonstrate against the unjust, unconstitutional, and oppressive measures of those, whom they have raised to places of power and trust.


1. This mode of seeking redress of public and private grievances has often proved successful. It is not a vain thing for a people to lift up their united and powerful voice against public measures which they know and feel to be unconstitutional, unjust, and oppressive. There is always ground to hope that their proper and just remonstrances will have a powerful and salutary effect. For,

2. This mode of treating civil rulers has a natural tendency to impress their minds with a deep sense of their duty and interest to guard against or rectify their designed or undesigned errors. Reasonable remonstrances are suited to enlighten their understandings; just remonstrances are suited to awaken their consciences; tender remonstrances are suited to excite their tenderness and compassion; and bold and spirited remonstrances are suited to alarm their fears of losing their popularity, their places, their interests, and even their lives. Proper remonstrances are the best weapons to attack corrupt rulers in their most vulnerable parts. Though they may not feel the obligation of duty, yet they may feel the obligation of interest, to review their conduct, rectify their errors, and redress the grievances of which the people justly and unitedly complain.

3. A people may humbly hope that God will approve of their properly remonstrating against the corrupt conduct of their rulers. The righteous Lord loves righteousness, and abhors unrighteousness, oppression, and cruelty. God has the hearts of rulers in his hand, and can dispose them to treat their injured, oppressed, aggrieved subjects, with equity, condescension, and tenderness He disposed Pharaoh to regard the remonstrances of Moses, and to let his oppressed people go free. He disposed Cyrus to proclaim liberty to the captive Jews, and even to assist them in their return to their native land.God still stands in the congregation of the mighty, and judges among the gods it now appears, I trust, that the leading sentiment in this discourse is true; and if it be true, it naturally suggests some things which deserve the serious regard of both rulers and subjects at the present dark and distressing day.

1. If a people have an unquestionable right to remonstrate against the unjust and oppressive conduct of their rulers, then it would be the indispensable duty of their rulers to hear their remonstrances, and grant them proper relief. Though they have a discretionary right to hear, or not to hear, any remonstrances of any part, or of the whole body of the people, yet they are responsible for the abuse of this discretionary power. Their civil authority does by no means dissolve their moral obligation to rule in justice. The right of the people to remonstrate necessarily involves the duty of rulers to hear their remonstrances with attention and impartiality.

2. If the people have the right to remonstrate against what they really believe to be oppressive and injurious in the administration of government; then it discovers a corrupt and tyrannical disposition in their rulers, to take away, or even to attempt to take away from them, this natural, unalienable, and important right. It has always been the policy of despotic rulers to suppress the liberty of speech upon political subjects. They may attempt to destroy the right of remonstrance, or restrain the liberty of speech respecting the public measures of public men, by sophistry, artifice, or threats. They may artfully insinuate that if the people privately complain, or publicly remonstrate, they manifest disaffection, disrespect, and disobedience towards those whom they ought to esteem, revere, and obey. If this sophistry fail of answering their purpose they may throw out terrible threats, and positively declare, that all complaints and remonstrances are the high crimes of treason and rebellion. This language ought to be alarming to a people in a free government, and put them upon their guard against those who would seduce or awe them into silence under all the evils and calamities which their unjust and arbitrary measures have brought upon the nation.

3. It clearly appears from what has been said that it is our present duty, as a people, to remonstrate with freedom and energy against those measures of our general government which have brought us to the brink of ruin.

4. That if we properly remonstrate against the conduct which has brought us into our wretched and dangerous situation we may reasonably hope to succeed, and speedily effect such a change of men and of measures as will restore peace, safety, and prosperity to our bleeding country. Decent, just, and spirited remonstrances have often made deep impressions upon the hearts and consciences of both good and bad rulers, and prevailed upon them to redress the grievances of their subjects. Haughty and arbitrary as the kings and parliaments of Great Britain may be supposed to have been, they have generally paid respect and attention to the opinions, the feelings, and the complaints of the nation.

5. We may fairly infer from what has been said that our men of eminence, who have uniformly and boldly remonstrated against the ill-concerted measures of government, have acted a noble and patriotic part, and deserve to be highly esteemed and applauded. Finally, this subject calls upon us to exercise unfeigned gratitude to God for the public and private favours which He has bestowed upon us in this trying and distressing day. We ought to be thankful that He has given us wise and faithful rulers, and by their instrumentality has preserved our rights and liberties, and restrained our powerful enemies from destroying our seaports, and spreading misery and destruction among us. Let us not lean to our own understandings, nor trust in our own hearts, but in the Lord Jehovah, in whom there is everlasting strength. Let us submissively commit ourselves and our country to his wise and holy disposal; and resolve that though he slay us, yet we will trust in him.

(N. Emmons, D. D.).

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