Vindication of the Sentence on Saul
1 Samuel 16:1
And the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?…

Saul was a man, an Israelite, a king, the first king of Israel; under these heads let us group our observations.

1. He was a man. Is this a great thing? Yes, very. There are so many of us that we think lightly of our kind. But what lofty dignity there is in manhood! What marvellous responsibilities cluster about it! Crowned with a kingly immortality how sublimely important is each individual! God's claims are on that heart. Each instance of withdrawal or suspension of its homage, nay, even the independent action of its powers without reference to heavenly supremacy, is an act of disloyalty. If this earth contained but one rebel how would his loyal fellows stare at the prodigy! But no familiarity with sin can, in God's estimate, take away its first offensiveness. How preposterously foolish to quarrel with the Great King when, in any instance, He makes the line of judicial infliction in temporal things approach the line of the sinner's deservings!

2. Saul was an Israelite. As such, the claims of God, and his own responsibilities were largely increased. The will of God pressed with peculiar force on the conscience of every member of that nation. The Jew who neglected, or interfered to modify the Divine will was doubly culpable. Still further aggravated would be the offence if that will were plainly laid before the mind and emphatically pressed upon the conscience. Precisely such was the case of that offender whose conduct we are reviewing.

3. Saul was king of Israel. As such, he was vicegerent of God. God's lieutenant and the asserter of Israel's rights ought to have set himself promptly to the completion of the case against Amalek by avenging upon them the dishonour of God, and the damage done to His people. See we not here that insubmissiveness of will, that independence of aim and action which form the germ of all the evil that has intruded upon God's holy universe. Nor is it a valid plea, palliating deviation from the strict and full performance of his commission, that it involved a dreadful sacrifice of human life. And if his heart recoiled more violently from the execution of the king than from the carnage of the whole nation, this only adds another touch to the outline of his vanity. It would be a rare triumph for him to lead about the captured king of their oldest and bitterest enemies.

4. Saul was the first king of Israel. The nation had just passed through an important crisis. The change of government was the permitted consequence of national unfaithfulness to God. His holy presence, as their immediate Ruler, was irksome to their criminal independence, and alarming to their conscience. When their king fully develops his character, he is found to be animated by the same views and feelings. Here, then, are most critical circumstances. The people have drifted far into the region of disloyalty to God and indifference to Divine things, and the change of Government which this ungodliness introduced has added new force to the current of growing degeneracy. The king has connived at disobedience. Most perilous precedent! Doubly so at the commencement of a new regime which it must help to mould. If knighthood, in its early days, be permitted with impunity to tamper thus with the behests of God, and vaunt itself in the spoils of authority reft from the majesty of heaven, what shall the end be? The case is urgent. A preventive, however terrible, must be applied.

(P. Richardson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

WEB: Yahweh said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite; for I have provided a king for myself among his sons."

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