Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now on me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)1 Samuel 13:15. The Philistines occupied Michmash, and might at any moment pour down the valley upon Gilgal. Saul's situation was obviously one of extreme peril. A few hours' delay might prove fatal to him and his little army. Hence, he "forced" himself, etc.
9-14. Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings—Saul, though patriotic enough in his own way, was more ambitious of gaining the glory of a triumph to himself than ascribing it to God. He did not understand his proper position as king of Israel; and although aware of the restrictions under which he held the sovereignty, he wished to rule as an autocrat, who possessed absolute power both in civil and sacred things. This occasion was his first trial. Samuel waited till the last day of the seven, in order to put the constitutional character of the king to the test; and, as Saul, in his impatient and passionate haste knowingly transgressed (1Sa 13:12) by invading the priest's office and thus showing his unfitness for his high office (as he showed nothing of the faith of Gideon and other Hebrew generals), he incurred a threat of the rejection which his subsequent waywardness confirmed.I have not made supplication to the Lord; hence it appears that sacrifices were accompanied with solemn prayers.
I forced myself; I did it against my own mind and inclination. My conscience told me I should forbear it, and punctually obey God’s command delivered to me by Samuel, but my necessity urged me to make haste.
the Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal; on a sudden, unprepared for them, especially in a religious way:
and I have not made supplication to the Lord; for his direction and assistance, and for success in the war; which it seems went along with sacrifices, or was implied in them:
I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering; it was reluctant to him, it was against his will as well as the command of Samuel, to offer before he came, he suggests; but such were the circumstances he was in, that he was obliged to it; these are the reasons or excuses he made, and some of them have a specious appearance in them.Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 12. - I have not made supplication unto Jehovah. Literally, "I have not stroked the face of Jehovah," but used of making him propitious by prayer (Exodus 32:11; Jeremiah 26:19). I forced myself. Saul pleads in his justification the imminence of the danger, and perhaps there are few who have faith enough to "stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah" (Exodus 14:13). Judges 9:46), and pits (which were to be found in the land); and Hebrews also went over the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead, whilst Saul was still at Gilgal; and all the people (the people of war who had been called together, v. 4) trembled behind him, i.e., were gathered together in his train, or assembled round him as leader, trembling or in despair.
The Gilgal mentioned here cannot be Jiljilia, which is situated upon the high ground, as assumed in the Comm. on Joshua, pp. 68f., but must be the Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan. This is not only favoured by the expression ירדוּ (the Philistines will come down from Michmash to Gilgal, 1 Samuel 13:12), but also by ויּעל (Samuel went up from Gilgal to Gibeah, 1 Samuel 13:15), and by the general attitude of Saul and his army towards the Philistines. As the Philistines advanced with a powerful army, after Jonathan's victory over their garrison at Geba (to the south of Michmash), and encamped at Michmash (1 Samuel 13:5); and Saul, after withdrawing from Gilgal, where he had gathered the Israelites together (1 Samuel 13:4, 1 Samuel 13:8, 1 Samuel 13:12), with Jonathan and the six hundred men who were with him when the muster took place, took up his position at Geba (1 Samuel 13:15, 1 Samuel 13:16), from which point Jonathan attacked the Philistine post in the pass of Michmash (1 Samuel 13:23, and 1 Samuel 14:1.): Saul must have drawn back from the advancing army of the Philistines to the Gilgal in the Jordan valley, to make ready for the battle by collecting soldiers and presenting sacrifices, and then, after this had been done, must have advanced once more to Gibeah and Geba to commence the war with the army of the Philistines that was encamped at Michmash. If, on the other hand, he had gone northwards to Jiljilia from Michmash, where he was first stationed, to escape the advancing army of the Philistines; he would have had to attack the Philistines from the north when they were encamped at Michmash, and could not possibly have returned to Geba without coming into conflict with the Philistines, since Michmash was situated between Jiljilia and Geba.
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