1 Samuel 15:27
And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold on the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
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(27) He laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle.—The king’s passionate action indicates a restless, unquiet mind. Not content with intreating words, Saul, perhaps even with some violence, lays hold of the old man as he turns away, to detain him. What Saul laid hold of and tore was not the “mantle” (Authorised Version), but the hem, or outer border, of the “meil,” the ordinary tunic which the upper classes in Israel were then in the habit of wearing. The Dean of Canterbury, in a careful Note in the Pulpit Commentary, shows that the “mantle,” which would be the accurate rendering of the Hebrew addereth, the distinctive dress of the Hebrew prophets, was certainly not used in the days of Samuel, the great founder of the prophetic order. Special dresses came into use only gradually, and Elijah is the first person described as being thus clad. Long before his time the school of the prophets had grown into a national institution, and a loose wrapper of coarse cloth, made of camel’s-hair, fastened round the body at the waist by a leathern girdle, had become the distinctive prophetic dress, and continued to be until the arrival of Israel’s last prophet, John the Baptist (Mark 1:6).

15:24-31 There were several signs of hypocrisy in Saul's repentance. 1. He besought Samuel only, and seemed most anxious to stand right in his opinion, and to gain his favour. 2. He excuses his fault, even when confessing it; that is never the way of a true penitent. 3. All his care was to save his credit, and preserve his interest in the people. Men are fickle and alter their minds, feeble and cannot effect their purposes; something happens they could not foresee, by which their measures are broken; but with God it is not so. The Strength of Israel will not lie.I have sinned - Compare 1 Samuel 15:25, 1 Samuel 15:30. How was it that these repeated confessions were unavailing to obtain forgiveness, when David's was? (See the marginal reference.) Because Saul only shrank from the punishment of his sin. David shrank in abhorrence from the sin itself Psalm 51:4. 27, 28. he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle—the moil, upper tunic, official robe. In an agony of mental excitement, he took hold of the prophet's dress to detain him; the rending of the mantle [1Sa 15:27] was adroitly pointed to as a significant and mystical representation of his severance from the throne. No text from Poole on this verse. And as Samuel turned about to go away,.... From Saul, a different way from Gilgal, perhaps towards his own city Ramah, with an intention to have nothing more to say to Saul, or to do with him, or to see his face no more; so displeased was he with him:

he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle; in order to detain him, and prevent his departure from him, and his going a different way:

and it rent; Samuel twitching away from him with great vehemence and warmth. The Jewish (f) Rabbins are divided about this, whose skirt was rent; some say it was Samuel that rent the skirt of Saul, and by this signified to him, that he that cut off the skirt of his garment should reign in his stead; whereby Saul knew that David would be king when he cut off the skirt of his robe, 1 Samuel 24:4, others, that Samuel rent the skirt of his own mantle himself, which is the way of good men when things are not right; but the plain sense is, that Saul rent the skirt of Samuel's mantle, which, when Samuel saw, he understood what that rent was a sign of, as expressed in the following verse.

(f) Midrash Schemuel, sect. 18. apud Jarchi, Kimchi & Abarbinel in loc.

And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
27. the skirt of his mantle] Some kind of a lappet or flap hanging down behind, which could be easily torn or cut off, seems to be meant. Cp. 1 Samuel 24:4. As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized it to detain him, and it was torn off. The accident served Samuel as an emblem of the complete severance of the sovereignty from Saul. Compare Ahijah’s symbolical action (1 Kings 11:30-31).Even the sparing of the cattle he endeavoured to defend as the fulfilment of a religious duty. The people had taken sheep and oxen from the booty, "as firstlings of the ban," to sacrifice to Jehovah. Sacrificing the best of the booty taken in war as an offering of first-fruits to the Lord, was not indeed prescribed in the law, but was a praiseworthy sign of piety, by which all honour was rendered to the Lord as the giver of the victory (see Numbers 31:48.). This, Saul meant to say, was what the people had done on the present occasion; only he overlooked the fact, that what was banned to the Lord could not be offered to Him as a burnt-offering, because, being most holy, it belonged to Him already (Leviticus 27:29), and according to Deuteronomy 13:16, was to be put to death, as Samuel had expressly said to Saul (1 Samuel 15:3).
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