As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the servant to go on ahead of us, but you stay for a while, and I will reveal to you the word of God." So the servant went on.
I. THE SANCTION GIVEN BY THE LORD TO SAUL'S ELEVATION. Instances may easily be adduced in which the writers of the Old Testament ascribed to the Lord directly what was only indirectly recognised or permitted by him; but in the present case there is obviously more than Divine allowance. Jehovah pointed out Saul to the prophet Samuel, and commanded that he should be anointed captain, or king. We account for this on that principle of Divine government which allows to men that which they most wish for, in order that they may learn wisdom from the result. The people of Israel had not asked the Lord for such a king as he might see fit to choose and appoint. They had asked the prophet for a warlike chief like the kings of the nations and tribes around them, and the Lord saw meet to let them have what they desired; the young giant Saul was just the style of man they sought, cast in the very mould they admired, and one that would teach them some painful lessons through experience. Therefore, though the Lord foresaw the disappointing career of Saul, he authorised Samuel to anoint him privately, and afterwards sanctioned his public selection and elevation to the royal dignity. Here was a leader to suit the fancy of the people - strong, impetuous, valiant. Let them have Saul for their king. Such is the way of the Lord to this day, and in individual as well as national life. He admonishes and corrects us by letting us have our own way and be filled with our own devices. We are apt to complain in our disappointment at the result, that God himself sanctioned our course. No. We did not ask him to show us his way, that we might do his will; but took our own way, did our own pleasure; and he allowed, nay, facilitated our desire. Let the issue teach us to be more wary and more humble in time to come.
II. EARLY PROGNOSTICS OF SAUL'S FAILURE.
1. The manner of his entrance on the page of history. How different from the first mention of David, faithfully keeping the sheep before he was anointed to be the royal shepherd of Israel, is the first appearance of the son of Kish in search of his father's stray asses, and visiting the venerable prophet Samuel with no higher thought in his mind than to learn, if possible, where those asses were! He did not even know Samuel by sight, though he lived but at a short distance. He seems to have been an unreflecting rustic youth, with none of those premonitions of greatness which come early to the wise, and tend to give them seriousness of purpose and elevation of aim.
2. Indications of a fitful mind. We read nothing of Saul's bearing before Samuel when informed of the destiny before hint. Probably he was stunned with surprise. But so soon as he left the prophet new currents of thought and feeling began to flow through his heart. A mood of mind fell on him more grave and earnest than had appeared in him before. The Old Testament way of saying it is, that "God gave him another heart;" for the change which passes on a man under the consciousness of a high vocation suddenly received is none the less of God than it is evidently born of the occasion, he sees things in a new light, feels new responsibilities; new springs of feeling and new capacities of speech and action reveal themselves in him. But Saul took every influence by fits and starts. He quickly gained, and as quickly lost. There was in him no steady growth of conviction or principle. When he fell in with men of religious fervour he was fervent too When he met the prophets chanting Jehovah's praise he caught their rapture, and, joining their procession, lifted up his voice also in the sacred song. But it was a mere fit of piety. Of course Saul had been educated in the religion of his fathers, and in that sense knew the God of Israel; but it seems evident, from the surprise occasioned by his appearance among the prophets, that he had never shown any zeal for the glory and worship of Jehovah; and the sudden ecstasy at Gibeah, having no foundation of spiritual principle, came to nought. Alas! men may sing spiritual songs with emotion who have no enduring spiritual life. Men may catch the infection of religious enthusiasm, yet have no moral health or soundness. Men's faces may glow with a fine ardour, and yet soon after be darkened by wicked passion. Pulses of high feeling and moods of noble desire may visit minds that yet are never moved by Divine grace, and therefore are liable to be mastered, after all, by evil temper and base envy. Occasional impulses are not sufficient. "Ye must be born again." - F.
I. SAMUEL FOUND MUCH THAT WAS GOOD IN SAUL. A cluster of excellencies incidentally present themselves in this chapter.
Bid the servant pass on before us.
I. First, let us think upon THE ATTENTION WHICH HE REQUESTED. He said to the servant, "Pass on before us," and he passed on. Bid the servant pass on; forget for a while your business, forget your family, forget your joys, forget your sorrows. I wish I could so speak that men would say of my preaching what they said of Whitefields. One man said, "Whenever I went to church before, I calculated how many looms the church would hold" — for he was a weaver — "but when I heard Whitefield I never thought of a loom." Another said, "While I have been in church I have often built a ship from stem to stern; but when I heard Mr. Whitefield I could not lay a plank; he took my mind right away from such things, and occupied me with higher thoughts." The next point in the attention requested was the desire that he would "stand still a while." I pray you bask in the gospel as men do in the sunlight when they would be warm. Let the gospel have its own legitimate effect upon you. Lay bare your bosom to it. Ask that your soul may have no stone of carelessness laid upon it, as though it were a dead thing in a sepulchre, but that it may come forth in resurrection life through the quickening word of the Divine Spirit. Is not this what the word of God deserves? Should it not have our living, loving attention? When God speaks let all be silent. I have heard that the great clock at St. Paul's can scarcely be heard in Cheapside, by reason of the traffic that is going on; and so the most solemn voices are drowned amidst the din and uproar of our business, and we do not often hear God's voice, unless we are accustomed to give ourselves a little quiet and holy stillness, and sit in our chamber alone, and say, "Now, Lord, commune with me." As the Word of God deserves such quiet attention, it certainly is only by such attention that it is likely to bless us. I remember a child who used to be noted for great attention during sermon, and his mother, noticing his deep earnestness, asked him why He said, "Because, mother, I heard the preacher once say that if there was a piece of the discourse that was likely to be of good to our souls, Satan would try to make us lose it; and as I do not know which part God will bless me by, I try to hear it all, and to remember it all." Oh, when people come to listen to the preacher with such a spirit as that, it is sweet work to preach. But many things arise to prevent this attrition. You cannot get some folks to be still, they are so frivolous; you cannot make them think. Some men dread the process of thinking, almost as much as they would a touch of the "cat" on their backs. They cannot bear to consider and meditate. God has distinguished them above brutes by giving them the faculty of thought, but this high privilege they try to ignore. Do stand still a while, and let nothing come in to break the silence of your spirit, while you listen to the voice of God. I would earnestly persuade every one here who is not saved to get an hour alone somehow.
II. THE SUBJECT UPON WHICH SAMUEL DISCOURSED with Saul, or rather the subject about which I would discourse at this time, if I am so happy as to have secured your ear. The subject is the Word of God. That God should give us a Word at all is very gracious. It is wonderful that he should condescend to speak to us, because we cannot understand much: we are like little children at the very best. In the particular word of God which Samuel spoke to Saul there was some likeness to the message which I am bound to deliver to you! Samuel spoke to Saul about a kingdom, of which this young man should be the king. Little did Saul dream that on this day the kingdom should be given him, and little dost thou dream of it perhaps as yet; but I pray thee let me show thee the word of God, for thou mayest yet find a kingdom there, a kingdom for thee, a crown of life for thee which fadeth not away, and a seat at the right hand of God with Christ in the day of His appearing.
2. Samuel not only spoke about the kingdom, but he showed him the word of God by an anointing Thou sayest, "I am not capable of high and noble things." Thou shalt be made capable, for in the day when God anoints thee thou shalt receive strength, — "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." Thou shalt receive enlightenment and illumination by the Divine unction of the Holy Ghost.
3. Samuel spake to Saul about another matter, namely, about a change that he should undergo. Hast thou never heard that God can create thee for the second time? can destroy in thee the power for sin, and bring thee under another dominion, and make thee an eager after right as thou hast been after wrong, and make thee as happy in the service of Christ as ever thou wast in the service of the devil, ay, and ten thousand times more so?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Stand thou still a while that I may shew thee the Word of God.
Homilist.The text suggests two remarks concerning Divine communication to man.
I. THEY ARE NECESSARY TO QUALIFY HIM FOR THE DISCHARGE OF HIS OBLIGATIONS. Saul was about assuming an office of enormous responsibility, and Samuel felt that a knowledge of the "Word of God" was of primary importance to him. "I may shew thee the word of God."
1. The word of God is essential to enlighten us as to our duty. On no subject has man made greater mistakes than on that of duty. The greatest sages of the old world blundered terribly on this point. But how clearly it is unfolded in the Divine Word! "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." "Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God," "Whatsoever ye would that men would do unto you do ye even so to them."
2. The word of God is necessary to stimulate us in the discharge of our duty. Where else can we find motives strong enough for this purpose.
II. THAT PATIENT WAITING IS NECESSARY FOR THE RECEPTION OF THESE COMMUNICATIONS. "But stand thou still a while that I may shew thee the word of God." God's voice cannot be heard in the hurry and bustle of life. There must be the halt and the hush, the pause and the quiet.
1. "Stand thou still a while" to listen. The ear must be opened. "Incline thine ear," etc.
2. "Stand thou still a while," to interpret. Ponder the meaning, pass from the sound to the sense, from the symbol to the substance.
3. "Stand thou still a while," to apply. Apply the meaning to your own condition, experience, circumstances. Conclusion: — The words may be legitimately applied to all the good who are pressed down with the trials of life. To every tried saint I might say, "Stand thou still a while," and
(1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
(2) (3) (Homilist.)
1. Saul had reverence for his father. He promptly obeyed his father; yet he was "from his shoulders and upwards taller," etc.
2. Saul was no idler. He was no stranger to work; yet his father was "a mighty man of power."
3. Saul was not particular as to the kind of work he did. We have his photograph in verse
2. Yet this splendid young man went in search of the lost asses: no person who is usefully employed is ignobly employed.
4. Saul found teachers everywhere. He listened to and was advised by his servant: he was guided by young maidens.
5. Saul was very modest and humble (ver. 21).
II. SAMUEL TOUCHES THE ONE GUIDING PRINCIPLE OF A TRUE LIFE, "Stand thou still a while..."This is the world's only safe guiding star. Whoever would live a true life must often say with the child Samuel: "Speak Lord for..."
1. Sometimes we are tossed by restlessness. Soul satisfaction, heart rest, are far from us. These are eagerly but vainly sought in company, pleasure, business, intellectual pursuits; what is wanted? A teacher to say in tones that will compel attention. "Stand thou..."
2. Sometimes we are moved by covetousness. Men get the hunger of gold, and houses, and lands upon them. O, that some prophet of God would stand across their path, and in ringing tones that would make them pause, tremble, and repent, say: "Stand..."
3. Sometimes we are pressed by difficulties. We must take care how we get free; Satan will be quite ready to help us; but he will not do it for nothing; he is a lawyer who never goes without his fee. Find one who with eyes bent upon this book will say: "Stand..."
III. SAUL'S GREAT DISASTERS AND HIS FINAL OVERTHROW WERE THE RESULTS OF HIS NEGLECT OF "THE WORD OF GOD." Saul made a good beginning, but a terribly sad ending. Alas! what numbers do the same.
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