Ye shall be consumed - If ye do wickedly you shall be destroyed, your kingdom destroyed, and your king destroyed. Here they had set before them life and good, death and evil. Never was a people more fully warned, and never did a people profit less by the warning; and they continue to this day monuments of God's justice and forbearance. Reader, What art thou? Perhaps a similar monument. Consider therefore what great things God has done for thee.
When the Philistines, with their large army, prepared to make war with Israel, then the people were afraid. They had not that confidence that God would appear for them as before they had wickedly demanded a king. They knew that they were but a handful, compared with the armies of the Philistines, and to go out to battle with them seemed to be certain death. They did not feel as secure as they thought they should in possession of their king. In their perplexity they dared not call upon God, whom they had slighted. The Lord said to Samuel, They have not rejected you, but me, by desiring a king. 4aSG 68.1
Now, these men who had been valiant, and a terror to their numerous enemies, were afraid to go out against the Philistines to battle. They had their king, but did not dare to trust in him, and they felt that they had chosen him before the Strength of Israel. When they were brought into this perplexing condition, their hearts fainted. The people scattered, in their distress, and hid themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in high places, and in pits, as though escaping from captivity. Those who ventured to go with Saul followed him trembling. He was in great perplexity, as he saw that the people were scattered from him. He anxiously awaited the promised coming of Samuel; but the time expired, and he came not. God had designedly, detained Samuel, that his people might be proved, and might realize their sin, and how small was their strength, and weak their judgment and wisdom without God. 4aSG 68.2
In their calamity they repented that they had chosen a king. They had possessed greater courage and confidence while they had God-fearing rulers to instruct and lead them, for they obtained counsel direct from God, and it was like being led by God himself. Now, they realized that they were commanded by an erring king, who could not save them in their distress. Saul had not a high and exalted sense of the excellence and terrible majesty of God. He had not a sacred regard for his appointed ordinances. With an impetuous spirit because Samuel did not appear at the appointed time, he rushed before God presumptuously, and undertook the sacred work of sacrifice. While equipped for war, he built the altar and officiated for himself and the people. This work was sacredly given to those appointed for the purpose. This act was a crime in Saul, and such an example would lead the people to have a low estimate of the religious ceremonies and ordinances sanctified and appointed of God, prefiguring the sinless offering of his dear Son. God would have his people have a holy regard and sacred reverence for the sacrificial work of the priests, which pointed to the sacrifice of his Son. 4aSG 69.1Read in context »