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6. And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
7. And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
pray for you unto Jehovah. Samuel, who was a child of prayer, became a man of prayer ; see for instances of his prayers 1 Sam. 8:6; 12:17-19, 23; 15:11; compare Ps. 99:6; Jer. 15:1, where Samuel is named as mighty in prayer.
6. They . .. drew water. The Israelites learned in their desert wanderings how precious water is, and used it as a symbol of devotion in their sacrifices, as later, when water was plentiful with them, they used wine. Poured it out before Jehovah, in token that they poured out before him their spirits in repentance and in supplication for pardon. And fasted on that day. Fasting from food is always a symbol of sorrow and shame, as feasting signifies joy and thanksgiving. Here it meant the desire to“ fast from sin.”. Compare the fast on the great day of Atonement (Lev. 16 : 29-31). We have sinned against Jehovah. The people made the same confession in the days of Jephthah (Judg. 10:10). It is never enough for repentance to be in the heart ; it must also be spoken, for our sin, though primarily against God, is also against men. And Samuel judged the children of Israel. Samuel the prophet had turned the hearts of the people back to Jehovah ; now Samuel the judge set in order their lives, which had become disorganized by their heathen wickedness. There would be many wrongs to right, many decencies to reëstablish, many good old ways to repair. Civilization had become relaxed. Every revival of religion is accompanied by just such a civic and social housecleaning.
PURIFICATION AND REPENTANCE. “ Confession is like blowing the trumpet of revolt : it does not make a stiff fight unnecessary, but gives the signal for, and itself begins, the conflict." - Alexander Maclaren.
Confession and repentance must be whole-hearted, not like that of the man who stole a hundred dollars. Long afterwards he sent this letter to the man he had robbed : “ Dear Sir : Five years ago I robbed you of one hundred dollars. I am filled with remorse that I could have done such a thing. I send you a dollar and a half to ease my conscience.”
Confession and repentance must be hopeful. “ All true penitence must take account of God's willingness and readiness to forgive. The repentance which deals only with sin, and not with grace, is nothing more or better than despair, and will lead a man to go out and hang himself, as did Judas, rather than to go out and weep bitterly, as did Peter.” Rev. George F. Pentecost, D.D.
“ What is repentance ?” asked a Sunday-school superintendent ; and a wise little girl answered, “ It is being sorry enough to quit.”'
“ You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late." Thomas Fuller.
“If we put off repentance another day, we have a day more to repent of, and a day less to repent in.” William Mason.
“He who repents every day for the sins of every day, when he comes to die will have the sin of but one day to repent of.” — Henry.
Repentance is toward God and not toward punishment.” Pentecost.
Repentance without amendment is like continual pumping in a ship without stopping the leaks.” Palmer.
“The opportunity and ability to repent is one of the highest privileges that God has granted to man. Peabody.
Repentance is the greatest deed that can be done on earth.” Russell H. Conwell.
III. GOD'S POWER IN ANSWER TO PRAYER, 1 Sam. 7:7-17. The national assembly at Mizpeh seems to have occupied much time ; there was much to do, much to be undone. The Philistines had ample time to gather a formidable array against the Israelites. They would be quickly suspicious of such an assembly, regarding it as preliminary to an attempt to throw off their yoke.
7. They were afraid. Having lived apart from God so long, the Israelites had lost their faith and confidence in his protecting power. Fear is one of the surest 8. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
9. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
10. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel : but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
II. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car.
12. Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped
and saddest effects of sin. In this case, however, the fear was salutary, for it threw the Israelites, in their weakness and trembling, back upon the power of God. We
also need a wholesome fear of our mighty enemy, Satan, “and no fault is more fatal than an underestimate of his power. If we go into battle singing, we shall probably come out of it weeping ; if we begin bragging, we shall end bleeding.". Alexander Maclaren.
8. In all times of great need men testify to the truth of religion by relying on religious
How quickly calamities point out God's heroes! Whatever Samuel's influence may have been before, he was supreme in Israel on this day of terror. Cease not to cry unto Jehovah our God for us. Even those who have scouted prayer turn to it in times of distress, when their ship is going down, when the plague is raging, when the
life of some loved one is slipping away, when Altar of Burnt Sacrifice,
they feel themselves to be near death. If
they have forgotten how to pray, they beg others to pray for them. This common experience is one of the best proofs of the eternal reality back of prayer,
9. Samuel took a sucking lamb. It was required to be not less than seven days old (Lev. 22 : 27), and it was entirely burned upon the altar to symbolize the entire consecration of the people to God.
10. Jehovah thundered with a great thunder (literally, “ voice "). “ A thunderstorm, with hailstones and masses of ice, burst in the face of the enemy.” — James Sime. The loud thunder encouraged the Israelites but drove the Philistines into a panic. The Israelites perceived the confusion and rout of their enemies, and added to it by pursuing them as far as Beth-car, an unknown place “ apparently on high ground overhanging the road back to Philistia." – Cambridge Bible.
Illustration. History tells us of a number of places of defeat changed afterwards to places of victory, such as the island of Meloria where the republic of Pisa inflicted a severe defeat on the republic of Genoa. But in 1284 the Genoese admiral, Oberto Doria, directed his warships purposely to the same spot, crushed the Pisan fleet, and took so many prisoners that it was said, “ To see Pisa, you must now go to Genoa.”
12. Then Samuel took a stone. In that rocky land a stone was the most natural as well as the most permanent memorial of a great event. This famous stone was set up between Mizpeh and Shen, which means “ the Tooth," probably referring to some certain spire of rock. Samuel named the stone Eben-ezer, which means “ The Stone of Help," as Samuel explained it, Hitherto (up to this time - not this place) hath Jehovah helped us. The stone, which was a memorial of the past, was also an assurance for the future. “He who hath led will lead
“Here I raise my Eben-ezer,
Hither by thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home."
Robert Robinson. “ From the earliest times men have reared stones ; for instance, the stones of Stonehenge, and the great and lovely cromlechs that you meet with, both in the far East and the far West.” Hastings. Watson tells of a stone far up among the hills, marked “ Eben-ezer,” which was set up a hundred years ago by a lonely sheepfarmer who had been trained for the ministry, but had abandoned the intention because of theological doubts. But one day, on that solitary hillside, he found God and peace, and set up that stone to commemorate the great event in his life.
13. So the Philistines were subdued. Evidently this refers only to the temporary results of this defeat, for the book of Samuel records many more instances of Philistine aggression (1 Sam. 9:16; 10:5; 13: 3, 5, 19; 14:21; 17:1; 23: 27). Indeed, it was the activity of the Philistines that caused the Israelites to desire a king. All the days of Samuel, therefore, probably means Samuel's active judgeship; when he became old and his sons governed corruptly the Philistines grew aggressive again. For the present, however, the Philistines were effectually humbled, so that the Israelites got back the towns which the Philistines had taken from them; and also the Amorites (the Canaanites, perhaps those dwelling in the highlands), next to the Philistines the strongest foes of the Hebrews, kept peace with Israel.
15. Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. To be sure, he made his sons judges when he was old (1 Sam. 8:1), and he made Saul king, but he evidently still possessed authority, and was looked to as the power behind the throne to the day of his death.
16. He went from year to year in circuit. The four places which Judge Samuel visited every year were all sanctuaries, places of Worship, including Ramah, which Samuel made a holy place by building an altar there. Bethel, the modern Beitin, was ten miles north of Jerusalem. There Abraham built an altar, there Jacob had his stairway dream, there the ark rested for a time in the days of the judges, and there Jeroboam set up one of his calf-idols. Gilgal, near where the Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter Canaan, is the place of the first passover in the promised land, and the probable home of the ark during the conquest. It was at this time the national capital. Mizpeh was an important place northwest of Jerusalem (see v. 5). Ramah, Samuel's birthplace and home, was about twelve miles west of Shiloh, on the western edge of " the hill country of Ephraim.” With this summary the historian closes the first section of the book, dealing with the judgeship of Samuel. The next chapter opens the second section, the career of Saul.
OUR EBEN-EZERS. Samuel and his people won their great victory on the field where they had suffered their great defeat. So we may transform our failure into triumphs. So we may “rise on stepping-stones of our dead selves to higher things." However often we have sinned, there an Eben-ezer of forgiveness, purity, and peace for us, if we make the Lord our helper.
“ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us yes, even in our defeats, if the defeats lead us to the Conqueror. God's hitherto' carries henceforward' wrapped up in it.” – Alexander Maclaren. His long-suffering in the past assures us of his readiness to help in the future.
"Each sweet Eben-ezer I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure to help me quite through.” – John Newton. " The memory of all God's mercies ought to be perpetuated. Every critical period, as the turning of the year ; every point of success in any enterprise of life ; every point where we gain a higher joy, whether it be secular, or social, or spiritual ; every new relation which promises great blessedness to us ; every business achievement which seems to lift us out of difficulties ; every great mischief that impended as a threatening sky, but that is rolled away every such event or experience ought to have a distinct recognition.” Henry Ward Beecher.
“ The newest of all revelations is the life of my past when seen in God; it is like the difference between passing through a landscape at night and looking down upon the same landscape from the brow of the hill at morning.” George Matheson.
Ebenezer has become a Christian name. It is a name given also sometimes to churches, as a sailors' chapel is called a Bethel.
Illustration. “We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. Even so should we look down the long aisles of our years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of loving-kindness and faithfulness which bear up our joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches sing
? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received ‘hitherto.' C. H. Spurgeon.
"In every gone-by trouble Thou hast heard,
Thou hast upheld, till now! Across the waste,
ISRAEL'S FIRST KING.
I Samuel 9:15-10: 24.
PRINT 1 Sam. 9:15-21; 9: 25-10:1.
GOLDEN TEXT. - Only fear Jehovah, and serve Him in truth with all your heart.
Lesson Material : 1 Sam. 9:15-10: 24.
Memory Verse : I will hear what God Jehovah will speak. Ps. 85: 8. Junior Topic : SAUL CHOSEN AS King.
Lesson Material : 1 Sam. 9:1-10:9.
Memory Verse : Luke 16: 10.
Additional Material : Luke 6 : 12–16; Acts 9:13-19.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. comes often to the older students. In
the young people's society, in the church, The Younger Classes. The Primary in the Sunday school, in the community, and Junior grades will be interested in in elections, in business, in society, it is Saul's hunt for his father's asses, in the necessary to select leaders. This lesson story of his talks with Samuel, and of tells us how to find the right person for the anointing. They will like to know a given task, and that is what the older also about the lot-drawing and about pupils will get out of it chiefly. Saul's modest hiding. The lesson is full of teachings for the little ones, teachings of trustworthiness, of manliness, and of modesty.
THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING. The Intermediate classes. — Intermediate and Senior pupils, while in- Time. — Saul was made king (Beecher) terested in this sprightly story, will also B.C. 1102. be profited by considering the qualities Place. - The assembly of elders which in Saul which made him a successful made the request for a king met at leader of men. Every active boy or Samuel's home town, Ramah, about six girl wants to make a success of life, and miles north of Jerusalem. There Samuel this lesson gives many a hint.
anointed Saul. The assembly of the The Older Classes. —- The duty of people to ratify the choice of Saul was choosing leaders and of setting them to at Mizpeh, near Ramah and about four work and supporting them is one that miles northwest of Jerusalem.
THE ROUND TABLE.
III. THE PEOPLE ACCEPT Saul
KING, 1 Sam. 10 : 2–27. FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION.
Saul among the prophets. Bad sons of good fathers in the Bible.
Saul chosen by lot.
Saul silent under scorn.
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY.
J. R. Miller's Devotional Hours with THE PLAN OF THE LESSON. the Bible. Hastings's The Greater Men
and Women of the Bible, Vol. III. AlSUBJECT : The Choice of a Leader. bertson's College Sermons. Fleming's
Israel's Golden Age. A fine sermon on I. THE PEOPLE's WilFUL PURPOSE, Saul in Trench's Shipwrecks of Faith, 1 Sam. 8:1-22.
Chapters on Samuel (by Simpson) and Samuel's base sons.
Saul (by Milligan) in Men of the Old
Maclaren's Expositions. II. Samuel Anoints SAUL AS KING, Hours with the Bible. Burrell's Way
Whyte's Bible Characters. Geikie's Sam. 9:1-10 : 1
farers of the Bible. Banks's The Sunday The character of Saul. Saul's quest.
Night Evangel. Gordon's Revelation and What Saul found.
I. THE PEOPLE'S WILFUL PURPOSE, 1. Sam. 8:1-22. One of the strangest (and yet one of the most natural) things in the Bible is the way in which Samuel, though he had before him the sad experience of Eli with his bad sons, yet allowed his own sons to grow up in evil ways, becoming greedy, grafters, and unjust. They had godly names, Joel (“ Jehovah is God”) and Abijah (“. Jehovah is my father”), but they did not live up to their names. They were judges of the southern district, holding court at Beersheba, while Samuel judged in the north, but they perverted judgment. And Samuel, like Eli before him, seemed to wink at his sons' base conduct.
THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL were the heads of families. The assembly of elders, in the old days of the nation, was the fundamental authority, the Congress of the Hebrews. The elders continued as an institution under the kings, and after the return from exile. In New Testament times they made up one of the divisions of the Sanhedrin. These elders met together, deliberated on the state of Israel, and presented their conclusions to Samuel. They desired him to select a king to rule them, and gave three reasons for their request : (1) that Samuel was growing old ; (2) that his sons were not fit to succeed him ; (3) that the nations around them had kings ; to these later (v. 20) they added another reason (4), that their ruler might be able to lead them in war, and not merely to be a priest or a judge.
SAMUEL TOOK THIS URGENT REQUEST BEFORE THE LORD, to whom all human perplexities should be taken. He was told that the people had not rejected him, they had rejected Jehovah ; they were merely doing what they had done over and over throughout their history, relying on their own judgment, or following the example of the heathen, instead of relying on the God who had won all their victories, and seeking first to know and do his will. Samuel was told to grant their request, but to tell them plainly what fate they were bringing on themselves, that they might be without excuse.
Illustration. “ We should learn a lesson of patience and forbearance towards others from the way God bears with men's sins. " Abraham, says an old story, welcomed a tired wayfarer to his tent and set bread before him. The old man began to eat without giving God thanks. Then the patriarch in anger thrust him away into the darkness. But God rebuked Abraham : Since I have borne with his unthankfulness all his life long, couldst thou not have borne with him one night ?'”
J. R. Miller.
THE WARNING that Samuel gave was couched in unmistakable terms. The king they desired to set over them would compel their sons to be his personal retainers, to drive his war chariots and ride his horses to war, to run before his equipage and announce his coming, to lead his soldiers, till his ground, and manufacture his swords and spears. Their daughters would be taken as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. The