Samuel and King Saul
44.—The Sons of Eli. [B.C. *1100]
1. Whilst Holt the high priest was Judge in Israel, there lived a pious couple named Elcana and his wife Hannah. Hannah had no children, for which she grieved very much. On a certain day she came to the tabernacle of the Lord at Silo, where, weeping and praying, she said: "O Lord God of hosts? if Thou wilt give me a son, I will consecrate him to Thee." God heard her prayer and gave her a son, whom she called Samuel.
2. When Samuel was three years old his mother took him to Eli the high priest, at Silo. Here she consecrated him to God; and Samuel served the Lord in the tabernacle, and grew in favor with God and man.
3. Samuel and John the Baptist are much alike in their histories. Both were a gift for the prayers of their parents; both were early consecrated to God; and both preached penance to the people. Samuel was the last Judge, and the immediate precursor of the great King David; John the Baptist was the last of the prophets and the pre-cursor of Jesus Christ, the Eternal King. Samuel anointed David; John baptized Jesus.
4. Eli had two wicked sons—Ophni and Phinees. When the people came to Silo to sacrifice to the Lord, the two young men were wont to come and by violence take the flesh of the sacrifice. They committed also other abominations in the sanctuary. Eli reproved them but mildly. He did not chastise them as he should have done.
5. One night, while Eli slept within the enclosure of the sanctuary, and Samuel near him, the Lord called Samuel, He, thinking it was Eli, rose and went to him; but Eli told him he had not called him, and bade him go and sleep. This was repeated three times, when Eli understood it was the Lord who called. Then he bade Samuel answer Him and listen to what He would say. Samuel did so.
6. On the morrow Eli called Samuel, who told him all the Lord had said; how the Lord would punish him and his two sons—the father because he had not punished his sons, and the sons for their wickedness. When Eli heard this he bowed before the will of God.
7. Some time after this there arose a bloody war between the Philistines and the Israelites. Of the latter, thirty thousand were slain, and among the dead were the sons of Eli. The Ark, that had been carried into the battle, was taken. When Eli heard this terrible news he fell from the stool on which he was sitting, and, breaking his neck, died.
8. The Philistines carried the Ark into the temple of their god, Dagon. But the Lord afflicted them in many ways: their god was thrown down, their fields were overrun with mice, their cities were devastated by pestilence, until the Philistines were glad to send back the Ark to Israel.
9. Samuel succeeded Eli in the office of Judge. He assembled the people and pointed out their sins. He also promised them, if they would repent, the Lord would deliver them out of the hands of the Philistines. The people fasted and confessed their sins. God gave them the victory, and for many years peace reigned over the land.
Questions to Consider : 44.—When did Elcana and Hannah live? What was Hannah's prayer? When was Samuel consecrated to God? How are Samuel and John the Baptist compared? What is said of Eli and his sons? What is said of Samuel? How did Eli die? How did his sons die? What happened to the Philistines? Who succeeded Eli? What did Samuel promise? What reigned over the land?
45. Saul, the First King. [B.C. *1040]
1. When Samuel had grown old he appointed his sons Judges over Israel; but they walked not in the fear of the Lord. Then the people asked for a king. When Samuel heard this he was very angry, because he wished that God alone should be King of Israel. God, however, yielded, and Samuel anointed Saul king. He was a beautiful and valiant youth, from the tribe of Benjamin, and stood head and shoulders above any other man in Israel.
2. In the beginning of his reign the Lord was with Saul, and gave him the victory over his enemies. On one occasion he unfortunately disobeyed God.
He was commanded to cut off the Amalecites, and to spare nothing; but, in the pride of his power, he spared the best of the flocks, and, on his return, built triumphal arches to celebrate his victory. For this he was cut off from the throne of Israel, and his posterity forbidden to succeed him.
3. Saul was a figure of the Jewish Church. Chosen by God, at first she surpassed all others in her knowledge of God and the graces with which she was endowed. But, little by little, she fell. She forgot her obedience, her humility, her charity, and, in the pride of her insolence, trusted alone in her sacrifices. She also rejected the Christian Church, chosen to succeed her. Saul persecuted David; so did the Jews persecute Jesus Christ. David wept for the death of Saul; so did Jesus Christ weep over Jerusalem.
Questions to Consider : 45.—What did the people ask for? Who was anointed king? What is said of Saul? How did he reign in the beginning? For what was Saul cut off from the throne of Israel? How was Saul a figure of the Jewish Church?
1. At the command of God, Samuel went to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse. When he arrived, David, the youngest of the sons of Jesse, was in the fields tending his father's flocks. Samuel sent for him, and, taking a horn of oil, anointed him. As the Spirit of God came upon David, it departed from Saul.
2. Saul became subject to fits of melancholy, and an evil spirit haunted him. On such occasions David was brought in to play upon his harp and soothe the troubled mind of the king. Thus David was introduced into Saul's house. Moreover, Saul made David his armor-bearer, not knowing that he had been consecrated king. As often as David played, Saul was soothed.
Questions to Consider : 46.—Who was anointed king? Whose son was he? With what was Saul attacked? Who prayed for him? What was David made?
47.—David and Goliath.
1. A new war broke out between the Philistines and the Israelites. The Philistines were encamped on one mountain, the Israelites on another directly opposite—a narrow valley lying between them. A giant, named Goliath, advanced from the camp of the Philistines. His height was six cubits and a span; he had on his head a brazen helmet, and was clothed in a heavy coat of mail. The staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam.
2. Thus arrayed, Goliath defied the armies of Israel, asking that a man be sent to fight him. For forty days this giant presented himself—to the shame of Saul and the terror of the Israelites, for no man dared to meet him.
David came to the camp to see how it fared with his brothers. When he saw Goliath, and heard his taunts, his blood boiled within him, mad, coming to Saul, he said, "I will fight this Philistine."
3. At first Saul refused, but, on the representations of David, at length yielded. Then Saul clothed David in his own armor; but, unaccustomed to it, David put it off, and, choosing five smooth stones from the brook, took his sling and went forth to meet Goliath.
4. When the giant saw him he despised him, asking if he thought he was a dog. But David feared not; he went forth in the might and the power of God. When the two champions drew near to each other, David chose one of the stones that he carried with him, and, casting it with his sling, struck the Philistine on the forehead with such force that he fell with his face to the ground. Then David ran and, drawing the sword of Goliath from its sheath, cut off his head.
5. When the Philistines saw their champion was slain, they fled; but the Israelites, shouting and pursuing, killed many of them, and pillaged their camp.
This victory of David over Goliath was a figure of Christ's victory over the devil. As Goliath for forty days insulted the armies of Israel, so did the devil for four thousand years war against God's kingdom on earth; and as David conquered Goliath with a staff and five smooth stones, so did Jesus Christ conquer the devil by His cross and His five wounds.
Questions to Consider : 47.—What is said of the armies of the Israelites and Philistines? Who was Goliath? What did Goliath to? Who killed him? How What comparison between David and Christ? And between Goliath and the devil?
48.—Jonathan's Love and Saul's Hatred for David.
1. When Saul and the army returned from their victory over the Philistines, the women of Israel came forth from the different cities playing and singing, "Saul hath killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands." When Saul heard this he became exceedingly angry, and one day strove to strike David with his lance; but David escaped.
2. Shortly after this Saul offered his daughter Michal in marriage to David, on condition that he would kill two hundred Philistines. Saul hoped that the Philistines would kill David. But David killed the Philistines, and was only the more loved by the people. When Saul saw this his hatred increased, and he became more decided on David's death.
3. In proportion as Saul hated David, did Jonathan, the king's son, love him. David and Jonathan made with each other a covenant of peace. They often spoke to each other of Saul's hatred. Jonathan reasoned with his father, and spoke of what David had done against the Philistines. For the moment Saul was appeased.
4. For the fourth time David went to war with the Philistines. His victory only aroused anew the anger and jealousy of Saul, who strove to strike him with his javelin; but David escaped for the second time. Again Jonathan pleaded for his friend: Saul's anger would not be appeased, and in his rage he even drew his sword to kill his own son.
5. When Jonathan saw this he went to David, and told him what had happened, and advised him to flee. Weeping, Jonathan sent David away, but bade him never forget the covenant they had made, nor what they had sworn to the Lord.
Questions to Consider : 48.—What did the women sing? How did Saul act? What did he try to do? On what condition did Saul offer his daughter to David? What is said of David and Jonathan? How did Jonathan plead for David? What did Saul try a second time? What did Jonathan advise David?
49.—David's Generosity to Saul.— Saul's Death. [B.C. *1013]
1. For a while David's life was in constant danger from the hands of Saul; but he placed his confidence in God, who did not desert him.
One day Saul pursued David with three thousand men. Wearied, Saul entered a cave in which David and his men lay concealed, but Saul knew it not. David's men would have killed Saul, but David would not allow them, contenting himself with cutting off the hem of Saul's robe.
2. On another occasion Saul pursued David into the desert of Hachila. While Saul and his general, Abner, together with the whole army, were asleep, David and Abisai entered the camp. Abisai would have run Saul through with his spear, but David forbade him. David, however, took the spear that was at the king's head.
3. When they were gone some distance from the camp, David cried to the king, and he awoke. When Saul saw, by the loss of his spear, how he had been in David's power, and how, for the second time, David had spared him, he repented, and returned with his army, while David went his way.
4. War again broke out between the Philistines and the Israelites. Saul assembled an army and went forth to meet the enemy. In the battle Saul was mortally wounded, and, fearing he might fall into the hands of the Philistines, fell on his own sword, and died. By his sinful death David was freed from danger, but he rejoiced not; he only saw the virtues and good qualities of the king. In this same battle Jonathan was also killed. When David heard of his friend's death he wept bitterly, calling him brother, and comparing his love for him to the love of a mother for her child.
Questions to Consider : 49.—What is said of David's life? How did David show his generosity? How did Saul act? How did Saul die? Who else was killed? How did David take Jonathan's death?