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" the king whom ye have chosen, and whom
ye have desired; and behold, the Lord “hạth set a king over you; if ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his "voice, and not rebel against the com“ mandment of the Lord, then shall both
ye, and also the king that reigneth over "you, continue following the Lord your “God. But if ye will not obey the voice " of the Lord, but rebel against the com"mandment of the Lord, then shall the " haud of the Lord be against you, as it was
against your fathers.” As the great crite-, rion of this obedience, Samuel enjoins on Saul the execution of this coinmand against the Amalekites. They had joined with his numerous and inveterate enemies, to destroy lim in the infancy of his reign; but the divine aid had given him a victory over the Philistines, and enabled him to extricate himself from his enemies on every side: and now Samuel reminds him, * “ That God had 6 anointed him king over Israel,” and informs him, that he in consequence required him to execute his judgments on Amalek;
fejere * i Sam. xv. I, &c.
and that the Jews might feel they were acting merely erecutioners of the divine sentence, and that the war was not undertaken or to be carried on from the common motives of conquest, they were forbidden to make any prisoners, or take any spoil. Saul violated, this part of the command, saving the king of the Amalekites, and permitting the people to take of the spoil, under the pretence of offering it to God: but Samuel exposes the shallow pretext, for 'he said, * “ Hath the Lord as great a delight in “ burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying " the voice of the Lord ? Behold to obey is " better than sacrifice, and to hearken than “ the fat of rams; for rebellion is as the sin “of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as ini
quity and idolatry. Because thou hast re“jected the word of the Lord, he hath also “ rejected thee from being king.” Thus the original sentence against the Amalekites, and still more its final execution, appears to have tended to impress powerfully upon the Jews, the necessity of obedience to the will, and ave for the majesty of Jehovah;; and may therefore have formed a necessary link in the great series of the divine dispensations.
# 1 Sam. xv. 22.
This is the light in which this transaction strikes me. * Other writers have observed, and certainly with truth, that the apparent severity of this sentence is greatly diminished, when we consider that the Amalekites continued to manifest the most hostile disposition to the Hebrew nation, by attack, ing them whenever they had an opportunity, and joining their enemies upon all occasions to oppress and enslave them. † “ They “joined the Canaanites and destroyed many “ of the people upon their first attempt to “ enter into Canaan, they, I with the Moa
bites, went and smote Israel, dispossessed “ them of the city of Palm-trees, and “helped to reduce them to an eighteen
years servitude: they also joined with the * Midianites to oppress them, and utterly
* Vide Patrick on Exod. xvii. 8, and Deut. xxv. 17; also Poli Synopsis and Dodd; vide also Maimonides More Nevochim, Pars III. cap. xli. p. 466; Leland's Answer to Tindal, Vol. II. p. 36; Chandler's Life of David, Vol. I. Book I. ch. iv.; and Lectures on the Old Testament, by Samuel Parker, sect. vii. p. 122.
+ Numbers, xiv. 45. Judges, iii. 13 and 14.
impoverished the Jews by their rapines “and plunders, * destroying the increase of “the earth, and leaving no sustenance for
or beast; and afterwards in conjunction with the Midianitish army, atw tacked them in battle. Under Saul's reign, “ they continued their ravages and violence; " and when he had repulsed them, he pro“ceeded, in compliance with the divine
sentence, utterly to extirpate them.” Thus from the first step to the last, they appear to have pursued the chosen people of God with a deep and unwearied malignity, originally unprovoked; and never to be satisfied, so that, humanly speaking, they drew their own fate upon themselves. Their conduct being foretold, and their final punishment being authorised by God, can scarcely be matter of surprise, when we consider the peculiar relation in which Jehovah stood to the Jews, as their tutelary God, and even their natural Sovereign: and Dr. Chandler well remarks concerning this order of God, "If he foresaw that the safety of his people materially depended upon it, the order was
wisely * Judges, vi. 3.
wisely and justly given; and if they were
ripe for that vengeance, with which they “ had been threatened above four hundred
years before, and which had been so long ' mercifully delayed by the patience of “ Almighty God, I presume it was no injus“ tice in him, who best knows the proper “ seasons of his own conduct, and is the “best judge of the means and instruments “ to execute his own purposes, to put the “sword of justice into Saul's hand, and « command him to cut off those whom he
thought fit to make examples of, for the
numerous vices, oppressions and cruelties, “ of which he knew them to be guilty. “ Samuel terms them, those sinners the " Amalekites, to denote, that even at that “ time, they were a very wicked people; “ that they themselves were ripe for the judgments of the Almighty, and that
they were punished for their own sins, though mention is made of the evil con“ duct of their ancestors; and it had been
long predicted that Amalek should be “ destroyed.”