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EXERCISES ON SCRIPTURE LESSONS.

MORNING LESSONS,
-SAMUEL'S REPROOF OF THE PEOPLE.—1 Samuel xii.

MAY 10.

For repetition, verses 23, 24. INTRODUCTION.—This Lesson consists try so to behave that those who watch us of a speech delivered by Samuel to the most closely may not be able to find fault tribes assembled at Gilgal to “renew the with us justly. Apply specially to kingdom,” ch. xi. 14, 15. In it he formally

positions of trust, etc. Samuel had resigns the judgeship he had held so

not won this testimony by flattering long in favour of Saul; vindicates his

the people, by overlooking their vices; administration; again shows the nation its sinfulness in demanding a king; and

many a time he had reproved sin boldly declares the conditions upon which

and sternly, and, doubtless, had given Jehovah will forgive the past, and con

offence by so doing; but now the tinue to support and bless both king and people bear solemn and unanimous kingdom.

witness to the spotlessness of his public

character. To act uprightly, as in God's SAMUEL'S VINDICATION OF HIMSELF. sight, is the surest way to obtain the -V. 1–5. Samuel was

now full

respect of men. What a comfort such seventy years old. He had been God's

a retrospect and testimony would be prophet ever since he was a little child to Samuel as he laid down his office ! waiting on Eli in the tabernacle. He

Always keep a good conscience, Acts had discharged the office of judge xxiv. 16: note, “ toward God” before between forty and fifty years. At the 66 toward men.' request of the people, another was The REMONSTRANCE AND THE SIGN. succeeding to his rule. It was fit that _V.6–18. The prophet had already they should testify to his impartiality warned the elders of their wickedness and integrity. My sons are with you, in desiring a king. When? Wherein proofs of my age. Before the Lord, and did the sin lie? Now he briefly before His Anointed,—now the visible

recapitulates God's dealings with His representative of God upon earth. people, to demonstrate that He did Behold, here I am.. and I will restore it not merit rejection at their hands. [The you,-he challenges the nation to con- teacher should question the scholars as vict him of violence to any man, of to their knowledge of the events reenriching himself at any man's cost, of ferred to.] Jerubbaal,—Gideon, Judges taking a bribe to pervert justice. All vii. 1. Bedan,*—a judge, of whom the faults mentioned were

there is no other mention in Scripture; among the rulers of the East; too 80 Jael is mentioned once only, Judges often they regarded their office simply v. 6. Samuel—is here indicating not as a means of benefiting themselves. his own exploits, but what the Lord The people answer, acquitting Samuel had done for Israel by him; the main in every particular, Thou hast not, etc. deliverance wrought by him is recorded Then Samuel calls, and the multitude ch. vii. 9–14. From ver. 12 it appears accept God as witness that they have that fear of Nahash had been one not found aught in his hand-anything motive that prompted the request for unjustly acquired, that needed to be

an earthly sovereign. These punishrestored. Thus Samuel comes forth ments and restorations Samuel calls with honour from the trial on which righteous acts, ver. 7; by them God he had placed himself. Mark how had fulfilled His covenant to bless long he had been in a public position, Israel when faithful, to chastise them observed of all Israel ; yet he could when disobedient. This covenant the defy any man to find ground of right- appointment of a king had not altered eous accusation against him! Let us in the slightest degree, ver. 15. God

common

* For Bedan, some read Ben-dan, i.e., Samson ; others Barak : for Samuel, some would read Samson. We prefer the reading of the English Bible.

VOL. IX. NEW SERIES.—May, 1874.

e

Let us

would be guided by the same principles as those on which He had acted since the exodus from Egypt. These principles He acts upon now with reference to all of us. No difference of time, or place, or circumstances alters this great principle of God's government; obedi. ence to Him is rewarded, disobedience punished. Only now, often though not always, we wait for reward or punishment till we have left this world. To confirm the truth of his words Samuel worked a miracle. He prayed, and the Lord sent thunder and rain. Yet it was wheat-harvest, which usually lasts in the Holy Land from the middle of May to the middle of June. With us, showers are not infrequent during harvest; in Palestine they were as uncommon as

snow in summer,” Prov. xxvi. l. Supernatural thunder was a sign of Divine displeasure, the voice of God in anger, see Exod. ix. 28, and its Margin. And all the people, etc.,—the effect of the miracle: such honour God put upon the man who had served Him from his childhood. Samuel's early piety was one cause of the favour God showed him.

ENCOURAGEMENT AND WARNING: V. 19—25. The terrified people beg for Samuel's prayers, that their sins, specially that they committed in asl.ing them a king, might be pardoned. They feared God was about to take imme. diate vengeance on them. The thunder brought other sins to their mind as well as the particular one on account of which it was sent. So, at the day of judgment, all our sins will be brought to our remembrance. In Samuel's answer note, (1) he does not palliate Israel's sin, although he begins with Fear not. No real comfort can ever arise from concealing truth : (2) he exhorts Israel, spite of their sin, to cleave to God. A convicted sinner's first im

pulse is to flee from God; it is a wrong, a foolish impulse ; for (3) if Israel should forsake Jehovah, they could only follow vain things, idols that could not help them, could not deliver them from either the sin or its punishment. If we forsake God, we add to our wickedness; if we turn to Him, He will forgive it. (4) The reason he alleges why God will not forsake His people; for His great name's sake. They are His people. His character, His honour are pledged that He will make those His people who, make Him their God; see Deut. xxvi. 17, 18; 2 Cor. vi. 16–18. Then (5) Samuel promises to continue to pray for them always, and to teach them the good and the right way:

He remained a prophet, though he ceased to be supreme judge. The greatest benefit holy men and women can confer upon us, is to pray for us and teach us. ask for and value their prayers, give heed to their teaching.

" The good and the right way” is the way of God's commandments; it is a pleasant road to travel, and leads to heaven. Lastly, Samuel repeats the exhortation and warning he had given before. Let us consider what great things God has done for us. From this section we may learn a lesson against continuance in evil for consistency's sake. A child resolves to serve and please God. He sins: Satan tries to persuade him he must cease his effort to be good, and keep on sinning. Nay, he should turn afresh to the Lord, Who will forgive his failures, and help him in future against similar temptations to the one through which he has fallen. A boy is in a sulky or passionate temper; he persists in it, though he knows he is wrong; he thinks it is manly to continue in that which he has begun. Other illustrations will occur to teachers.

MAY 17.-~SAUL DOETH FOOLISHLY.—1 Samuel xiii. 5—23. INTRODUCTION. - The teacher may They still possessed a considerable sketch the probable condition of affairs portion of Israel's territory, and seem to after the renewing of the kingdom. have been constantly enlarging their The people were sent home, after Saul borders. The victory of Jonathan (ver. had chosen a small standing army of 3) was the occasion of the gathering of three thousand men. This force he both Israelites and Philistines. Michmash divided into two bodies, (ver. 2,) with was about nine miles north of Jerusalem; the intention of watching the Philistines, Gibeah of Benjamin was Saul's own city, nd, if possible, checking their inroads. half-way between Jerusalem and Mich.

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mash; Bethel six miles north-west few that remained were growing more of Michmash, twelve north of Jerusalem; and more dispirited. The seventh day Geba lay south-west of Michmash. had almost ended, and still no sign

of Samuel's coming. The people were The Two ARMIES.–V.5–7; 19- wondering at the prophet's absence, 22. The Philistines were soldiers, perhaps thinking he would never come well disciplined, thoroughly equipped. at all. Then the king, impatient of They were, moreover, very numerous, the delay, offered the sacrifices himself, strong in that which was most import- thus violating God's commandment. ant in the warfare of the time, cavalry Scarcely was the burnt-offering finished, and chariots. Saul had retreated to when, before the peace-offering could Gilgal; the Philistines pitched their be begun, Samuel appeared.

After camp in Michmash, which the Hebrews

hearing Saul's justification of himself, had occupied before. Doubtless the he pronounced sentence, ver. 13, 14. Philistines were proud of their array, His son shall not succeed to his throne; confident of victory. The Israelites the kingdom shall be transferred to a gave way to miserable cowardice and

man after God's own heart. Saul was unbelief. Many, instead of joining such a monarch as the nation would Saul's army, hid themselves wherever

have chosen; the next king should be they could find a place of concealment. God's own choice. To understand Some actually fled across the Jordan. Saul's sin, we must bear in mind that All this was done before the Philistines Jehovah had not installed Saul as chief had won a battle, nay, after Jonathan ruler of Israel in His place, but had had defeated them in Geba! Even appointed him only His deputy. The those that followed Saul were ready relation of the human king to the to flee at a moment's notice, they Divine King was something similar to followed him trembling. Yet there was that of the Viceroy of India, or the some little excuse for them; for the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland to our Philistines had disarmed them, and Queen. It was his duty to carry out had taken captive every blacksmith, God's orders, nothing more. By the lest he should forge weapons for the mouth of the prophet, the Lord had Hebrews. The implements of agri. charged Saul to wait till Samuel came. culture must be carried to the Philistine The delay to the last moment was garrisons to be sharpened, where per- designed as a trial of the king's faith haps the captive smiths were permitted and obedience. Had he been faithful, to work in sight of their masters. the Lord would have established his Mattock,-spade. The success of this kingdom upon Israel for ever: his policy is described, ver. 22. Yet the descendants would have inherited the Israelites had the same weapons with throne till they themselves rebelled. which they had defeated the Ammon- He disobeyed, and thus forfeited the ites,-bows, slings, ox-goads, Judges throne not only for himself, but also iii. 31. "In fact, there were a hundred for his family. One of Saul's crimes, things which might be turned into then, was direct disobedience to God. efficient weapons in the hands of brave Another was impatience ; he would not and resolute men, before the use of wait God's time. A third was prefire-arms was known.” Above all, sumption ; he took upon him that to they had the Lord, their God. (The which he had no right,-to order the Morning Lesson for Oct. 26th, 1873, offering of the sacrifices. A fourth furnishes a very instructive parallel was unbelief; he might have known and contrast.)

God would not forsake him so long as SAUL DOETH FOOLISHLY.–V. 8–14. he was obedient. Unbelief was the Read ch. x. 8. Now Saul is at Gilgal; source of all the other faults. In what he is, therefore, bound to wait the seven words does Samuel describe his condays for Samuel. Six days have duct? Thou hast done foolishly. Hence passed; Saul has looked most anxiously we learn that all the sins mentioned for the prophet's arrival. He could above, as indeed all sins, are foolish as not fight till the sacrifice had been well as wicked. There is no good to offered, and God's blessing entreated be got by sin. upon Israel's arm. Yet his forces

" What lost the king his regal power ? were hourly melting away, and the The want of patience for an hour:

And who for Christ refuse to stay
With patience, cast their souls away;
The cross they hastily lay down,
And forfeit an immortal crown."

C. Wesley. We can all see that Saul was foolish; perhaps we are as foolish as he; though no one may charge us with our folly now, we may discover it, like Saul, when it is too late. Let us pray that God would open our eyes to the foolishness of sin. What good have you learned of Saul in previous Lessons ? Remember specially his humility, and how “God gave him another heart." How soon his faithfulness fails under trial! Hosea vi. 4. The rising sun dries up the dew. Goodness is of little worth that cannot endure temptation and testing.

VER. 15, 16 inform us of the state of

affairs after the breaking up of the
camp at Gilgal. Saul and Jonathan,
with six hundred men, were at Gibeah;
the Philistines remained at Michmash
whence (ver. 17, 18) bands issued, and
traversed the country in a north-east-
erly, a westerly, and a south-easterly
direction. Ver. 23 is introductory
the next Lesson. The Philistines
pushed forward a strong outpost to
the passage, or pass, of Michmash;
thus, as they thought, rendering their
position secure. Mark how few men
the king could keep together. His
hastiness had not prevented the dis-
persion of his forces. His sin was not
even immediately and temporarily
profitable. Very often God causes sin
to be useless. No human schemes can
succeed without His sanction, Ps.cxxvi. 1.

MAY 24.

-JONATHAN'S COURAGEOUS ADVENTURE.—1 Samuel xiv. 1-15.

For repetition, verses 6, 7.

THE SITUATION.–V. 2–5. Where separated by this valley, and were did we leave the Philistines ? Where then, as now, in sight of each other. Israel ? These verses describe Saul's In this passage,' near the point where position more accurately. He had the other valley intersects it, are two pitched his tent under a pomegranate- hills of a conical, or rather spherical tree, some very large well-known tree shape, having steep rocky sides, with which was in Migron, northward of small wadys (valleys] running up Gibeah. The following quotation will behind each, so as almost to isolate help the teacher to realise the scene : them. One is on the side towards “ About seven miles north by east from Jeba, and the other on the side towards Jerusalem, is a steep, precipitous valley, Mukhmas."-Kitto. extending east and west. North of JONATHAN'S RESOLVE.-V. 1, 6–10. this valley, which is called in 1 Samuel Saul's little army did not increase. xiii. 23, the passage of Michmash,' The Philistines were triumphant; (now, Wady-es-Suweinit,) lay the Israel's cause seemed hopeless. But Philistine host, which had established one man understood the reason of their a garrison, or advanced post, upon the misfortunes. The hand of God was high promontory or angle formed by against them on account of their lack the intersection of another valley of faith and patience. Doubtless extending north and south. Upon Jonathan had pondered their position the heights, about a mile on the long and earnestly. Could he do anysouthern side of the same passage of thing to revive Israel's sinking trust Michmash, stood Geba, from which and courage ?

He had struck one Jonathan had lately expelled the blow successfully; perhaps God would Philistine garrison, and which Saul enable him to strike another. He will and Jonathan now occupied with not try. He communicates his design to more than six hundred men.* Mich- his armour-bearer. It is nothing less mash, (now. Mukhmas,) which gave than to storm the Philistines'

outpost name to the passage, and where the at the pass of Michmash. He will Philistine outpost was stationed, and not ask for volunteers,—a “ forlorn Geba, (now Jeba,) therefore, were hope,”—ready to risk their lives for

* Evidently Dr. Kitto regards the “Gibeah" of 1 Sam. xiii. 15, 16, xiv. 5, as identical with the “Geba” of ch. xiii. 3.

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their country's sake. He and his the whole host, those in the principal armour-bearer will go alone. At the camp, and the bands of spoilers, (ch. xiii. worst they sacrifice only their two 18,) as well as the garrison at Michselves; if the Lord favour their enter- mash. The earth quaked.Jehovah prise, plainly their success will be owing began to fight for Israel as soon as to Him, not to their numbers. Jona- any claimed His aid by faith and than's words show that his entire effort. It is possible that the Philistines reliance was upon God. The Philistines understood the intention of Jonathan are uncircumcised, -enemies to Jehovah and his armour-bearer. In that cause and His people. There is no restraint the challenge, Come up to us, and we to the Lord, etc.—The weakest and the will show you a thing, would mean, strongest instruments are alike in His Come, and we will make you repent of hands. The armour-bearer agrees your audacity. The garrison allowed heartily; the two set out secretly; no the two to climb unmolested, feeling conman shall forbid them; the blame of fident they would be slain with ease. failure shall rest wholly upon themselves. Yet Jonathan will do nothing REFLECTIONS.—1. The main lesson rashly ; in humble confidence, he of the narrative must be drawn from appoints a sign by which God's will Jonathan's faith.—Show how it shone may be manifested.

all the brighter because of the cowardly THE ACHIEVEMENT. – V. 11 - 15. unbelief of the rest of the nation. То What would the Philistines think as obedient faith no obstacles are insurmountthey saw the two approaching ? They able, no foes invincible.Mark, Jonawould scarcely imagine the truth, than's faith was shown by works. It that they meant to assault them. Ver. led him to act. 11 contains their contemptuous com- 2. The armour-becrer's faith and ment; see ch. xiii. 6, 7. Perhaps the courage should not 7 asi unnoticed.Philistines fancied they were deserters. When good, brave men lead, all should They call them up,—the sign fixed be ready to follow. It was not the serbeforehand. The rocks were so steep vant's place to suggest the enterprise ; that Jonathan and his companion were but he discharged his duty nobly in the obliged to climb up on their hands and station which God had assigned him. knees. The instant they arrived at Even a servant may get for himself an the summit, they attacked the Philis- honourable name. tines Panic-struck, the latter fled, 3. 6. There is no restraint to the Lord and the two slew about twenty men as to save by many or by few.—Let the they pursued, though they only fol- weakest take courage, the strongest be lowed for the length of half an acre,

humble. which a yoke of oren might plow--in one 4. Prov. xxviii. 1. Illustrate from day. Then supernatural terror seizes the Lesson.

MAY 31. -SAUL'S RASII OATH.-1 Samuel xiv. 16-32. The RouT OF THE PHILISTINES.- bers his son's exploit against the V. 16-23. Naturally, Saul would Philistine garrison at Geba, but he keep a good look-out upon the move- will not take advantage of this success ments of the enemy. At any moment till he has inquired of God. Now he they might attempt to surprise his has both priest and ark, the question feeble force. The watchmen marked can be put to Jehovah in the way He the increasing confusion the Philis- has appointed. While Ahiah is waiting tines' camp. Their foes were fleeing; for the Lord's answer, the tumult in who could be the pursuers ? Their the Philistines' host increases. Saul's foes were slaying one another; what patience is exhausted; he commands could be the cause? Word is brought the priest to withdraw his hand, to to Saul; he divines the reason of the cease his inquiry, and immediately panic; some Israelites have attacked marches against the disordered foe. the enemy. The people are numbered ; His army swells as he proceeds. The Jonathan and his arrnour-bear

cowardly Isra who had hidden found to be absent. The king remem- themselves when the Philistines seemed

are

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