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a case-yea, blessed are the people, who have the Lord for their God.
The prophet receives a commission to repair to Bethlehem. He carries with him, not a sceptre, in token of dominion, but the holy oil, to indicate divine confecration. He is directed to the house of Jeffe, the descendant of Ruth the Moabitess. Her faith and piety made her worthy to become the parent of kings. The retributions of God are ever bountiful, and exceed our utmost deservings. The just man walketh in his integrityhis children are blessed after him.
The policy is not unlawful, which eludes the suspicion of a jealous tyrant, Samuel takes an heifer with him for facrifice. There was no place, no time, wherein it was not fit for the descendant of Aaron to offer peace-offerings unto GOD_but when a king was to be anointed, it was an act, not merely of devotion, but of necessity. The authority,
which is derived from God, must be consecrated by public solemnities—every important action requires a sacrifice to bless it, much more that, on which depends the welfare of a Church, and nation.
The elders of Bethlehem conjectured, not without reason, that matters of higheft import had drawn the prophet from his retirement. They feared, lest some root of wickedness, springing up amongst them, had given occasion for the arrival of this unexpected guest. They welcome him with trembling, not on his account, but their .own. « Comest “ thou peaceably ?” It is a good thing to revere the messengers of God, and to expect their admonitions with awe. The elders rejoice to hear of no other errand than a sacrifice—they hasten to prepare themselves for the pious folemnity. We must not presume to facrifice unto God, if we are not sanctified. Un
repented fin, lurking in the heart, renders our devotions ineffectual—and the prayer of the hypocrite is abomination, because he profanes that which should be holy.
All the citizens fanctify themselves; but Jeffe and his sons are more especially fanctified by Samuel.' Interesting as his errand was to all Ifrael, it was peculiarly so to this distinguished family. With what anxiety did Samuel look on the sons of Jeffe, that he might see the face of the man whom God had chosen ! And now, when the eldest son came forth, a youth, whose beauty was not inferior to that of Saul, he imagines the choice foon made, and the first impulse of his heart is to pour the consecrated oil on the head of Eliab. “ Surely the Lord's anointed “ is before him.” The best judgment is subject to deceit—the holiest prophet falls into errour, if he waits not for the direction of God.
That which should have forewarned Samuel, deceives him. He had seen these very hopes once frustrated, and yet his eye suggests to him, that Eliab was appointed to rule. But what faith the answer of God unto him? « Look
not on his countenance, nor on the " height of his stature, because I have « refused him for God seeth not as
man feeth.” The king whom He will chuse shall owe his advancement, not to his person, but his heart. Seven fons of Jeffe are presented to the prophet-no one is omitted, whom their father thought worthy of honour. If Samuel or Jesse had chofen, David had never been king—yet behold him summoned from the fold, and by the choice of God destined to the throne! Even a father's partiality could not suggest ought to Jeffe, which might induce him to offer David as a candidate for honours yet him hath God fixed on to rule.
The countenance of David was fair, and ingenuous-but he was left with the sheep, while his brethren were at the facrifice. Modest and simple in his demeanour, he was judged unfit for royal dignity. The purport of this consecration, though probably explained to Jesse, was doubtless concealed from his children. They understood not, or believed not, what God would do with their brother. They saw him endued with spiritual gifts, but knew not whither they tended. David returns to his sheep, and, in humble submiflion to the will of God, resigns himself to the disposition of those hands, which had chofen him when suddenly a messenger is sent from Saul, to call him in all haste to that court, of which he should afterwards be master. The occasion is from God, as well as the event.
That the kingdom is departed from Saul, is his least misfortune. The fpiB 4