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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 13

 

 

Verse 1

1 Samuel 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

Ver. 1. Saul reigned one year,] i.e., Well and orderly; he reigned the two first years, till he was rejected of God, and bereft of his Spirit; for then he turned tyrant, holding the kingdom by violence, [1 Samuel 14:47] and ruling with rigour. Now although he reigned many years, yet the two first only are reckoned on. In God’s account, a man liveth no longer than he liveth well (a) Seneca saith of men’s lives as of ships in a storm, that they have been much tossed, but have sailed little.


Verse 2

1 Samuel 13:2 Saul chose him three thousand [men] of Israel; [whereof] two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.

Ver. 2. Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel.] Praesidiarios milites et stationarios, for a selected band to be ready on all occasions: and it was but needful; for the Philistines had well nigh ousted him from his kingdom: and therefore after that he had defeated them, he is said to "take the kingdom again," say some. [1 Samuel 14:47]


Verse 3

1 Samuel 13:3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that [was] in Geba, and the Philistines heard [of it]. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

Ver. 3. And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines.] By his father’s command no doubt, [1 Samuel 13:4] - else he might have been served as T. Manlius dealt by his son; for overcoming the enemy without order, he put him to death, - but (a) God was not consulted with, and therefore the issue of this that Jonathan did was not so happy.

That was in Geba.] Or, Gibeah, his own native country: here this iuvenis animosus et audax, this black prince - so he might be called for his dreaded acts in battle; for "from the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back"; [2 Samuel 1:22] likeas of our Black Prince it is said, (b) that he assailed no nation which he overcame not, he besieged no city which he took not - made his first enterprise and foiled the enemy. If it be demanded what weapons Jonathan and his regiment made use of, since they had scarcely any of iron, [1 Samuel 13:19] Lucretius answereth,

Arma antiqua manas, {c} ungues. ”

So Virgil,

… hic torre armatus obusto,

Stipitis hic gravidi nodis. ”

And again,

“ Stipitibus duris agitur, sudibusve praeustis. ” - Aeneid. 7.

And Saul blew the trumpet.] Omnes ad arma classico convocat, he sounds an alarm all the country over: for he knew how he had angered those wasps the Philistines.


Verse 4

1 Samuel 13:4 And all Israel heard say [that] Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and [that] Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

Ver. 4. That Saul had smitten a garrison.] As desirous to rid the country of those Lurdaines.

And that Israel also was had in abomination.] Heb., Did stink; were as loathsome to them as any carrion. It was quarrel enough to the Hebrews, that they would not be miserable, but sought to unslave themselves.


Verse 5

1 Samuel 13:5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which [is] on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven.

Ver. 5. Thirty thousand chariots.] Armed with scythes and hooks. These were a great number. Sisera had but nine hundred, Pharaoh six hundred.

And people as the sand which is on the sea shore.] Josephus saith they were three hundred thousand footmen. All these were by God’s all-disposing providence brought together to be broken in pieces. [Isaiah 8:9; Isaiah 9:12]


Verse 6

1 Samuel 13:6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.

Ver. 6. For the people were distressed.] Notwithstanding their having a king to save them. God will make the strongest sinew in the arm of flesh to crack, when once he taketh men to do. See 1 Samuel 13:3.


Verse 7

1 Samuel 13:7 And [some of] the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he [was] yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Ver. 7. And all the people followed him trembling.] Mικροψυχοι; they were quite dispirited; and now that all seemed to be on fire, they rang their bells backwards as it were. Such as whose hearts are not ballasted with grace, no marvel though they ride uncertainly, and sometimes dash fearfully.


Verse 8

1 Samuel 13:8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel [had appointed]: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

Ver. 8. And he tarried seven days,] i.e., Till part of the seventh day was past; but because patience had not her perfect work, wanting nothing, [James 1:3] the line of hope was not drawn out to the full length. Saul lost his kingdom by his precipitancy {rashness} and prefestination. {hastiness} If Samuel stayed to the last hour, it was not but by direction from the Lord whose ordinary course it is to prove us by delays, and to drive us to exigents, that we may show what we are: for that is every man in truth, that he is in a temptation.


Verse 9

1 Samuel 13:9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

Ver. 9. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering.] The heathens also were wont to sacrifice before they went to war: whence also they called a sacrifice hostia, from the enemies they went against. It was Saul’s error here, that he thought God would be pleased with the external act of sacrifice, though it were not offered up in faith and obedience. Luther (a) calleth such hypocrites Cainists. But what saith a reverend man (b) here? If Saul were among the prophets before, will he now be among the priests? Can there be any devotion in disobedience? O vain man! what can it avail to sacrifice to God, against God?

And he offered the burnt offering.] If he did it with his own hands, invading the priest’s office, as Uzziah did, his offence was far the greater.


Verse 10

1 Samuel 13:10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

Ver. 10. And it came to pass, that as soon, &c.] Vide quid faciat praecipitatio et impatientia. Saul should have held out an hour or two longer, and he had saved his kingdom. The men of Issachar were famous for this, that they had "understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do," and when to do it; [1 Chronicles 12:32] therefore they were dear to David: but Saul advised not with them. God had a holy hand in it. See 1 Samuel 13:8.

And Saul went out to meet him.] So to salve up the matter, if it might have been; for his conscience accused him.


Verse 11

1 Samuel 13:11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and [that] thou camest not within the days appointed, and [that] the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

Ver. 11. What hast thou done?] Samuel saw well what was done; for the peace offering was not yet offered: but to convince him of his great folly, and as a preface to his following doom, he thus questioneth him. See Genesis 3:13.

And Saul said.] He should have said as David when he had done amiss, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done; yea, I have done very foolishly." [2 Samuel 24:10] Pray to the Lord for me, that none of those things that I have deserved come upon me. [Acts 8:24] But he palliates {covers} and pleads for his sin, laying all the blame upon others: this is still the guise of hypocrites. Sin and shifting came into the world together. [Genesis 3:12-14]


Verse 12

1 Samuel 13:12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

Ver. 12. And I have not made supplication unto the Lord.] Saul dared not enter the battle without this armour: but the sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord, [Proverbs 15:8] how much more when it is brought with an evil heart! [Proverbs 21:27] But the devil had taught the Athenians also when they began the battle to cry out Io Paean, which is the same in force as Jehovahpeneh, that is, Lord look upon us. And it is storied of Pausanias, king of Sparta, that when he fought against the Persians at Platea, he would not suffer a blow to be given till he had sacrificed, and had an auspicious answer. (a)

I forced myself therefore.] Or, I restrained or contained myself: sc., till I could no longer forbear. Here was a plausible pretence: hypocrisy needeth not to be taught to tell her own tale: but God is not mocked. Deus est sapiens nummularius, saith a father. (b)


Verse 13

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

Ver. 13. Thou hast done foolishly.] This was to reprove libere et rotunde, as one saith, freely and roundly, plainly and faithfully. But wherein had Saul offended? Surely in diffidence and disobedience: there was in him an "evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God," [Hebrews 3:12] to whom he should have adhered "with full purpose of heart," [Acts 11:23] and waited for his help according to his promise; "He that believeth maketh not haste." Some think that Saul had transgressed against some special commandment of God. To disobey God in the smallest matter is sin enough: there can be no sin little, because there is no little God to sin against.

For now would the Lord have established, &c.] Loquitur humano more, et ut videri poterat stabiliri regnum, saith Pellican: he speaketh after the manner of men, and as his kingdom might have seemed to us likely to have been established, See a like speech, 1 Samuel 2:30, Revelation 2:15


Verse 14

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him [to be] captain over his people, because thou hast not kept [that] which the LORD commanded thee.

Ver. 14. The Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart,] sc., Iuxta suum gustura et votum; one that would do all his wills, [Acts 13:22] and was therefore his Corculum, the man of his desires and delight.

And the herd hath commanded him to be captain, &c.] He sought not this honour, but it was laid upon him, as Gregory observeth. The Venetians have magistrates they call Pregadi: because at first men were prayed to take the office, and to govern the state. As for David, though he was not without his failings, - and those foul ones too, some of them, - yet for the main, his heart was upright, [Psalms 57:7] not rotten, as Saul’s was.


Verse 15

1 Samuel 13:15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people [that were] present with him, about six hundred men.

Ver. 15. Unto Gibeah of Benjamin.] Whither also went Saul and his forces: either with Samuel, or soon after him. For though Samuel had sharply reproved and threatened Saul, yet he would not leave him in that distress. Some think that Samuel therefore went before to Gibeah, where the company of the prophets was, that he might there, together with them, pray to God for Saul’s better success.


Verse 16

1 Samuel 13:16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people [that were] present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

Ver. 16. Abode in Gibeah of Benjamin.] His own country, where he was likely to have the best assistance of his allies, but especially of Samuel’s good company and prayers.


Verse 17

1 Samuel 13:17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way [that leadeth to] Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:

Ver. 17. And the spoilers came out of the camp.] This is one of the woes of war, that hell of this world, - as one calleth it, wherein there is no measure or satiety of blood and spoil; witness our late stripping and bleeding times.


Verse 18

1 Samuel 13:18 And another company turned the way [to] Bethhoron: and another company turned [to] the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

Ver. 18. And another company turned, &c.] They might rove and plunder at pleasure, there being none but a naked people to withstand them; whose children, doubtless, were dashed in pieces, their houses spoiled, and their wives ravished, as it is in Isaiah 13:16, and as it befell the old Waldenses at Merindell and Chabriers, and their posterity in Piedmont the last year, by those bloody Irish and Savoyards. (a)


Verse 19

1 Samuel 13:19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make [them] swords or spears:

Ver. 19. Now there was no smith found.] For the Philistines had either slain them, or carried them away, By a like wicked policy, Julian the Apostate forbade Christians the use of the liberal arts: and Antichrist, the Word of God.

Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears.] See the like care of disarming, and disabling an enemy to rebel, in 5:8. So Cyrus disarmed the Lydians, after that he had subdued them: (a) and William the Conqueror the commons of England; he prevented also their night meetings with a heavy penalty, that every man at the day closing should cover his fire, and depart to his rest, &c. (b)


Verse 20

1 Samuel 13:20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.

Ver. 20. But all the Israelites went down.] Which many of them could not do, without much trouble and expense of time. See into what straits sinful people plunge themselves!


Verse 21

1 Samuel 13:21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.

Ver. 21. Yet they had a file.] This was all the help they allowed them, "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruelties."


Verse 22

1 Samuel 13:22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that [were] with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.

Ver. 22. There was neither sword nor spear found.] And yet the Israelites had the day, and returned laden both with arms and victory. No armour is of proof against the Almighty. Excellently Gregory, Armati ab inermibus victi sunt ut totum quod vincitur Omnipotentis Dei laudibus tribuatur.

But with Saul and with Jonathan his son.] The Hebrews say that the angels brought them these arms; but that is not likely.


Verse 23

1 Samuel 13:23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.

Ver. 23. To the passage of Michmash.] A place of advantage, kept till now by Saul’s soldiers.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 13:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-13.html. 1865-1868.

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