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Samuel is sent to anoint David, and executes his commis
sion. An evil spirit troubles Saul.
A youthful shepherd becomes the king of a great people. Such was the wonder-working providence of God at that eventful period in the history of the Israelites which we now proceed to consider.
The career of Saul was soon to end. His flagrant disobedience of the divine commands had caused the forfeiture of his crown. "I have rejected him from reigning over Israel,” was the declaration of God to the prophet Samuel; " fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.”
The prophet obeyed the injunction; and to avoid the danger that might threaten him from the resentment of Saul, he was directed to say, when he reached Bethlehem, that he had come to sacrifice to the Lord. This would be no de.
parture from the truth, while the other, and more important object of his mission would, for the present, be concealed.
Bethlehem was about six miles south of Jerusalem. It stood on an eminence of steep, rocky ascent; commanding an extensive prospect, and surrounded by a pleasant and fertile country In the town itself, or its immediate vicinity, perhaps in the delightful valley that stretched for a long distance east and west, at its foot, was the dwelling of Jesse and his family. He was the son of Obed, whose parents were Boaz and Ruth,—the same dutiful and pious Ruth who accompanied her widowed mother-in-law Naomi, when she returned home from the land of Moab. This excellent woman was now to have a signal honor bestowed upon her memory. At no very distant period of time from her decease, one of her descendants is chosen by the Lord himself to be the monarch of his people.
After informing the elders of Bethlehem, who felt great alarm with regard to the purpose of his errand, that it was a peaceable one, Samuel directed them to sanctify themselves, and unite with him in the religious rites which he was about to perform. He gave the same directions, also, to Jesse and his sons; who soon came, except the youngest, to the sacrifice. That youngest one, a youth eighteen or twenty years of age, remained at home to watch the flocks of his fa
ther. It is not improbable, too, that the latter, being made acquainted by Samuel with the object he had in view, left David behind as alto. gether too young, and inexperienced, for the elevated station to which some one of his sons was soon to be called.
After the sacrifice, the prophet proceeded to discharge the most momentous part of his duty. He had seen the seven sons of Jesse, and, being struck with the commanding countenance, tall stature, and noble mien of Eliab, the eldest, concluded that this must be the individual destined to sway the sceptre. He was mistaken Other and higher qualities were needed in him who was to rule the Israelites. The responsibilities of the office demanded not only wisdom and energy, prudence and valor, but, above all, a disposition to govern in the fear of God, and to yield an implicit obedience to his commands. When will rulers be of such a character ? When will nations desire and pray to have such rulers? Who that feels for the true prosperity of his country, and the welfare of mankind; who that longs to see the kingdom of the Redeemer make progress throughout the earth, but will strive to bring about so happy a state of things.
Eliab was rejected. "Look not on his countenance," said the Lord to Samuel,
or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth ; for