The invasion of the Philistines. (1-7) Saul sacrifices, He is
reproved by Samuel. (8-14) The policy of the Philistines.
Saul reigned one year, and nothing particular happened; but
in his second year the events recorded in this chapter took
place. For above a year he gave the Philistine time to prepare
for war, and to weaken and to disarm the Israelites. When men
are lifted up in self-sufficiency, they are often led into
folly. The chief advantages of the enemies of the church are
derived from the misconduct of its professed friends. When Saul
at length sounded an alarm, the people, dissatisfied with his
management, or terrified by the power of the enemy, did not come
to him, or speedily deserted him.
Saul broke the order expressly given by Samuel, see ch.
Saul offered sacrifice without Samuel, and did it himself,
though he was neither priest nor prophet. When charged with
disobedience, he justified himself in what he had done, and gave
no sign of repentance for it. He would have this act of
disobedience pass for an instance of his prudence, and as a
proof of his piety. Men destitute of inward piety, often lay
great stress on the outward performances of religion. Samuel
charges Saul with being an enemy to himself. Those that disobey
the commandments of God, do foolishly for themselves. Sin is
folly, and the greatest sinners are the greatest fools. Our
disposition to obey or disobey God, will often be proved by our
behaviour in things which appear small. Men see nothing but
Saul's outward act, which seems small; but God saw that he did
this with unbelief and distrust of his providence, with contempt
of his authority and justice, and with rebellion against the
light of his own conscience. Blessed Saviour, may we never, like
Saul, bring our poor offerings, or fancied peace-offerings,
without looking to thy precious, thy all-sufficient sacrifice!
Thou only, O Lord, canst make, or hast made, our peace in the
blood of the cross.
See how politic the Philistines were when they had power;
they not only prevented the people of Israel from making weapons
of war, but obliged them to depend upon their enemies, even for
instruments of husbandry. How impolitic Saul was, who did not,
in the beginning of his reign, set himself to redress this. Want
of true sense always accompanies want of grace. Sins which
appear to us very little, have dangerous consequences. Miserable
is a guilty, defenceless nation; much more those who are
destitute of the whole armour of God.