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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 13

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-23

1 Samuel 13:1-2 . One year two years. The Seventy have not translated this verse. Something is wanting to fill up the sense; and it is supposed to be, that Saul was so many years of age when he began to reign over Israel, (probably about fifty) and when he had reigned two years, Saul chose three thousand guards, as was the case with other kings. These were disciplined for war, as well as to attend the king.

1 Samuel 13:5 . Thirty thousand chariots. The Syriac and Arabic versions read three thousand, which is more than the number of chariots mentioned in the army of any other ancient kings. The Tyrians were in alliance with them.

1 Samuel 13:8 . According to the set time. The Lord is perfect in keeping promise with man: but the carnal heart has not patience with providence. Aaron must make a calf before the forty days were quite expired. This was Saul’s sin. Samuel will not come; and when he did come, Saul laid all the blame upon the people. The Lord saw that seven days were requisite for the trial and purification of Saul, and his army. Being unarmed, except the guards, deliverance must now be expected from the Lord alone.

1 Samuel 13:14 . A man after God’s own heart. David’s heart was perfect with the Lord, in the encouragement and preservation of the true religion. His moral errors were temporary, and he rose above them with all the becoming fruits of repentance. What is one dark shade, compared with a whole life of brilliant virtues. Fallen men should be encouraged to rise again.


The Philistines, though defeated by the Lord’s thunder in Mizpeh, had not relinquished their claims of sovereignty over Israel; nor had they paid much regard to the anointing of Saul. Their ancient garrison in strong places they still retained; and on the western border of the land they had taken away all the smiths, and disarmed the people. Samuel, meanwhile, seems to have retired to his private duties of prophet and judge, or rather to have enjoyed the retreat of age, seeing a king was now on the throne. Israel was thus circumstanced when Jonathan, by his father’s command, gave the first and very illustrious stroke towards the emancipation of his country, by smiting the Philistian garrison in the hill of Geba. This was the signal for the renewal of war. It provoked the enemy to invade the land with all his strength. The people trembled, and fled in all directions. But Saul was commanded to go to Gilgal, and wait the set time of seven days. Here was the trial of his faith: here was the test of his obedience. God saw that this precise period was necessary for the assembling of the army, and for their purification. But here, as in the desert, the patience of Saul and of the people completely failed. The seventh morning arrived; but Samuel was not come. And what then? The day was not expired; it was not yet the time of evening sacrifice. Yes, but unbelief suggested that Samuel would not come; that God’s word was not to be trusted, and that the enemy would come and cut them in pieces. So Saul, disbelieving God by his prophet, sacrificed to him on his altar. But scarcely had the untimely altar smoked, before the prophet appeared. The sin of Saul was consequently greater than it appears on the first reading of his case. It was a full act of distrust and unbelief. Learn then, oh my soul, to fear the Lord in all things. Learn fidelity to his word; for the want of fidelity will provoke him to anger, and deprive thee of confidence in his mercy and protection. And did this glaring act of unbelief and impatience, connected with Saul’s other sins, forfeit the kingdom to him and his heirs? Then let the christian church be sanctified by the thought. Every covenant, as we have seen in the case of Eli, 1 Samuel 2:30, has its conditions, and every promise has its correspondent obedience implied. That Saul, and his fainting company, while in Gilgal, were placed in a very trying situation, is admitted. But men, when so tried, must never relinquish their confidence. Promises of divine support are the anchor-hold of the soul; and if the anchor go in the day of tempest, without a miracle of mercy, shipwreck must be the consequence.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 13". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-samuel-13.html. 1835.
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