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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel

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

- 1 Samuel

by Joseph Sutcliffe


In the ancient Hebrew, these two books form but one, and are called the book of Samuel. The tradition of the Jews is, that the life and ministry of this great prophet and judge of Israel, was written by himself; and that from the twenty fourth chapter, Nathan the prophet, and Gad the seer, continued the history, as may also be inferred from 1 Chronicles 29:29. “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer.” The exceptions are, that three distinct histories are here named, as written by the prophets whose names they bear. It is further alleged, that the two books of Samuel are not the production of those three prophets, because they speak of Samuel in the third person, and in terms which a man cannot modestly use of himself: “That Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life; and he went from year to year in circuit, to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.” To this another exception is taken, that Achish gave Ziglag to David; “wherefore Ziglag pertains to the kings of Judah to this day,” 1 Samuel 27:6; for the phrase, kings of Judah, was not in use till after the secession of the ten tribes. It is replied, that Samuel might justly speak those things of himself, when he knew in hoary age that the Hebrews wanted a king. Job does this, chap. 29., when tacitly accused. St. Paul does the same with regard to his revelations, when slandered by Jewish teachers. 2 Corinthians 12:0. To which we add the testimony of Isidorus and others, that David finished the book of Samuel. It is replied, that Ezra and other holy scribes are not accused of falsifying, nor of altering the form of the sacred books; neither was it in their power to do so, for the Jews in Egypt, and in the Greek Islands, had the sacred books, the same as the Jews in Babylon; and the collation of manuscripts do but exhibit verbal variations. It is replied, that the phrase to this day, which occurs seven times in the book of the Judges and of Samuel, were marginal references copied into the text for the sake of elucidation. It is but just to add, that writers of the Socinian school are the most prominent to revive those long-refuted caveats against the sacred volume. Grotius abounds with them; and what can be the motive for attempts to throw all the sacred books as late as possible in the annals of the church, but to depreciate their antiquity, and substitute philosophy for revelation. The fathers of the primitive church act a contrary part. Tertullian affirms, that Moses was contemporary with king Inachus; he affirms that the autographs of St. Paul were still preserved in the churches to whom he wrote. The sacred text in all ages has been regarded as the first trust of heaven to the poor benighted mind of man.

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