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Poole on 1 Samuel 11:12-15: Saul's Kingship Confirmed

Verse 12:[1] And the people said unto Samuel, (1 Sam. 10:27) Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? (see Luke 19:27) bring the men, that we may put them to death.

[To Samuel] Rather than to Saul, lest they should provoke Saul to vengeance in his own cause (Mendoza generally out of Tostatus).

[Shall Saul reign, etc.?] But they render it in a more grevious manner than they had spoken, shall he be able to save us? Then, they were obliged to restrain them on that day when they were setting forth such things; lest sedition run rampant: but now they demand vengeance at an unconnected time (Mendoza).

Shall Saul reign over us? they did not say so in terms, a we may see, 1 Samuel 10:27, but this was the design and consequence of their speech, as they rightly construe it. That we may put them to death; which till this time they were not able to do, because that infection was then almost universal.

Verse 13:[2] And Saul said, (2 Sam. 19:22) There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day (Ex. 14:18, 30; 1 Sam. 19:5) the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel.

[And Saul said] But why not Samuel? For they addressed him. Response: Saul wanted to get ahead of the response of Samuel; for it was equitable for Saul to remit his own injuries, and for Samuel to avenge those of another (Mendoza). To the King alone was it lawful to pardon those things, which were pertaining to his own injury: which also the philosophers commend. Seneca, Concerning Clemency 1:20, speaking concerning a Prince: He is far more willing to forgive in the case of his own injuries, than in the case of others’, etc. Similarly Livy on Augustus. And Antoninus[3] and Theodosius.[4] See Concerning the Law of War and Peace 2:24:3. But the fault that is treated had something of an excuse in men unaccustomed to Royal Power (Grotius).

[Because the Lord hath wrought salvation] Such a happy day is not to be polluted by the slaughter of anyone (Menochius, Lapide). Well does Saul take an occasion of mercy from a day of victory. On what day devoid of punishment, when between sacrifices and prayers, at what time it was customary to abstain also from profane words, are chains and the noose introduced? say the Fathers, complaining of the cruelty of Tiberius[5] in Tacitus, Annals 4. A similar thing was done in 2 Samuel 19:22 (Grotius). The argument rightly leads from mercy received to mercy to be given (Mendoza out of Carthusianus).

There shall not a man be put to death this day, etc.: I will not destroy any of those whom God hath so graciously preserved; nor sully the mirth of this glorious and comfortable day with the slaughter of any of my subjects; and therefore I freely forgive them. Wherein Saul showed his policy as well as his clemency, this being the most likely way to gain his enemies, and secure his friends, and stablish his throne in the hearts of his people.

[1095 BC] Verse 14:[6] Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go (1 Sam. 10:8) to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.

[Now, Samuel said, etc.] Here appears the charm and prudence of Samuel, because he did not force a reluctant people, while they were thinking little of Saul, etc.; but he turned a blind eye and waited until the people were settling down: when he saw them ready, and well disposed toward Saul, he easily guided them where he wanted: for, whom you would break, if you should apply force; you will easily steer, if you use moderation (Mendoza).

Then; whilst the people were together by Jabesh-gilead, wherein Samuel’s great prudence and fidelity to Saul is evident. He suspended the confirmation to Saul at first, whilst the generality of the people were disaffected and discontented at the meanness of his person; and now when he had given such eminent proof of his princely virtues, and when the people’s hearts were unanimously and eagerly set upon him, he takes this as the fittest season for that work.

[Let us go to Gilgal] He chose that place, 1. Because that city was one three gathering places, where judgment was wont to be rendered, and the people assembled, by Samuel;[7] so that public dignity might be conferred, or confirmed, in a public assembly (Menochius, Sanchez). 2. It was not far from the place where the people were at that time (Sanchez, similarly Lapide). 3. He wanted the kingdom to be renewed there, where the people were circumcised, and the covenant renewed; so that he might be able to move them to repentance (Martyr).

[And let us renew the kingdom there[8] (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Montanus)] So that there we might confirm Saul as King (Vatablus), by the consent of all. Now, he says these things, both so that the sin of those that had not previously acknowledged Saul as king might be released; and so that hereafter all occasion of rebellion might be cut off (Malvenda out of Junius). Samuel was seeing some wavering in heart, and not sufficiently suffering Saul as king: as certainly new kingdoms are founded with difficulty (Malvenda).

Let us go to Gilgal: this place he chose, both because it was near, and, to most of them, in the way to their homes; and because thither the Israelites on this side, and beyond Jordan, might more easily resort; and because it was famous for public conventions there kept, and particularly for the covenant there renewed by Joshua between God and the people. Renew the kingdom there, that is, confirm our former choice, to prevent all such seditious expressions and actions as we had experience of at the former election.

Verse 15:[9] And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king (1 Sam. 10:17) before the LORD in Gilgal; and (1 Sam. 10:8) there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

[There they made him king, וַיַּמְלִכוּ] And they cause him to reign. They were not making him king, nor conferring royal power upon him (for the people were not able to do this: See on 1 Samuel 8:5; and Saul was both made, 1 Samuel 10:1, and declared King at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 10:24), but they clear, or willingly allowed, it as conferred, so that Saul might make use of his right. Thus, when God had made a King, 1 Kings 11:37, the people are nevertheless said to have made him King[10] (Mendoza). They made, that is, they declared him King by common consent. See a similar thing in 2 Samuel 5:1, etc. (Grotius).

They made Saul king, that is, they recognized him, or owned and accepted him for their king by consent; for, to speak properly, Saul was not made or constituted king by the people, but by the Lord’s immediate act: see 1 Samuel 8:9; 10:1.

[Before the Lord] Or, with His Ark present. For, the Ark was wont to be brought by the Priests to the greatest assemblies: as it is confirmed out of 1 Samuel 14:18 (Junius). Or before the altar of the Lord that was erected there (Vatablus).

Before the Lord; who was there present in a special manner; both because the people of the Lord were there assembled, and because there was an altar, as the following sacrifices show. The same phrase is used 1 Samuel 10:17; 14:18.

[Peace-offerings] 1. For the giving of thanks, both for the victory won (Lapide, Martyr), and for the settlement of the kingdom (Martyr). 2. For petition, that peace might be established (Lapide).

They sacrificed sacrifices of peace-offerings; partly to praise God for so glorious a victory, and for the firm settlement of the distracted kingdom; and partly to implore the presence and assistance of God to the king and kingdom, in all their affairs and exigencies.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הָעָם֙ אֶל־שְׁמוּאֵ֔ל מִ֣י הָאֹמֵ֔ר שָׁא֖וּל יִמְלֹ֣ךְ עָלֵ֑ינוּ תְּנ֥וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים וּנְמִיתֵֽם׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שָׁא֔וּל לֹֽא־יוּמַ֥ת אִ֖ישׁ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֥י הַיּ֛וֹם עָשָֽׂה־יְהוָ֥ה תְּשׁוּעָ֖ה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ [3] Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He is sometimes called “The Philosopher” because of his commitment to Stoic principles. [4] Theodosius I (347-395) was the last Emperor of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. In 380, he banished all religions from the Roman Empire except Nicene Christianity, making it the sole state religion. [5] Tiberius was Roman Emperor from 14 to 37. [6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם לְכ֖וּ וְנֵלְכָ֣ה הַגִּלְגָּ֑ל וּנְחַדֵּ֥שׁ שָׁ֖ם הַמְּלוּכָֽה׃ [7] See 1 Samuel 7:16. [8] Hebrew: וּנְחַדֵּ֥שׁ שָׁ֖ם הַמְּלוּכָֽה׃. [9] Hebrew: וַיֵּלְכ֙וּ כָל־הָעָ֜ם הַגִּלְגָּ֗ל וַיַּמְלִכוּ֩ שָׁ֙ם אֶת־שָׁא֜וּל לִפְנֵ֤י יְהוָה֙ בַּגִּלְגָּ֔ל וַיִּזְבְּחוּ־שָׁ֛ם זְבָחִ֥ים שְׁלָמִ֖ים לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וַיִּשְׂמַ֙ח שָׁ֥ם שָׁא֛וּל וְכָל־אַנְשֵׁ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַד־מְאֹֽד׃ [10] 1 Kings 12:20: “And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king (וַיַּמְלִ֥יכוּ אֹת֖וֹ) over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.”

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