Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Lt 16, 1897

Brother and Sister

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

June 11, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 1BC 1086-1087; CTr 36. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister:

For weeks I have been in an exhausted condition day and night. I did not realize that I was carrying so heavy a burden of responsibility; but as soon as Brother and Sister Haskell came in to do their work, I found myself in a nervous state of exhaustion. Anything that required thought distracted my brain. Since coming upon this ground it has been one continual strain, because there were those who were interested only so far as concerned themselves. They carried no burden except that terrible load of criticizing and accusing. I was obliged to brace up, and brace up, and stand true to Bible principle. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 1

Those who were on the ground, and could have helped us, put their influence in the scale to counterwork that which God had given me especially to do. Those whose experience ought to have been clear and helpful and true, the Lord revealed to me were not to be trusted. They had not their eyes anointed with the spiritual eyesalve to discern that they were working largely on Satan’s side of the question. Those who carried the heaviest load were made the subjects of constant criticism; and those who carry any burden at all, were placed in severest trial because they did not shape themselves to favor this or that or the other individual in their several wishes. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 2

To remove all occasion of criticism from these varied minds, I was instructed, was the very worst thing we could do in the treatment of those who came upon the ground. The discipline that God requires is pure. Uncontaminated principles are to be brought into everything in their association one with another. I was shown that every one was on trial and test from their very first connection with the interests on this ground. God saw that every one who should have any connection with His work must be proved and tried. He knew that inexperienced men and women would come in to settle on the land whose influence would not be of a right character, and who would introduce their own individual harmful habits and methods, that would place a mold on the work at the very beginning that would be contrary to the Word of the living God, and that would turn His favor away from us. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 3

The work of having these things out away from the school interests has been as hard a <task> as I ever undertook, because men and women were here who claimed to be Christians, but whose entire life and experience was of that character that in no case should find standing room on this ground. They have evidenced that they were under the temptations of Satan. While we could not possibly shield them from temptation, the Lord would have shielded them if they had had any sense of their need of correcting the habits of long years standing in their experience. But all the light that came to them in the principles kept before them had no weight when it was brought to bear on their own individual defects in methods and principles. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 4

The Lord was constantly instructing me that we should carefully and strictly avoid harmonizing with their ideas and course of action. A straightforward course must be pursued. Special efforts must not be made to remove the cause of their temptations and disaffection, for the very object in locating the school on these grounds was not to concede to the varied experiences that have been brought in and composed the religious life and character of these individuals. These must be cut away from them, or they had far better choose some other place than these grounds for their home. And God will work with our efforts in giving correct principles, line upon line, and precept upon precept, as revealed in His Word, in correcting the wrong through the light given in the testimonies during the last fifty years; in making manifest that which God would approve and that which He would condemn. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 5

If the light which the Lord Jesus has given, sowing the world with truth in correct principles of action, were heeded, there would be provided for all who should locate on this ground an order of things that would be just what God could approve, and which would stand the stress and strain of all the liabilities that would occur; and His people [would] not become corrupted. The battles which each one must meet in the enemy’s workings would not pervert the subjects into apostasy or rebellion, but would make them staunch and brave and reliable representatives of Bible truth, which is the foundation principle in the education of youth for this time, for we are on the eve of tremendous changes. Crises are right upon us. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 6

In the working of God’s people, there are always times of test and of trial, and God does not design that we shall shield men and women and youth from the liabilities that test the character. God will reveal His workings, and will supply His attributes to the humble men who are seeking Him. Satan also will reveal his workings, and will supply every soul he tempts with his attributes, his evil surmisings, his evil speaking and accusing of the brethren. From this condition of things, the Lord cannot possibly shield those who place themselves on the enemy’s side, for God does not compel the human mind. He gives His bright beams of light as a lamp to lead and guide all who will walk in the rays reflected from Him. That lamp, His Word, is a light unto our feet. But if men disregard the path lighted by the heavenly beams, and choose a path suited to their own natural hearts, they will stumble on in darkness, not knowing where they stumble or why. They will accuse and hate the very ones who make straight paths for their feet. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 7

The history of Cain and Abel will be repeated. Cain insisted in carrying out his own plans in his offering to the Lord. Abel was steadfast in carrying out the directions of the Lord. He would not be converted to Cain’s way. Although the offering of Cain was a very acceptable one, that which made that offering required at all, the blood of the slain lamb, was left out. There could be no harmony between the two brothers, and contention must come. Abel could not concede to Cain without being guilty of disobedience to the special commands of God. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 8

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth and his countenance fell.” [Genesis 4:3-5.] The Lord preferred the offering of Abel because it was correct. His offering was of value because it prefigured the redemption plan of God in the costly offering of His only begotten Son as the hope and salvation of the fallen race. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 9

When God accepted the offering of Abel, and gave no sign that He recognized the offering of Cain, because it left out the true figure, the representation of the world’s Redeemer, Cain was very angry. But the Lord did not give up His way and will to conciliate Cain. He reasoned with him: “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” [Verses 6-8.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 10

This same spirit has been acted over on this ground. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 11

The Lord passed by Saul the chosen king of Israel, because, as king of Israel, he did not follow the requirements of God, but chose his own ideas and his own methods. Standing at the head as he did, he could mislead Israel from following the Lord. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 12

The discarding of King Saul and the choosing of David in his stead made a condition of things wholly unpleasant for the one chosen in Saul’s stead. David could not be anointed in Saul’s stead without experiencing his jealousy. And what a time of it David had! Yet all this he was compelled to bear because of a disobedient king who refused to keep the way of the Lord, and hearken to His voice. It was a very sad time for Saul, Samuel, and David, all because one man was venturing to follow his own hereditary and cultivated tendencies. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 13

The Lord had blessed Saul, chosen and converted him, and he was made head over Israel. He had God as his teacher through Samuel the prophet, but he would not harken to the voice. He revealed himself to be an unsafe leader for Israel, because he would follow his own way in the place of doing God’s way and God’s will. Saul had had all the promise that Cain had had. The words of God to Cain were applicable to him. God had declared; “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted; and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” [Verse 7.] Cain would not come to God’s plans, and he killed his brother because he did not take his side of the controversy against God. Saul also justified his acts of disobedience when reproved through Samuel. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 14

“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? ... And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal, and behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace-offerings; seven days shall thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 15

“And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day, And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, that when all that knew him before time saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets? And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.” [1 Samuel 10:1, 6-13.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 16

God gave Saul another heart. His spirit came upon him, and he prophesied. Thus with a new heart, under the molding of the Spirit of God, he entered into the responsible position of king of Israel. After the Lord gave Saul the signal victory over the Ammonites, “the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? Bring the men, that we may put them to death. And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for today the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel.” [1 Samuel 11:12, 13.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 17

In this decision Saul evidenced that he had a changed heart. His own natural temperament was transformed by the power of God, who had laid these responsibilities upon him. And Saul was not left to battle alone with his old natural tendencies. Through his servant God had declared, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and thou shalt be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs are come to thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.” [1 Samuel 10:6, 7.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 18

“And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord at Mizpeh; and said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you; and ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord in your tribes, and by your thousands.” [Verses 17-19.] We see that here the Hebrews made a great mistake in setting up their own way against God’s way. The way of the nations under kingly rule and their display had attractions for the nation that God had chosen and wrought amongst by His own infinite power. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 19

Samuel had obeyed the word of the Lord and had granted the people their request for a king. The 12th chapter of 1st Samuel gives the record of their sin in turning from God’s rule to the customs of heathen nations and kingly authority. And now the servant of God said, “When ye saw that Nahash, the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king. Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.” [Verses 12, 13.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 20

But the Lord did not abandon His people. He did not leave them to their own devices. He still makes conditions with them. He leaves them not in any deception in regard to their course of action. “If ye will fear the Lord,” He says, “and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God: but if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.” [Verses 14, 15.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 21

God then gave the children of Israel an evidence from heaven that they should not think it a light matter that they had rejected the administration of God, and chosen human authority in the place of the divine: “Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king. So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not; for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” [Verses 16-19.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 22

The Lord was working for the good of the people and for His own glory in permitting the nation for whom He had done great and wonderful things to have the thing which they had determined upon. But He did not utterly forsake them. They could have turned to the Lord, every man in the nation, if they had humbled their hearts and repented. But they failed to show contrition. They did not go back from their wicked course in choosing a king and rejecting God’s rule. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 23

After the displeasure of God had been revealed to them, and the people had acknowledged their sin, Samuel encourages them. “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.” [Verses 20-25.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 24

The Lord gave Israel a sore trial. He permitted them to be brought into straight places. “And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and sixty thousand horsemen, and people as the sand on the sea shore for multitude; and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, ... and the people were scattered from him.” [1 Samuel 13:5-8.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 25

Samuel had given directions to Saul: “And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.” [1 Samuel 10:8.] “And Saul tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.” [1 Samuel 13:8.] Here was the test for Saul. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 26

Appearances were discouraging, and Saul looked at these outward appearances. In the place of looking to God, trusting in Him, and waiting for Samuel to appear, he became impatient, and took upon himself responsibilities which the Lord had not laid upon him. He attempted to do a work which he could not perform acceptably to God. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 27

“And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 28

“And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore; and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee; for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” [Verses 9-14.] Saul was tested by circumstances, but he did not bear the test. He showed just what he would do under pressure of circumstances. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 29

It was God’s design in the detention of Samuel that the heart of Saul should be revealed, that others might know what he would do in an emergency. If he would under all circumstances obey the orders given him from one who in all things received his orders from heaven, the head of the nation could then be trusted. All who are in positions of responsibility must follow implicitly the counsels of God. It was a trying place for Saul; but he had not obeyed orders and waited for Samuel. He did not feel that it would make a difference who should approach God and in what way. Saul was tried, and full of energy and self-complacency, he put himself forward into sacred office, for which he was not appointed. If Saul would pursue such a course in an emergency, the people would follow his example, and thus no distinction would be made between the sacred and the common. By his example he left it open for the men of war to assume the priesthood on any occasion or in any emergency. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 30

The Lord has His appointed agencies, and if these are not discerned and respected by those who are connected with His work, if they feel free to place themselves in a position of disregard for God’s requirements, they must not be kept in positions of <responsibility.> They would neither listen to counsel, or to the commands of God through His appointed agencies. They would, like Saul, rush into a work that was never appointed them, and the mistakes they would make in following their human judgment would place the Israel of God where He could not reveal Himself to them, because the sacred things would become mingled with the common. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 31

When the Lord exalted Saul to be king of Israel, he was not invested with the sacred office of priesthood. But as he sees the people terrified at the immense armies of the enemy; as he sees them fleeing to the caves, and hiding among the thickets and rocks, climbing to the tops of mountains and down into the pits, he took upon him this office. While his army were scattering from him everywhere, his ardor was not abated; he trusted to his own strength. “Some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him tremblingly.” [Verse 7.] The people realized their sin in choosing a king, and they dared not put their confidence in him, as they had trusted <formerly> in the Lord as their Ruler and Authority. The new king was not God, and they were learning the meaning of defeat, even before the battle had been entered upon. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 32

This was Saul’s time to act his faith, to show respect to the special directions given. A few hours of waiting was the test which the Lord gave Saul. Then the Lord saw the situation of Israel; He saw the distrust and fear of Saul; but Saul did not bow his knees and heart before God, and trust in the Lord God of Israel. In the place of becoming humble and self-distrustful, he grew passionate and presumptuous. [Samuel] was on the ground within the seven days, but in the very last moments of that time Saul knowingly transgressed, by assuming the office of priest because he was king in Israel. He could have offered humble prayer to God without the sacrifice, for the Lord will accept even the silent petitions of a burdened heart. But Saul revealed his impatience. He did not manifest the faith of Gideon and the Hebrew generals whom God had appointed. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 33

Saul could have made his supplication to God with his whole heart; but instead of this, he forced himself into the priesthood. And Samuel declared, “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” [Verses 13, 14.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 34

After this severe rebuke, Samuel left Saul to pursue his own way and follow his own impulses. And Saul found that the work left for him to do had been left undone. He had not done his part as a kingly general over armies; and when the crisis came, there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel. The Philistines had been wiser than the Hebrews, and had worked diligently to prevent the Hebrews from obtaining an education in preparing their swords and spears. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 35

The Hebrews had depended upon the facilities of the Philistines to prepare their instruments of war. “So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.” [Verse 22.] Thus Saul was left without any special direction from the Lord because of his presumption; and he knew not what to do. He looked at the immense army of the Philistines; but he trusted in his own skill and aptitude—for he had but a small army and this was incomplete and disorderly, many of them hiding away for fear and terror. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 36

But the Lord saw in Jonathan a man of pure integrity, one to whom He could draw nigh, and upon whose heart He could move. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 37

“Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father. And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people which were with him were about six hundred men. ... 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 38

“And Jonathan said to the young man which bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us; for there is no restraint with the Lord to save by many or by few. And his armorbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart; turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over to these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to thee; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up; for the Lord hath delivered them into our hand; and this shall be a sign unto us.” [1 Samuel 14:1, 2, 6-10.] Here was a man who put the Lord first. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 39

“And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armorbearer and said, Come up to us and we will show you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armorbearer, Come up after me; for the Lord hath delivered them into the hands of Israel.” [Verses 11, 12.] Here we have an evidence that the enemy knew the weakness of the armies of Israel, and of their hiding in the holes and the secret places; and they taunted them and mocked them for their cowardice. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 40

“And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and on his feet, and his armorbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armorbearer slew after him. And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armorbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an acre of land which a yoke of oxen might plow.” [Verses 13, 14.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 41

[Jonathan] and his armorbearer had asked a sign of the Lord, and the challenge had come, the sign was given. These two men placed their hope in God and went forward. But they had hard climbing to do to reach the spot. They climbed up on their hands and upon their feet, Jonathan saying at every step, “The Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.” [Verse 12.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 42

This was no easy passage for the brave adventurers. The top of the precipice was encamped with Philistines; the two camps were in sight of each other; but up the steep sides of this rocky eminence, Jonathan and his armorbearer ventured, using hands and feet in their climb. To outward appearance, this adventure seemed rash, and contrary to all military rules; but the Lord had moved upon these men, and Jonathan went forward, saying at each step, “It may be that the Lord will work for us.” [Verse 6.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 43

These two men evidenced that they were moving under the influence and command of a higher than human general. The action of Jonathan was not done in human rashness; he depended not on what they could themselves do; he was an instrument that God used in behalf of his people Israel. They made their plans, and rested the cause in the hands of God. If the armies of the Philistines recognize them and challenge them, they will advance. If they say come, then we will go forward. This was their sign, and the angels of the Lord prospered. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 44

It would have been an easy matter for the Philistines to kill these two brave, daring men. But it did not enter into their minds that these two solitary men had come with any intent of hostility. They were regarded as deserters. They were therefore permitted to come without any harm. The wondering men above were looking on, too surprised to gather in their possible object. “And they fell before Jonathan; and his armorbearer slew after him. And that first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.” [Verses 13, 14.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 45

This daring work sent a panic throughout the camp. There lay the dead bodies of twenty men, and to their sight there seemed hundreds of men before them prepared for warfare. Who was it that was upon the ground to work with these two men? It was the armies of heaven; “and there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.” The armies of heaven were revealed to the opposing host of the Philistines. “And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah looked; and behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.” [Verses 15, 16.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 46

Saul had been sitting in discontent and fear and trembling with his six hundred men under the pomegranate tree. Now he said to the people that were with him, “Number, now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there. And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel. And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.” He began to think that the time had come for him to do something. “And Saul with all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.” [Verses 17-20.] When they came to the place of conflict, lo, they saw the men in the Philistine army fighting one another, and not discerning that they were fighting their own army; and there was a very great battle. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 47

And now see the result: “Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise also all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in Mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in battle. So the Lord saved Israel that day.” [Verses 21-23.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 48

Now Saul, who had been sitting under the pomegranate tree, became very zealous, and made a law, saying, “Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.” [Verse 24.] Jonathan and his armorbearer, who had through God wrought deliverance for Israel—for they were in stern conflict and hand to hand battle—became weak through hunger. This rash oath of Saul’s was a human invention. It was not inspired of God, and God was displeased by it, for the people were weary and faint with hunger. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 49

“And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.” This was the provision of God. He designed that the armies of Israel should partake of the food thus provided, and receive strength. But Saul, who was not under the direction of God, had interposed his rash oath, saying, “Cursed be the man that eateth any food till evening, that I may be avenged upon mine enemies.” “And when the people were come into the wood, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth; for the people feared the oath. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 50

“But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: therefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honey comb, and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes were enlightened.” His whole system was strengthened to do the work before him. “Then answered one of the people and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day, And the people were faint. Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray thee, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey. How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of the enemy which they found? For had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?” [Verses 24-30.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 51

Another test was prepared for Saul after this first lesson. The Lord’s time had come to punish the Amalekites, and Samuel brought Saul the message that Amalek was to be utterly destroyed. God gave commandment unto Saul: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” [1 Samuel 15:3.] But Saul did not do the work which the Lord had given him to do. He brought in his own human judgments against God’s commandments. “And Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 52

“And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you from among them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over again at Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and of the lambs, and all that was good; and would not utterly destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” [Verses 4-9.] 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 53

What a position was [Saul] in. He had the message from God. And God was watching his course to see if he could be trusted with his work as king of Israel. But God said to Samuel, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king; for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.” [Verse 11.] Saul had had a change of heart; he had been converted to God; but he did not trust the Lord under difficulty. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 54

This message from God grieved the prophet, and he cried unto the Lord all night. He saw that the people were to have their trial very soon after coming under the rule of a king like other nations around them. Samuel had concluded that because of Saul’s stature and beauty of countenance, he would be greatly in favor; but the displeasure of the Lord was kindled against Saul because of his lack of keen perception to distinguish sacred and holy things, to discern that the requirements of God are supreme, and in trial to show that he did not properly estimate the word given through God’s faithful servant. 12LtMs, Lt 16, 1897, par. 55