3075. Looking For One Thing And Finding Another

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No. 3075-54:25. A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, January 16, 1908.

And the donkeys of Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, “Take now one of the servants with you, and arise, go look for the donkeys.” … “And as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you, and on all your father’s house?” {1Sa 9:3,20}

1. Saul went out to look for his father’s donkeys, he failed in the search, but he found a crown. He met the prophet Samuel, who anointed him king over God’s people, Israel, and this was far better than finding the obstinate colts. Let us consider this exceptional incident; perhaps, though it deals with donkeys, it may yield us some royal thoughts.

2. I. Our first remark shall be, — OBSERVE HOW THE HAND OF GOD’S PROVIDENCE CAUSES LITTLE THINGS TO LEAD ON TO GREAT MATTERS.

3. This man Saul must be placed in the way of the prophet Samuel. How shall a meeting be brought about? Poor beasts of burden shall be the intermediate means. The donkeys go astray, and Saul’s father tells him to take a servant, and go to look for them. In the course of their wanderings, the animals might have gone north, south, east or west; for who shall account for the wild will of runaway donkeys? But so it happened, as men say, that they strayed, or were thought to have strayed, in such a direction that, eventually, Saul found himself near Ramah, where Samuel, the prophet, was ready to anoint him. On how small an incident the greatest results may hinge! The pivots of history are microscopic.

4. Hence, it is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of providence as the most startling events. He who counts the stars has also numbered the hairs of our heads. Our lives and deaths are predestined, but so also are our downsitting and our uprising. If we only had sufficiently powerful perceptive faculties, we should see God’s hand as clearly in each stone of our pathway as in the revolution of the earth. In watching our own lives, we may plainly see that, on many occasions, the smallest grain has turned the scale. Whereas there seemed to be only a hair’s breadth between one course of action and another, yet that hair’s breadth has sufficed to direct the current of our life. “He,” says Flavel, “who will observe providences shall never be long without a providence to observe.” Providence may be seen as the finger of God, not merely in those events which shake nations, and are duly emblazoned on the page of history, but in little incidents of common life, indeed, in the motion of a grain of dust, the trembling of a dewdrop, the flight of a swallow or the leaping of a fish.

5. II. But that is not the consideration to which we now invite you. Our intention is this, — just as Saul went out to find donkeys, but found a crown; so, IN THE MATTER OF GRACE, MANY A MAN HAS RECEIVED WHAT HE DID NOT LOOK FOR.

6. That is a remarkable text in Isaiah: “I am found by those who did not seek me.” Sometimes, the sovereign grace of God is pleased to light on people who had no thought about it, who were, to all appearance, quite unprepared for it, indeed, even opposed to its divine operations. These people have stumbled on the treasures hidden in the field when they were only thinking of their plough, they have met Jesus at the well when they only purposed to fill their water-pots, they have heard glad news of the Saviour when they were only caring for their flocks.

7. On ground unfurrowed the rain of heaven has fallen; grace has come unasked for. We have examples of this in the Scriptures, in the miracles which were performed by our Lord and his apostles. There was a young man dead, carried out to be buried, and around his bier were his weeping mother and relatives. Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth, was entering in at the gate of the city, but we do not read that any of the mourners sought a miracle from him. They did not have the faith to expect that he would raise the dead. The young man, being dead himself, was far beyond the possibility of seeking help for himself from the miracle-working hand of Jesus. But Jesus intervened, and commanded the bearers to stand still: they did so, and then, unsought and unasked for, Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, ‘Arise,’” and he arose, to be delivered to his mother. Many a young man has been in a similar plight; he has been dead in trespasses and sins, Christ’s intervention has not been sought by him: he has not trembled at his lost position; he has not even understood it, being utterly dead, and therefore unaware of his ruined state. The Redeemer has sovereignly intervened, the Holy Spirit has poured light into the darkened conscience, the man has received grace, and has lived a new and spiritual life, a life for which he had never looked.

8. Of a similar character was the miracle of casting out demons from the two demoniacs among the Gergesenes, in which case the unhappy men were moved by the evil spirits to implore the Saviour to leave them alone. Such also were the miracles of restoring the man with the withered hand, the feeding of the multitudes, and the healing of the ear of Malchus. Here, swift-footed mercy outran the cry of misery.

9. Take another case, from apostolic times. A poor beggar extremely lame, hobbled one morning up to the Beautiful gate of the temple and there took his daily place, and began his incessant cry for a little charitable aid for a poor paralysed man. Peter and John came up to the temple to pray. He looked at them doubtless, but it never entered into his heart to ask them to heal him. He asked for alms. Drop a few Roman pennies into his palm, and he would be contented with the gift. But Peter and John gave to him what he had not looked for. They told him, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to rise up and walk, and up he leaped, delivered from his infirmity, without having expected such a deliverance.

10. These examples can be interpreted by kindred facts of grace. Christ has often met individuals, and saved them, when they have not been seeking him. Matthew was not seeking Jesus when the Lord told him to leave the table at which he was receiving taxes, and follow him. The case of Zacchaeus was similar: he came in the way of Christ’s preaching, but his motive was purely one of curiosity, “he sought to see Jesus, who he was.” He was curious to know what kind of a man this was who had set all Judah astir. Who was this who made Herod tremble, was reputed to have raised the dead, and was known to have healed all kinds of diseases? Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector, is a lover of sights, and he must see Jesus. But there is the difficulty, — he is too short; he cannot look over the heads of the crowd. Over there is a sycamore tree, and he will for once imitate the boys, and climb. Watch how carefully he conceals himself among the thick branches, for he would not have his rich neighbours find him in such a position. But Christ’s eye detected the little man, and standing beneath that tree, unasked, unsought, unexpected, Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, hurry, and come down; for today I must stay at your house”; and soon, these gracious words were spoken by Christ, “Today is salvation come to this house.” Deeds of grace have been performed in this Tabernacle in the same way. Men and women have come here out of curiosity, — a curiosity created by some unfounded story, or malicious slander of prejudiced minds; and yet Jesus Christ has called them, and they have become both his disciples and our warm-hearted friends. Some of the most unlikely recruits have been our most valuable soldiers. They began with aversion, and ended with enthusiasm. They came to scoff, but remained to pray. These seats could tell many an incident of the “romance of grace” more wonderful than the marvels of fiction.

11. Indeed, brethren, such is the surprising grace of God, that he has not only been pleased to save me who did not expect it, but he has even condescended to intervene for the salvation of men who were fighting against his grace, and violently opposing his cause. Read that story which will never lose its charm, of which the hero is one Saul of Tarsus. What an exceptional subject for converting grace! He had resolved to hound the saints to death. He would exterminate them if he could. His blood boiled against the followers of Jesus; he could not speak of them calmly; he was mad with rage. Hear him rave at them! “What? Will these men oppose the traditions of the fathers and of the Pharisees? If they are allowed to multiply, there will be no respect paid to our holy men or their weighty sentences!” He will persecute them out of existence, not only in Jerusalem, but in Damascus. Yet, in a few days, this hater of the gospel was touched by the gospel’s power, and never did Christendom gain a braver champion. Nothing could dampen his fervour or quench his zeal; persecuted, beaten with rods, ship wreaked three times, — nothing could stop him from serving his Lord. What a complete reversing of the engine, and yet it was going at express speed! When he was most at enmity against Christ, then was his turning-point. Just as though some strong hand had suddenly seized by the bridle a horse that had broken loose, and was about to leap down a precipice, and had thrown it back on its haunches, and delivered it at the last moment from the destruction on which it was impetuously rushing; so Christ intervened, and saved the rebel of Tarsus from being his own destroyer.

12. Another case arrives before us most vividly, it is that of the jailor at Philippi. He was an unlikely one to seek the Saviour, and be converted. He received Paul and Silas, and made their feet firm in the stocks, — a piece of superfluous brutality; they could not have escaped from the inner prison, and it was needless to secure them by the heels. No doubt he wished to please his masters, and felt a contempt for the apostles. The jailors in those days had usually been soldiers, and camp life among the Romans was rough indeed; his nature evidently furnished very flinty soil for the gospel to grow in. But an earthquake comes; the prison shakes; it is a mysterious earthquake, for the prison doors are lifted from their hinges, and the prisoners’ fetters are unbound; the jailor trembles, and to make short work of the story, he believes in Jesus, he is baptized, with all his believing household, he invites the apostles to his table, entertains them, and becomes one of the first members of the Church of God at Philippi. What can the gospel not do when it comes in its power? And where may it not come? May it not, at this moment, visit another prison, and save another jailor, though his thoughts are far otherwise?

13. We ourselves have encountered similar cases. Many old stories are current which we do not doubt are true. There is one of a man who never would attend a place of worship until he was induced to go to hear the singing. He would listen to the tunes, he said, but he would have “none of your canting preaching,” he would put his fingers in his ears. He takes that wicked precaution, and effectively blocks up Ear-gate for a while, but the gate is stormed by a little adversary, for a fly settles on his nose; he must brush it off, and, as he takes out his finger to do so, the preacher says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The man listens, the Word pierces his soul, and he is converted.

14. I remember quite well, and the subject of the story is most probably present in this congregation, that a very exceptional conversion happened at New Park Street Chapel. A man, who had been accustomed to go to a gin palace {a} to fetch in gin for his Sunday evening’s drinking, saw a crowd around the door of the chapel, he looked in, and forced his way to the top of the gallery stairs. Just then, I looked in the direction in which he stood, — I do not know why I did so, but I remarked that there might be a man in the gallery who had come in there with no very good motive, for even then he had a gin bottle in his pocket. The specific expression struck the man, and being startled because the preacher so exactly described him, he listened attentively to the warnings which followed; the Word reached his heart, the grace of God met him, he became converted, and he is walking humbly in the fear of God.

15. These cases are not at all uncommon. They were not unusual in the days of Whitfield and Wesley. They tell us, in their Journals, of people who came with stones in their pockets to throw at the Methodists, but whose enmity was slain by a stone from the sling of the Son of David. Others came to create disturbances, but a disturbance was created in their hearts which could never be quelled until they came to Jesus Christ, and found peace in him. The history of the Church of God is studded with the remarkable conversions of people who did not wish to be converted, were not looking for grace, and were even opposed to it; and yet, by the intervening arm of eternal mercy, were struck down, and transformed into earnest and devoted followers of the Lamb.

16. III. That fact being established, we may now range our thoughts around the question, WHAT SHALL WE SAY ABOUT IT?

17. What shall we say about these acts of sovereign restraining grace? Why, first, we will say, behold the freeness of the grace of God. It is like the dew that comes on the earth, which does not wait for man, neither waits for the sons of men. It is like the sunbeam shining into the hovel, and finding its way through grimy window-panes, more calculated to shut it out than to admit it. It is like the wind which whistles among the cordage, whether the mariners desire it or not. God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion: not because of any goodness in the sinner, or because of any preparedness in the creature, but simply because he wills it, he visits men with salvation. He is so able to work salvation that he does not wait for any helping arm; but, when the creature is most dead, and most corrupt, then the quickening grace of God comes in, and gains for itself all the glory of salvation.

18. If every convert were brought in through the usual means of grace, we should come to regard conversion as a necessary result from certain fixed causes, and attribute some mystical virtue to the outward means; but when God is pleased to distribute the blessing entirely apart from these, then he shows that he can do without means as well as with means, that nothing is too mighty a work for him, that his arm is not shortened at all, so that he needs to use an instrument to make up the length of it; neither has he lost any strength, so as to be forced to appeal to us to make up the deficiency. If it were God’s will, he could, by a word, convert a nation. If he chose to do so — he is such a Master of human hearts that, as readily as the grain waves in the breath of the summer’s wind, so he could make all hearts bow before the mysterious impulses of his Holy Spirit. Why he does not do it, we do not know; that is among his secrets; but when he works in a seen and decided way beyond all expectation, he only gives us a proof of how he is able to work as he wills among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of this lower world. Oh, the richness, the freeness, the power of the grace of God, — the richness of it, that it comes to those who did not look for it; the freeness of it, that it does not wait for preparation on man’s part; the power of it, that it makes the unwilling willing when the appointed hour has come! Brethren, let us join together heartily in adoring this grace of God, which reigns through righteousness to eternal life in as many as it pleases the Lord our God to call.

19. What shall we say further about this? We will gather this consoling inference from it: if the Lord is found like this by those who do not seek him, how much more surely will he be found by those who seek him! If he has been known to give sight to those who did not ask for it, how much more will he bestow it on those who cry, “You Son of David, have mercy on us!” If he saved Saul who hated him, how much more will he listen to him who cries, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” If he called careless, curious Zacchaeus, how much more will he speak to you, my anxious, earnest hearer, who are saying, “Oh, that he would speak to me!” If a man opens his door, and voluntarily calls to a passing beggar, and says, “Here, poor man, here is relief for you,” why, then, the man who persistently begs will not be sent away unhelped, — will he?

20. If I were in the case of the seeker, I should be mightily encouraged by the subject before us. I should say, “Does Jesus call those who were not hungering and thirsting, and does he bring them to the gospel feast? Then, when I, a poor hungry thirsty sinner, come wringing my hands, and saying, ‘Oh, that he would give me a drink of the water of life; oh, that he would let me feed on the blessings of his grace,’ surely he will receive me.” Be cheered, you humble penitents, the Lord’s heart is too large to permit him to send you away empty. Be encouraged, at this moment, to breathe the silent prayer, “Oh God, the Lord and Giver of grace, give your grace to us who seek it now!” Why, dear heart, you have grace already, or you would not seek it; for grace must first come to you to make you seek grace. Be thankful, for salvation has come to your house. Dead men do not long for life. In the marble limbs of the corpse, there are no strugglings for life, no pangs of desire for health. God has looked on you in love; look to Jesus, and live.

21. What else shall we say about this doctrine? There is one other thing we will say about it, — from this time forward we will never despair of anyone. If the Lord Jesus Christ called Saul of Tarsus when he was foaming at the mouth with wrath, there is no one among the wicked who is beyond the reach of hopeful prayer. Your boy breaks your heart, dear mother. You have wept many tears over him. He is far away now, and the last you heard of him wounded your soul, and unbelief said, “Do not pray for him again.” Ah! that is the devil’s counsel; he is no good messenger who tells a mother to cease praying for her child while that child is outside of hell, have faith in the divine power, and still pray for your boy. Who knows what the Lord may yet make of him?

22. There is one living in your parish, a swearer, and everything that is bad. You once thought of asking him to come and hear the gospel, but you said, “It is of no use; he will be sure to turn it into ridicule.” How do you know? It is the very boast of grace that it shines into the unlikeliest hearts. God’s electing love has, in many cases, selected great fools, and great sinners; at least, I know that God’s people think themselves such. I have said, never despair of your child, and I will tell you again, — if you have friends who are infidel, or persecuting, or profane, yet, as long as you live and they live, it is your business to labour for their conversion, and to weep and pray for them. Oh brethren, if the lives of some of us before conversion had been known, good men might have denied the possibility of our salvation. If all the secrets of our hearts had been written, some would have said, “This is a hopeless case.” But mercy saved us, and therefore it can save anyone. Never say of any place, “It is such a den of iniquity I can do no good there.” Never say, “That workshop is so profane I could not speak of religion there.” Oh! you do not know, — you do not know! With God behind you, if it were possible to save the damned in hell, you might go and preach there, and win trophies for Christ. Never think anyone too bad or too vile, but still labour on, for God can work wonders in every case.

23. IV. We will close when we have noticed, with great brevity, WHAT WE OUGHT NOT TO SAY ABOUT THESE THINGS.

24. We have told you what we should say about these remarkable conversions, — we should behold the freeness and sovereignty of the grace of God, we should be encouraged to seek it for ourselves, and we should hope for the conversion of others. But now, what ought we not to say? One thing we ought not to say is this, — “Then I shall sit still, and perhaps the grace of God will come to me; I shall not seek, nor pray, nor desire; for if I am quite unconcerned, grace may still visit me.” Now, my dear hearer, if you make such an excuse as that for your spiritual indolence, you will find the covering too thin to conceal your nakedness. You know better. A man suddenly stumbles on wealth, by a windfall or a speculation. Do you therefore say, “I shall not keep my shop open, I shall leave business, I shall not go to work again, for Robinson has found a thousand pounds; I shall stay at home, and perhaps I shall do the same?” No, you know that all the examples in the world of sudden wealth only go to prove the rule that he who would gain riches must find them in the appointed way. So, all the examples of these remarkable interventions of God only go to prove the rule that he who would have mercy must seek it. “Seek the Lord while he may be found,” is the fixed rule; and though God comes to some who do not seek him, yet the rule still holds good.

25. Do you not know that all the while you remain impenitent your soul is under condemnation? Some men have run this awful risk, and yet have escaped; is that any reason why you should? I have heard of a man who took poison, but so rapid was the action of a doctor in the neighbourhood that, by means of the stomach pump, the man’s life was preserved: is that a reason why you should swallow poison too? Because providence has preserved some while they were running on in sin, is that a reason why you should continue to rebel against God? I have heard a story of an English sailor in a foreign port; when the foreigners were manning the yard-arms, and performing their manoeuvres in honour of a royal personage, our countryman, in order to show what an Englishman could do, climbed to the top of the mast, and stood there on his head. Suddenly, the ship lurched, and he fell; but, by a happy providence, he grabbed a rope as he fell, and descended safely to the deck. “There,” he said, “you fellows, see if you could tumble down like that.” Are you surprised that no one accepted the challenge? Who but a fool would have thought it worth his while to imitate the example? Because here and there a man, who runs solemn risks, is by the intervention of divine grace saved from the consequences of his folly, is that a reason why you should run those risks yourselves? God does intervene like this, no one can doubt it; but still, his sovereign rule is, “Seek the Lord while he may be found,” and his gospel cries daily, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Trust the merits of Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved; for our gospel is not, “Sit still, and wait for divine interventions”; but, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be damned.”

26. Moreover, we should never say, “Why use means for saving others? God can do his own work.” Brethren, a man is always in a vicious state of heart when he speaks like that. He knows he talks nonsense, and he only does so as an excuse for his indolence, and to quiet his conscience. We are to labour to win souls, for men are brought to God by instrumentality. Where God has appeared to save without any means, if you could have the whole matter before you, you would find that means were used. For example, take Saul’s conversion. You will ask, “What means were used in his case?” We do not know, but possibly the dying martyr Stephen, when he prayed for his enemies, may have been the secondary cause of the young man’s call by grace. At any rate, he was included in Stephen’s intercession, and that prayer went up to God for Saul, and was prevalent with heaven. And then, look again, after Saul had been arrested from above, Ananias must come in to open his eyes; so that, even in that case, there was the instrumentality of prayer before, and the instrumentality of instruction afterwards.

27. So it may be with many a one who has been suddenly converted. There was a mother, perhaps, in heaven, who had prayed for the man forty years before, for prayer will keep, and be fragrant for many a year. And let me say that, if neither father nor mother ever prayed for that conversion, perhaps a grandfather did, for prayer has power for hundreds of years; and a great-grandfather’s prayers may be the instrumentality of the conversion of his great-grandchildren. There is no end to the efficacy of prayer. Good Dr. Rippon used often, in the pulpit, to pour out his soul in prayer that God would bless the church of which he was the pastor, and the members at the Tabernacle have been the heirs of the blessings brought down by his intercession. Pray on, then. Your prayers may not be answered for the next five centuries; those prayers of yours may be stored up until Christ comes, but they will avail in some way.

28. So that you see, when we think there is no instrumentality, there really is an instrumentality, if we could only see it. These remarkable cases must never be used as a reason why we are not to do all that we can to bring sinners to Christ. God’s work, in such cases, instead of discouraging us, should stimulate action on our part. Because God works, are we to be still? No, but because God works, let us he workers together with him; so that, through us, directly or indirectly, his purposes may be fulfilled. Suppose, now, it were known that, the events of a certain battle would depend entirely on the skill of the general. The two armies are equally matched, and everything must depend on the tact of the commander; would the soldiers therefore conclude that they did not need to load, or fire, or draw a sword, because everything depended on the commander? No, but the commander works, and his soldiers work together with him. So it is with us. Everything depends on God but we are his instruments. We are his servants; and because he is behind us, let us go forward with courage and zeal. The results are certain, God being our Helper.

29. I charge you, my brothers and sisters, to take heart from the fact that God works great wonders. Go to your classes, or wherever else you may be labouring, singing cheerfully the song of hope, and offering the prayer of full assurance. When we feel that we must have souls saved, souls will be saved. For my part, I cannot be happy unless sinners are led to Jesus. We must have it, the Holy Spirit will not let us rest without it; we shall have it, and God shall have the praise. Amen.


{a} Gin Palace: A gaudily decorated public house.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {1Sa 9:1-10:8}

9:1, 2. Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome young man: and there was not among the children of Israel a more handsome person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

Here we have the pedigree of the great king of Israel, Saul, the son of Kish. He was descended from a noble tribe, though not a very large one, and he appears to have been endowed with a very notable personal appearance: “There was not among the children of Israel a more handsome person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people”; and to the Israelites of that day, who had gotten away from looking up to God, and to the more valuable accomplishments of the mind and the heart, the striking personal appearance of Saul would be a great attraction and recommendation.

3, 4. And the donkeys of Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, “Take now one of the servants with you, and arise, go look for the donkeys.” And he passed through Mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and they were not there: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.

He was diligent in his father’s service, even though that service meant a fruitless journey in search of some straying donkeys. Since he was then faithfully discharging the duties of his position in life; he was the man who was likely to rise to some higher position. He was the son of “a mighty man of power” or wealth, and yet, so simple were the manners of the time that he was sent, with one of the servants, to look for the lost donkeys, and he appears to have started at once to carry out the commission which had been entrusted to him. Learn from Saul’s obedience, dear young people, never to despise any duty which falls to your lot in the ordinary vocations of daily life; you will be preparing yourselves for some higher position by doing well what you are called to do now.

5. And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, and let us return; lest my father stops caring for the donkeys, and starts worrying about us.”

There was evidently in Saul, at that time, a great considerateness of spirit; he wished to save his father from having any painful anxiety concerning his son and his servant, for Saul put both together when he said “us.” It is most desirable that young men, in the present day, should have a tender regard for those to whom they owe their being, and who have done so much for them in the years of their tender infancy; and that all young people should be careful never needlessly to give their parents one anxious thought on their account.

6. And he said to him, “Behold now, there is in this city a man of God and he is an honourable man; all that he says surely happens: now let us go there; perhaps he can show us our way that we should go.”

In this case, as in so many others, the servant seems to have had more grace than his young master had, for the name of Samuel the prophet was not unknown to him, and he knew where the “man of God” lived, and told Saul a good deal about him, and gave him some good advice concerning what they should do. In any case where the servant, and not the master, knows the Lord, it is good, when occasion offers, and it can be done prudently and discreetly, for the servant to speak up, and give a good word for the cause of God and truth.

7. Then Saul said to his servant, “But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what do we have?”

He says nothing about any money that he may have had in his own pocket, and again his servant has to lead the way.

8, 9. And the servant answered Saul again, and said, “Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver; I will give that to the man of God to tell us our way.” (Previously in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, he spoke like this, “Come, and let us go to the seer”: for he who is now called a Prophet was previously called a Seer.)

He was a man who looked further ahead than others could; for, under divine inspiration, he could see into the future.

10. Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.”

Saul was willing to be generous at his servant’s expense, and to let him give “the fourth part of a shekel of silver” to the prophet for him, and we have known some other folk who have been very generous in giving away the money of other people rather than their own.

10-12. So they went to the city where the man of God was. And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?” And they answered them, and said, “He is; behold, he is before you: hurry now, for he came today to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people today in the high place;

These young maidens were evidently well informed, they knew where the man of God was, they knew what he was going to do, and they knew the time of the sacrifice or feast. Let us hope that they not only knew all this, but that they entered into the true spirit of it.

13-19. As soon as you are come into the city, you shall immediately find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he comes, because he blesses the sacrifice; and afterwards they eat who are invited. Now therefore, go up there; for about this time you shall find him.” And they went up into the city: and when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out to meet them to go up to the high place. Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man out of the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, so that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked on my people, because their cry is come to me.” And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, “Behold the man whom I spoke to you about! This same one shall reign over my people.” Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Tell me, please, where the seer’s house is.” And Samuel answered Saul, and said, “I am the seer:

Saul evidently did not know Samuel, and it appears from this fact that he was not a gracious, religious man. He had the charm of a fine outward appearance, and he probably had many of the domestic virtues, but he was not one who lived in the fear of God.

19-21. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let you go, and will tell you all that is in your heart. And as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you, and on all your father’s house?” And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?”

There was a very becoming modesty about him, he was really surprised and startled that such an honour should be in store for him; he had many natural virtues; but, alas! the grace of God was not on him.

22-24. And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among those who were invited, who were about thirty people. And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it aside.’” And the cook took up the shoulder, and what was on it, and set it before Saul.

The right shoulder of the animal that was offered in sacrifice was part of the priest’s portion, and Samuel now ordered the cook to set this shoulder before Saul as he sat in the place of honour.

24, 25. And Samuel said, “Behold what is left! Set it before you, and eat; for until now it has been kept for you since I said, ‘I have invited the people.’” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul on the top of the house.

For quietness and seclusion, Samuel took the young man upstairs to the flat roof of the house, and they walked to and fro, in the cool of the evening, talking about the high destiny to which Saul was called, and Samuel doubtless giving him valuable instructions concerning his new and important duties.

26, 27. 10:1, 2. And they arose early: and it came to pass about the dawning of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, “Get up, so that I may send you away.” And Saul arose, and both of them went out, he and Samuel, outside. And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us,” (and he passed on,) “but stand still for a while, so that I may show you the word of God.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1547, “Samuel and the Young Man Saul” 1547} Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him, and said, “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you to be captain over his inheritance? When you are departed from me today, — 

He gave Saul some signs by which he could confirm the truth of all that he had spoken to him: “When you are departed from me today,” — 

2. Then you shall find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah;

It was good for Samuel to send Saul, with brilliant prospects opening before him, to the sepulchre of the mother of his tribe. Oh, that we were all wise enough to think often of our last hours! Communion with the grave might even help us in communion with heaven. Samuel said to Saul, “You shall find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre,” — 

2, 3. And they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for are found: and, lo, your father has stopped caring for the donkeys, and sorrows for you, saying, "What shall I do for my son?"’ Then you shall go on from there, and you shall come to the plain of Tabor, and there three men shall meet you going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:

Going to offer to God a grain offering and a thank offering. How could Samuel have known all this if God had not anointed his eyes, and made him a seer who could see what others did not see?

4. And they will greet you, and give you two loaves of bread; which you shall receive from them.

“You shall take from them your first tribute as a king. They shall give you two loaves of bread, to teach you to avoid all luxury, and not to be a king who delights in delicate and dainty fare. You shall fare as the people do.”

5, 6. After that you shall come to the hill of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is: and it shall come to pass, when you are come there to the city, that you shall meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tambourine, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: and the Spirit of the LORD will come over you, and you shall prophesy with them,

“You shall speak with enthusiasm about God; moved with a holy passion, you shall speak like an inspired man.”

6. And shall be turned into another man.

Notice that Samuel did not say to Saul, “You shall be turned into a new man,” for that is what he never was. He became, for a while, another man, a different man from what he had been before, but he never became a gracious man.

7, 8. And let it be, when these signs are come to you, that you do as occasion serves you; for God is with you. And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down to you, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: you shall wait for seven days, until I come to you, and show you what you shall do.”

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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