Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber
The campaign against the Philistines was followed by a long series of victories over the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Amalekites, and Saul, having subdued all his enemies, could at last assume the royal state. But even in the midst of his splendor he could not forget Samuelís prophecy, and kept wondering how he could secure the crown to his descendants.
From time to time the prophet Samuel still appeared at the kingís court, to bring him Godís commands, and on one occasion he bade Saul fight the Amalekites, and utterly destroy them and all their possessions. Instead of obeying this order faithfully, Saul carried it out only in part; for he divided the best of the spoil among his people, and spared the life of Agag, the King of the Amalekites.
But on the way home Saul was met by Samuel, to whom God had said: "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king." When Samuel reproved Saul for his disobedience, the king vainly tried to excuse himself by saying that he had saved the cattle to offer up in sacrifice; but the prophet would not listen to him.
Then Samuel went on to tell Saul that on account of his disobedience, he would no longer be helped by God. Terrified by these words, the king now clung to the prophetís mantle, imploring forgiveness for his sins, until a piece of the garment was torn off and remained in his hands.
The prophet made use of this accident to illustrate the meaning of his words, and said: "The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine that is better than thou." But before leaving court, Samuel himself saw that Godís commands were fully obeyed, by sending for the captive king Agag, and cutting off his head.
This was Samuelís last visit to Saul, whom the Lord had now forsaken; but the prophet mourned this kingís disobedience so sorely that God reproved him. At the same time the Lord bade Samuel take a vial of oil, and go to the house of Jesse, the grandson of Ruth, where he would find the new king.
Samuel obeyed, and when he had reached Jesseís house, he asked to see the manís sons. Seven of Ruthís stalwart great-grandsons passed before the prophet, but it was only when David, the eighth and youngest, appeared, that the divine voice spoke to Samuel, saying: "Arise, anoint him, for this is he."
No sooner had this future king been anointed, in the midst of his family, than the spirit of the Lord forsook Saul and fell upon David. From that moment, too, Saul seemed possessed at times by an evil spirit which drove him to wild acts.
The anointing of David was Samuelís last public deed before he finally withdrew to his home at Ramah. But David resumed his peaceful occupation as shepherd, and learned to sing and play, a talent which later won for him the title of "Sweet Singer in Israel." Then, too, he gave the first signs of the dauntless courage which was to distinguish him all through life, and bravely defended his flocks from the attacks of lions and bears, and even of Philistine thieves.
All through the reign of Saul, the Israelites were forced to contend with the Philistines. These enemies of the Chosen People grew bolder and bolder, and when the spirit of the Lord forsook the king, they began to get the better of him. Encouraged by success, they finally assembled all their forces at a mountain in the Israelite territory, where Saul came with his army to oppose them.
In the ranks of the Israelites there were three of Jesseís sons, and David frequently came down to visit them. It was in the course of one of these brief sojourns with the army, that he once saw a Philistine giant step forth, and heard him boastfully challenge the Israelites to single combat.
No one accepted the challenge, until, moved by the spirit of the Lord, David offered to fight the giant. As soon as this offer was made known, David was led into the presence of Saul, where he firmly declared that God, who had "delivered him out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear," would surely save him from the hand of the giant Philistine.