David is Anointed King over Israel

Samuel returned from Gilgal to his house at Ramah, and came no more to Saul. Nor from that day onward, except once, did he ever again in this life speak with the king face to face. Saul hardened his heart against his one true counsellor. In his pride he heeded him not and refrained from asking his guidance. He was a law to himself, inflexible against his enemies, and he fought valiantly for Israel. Yet in spite of his ascendancy and the glory he had won, he found no peace of mind and heart.

He doubted the loyalty even of those most faithful to him, and hours of violence and fury were followed by days of voiceless dejection. The divine grace, that had once been his, no longer guided and comforted him. Thankless and ungenerous, every remembrance of Samuel, and of his loving-kindness when his own need was greatest, only goaded him on to an obstinate enmity. But though he refused to do him honour, he secretly feared him, and his fear engendered hatred.

Nevertheless Samuel remained faithful to the king. His own authority was gone, except as the prophet of God. But neither absence from the king nor the indignities of neglect made any change in his love for Saul. He ceased not to grieve for him, remembering the wondrous promise he had seen in his face when as a humble stranger seeking for the strayed asses of his father, Saul had drawn near to speak with him that morning now long gone, and the voice within his own heart had cried: ‘Lo, the king of Israel!’

He strove to put out of mind the king’s stubborn ingratitude. He knew well that fear alone of what might follow prevented Saul from showing his enmity and seeking to destroy him. In his desolation he continued to intercede for him. But the word of the Lord came at length to Samuel in his solitude at Ramah: ‘How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing that I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Put away thy grief. Fill thine horn with oil, and go; for I will send thee to Bethlehem. There among the sons of Jesse I have found me a king.’

And Samuel knew that it was the voice of God that bade him do this thing to his own great sorrow. He prayed earnestly, seeking in vain for reasons against at once obeying it.

‘How can I go?’ he asked himself again and again. ‘If the king should hear that such a thought has even come into my mind, he will surely kill me.’

But the voice within answered him again: ‘Doubt not; the Lord will be with thee. Thou shalt take a heifer with thee and when thou comest to Bethlehem thou shalt say that thou hast come to sacrifice to the Lord. And thou shalt call Jesse to the sacrifice with his sons. Tarry then until the voice of God within thee shall assure thee what thou must do. Then shalt thou arise and anoint him whom the Lord hath chosen.’

With a heavy heart the old grief-stricken man made his few preparations and at early morning set out with his servant.

The day was fresh and sweet, and as he approached it, the village of Bethlehem, built on high amid its valleys on the spur of a hill, and surrounded by vineyards, and groves of olive and almond trees, lay still and tranquil as though in a dream. Samuel continued on his way through the fields of wheat and barley, and mounted the steep path that would bring him into the village.

The approach of these two solitary wayfarers had been seen from afar by some of the elders of Bethlehem. They stood in watch, and when they saw that one of them, the old man with hooded head and long silver beard—the ass on which he was riding led gently on by the servant who was with him—was the dreaded prophet Samuel himself, they hastened out to greet him. They bowed themselves before him, filled with misgiving as to why this messenger of God was come to visit them.

‘Cometh my lord peaceably?’ they asked him. ‘Bringest thou good tidings or tidings of evil?’

And Samuel made answer: ‘Peaceably. Be not afraid. I am come to make sacrifice unto the Lord.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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