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27
OLD TESTAMENT TIMES

istines, and an independent people began to enjoy the reign of their first king.

Unhappily Saul did not prove himself so well equipped for the kingship in character and disposition as in personal prowess. Jealousy, natural in a king whose claim to authority was so new and weak, was heightened in Saul by a malady that induced fits of sullenness and rage. His humility and modesty of other days gave place to envy, vanity, and cruelty. Even God's express commands through the same prophet on whose divine commission Saul's claim to the throne rested were not heeded, for Samuel had to rebuke him for disobedience and only refrained from publicly rejecting him at Saul's abject entreaty. Ch. 15: 30.

Room was found in Saul's heart for jealousy of the popularity and success of David, ch. 18: 8, the young man of Bethlehem in Judah whom at first he had loved and attached to his person, ch. 16:21. Jonathan, though heir to his father's throne and aware that David had been designated as Jehovah's choice for king, ch. 20:15, 31, had nothing but affection for David his friend. But Saul pursued David openly, after failing in repeated secret attempts to make away with him. And the close of Saul's life is marred by his vindictive pursuit of his rival, till death in battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa brought the first king of Israel to a miserable end and left the way open for David to become his successor.

QUESTIONS ON LESSON VII

1. Who shares with Samuel the leadership of Israel in the time of transition from the judges to the kings, and what relation did he bear to Samuel?

2. What was a prophet, what is meant by the prophetic order, and what is Samuel's particular service and distinction among the prophets?

3. What motive led to the popular demand for a king, and how did Samuel as God's representative regard this demand?

4. Sketch the character of Saul. What was his achievement for Israel? Wherein did he fail?

5. Compare Saul and Jonathan in ability and character.