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multitudes of the Midianites are slain, and immense spoils taken.
When Gideon returned home after his victory, the people wished to make him king; but he refused, saying, "The Lord shall rule over you." a
AFTER many histories of wars, we come to the history of a country family. During the time of the Judges, there was a famine in the land. A man of Bethlehem went with his wife Naomi and two sons into the land of Moab, and dwelt there. The sons married there two Moabitish daughters, Orpah and Ruth. The man died. The two sons died also;
Judges vi. 11-40; ii.; viii. 1-23.
and Naomi set off to return to her own country, as a poor widow, accompanied by her daughters-inlaw. She endeavoured to persuade them to remain in their own country, and Orpah returned; but Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave thee: whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.” a
When Naomi came to Bethlehem, the people scarcely knew her again. "Is this Naomi?" they said. She said, "Call me not Naomi (which means pleasant); call me Mara, (which means bitter). I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." It was the time of barley harvest, and Ruth went into the fields to glean. And God so ordered it that she came to the reapers of a rich man named Boaz, who was a relation of her deceased husband. When Boaz came to his reapers in the field, he asked who she was. He came, and spoke kindly to Ruth; he said, "I know all that thou hast done to thy motherin-law since the death of thy husband. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust." b He told his young men to treat the Moabitess kindly, and to let some handfuls of corn fall on purpose for her.
Ruth related all to her mother-in-law. And Naomi said, “He is our kinsman: blessed be he of the Lord for all his kindness to the living and to the dead."
When Boaz had seen, all through the harvest
a Ruth i. 16--22.
b Ruth ii. 4-12.
time, the excellent behaviour of poor Ruth, he loved her. But there was a law in Israel that when a man who was married died without children, it was the duty of his nearest relation to marry the widow. Therefore, being instructed by her motherin-law upon the subject, she addressed herself to Boaz, according to the custom of the country, and soon after the harvest the marriage took place.
This poor Moabitish woman became the great grandmother of a great king, of whom I shall presently have much to say. God blessed her with a son, who was named Obed. "And Obed begat Jesse," who was the father of king David.
ELI AND SAMUEL.
have been, according to the institution of Moses. The tabernacle stood in Shiloh, and there the Israelites assembled at the feasts. Eli one day observed a woman praying in the outer court of the tabernacle: he saw her struggling inwardly, and her lips moving; but her voice was not heard, for she only spake in her heart. And Eli thought that the woman was drunk. In so thinking, Eli did great injustice to the poor troubled woman, which was very unbecoming in the high-priest. She had been praying to God for a son; because she had been married a long time, and had never had a child. When Eli understood this from the woman, he said to her, "Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition." And Hannah went away, and her countenance was no more sad, for she had poured out her heart before God. The Lord granted her prayer, and gave her a son, whom she called Samuel, that is, asked of God. a
After some years, his parents brought the child with them to Shiloh, to the feast, and his mother entrusted him to the care of the priest. When they came up to the feast, every year, they heard of him; and not long afterwards God himself spoke to the boy, and employed him as his prophet. The high-priest's own sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were wanton, worthless men, who profaned the sanctuary of God by their wicked lives. Eli represented seriously to his sons how greatly they were sinning against God; but he did not use his authority to restrain and punish them, as he ought to have done, both as a parent and as a judge. He loved them too indulgently.
a 1 Sam. i. 9-20.
One night, the Lord called, "Samuel." The child arose and went to Eli, thinking that Eli had called him. This was done a second and a third time; and then Eli perceived that it was the Lord, and said to him, "If he call thee again, thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." Again the voice of the Lord was heard, calling, "Samuel;" and Samuel said, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." Then said the Lord, " Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house for I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." b
In the morning Eli asked Samuel, “What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? hide it not from me." So Samuel was obliged to tell Eli all, however painful it was to him. And Eli said, "It is the Lord let him do what seemeth him good." The judgment foretold did not fail. Shortly after, a war broke out. The Philistines overcame Israel; and the elders of the Israelites, in order to revive the courage of the people, caused the ark of God to be brought into the camp. The two young priests carried the ark. Eli, an old man, ninetyeight years of age, sat before the gate anxiously waiting for news. A messenger comes with his clothes rent, and his countenance full of grief. Eli asks him how the battle is going. The messenger answers, "Israel is fled before the Philistines. Thy two sons are dead, and the ark of God is taken."c
b 1 Sam. iii. 2-14.
с 1 Sam. iii. 17, 18; iv. 13 -18.