Saul in Michmash with his three thousand strong and valiant men now realized that he instantly must bestir himself or suffer the loss of all his prestige. Thus now he was compelled to act by the concurrence of circumstances. The choice was no longer his. So “he blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, let the Hebrews hear,” hear the summons to rally about their king in Gilgal for war with the Philistines. The people responded to that call not under the impulse of faith but because they concluded that it was their only hope of survival as a nation. For they also heard, in all likelihood from the trumpeters, that Saul had smitten a garrison of Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. Hence, this time it was not necessary for Saul to threaten to slay their oxen in order to get action. But what could they accomplish in the way of saving themselves from the adversary who was thirsting after their blood! The Philistines had deprived them of arms; for there was no smith found in all the land.
The trumpeters, if they were the ones to communicate the dreadful news—dreadful to the people— ascribed Jonathan’s heroic deed to Saul, the reason being that Saul was commander-in-chief of the army; or did they purposely hold the truth under because they thought it wise and expedient to exalt Saul in the eyes of the people in that dreadful crisis?
Saul, too, went to Gilgal—for there he had called the people together after him—in fulfilment of the prophetic command of Samuel uttered in his audience perhaps as long as two years ago on the day of his secret anointing, “And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal” (). Thus Saul’s going to Gilgal at this time was more evidence that Samuel’s prophetic commands to him verily had originated in God. That now again was being proved to him in a remarkable way by the fact that he went to Gilgal, not because he had so calculated or so desired, but, only because circumstances, as shaped by the Lord, were compelling him. Thus, how abundant the proof that it had been not Samuel but the Lord who, on that day of his secret anointing, had placed him under the prophetic command that “thou shalt go down to Gilgal; and, behold I will come down to thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven day shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.” There at Gilgal this word of God, through Saul’s own conscience, will confront him with the demand that, under the constraint of a living and implicit faith in God, he obey. Such was the Lord’s will. For Saul must be revealed in all his latent unbelief and rebellion, in order that God’s people might perceive how utterly unfit he was for the high office with which he was vested and disqualified for the duties thereof—his task was to save God’s ill- deserving people from all the troubles of their sin—in order that, as so perceiving they might understand that the king to save them had to be not what Saul was—a self-absorbed and self-seeking man, a sinful human trusting even in the great crisis of his career in the arm of flesh—but had to be what Saul was not—a man according to God’s own heart, making the Lord his expectation always. So perceiving and understanding, God’s people would be led to David, yea to Christ. This was the Lord’s purpose.