But some worthless fellows said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
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Augustine of Hippo
Accordingly, there is no doubt that human wills cannot resist the will of God, “who has done whatever he pleased in heaven and on earth,” and who has even “done the things that are to come.” Nor can the human will prevent him from doing what he wills, seeing that even with human wills he does what he wills, when he wills to do it. Take, for instance, the case of Saul. When God willed to give the kingdom to Saul, was it in the power of the Israelites to subject themselves to him or not to subject themselves? In a sense, yes; but not in such a way that they were able to resist God himself. As a matter of fact, God carried the matter through by means of the wills of people themselves, having, as he undoubtedly does, the almighty power to bend human hearts in whatever direction he pleases. So it is written: “And Samuel sent away all the people, everyone to his own house. Saul also departed to his own house in Gibeah; and there went with him a part of the army, whose hearts God had touched....
In vain also do they object that what we have established from Scripture in the books of Kings [which includes Samuel] and Chronicles—that when God wills the accomplishment of something which ought not to be done except by people who will it, their hearts will be inclined to will this, with God producing this inclination, who in a marvelous and ineffable way works also in us that we will—is not pertinent to the subject with which we are dealing. What else is this but to contradict without saying anything? Unless perhaps they gave you some explanation of why it seems this way to them, but you have chosen not to mention it in your letters. But what that explanation could be, I do not know. Do our brothers perhaps think that because we have shown that God so acted in the human hearts and led the wills of those whom it pleased him to lead, that Saul or David was established as king, these examples are not pertinent to the subject, since it is one thing to reign temporally in this world and...
Belial; seditious men, perhaps of the tribe of Ephraim, (Judges xii.) or of Juda, to whom the regal power seemed to belong, Genesis xlix. (Salien)
Presents, in testimony of their submission. See Judges iii. 15., and 3 Kings iv. 21. The eastern kings still expect that ambassadors should bring noble presents, otherwise they deem themselves insulted. (P. Martyr.)
Subjects dare not appear before their king, in Thrace, without some such offering. (Xenophon, Anab. vii.) (Calmet)
Not. He knew that the throne is established by mercy, Proverbs xx. 28. Hence he chose to pardon these discontented people after he had obtained the victory, and was even solicited to make an example of them. (Salien, the year of the world 2962)
Severity might have alienated the minds of many, as he was hardly yet confirmed in his dignity, and the war against Ammon was threatening. (Menochius) ...