« PreviousContinue »
injured his friend Uriah in the basest manner; and used all possible methods to conceal his shame. Having failed in these, he found that Uriah must of necessity ere long discover the injury he had received; and therefore he longed for Uriah's death; yea, he actually laid a snare for his life, and was delighted to hear that he had successfully attained his murderous object. We are far from saying that every man's resentment would carry him to this length, even where the same grounds for it existed: but we have no doubt, that there is not any one who, in similar circumstances, would not rejoice to hear that the person whom he had injured was dead: all concern about his life would be swallowed up in the hope of concealing his own shame, and retaining an unblemished character before men.]
3. Because we conceive him to be our enemy
[It is natural to suppose that those whom we have injured are our enemies and that consideration is quite sufficient to excite hatred in the bosom of an unjust man. Hence Solomon observes, "A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by itd." Indeed it is from this consideration that men hate the Scriptures, and even God himself: they know that the Scriptures are against them, and that God is displeased with them: and therefore "they hate the light, and will not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved:" yea, they say, "Make the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us;" or, as the fool in his heart, "I wish there were no Gode!" In like manner they hate pious ministers also, as Ahab did; “I hate Micaiah, because he doth not speak good concerning me, but evil." Whilst we suppose that men love us, there is no difficulty in loving them: the vilest of publicans and sinners will do this: but when we think that our persons or our characters are odious to others, it requires much grace to feel a loving spirit towards them; a grace which no ungodly man can exercise, nor any unjust man possess. Resentment is the only fruit which nature, so circumstanced, will produce.] Many valuable LESSONS may be learned from this subject we may see in particular the import
1. Of cultivating a religious principle
[Had Amnon felt the power of religion in his soul, he would have withstood the first impulse of his desire, and said, "How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Or, if he had been overcome with the temptation, he would at least have sought to repair the injury he had done, and not have
d Prov. xxvi. 28.
e Isai. xxx. 11. Ps. xiv. 1.
aggravated it by such cruel treatment. But, being destitute of all religious principle, he was the sport of every lust, and was driven from one extreme to another, as a leaf before the wind. And what can we expect, but to be equally unstable, though we should not commit exactly the same enormities as he? Yes; nothing but a religious principle will keep us firm. If we have the fear of God in our hearts, we shall "stand in awe, and not sin,” even though we know that our iniquity will not be discovered by mortal eyes: and if we have the love of Christ in our hearts, that will constrain us to live to him, in a holy conformity to his will, and in a cheerful obedience to his commands.] 2. Of associating with pious friends
[Had Jonadab been pious, he would have instantly endeavoured to divert Amnon from his purpose: but, being himself an ungodly man, he offered himself a pander to Amnon's lusts, and suggested to him the plan whereby he might obtain the gratification he desired. Thus was he, in fact, the instrument whereby these horrid impieties were accomplished. Thus it is with ungodly companions at all times: instead of discountenancing evil, they will encourage it, and facilitate the execution of it to the uttermost. Knowing then, as we do, how apt we are to imbibe the spirit of our friends, should we not be careful with whom we associate? Should we not select our friends from the wise and good, rather than from among the giddy and profane? "He that walketh with wise men, says Solomon, will be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Let us remember that "evil communications will corrupt good manners;" and let us choose those for our associates in this world, whom we shall wish to dwell with in the world to come.]
3. Of setting a good example
[We cannot but trace, in some degree at least, the wickedness of Amnon to the sad example which David had set him. Amnon would be ready to excuse his own conduct towards Tamar, in comparison of David towards Bathsheba and Uriah. "At all events," he would say, my father cannot be very severe in censuring me, when he recollects what he himself has done." In like manner, if we give the world occasion to reproach us, we shall lose all weight and influence in reproving them; yea, we shall harden them in their iniquities, and encourage them to vindicate themselves from our example. Let parents, and masters, and all that are in authority, bear this in mind, that one bad act of theirs will do more to countenance sin, than ten good admonitions will do to repress it.
f Prov. xiii. 20.
Let religious professors in particular remember it; for if they cast a stumbling-block before men, they will be accountable to God for all the evil that ensues. Methinks, in this, and in many subsequent events, David could not but see the sad fruit of his own iniquities; and that very consideration would add ten-fold poignancy to all his grief: and many parents may find in the conduct of their children the severest reprehension for their own neglects. Let us guard against all such occasion for self-reproach; and endeavour so to act, that we may be able to say to all around us, "Whatsoever ye have seen and heard in me, do, and the God of peace shall be with you."]
DAVID DRIVEN FROM HIS THRONE BY ABSALOM.
2 Sam. xv. 25, 26. And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.
SIN, though forgiven, rarely passes unpunished in this present world: on the contrary, God marks his indignation against it here, in order to embitter it the more to the offender who has committed it, and to endear to him the more that mercy which has been exercised towards him. At the very time that he forgave the sin of David, he declared to the pardoned penitent, that the sword should never pass from his house, even to the latest hour. Accordingly we find, that David was afflicted in no common degree in his own family; and in such a way as strongly to bring his sins to his remembrance. He had dishonoured the wife of his friend Uriah; and his own son Amnon violates his daughter Tamar. He had contrived and accomplished the death of Uriah; and his son Absalom contrived and accomplished the death of his own brother Amnon. He had dishonoured God in the face of the whole world; and he himself is driven with scorn and infamy from his throne. Yet, though in this respect a monument of God's displeasure, he was now living nigh to God,
in the exercise of all holy duties, and heavenly affections. At no period of his life was grace more in exercise within him, as appears from the spirit which he manifested under his afflictions. To exhibit this spirit in its true colours, and to make a suitable improvement of it for our own souls, is the scope and object of our present discourse.
I. Mark his spirit and conduct under his afflictionsTo two points in particular the text calls our attention :
1. His reverence for God
[David having suddenly fled from Jerusalem in order to escape from the sword of Absalom, Zadok and the Levites brought forth the ark to David, that he might be able in this But David ordered Zadok to carry emergency to consult it. it back: for, though nothing in the world was so desirable to him as the presence of God, he regarded this measure as highly inexpedient.
It was unauthorized; and therefore wrong. That sacred symbol of the Deity was not to be moved about according to the wishes or conceits of men. In the wilderness it had never moved, but as the pillar and the cloud, in which the Deity resided, led the way. And to dispose of it in this manner, without any direction from God, was such an act of impious presumption as he dared not to commit. He well remembered the rebuke which he himself had met with, when, with the best intentions, he had moved the ark without attending to the forms prescribed by God himself; suffering it to be drawn in a cart by oxen, instead of carrying it on the shoulders of the Levites for the smiting of Uzzah was a testimony of God's displeasure against him for his inattention, no less than against Uzzah himself for his presumption. He remembered too the judgments inflicted on above fifty thousand men of Bethshemesh for daring to look into the ark: and therefore he trembled at the thought of acting towards it with irreverence or indiscretion.
It was also unnecessary. He knew by experience that God's presence was not confined to the ark; but that he was accessible to his people at all times, and in all places. Often had he, when driven out from Jerusalem by Saul, made known his requests in prayer to God, and obtained from him the most gracious answers: and therefore he doubted not but that God would still continue to him his gracious communications in the
a 1 Chron. xv. 13.
b 1 Sam. vi. 19.
time of need, notwithstanding the absence of that symbol, through which, under other circumstances, he ought to have been approached.
It was moreover unavailing. What could the ark do, unless accompanied by God himself? What had it done for Israel when taken from Shiloh to protect them against the Philistines? Of itself it had no power: and therefore it was taken prisoner by the Philistines, whilst those who bare it were slain. And what if this unauthorized measure should lead to a similar result? How could he ever lift up his head again, after having brought such dishonour upon God?
It was impious. What was this, but to transfer to a creature the attributes of Deity, and to expect from the ark the help which could proceed from God alone? This would have been to provoke God to jealousy, and to excite his displeasure at the very time that he most needed an interest in his favour.
On these grounds David sent back the ark; and humbly committed his cause into the hands of his invisible but almighty Protector.]
2. His submission to God
[Exceeding heavy were the afflictions of David at this time. He was driven from his throne; in hourly danger of being destroyed with all his faithful attendants; and this through the ambition and cruelty of his favourite son. Forsaken by some of his most endeared friends, and loaded with curses by his envenomed enemies, he fled in the most disconsolate state that can be imagined. Hear the pathetic account given of him in the following context: "David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered; and he went barefoot. And all the people that were with him covered every man his head; and they went up, weeping as they went upd." But his afflictions were great, no less in a spiritual than in a temporal view. Indeed it is in this view that he chiefly complains of them throughout the Psalmse
But in the midst of all, he submitted meekly to the painful dispensation, leaving it to God to order for him whatsoever in His wisdom he should see fit. He knew that, if God should interpose in his behalf, all should yet issue well, and he should yet again worship God in his sanctuary: but, if God had ordained otherwise, he was prepared to kiss the rod, and to bless the hand that chastised him with it. "If I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both the ark and his habitation: but if he thus say,
c 1 Sam. iv. 11.
d ver. 30.
e See Ps. xlii. 1—5, 10. and xliii. 3, 4. and lxxxiv. 1—4,