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2. A submission to his will
[What God might have ordained respecting him, David did not know; nor was he curious to inquire: but, whatever might be the issue of his present afflictions, he was contented and satisfied. Well he knew that he deserved all that God could lay upon him; and he was ready to say, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him." This is one fruit of sin, if I may so speak; or rather, of that humiliation which accompanies true repentance: we become reconciled to whatever God may do, seeing that any chastisement in this world must be less than our iniquities have deserved. O that in the prospect of the heaviest calamities we might have such a view of our ill desert, as should dispose us humbly to commit ourselves into God's hands, and cordially to welcome every trial which his all-wise providence may appoint for us! Under every affliction, our acquiescence should be like that of Eli, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good."]
f Mic. vii. 9.
DAVID'S PATIENCE AND FORBEARANCE.
2 Sam. xvi. 5-12. And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: the Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may
be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.
IT is thought by many, that situations of rank and eminence are conducive to happiness. But the very reverse of this will be found true for the most part, because persons in authority are beset with numberless temptations, to which their inferiors are scarcely at all exposed. Behold David exalted to a throne; and see to what trials he was reduced, by those who sought his favour, or envied him his power! It is the unhappy lot of kings to be surrounded no less by lying friends, than by bitter enemies. When David fled from Absalom, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, the son of Saul, met him with a present of needful provisions for himself and followers, under a feigned plea, that his master had joined the conspiracy of Absalom, in the hope of regaining his father's kingdom: and thus he obtained from David an hasty and inadvertent grant of all Mephibosheth's possessions; a grant, which David afterwards, when better informed, was constrained to rescind. Scarcely had David been thus betrayed by a pretended friend, before he was fiercely assaulted by a bitter enemy, who now took advantage of his misfortunes to load him with all manner of reproaches. From this evil, however, David escaped with far greater honour to himself. In the former case he was imposed upon, and was led to act with unwise precipitation: but in this latter case, when urged to avenge himself on the delinquent, he forbore; and thus manifested a disposition of mind that is worthy of universal imitation.
To place David's conduct in its true light, I will set before you,
I. His heavy trial—
His condition, independent of Shimei's conduct, was exceedingly afflictive
[He was now driven from his throne, and forced to flee for his life. To this he was forced by his own subjects, led on by his most favourite son, Absalom. To be reduced to such an extremity by a foreign foe would have been an exceeding
great calamity: but to be brought to it by his own beloved son, at the head of his rebellious subjects, was as afflictive a dispensation as could well be conceived.
But in this cup of sorrow there was an ingredient that was incomparably more bitter than even death itself; namely, a consciousness that it proceeded from God, as a punishment of the sin he had committed in the matter of Uriah. Nathan had long since delivered to him this warning from the Lord: "Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house." And this judgment had already been executed in part, by Amnon's ravishing of his sister Tamar; and by Absalom's murder of his brother Amnon; (in both of which there was an awful correspondence with his own sins in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah:) and now it came home more immediately to his own person, in the conduct of Absalom towards himself. This consciousness very deeply oppressed his mind, and added a ten-fold poignancy to all his other stings.]
But the conduct of Shimei greatly aggravated his misfortunes at this time
[It came upon him at a time when he was wounded, and disconsolate, under the rebukes of the Almighty. And the bitterness of this man's reproaches could scarcely be exceeded. Shimei, being a Benjamite, was zealous for his own tribe, from whence the sovereign authority had been transferred to the tribe of Judah. (Such jealousies, alas! pervade all ranks and classes of society throughout the world, from rival states to rival districts, communities, towns, families, and parties of every description: and often the feelings subsisting between the adverse parties, are scarcely less acrimonious than those of Shimei himself.) Besides, being of the family of Saul, perhaps Shimei's prospects in life were in a great measure blasted: and therefore, whilst he regarded David as the occasion of his ruin, he considered the Deity himself as vindicating his cause, in the punishment of the usurper. But his accusation of David, as having imbrued his hands in the blood of Saul, was without the least foundation: for it was well known that he had not been in the least degree accessary to the death of Saul, or Jonathan, or of Abner, or Ishbosheth, or of any whose blood was now laid to his charge. But such an accusation, at such a time, was most distressing to the feelings of the royal sufferer and the rather too, because it brought the more forcibly to his mind the evils which he had indeed committed, and for which God was indeed inflicting upon him this sore punishment.]
We wonder not at the indignation of Abishai,
or at the proposal which he made to avenge his master's cause on this insulting adversary. But we do wonder at David's forbearance under this heavy trial, and at,
II. His meek submission to it
David would not suffer Abishai to execute his project, and to inflict on this daring rebel the deserved punishment. He chose rather to endure all the insults that were heaped upon him: and to this he was led by two considerations:
1. He saw the hand of God in this trial
[Repeatedly does he say, that "God had bidden this virulent adversary to curse him:" and from that consideration he puts the question to Abishai, "Who then shall say, Wherefore hast thou done so?" Of course, he did not imagine that God had enjoined this man to behave thus, or had actually infused into his mind a disposition to commit so great a transgression. When "God hardened the heart of Pharaoh," he only left him to harden his own heart and when he "sent forth an evil and lying spirit into the prophets of Ahab," he only gave permission to the evil spirit to enter into them. In fact, the creature, even whilst he acts most freely, executes, even as the murderers of our blessed Lord did, "what His mind and His counsel had determined before to be done." The creature, whatever his own mind and purpose may be, is only "a rod, or staff, or sword in Jehovah's hand," to execute his holy wills. And though this does not excuse the creature, who, in fact, thinks of doing his own will only, it must reconcile us to what is done, no less than if it had been done directly and immediately by God himself. Thus Job viewed the losses he sustained through the rapacity of the Chaldeans and Sabeans, who took away all his cattle, and slew his servants: "Shall I receive good at the Lord's hands, and shall I not receive evil? The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: : blessed be the name of the Lord"." From this consideration, David was enabled to submit with meekness to the invectives of Shimei, and to say, as Eli, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." This is the account he himself gives us: "I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it."]
2. He looked to God to overrule it for his good
c ver. 10, 11.
d Exod. iv. 21.
g Isai. x. 5-7.
e 1 Kings xxii. 21—23.
h Job i. 21. and ii. 10.
[It is God's privilege to bring good out of evil, for the benefit of his believing people. David was no stranger to the history of Joseph, nor of the testimony which Joseph bore respecting the sufferings which had been inflicted on him by his brethren: "It was not you that sent me hither; but God, to save your lives by a great deliverance." "Ye indeed thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive'." And he fondly hoped that God would in some way sanctify to him this dispensation. He well knew, that God "chastens his people for their profit, to make them partakers of his holiness: and that affliction, though not joyous at the present, but grievous, will, through God's blessing upon it, work out the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby m." And he hoped that God would make this severe visitation "work for his good";" or, at all events, whatever might be the effect of it here, it would issue well at the last, by "working out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the eternal world"." This hope pacified and composed his mind, and enabled him to "possess his soul in patience;" whilst Abishai, yielding to the impulse of an irritated mind, would gladly have executed on the offender the judgment he deserved.]
LEARN, then, Brethren, from this subject,
1. What spirit you are to manifest under any injuries you sustain—
[In no respect are you to indulge an angry and vindictive spirit; but, rather, to follow the example of our blessed Lord, who, under the most injurious treatment that ever was endured in this world, opened not his mouth, but was dumb, even as a "sheep before its shearers." Instead of rendering evil for evil, we are to return nothing but good; and to seek for victory in no other way; as God has said, "Be not overcome of evil; but overcome evil with good." Doubtless this is a difficult path: but it will surely bring upon us the divine blessing, both in this world and in the world to come.]
2. How you are to obtain it
[You have seen what considerations influenced the mind of David: and the same will produce a similar effect on your minds. The first thing to be sought by you is a deep sense of your own sinfulness. Let that abide upon your minds, and nothing that man can inflict will greatly wound you. How heavy soever your trial may be, you will say, "Shall a living
1 Gen. xlv. 7, 8. and 1. 20.
m Heb. xii. 10, 11.
• 2 Cor. iv. 17.