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before, gave him the city Ziklag to dwell in, and summoned him to attend at a great mustering of the Philistines, preparatory to an invasion of the land of Israel. With this summons, David, though doubtless loth to turn his arms against his countrymen, thought it his duty to comply, but was relieved from his embarrassment by the princes of the Philistines, who, fearing lest he should turn against them in the battle, refused to have him in their army. He therefore returned home ; while Saul, desirous of learning what should befal him, consulted a woman who had a familiar spirit at Endor, desiring that Samuel might be called up to speak with him. Samuel himself, by permission of the Almighty, did actually appear, (an event probably little contemplated by the sorceress who had invoked him,) and warned the terrified monarch of his approaching doom : “To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me; the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philis

This prophecy was fulfilled—the men of Israel were defeated, Saul's three sons were slain, and he himself being wounded, rather than fall into the hands of his enemies, pierced himself with his own sword, and died. He had been king over Israel for twenty years, but had latterly had little comfort in his kingdom ; he felt that he lay under the displeasure of God, and that his own family were on friendly terms with the man whom he most feared and hated-the man who, being better than he, was destined to succeed to that authority which he had forfeited by folly and disobedience—“the man after God's own heart, whom the Lord had commanded to be captain over his people."

tines,"*

+ 1 Sam. xxvii. 19.

# Ibid xiii, 14,

CHAP. XXIV.

THE REIGN OF DAVID.-PART I.

HE IS THE TOWER OF SALVATION FOR HIS KING : AND SHEWETH

MERCY TO HIS ANOINTED, UNTO DAVID, AND TO HIS SEED FOR EVERMORE,

THE words prefixed to this chapter are part of a

psalm, or song of thanksgiving, which David is said to have spoken unto the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.* It is probable, therefore, that he composed it during the period of his residence at Ziklag, where he dwelt in security from his formidable enemy, until the day when Saul fell in Gilboa. By a merciful providence of God, David had been permitted to quit the army of the Philistines, before that battle took place, in such a manner, that, while he had no share in the defeat of Israel, or the death of Saul, he had yet honourably performed his engagements towards his protector, and temporary sovereign, the king of Gath. Nor was this the only advantage that he reaped, by returning home at that precise moment: on his arrival he found Ziklag in flames, and his wives and all the families of his followers had been carried away captives by a band of plundering Amalekites. His soldiers, of less disciplined minds than he, abandoned themselves to the wild impulses of grief and anger, and even spake of stoning him ; while David, knowing where his real strength lay, encouraged himself both under his own loss and against the fury of his followers, in the Lord his God. A weak man, under such circumstances, would have bemoaned his misfortune, but done nothing

* 2 Sam. xxii. 5l; Psalm xviii. 50.

to repair it: a bold but worldly man would have pursued instantly the retreating enemy: but David was religious as well as decided in disposition, and the course which he adopted was to ask counsel of God. The holy ephod, in the custody of Abiathar, afforded him the means of doing this : and God answered him, " Pursue, for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all."* Thus encouraged, he set forth on a pursuit so rapid, that a third part of his little force were compelled by fatigue to halt at the brook Bosor; the rest, guided by a slave of the Amalekites, whom they found abandoned in the field, overtook and routed them, and recovered the captives and the spoil, of which latter he equitably allowed those to take an equal share, who had stayed behind out of actual inability, and with no unwillingness to proceed. For motives and intentions, so far as we can judge of them, should always be taken into consideration by us, and allowed all reasonable weight in determining the value of conduct : if there be a willing mind, it should be accepted according to that which a man hath, and not according to that which he hath not. Two days after David's return to Ziklag, a messenger arrived there with the news of Saul's defeat and death in Mount Gilboa ; who, however, not content with relating the latter circumstance as it happened, chose to affirm that he himself had put the king to death, at his own request, to prevent him from falling into the hands of the Philistines. This falsehood, which he doubtless thought would render him acceptable to David, cost him his life : David commanded him to be put to death, for having dared, under any circumstances, to lift up his hand against the Lord's anointed; whose fall, and that of the beloved Jonathan, he bewailed in a pathetic dirge, or funeral hymn, admirably expressive of his feelings, who mourned at once the loss of his friend, and the degradation of his country. And now, the time being come when his faith was to be rewarded, he went up, having first consulted God, out of the country of the Philistines to Hebron in Judah, his own tribe, which speedily rallied round him, and anointed him to be their king. Their example was not followed by the rest of Israel ; Abner, the kinsman of Saul, having taken under his protection his son Ishbosheth, and caused him to reign in Mahanaim beyond the Jordan. For two years this state of things continued without disturbance: then Abner went forth against Judah, and Joab, David's general, met him at the pool of Gibeon, and gained over him a victory attended with little loss but that of his own brother Asael, who, being swift of foot, and confident in his own valour, pur-sued Abner so long and perseveringly, that he at length fell by his hand. Joab, a man of a stern and relentless temper, determined to revenge himself for this; and when Abner, having quarrelled with Ishbosheth, came over with a view of tendering his services to David, Joab, under pretence of talking with him privately, led him aside by the gate, and stabbed him, so that he died on the spot. David showed his abhorrence of this deed, by ordering a magnificent funeral for Abner; which he himself attended, and pronounced an oration in honour of his memory, as well as a solemn declaration, that the guilt of this transaction was to be laid solely upon the head of Joab, whose power however was so great, that he did not venture to punish him himself. Shortly afterwards, he showed more decisively that he would not countenance secret assassination, however much the act itself might be to his own worldly advantage. Two men murdered Ishbosheth in his palace, and fled to David for protection and reward : these received

* 1 Sam. xxx. 8.

from him the only reward which their foul treason merited, an immediate execution : he reminded them what he had done to the Amalekite, who said he had killed Saul, though at his own request, and to save him from insult; and showed them how much more a like fate was due to them, who had slain a righteous person in his own house, upon his bed. The death of İshbosheth having taken away his only competitor for the throne, he was presently after acknowledged, by the unanimous voice of the nation, king over Israel, in the thirtieth year of his age ; a time of life in which men are most fit for active enterprises, and when the fire of youth begins to be controlled by the prudence which, under God, is necessary for the successful issue of all great undertakings. That of David was to free his country altogether from the power of foreigners; and his first successful step towards it, was the capture of the strong hold of Zion, till then in the possession of the Jebusites. There he took up his own abode, and built himself a house in it, and called it the city of David: but while he did this, he was not unmindful of Him to whom he owed the kingdom; but calling a solemn council of his great men, proposed to them to bring up from Kiriath-jearim, where it had remained since the days of Samuel, the ark of God to Jerusalem. This resolution they put in practice; though in consequence of the rashness of Uzzah, in venturing to touch it, a profanation which God punished by instant death, a delay of three months took place, during which it remained in the house of Obed-edom, and blessed him by its presence. David observing this, took courage to remove it further to his own city, paying it every possible demonstration of honour, and himself laying aside his usual dress, and girded with a linen ephod, danced before it. Michal his wife saw him thus, as she fancied, demean himself, and despised him in her heart, and told

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