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him what she thought; but he maintained that he had done well—that no dishonour attached to him for the performance of this sacred ceremony, and that even if there did, he could never sufficiently abase himself before God, who had regarded his low and humble condition, and raised him to the illustrious eminence which he then enjoyed. Having showed in this manner that he possessed in a very remarkable degree the graces of humility and reverence for sacred things, an occasion speedily presented itself for declaring also his unlimited submission to the will of God, in a matter on which he had set his heart, but in which he was forbidden to indulge his liberal feelings. The ark of God had been brought to Jerusalem, and placed within a tent, because there was no house there worthy to receive it as a permanent place of habitation: this deficiency it was the anxious desire of David to supply, by building for it a temple, in some degree suitable to the majesty of the Godhead which condescended to abide thereon. Having communicated his purpose to the prophet Nathan, he received at first every encouragement; but shortly afterwards the word of the Lord came to Nathan by night, commanding him to tell David, that it was not his will that the pious design should be at that time put in execution; his own reign had been, and was still to be, too much disturbed by deeds of war and bloodshed, to render this work, peculiarly one of peace, acceptable to God from him. Lest, however, he should suppose that his intentions were altogether frustrated, he was assured that his son, hereafter to be born, would be such a person as God would approve in the discharge of that important duty; a son, indeed, whom God himself would own peculiarly for his, showing him thereby to be typical of that greater than Solomon, who should hereafter glorify his Father in heaven, by building up to him in the hearts of his
disciples the nobler temple of the Christian Church. Resigned to the ordinance of God, and comforted by his promise, David betook himself to that portion of his religious duties which it was allowed him to discharge: he made ample preparations for the intended work, and in the mean time arranged and set in order the courses of the priests, and of the other subordinate ministers in the service of God; being of the opinion which wise and religious men have at all times adopted, that the solemn worship of God should not be left to chance, or the fancy of the moment, but should be performed according to well digested rules, with decency and even splendour ; to assist in which he composed also, by the Spirit of God, many excellent psalms, suitable to the public service of the temple, and which, spiritually understood, are most valuable accompaniments to our christian worship. For many of David's psalms do not only speak of the Messiah to come, but are actually so written as if he himself were speaking; they are composed in his person ; Christ in them at one while offers praise and prayer to his Father, at another addresses himself to men, and, as he did during his sojourning upon earth, declares his own sufferings, and the glory that should follow. Having thus, in a manner worthy of his high station, consulted the spiritual welfare of his people, David proceeded to discharge that other portion of the kingly office, which consists in promoting their temporal advancement, for which his active habits and courageous temper especially qualified him. All the nations around him, the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians of Zobah, the Amalekites, and the children of Ammon, were successively compelled to acknowledge not only the independence, but the supremacy of Israel: while, as if to show how compatible with each other are the extremes of worldly grandeur and spiritual abasement, the victorious monarch, who had subdued so many enemies, became suddenly unable to subdue his own lusts, and gave himself over for a time to be the servant of sin. The beauty of Bathsheba, wife of one of his chief captains, Uriah the Hittite, allured him to desire her for himself; and to compass this unlawful end, he did not hesitate to bring about, in a most base and treacherous manner, the death of his faithful servant; causing him to be placed in the front of the battle, and giving secret orders to his officers to desert him there, so that he might be slain. Thus it is that one sin, wilfully indulged in, leads but too often to another of a still more abominable character. David, beginning his breach of the law of God by coveting his neighbour's wife, soon went on to the commission of the grievous offences of adultery and murder, and for a time he appeared to enjoy unmolested the fruits of his wickedness. But he was not a hardened nor habitual sinner; God knew his heart, and saw that upon timely chastisement he would repent and live. Nathan therefore, who had before communicated to him the will of God, was sent now to warn him of his guilt and danger.
This he did by an ingenious parable, which induced David, out of a sudden impulse of generous indignation, in condemning an imaginary character, who had wronged his neighbour, to pronounce sentence upon himself-declaring to his astonishment when he had ceased speaking, “Thou art the man. The conscience-stricken sovereign at once acknowledged the depth of his guiltiness, and received immediate absolution ; “the Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die.”+ The child, however, which had been born of his guilty commerce with Bathsheba was taken from him by death, in spite of his fasting and urgent supplication; and an
assurance of further chastisement, touching him in that tender point-of the violation of the sanctities of marriage, wherein had lain his own sin, was given him by the prophet of God. So long as the child was still alive, he continued his entreaties, with every outward token of grief; but when it died, he rose from the earth, and changed his apparel, and resumed the habits of ordinary life; he knew that he had been punished far less than he deserved, and, however grateful he might have been, had he obtained his petition, he was not the less resigned to suffer its rejection. Let us imitate his earnestness in prayer, and his patience under bereavement of things dear to us, while we avoid his sin: and that we may avoid it, let us beseech God that Christ, the pattern of all purity, may dwell in our hearts by faith, * filling our minds with good desires and thoughts of power to oppose the temptations of the evil one ; allowing Satan, so far as we may, no hold at all upon us; endeavouring to give way to no offence, but to be found through grace blameless and harmless, and without rebuke, as sons of God.
THE REIGN OF DAVID.-PART II.
God, as we have already seen, was mercifully pleased to spare his life, which he had justly forfeited for his great transgression : nor did he limit himself
to this only, but went on to show him a further token of his abundant kindness, in allowing another son to be born to him of Bathsheba, in place of that which had been taken away by death, and marking him out by the name of Jedidiah, or the Lord's beloved, in addition to that of Solomon, as the promised inheritor of God's favour, and of his father's kingdom. Still, however, the word of threatening pronounced by Nathan was to be made good, as well as the word of promise: evil, it had been said, should be raised up against David, out of his own house ; * it long before the prophetic sentence received a full and terrible completion.
As the crime of the king had first arisen out of too great indulgence in the sinful lusts of the flesh, so likewise did those which were destined to be its punishment: Amnon, his eldest son, gave way to a guilty passion for his half sister Tamar ; and having, by the joint use of fraud and violence, accomplished his base intent, he sent her forth from his presence dishonoured and insulted. Absalom, her own brother, dissembled his anger for a time, till having found a fitting opportunity, he gave a fatal loose to it by murdering Amnon at a feast, to which he had himself invited him. Thus, in short space of time, was David's daughter shamefully disgraced; and of his sons, one was slaughtered, and another forced to conceal himself from the justice of the laws. Absalom, however, being a favourite son of David, prevailed, after a time, upon his too indulgent father to permit, first his presence at Jerusalem, and afterwards his appearance in the royal palace, as before his crime ; a weakness which soon produced the not unusual consequence of ingratitude on the part of the pardoned offender, and a persuasion that he might
* 2 Sam. xii. 11.