« PreviousContinue »
the king of that country might grant perhaps on ac. count of Jesse's descent from Ruth, who was a Moabites.
Saul continued to govern in a very tyrannical manBer, which occasioned some of his bravest officers to revolt from him, and join themselves to David, with a view to raise him to the throne. David, however, re. solved to wait the Lord's time, and not to employ the force he bad collected against his sovereign, but only in defending himself against the inhabitants of the countries in which he might happen to reside. When David appeared with his little army, the news was soon brought to Saul, who immediately encamped in royal state, and calling his soldiers together, he insinuated, that Jonathan and David were confederated against him. Had the charge been true, Saul would have de. served both pity and support; but it was founded on jealousy and falsehood, for neither his son, nor David, meant to do him ill; he himself was the aggressor. Doeg the Edomite, Saul's chief herdsman, desirous of gaining the favour of the king, informed him that the high priest had given David victuals and the sword of Goliath ; but he omitted to tell that Ahimelech was induced to assist David from a supposition that he came from Saul, and the king was so enraged that he sent for Abimelech and all the priests of Nob, and commanded his servants to put them to death: but all refused excepting Doeg, who willingly executed the horrid sentence! There was great impiety as well as cruelty in Saul's ordering the Lord's priests to be slain.
Abiathar the son of Abimelech was most probably with the Tabernacle, by which means he escaped the
David now reflected on himself for his deceitful conduct, in pretending to Ahimelech, that he came by commission from the king, which had occa
sioned this fatal calamity; all the recompence he could make was, to promise his protection to Abiathar. The history of this event ought to caution every person to avoid duplicity; for none can possibly foresee the bad consequences of which it may be productive.
The first exploit in which David employed his valiant troops, was the relief of Keilah, a city belonging to the tribe of Judah, which the Fhilistines, encouraged by David's disgrace, and the intestine divisions in Saul's kingdom, had besieged. David on this occasion shewed that he had all the noble generosity of a true hero ; he longed to rescue his countrymen from their triumphant foes ;. but as the enterprize was important, he fir'st enquired the will of the Lord,, by means of Abiathår, who, with the ephod, had fled to him. The answer was favourable to his wishes for the Lord said unto David, Go and smite the Philistine, and save Keilah. David's men were fearful of engaging in so unequal a combat; to satisfy them, therefore, he once more énquired the will of the Lorn, and led them on to conquest. The victory was so complete, that they pursued the Philistines into their own land, and seized a great number of cattle, which afforded a seasonable supply for his army i
he then took up his residence in Keilah, which Saul being informed of, he resolved to besiege David there : but David had again recourse to Abiathar, to learn what the Lord required him to do in this emergency, and was warned to depart, as the men of the city, notwithstanding the deliverance he had wrought, would betray him and his followers into the hands of Saul. David, therefore, hastily assembled his troops, which were increased to 600, and retired with the ut. most precipitation, without resolving whither to go, but trusting them and himself entirely to the guidance of Divine PROVIDENCE.
David's escape was a great disappointment to Saul; but he still resolved to destroy him if possible : David, on the contrary, notwithstanding his success against the Philistines, avoided all hostilities with Saul; and, instead of acting offensively against him, he submitted to flee as a bird unto the mountains. The place of his recreat was the wilderness of Ziph, in a wood ; here he was favoured with a visit from his dear friend Jonathan, who came privately to him, and in the kindest and poblest manner encouraged him to trust in God. He reminded David, of his having been anointed Captain of the Lord's inheritance; declared his belief that he would certainly succeed Saul in the kingly office; and assur. ed him, that, for his own part, he should never obstruct his accession to the throne, because he would not oppose the will of the Most HIGH, who setteth nah and
owwn another ; but should think it a happiness beyond what a crown could bring to be the first in David's affection and esteem. He likewise told David that Saul was fully convinced that the kingdom was designed of God for him, though he continued to per. secute him. Jonathan and David then joined in a repetition of their former covenant, and Jonathan de. parted to his house, for he would not stay with David, lest it should appear like rebellion against his father ; neither would be countenance Saul in his unjust proceedings against a man, of whose innocence he was so perfectly convinced.
In the midst of the dangers and trouble that sur. rounded him, David is supposed to have penned the following Psalm * :
0.God, thou art my God, garly will I seek the : my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh langeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. * Psalm lxjji
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy loving kindness is better than life : my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee, while I live I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips :
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches.
Because thou hast been my help; therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee; thy right hand upholdeth me.
The Ziphites thinking to ingratiate themselves with their sovereign, informed Saul of David's retreat, and offered to deliver him into Saul's hands. Saul, with . the people that were with him, immediately went in
pursuit of David; but while Saul went on one side of
the mountain David went on the other. Before Saul & overtook him news was brought that the Philistines
had invaded Israel, and he hastened back to defend his kingdom. This was a most providential deliverance to David, who would most likely have fallen into Saul's hands in a short time. On this occasion the following * psalm * is supposed to have been penned + :
Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.
Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of
* Psalm liv,
of Chardler's Life of King David.
For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul; they have not set God before them.
Behold, God is mine helper; the LORD is with them that uphold my soul.
He shall reward evil unto mine enemies ; cut them off in thy truth.
I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD, for it is good. For he hath delivered me out of all my
trouble : and mine
eye hath seen his desire upor mine enemies.
It appears * probable, that David abode some time in the strong holds of En-gedi, and that he employed his troops in cultivating the country; for we can hardly suppose that he suffered them to remain idle: besides, in his Psalms, he frequently mentions, that the barren land became fruitful : the wilderness a standing water : that the Lord prepared them a table in the presence of their enemies. That 'he blessed them so that they multi. plied exceedingly, and suffered - not their cattle to decrease; from which may be inferred, that rural occupations filled up those spaces which would otherwise have been ' wasted in idleness, and that the LORD blessed the la. bours of their hands. It likewise appears, that David exercised his mind in the contemplation of the works of pature ; and we may suppose that he instructed his followers to admire the wisdom of God, in the creation and government of the world, by those charming compositions which the Holy Spirit f inspired for his 'Ovo comfort, and the benefit of others.
* Delany's Life of King David.
See in particular Psalm civ.