« PreviousContinue »
delivered him not into his hand.” Jonathan came to see David, and, like a true friend, "strengthened his hand in God," encouraging him not to be afraid, for that Saul would not find him. It is very striking to see how free from envy or jealousy Jonathan was, since he knew well and told David that he should be king of Israel. They renewed their covenant, and Jonathan went home. Very soon afterwards, the people of Ziph came to Saul and offered to betray David to him. But the LORD was pleased continually to save His servant, even as a bird out of the fowler's net; and now David fled to a mountain in the wilderness of Maon, and just when Saul had followed, and seemed to have surrounded the little band so that they could not escape, he was obliged to return suddenly and fight the Philistines who had invaded the land.
· As soon as Saul had beaten the Philistines, he again went in pursuit of David, who was by this time in the wilderness of En-gedi, dwelling among " the rocks of the wild goats.” These were wild places, as the name promises, and it was not easy to find the fugitives. Once Saul went into the very cave where David and his men were hidden; but David would not let them kill the king. He only cut off a piece of Saul's robe, to show what he might have done if he would. When Saul went away, David went after him and called out, “My lord the king!" Then he bowed himself with his face to the earth before the king, and asked why Saul was so bitter against him? David showed the piece of his cut robe, and how he might have killed him, but said, “I will not put forth my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed." He said too, “I have not sinned against thee, and yet thou huntest my soul to take it. . . . As saith the proverb of the ancient, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, but mine hand shall not be upon thee . . The LORD therefore be judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand."
It seems as if David's gentleness and forbearance really touched Saul, for he wept, and called David his son, and said, “Thou art more righteous than I, for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.”, Perhaps the same HOLY SPIRIT of God which once before had spoken by Saul whether he would or no, now made him say, “ The LORD reward thee good, for that thou hast done unto
me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.' Saul then asked David to swear that he would not destroy all his descendants, and when David had sworn, the king went back, but David remained among the mountains.
ABIGAIL AND NABAL.
There lived at Carmel a certain great and rich man called Nabal. He had very large possessions; but he was a bad, churlish man, very unlike his wife Abigail, who was not only very beautiful, but of a good, kindly temper. It fell out that when Nabal was shearing his sheep (he had a flock of three thousand) David sent ten of his young men to greet Nabal as a friend, and to remind him how good neighbours they had been to him and his herds, and to ask for food and help. So the young men went forth with their peaceful message, "Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. "
But Nabal gave a rude, harsh answer, and refused entirely to give them anything—bread, flesh, or water. When David heard this, he called to some of his men to gird on their swords, and he went forth with about four hunda dred men against Nabal. Meanwhile one of Nabal's servants went to Abigail, and told her how his master had railed at David's messengers and sent them away empty, and how he feared David would take vengeance on the churlish man. He told Abigail how good David and his men had always been to her servants, saying, “ The men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we anything, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields; they were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
Then Abigail, guided of the Lord what to do, rose up quickly and took a good store of provisions—two hundred loaves, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched corn, a hundred clusters of raisins, two hundred cakes of figs, and two bottles of wine. All these she had laden on asses, and she herself rode down the hill also to meet David. As soon as she saw him, Abigail lighted off her ass, and bowed herself to the ground, falling at his feet and entreating him to accept her offering, and not to destroy her house. God's HOLY SPIRIT vouchsafed to speak again through Abigail, and she prophesied how that the Lord would make David a sure house, and enable him to conquer the enemies now pursuing him. “ Thy soul,” she said, “ shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God.” Abigail also bid David remember that when he was established king of Israel, it would be no grief to him to remember how he had forborne to avenge himself with shedding blood.
David listened to Abigail, and no doubt saw that God had taught her what to say, for he answered, “ Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me; and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood.” He told her, moreover, that if the Lord had not withheld him through her words, he should utterly have destroyed Nabal and all belonging to him. Then David accepted Abigail's present, and returned. Meanwhile Nabal was feasting, with all a king's grandeur, and when Abigail came home, she found him too drunken to be spoken to.
So she waited till the next morning, and then told him what had been done.
When Nabal heard, his heart