Page images
PDF
EPUB

“The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places : how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided : they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle ! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places; I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished !”

David also sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead with blessings and promises of the LORD's favour, and his own, because of the kindness they had showed to Saul and his sons, in giving them burial.

DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL.

David now asked direction of the LORD, who bade him go with all his household and followers to Hebron : and there the men of Judah anointed him king of Judah.

All David's troubles were not by any means over, however; for Abner, who had been Captain of Saul's host, took a son of Saul's who was yet alive, Ish-bosheth, and set him up as king of Israel. There followed a great deal of quarrelling and fighting between the two parties of David and Ish-bosheth. Abner and his side were beaten in a sore battle, and as he fled, he slew Asahel, a brother of Joab, David's captain. After this David's party grew stronger, and Ish-bosheth's weaker

every day; and this was still more the case when Abner fell out with the king he had set up, and made a league with David, promising to support his cause, and bring the men of

Israel over to it, if David would promise peace and security to him. David did this. But when his captain Joab returned to Hebron, and found what his master had done, he was very angry that the enemy who had slain his brother should escape thus. Joab was both a bold and deceitful man, and through King David's after life he often suffered from Joab's influence. Now the captain came to his king, and reproached him bitterly with having let Abner go free; and then, without telling David, Joab sent messengers to recal Abner. Trusting to the king's promise, Abner came back, when Joab murdered him with his own hand, in revenge for the death of his brother Asahel.

David was sorely grieved when he heard of this act of treachery. He solemnly declared himself free from Abner's blood, and said, “Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father's house.” David and his servants put on sackcloth, and followed Abner's bier, lamenting him, and fasted all that day. The people all took notice of this, and were pleased at it, as indeed we read that “whatsoever the king did pleased the people.” Nevertheless, David felt that king as he was, he was too much

in the power of Joab and Abishại (Joab's brother) to be really strong and independent. David himself did not seem willing to strengthen himself by acts of cruelty or treachery ; but his followers were not so forbearing. The murder of Abner was quickly followed by that of Ish-bosheth, who was very feeble when left to himself. Two of his own captains, when they saw that he was likely to fail, thought to make interest for themselves with David ; and they killed him as he lay upon his bed in the noontide heat, and brought his head to David. But the king was sorely displeased, and he caused the murderers to be punished according to the Law of Moses, which says,

" Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed."

After this all the tribes of Israel and Judah came to David, and acknowledged him as their king; and the LORD blessed and prospered him in all that he did.

;

THE ARK OF GOD.

David wished to bring the Ark of God to i his own city Bethlehem, where he dwelt; and

he and all the people went to Gibeah to fetch it. All through Holy Scripture we read with what exceeding reverence God would have His ark treated, “ Whose Name is called by the name of the Lord of Hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.” The Ark was yet in the house of Abinadab at Gibeah, and thence David took it, placed in a new cart or carriage, which was driven by Abinadab's two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, while the king and all the house of Israel went in procession before it, playing on harps and timbrels, cornets, psalteries, and cymbals, and singing joyful songs of praise. As they came to the threshing floor of a man called Nachon, the oxen that drew the cart stumbled, and shook the Ark, and Uzzah put forth his hand to hold it, forgetting the Lord's command that it should not be touched. Then the Lord's anger was kindled, and He smote Uzzah with death, that all men might see and remember how fearful a thing it is to disobey the Lord of heaven and earth. But David was afraid when he saw what was done, and remembering too, no doubt, how the men of Bethshemesh were punished with death for merely looking too curiously into the Ark, he trembled at its sacred presence, and said he would not take it to Bethlehem, but would leave it in the house of Obed

« PreviousContinue »