« PreviousContinue »
safe?” Ahimaaz answered, that when Joab sent him, the confusion was so great, he knew not. Directly after, another messenger arrived, Cushi. He cried out, “Tidings, my lord the king ! for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.' But again David's eager demand was, “Is the
" young man Absalom safe?” Cushi dared pot answer straightforward what had been Absalom's fate; so he replied only, “ The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is !” Then David forgot all Absalom's ingratitude and wickedness, and with a heart full of nothing but a father's yearning love, he was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, thus he said, “O my son Absalom ! my son ! my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son !”
DAVID'S RETURN TO JERUSALEM.
King David was so much loved by his people, that when they heard how grieved he was for the loss of his son, and how he remained with
his face covered, weeping and mourning, and crying still “O my son Absalom ! my son ! my son!” the victory was turned into mourning for them all. The people stole quietly back into the city, rather as if they had been beaten, than like conquerors.
But Joab was angry, and, as usual, he acted towards the king more as though he were David's master than his servant. He went to the king, and rebuked him sharply for giving way thus to his grief; reproaching him with “ loving his enemies and hating his friends, For thou hast declared this day,” Joab said, “ that thou regardest neither princes nor servants; for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and we all had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.” Then Joab urged David to lay aside his grief, and go out and speak comfortably to the people, else he held out threats that they would forsake the king. David always was led by his imperious captain, and now accordingly he went forth and sate in the gate; and he sent messages to Zadok and Abiathar, and “bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man,” so that they sent to fetch the king back to Jerusalem. Then David set forth on his way to
the royal city. As he went, Shimei, who had cursed and thrown stones at David as he went away, came and fell down before the king, and intreated to be forgiven. Abishai wanted to put him to death, because he had cursed the Lord's anointed; but David would not yield this time to the violence which Joab and Abi. shai were constantly urging upon him. “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah,” he exclaimed, "that ye should this day be adversaries to me? Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel ?” Therefore David pardoned Shimei.
Next came Mephibosheth, having neither trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes since the king fled. He told David that he had been falsely slandered, and never meant to join the party against the king. One of the great men who had provided the king with all he needed at Mahanaim, called Barzillai the Gileadite, came down with David. The king invited him to go on and dwell with him at Jerusalem, but Barzillai answered that he was a very old man, past eighty years of age, and no longer fit for kings' courts and festivities; and
; that he asked nothing so much as to return
home, and be buried by the grave of his father and mother. But he asked David to take his son Chimham instead. Then David kissed Barzillai, and blessed him, before the aged man went home; but Chimham went with the king to Jerusalem, and remained with him. When David was dying, one of his last instructions to his son Solomon was that he should show kindness to the sons of Barzillai, who had been so steady a friend to him in his trouble.
After this there was still some quarrelling between the men of Judah and of Israel, and one Sheba, a Benjamite, made himself a leader among the men of Israel.
King David had retained Amasa, Absalom's captain of the host, as his chief captain, instead of Joab, and now Amasa seemed disposed to be a traitor. Partly out of zeal for his master, and probably more out of jealousy and revenge, Joab murdered Amasa, and led the armies after the rebels. Sheba and his party shut themselves up in the city Abel of Bethmaachah, and Joab besieged him there. At last Joab made terms with the city through a wise woman therein, promising to leave the place and its inhabitants unhurt, if Sheba was delivered up. So they cut off Sheba's head, and threw it over the wall, and Joab withdrew his armies, and returned to the king at Jerusalem. Now Joab had his wish, for he was in sole command of the whole host of Israel.
RIZPAH AND HER CHILDREN.
It came to pass, that there was a severe famine in the land, for three years running, and David inquired of the LORD, for what sin He was chastening His people? And the LORD made answer that this trouble was sent upon Israel,“ because of Saul, and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." The Gibeonites were that Amorite people who had formerly deceived Joshua by pretending that they came from afar, and had thus induced him to make a league with them, not to slay them. Saul in his zeal to stablish the kingdom of Israel, had broken this covenant, and now his family was to suffer for his crime, as the commandment promises, saying, “I am a jealous GOD, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me."