« PreviousContinue »
was miraculously preserved from injury, and after seven months was brought back to the Israelites, who might have been taught the necessity of keeping the terms of the covenant by this temporary deprivation of “their glory.”
The judges do not appear to have succeeded each other in regular order. They were appointed as the instruments of Divine interposition upon great emergencies, and more particularly when the repentance and supplications of the Israelites induced God to relieve them from their sufferings (y)
When Samuel, the prophet and judge of Israel, who succeeded Eli, was grown old, he appointed his sons to administer justice in his room;
upon their misconduct, the Israelites desired that, like other nations, they might have a king. The government of the Israelites, from their departure out of Egypt to the time of Samuel, was a Theocracy, that is, a government by God himself, who not only gave then general laws and regulations, but authorized them to apply to him in all cases of doubt and emer
(y) It is to be remembered, that Moses had appointed judges to each tribe, who were called princes of the tribe, and “ who sat in the gate,” or place of justice, to judge the people. The judges here mentioned were in the place of Moses and Joshua, chief judges and generals,
gency. His“ glory” resided, as it were, among them, and from time to time, as particular occasions required, he issued his decrees, and signified his will from the tabernacle. To desire, therefore, a king, was to reject this Theocracy, and to declare that they would not have God to reign over them (2)” in that peculiar manner in which he had hitherto condescended to be their king. Samuel, by the command of God, expostulated with the Israelites, upbraided them with their ingratitude, and represented to them the evils which would follow the establishment of regal authority among them; but they obstinately persevered in their request, and at length
God was pleased to direct Samuel to anoint 1095. Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, to be king of
Israel. He was accepted by the people, and reigned over them forty years; but because of his disobedience to the divine commands, God
did not suffer the kingdom to remain in his 1055. family (a). Saul was succeeded by David, who
had been secretly anointed by Samuel, at the command of God, as the successor of Saul. He was of the tribe of Judah, and liad greatly distinguished himself in the reign of Saul, by his faith in God, by repeated instances of courage
(2) 1 Sam, c. 8. v.7.
and magnanimity, and of obedience and loyalty to his sovereign, who, from a spirit of jealousy, unjustly sought to take away his life. The friendship of David, and Jonathan the son of Saul, is justly celebrated as excelling all the pictures of friendship which we have received from pagan antiquity; nor can the heathen poets furnish any thing equal to the piety, , the beauty, and the sublimity of the hymns of the royal Psalmist. David greatly extended the dominions of Israel, and kept the people faithful to their law; and though he was guilty of very heinous sins (for which he was severely punished,) yet did his quick and deep contrition, and the general course of his life, shew that “ his heart was right before God;" God was therefore pleased to promise David, that he would “ establish his house and the throne of his kingdom for ever (b);" which was a declaration that the Messiah was to be a descendant of David. When David drew near his death, after a reign of forty years, he caused his son Solomon 1015. to be anointed king, having been informed at the time when he proposod" to build a house for the ark of God," that Solomon was appointed to be his successor.
Solomon, whose early piety, wisdom, and humility, rendered him the admiration of the world,
haying (b) 2 Sam. C. 7. v. 13 and 16.
having been thus chosen by God to succeed to the throne of David, and " to build him a house for the tabernacle of his glory,” began his reign with very distinguished marks of divine favour. By the command of God he built a temple at Jerusalein, for which David had only been permitted to collect materials, “ because he had shed blood abundantly, and had made great wars (c).” This temple, which in riches and magnificence exceeded every other building upon earth, was built, after the model of the tabernacle, upon. Mount Moriah, an eminence of
Mount Sion, in seven years and a half; and after 1004. it had been consecrated with great solemnity, the
ark of the covenant, the autographs of the holy Scriptures, and the other sacred things belonging to the tabernacle, were removed into it. The reign of Solomon, “ who passed all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom,” was the most brilliant period of the Jewish history. “ He reigned over all the kings, from the river (Euphrates) even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt (d);" yet, " for his peace he was beloved.” Towards the close of life, however, Solomon tarnished the glory of his name, and “ did evil in the sight of the Lord.”—
(c) i Chron. c. 22. v. 8.
“ For it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father (e).” It seeins, indeed, as if his heart had been so far corrupted by a long series of luxurious prosperity, as to have led him to persist in the abominations of idolatry, notwithstanding the warning he had received; wherefore God declared that “ he would for this afliict the seed of David, but not for ever.” Solomon was allowed to possess the “ kingdom all the days of his life for his father David's sake; but he was informed that God had appointed Jeroboam, his servant, to be king over ten of the tribes of Israel after his death (f);" and he might justly fear, from the disposition of his son Rehoboam, that still greater punishment would
follow: (e) i Kings, c. 11. v. 4.
(f) God declared to Sclomon, that he would give one tribe to his son Rehoboam, 1 Kings, ch. II. v. 13. By this might be meant one tribe besides the tribe of his own house, which God had promised to David “ should be established for ever.” Benjamin
Benjamin “ was the least of all the tribes of Israel," and it is generally supposed it had been an appendage to the tribe of Judah, or at least much mixed with it, from the time of the slaughter of the Benjamites, mentioned Judges, c. 20, and that it was therefore included in the tribe of Judah, with which indeed it had been connected from the time of the distribution of the land, Joshua, c. 18, in this promise to Solomon.