Page images


MARCH, 1848.


CHAPTER XXXIV. Thus was the kingdom of Israel rent from Saul and given to another, even to David. David, meanwhile, was in Ziklag, when the news of the battle was brought to him by a young man, an Amalekite, who came from the camp of Israel, with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head, to tell of the death of Saul.

“ Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them: and likewise all the men that were with him. And they mourned and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel : because they were fallen by the sword.” David made a song of lamentation over Saul and Jonathan ; a very beautiful song, recorded in the Bible ; of which this is part:

• The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places : how are the mighty fallen! 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. 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 !”

Then “ David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And He said, Unto Hebron. So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess, and Abigail, Nabal’s wife, the Carmelite. And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household : and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah."

But though he was acknowledged king in Judah, he was not so acknowledged in the other tribes. For Abner, the son of Ner, Saul's uncle, took Ishbosheth, the remaing son of Saul, a man of no mark, and proclaimed him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.” Abner had sufficient power to do this, for he had been a famous captain in Saul's army, and had great influence with the people. So “ there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.”

At length Abner, being insulted (as he thinks) by Ishbosheth, revolted to David. He held communication with the elders of Israel, saying, “ Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you : now then do it; for the Lord hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies. And Abner spake in the ears of Benjamin ; and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David, in Hebron, all that seemedgood to Israel, and that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin.” That is to say, he prevailed on the tribes that were hostile to David to submit to him. David entertained Abner sumptuously in Hebron, and sent him away in peace.

But Abner was slain by Joab, the captain of David's host; Joab hated Abner, because, in a late battle, Abner had killed Joab's younger brother, Asahel ; so, under pretence of speaking to him aside, he smote him, that he died. David was much grieved at the treachery of Joab. And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, “ Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier. And they buried Abner in Hebron : and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept. And when all the people came to cause David to eat meat while it was yet day, David sware, saying, So do God to me, and more also, if I take bread, or aught else, till the sun be down. And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them : as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.”' The revolt of Abner was the ruin of Ish

bosheth's cause. He was, soon afterwards, murdered by two Benjamites, who carried his head to David, in hopes of a reward. David put the murderers to death, and “ took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner, in Hebron.”

And now David was made undisputed king over Israel. All the tribes came unto him at Hebron, and spake, saying, “ Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel : and the Lord said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron, and king David made a league with them in Hebron, before the Lord.”

This league, or covenant, had reference to the mutual duties of king and people. When Saul was chosen king, Samuel wrote, “ the manner of the kingdom,” in a book, " and laid it


before the Lord.” David now, on his accession to the throne, was called upon to respect the constitution of the kingdom, and to govern according to its established laws. All these preliminaries settled, David was anointed king over Israel : “ David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.”

Now there was in the tribe of Judah a city called Jebus (which is Jerusalem). This city was strong, and it had been held by the Je. busites, the old inhabitants of the land, from the days of Joshua : the Israelites had never been able to drive them out. David's first exploit, after he was made king of Israel, was to go against this stronghold. The city stood upon three hills, Mount Zion, Mount Akra, and Mount Moriah ; and was surrounded by deep valleys and water-courses, beyond which rose circling hills. David took Zion, upon which was a castle, and made it his own city, “ the city of David.” He fortified the place, and he built the city round about, even from Millo round about : and Joab repaired the rest of the city. From that day, JERUSALEM became the capital city of the land. And Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons; and they built David an house. “ And David went on and grew great; and the Lord God of hosts was with him.”


(Continued from page 41.) WE must refer our readers to the deeply interesting little volume from which we have taken the foregoing parts of this encouraging narrative, for the full recital of all the recorded dealings of Divine mercy with this favoured Jewish family.

A few extracts more from its pages are all that we can insert.

“ When this happy little party came in the course of their reading to Matt. xvi. 24, “ If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take

up his cross, and follow me,” they at once recognized in these words of our Lord a call to

« PreviousContinue »