II SAMUEL

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

THE Second Book of Samuel is virtually the history of Davidís reign,

while the First had comprised a twofold narrative, that, namely, of

Samuelís reformation of Israel, followed by the account of the uprise and

fall of Saul. And never had king a more pathetic history than Israelís first

monarch. Full of hope and vigour, yet modest, brave, and generous, he had

entered in a most praiseworthy spirit upon the duties of his high but

difficult office. Unhappily, there was a flaw in a character otherwise so

noble. Throughout the history of Israel one great principle is never

forgotten, and that is the presence of a higher than any human power, ever

ruling in the affairs of men, and making right and justice prevail. And Saul

could not bring himself into accord with this power, and again and again

crossed the boundary which lay between the kingís authority and that of

God. It might seem a small matter, that at a time of great urgency Saul

could not wait fill the expiry of the seven days appointed for Samuelís

coming to Gilgal (I Samuel 13:13); and to lose a kingdom for such

hastiness seems to many modern commentators a hard measure. Nor are

excuses wanting for his leniency towards the Amalekites, and Saul himself

could see in it at first no violation of Godís command (ibid. ch.15:20).

But in both cases there was present the same spirit which made him

murder in cruel haste the high priests at Nob, and put even their women

and babes at the breast to death for the supposed violation of his royal

authority. Saul could not submit to the Power that is higher than man, nor

consent to make his own will bend to that of God; and this willfulness was

rebellion as hateful and contrary to right as open dealings with unclean

spirits, or the actual abandonment of Jehovah for idols (ibid. v. 23)

It is easy to see its hatefulness in such deeds as the murder of the

priests and the repeated attempts to slay David. The unerring judgment of

God condemned it at its first outbreak, and before it had ended in crime;

and this condemnation was in mercy. Had Saul repented and humbled

himself in heart, his course would have been one ever brightening into

light. But he was stubborn and rebellious, and the gloom deepened round him till

all was dark. Saul was not prepared to do right because it was right; and when

Samuel and those who loved the right for its own sake drew away from him, his

vanity was wounded, and jealousy took possession of his heart.

Undoubtedly he was a man possessed of great mental and bodily gifts, and

his achievement in so rapidly raising the militia of Israel and crushing

Nahash the Ammonite gave him just reason for exultation. It was a deed in

which he gave proof of high courage, strong will, and great military

capacity. He must have been himself surprised at the rapidity and

completeness of his success. And in that hour of gratified self-love he could

be generous and noble minded (I Samuel 11:13). But it was largely

vanity as well as fanaticism which led to the rash vow which nearly cost

Jonathan his life; and when he heard the women sing of David having slain

his ten thousands, this wrong done to his self-love filled him with a mean

spite against one who would have been the truest of his friends, and his

strong bulwark against the evils which filled his latter years with distress.

And it was this brooding jealousy which disturbed the balance of Saulís

mind, and made him subject to fits of mania, marked generally by intense

depression, but breaking out occasionally into deeds of fierce violence.

Saul, in the midst of his violent acts, had never ceased to be a religious

man, though there was none of that personal love and loyalty to Jehovah

which so distinguished David. It was the national religion to which he gave

his allegiance; and it was as a statesman and patriot that he respected it,

though doubtless he never shook off the influence of Samuel. But there

was little genuine piety in his heart, and no trust in God, nor any feeling of

union with Him. In domestic life he retained his simple manners, and did not

give way to that voluptuousness which disgraced David, and filled the last

twenty years of his life with shame and sorrow. But as a ruler he had failed.

It had seemed at first as if the hope of Israel, that under a king the nation

might dwell safely, would be fulfilled in him. For many years he was a

vigorous and successful chieftain, and a hero in war. And Israel under him

war, rapidly advancing in the arts also of peace. Protected by the military

successes of the king, Samuel was able in tranquility to carry on his

schools, and through the sons of the prophets to promote the great work of

internal reform. Justice was administered (I Samuel 7:15), and the

rudiments of learning were being generally acquired. When the younger

son of a farmer, evidently little thought of at home, and in his brotherís

estimation fit only to look after a few sheep, could read and write,

education must have been a thing not uncommon. For David thus taught

was but a mere drudge at home. His elegy over Saul and Jonathan tells us

of domestic refinement; of women clad in scarlet, and with jewels of gold.

Saul had done much; but in his last years he brought all to ruin, and at his

death he left his country in abject thraldom, and with all its national

liberties trampled underfoot.

 

In his fall Saul involved in equal ruin his son Jonathan, one of the most

generous and beautiful characters that ever the world saw. And his death at

Gilboa was but the ending of a path wrapped in deepening shadow and

leading inevitably to misery and disaster. In I Samuel 14. we see Saul in

almost as bad a light as when he murdered Ahimelech and his brethren. The

youthful Jonathan and his armor bearer had wrought one of those feats of

desperate valor which are not uncommon in the history of the Israelites.

And their bravery had stricken the raw levies of the Philistines with panic,

increased by the action of a body of Hebrews drawn from the districts

conquered by the Philistines, and forced to serve in their army. They were

posted in the rear to guard the camp, and their defection placed revengeful

enemies in the very pathway of flight. Saul meanwhile concludes from the

absence of Jonathan and his armor bearer that it was some brave exploit

of theirs which was causing this confusion in the Philistine host; but when

the priest asks counsel of God, with just the same absence of self-control

as had made him refuse to wait for Samuel at Gilgal, Saul bids him

withdraw his hand from the ephod and desist. He needs no counsel from

above. He will act for himself, and with extraordinary rashness and absence

of good sense he commands the people under a solemn curse to abstain

from food until all is over. They must fight the battle and pursue fasting.

Had he given himself time for reflection, he would have felt that the slight

loss of time spent in taking refreshment would be more than compensated

by increased vigor of body and power of endurance. The pursuit, too, had

come suddenly, and his men were not prepared; and to have partaken of

the provisions cast aside by the runaways would have kept up their

strength. They must at last stop from sheer exhaustion, and then the whole

army would be in a state of ravenous hunger. Worst of all, he was laying a

trap for those who had gained the victory. Saulís body guard would hear

his orders, and obey with grumbling. Jonathan and all who joined in the

pursuit from a distance, rushing from caves and from the hills of Ephraim,

would be in danger unwittingly of bringing upon themselves a curse.

The results were most disastrous. When they reached Aijalon the people

were so faint with hunger that they began slaying sheep and oxen, and

eating them without observing the command of the Law, that they must

carefully free the flesh from the blood. And Saul, aghast at this violation of

a solemn ceremonial ordinance, bids his body guard disperse themselves

among the people, and compel them to bring their oxen to a large stone,

and there slay them in the manner prescribed. There was thus long delay

before the wants of the troops could be supplied, and when at last they had

taken a hurried meal, and Saul was eager to resume the pursuit, they gave

him so sulky an answer as to be virtually a refusal. And now the priest,

mediating between king and people, purposes to ask counsel of God, and

Saul consents. BUT NO ANSWER COMES!Saul had refused Godís counsel

in the morning, and now the oracle is silent.

 

But Saul sees no fault in himself. Fault he assumes there is, and he will find

it out by drawing lots. He bids the people stand on one side, and himself

and Jonathan on the other; and again, with a sulky answer, the people

assent. Again and again the lot falls, till Jonathan is left, and Saul, nothing

doubting that he is guilty, asks for confession; whereupon Jonathan tells

him how, unwitting of his command, he had tasted almost by chance a little

honey. Never was man more innocent than Jonathan, and God by him that

day had wrought a great deliverance for Israel. Yet his guilty father, with

dark fanaticism, condemns him to death. The people indeed rescue him, but

all his legal rights were gone. In the eye of the Law he was a dead man,

and henceforward Jonathan ever acts as if there was a bar between him and

the kingdom. He never once speaks as if it were possible for him to inherit

Saulís throne, or as if he were ceding to David anything to which he had a

claim. His fatherís curse, his fatherís condemnation, still rested upon him.

The people had saved him by force, but the legal act remained, and the

father had destroyed the son.

 

From first to last Saul was the destroyer of himself, his family, and his

kingdom. Samuel foretold his fall, but the warning was given personally to

the king to move him to repentance. Repentance would have saved him,

and Samuel allowed him ample time; for, during four or five years, he did

absolutely nothing to help on his words to their accomplishment. Only after

this long delay, spent by Samuel in mourning (I Samuel 15:35), at

Godís express command he arose and anointed David; but neither of them,

either openly or by secret conspiracy, took any steps to compass Saulís

ruin. All that David did he was driven to do. To the last he was loyal to his

king. And when in an evil hour he deserted his country, and entered the

service of the Philistine king of Gath, it was almost a renunciation of his

anointing. He seems himself to have given up all idea of ever becoming

king, and, in a fit of desperation, to have thought only of saving his life. To

his countrymen this open alliance with their enemies put him entirely in the

wrong, and sorely he was punished for it by a seven yearsí delay. Yet

slowly both predictions were moving on to their fulfillment, and if the

purpose was Divine, the human agency was that of the self-willed Saul.

 

There is thus a tragic interest in the First Book of Samuel. Unrepentant,

stubborn, willful even in his deepest depression, the king struggles against

his fate, but each effort only entangles him in fresh difficulties, and burdens

his conscience with darker crimes. The one pathway of safety which David

tried, and not in vain, in his season of terrible sin, Saul will not try. He sees

his doom; is driven by it to melancholy, is unhinged in mind; but the

prophetís words, ďrebellion,Ē ďstubbornness,Ē indicate the unyielding

elements of his nature, and stubbornly he died in the lost

battlefield. Like Prometheus, he defied the Almighty, in deeds if not in

words, but the heroism was gone, and in that last sad scone, when, in

mental and moral degradation, the despairing monarch sought the witchís

cave, stubbornness alone remained. And, meanwhile, the other purpose of

God was growing in strength, and, through strange scenes of heroism and

feebleness, the shepherd boy becomes the nationís champion, the kingís

son-in-law, an outlaw and a deserter, before finally he becomes a king.

In the two Books of Samuel, Davidís uprising and reign, his sins and his

terrible punishment, are given us in great detail, not merely because of their

intrinsic interest and the clearness with which they teach the great lesson

that sin is ever punished not merely this, but even more because he was a

most important factor in the development of Israel as the Messianic nation.

There is in this respect a parallel between the Book of Genesis and the

Books of Samuel. The great business of the one is the selection of the man

from whom was to spring the nation predestinated to be the depository of

Godís revealed truth. In the Books of Samuel we have the choice of the

man who, next to Moses, was to form that nation for its high office, and to

be the ancestor of Christ. In David the great purpose of Israelís existence

was to advance a great step onwards. Eight hundred years had passed since

the choice of Abraham, and four hundred since Moses gave laws and

political unity to those sprung from him; and it had often seemed as if the

folk were too tiny to be of any real service to mankind, and as if it must be

crushed out of existence by the more powerful kingdoms that surrounded

it. It was a territory so small, was placed in so dangerous a position on the

very battleground of Egypt and Assyria, and the constitution of the realm

was so little adapted to purposes of war, that it seemed impossible for it to

have more than a short-lived endurance. But small as was Israel, God had

chosen it to light a torch that should ILLUMINATE THE WHOLE WORLD,

and Godís Word, which is the light of men, received through David a most

precious addition to its contents.

 

As a preparation for the selection of David, the work of both Saul and

Samuel was necessary. Saul had given Israel a sense of unity and, at least, a

taste of the blessings of independence. The wish for a united Israel was as

strong an influence in the uprise of Davidís empire as it has proved in

modern times in the endowment of Europe with a united Italy. This right

feeling had begun in Samuelís time, brought about probably by the tyranny

of the Philistines; and Samuel, who saw in it a tacit reproach to himself,

who had done so much, for not having done more, withstood it in vain.

Saulís victory over the Ammonite Nahash, won by united Israel, made this

feeling so strong, that Davidís election to the crown came as an inevitable

necessity, though long delayed by his relations with the Philistines; and,

when elected, he had not to build up the kingdom from the foundations ó

Saul had done that, but to retrieve the evil results of one terrible disaster.

But the moral and mental development wrought by Samuel was a condition

even more indispensable to Davidís kingdom than Saulís restoration of the

nation to political life. Davidís empire was a matter of vast importance to

Israel as the Messianic nation, and Saul prepared the way for it. But it was

a matter, after all, of only secondary importance, and Samuelís reforms had

kindled again into brightness the nationís inner life. He purified Israelís

morals, fanned its decaying faith into heroic confidence in Jehovah, and

enriched it with a high civilization. The learning which had always had a

home in the sanctuary, and which was for a time trampled out when Shiloh

was destroyed, found a new dwelling in the Naioth at Ramah. Reading,

writing, music, history, not merely existed there, but were taught to an

ever-increasing number of the choicest spirits of Israel. Ramah was the

center of an active propaganda, and the sons of the prophets went back to

their homes as missionaries, bound to teach and to elevate and to

indoctrinate with Samuelís views all the inhabitants of their villages or

towns. And these views had a strong practical bearing both upon the

political and the spiritual life of the nation. The eighth psalm, composed by

David to be sung to a melody learned by him when in the service of Achish,

King of Gath, is testimony enough to the refinement both of thought and of

language that followed upon Samuelís reforms. For David, the youngest of

a large family of sons of a yeoman at Bethlehem, could have gained only in

Samuelís schools that acquaintance with literary arts, and that knowledge

of the history of his country, which undoubtedly he had acquired

somewhere. To suppose that he could have obtained them elsewhere is to

suppose, what probably became true in course of time, that Samuelís

scholars had already set themselves to teach in all parts of the country.

Among a race of farmers learning would not advance with such extreme

rapidity; but the Israelites were no common people, and their progress was

sure and steady. It is probable that Gad, Davidís friend throughout his life,

joined him at the very beginning of his wanderings as an outcast, from a

personal affection which began when they were school friends together at

Ramah. For Gad, who is expressly said to have been a prophet (I Samuel

22:5), is by the name certified to have been one of Samuelís scholars.

He chose a very hard life when he went to be chaplain to a band

of men composed of such dangerous elements as Davidís freebooters; but

he loved David, was confident in his power of governing them, and deep in

his heart was the conviction that Samuelís prophecy would surely be fulfilled.

 

And this captain of a band of wild outlaws was destined in course of time

to remodel the temple service, to teach men to ďprophesy,Ē i.e. to testify to

Divine truth, on harp and cymbal and psaltery (I Chronicles 25:1), and

to give to the national worship its most spiritual element. Not only did

David write psalms himself, but his temple service gave them a use, made

them the common property of all, and caused others also to give

expression to their devotion in the same way, as occasion called their

feelings forth. The psalms were not mere lyric compositions, the result of

poetic genius and fervor; no doubt many psalms at first were simply so;

but they soon became the voice of the nationís worship, the expression of

its faith and love and trust in its God. In this there was a distinct advance,

and a most pure and ennobling and spiritual element was added, not merely

to the ritual of the temple, but to the worship of God in the homes of the

people. The sacrifice was full of teaching, but its details were coarse, and

to us would be revolting. In the psalms sung to bright melodies in the

temple, we have a form of worship so perfect, that it has lasted from

Davidís day unto our own time; and the similar use of hymns in our

services has enriched our Church with a body of spiritual poetry almost as

precious as Davidís psalms. And like hymns in our own days, the psalms

would be learned by the people, and sung in their homes; and the worship of

Israel would consist not merely of stately services in the temple, but of the

voice of prayer and praise chanted throughout the land to the tunes of

Asaph and his brethren, and in Davidís words.

 

In this respect we reap the benefit of Davidís varied experiences. Had he

been a man of unblemished morality, his psalms would have struck no

deeper note than those of Korah, or Asaph, or Jeduthun. In Jeremiah alone

we should have had a psalmist whose words were the outpouring of a

troubled heart. As it is, the passion fraught nature of David hurried him

into sins so terrible as to cover his character with disgrace, and bring upon

him twenty years of severe punishment, ever following blow upon blow,

and darkening even his death bed with the fate of his eldest son, of the

nephew who had been the pillar of his safety in every danger, and of the

priest who, having alone escaped from the slaughter of his family at Nob,

had been Davidís faithful companion all the days of his life. No regal

splendor, no greatness of glory, could compensate for the lurid gloom of

that death bed. But God overruled all this misery for lasting good; for

David has been for all ages the psalmist of sorrow and of repentance.

Myriads of sinners have found in the fifty-first psalm the best expression of

feelings that were rending their hearts. Nor does this psalm stand alone.

When we read utterances such as those in Psalm 31:9-10; 38:4; 40:12,

etc., the words would seem overstrained did we not know:

 

        the greatness of Davidís sin,

        the depth of his penitence, and

        the stern righteousness which punished him

 

not once only, but with ever-recurring severity.

 

The words quoted by St. Paul from I Samuel 13:14, that David was a

man after Godís heart, often trouble the minds of believers, because they

take them as the Divine verdict upon his whole character. Really they are

spoken of him such as he was when Samuel anointed him, and when his

youthful piety was still unstained. Yet to the very last he manifests such,

tenderness, such spirituality, and so devout and personal a trust in God as

still to justify, though with large exceptions, this high estimate of him. And

almost all his psalms belong to the days when trouble and anguish had

stirred depths in his soul which otherwise would have remained stagnant.

There are but few which belong to the days of his pure innocence. His

poems then would have celebrated the beauties of nature, the Creatorís

goodness, the brave exploits of his countrymen, and the like. It was after

his terrible fall that the contrite and humbled David poured forth from the

inmost recesses of a struggling breast the words of earnest penitence, of

deep humiliation, and withal of intense trust in the God who was punishing

him so sternly, and of unwavering faith in the Divine goodness, which was

manifesting itself to him as justice that could by no means clear the guilty.

 

The Second Book of Samuel is thus the basis and the justification of the

Book of Psalms. The intensity of feeling manifested there is proved to be

no mere poetry, but the cry of real distress. And because of the reality of

his repentance David was forgiven; but his forgiveness did not save him

from punishment. Never was history more sad than Davidís from the day

when Nathan said, ďThou art the man!Ē unto that last death bed scene,

when, troubled by the cry of rebellion, he was forced to condemn old

friends in order to prevent civil war and save the throne of his chosen son.

And as Davidís sin was the violation of domestic chastity, so all his

sorrows sprang from the same source, and not only were his own sons the

workers of his misery, but it was in and by his children that he was

punished.

 

Yet amidst it all, David was a man after Godís heart in this respect at least,

that there was neither rebellion nor stubbornness in his character. His sins

were greater than those of Saul, but they were not persisted in. David

humbled himself before God, and bore his chastisement not only meekly,

but with a clinging love to the hand that was scourging him. Let but God

deliver him from blood guiltiness, and amid the ruin of his earthly

happiness he would sing aloud of Jehovahís righteousness (Psalm 51:14).

But besides the interest inseparable from the study of a character such as

Davidís, the Second Book of Samuel gives us the history, of the founding

of Israelís empire. War is a dreadful thing, and involves a terrible amount

of material loss and injury; but it is at once Godís penalty upon national

debasement, and his remedy against national meanness and selfishness.

Nations rise to moral greatness through war, and when they have been

sinking through social SOCIAL CORRUPTION AND IMMORALITY,

it is generally war which reveals to them THE GANGRENE IN THEIR

MIDST, and either forces them by repeated disaster to humble themselves

for it, or displaces them in order that a worthier people may fill their room.

So Israel had displaced the Canaanite tribes in Palestine.(Genesis 15:16)

And with all their faults, the repeated acts of heroism of which we have the

record in the Book of Judges prove them to have been a race of sterling worth.

No commonplace people could have produced such men as Saul and Jonathan,

to say nothing of Samuel, whose wisdom and goodness and ability as the

restorer of a crushed nation, and the founder of institutions which enriched

it with intellectual and moral and religious life, raise him to an

extraordinary pre-eminence. Yet the extraordinary men of a nation always

hold some relation to its ordinary level, and Samuel did not stand alone. He

was followed by David and the numerous worthies of his court.†† (True

history will show this to be true of the United States of America.CY Ė 2018)

But Israel could not have maintained its heroism and nobleness by the mere

memory of the feats recorded in the Book of Judges. Even then the nation

was sinking downwards. Jephthah and Samson were men of lower worth

than Barak and Gideon. The ruinous defeat at Aphek, followed by the

capture of the ark and the destruction of the national sanctuary at Shiloh,

convinced Israel of its degradation, and made it ready to yield to Samuelís

exhortations. Then followed a period of struggle, and then came the empire

of David and the splendor of Solomonís court. It was a short-lived glory.

Christís kingdom was not to have much of earthly magnificence about it.

But the Messianic people before His advent had a tremendous work to do,

and needed some noble memories to strengthen them as well as grand

hopes bidding them ever move onwards. And Davidís grandeur and the

splendor of Solomon, who to this day holds a unique position in the

imagination of Oriental nations, gave them what they needed. Throughout

a checkered history they continued to be a firm, strong, and heroic people,

and with powers of endurance which have enabled them to remain a

miracle and a wonder to the present day.(For example, the 1976 Raid

on Entebbe Ė July 4, 1976.Consider the Scripture references of the last days:

ďAccording to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will

I show unto him marvelous things.ĒMicah 7:15;ďThen shall the

Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought

in the day of battle.ĒZechariah 14:3; -CY Ė 2018)

 

Davidís wars and conquests had thus a great importance for Israel, and

therefore for mankind. But his empire was also a symbol of the Christian

Church, and David is the representative of sin-stained fallen man finding

forgiveness through repentance. And there is thus a reason for the

restriction to him of the promise that the Messiah should be his Son. It is

never renewed to any of his successors. Solomon was the glory of the East

for his wisdom; Hezekiah and Josiah emulated Davidís piety, and were

unstained by his sins; but no prophet hails them as the inheritors of Davidís

promise. The seed of Judahís kings were to serve as ďeunuchs in the palace

of the king of BabylonĒ (Isaiah 39:7). It was from Nathan, a son

uncrowned, and scarcely mentioned in the history, lost quickly to view

among the crowd of ordinary citizens, that he was to spring who is the

Churchís King, but who nationally was but a sucker from the cut-down

stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). We have given the reason above. David is

the type of fallen man, sternly chastised for his iniquity, but finding

forgiveness, rest, peace, strength, in ďthe God of his salvationĒ (Psalm

51:14).

 

We have thus in the Second Book of Samuel a history essential to Holy

Scripture, and of profound and even painful interest. For never had human

soul a more checkered record of sin and sorrow, of discord in its relations

with itself, of intense contrition and earnest pleading for forgiveness, and of

genuine faith, than that which is set before us here. But without the Psalms,

which disclose to us the inner working of Davidís heart, we should lose

much of its significance. For here, chiefly, we have Davidís sin and his

lifelong punishment; while there we have the struggle of his soul winding

its way through darkness and sorrow upwards to forgiveness, to light, and

to joyful communion with God.

The book is composed of three separate parts, of which the first ends with

the list of Davidís chief officers (ch. 1-8). This narrative probably included

a good deal of the latter part of the First Book of Samuel, the division of

the history into two portions being unauthoritative. It gives the history of

David in its noblest aspect, and if we include in it the victory ever the giant,

it might be called in Homeric phrase the ριστεία τοῦ Δαυιδ Ė Aristeia tou

David Ė the prowess and brave achievements of a hero. It traces him step by

step till from the sheepcote he becomes the sovereign of all Israel, whereupon

immediately he brings the ark to Jerusalem, and is appointed (ch. 8.) the

Messianic king, whose office it is to build the temple, to ordain a spiritual

worship for Jehovah, and, as Messiahís representative, to take the heathen

for his inheritance. It was probably a contemporary document, as was also

the next, which forms ch. 9-20. In it we have the record of Davidís sin and

its terrible consequences. Beginning abruptly with his kindness to

Mephibosheth, but of which we see the reason when we come to the

details of the flight from Jerusalem and sorrowful return, it next gives us

fuller details of Davidís conquests, but only to lead up to the history of

Davidís sin, committed when his heart was turned away from God by the

glory of earthly victories. All that follows is the painful record of Godís

just severity. This narrative also ends with a catalogue of Davidís chief

officers, but there is now a touching difference. At the end of ch. 8. we

read that Davidís sons were his cohanim, his confidential ministers. His

family was then happy and united, and his children were the chief stay of

his throne. At the end of ch. 20 it is a stranger, Ira the Jairite, who is

cohen, Davidís private counselor. His sons have all lost their fatherís

respect, and the numerous children who had once been his pride are now a

terror to him and a cause of unhappiness. Perhaps in this mention of Ira as

Davidís cohen we may find an explanation of the fact that all Davidís elder

children were passed by, and the succession to the throne given to

Solomon, who at this time was but eleven or twelve years old. For if no

one was any longer fit to be entrusted with the office of cohen, still less

was he fit to be king. But we also see the fitting punishment of the kingís

polygamy. David had set a bad example in multiplying unto himself wives,

and he reaped from it an evil harvest. His son and successor was even more

sensual, and his many wives wrought also his ruin.

 

The remaining four chapters have no internal connection with one another,

nor are they placed in chronological order. For ch. 22., which is virtually

identical with Psalm 18., was written shortly after Toiís embassy (ch.

8:10); the ďlast wordsĒ in ch. 23, belong to the very close of Davidís reign;

while the execution of Saulís descendants, the battles with the Philistines,

and the numbering of the people record events which happened in the

earlier years of the kingdom. The ďlast wordsĒ give us the assurance that

Davidís closing years were tranquil, and spent in an unbroken walk with

God. The storms of his life were over, and so also was his enjoyment of the

pleasures of victorious war and of royal state and magnificence. But his sin

had been forgiven him. There was peace in his own heart and undiminished

trust in God. Time would never quite heal his sorrow at the death of son

after son, caused alike by HIS OWN SIN and THEIRS!If Saul had wrought the

ruin of his kingdom, David had wrought the ruin of his family and home.

But the one was stubborn in his perverseness, the other was humbled and

penitent, and his sin was taken away. And now, calm and thankful, he was

approaching the haven of eternal rest in Jehovah, and the enjoyment of that

ďeverlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, which was all his

salvation and all his desireĒ (ch. 23:5). It was the peaceful end of

a troubled life; and it makes us confident that he had been accepted, and

that the words of his penitential psalms came from his heart. And we; when

we recite them, may feel sure that we are using the words of one who, if he

had sinned much, had also been forgiven much, because he had:

 

        a large love for God,

        warm genuine piety, and

        deep and earnest penitence.

 

 

 

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