Page images


As David was sensible that his last hours drew nigh, he called for his son Solomon, that he might with his dying lips enforce the admonitions he had formerly given him concerning obedience to the LORD; and likewise instruct him in some particulars, necessary to secure his peaceable possession of the throne.

Joab was a man of a very turbulent spirit, who had on several occasions resisted David's authority, and he had lately joined in a conspiracy against Solomon; it was therefore likely, that he would give the young king much trouble, and Solomon perhaps might be induced to spare him on account of his venerable years, and the high rank he had long borne in the army; David therefore exhorted Solomon to act towards him as wisdom should direct; and reminded his son of the former crimes Joab had committed, how frequently he had opposed the lawful commands of his sovereign, and how treacherously he had murdered Abner and Amasa.

From David's own words when Joab murdered Abner, we may conclude, that he certainly would have called him to his trial immediately: but he feared that by attempting it, he might occasion more bloodshed amongst his subjects, as Joab had great influence in the army; neither was the king in a situation to admit of his taking vengeance for the death of Amasa, as he was at that time but just returned to the royal city, and the kingdom in the utmost confusion.

David's general behaviour to his enemies gives us reason to suppose, that for every private injury he would readily have forgiven Joab; but as KING of Israel, he could not pardon him without being guilty of a breach of God's commands himself; for the law was very strong


against wilful murder, and admitted of no atonement for it by sacrifices and prayers. Supposing that the anger of God could be appeased by humiliation, it is impossible to make restitution to the dead; for this reason the LORD commanded, that he who killed another should forfeit his own life. Besides, "in the image of GOD made he man;" it is therefore impious for any one to destroy that body in which the CREATOR has placed an immortal SOUL, since the Supreme Being alone has a right to dispense life and death. Besides, the land of `Israel was peculiarly sanctified by the visible manifestation of the PRESENCE of God, who had said (by the mouth of Moses) "Ye shall not pollute the land wherein I dwell, for blood defileth the land, which cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land wherein I dwell, for I the LORD dwell amongst the children of Israel." So that the king of Israel who suffered a wilfuł murderer to live, endangered the bringing a curse upon his kingdom, and was answerable in a great measure for any subsequent murders the offender might commit.. The Israelites it is true slew a great number in war, but they were persons who had themselves defaced the image of God by their abominable practices, and had forfeited their lives by their crimes; in respect to these, therefore the Israelites were but the instruments of Divine justice, and acted by GoD's express command. And so did those who put to death such as were guilty of capital offences; for God had ordained the punishment, and it was the duty of the magistrate to put it in execution. It was for the sake of public justice, and not to gratify private resentment, that David advised Solomon "not to let Joab's hoar head go down to the grave in peace.”


Some learned authors * are of opinion, that the text relating to Shimei is not properly translated, and that it should have been rendered, "Now therefore hold him not guiltless, (for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him)NOR his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood." If this is the right interpretation of the passage, (which Solomon's treatment of Shimei confirms) then we may understand, that David only intended to caution his son to keep a strict eye upon Shimei, as his loyalty was by no means to be depended on; neither was it consistent with wisdom and policy to permit such a seditious person to enjoy the same privileges in every respect, as his faithful subjects did.

When David had given all requisite instructions to Solomon, his business on earth was finished; and as the faculties of his mind were unimpaired, there is no doubt but he passed his last moments in pious meditations.

David+had set the LORD always before him, therefore (even in this tremendous hour) his heart was glad and his glory (or immortal Spirit) rejoiced; for he firmly trusted that it would not be left for ever in the place of the dead, but that even his body should rise again ; and that God would redeem his SouL from the power of the grave, and not suffer him, who had been sanctified by the inspiration of the holy Spirit, to see corruption; but would shew him the path of life which leadeth to the presence of God, where is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore!

* Chandler's and Delany's Life of David.
+ See Psalm xvi. 9, &c, and xlix. 15.




We have now gone entirely through the history of king David, which affords great delight and instruction: he certainly was one of the best men that ever lived upon earth, and none of the boasted heroes* of antiquity are worthy to stand in any degree of competition with him, either for courage or virtues; and yet we often hear among those who call themselves learned and polite, the character of this king vilified in the most opprobrious terms, because he is styled in Scripture, the man after GOD's own heart, though he was guilty of great violations of the moral law; it is therefore necessary to explain, how we are to understand this expression.

A short time after Saul was made king, he broke through the conditions on which he had been raised to sit on the throne of the LORD over Israel, and arrogated to himself the supreme power, instead of acting as GOD'S vicegerent, and for this cause, the prophet Samuel was sent to tell him, that he was rejected as captain of the LORD's inheritance, and that his kingdom should not descend to his posterity, for the LORD had sought him a man after his own heart; that is, one who would never forget that he received his authority from the LORD, and was bound to govern agreeably to God's commands. David when a humble shepherd, was remarkable for his piety and amiable disposition, and he justified the preference which was given to him at that time.

We are told, that immediately after he was anointed

*See in Dr. Delany's Life of David, a parallel between this king and the heroes of profane history.


captain of the LORD's inheritance, and had the promise of the kingdom given to him, the Spirit of the LORD came on him, and we read of his performing many acts that required supernatural assistance: all the successes which the Israelites had against the Philistines during the remainder of Saul's reign, were under David; from which Saul was led to suspect, that he would alss supersede him in the throne; till at last his jealousy was so inveterate, that he resolved, if possible, to destroy him: David, however, was protected by an Almighty arm, for (notwithstanding it must be acknowledged that he committed many errors, which shew that he was subject to hu man imperfection (he preserved the highest reverence for GOD, and zeal for the honour of religion, and on this account was delivered from the most imminent dangers by the interposition of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, being still in the general tenor of his conduct, a man after God's own heart. When he gave way to the im`petuosity of passion, he was always unfortunate, but adversity had its proper effect on his mind; he prayed for pardon, and the Spirit of the LORD again assisted him: at length, after a variety of trials, he was anointed king over all Israel; at which time he entered into a covenant, that he would consider the people as sheep committed to his care by the LORD, would provide for their safety and rule them with tenderness; and, as captain of the LORD's inheritance, would help them to subdue their enemies: we may also collect from many of his Psalms, that the LORD had made a covenant with David, and assured him by his holy Spirit that if he continued faithful to the trust reposed in him, he could establish his kingdom for ever; and that if his posterity were obedient to the LORD, they should reign after him, in regular sucsession, till a prince should be born of David's race, that should rule over all the kingdoms of the earth. David understood

« PreviousContinue »