« PreviousContinue »
How just are the judgments of God! If Saul destroyed an innocent people to make provision for the offspring of a concubine, and the offspring of a daughter, which she bare in consequence of his own faith to David violated *, could any thing be more equal, than that this very issue, chief agents of his cruelty, should now be called for; to make atonement for that guilt !
Let others find their account, and found their fame, in reviling the divine difpensations recorded in the scriptures; be it ever my glory to reverence them ! to reverence them in the silence of my closet, and to publish that reverence to the world, (when the revilings of others provoke me to it) without any view to the wages either of vanity or wealth! .
Give me leave to add, that when I see some determined philofophers, of the last and present age, pursuing the reputation of David, with as murderous an intent as Saul
* Merab; the mother of five of these victims, was promised to David, upon a solemn and public compact ; the conditions of which were fully performed on his fide, to the great glory and security of the state ; and then, in violation of that folemn and repeated engagement, given to another, I Sam. ch. xvii. ch. xviii.
did his life, I cannot help imagining; that I hear this hero crying out to them, as he did to Saul, (1 Sam. xxiv. 12, 13.) The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee - As faith the proverb of the antients, Wickedness proceedeth. from the wicked.
| C H A P. XVI. DAVID enters into new Wars with
Philistia. : A Conjecture concerning the Cause of them. The first and last Edition of the Eighteenth Pfalin (publised upon this Occasion) briefly compared. A Digression, upon the Ufefulness of Music to form the · Manners. David's last prophetic. Words. Afhort Conjecture concerning his Worthies. THE history of the famine, under the
reign of David, is succeeded by a very short account of a war with the Phi
listines; or rather of four successive wars : which seem to have lasted a confiderable time, inasmuch as they were not ended till after four pitched battles ; each of which concluded in David's favour. Nor are any other particulars related of them ; but that a man of gigantic ftature and strength fell on the side of the Philistines, in each of them ; the last of whom had fix fingers on each hand, and fix toes on each foot * : and that in the first of these battles, David was in danger of being flain by Ibi-benob, the son of a giant, (whether of Goliah, or some other, is not known) had he not been timely fuccoured by Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, who smote and New him. The account left us of this matter by Josephus is to this purpose: That David, having put the enemy to flight, and being foremost, and carried too far in the ardour of the pursuit, after some time, grew weary, and faint with the fatigue.
* Instances of gigantic men are familiar enough in the collections of the commentators, on this, and other passages of the fame nature : and Dr. Patrick quotes Tuverine's relation of the grand fignior's Seraglio, Page 95. wherein he tells us, That the eldest son of the emperor of Java, who reigned in the year 1648, when he was in that island, had dix fingers on each hand, and as many toes on each foot, all of equal length.
· Which Ishbi-bеnob perceiving, and being armed with a huge spear, (as Josephus relates) and girded with a new sword, (as the text is understood) found that a fit occasion to assault the king; and had succeeded in his purpose, had not Abishai come seasonably to David's aid, and destroyed his adversary.
The apprehension of the king's danger struck his people with deep concern and consternation ; and they immediately bound themselves by a solemn oath, never more to suffer him to hazard his person in battle ; adding a reason, which sufficiently indicates their high opinion and esteem of him ; That thou quench not the light * of Israel, lest they should be deprived of a prince who was at once their guide, and their glory!
The cause or occasion of these wars is no-where mentioned in the sacred history; but there is a passage, 2 Sam. xv. 18, 19, &c. on which to ground a rational conjecture concerning the origin of them : And all bis servants pased on beside him ; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, fix hundred men which came after
* In Hebrew, lamp.
bim from Gath, passed on before the king. Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goeft thou also with us ? Return to thy place, and abide with the king : for thou art a stranger, and also an exile -- whereas thou camest but yesterday, &c. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all bis men. From whence it appears, that Ittai, an exile from Gath, arrived at Jerusalem, with all his men, the very eve of David's flight before his son Absalom. From whence I conjecture, that the Philistines, hearing of Abfalom's rebellion, took that opportunity to shake off the Israelite yoke; and to that purpose drove out all the friends and favourers of David's government over them; and among the rest, Ittai and his followers ; who arrived very providentially at Jerufalem, to fupport David in the extremity of his distress. And as this revolt of Philiftia was succeeded by a long famine in David's dominions, we could not reasonably expect to hear of any measures taken by that prince to chastise that revolt, till after the ceasing of this calamity; and then we immediately hear of the wars now recounted.