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another in just such relations as commend themselves to the national consciousness. Of the three books entering into this volume the first and third present no difficulties in this respect; the sacred history is here transparently clear. But in the book which intervenes, from the nature of the case the history is complex; and the reader will do well to grasp the landmarks of the period before he plunges into the details.
The first of these books — eighth in the whole series — narrates the reigns of David and Solomon. The general character stamped upon this period of history is hardly apparent in this book; there can be no great conflict between king and prophet when the spirit of prophecy has been absorbed by the king. The personality of David is perhaps the most splendid in all history. The great of other peoples have to choose between different kinds of greatness; they may be mighty in the world of action, heroes of war, of policy, of enterprise; or as poets, artists, thinkers, they may have a greatness that belongs to the world within. David is in both kinds of greatness the supreme hero of his nation. He is the warrior of Israel, and the founder of the monarchy from whom all kings trace their reigns. He is equally the centre of Hebrew poetry, with whose name both earlier and later song is associated in the Book of Psalms. He is the inventor in musical art; whereas the Greeks never learned the art of combining lyre and flute, David's orchestra of cornet, trumpets, cymbals, psalteries, and harps shows the union of strings, wind, and percussion which is supposed to constitute the distinctiveness of modern music. With him as head is further associated whatever else of art is permitted to the Hebrews: the architecture of Solomon's temple is designed by his father, and he establishes the courses of sacred ritual which constitute Israel's highest art. And all this splendour' of achievement is crowned with a personality that is intensely human, and lovable in all human relationships. Accordingly, David is the hero of this book of the history; it is occupied with narrating his capture of the impregnable Jerusalem, its solemn inauguration as the capital of Jehovah's monarchy, with his building of the royal palace and the preparations for the temple, and with the various wars by which the kingdom was consolidated, and neighbouring peoples thrown into such subordination that henceforward Israel appears as one of the family of great nations, with no foes to fear but such as constitute the great empires of history. Most appropriately this book includes some of the royal minstrel's poetical compositions: a song of victory which may be called the masterpiece of sacred lyrics, and the touching last words' of David, acknowledging how the Divine favour has been over his reign,
as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth,
A morning without clouds;
Through clear shining after rain.
But the history of David includes the story of a crime, an adulterous passion ending in intrigue and murder. This brings a curse upon his household; and a large portion of this eighth book is occupied in narrating, with the full power of epic story, the feud between the sons of David and the rebellion of Absalom. Here then is an opportunity for prophetic remonstrance to appear even in the reign of the man after God's own heart. At three points is found the prophetic opposition to the king: by Nathan the project of building the temple is suspended in the name of God; by the same Nathan the rebuke is sent for the sin of Uriah's murder; and after the sin, whatever that sin may have been, of numbering the people, the prophet Gad appears to denounce the judgment.
What David achieves, Solomon carries further. If David founded a kingdom, Solomon extended this to an empire. If David had the honour of ordering the service of Jehovah, it was reserved for his son to lay the art and riches of Tyre under contribution to crown the Divine service with the temple. David is the centre of Hebrew poetry, Solomon is the founder of its wisdom, - a wisdom which the queen of distant Sheba comes to admire. It would seem that this wisdom of Solomon, which the incident of the dream at Gibeon makes in a special degree a thing of heavenly gift, occupies at this point of the history the position of prominence which elsewhere is given to prophecy. But the son no less than the father falls a victim to
female influence. And Solomon sins on an imperial scale; “strange women,' from the daughter of Pharaoh downward, fill the kingdom with external and idolatrous rites. Thus at the close of the reign the antagonistic elements reappear; from the commencement, when Nathan assisted to secure the inheritance to Solomon against the usurpation of Adonijah, there is no mention of prophets until Ahijah is seen giving the sanction of the theocracy to the rebel Jeroboam.
We are thus brought to the ninth book, which deals with the Schism and the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel side by side. This complex and difficult book has in external appearance a mechanical arrangement: successive sections keep the history of Judah and Israel as nearly parallel as the nature of the case permits. But the spirit of the narrative is quite different from what this might suggest. The whole is told from the prophetic point of view; and accordingly it is the kingdom of Israel which has the prominence, as the main theatre of the contest between Jehovah and the false worship of other gods. The history of Judah is here subordinate, and is treated as it appears from the point of view of the northern kingdom.
Three periods may be distinguished in the history of the double kingdom. The first is occupied with the house of Jeroboam, and the house of Baasha which followed in the second generation. At first, as already noted, prophecy is on the side of the revolt. But Jeroboam is scarcely secure on his throne before he establishes the worship of the
calves, to intercept the pilgrimages to Jerusalem; he at once becomes the chief aim of prophetic denunciation,the Jeroboam the son of Nebat who taught Israel to sin. The inauguration of his idolatrous worship is encountered by the nameless prophet from Judah, who afflicts the king, rends the altar, and with prophetic insight points through the future generations to the grand reformation of Josiah. And Ahijah himself lives long enough to denounce to the wife of Jeroboam the immediate death of her son, and the further doom of her seed until the kingdom shall be rent from them.
After various usurpations we reach the central period of the northern kingdom in the house of Omri. The founder of the dynasty builds Samaria, the splendid capital of the north. In the next generation we have Ahab, and his more famous queen, Jezebel of Tyre. Here it is no case of derelictions in the worship of Jehovah; the religion of Baal is fully established throughout the land, and the worshippers of Israel's God have to be hidden in caves and dens. The crisis brings out the full strength of the prophetic order in the splendid names of Elijah and Elisha. The two are inseparable; not only is Elisha “he that poured water on the hands of Elijah,” and obtained a double portion of his spirit, but the commission actually given to the older prophet at the cave of Horeb is in the main carried out by his successor. Another feature of this period must be borne in mind : there is at this point a