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or absurd they may seem to mere human reason.' - Well said, Tom !
But let me ask these gentlemen, what mortal, besides themselves, Tom's elder brethren, ever imagined the Amalekite to have been inspired, when he told his story to David ?-an idle pickthank fellow, who stripped Saul of his diadem and bracelets, and ran away full speed with them to David, to let bim know that all was safe, his old enemy was fallen, and he had put him out of his pain ! David saw through the character of the man, and, from his forward officiousness in the affair, probably concluded he had taken some undue advantage of Saul in bis wounded state, and slain him, on purpose that he might find favour with his successor in the kingdom by bringing him all this good news.
As the Lord Jiveth who hath “ redeemed my soul out of all adversity,” says he, upon another occasion," when one told me, saying,
Behold Saul is dead,' thinking to have brought “good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in
Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings"
But whether David suspected it or not, as the narrative of Saul's death given in the course of the history is true, the story told by the Amalekite is certainly false in some particulars, which are inconsistent with that narrative. Nay, it is not probable, if indeed it be possible, that the main circunstance of all should have been true.--Saul desires bis armour-bearer to kill him, who refuses; he falls upon
k 2 Sam. iv. 9, 10.
his sword; and the servant, seeing his master dead, does the same. Now, where is the interval, or opening for the scene between Saul and the Amalekite to take place? Or would the arınour bearer, who refused to kill Saul, stand by, and suffer an Amalekite to kill him? But though David judged this man unworthy to be his friend, he inay make a very good figure in the unbeliever's catalogue of saints, and I would recommend him to occupy a niche in that temple.
Let us, however, for a moment, suppose, that David had judged otherwise'; that he had rewarded him handsomely, and promoted biin to honour. What would have been said, then? Why, that poor Saul had escaped the sword of the Philistines, but “ this ruffian,” (such is the courtly appellation bestowed upon David',) had employed an assassin to dispatch bim, during the hurry and confusion of the retreat! ( it had been a delicious morsel, exactly seasoned to the palate of infidelity!
Page 27. The infidels are much disconcerted, it seems, about the book of Jasher : it was extant previous to the writing of the book of Joshua, and was not finished till atter the accession of David to the throne of Israel; so that, as they apprehenıl, either the author of Jasher must have lived upwards of four hundred years, or the book of Joshua was not written till after the time of David.
Here again, a little Hebrew would have done us no harm. It does not appear that Jasher was the
name of an individual, or that the book so styled was all written in the same age by the same man. The transactions of the times were regularly entered in a public register, by a person denominated the Recorder, or Historiographer, a stated officer to the Jewish kings". And the book of Jasher was the standard authentic book, in which they were so entered by authority, and from which extracts were made, as occasion required",
Page 29. Some difficulties are started relative to the history of David numbering the people.
In our translation we read, 2 Sam. xxiv, that “the Lord moved David to number Israel;" and, 1 Chron. xxi. that " Satan moved him to do it."
Nothing is more common with the sacred writers, than to represent God as doing that which, in the course of his providence, and for the purposes either of mercy or judgement, he permits to be done by the instrumentality of second causes, animate or inanimate, corporeal or spiritual. In the case of Ahab, 1 Kings, xxii. he is represented, after the inanner of men, and in condescension to our capacities, as a king keeping his court, with spirits of all kinds in waiting before him, prepared to execute his will upon earth. One of these spirits is commissioned to in
mgogia See 2 Sam. viii. 16. 1 Kings, iv. 3. 2 Kings, xviii. 18. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 8.
* Le Clerc seems to have imagined that this record was kept in verse: Crediderim Librum Recti fuisse collectionem hymnorum “ aut carminum de rebus gestis Hebræorum, forte non uno tempore
factum.” Cler. in Josh. x. 13. We read, indeed, of psalms and proverbs, which the men of Judah copied out.
fuence the false prophets, and they persuade Ahab, who will not listen to the true prophet of God. Taking the matter, therefore, as it stands in our English translation, the import of both passages laid together, according to a fair explanation, would evidently be, that, for good and sufficient reasons known to himself, God permitted Satan to tempt, and David to yield to the temptation, in this instance.
But if we consult the original, we shall find there is no necessity to suppose that David was excited either by God or by Satan. The word Satan, though often denoting that person who is emphatically styled The Adversary, signifies only, in general, AN Adversary; and therefore the passage 1 Chron. xxi. may very properly be rendered, “ An
adversary stood up against Israel, and excited “ David. This adversary might be some counsellor, or &c. The other passage, 2 Sam. xxiv. may as properly be translated, “ The anger of the “ Lord was kindled against Israel, and one excited “ David,” or “ David was excited by some one" (the person mentioned in Chronicles), saying, “Go, num" ber Israel."
Of the different kinds of punishment offered to David for his choice, upon this occasion, one is that of a famine for seven years, according to 2 Sam. xxiv. but for three years only, according to i Chron. xxi.
It has been observed by some learned men, that the year in which this happened was the fourth year since a famine had commenced on another occasion, mentioned 2 Sam. xxi. 1. This circumstance considered, the question, as it is worded in one place
Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy
land?" is tantamount to saying, “Wilt thou choose “three additional years of famine,” &c. which removes the apparent contradiction.
It may be urged, that “ the prophet delivered the
message no more than once, and therefore must “ have said either seven or three : he could not have " said both."
True; but the sacred, like other historians, often relate the same conversation in different terms; that is, they give the sense and substance of what passed, varying the phraseology. Instances frequently occur in both Testaments.
If no other satisfactory solution of the difficulty could be assigned, candour and common sense surely would suppose, that the word seven, in 2 Sam. xxiv. was originally three, especially as three is the word in the Greek version of the Seventyo.
But—" If David only sinned, why should the “ punishment fall upon the people ?”
Such is the union between king and people, like that between the head and the body, that this happens continually in the natural order of things; and therefore, why not judicially? What greater misfortune can befall a king, or a father, than the loss of his subjects, or his children? It is possible, however, that such might not be altogether the case, in the present instance; though David, like a true patriot king and most affectionate father, intercedes for his people, and desires to receive in his own person
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