Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

and the time had now arrived when David must depart, to lead the life of a fugitive and an exile. The two brothers now embrace each other, and give vent to their anguish in a flood of tears. “‘Go,” says Jonathan, “‘in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed forever.” And he arose and departed; and Jonathan went into the city.” 1 Samuel xx. Upon leaving Jonathan, David proceeded to Nob, a “city of the priests,” situated a little northeast of Jerusalem. Here he had hoped to obtain a supply of provisions of Ahimelech, the high priest; but he, as is common in Oriental families, had no stores of prepared food, and therefore, gave him only a few loaves of the sacred, or “shew bread,” which was kept on the golden table, before the holy place. (Leviticus xxiv, 5–9.) These, with the sword of Goliath, David took, and hastened his flight to the city of Gath. 1 Sam. xxi, 1–10. Gath was a chief city of the Philistines, and the capital of one of the five principalities, situated somewhere in the southern district of Philistia. Its exact site has long been lost. It had signalized itself in the wars with Israel, was the native city of the giants, and had acquired the celebrity of a champion city of the Philistines. The reasons of David's going to Gath do not appear obvious. It was certainly a bold, if not a rash procedure. He could not hope to escape recognition. The fall of Goliath was still fresh in the minds of the people, and since that event David had signalized himself in frequent battles with the Philistines, and by as frequent victories. And yet, among this very people, to whom his name was already a terror, and in this very city whose pride and vaunting he had humbled more than any other, he now sought refuge. He had tried the friendly mediations of Jonathan, and the prophetic and judicial authority of the name of Samuel, and had found that by these he could neither appease nor avert the wrath of Saul. The high priest, Ahimelech, was equally impotent to stay the gathering storm. The spies of Saul were everywhere, and whither should he flee? A friendly nation would be required to surrender him up a prisoner to his master, or be declared by Saul the open enemies of Israel. The Philistines were already at war with Israel; and Saul was too much in fear of them to pursue David thither. The Philistines, on the other hand, certainly had powerful reasons for wishing to detain David among them, to win him, if possible, to their cause, or, at least, to secure his friendly neutrality. Besides, Achish, king of Gath, as appears from the whole history, was personally well disposed toward David, and seems himself to have been a man of liberal and generous mind. The Philistines were not a savage people. They were distinguished for their enterprise in agriculture and in inland trade, with some connection with foreign commerce through the ports of Joppa and Gaza, and for the general arts of civilisation as known in those times. In these respects, as well as in the arts of war, they were far in advance of the Israelites. These considerations would naturally have their bearing upon the mind of David; and though in a religious view we cannot commend the act of taking refuge among a heathen people, yet, politically considered, it is one of those bold measures of which an intrepid soul is capable in perilous times. His arrival at the court of Achish, though an occasion of much surprise, seemed not unacceptable to the king, who, perceiving the advantages resulting from the friendship of David, received him with complaisance, and would gladly have retained the illustrious exile. But not so with his courtiers. They looked upon David with suspicion and an evil eye, and represented to the king the danger of entertaining him who was destined one day to fill the throne of Israel and who already, as the nation's champion, was king in the hearts of the people. “Is not this David the king of the land?” say they. “Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying:

*Saul hath slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands?’”

David soon perceived himself the victim of a powerful conspiracy, and from the intrigues and accusations of his enemies he saw no means of escape. He heard of the representations made to the king, and dreaded the effect they might produce. “And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.” 1 Samuel xxi, 11–12. Cut off from all human help, and environed by enemies, he now turns his prayer plaintively to God.

PS ALM LVI.

WHEN DAVID WAS WITH THE PHILISTINES IN GATH.

David, praying to God in confidence of his word, complaineth of his enemies, 1–7; he professeth his confidence in God's word, and reneweth his vows and praises, 8–13.

To the chief Musician upon Jonath-elem-rechokim, "Michtam of David, [or, Concerning the silent dove among strangers. A golden Psalm of David;] when the Philistines took him in Gath.

1 Be “merciful unto me, O God! For man would swallow me up; He fighting daily oppresseth me. * Mine 'enemies would daily "swallow me up; For they be many that fight against me, O thou Most High I 3 wi: time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. * In God I will praise his word, In God I have put my trust; I* will not fear what flesh can do unto me. * Every day they wrest my words: All their thoughts are against me for evil. * They "gather themselves together, They hide themselves, they mark my steps, When “they wait for my soul. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity ? In thine anger cast down the people, O God! *Thou "tellest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle: Are & they not in thy book? * When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn 10 In God will I praise his word; In the Lord will I praise his word. 11 In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God! I will render praises unto thee. 18 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: Wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, That I may walk before God in “the light of the living?

back: This I know; "for God is for me. 1 See Psa. 16. e Psa. 118.6. Isa. 31.8. f See Job 14, 16. a Psa. 57. 1. Heb. 13. 6. g Mal. 3. 16. * Heb. observers. I’sa. 54.5. d Psa. 59.8. & 140.2. h Rom. 8.81.

b Psa. 57.8. e Psa. 71. 10.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The condition of David at the court of Achish had become perilous in the extreme. Against the malign assaults of his enemies he could oppose no successful defence, while the ears of the king were daily filled with the most deadly insinuations. All his movements were closely watched, and his words wrested and perverted.

“Every day they wrest my words:
All their thoughts are against me for evil,
They gather themselves together,
They hide themselves, they mark my steps.”—Psalm lvi, 5, 6.

Thus he complains. Achish, though at first unwilling to believe the accusations of David's enemies, was not uninfluenced by them. His favourable regard to David had hitherto overawed the conspirators, and deterred them from their purpose, but it became at length too evident that this precarious protection could no longer be trusted. To escape without the royal permission was impossible, as every avenue of the palace and the city was watched. Every rational means of defence or explanation was exhausted, and he seemed now ready to fall a prey to his enemies, without a friend to assert his innocence, or to pity his misfortunes. His own inimitable language is the fittest description of his forlorn state :

“I looked on my right hand, and beheld,

But there was no man that would know me:

Refuge failed me—no man cared for my soul.”
Psalm crlii, 4.

As a last device for his escape David feigned himself mad, or, as there is some reason to believe, in a fit of epilepsy, and with idiotic vacancy drew marks upon the door of the gate, “and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.” This expedient had the desired effect. The king—whether really deceived by the artifice, or, penetrating the design of David, was willing to second his wishes—reprimanded his officers for introducing to his court a madman, or one subject to such fits, and gave orders for his dismissal. He was accordingly released, with permission to go at large, and immediately made good his retreat across the plain, eastward, to the mountains of Judah, and took up his abode in the famous cave of Adullam.

The situation of the cave of Adullam is not clearly determined. The city bearing that name stood among the low hills west of the mountains of Judah; but the features of the country in that vicinity do not admit of a cave of such dimensions as answer to the facts in the Sacred History concerning the cave of Adullam. For about seven hundred years tradition has pointed out the cave of Adullam, about six miles southwest of Bethlehem. Here, by the side of a ravine, is a natural cavern, so vast and complicated that it has never been fully explored; the natives fearing lest they should be lost in the perfect labyrinth of apartments and passages. It is probable that this is the cave to which David fled. With this cave, in the vicinity of his native city, he might have become somewhat familiar in the more romantic years of his youth ; and in its recesses he might hope for a temporary concealment and repose. Finding himself once more in safety, he sits down and rehearses in song the perils and the gracious deliverances of the past.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »