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ness, with unfailing constancy and loyalty turned his thoughts to God as the source of all hope and consolation. “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God !” He has no doubts, no scepticism, no forgetfulness. His piety has the seal of an all-pervading sense of the constant presence and aid of a personal God whom it is his supremest glory to acknowledge, — his staff, his rock, his fortress, his shield, his deliverer, his friend; the One with whom he sought to commune, both day and night, on the field of battle and in the guarded recesses of his palace. In the very depths of humiliation he never sinks into despair. His piety is both tender and exultant. In the ecstasy of his raptures he calls even upon inanimate nature to utter God's praises, — upon the sun and moon, the mountains and valleys, fire and hail, storms and winds, yea, upon the stars of night. “Bless ye the Lord, O my soul! for his mercy endureth forever.” And this is why he was a man after God's own heart. Let cynics and critics, and unbelievers like Bayle, delight to pick flaws in David's life. Who denies his faults? He was loved because his soul was permeated with exalted loyalty, because he hungered and thirsted after righteousness, because he could not find words to express sufficiently his sense of sin and his longing for forgiveness, his consciousness of littleness and unworthiness when contrasted with the maj. esty of Jehovah. Let not our eyes be fixed upon his defects, but upon the general tenor of his life. It is true he is in war merciless and cruel; he hurls anathemas on his enemies. His wrath is as supernal as his love; he is inspired with the fiercest resentments; he exhibits the mighty anger of Homer's heroes; he never could forgive Joab for the slaughter of Abner and Absalom. But the abiding sentiments of his heart are gentleness and magnanimity. How affectionately his soul clung to Jonathan! What a power of selfdenial, when he was faint and thirsty, in refusing the water which his brave companions brought him at the risk of their lives! How generously he spared the life of Saul! How patiently he bore the rebukes of Nathan! How nobly he treated the aged Barzillai ! His impulses were all generous. He was affectionate to weakness. He had no egotistic ends. He forgot his own sorrows in the sufferings of his people. He had no pride in all the pomp of power, although he never forgot that he was the Lord's anointed.
When we pass from David's personal character to the services he rendered, how exalted his record! He laid the foundation of the prosperity of his nation. Where would have been the glories of Solomon but for the genius and deeds of David ? But more than any material greatness are the imperishable lyrics he bequeathed to all ages and nations, in which are unfolded
the varied experiences of a good man in his warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil, — those priceless utterances which portray every passion that can move the human soul. He has left bare to the contemplation of all ages all that a lofty soul can suffer or enjoy, all that can be learned from folly and sin, all that can stimulate religious life, all that can console in sorrow and affliction. These experiences and aspirations he has embodied in lyric poetry, on the whole the most exquisite in the Hebrew language, creating a new world of religious thought and feeling, and furnishing the foundation for Christian psalmody, to be sung from age to age throughout the world. His kingdom passed away, but his Psalms remain, - a realm which no civilization can afford to lose. As Moses lives in his jurisprudence, Solomon in his proverbs, Isaiah in his prophecies, and Paul in his epistles, so David lives in those poems that are still the most expressive of all the forms in which the public worship of God is still continued. Such poetry could not have been written, had not the author experienced in his own life every variety of suffering and joy.
The literary excellence of the Psalms cannot be measured by the standard of Greek and Roman lyrics. It is not seen in any of our present forms of metrical composition. It is the mighty soaring of an exalted soul which makes the Psalms so dear to us, and not their artificial structure. They were made to reveal the ways of God to man and the life of the human soul, not to immortalize heroes or dignify a human love. We may not be able to appreciate in English form their original metrical skill; but it is impossible that a people so musical as the Hebrews were kindled into passionate admiration of them, had they not possessed great rhythmic beauty. We may not comprehend the force of the melodic forms, but we can appreciate the tenderness, the pathos, the sublimity, and the intensity of the sentiments expressed. “In pathetic dirges, in songs of jubilee, in outbursts of praise, in prophetic announcements, in the agonies of contrition, in bursts of adoration, in the beatitudes of holy bliss, in the enchanting calmness of Christian life,” no one has ever surpassed David, so that he was called “the sweet singer of Israel.” There is nothing pathetic in national difficulties, or endearing in family relations, or profound in inward experience, or triumphant over the fall of wickedness, or beatific in divine worship, which he does not intensify. He raises mortals to the skies, though he brings no angels down. Never does he introduce dogmas, yet his songs are permeated with fundamental truths, and are a perpetual rebuke to pharisaism, rationalism, epicureanism, and every form of infidel speculation that with “the fool hath said in his heart, There
is no God.” As the Psalter was held to be the inost inspiring poetry in the palmy days of the Hebrew commonwealth, so it proved the most impressive part of the ritual of the mediæval Church, and is still the most valued of all the lyrics which Protestantism has appropriated in the worship of God. And how potent, how lasting, how valued is a good song! The psalmody of the Church will last longer than its sermons ; and when a song stimulates the loftiest sentiments of which men are capable, how priceless it is, how permanently it is embalmed in the heart of the world ! “ Thus have his songs become the treasured property of mankind, resounding in the anthems of different creeds, and carrying into every land that same voice which on Mount Zion was raised in sorrowful longings or ecstatic praise.”
What a mighty power the songs of the son of Jesse still wield over the affections of mankind! We lose sight at times of Moses, of Solomon, and of Isaiah ; but we never lose sight of David.
Such is the tribute which all nations bring,