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David? In reading the history of David's dangers and escapes from Saul, we read the history of the ordinary Providence of God. By this key we ought to unlock all the escapes of ourselves and the people of God. He who providentially defended David can with equal care providentially deliver us. Nothing is more erroneous, or more pernicious to the comfort of God's people, than to consider the deliverances of his people recorded in Scripture as being extraordinary or miraculous works, without any bearing on after times.
DOEG PRESENT WHEN DAVID CAME TO AHIMELECH.
1 Sam. xxi.
For the sin of Eli with regard to his sons, God rejected his whole house from the priesthood. Providence fulfils his word. Doeg happened to be at Nob when David on his fight came to Ahimelech : he saw what David received from the priest, and gave information. With the exception of Abiathar, the whole house of Ahimelech was cut off. “ Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdsmen that belonged to Saul.”—“Then answered Doeg the Edomite, (which was set over the servants of Saul,) and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob to Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the Lord for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the
Philistine.”—“And the king said to Doeg, Turn thee, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.”
A biathar, one of the sons of Abimelech, escaped and fled to David. But he afterwards conspired with Adonijah, and was expelled from the office of the priesthood by Solomon. “ And unto A.biathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields, for thou art worthy of death : but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted. So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord ; that he might fulfil the word of the Lord which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.” Thus did Providence fulfil the word of the Lord against Eli for his negligence with respect to the restraint of his sons. The wisdom of this world would see nothing here but the hand of man: the pen of inspiration refers all things to the will of God.
DAVID PUT IN POSSESSION OF THE KINGDOM.
2 Sam. iii. 6.
On the death of Saul, the men of Judah anointed
David to be their king. But he must be king over all Israel ; and Providence opens the
way. Ishbosheth was made king by Abner. How can this obstacle be providentially removed? Abner is a man of might and of wisdom. If he has espoused the cause of David's rival, hopes of speedy success are not to be entertained. But Providence dissolves the union between the son of Saul and his protector. Though Abner had made himself strong for the house of Saul, Providence turned his power to assist in effecting what he was endeavouring to prevent. It happened that Abner had taken a concubine of Saul's, and that Ishbosheth had imprudently reproved him. Abner is disgusted, rebels, and translates the kingdom to David.
But Ishbosheth still lives. He must be removed to make way for David. Two of his own captains, even of his own tribe, conspired against him, and slew him. By wicked instruments, and by a deed which was disapproved and punished by David, was the rival of David taken out of the way. None can work like the Almighty. He effects his purposes by the wicked as well as by the righteous ; by means which he condemns as well as by means which he commands. This is a depth unfathomable to our intelleet.
This, however, might have only exasperated the minds of the friends of the house of Saul against David. Divine Providence turned it otherwise. All Israel were now unanimous in calling the man after God's own heart to the throne.
« Then came
all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh." Why did they forget this lesson? Was it at this moment that their relation to David commenced ? It was now that God impressed them with this sentiment: for now David must be the acknowledged king of all the tribes of Israel. David, as the type of Christ, must have a willing people in the day of his power.
“ Also in time past,” they continue to say,
“ when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel.” Why, then, was this so shamefully forgotten hitherto ? Why does their gratitude now revive ? « And the Lord said to them,” say they, “thou shalt feed my people, and thou shalt be captain over Israel.” Why, then, did they, till this moment, rebel against what they knew to be the appointment of the Lord ? Why do they now yield with child-like submission to this autho
ILL TREATMENT OF THE MESSENGERS OF DAVID BY HANUN, KING OF THE AMMONITES.—2 Sam. x. 2.
The message of David to Hanun, king of the Ammonites, in condolence on the death of his father, was a most effectual way to secure peace between the two nations. This God did not design: this his Providence prevented. When David's messengers arrived, the princes of Hanun excited him to suspect the sincerity of David, and grossly to insult him in the person of those commissioned by him. It may be politic in statesmen to guard against insincerity in the most friendly professions. But to betray these suspicions, and return insult for kindness, is both inhuman and grossly impolitic. Had there been just grounds to suspect the sincerity of David, it was the wisdom of Hanun's court to overlook this, and return the compliment that was so politely conferred. But when God determines to punish nations, he makes their rulers mad, even though they may be in other respects wise and cautious men. So was it on this occasion. “Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David's servants came into the land of the children of Ammon. And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.” Thus vengeance came on Ammon. And thus it is in every age. When God designs to send the sword, his Providence often employs the rashness of mutual insults as the means of unsheathing it. A point of honour may deluge nations with blood.