« הקודםהמשך »
Abigail to David: she treated them with the greatest civility; they did not go home ashamed as before.
Cushi. And so will all the Lord's servants be treated by the elect, who, as Paul says, are sent “to espouse them to one husband, that they may present them as chaste virgins to Christ,” 2 Cor. xi. 2.
Thus I have shewn thee, my brother, by what way I was led at first, namely, by observing the good hand of the Lord upon another, even David, as many others have done since. From these observations I was brought to an acquaintance with David, and to enjoy an union with him: and in time I became one of his messengers, after he was established on the throne of Israel, and continued with him all the time that Absalom's conspiracy was carried on against him, and even unto his death.
I was with the army of David, when the rebels were defeated in the wood of Ephraim, 2 Sam. xviii. 6. And I was sent by Joab, the king's commander, to bear tidings to the citizens of Mahanaim of the death of the conspirator, and of the defeat of the rebels, 2 Sam. xviii. 21. But, alas, it happened to me as it has done to many more: I began to be lifted
in my office; I thought it so great a thing to be a messenger of the Lord's anointed; and indeed so it was, for God evidently blessed and prospered every faithful friend that David had: but, to my shame I forgot myself, and my bountiful benefactor also, who had brought me not only to be a loyal subject of David, but a subject of a spiritual and everlasting kingdom; nor did I daily acknowledge, as I ought to have done (and as I used to do), the good hand of God with me, which had fixed my station so near the
king's person. My first backsliding step was ingratitude; and the next sin which always attends it is remissness in duty, which leads to carnal security; and these procured my wretched fall, which soon followed; for, as Solomon says, “A haughty spirit goes before a fall.”
Ahimaaz. The dealings of God, both in providence and grace, have been wonderful with you indeed; and one would think that a soul so deeply impressed with a sense of divine goodness, and daily compassed about with such visible displays of the tender care and rich mercy of God, could never become so insensible and ungrateful; but, 'alas, I know by sad experience that “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jer. xvii. 9. But pray
what was your fall, my brother; for I long to compare notes with you, having been down myself, as you shall hear before we part, if God permit and you approve; for I'am neither tired nor hungry, nor do I believe I shall be if I 'sit here all the week.
Cushi. Why, as I became proud and selfsufficient, I grew independent of God, and neglected prayer; which gradually brought deadness and barrenness on my soul, and consequently I became dry and unsavoury in my conversation. Some of the king's devotional friends began to slight me on this account; and when I perceived this I began to shun the most spiritual part of the royal household, and to cleave to them who were but half-hearted to David; which led me to associate with some who secretly favoured the house of Saul. This alienation of affection from David alienated my affections from David's God also: the man that hates the saints of God in his heart can find no communion with God himself: “ He that hateth his brother abideth in darkness; and if he does he cannot find his way to God. From this time I felt a hatred rise in my heart against the Lord's anointed, and against his most loyal friends, and, when I have heard the king exult and triumph in the discriminating favour of God towards him, I was inwardly galled at it, and especially on recollecting that speech which he made to his wife Michal, “ It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will play before the Lord,” 2 Sam. vi. 21. I shall not relate the wretched construction that my wicked mind put upon the words, but I found an enmity rise in my heart against him; nor could I rejoice in his rapturous speeches, and heavenly acclamations, as I formerly had done. I found the words of pious Job to be true: “ Envy slays the silly one,” Job v. 2. But the circumstance that wound my jealousy and envy up to the height was, David's giving up the seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonites, to be hanged on the mountain of Gilboa, 2 Sam. xxi. 8, 9.
Thus my love waxed cold to David, and I consequently lost my sweet fellowship with his God; and all by a false spirit. I also justified in my heart the conduct of “Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, when she took sackcloth and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night,” 2 Sam. xxi. 10. All my rebellion was levelled at God himself, who had left Saul, but swore
to David that he would never leave him. Wo be to that man who knowingly espouses an interest that God has blasted! This was my sin, and I paid dear for it; I acted contrary to the visible testimony of God, which justified the king; for David's servants "performed all that the king commanded; and the Lord was entreated for the land,” 2 Sam. xxi. 14.
Who could ever think that there could be such deception as this in å vessel of mercy? That a heart once in union with the saints, and inflamed with love to God could ever be so alienated in affection from God and his family, as to feel a sensible enmity against both, and be prejudiced in favour of apostates? But as my royal master says,
" What is man?” Ahimaaz. And pray how did the Lord deliver thee, my brother?
Cushi. The death of David shocked my very soul, and awfully alarmed my conscience; and the report of his last dying words, “ Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation and all my desire,” (2 Sam. xxiii. 5) extorted Balaam's confession from my heart, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his,” Numb. xxii. 10. I soon felt the loss of the sweet psalmist of Israel; and found, by woful experience, what a dreadful thing it is to cherish enmity against a favourite of heaven whom God is determined to bless. But in reading my royal master's writings, which God was pleased to bless, I felt my soul revisited with the blessings of real repentance for my past folly, for which I must ever remain a debtor to the unchangeable love of God. I found my mind fit for nothing but silent solitude, and therefore I took David's book of Psalms in my hand, and determined to tread in all the footsteps (if possible) that he had gone; and when I came to any spot where he had been visited by the Lord, and delivered from any particular trouble, my soul felt such an unutterable love to him as cannot be expressed; indeed I never knew his worth till I felt my loss. And verily God made me feel all that I read of his writings, just as if it was all my own experience; surely this is going “forth by the footsteps of the flock," Song i. 8.
I went and wept over his sepulchre by the hour, and felt an affection to his remains, as I believe the sleeping dust of Samuel and other holy prophets had, often affected David himself: he took pleasure in the stones of Zion, and favoured “ the dust thereof,”; Psalm cij. 14. From thence I came into the valley of Baca, and read what David said of it; and I am sure I enjoyed and felt what I read until I took his words as my own, and spoke to my longsuffering and propitious Redeemer in the language of his eminent type and faithful servant David; and, through the superabounding and recovering grace of my covenant God, I am arrived at Hermon. Blessed be God, I have been now for some weeks under the sweet teaching of that divine instructor who taught me the path of life at first; and God grant that I never may fall, nor stray from him again, neither in heart nor in life.
Ahimaaz. Wonderful are the works of God, and wonderful has his mercy been to thee, my brother; I think the union you have found with David's spirit in his writings, is what another means when he
says, are come to mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem,