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2 Sam. 8:15. And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.
2 Sam. 9: 1. AND David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?
2. And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba ? And he said, Thy servant is he.
David was at the head, with the wisest men for counsellors, such as Ahithophel and Hushai.
II. THE STORY OF MEPHIBOSHETH, 2 Sam. 4 : 4. His story opens amid the storm and stress of Israel, at the time of the great battle of Gilboa, where the Philistines slew Saul and his sons, and scattered Israel to the four winds. His name was originally Meri-baal, “ Lord Meri,” and he was only 5 years old when his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul were slain. When the news reached Jonathan's home, most probably by a breathless messenger from the battlefield, the boy's nurse caught up the child to flee from the approaching danger. But in her frantic terror she carelessly let him fall. He was picked up a hopeless cripple, for all his life lame in both feet. “ It shut the gates of an earthly paradise to him for life.
The difficulty with this prince was not so much in his outward misfortunes as in . the weakness of his spirit. History is full of examples of men who have overcome the greatest of obstacles in their path: Galileo in prison, working on his astronomical problems in the one ray of light that entered his dungeon ; Kitto and Beethoven, the deaf ; Milton and Fawcett, the blind. So it has ever been ; the school of adversity has more
noble graduates than any university in the world. III. DAVID'S KINDNESS TO MEPHIBOSHÉTH, 2 Sam. 9: 1-13. In the pause that came to David at this time his mind reverts to forgotten duties, overlooked in the great pressure of the duties of defending and organizing his kingdom, and building up his people into material and religious prosperity. He remembers his league with Jonathan, which was to extend to their children. He made inquiries at once for any surviving relatives of Saul. Ziba, an officer of the house of Saul, reported to David that a son of Jonathan was living in the home of Machir in Lodebar, a place not far from Mahanaim.
Being 5 years old at the time of his father's death, he must have been 12 or 13 when David became king over all Israel, and surely over 30 at the time of our lesson. He was married, and had a young son (v. 12).
All the affection which Jonathan had lavished upon David now came back in full tide to prompt him to express his appreciation of it by kind deeds to his son. He had also loved Saul himself, much as he had suffered from him.
David at once sent officers to bring him from Mahanaim to Jerusalem, where his personal inheritance from Saul was restored to him. It must have been considerable, and was placed under the care
From an old print. of Ziba as steward, and the revenues were David's Kindness to Jonathan's Son. ordered to be sent to Mephibosheth at the court of David. Mephibosheth was invited to sit at the royal table as a part of David's household. The Syrian missionary, Rev. William Ewing, wrote, " When two men eat bread together, this is the desert sacrament, the sign and seal of a covenant of friendship, a league for mutual protection. This is so if they eat but once. Had David only on one occasion invited Mephibosheth to sit and eat with him, he would thenceforth have been known as the king's friend, to injure whom would be to provoke the monarch's vengeance. But a place ' continually' at the royal table declared a relationship of a deeper and stronger kind. He who eats continually'
3. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
4. And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar.
5. Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar.
6. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth! And he answered, Behold thy servant !
7. And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
8. And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am ?
9. Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.
10. Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
II. Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons.
12. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.
13. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet. at an Arab's board has passed the conditions of mere ‘guest' or friend' and is acknowledged as identified with the family, in all its manifold interests.”
How Did David Show Himself Kingly in This Action ? 1. It showed his security in his kingdom. The Oriental idea was that all the family of a rival claimant to the throne should be put to death, or removed from all possibility of inciting an insurrection, an idea we have seen illustrated in the Turkish Empire in modern times. Mephibosheth, as the representative of the eldest son of Saul, had precedence over the other grandsons of Saul, and was the heir to his throne, if family inheritance was to be considered. Notwithstanding his lameness, if he had been a man of strong character and determination, he might win to his side enough of the discontented in David's kingdom to make him a thorn in David's side, if not actually a menace to him. Again, if some strong leader should be affronted by David to the point of rebellion, here was a rallying point to which he could call other malcontents. But David showed no apprehension of danger from him.
2. It showed his kingly control over his own spirit. Saul had many times tried to kill David, he had driven him into exile; and hunted him from place to place. There was a long black chapter of wrongs in the past. Some might have sought to have revenged themselves on the descendants of their enemy. Not so David. He lived up to the precepts in Proverbs 25 : 21, 22 and Rom. 12 : 19-21, be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Later David delivered seven sons and grandsons of Saul to their enemies, still sparing Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 21:1-9). This was not, however, to avenge his own wrongs, but to avenge those of others; nor had it any relation to the security of his throne.
3. It showed his kingly charity. Dr. George Matheson writes, “ I have found a portrait which expresses a phase of human nature not expressed in all the previous survey. It is the nourishing of a deformed man by the high places of the earth ; it is the world's first respectful recognition of the claims of human decrepitude. “ If he had been an Epictetus - a poor body with a rich soul
we might have said that he was accepted in spite of his deformity. But when we see a common place object of decrepitude loaded with the gifts of charity, when we see an Epictetus without genius, or a Talleyrand without sagacity, we know that the calamity itself has been the cause of the benevolence.
David says, I will provide for this man. I will make him glad. I will in his case disprove the doctrine that the physically unfavored are socially ostracized. He bids the wondering courtiers bring forth for him the fairest robe. Henceforth the man shall sit at the royal table, be an inmate of the royal household. He shall be adopted into the family of David. His shall be no servant's place. He shall get back his hereditary rights, the lands of Saul, the lands of Jonathan.
“ You will see that this is very high charity on the part of David. When David set Mephibosheth at his own table he did more than confer benefit on a man physically afflicted; he crowned the physical affliction. He took up the deformity to the Mount and transfigured it. He associated the broken box with fragrance."
IV. THE VALUE OF KINDNESS. “ We have all been amused by the fable of the Sun and the Wind, and readily acknowledge the truth it inculcates, at least in that instance. But do we practise what it teaches ? We may almost daily. The true way of conquering our neighbor is not by violence but by kindness. O that people would set about striving to conquer one another in this way! Then would a conqueror be truly the most glorious, and the most blessed, because the most beneficent of mankind. ...
“In the intercourse of social life it is by little acts of watchful kindness, recurring daily and hourly, - and opportunities of doing kindnesses, if sought for, are for ever starting up, it is by words, by tones, by gestures, by looks, that affection is won and preserved. He who neglects these trifles, yet boasts that, whenever a great sacrifice is called for, he shall be ready to make it, will rarely be loved. The likelihood is, he will not make it; and if he does, it will be much rather for his own sake, than for his neighbor's.
“We seldom do a kindness, which, if we consider it rightly, is not abundantly repaid ; and we should hear little of ingratitude, unless we were so apt to exaggerate the worth of our better deeds, and to look for a return in proportion to our own exorbitant estimate.” – Hare's Guesses at Truth.
“The Man with a Genius for Helping: “There is a man,' said his neighbor, speaking of the village carpenter,' who has done more good, I really believe, in this community, than any other person who ever lived in it. He cannot talk very well in a prayer meeting, and he doesn't often try. He isn't worth two thousand dollars, and it's very little he can put down on subscription papers for any object. But a new family never moves into the village that he does not find them out, to give them a neighborly welcome, and to offer any little service he can render. He is always on the lookout to give strangers a seat in his pew at church. He is always ready to watch with a sick neighbor, and look after his affairs for him. I have sometimes thought that he and his wife kept house-plants in winter just to be able to send flowers to invalids. He finds time for a pleasant word for every child he meets ; and you'll see the children climbing into his one-horse wagon when he has no other load. He really seems to have a genius for helping folks in all sorts of common ways, and it does me good every day just to meet him in the street. - Rev. J. R. Miller.
The Beauty of Service. "I read a story once told by H. S. Toomer which I would like to tell you because of the fine ending it has. It was about a girl called Flora, who was so poor-looking that she had come to be known by the other children as • The Ugly Duckling.'
Oh, how I wish I was beautiful,' she cried one day,' it is so dreadful to be ugly.' “'You can be beautiful,' said the Queen of the Fairies. 'I will help you if you wish.'
“ The girl was carried off to the fairies' home. There she was set to waiting on an old, sick, rheumatic woman.
." At first she rebelled, but soon pitied the sick woman, and forgot her own troubles thinking how she might be of help.
She made her a soft cushion. The old lady held a mirror, saying, “Look, my child!'
“ Flora was astonished. Her crooked eye was straight.
She wheeled her mistress out into the sunshine. “ The mirror showed a new pretty curve in her mouth. “ She rubbed the rheumatic limbs. “ The mirror showed beautiful dimples in her cheek.
“ You may go home now, you are beautiful,' and the old sick woman returned to her fairy form.
“I have kept my promise, you see,' said the fairy. • See thou lose not that which thou hast gained. Farewell.'
** Oh, stop,' cried Flora,' the poor old woman, who will take care of her ?'
Yes, I bore all that pain that you might grow beautiful.” “ That is the beauty of all service rendered with love for others; it makes us nobler, finer, sweeter, prettier in face, in heart, and in life. Try it, young folk.' Rev. James Learmouni in an English paper.
My Prayer. “I do not ask, my God, for mystic power
"I would not rise upon the men below me, To heal the sick and lame, the deaf and blind; Or pulling at the robes of men above; I ask Thee humbly for the gracious dower
I would that friends, a few dear friends, may know me, Just to be kind.
And, knowing, love, "I do not pray to see the shining beauty
"I do not pray for palaces of splendor Of highest knowledge most divinely true;
Or far amid the world's delights to roam; I pray that, knowing well my duty,
pray that I may know the meaning tender This I may do.
Of home, sweet home. “I do not ask that men with flattering finger “I do not ask that heaven's golden treasure
Should point me out within the crowded mart. Upon my little blundering life be spent; But only that the thought of me may linger But oh, I ask Thee for the perfect pleasure In one glad heart.
Of calm content."
- Amos R. Wells. V. WHAT WERE THE ELEMENTS OF STRENGTH IN DAVID'S LIFE ? 1. He relied on God. We saw this in his youth, when he tells Saul, “ the Lord will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” Again where he calls in the fashion of the times to Goliath as they approach for combat, “ I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts. This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand.”
During his exile life, and after he became king, we read often of his inquiring of the Lord when about to undertake any great thing, or when in any perplexity or danger. 2. He was greatly merciful. We see this fact throughout all his career.
We see him sparing Saul twice at least when Saul was entirely in his power, and David's men were urging him to slay him and be safe. See Lesson III. " That mercy is also shown in his attitude to Saul's family.
3. He greatly loved. ' His love for Jonathan was as great as Jonathan's for him. He even loved Saul, who hated him. For the sake of this love, and because it was right, he lived for years in exile, when he might have headed a successful rebellion and taken the throne. For the sake of this love he showed mercy on the son of Jonathan, and more than mercy, even love itself.
4. He was deeply religious. He brought the ark from its hidden resting place and made it the centre of the worship at the capital. He wanted to make for God a temple which should better compare with the house he had built for himself ; and when his request to do this was refused he spent time and effort to do what he could toward the accomplishment of his wish. His Psalms breathe such an atmosphere of deep religious love, and faith, and trust, that there has never been any poetry to surpass them as expressions of Christian love and faith.
Even his sin, since it was greatly repented of, has served to make him, through the Psalms of penitence which have come down to us, a help rather than a hindrance to the religious life of the world.
There are other elements which can be found by a careful study of the life of David, for which we cannot find room in this book. His life will well repay close study, in this direction ; for we can all have the strength of character possessed by David, even in our more humble places. The very humanness of David renders him helpful to the modern man. He greatly sinned, as we shall see ; but he greatly repented, and was greatly forgiven.
LESSON VII (20). -- August 15.
THE SINS AND SORROWS OF DAVID.
- 2 Sam. 12:9, 10;
GOLDEN TEXT. — Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.- GAL. 6:7.
Devotional Reading : Prov. 1:7-16. | Additional Material for Teachers : 2 Sam. 11-20. Primary Topic : DAVID's GRIEF OVER ABSALOM.
Lesson Material : 2 Sam. 15:1-14; 18:5-15, 31-33.
Memory Verse : A wise son maketh a glad father. Prov. 15: 20. Junior Topic : DAVID AND ABSALOM.
Lesson Material : 2 Sam. 15:1-14 ; 18: 5-15, 31, 33.
Memory Verse : Prov. 13:15 (The way, etc.).
Place. — Various places throughout THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS.
the kingdom and its environs. This lesson covers the great tragedy of David's life, a tragedy which came, at
THE ROUND TABLE. least in part, for his yielding to temptation. Absalom
warning. His FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION. whole life said “Do not do as I did ; The sin of David in the light of Oriental life at that do not become what I became ; do not time. grow into my character ; do not enter Absalom, his early life and training, and the effect on
his character. the path which led to my ruin.”
His exile and its cause. The history of Absalom, showing his Absalom as an unscrupulous politician. character, his beauty, his popularity on Absalom's open rebellion.
Why did David not defend himself in Jerusalem? the one side and his utter selfishness on
David's grief for his son; why so great? the other, should be the basis of the How far were these troubles the fruit of David's sin ? study of all grades. , Show the grief of The contrast between Absalom's sin and David's.
The contrast between the consequences. the father and compare it with the grief of our own parents, when we do wrong, leading the pupils to realize the warning
PLAN OF THE LESSON. of Absalom's life, to hate the evil, to see where it is around us, and to do SUBJECT : The Tragedy of the Way
ward Son. something to overcome it. The Older Classes can well discuss the
I. THE DOUBLE SIN DAVID, effect of selfishness on our own characters
2 Sam. II, 12. and on those around us, and how David's
II. The Youth OF ABSALOM, 2 Sam. troubles were consequences of his own sin.
13, 14. The Young People and Adults may III. ABSALOM THE REBEL, 2 Sam. 15finish the study of David which they
17. began last Sunday, laying emphasis on IV. THE DECISIVE BATTLE, 2 Sam. 18 : the weak points in his character and
1-18. how they affected his life and the fate
V. THE TRAGEDY OF GRIEF, 2 Sam. of the nation. Little attention to his
18 : 19-20 : 22. sin itself is necessary, looking at it only vi. ELEMENTS WEAKNESS from the standpoint of the times in
David's CHARACTER. which he lived. Do not, however, belittle it or disregard its effects.
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY.
In addition to the various CommenTHE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
taries, Stanley's Jewish Church is very Time. The lesson includes parts of graphic. Wade, Old Testament History, the latter half of David's reign, B.c. pp. 262-266, discusses carefully the 1043-1023 according to Professor Beecher. motives for discontent that favored the