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replied, “Yes; more precious than ever."
She had often prayed that she might meet death as a true Christian; and for some days before her departure all fear of death seemed to have passed away, and her cry often was, “Lord, receive my soul; take me to thyself, and bless those I leave behind.” She died May 27th, 1871, aged 69 years.
The substance of these memoirs was read in Zion Chapel by Mr. H. Atherton, on Sunday evening, August 6th, after an appropriate sermon by Mr. H. Hannam.
DIED. Aug. 30th.-Henry Woodfine, of Holt,
in the Chester circuit. “His end
was peace.” We have received the following memorial card, announcing the death of this widely-known and muchesteemed Christian lady.-EDITOR. .
In affectionate remembrance of Sarah Hall, of Jasmine Cottage, Sneinton, who fell asleep in Jesus, August 29th, in the 84th year of her age, and was interred in the General Cemetery at Nottingham, September 6th, 1871. “The memory of the just is blessed.”
The Family Treasury.
THE LIFE OF DAVID IN THE
PSALMS.-No. II. STRIKING indeed is the contrast between David's boyhood and the years which followed it after a short interval; his quiet and generally monotonous life as a shepherd was but the prelude to a period of suffering and conflict, which, in its own line, has no parallel in Bible history. * The period in questionthat of his wanderings in Saul's reign-is, on the whole, far more varied and exciting than the other, but probably in many respects far less pure and happy. Thrown into circumstances of singular trial and danger, his faith in God at times gave way, and he used falsehood and deceit in order to save his life. Let us see whether the Book of Psalms casts any light upon the causes of his persecution by Saul, or the effect which a wandering life had upon him at the time in question. I cannot, in the limits assigned me, always give the full strength of my case, and, in particular, I cannot discuss at length the date and authorship of every Psalm I quote; 80 for fuller details I refer my
readers to the able papers of the Rev. A. Maclaren in this year's Sunday at Home, * merely adding that my plan somewhat differs from his, and that on some minor points I cannot accept his views.
When we inquire into the causes of the sudden change in David's fortunes, the Bible gives us two answers. Saul hated him because he was to be his successor, and thus frustrate his hope of founding a dynasty of his own; and he even feared that, in his own lifetime, David's great popularity might enable him to seize upon the throne. See 1 Sam. xviii. 8, also xxii. 13, where he complains that Ahimelech and the son of Jesse have conspired against him. David's strong protestations of innocence, when he spared Saul's life at Engedi, and in the wilderness of Ziph (xxiv. 1115; xxvi. 18, 19), imply that some serious charge had been made against him; and the latter passage shows us from what quarter it came. "If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering : but if the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inherit.
* At least among men like himself. Christ's sufferings I leave out of the question, for he, though a man, was also very much more.
• They are entitled “The Life of Davi as Reflected in his Psalms."
ance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve with the tenderness with which he other gods.” He evidently either speaks of Saul from time to time. know or suspected that Saul's en. Such may have been his habit, but mity against him was fomented by no rule is without its exceptions. his enemies at court, who envied Pity for a poor misguided king was his former prosperity, and tried to a good thing in its place, but it work his ruin. This view is strongly would have sunk into sheer effemiconfirmed by the Psalms which nacy had it not been tempered he penned at this period, in which with strong indignation at his godhe not only complains of being lessness and cruelty. Besides, when slandered and misjudged by others, David curses his enemies, here or but sometimes speaks of false wit elsewhere, he does it, not as an nesses rising up against him. In injured man, but as God's prophet. two cases at least he speaks of these No doubt he pitied them, perhaps things in close connection with he even wept over them when he Saul's persecutions, as though the thought of their coming doom, but one were the cause of the other. in such a case all private feelings Thus is Psalm lix. penned “when must stand aside, “The word that Saul sent and they watched the God put into his mouth, that must house to kill him.” He writes thus he speak." of his enemies, “ Bring them down Many of the errors into which O Lord, our shield, for the sin of David fell at this period, may be their mouth and the words of their excused on the ground, that he was lips; let them even be taken in their placed in such extreme danger, pride, and for cursing and lying that he had not time to think what which they speak." We naturally he should do; but this excuse caninfer that he had suffered from their not be pleaded on behalf of one of lies, though probably others may his very first acts during his wanderhave suffered as well. We learn ings. When he met the bloodthirsty from its title that the 7th Psalm Doeg at Nob, he had little time to relates to “Cush the Benjamite.” devise means of escape; but why Cush means “the black man" and did he not inquire of God through as applied to Saul denotes blackness the high priest, and thus get unof heart. Verses 3 to 5 show at erring counsel, which would have once how grioyous was the charge saved him from many an after made against the Psalmist, and sorrow? Instead of this he tells how innocent he was. “O Lord Abimelech a lie, and prefers his my God, if I have done this; if own counsel to that of a wise and there be iniquity in my hands ; if merciful God. So he took a course, I have rewarded evil unto him that rash almost to madness; he went was at peace with me; (yea, I have to Gath, the very stronghold of his delivered him that without cause is foes. * But just now we are conmy enemy :) let the enemy perse cerned with Doeg. That he paid cute my soul, and take it; yea, let some outward attention to religion him tread down my life upon the is shown by the fact, that he was earth, and lay mine honour in the at Nob, “that day, detained before dust." Mark well the first clause the Lord,” + but that the true prin. in the passage. “O Lord my God, ciples of religion held no place in if I have done this”-he does not his heart, is clear, not only from say what it was, indeed it was too his after conduct, but from what is well known to himself and others said of him in the 52nd Psalm. to need minute description, but the In verse 1 he is sarcastically called very fact that this grievous charge a "mighty man" or "hero," behad become so familiar to him, cause he fell on and slew defenceless shows how much he must have women and priests. He was rery suffered from it. Mr.Maclaren thinks rich, it seems, and trusted more in that the Cush is not Saul, but one of his chief men, because the whole
* 1 Sam, xxi. 10. tone of the Psalm is inconsistent
+ 1 Sam. xxi. 7.
his wealth than in God. He de- to the utmost. Thus the matter lighted in lying and mischief, and must have ended more or less in by his false accusations had brought speculation, had we not his own many into trouble. He even gloried Psalms to fall back upon. These in his cold blooded massacre of the settle the question for us, by showpriests, as appears from the first ing that the latter view is the verse : “Why boastest thou thyself sounder of the two. How plaintive in mischief, thou "mighty man?" for instance is Psalm lvi. 8: “Thou All these facts must be carefully tellest my wanderings : put thou borne in mind in connection with my tears into thy bottle: are they David's conduct at Nob. With so not in thy book ?" True, this was full a knowledge of Doeg's charac written at the beginning of his wanter, how could he be so base as to derings, but liko sentiments occur expose God's own high priest to in his other Psalms written at this danger by falsely stating, that Saul period. From these we gather that had sent him on a special mission ? though he had light and joy in his He confesses, “I knew it that day, wanderings, this was very much when Doeg the Edomite was there, in spite of outward circumstances, that he would surely tell Saul;" and that trouble would often have and well might be add, “I have oc overwhelmed his soul, had it not casioned the death of all the persons cast it back on God. I cannot of thy father's house (1 Sam. xxii. multiply illustrations, but a good 22). It seems by no means impos one occurs in Psalm lvii., which sible, that had he told the high priest closes with a glorious outburst of the plain truth, thelattermight have praise, and yet shows us how dark been able to do him a real service, were David's present prospects. perhaps by sheltering bim in one Mark well such passages as theseof the Levitical cities, or by supply. “In the shadow of thy wings will ing his wants in any other hidicg I make my refuge, until these place he might choose, perhaps calamities be overpast." “He shall even by moving the priests and send from heaven, and save me people in his favour, and thus from the reproach of him that shielding him in some measure would swallow me up.” “My soul from the mad vengeance of Saul; is among lions : I lie among them for despotic though Saul might be, that are set on fire, even the sons we know thaton one occasion at least of men whose teeth are spears and the resolute voice of the people pre arrows, and their tongue a sharp vented him from putting a subject sword.” This view is also borno to death. *
out by Psalm xviii., which recaBut for his Psalms we should pitulates the history of David's not have very clear or full ideas of wanderings in Saul's time, and how he felt during his years of perhaps a great deal more. wandering, for the book of Samuel While the 27th and 69th Psalms gives us only glimpses of the truth. shed great light on this portion Some might hold that the free life of David's history, they present of the wilderness and the moun certain critical difficulties, which tains, with its constant contact with ordinary readers can hardly be Nature, its romance, its excitement, expected to solve. Ewald, the Gerits hair-breadth escapes, its freedom man critic, fastens upon Psalm from ordinary cares and responsi xxvii. 4, and boldly asserts that it bilities, would be just the thing for must have been written in its preDavid, and that on the whole he sent form after the Temple was would beartily enjoy it. Others built. There are various ways of would feel that whatever attraction getting out of the difficulty, but there might be in these things, a perhaps the best is that of Fausset;* long continuance of a wandering the word here rendered “temple,” life would try his faith and patience
* " Commentary, Critical and Explana* 1 Sam. xiv. 45.
tory," vol. ii,
literally means “palace,” and, as in Psalm v. 7, applies to the tabernacle, and especially its holy of holies. The other Psalm (the 69th) is by Calmet referred to thetime of the captivity, and, at first sight, the two last verses seem to bear out this view; yet, even if they do, what was to prevent the church of captivity from adding to one of David's Psalms two verses, peculiarly descriptive of its own state, and thus making the whole, in some sense, its own? Faulty as this view is, it is much better than Calmet's. Look closely at the experiences of the Psalm, and you will see that they can never have been those of a whole nation, but are clearly those of an individual. Why not David (as in the title) ? for verses 35, 36, apply quite as naturally to his age as to that of the captivity. During Saul's reign the land was in great danger from the Philistines, while, from their nearness to the Philistine frontier, “ Zion, and the cities of Judah,” would be in greater danger than other parts of the country. If the fortunes of the Israelites had sunk so low that, after Saul's defeat and death, “they forsook the cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them," * we can well beliove, that some of the cities of Judah were destroyed by the foe, at some period in Saul's reign, as the 35th verse of the Psalm perhaps implies. This was a very grave crisis in Israel's history, and the thing to be settled was, whether she should take her rightful place in the world, or whether the long and successful encroachments of the native tribes should still continue. That David's contemporaries were alive to the gravity of the crisis, we infer from 2 Sam. iü. 17-19; how keenly he himself felt it, appears from the closing verses of the Psalm. Well might be patiently abide present persecutions, if thus he might save his country from a foreign yoke! There are, however, other things in the Psalm which bear out the view that it was penned at the beginning
of his public career; to say the least, the last clause of verse 4 best applies to the time when he was a persecuted subject, and he was never during his reign so utterly friendless as he describes himself to be in verse 20, not even during Absolom's revolt.
Whenever David penned the 27th Psalm, the 10th verse far more naturally applies to his years of wandering during Saul's reign than to any other period in his life. Unhappily this verse is wrongly rendered in our version ; according to Dr. Kitto it should run, “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up." Knowing that David's mother was probably a pious woman, we cannot take these words in their extreme sense. She could never become his enemy, although she might cease to help or countenance her son, in order to save the lives of herself and family from the mad fury of Saul. When this took place we cannot be certain, but Mr. Maclaren, who thinks that there is a reference to 1 Sam. xxii. 3, 4, remarks, that elderly people, like David's parents, could ill stand the hardships of a wandering life, and that their going to Moab was the right thing for them to do. Perhaps 80, and yet they may have done it in a wrong way; at any rate David seems to complain of their conduct, for the verse, taken along with its context, amounts to this. "O Lord, forsake me not, for even my parents have forsaken me. God will not desert me as they have done." If we accept Mr. Maclaren's view, they must have left their son in such a spirit as to make the parting a real forsaking. David himself, not long after, showed but scanty faith in God's promise, that he should sit upon the throne of Israel ;* what wonder if his parents shared in his unbelief, and even felt angry with him for endangering the lives and fortunes of his family, by what they might deem a mad ambition ? But to David's cup of sorrow, already very full and
bitter, another element was added in the alienation of his brothers; for, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children" (Psalm lxix. 8). Here, says Dr. Kitto, according to Hebrew custom, the second part of the verse to some extent repeats the first part, and so explains it. David's brethren were his own mother's children, not mere stepbrothers, à fact which he proceeds to confirm by another argument. * This fact deepens the force of the verse, by showing how the near relation of the parties must have embittered the sorrows of alienation.
Some of those Psalms which shed light on David's history hayo a double meaning, and relate both to Christ and to David. Without advocating anything like extreme and forced interpretation, or bewildering my readers with the details of a long controversy, I may express my belief that commentators have not always brought out David's share of the meaning so fully as they might have dono. Mr. Maclaren, for instance, thinks it is impossible to find any parallel in Dayid's life to those sufferings described in the middle verses. Now, without discussing whether ALL things there mentioned are true of David, we need not go heedlessly to the other extreme and say that NONB of them are true of him. He was never crucified like Christ, and hence never suffered those things in the same way, does it follow, he never suffered them or part of them in some other way? Take, for instance, the statement "they pierced my hands and my feet" (v. 16). David, we know, was for a long time hunted by Saul, and was often in great danger of death; is it not quite possible that during all this time he received sword or arrow wounds in the hands and feet? He figuratively describes his foes as beasts, and the general sense of the passage seems to be: “ These strong bulls of Bashan have put me in fearful peril, while fierce
cowardly dogs have assailed me with all the rage of petty malice, and yet God so restrained the power of the latter, that they could not hurt me in any vital part, such as the heart or head, they could only pierce my hands and feet.” Those who know anything of battles will admit that the danger of one engaged in them may be very great, even when the injuries received are very slight; the missile which merely grazes the locks of the hair, might well have caused death had it passed a little lower down. This principle is strikingly exemplified in the career of a veteran named Fletcher, as recorded in the Leisure Hour for October, 1854. In verse 18 we read, “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Why could not this have happened to David, say, “when Saul sent messengers to his house to watch him, and to slay him in the morning"? * Men bent on such an errand, when they found their prey had escaped them, would not scruple in their rage to take away his property, down to his very clothes, and share the latter among them. There is nothing in the Psalms to forbid this view, and much to bear it out, for instance, his own statement in Psalm Ixix. 4, “ Then I restored that which I took not away.” We have already seen reason to believe that false charges were constantly made against him at this period, and need not be startled to find one of them was that he had defrauded another man. We are not told whether the charge was made before or after his flight; if after, it would be easy to try and condemn him in his absence, and then to seize upon his property in order to satisfy the unprincipled demands of the suitor. It is, I believe, Lord Macaulay who says that when a man is out of favour in India, it is easy to get up any amount of false witness against him; and something of the kind may well have happened to David, for the people of the East are not very truthful.
* See The Journal of Sacred Literature, 1848.