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Israel torn in twain through civil strife. Such questionings came to Samuel, but he read their answers in Israel broken and impotent against her enemies, her condition threatening her religion as well as her existence as a people.
Prophets were mediators between Jehovah and his people. The sole sanction of their office was the inspiration of their God. Not so with Israel's kings. They stood one degree farther from Jehovah. He spoke to them only through his prophets and his priests,' called the two first to their office through the mouth of the prophet Samuel. The king," a son of Israel, must rightfully from Jehovah be designated king, the anointed of Jehovah. The designation could not fall on a man unfit to do Jehovah's will in the kingly station; it could not fall upon a wicked man. Nor could the chosen one be other than a man of skill and bravery. To a fit man, Jehovah's choice would bring a mind enlightened and a heart made strong. So it was that, with Samuel's anointing, God gave Saul another heart; and when, thereafter, the oil was poured over the son of Jesse, the spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him from that day forward. Let such anointed ones hold fast the kingly quality of obedience, both to Jehovah's specific commands spoken by mouth of prophet and to Jehovah's laws, expressed in ancient God-given words or sacred customs, or proceeding from the spirit of Jehovah within the breast. This obedience, in devoted act and god-fearing refraining and humble thought, constitutes a righteous king, and implies wisdom to discern the righteous act.
Saul was anointed king, and his greatened spirit was soon shown in wrathful sense of outrage done to a city of Israel, and in masterful assembling of the people for the war. So he proved himself worthy. And throughout
1 Cf. I Samuel xiv, 18, etc.; ibid., xxiii, 6, etc.
2 See Ewald's History, iii, p. 16, etc.
I Samuel x, 9.
I Samuel xvi, 13.
his reign he failed neither in promptitude nor courage. Yet he failed. With his anointing, when he received another heart, his freedom was not taken from him, he was still free to disobey. Jehovah's oil does not constrain a king to righteousness. And so it might be, and in Saul's case came to pass, that the king, through impatience or pride, would fail in obedience. Saul failed to await Samuel's coming;' then more fatally failed to execute Jehovah's destruction on the Amalekites,' for which last sin, as the word came to Samuel to the prophet's sorrow, Jehovah would reject Saul and give the kingdom to another. And that other! It was with regard to him that Saul's character was to worsen; jealousy of that" better man" made the worse man worse. As the penalty appointed to his disobedience wrought itself out in jealousy of Jehovah's chosen, Saul grew evil, estranged from Jehovah, with no peace within himself, but rather rage and frenzies, till, having seen despair face to face, he perished defeated in battle.
Samuel's severity and Jehovah's abandonment of Saul were to enforce the lesson for the future, that Israel's king must obey Israel's God; otherwise, the monarchy would be heathen tyranny, and not established in righteousness. There was another reason why Saul remained unforgiven; he was unrepentant, and because he never humbled himself in repentance, but remained defiant, Jehovah's spirit departed from him. Herein lay the rejection of Saul and the acceptance of David. It lies with all men to sin and disobey. But the man whose mind is humble before God, whose erring heart would turn to righteousness, whose sins are followed by selfabasement and repentance, and by strengthened resolve to obey and sin no more, he will not be rejected. If some sins seem final and repentance of no avail, or the sinner
I Samuel xii, 8-14.
? I Samuel xv, 4-31.
even kept from repenting, this seeming, as illustrated in Saul's case compared with David's, arises from man's imperfect apprehension of God's knowledge of a human life in all its import. God knows man's repentance before he repents, and knows as well that heart in man which will remain hardened.
So the repentant man is righteous; for repentance implies a nature trusting God, the unrepentant state implies the opposite; repentance implies faithful resolve for righteousness; and unrepentance, intent to sin again. These elements of David's character make him the righteous servant of Jehovah. None is more liable to sin than the man of energy and impulse, who upholds and lives his life amid all perils, including perilous success. And as a rich nature makes possible a life enlarged beyond the common measure, the same richness of capacity touches temptation everywhere.
The fulness of life throbbed in David. An Israelite he was indeed, and a man; of perfect bravery, of tireless energy, and with such a frame as these qualities require. And he had beauty. Also he was a man of intense desire, striving mightily to reach his ends, a loving, faithful man, indeed a most passionately loving man, with greater breadth of magnanimous impulse than had been before conceived. His clinging love and grief for the rebel son who sought his life was new in the world; it amazed men. And had he not loved bounteously, he would have won no love like Jonathan's, and still less have known how that such love" was wonderful and passing the love of women. Years afterward, love for Jonathan moves David the King: "And David said, Is there yet any living of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" Then David was a poet in the old sense, one who cannot but give rhythmic note to his spirit's intensities, cannot but utter song, be it song of loving praise and thankfulness or 1 2 Samuel ix, 1.
song of passionate lament.' Such need and faculty of song means strength and happy harmony of nature in the
David had a ready, rightly judging, craftily devising mind, an understanding of the ways of men, a cognizance of the ways of God. He drew the hearts of all—of the people, of Saul's sons and daughters. Whatever David did pleased the people. One can hear them weeping in the time of his royal flight, and understand the devotion even of men who, like Ittai the Gittite, were not among his close companions. "Then said the King to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? Return and abide with the King; for thou art a stranger, and also an exile. Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us, seeing I go whither I may? Return thou and take back
1 Criticism may long occupy itself with the question, which of the psalms David composed. But history and tradition attribute songs to him and singing, and it is unlikely that these accounts are baseless, just as it is unlikely that the accounts attributing proverbs and other matters to Solomon are untrue. No people, gifted with such impulse and power of poetry as the Hebrews, could pass its climax of national greatness without composing many songs; and with the Hebrews, as of course, they would be religious songs. And of all men of the time, what man so fit to be a poet as the fullest, most poetical man of all? The matter presents an analogy with the question of the Mosaic origin of some elements of the "Mosaic" legislation. There certainly was ritual in Moses' time-why should it not be included in that which has come down? There must have been sacred music and devotional songs in David's time, and the Hebrews could write; then what reason is there to suppose that all those songs perished, that none of them survive in the Psalter, that all the Psalter was written under far less likely circumstances?
Hammurabi was probably the first king to rule at Babylon over Semites and Sumerians, united in a young nationality. Assyriologists attribute much literature to this period of rising national life. The analogy between Hammurabi ruling over a new united power at Babylon, and David ruling over a greatened kingdom at Jerusalem, is close enough to make it probable that the literary phenomena should also show analogies. And the direct evidence of David's having composed psalms, and of Solomon's having composed other matters, is stronger than the evidence as to the time of any piece of ancient Babylonian literature.
thy brethren; mercy and truth be with thee.' And Ittai answered the King and said: As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the King liveth, surely in what place my lord the King shall be, whether for death or for life, even there also will thy servant be.' And David said to Ittai: 'Go and pass over.' And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him. And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over; the king himself also passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness." In Israel the love of David and his house grew to a national instinct.
The crown as well as basis of David's character was Hebraic; he was a servant of Jehovah. He set Jehovah's service and Jehovah's honor above all, slaying the Philistine that it might be known there was a God in Israel. His heart was open towards Jehovah-" thou knowest thy servant's heart "—and he sought to keep it guileless before his God. He never forgot from what a little station Jehovah had taken him to make him king in Israel, and in his kingship will he humble himself, despite the taunts of Saul's proud daughter: "How glorious was the King of Israel to-day, who uncovered himself in the eyes of the handmaidens of his servants!" Answers David: "It was before Jehovah, who chose me above thy father, and above all his house, to appoint me prince over the people of Jehovah, over Israel; therefore will I play before Jehovah, and I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight."
David's faith never wavered in the God who delivered him out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, and out of the hands of the Philistine, and out of the hands of his enemies:
"Jehovah is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer, even mine;
2 Samuel xv, 19.
9 2 Samuel vi, 20.