Abbildungen der Seite

ble of contending with him for the crown and disturbing him in the possession of it) he delivered to them the two bastard sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine, and the five sons of Micah, his youngest daughter, by Adriel, the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.

These seven descendants of Saul being delivered into the hands of the Gibeonites, they immediately put them to death, by hanging them on gibbets erected for the purpose; and in this situation it was intended they should continue till there fell rain upon the earth, the want of which had occasioned the famine. Rizpah was so affected at the fate of her two sons, that she had a tent made of sackcloth (pitched near the place where they were exe. cuted) for her to live in, that by the help of her servants, she might keep watch day and night to prevent the birds and beasts from destroying the carcases; and in this situ. ation did she continue till they were taken down and interred.

It is to be observed, to the honor of David, that though he was under the necessity of delivering up some of Saul's family to justice, in order to give satisfaction to the injured Gibeonites, yet he took the first opportunity he could to pay the last tokens of respect that were in his power to the memory of Saul and his unhappy family. As soon as it appeared that the natural cause of the famine was over by the return of the rain, he ordered the

The seed is always reckoned by the males, and not the females of a family, and the name in a father's house could only be preserved by the male descendants. But David gave up only two bastards, the sons of Rizpah, Saul's coneubine, who were not the legal seed of Saul; and five of the sons of his eldest daughter by Adriel, (who could only keep up Adriel's name, and not Saul's;) and hereby observed, without the least violation, his oath to Saul. Not one of the persons he surrendered was capable of succeeding Saul, especially wbilst any of the male branches were alive. Now, at this very time, Mephibosheth, Jonathan's eldest son, dwelt in Dávid's family at Jerusalem; and though lame in his feet, yet he was sound enough to be the father of a son named Micha, who was at this time old enough to have children, and, indeed, had afterwards four sons, from whom descended a numerous posterity, amounting in the whole (sons and grandsons included) to not less than one hundred and fifty. This was undoubtedly a farther proof that David did not violate his oath to Saul in his treaty with the Gibeonites; but, on the contrary, that he took every measure his thoughts could project of strictly preserving it.

bones of Saul and Jonathan (which had been buried near Jabesh-Gilead) to be taken up, and, with the bodies of those who had been hung up by the

Gibeonites, interred them honorably in the sepulchre of Kish, Saul's father; whereby he amply testified that so far from having any enmity against Saul's family, he was pleased with the opportunity of shewing respect to his name and memory. This whole account concludes with the following observation of the historian : And they performed all that the king commanded, and after that God was intreated for the land: God approved of David's generosity to the family and remains of his enemy, and, as a reward for it, sent prosperity to him and his people.

The calamity of the famine being removed, David's attention was engaged in opposing the Philistines, who, though they had been greatly humbled in the beginning of his reign, having yet some gigantic men among them, again waged war against him. He accordingly marched against them at the head of a very considerable army, and engaging them, soon obtained a complete victory, great numbers being slain, and the rest put to flight. But this battle was very near proving fatal to David. One of the Philistines (a man of so large a size that his lance weighed three hundred shekels) seeing him detached from his army, and quite spent, turned short, and suddenly struck him to the ground; but Abishai, the brother of Joab, coming at the precise moment to his relief, not only preserved the king, but killed the Philistine. The whole army were so sensible of the king's danger, and the interposition of Providence for his safety, that they swore he should never, from that time, personally engage in battle, lest his natural courage should involve him in the like or worse misfortunes, by means of which the nation would sustain an irreparable loss, and the people be deprived of those distinguished blessings they had so often experienced under his government.*

* The prohibition of David's going again to battle is thus beautifully expressed by the sacred historian: Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle that thou quench not the light of Israel, 2 Sam. xxi. 17. Good kings are, in scripture, called the light of the people (1 Kings xi. 36) because the beauty and glory, the conduct and direction, the comfort and safety, and welfare of a people, depend on,

and are derived from them.

Notwithstanding this defeat, the Philistines were still determined to disturb the peace of Israel. Having rallied their scattered forces, they fixed their place of rendezvous in the plain of Gob, upon which David dispatched an army against them, and a battle taking place the Israelites again became victorious. In this expedition, Sibbechai, the Hushathite, a very brave and experienced warrior, acquired great reputation by killing Saph, one of the race of giants, with his own hands.

After this two other battles took place between the army of the Philistines and that of David, both of which terminated in fayor of the Israelites. In these battles were slain two of the most gigantic men among the whole race of the Philistines, one of whom was brother to the famous Goliath, who had been slain by David during the reign of Saul. This last conquest quite sickened the Philistines, who disbanded their army, and relinquished all farther thoughts of interrupting the Israelites.

David, having thus overcome his enemies, composed a psalm or hymn on the occasion, in which he returned thanks to God for his great protection not only on this, but on all other occasions during his life. This beautiful hymn, which is full of the most grateful acknowledgments to his Divine benefactor, is contained in the 22d chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, and in the 18th among the whole list composed by the immortal Psalmist.

At this time David had about him great numbers of men of the most approved courage and military prowess, thirtyseven of whom he called his mighty men, or Wortbics, from their having performed exploits of the most dangerous and surprizing nature. Of these we shall only take potice of the actions of five as related by the sacred historian, and from whom a tolerable idea may be formed of the atchievements of the rest.

The first of these was Adino, the Eznite, who, in one encounter, broke into the ranks of the enemy, and, with his own hands, laid eight hundred men dead at his féet.

The next was Eleazar, the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who distinguished himself for his great valor and strength in an engagement at which David was present. The Philistines were so numerous that the Israelites gave way and fed; but Eleazar maintained his ground, and encoun

[ocr errors]

tering the enemy, made such a dreadful slaughter among
them, that his sword was in a manner glued to his right
hand with their blood. This example of bravery animated
the whole army, who immediately rallied their forces, fell
on the Philistines, and obtained a complete victory.
The third was named Shammah, the son of Agee,

the Hararite. This champion also, in an engagement with the Philistines, maintained his ground with such courage, after the Israelites had given way, that he put the enemy to flight, and from his distinguished valor was obtained a complete conquest.--These three heroes, besides the feats already mentioned, performed one of a very singular nature in conjunction, the particulars of which are as follow: The army of the Philistines lay in the valley of Rephaim, between David's camp and Bethlehem, where they had likewise a garrison. David intimated a desire of having some water from the well of Bethlehem, which being heard by these three chiefs, they forced their way through the enemy's camp, and having drawn some water out of the well, returned uninterrupted (the Philistines staring at them with amazement as they passed) and presented it to the king. When David understood at what price it had been purchased, even at the most imminent hazard of their lives, he would not drink of it, but, giving God thanks for their safety, poured it on the ground as an offering to the Lord.

The fourth of these champions was Abishai, the brother of Joab, who, in one day, slew three hundred of the Phil: istines with his own hands.

The fifth and last we shall mention was Benaiah, the son of Jehoida. This mighty man was challenged by two brothers (Moabites) famous for their military exploits, both of whom he engaged at the same time, and laid them dead at his feet. He likewise encountered with an Egyptian, a man of prodigious strength and size. His adversary was well provided with arms, and himself almost defenceless, notwithstanding which he closed with him, wrested his spear from his hands, and killed him with his own weapon. But he performed another atchievement still more extraordinary than the former. A lion had fallen into a pit, from whence he could not extricate himself, and there being at the same time a deep snow, the mouth of the

pit (which was narrow) was almost closed. The lion, finding himself not likely to effect his escape, set up a most hideous roar, upon which Benaiah, being directed by the noise, went to the place, and immediately descending into the pit, struck the lion so forcibly on the head with his club, that he fell to the ground and instantly expired.

Such were the exploits performed by these five champions, and the other thirty-two were no less distinguished for their great courage and military prowess.

David, whatever was the occasion of it, suddenly took it into his head that he would know the number of his people,* forgetting the command of Moses, who had said, that on such occasion there should be an oblation of half a shekel by the head offered to the Lord, (See Exod. xxx.) le accordingly gave orders to Joab to go through the whole kingdom, and bring him an account of all the people. Go, said he, through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people. Joab strongly remonstrated against such a procedure, F and that

* The words in the text are, And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go number Israel and Judah, 2. Sam. xxiv. 1. But in the original there is no nominative case at all. We find it however supplied in 1 Chron. xxi. 1. where it is said, that Satan stood up against Israel, and proroked David to number Israel: But then, by the word Satan, there is no necessity why we should understand the devil properly so called, because any evil minister, or counsellor, that advised David to number the people, will answer the signification of the word as well: and that there was such counsellor, who prompted David to this action, seems to be implied in these words of Joab: Now the Lord thy God add unto the people (how many soever they be) an hundred fold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it, but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? 2 Sam. xxiv. 3. Whereby it seeins plain, that the matter had been debated in the king's council before, and that, though Joab was one who opposed it, David was more influenced by the persuasion of some other.

+ It is evident that this action of David's was thought a very wrong step, even by Joab himself, who remonstrated against it, being apprehensive of the bad consequences that might attend it: and therefore Joab counted not Levi and Benjamin, 1 Chron. xxi. 6. because the king's word was abominable to him. It is probable we do not understand all the circumstances of this very singular transaction; but Joab’s sense of it (who was no scrupulous man) shews that David's conduct in it was exceeding imprudent, and might subject his people to very great inconveniences.

« ZurückWeiter »