Page images

Jasher is supposed by Lowth and others, to be a collection of these sacred songs, composed at different times, and on different occasions, containing this beautiful one among the rest. It is here inserted, as deserving the reader's particular notice

The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
How are the mighty fallen !
Tell it not in Gath,
Publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
Ye mountains of Gilboa ! let there be no dew,
Neither let there be rain upon you, nor fields of offerings :
For there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away,
The shield of Saul, as though he had not been ancinted

with oil.
From the blood of the slain,
From the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
And the sword of Saul returned not empty.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives.
And in their death they were not divided:
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
Ye daughters of Israel! weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights ;
Who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
How are the mighty fallen in the inidst of the battle !
O Jonathan ! thou wast slain in thy high places,
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan :
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me;
Thy love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen,
And the weapons of war perished !”

The affairs of the Israelites were now in a most critical state. David knew this, and that he was the one chosen of God to fill the throne What course was it his duty to take in this emergency? It seemed to him highly important that he should no longer dwell at Ziklag, but return to his countrymen. Still, he would take no step of this kind without the divine direction. He inquired of the Lord, in the appointed way, saying; "Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah ?"

" And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up ? And he said, Unto Hebron."

David made immediate preparations for the journey; and, with his wives, his men and their families, and their flocks, herds, and other possessions, he arrived, after a few day's march, at Hebron. There he took up his residence; while his followers dwelt in the adjacent towns and villages of which Hebron was considered the head. It was a delightful and fruitful country in the midst of the tribe of Judah. Its mountains were famed for fruits, herbage, and honey, and many parts of it for olives, vineyards, grain, and pasture.

Hebron, originally called Kirjath-arba, stood on an eminence, about twenty-seven miles south' of Jerusalem. It was one of the most ancient cities of Canaan, being built seven years before Tanis, the capital of lower Egypt. The Anakim, or giants, dwelt there, whom Caleb, assisted by the tribe of Judah, destroyed when he took the city. It was assigned to him and his descendants, with its dependencies, for their inheritance. Near this place, in the cave of Machpelah, were deposited the remains of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, of Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah ; and, to add to its importance, it was one of the cities of refuge.

Hebron, therefore, and its neighborhood, seem to have been peculiarly fitted for the reception of David and his followers. He came back to his own tribe, where he might expect to find warm and devoted friends, and to a commanding position, which would enable him to act with that wisdom and energy which his peculiar circumstances required. The fertility of the country, also, and its abundant supplies, were essen tial to his success; for otherwise he would not have been able to make provision for the vast numbers who resorted continually to him.

Thus, step by step, was the providence of God leading the son of Jesse forward to the exalted station which he was destined to fill.


David is anointed king over Judah. Abner anoints Ish

bosheth king over Israel. Asahel is killed by Abner.

David's reception at Hebron was soon known throughout the whole tribe of which it was the metropolis, and excited a deep and general interest in his favor. In addition to this, there were many weighty reasons why the men of Judah should desire to see him the successor of Saul. He was one of their own family. The patriarch Jacob had long ago foretold the establishment of the sovereignty in their tribe. David belonged to it. He had, already, been chosen of God, and anointed by the prophet Samuel, to sway the sceptre. And, now, as it seemed to them, by the death of Saul the crisis had come, and Providence was clearly pointing out the way for the consummation of their wishes. They resorted, therefore, from all parts of the tribe to Hebron, and anointed David king over the house of Judah. He was now about thirty years of

age; he had been ripening fast in the school of experience; had much practical wisdom and energy of character; and, above all, felt his dependence on God, and looked to him for guidance and support.

Immediately after his accession to the throne, David was told what the men of Jabesh-Gilead had done in rescuing the bodies of Saul and of his

sons, and in affording them the last sad offices of respect. His regard for the late sovereign, (for David's magnanimity and sense of duty were too strong to permit him to indulge any other feelings than those of loyalty towards Saul,) and his devoted attachment to Jonathan, led him to view so heroic a deed of gratitude with deep emotion. His was a soul to appreciate it; and one of the first acts of his reign, was to send a message to Jabesh-Gilead, to let those brave men know the sentiments which he cherished in view of their conduct. He invoked the blessing of the Lord upon them; adding, And now the Lord show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.” They could no longer look to Saul for that protection which David now offered them, and which, in his new and elevated station, he was ready to afford He urged them, therefore, not to yield to fear, but still to exhibit their accustomed courage in defending themselves against their enemies.

In the meanwhile, another king appeared in Israel. It was Ish-bosheth, a son of Saul; about

« PreviousContinue »