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David greatly; placing him among the number of his attendants, and appointing him to the honorable office of armor-bearer. He sent a mes
essage, not long after, to Jesse, requesting him to suffer his son to remain, and speaking of him in terms of the highest commendation. There was good reason for doing this. For, in addition to the other valuable services of David, he proved eminently successful, by the power of hís music, in restoring Saul, at least for a season, to his usual self-possession and composure of mind. "It came to pass,” says the sacred narrative, " when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand : so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”
Of the nature of Saul's malady, and the peculiar state of his mind, when the evil spirit took possession of it, the Scriptures give no exact account. Some suppose that as the prophets of old used solemn and sacred music to calm their minds for the inspirations of the Spirit of God, so a similar composure in the case of Saul, produced by the exquisite minstrelsy of David's harp, and the devotional, soul-subduing songs which breathed so sweetly from his lips, caused the demon to depart; as he could dwell only where there was a tumultuous and frantic state of feeling, and a wild extravagance of thought.
The great object of his visit being accomplished, and other reasons occurring which are not disclosed to us, David returned to his home at Bethlehem. He continued to follow there the quiet occupation of a shepherd; enjoying the peculiar influences of the Spirit of God to prepare him for the fulfilment of his high destiny; and waiting, with no restless or ambitious solicitude, the guidance of that Providence on which he relied to direct his steps. In how striking a
manner that Providence was thus guiding him. David had been with Saul long enough to become acquainted with a variety of objects that would afford him useful and important matter of reflection in his temporary seclusion. He had seen something of those stirring scenes of life in which he was ere long to take a part, and had been taught experimentally the need of divine wisdom and grace in view of the responsibilities that would soon devolve upon him. Especially had he enjoyed an opportunity of learning the character of Saul, with whom he was afterwards to have so much to do, and who would exercise towards him the most jealous and implacable resentment. He came back from the court of the king, well fitted to profit by the lessons of heavenly wisdom which the Word and Spirit of God would impart, in the peaceful retirement that awaited him.
How necessary is such retirement, to prepare us for the trials and temptations of life. We shoud often seek it,-in the quiet and beautiful solitudes of nature, if they are accessible to us, -or, if not, in some other privacy where we can commune with our own hearts; and meditate on the dealings of God with us; and ponder the pages of his Oracles of Truth ; and pour out our souls before him, in devout supplications for his guidance and grace. How strong at the present day, is the tendency of the bustling and impetuous movements of the world, to interrupt and almost destroy the performance of these duties. Begin, my young friend, now in the morning of life, to cherish them as essential to the existence and growth of piety in your breast. Pray, watch, strive against the encroachments which may be made upon them by the business that will en. gage and the allurements that will attract you. Resolve, in the strength of God, daily to devote a portion of your time to private meditation and prayer, and the perusal of the Sacred Scriptures. It will be your surest safeguard against the world and its snares. It will serve to prepare you the better to sustain your trials, and discharge your duties. It will bring God and the Savior near you.
If you are truly one of the followers of Jesus, it will afford you the privilege of frequent and sweet communion with him, and qualify you, with the divine blessing, more faithfully to imitate his example, and espouse his cause Jesus himself loved such retirement. How often,
after a day of toil for the good of those around him, did the shades of the evening and night witness his withdrawing to the stillness of some sequestered spot, that he might have his spirit refreshed by a holy, ineffable intercourse with his heavenly Father, and be strengthened, by new supplies of the Spirit of truth and grace, for the accomplishment of his divine mission.
If the Savior so often needed these seasons of devotional solitude, how much more do they need them who profess to be his disciples,-erring, weak, sinful as they are, and exposed con tinually to fall before the force of temptation!
Goliath challenges the Israelites. David offers to meet him
in single combat.
Some time had elapsed after the events took place which we have been noticing, when the Philistines once more waged war against the Israelites. Assembling an immense army, they encamped between Shochoh and Azekah, a few miles southwest of Jerusalem. Saul was prompt to meet them, and collected his forces on a mountain near the valley of Elah, not far from Bethlehem. The Philistines were on the op posite mountain; so that the two armies were in full view of each other, expecting soon to be engaged in battle.
Under these circumstances, what was the surprise of the Israelites to behold a giant-warrior advance from the camp of the enemy, with no one to attend him, except the armor-bearer who went before him, carrying his shield. It was Goliath of Gath; a man of enormous stature, being between nine and ten feet in height, and of proportionate size and strength. A huge helmet of brass glittered on his head. He wore a coat of mail which weighed a hundred and fifty-six pounds, with greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. The staff of the spear which he carried was like a weaver's beam, and the pointed head of it weighed not less than eighteen pounds. His appearance and intrepid bearing were well adapted to strike the Israelites with terror, while their dismay was increased when they learned the object of his movement.
He came to challenge some one of them to single combat, and to have the fate of the two armies, instead of being decided by a general engagement, depend on the issue of this
personal encounter With an air of proud defiance,