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cherished for him the fondest affection; while "Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David,” and becoming more jealous of him than ever, harbored towards him an increasing enmity.
The late slaughter of the Philistines roused them to a new war against the Israelites, of the particulars of which we have no account. We are only informed that their princes came into the field, and probably with a large force under their command. David was, doubtless, the great object of their resentment, and was sent by Saul to meet the enemy. Again, the latter indulged the hope that the exposure to which his rival would be subject would cause his death. But this wicked man was doomed to constant disappointment in his murderous designs. David's wisdom and valor were pre-eminently conspicuous amid these new and formidable dangers; and his victory over the Philistines raised him higher than ever in the public estimation. We are told, that he behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.”
All this but served to aggravate the malignity of the king towards him. Sinful passions, if not arrested in their course, rush forward with a more impetuous and irresistible madness to their object. He who once advances the dreadful length in guilt of resolving to take the life of another, will be kept from committing the foul self,
deed by nothing but what appears to him to be a stern necessity, or by the subduing grace of God. So it was with Saul. God had abandoned him, and sin ruled with despotic sway in his breast. He had heretofore resorted to stratagem in order to take the life of David; but now he becomes bold in crime. He no longer affects concealment. The royal commands are laid upon Jonathan himand upon
all the attendants of the king, to put the son of Jesse to death. It was a severe trial to Jonathan, as well to hear such a cruel mandate, and to witness the implacable hatred from which it sprung, as to think for a moment of the bare possibility of its being carried into effect. He could not endure the idea of losing a friend whom he loved as his own soul, and of his being taken away, too, in such an unjust and vindictive manner. He informed David of his perilous condition, and entreated him to withdraw from the danger, and conceal himself in a field that was not far distant, in a spot that would effectually screen him from observation. Near that spot, the ensuing morning, Jonathan said he would go with his father, and hold a conversation with him in behalf of David, to whom he would communicate the result.
This plan was probably suggested by Jonathan, that in case Saul should show no relenting towards the object of his hatred, or break out into a sudden burst of rage, demanding his immediate destruction, David might overhear it, and be the better able to insure his safety by a speedy flight, as soon as the king should withdraw. On the other hand, if the interview proved favorable to Jonathan's wishes, he would the sooner have an opportunity of rejoicing with his friend in this happy deliverance from their fears, and of con. ferring with him respecting his future course.
It must have been a night of anxious suspense to both, and especially to David. We may well believe, that the latter embraced the favorable opportunity which his solitude afforded him, of pouring out his soul before God in devout supplications for guidance and protection. It is thought that this was the occasion of his composing the eleventh Psalm, to which the reader can refer, and which will be found peculiarly adapted to the trying circumstances in which the author of it was placed. The commencement of it—" In the Lord put I my trust”- shows where he placed his sole reliance; while as it proceeds, we find him declaring the great, consoling truth that God, by his providence, rules the affairs of man, and will cause truth and righteousne triumph at last.
" For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”
In the meanwhile, Jonathan was ready, at an early hour, to propose a walk to his father, and probably conducted him to the neighborhood of
the spot where David was concealed. His expostulations in behalf of his friend are earnest and strong. His appeal is marked by a simple yet touching eloquence. It was aimed to rouse the conscience of Saul; to awaken his fears of the divine justice; and to kindle, if possible, in his breast, some sentiments of gratitude towards one who had achieved so much both for the sovereign and his people, and whose loyalty was unimpeachable."Let not the king," said this faithful friend, and dutiful son,
" Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistines, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel : thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause ?”
The plea prevailed. Saul, for the time, seemed to come under the influence of better feelings. He even promised with an oath, that the life of David should be sacred. He soon left the field; and Jonathan, remaining behind, had the happiness of letting his friend know, that for the
present the vengeance of Saul was stayed in its course. The most tender congratulations passed between them, while they recognized with a devout gratitude the interposition of Providence in their behalf. David was soon introduced by Jonathan into the presence of the king, and entered again upon the performance of his usual duties. Sad experience, however, had taught him the fickleness of royal favor, and how soon he might have again to meet the vindictive rage of Saul. He felt more than ever the need of Divine aid, and sought it in daily and fervent prayer.
Saul endeavors to kill David, but he escapes. David's
wife saves him by a stratagem. He flees to Samuel at Ramah.
Another war broke out between the Israelites and the Philistines, in which, with David as their leader, the former were completely successful Great numbers of the enemy were slain, and those that sūrvived fled in dismay from him, whose very name had become to them one of terrific import.
The triumph that thus attended the arms of David, and the still stronger hold which it gave him on the affections of the people, awakened afresh the jealousy of Saul. His malignant pas