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DAVID BECOMES KING.
So David went with Achish. But the other four princes of the Philistines were afraid of him, and David returned home again. But what a fearful sight was it, when, on the third day, he came to Ziklag, and found the city nothing but a burning ruin! The Amalekites had destroyed it, and had taken away the women and children, and all their goods. Weary as his men were with their long march, they determined to pursue the robbers, and went after them all night long through the desert, and before break of day they came up with them. They were spread abroad upon the earth-eating, and drinking, and dancing; because of all the great spoil they had taken out of the land of the Philistines and out of the land of Judea. And David smote them, and not only recovered every thing that they had carried away, but obtained a large spoil besides.
But what was going on all this time in the upper land at Mount Gilboa ? The Israelites were defeated by the Philistines; Jonathan and two other of Saul's sons were slain, and Saul fell upon his own sword.
David had scarcely returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites to the ruins of Ziklag, when he received from an Amalekite the intelligence of Saul's defeat and death. The man had gone out to the field of battle where the slain were lying, and had there found the corpse of the king, who had put an end to his own life; he took off part of his royal apparel, and took the crown from his head, to bring them to David. The wretched man thought to obtain a large reward by telling a lying story, as though he had himself slain the king. But David rent his clothes with grief, and said
unto him, “How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed? Thy blood be upon thy head: for thy mouth hath testified against thee." a David commanded him to be put to death.
David returned now with his followers to his own country, and came to Hebron. Out of the spoil of the Amalekites he sent presents to all the elders of the land of Judea. The men of Israel chose him for their king. But Abner made Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, king of Israel. Thus the people had two kings, but only for a short time. Six years afterwards, Ishbosheth was murdered by his own servants, and David was chosen king over all Israel.
40. URIAH IS SLAIN.
THE shepherd boy is now become a king, but he has not on that account forgotten his harp; and, even to this day, the hymns of the royal psalmist afford delight to the joyful, and consolation to the afflicted heart.
One of his first cares was to re-establish the worship of God in the tabernacle, which was now set up at Jerusalem. For the ark had not been inquired after for a long time. It was necessary, however, first, that Jerusalem should be re-conquered; for, shortly after the time of Joshua, the Jebusites had taken it again, and the tower of Zion was at that time called Jebus. David took it by storm, and having considerably
a 2 Sam. i. 2-16.
URIAH IS SLAIN.
enlarged and fortified Jerusalem, made it the chief city of the land.
David carried on many wars, and extended the boundaries of his kingdom from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the river Euphrates on the east, and from Damascus on the north to Egypt on the south. Notwithstanding these numerous wars, however, the people were much happier under his reign than they had been under the judges; and even the nations whom he conquered the Syrians, the Edomites, the Moabites, and the Philistines -might esteem themselves happy to be under his sceptre. But he treated the Ammonites more severely.
About this time the king formed a sinful attachment to Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah, a brave officer in his army; and on this account he directed his chief captain, Joab, to place Uriah in the fore front of the battle, so that he might be slain by the enemy. David might indeed have recollected that Saul had once planned for him the same fate, but God had prevented it. But he never thought of this, because passion had blinded him; and God allowed it to come to pass that Uriah was slain. For nearly a whole year afterwards, David lived in a state of impenitence.
Then the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to him, and he said, "There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a
daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him."
David thought that Nathan was asking for a royal decree in the matter, and, full of indignation, he exclaimed, “As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."
And Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon."
David became sensible of his sin; his conscience awoke, and he penitently confessed, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan declared to him that the Lord had forgiven his sin, but, at the same time, that the consequences of it should be visited upon himself and his family. "Behold," said he in the name of the Lord, "I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house. Thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die." a
a 2 Sam. xii. 1-14.
URIAH IS SLAIN.
It must be a severe stroke to a father, to be told that, as a punishment for his unbridled passion, a little child must die. For seven days David lay upon the earth fasting and weeping, and beseeching the Lord for the child's life. At this time he composed one of those penitential psalms which now stand in the Bible, for the consolation of every broken-hearted sinner: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my trangressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
But, when the child was dead, he arose from the earth, and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord with the voice of praise and thanksgiving. "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies. As for man, his days are as grass; as the flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto
b Psalm li. 1-10.