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tember, p. 133 sqq. Saul is therein very justly characterized as of "a demoniac nature, quickly rushing from one extreme to another, enthusiastic in pleasure, deeply depressed in sorrow, and finally sinking beneath the waves of despair.”
History of his Reign, his Theocratic Position and Personal
It was only by the tribe of Judah, to which he belonged, that David was at first acknowledged king. The other tribes still adhered to the house of Saul; and even after the murder of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, this division of the state continued for several years. Not till after David had reigned seven and a half years in Hebron did he receive the submission of all Israel, in a form in which the theocratic principle is expressly recognised (2 Sam. v. 2 sqq.) (1). Thus began the powerful reign of David, during which, by a series of successful wars, he rendered the kingdom of Israel not only indepen
, dent of external oppression, but also extended its northern and eastern boundary to the Euphrates, and raised himself to a position of power which inspired other nations with fear (comp. Ps. xviii. 44). Thus is the kingship of David a type of the kingdom of God which overcomes the world (2). Israel, however, as the people of God, was not to realize its vocation to the rulership of the world, which is indeed the aim of the theocracy (Ps. ii.), in the way of a conquering secular state; hence the condemnation of that numbering of the people instituted by David (2 Sam. xxiv. ; 1 Chron. xxi.), which was probably designed to lead to the complete military organization of the nation (3). This occurrence, in which the prophet Gad was conspicuous, and the appearance of Nathan in the wellknown case (2 Sam. xii.), show that the prophets were mindful
of their office as watchmen and reprovers of the king, even under David (4). In general, however, we now see the two offices exercised harmoniously. For David was himself filled with the idea of a theocratic ruler : his life and acts were founded on the one thought of being found as the servant of Jehovah, the God who had chosen him and taken him from the sheepfolds to feed His people (Ps. Ixxviii. 70-72). This is testified by several of his psalms,-by that mirror of kings, Ps. ci., in which he portrays a sovereign as a righteous judge, and the song of thanksgiving, Ps. xviii., which, after being victorious over all his enemies, he sang unto the God who had girded him with strength for the conflict, and subdued the nations under him (5). The union of the kingship with the Divine rulership, in virtue of which the king was settled in Jehovah's house and kingdom, 1 Chron. xvii. 14 ("I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom ”),--sat upon the throne of the kingdom of Jehovah, xxviii. 5, xxix. 23 (more briefly: “ upon the throne of God”),—was effected even externally when the hill of Zion, which after the conquest of Jerusalem had been chosen as the seat of government, was also made the seat of the sanctuary by the installation of the ark of the covenant (2 Sam. vi.), which was now again brought out of concealment. For although sacrificial services were still performed in the old tabernacle, which was at the high place at Gibeon (1 Chron. xvi. 37-42, comp. 2 Chron. i. 3 sqq.), the hill of Zion, as the dwelling-place of Jehovah, Ps. ix. 12, lxxiv. 2, lxxvi. 3, lxxviii. 68, was from this time forth the centre of the theocracy. Thence proceeded, according to Ps. iii. 5, xx. 3, cx..2, and other passages, the manifestations of God's grace and power; while every hope of the glorification and perfection of the Divine kingdom was united to Jerusalem, the city of God, xlvi. 5, the city of the great King, xlviii. 3, whose foundations were upon the holy hills, lxxxvii. 1, which, in its strong, retired, and protected situation, was itself a symbol of the church of God, cxxv. 1 sq., and of which all the nations of the earth should one day receive the rights of citizenship, Ps. lxxxvii.(6). The kingship, as administered by David, appears neither as a necessary evil nor an improved constitution, but as a new ethic potency. In its king, Israel itself attains to a consciousness of its national power, hence the king becomes also the representative of the people; and the idea of Divine sonship, which in the first place appertains to the people, is transferred to him (7) Kingship in the person of David (and relatively in that of Solomon) exhibits also a certain measure of the priestly character; for David appeared for the people before the Lord with sacrifices and intercessions, and brought back to them the Lord's blessing, 2 Sam. vi. 18 (8). It is a peculiarity of David
а to unite in himself, as Moses and Samuel had already to a certain degree done, the three theocratic dignities; for the gift of prophecy was also bestowed on him, the Spirit of God spoke by him, and the words of God were on his tongue, 2 Sam. xxxiii. 2.
Of the greatest importance, however, is the choice of David to be, in the persons of his descendants, the permanent holder of the theocratic kingship, in virtue of that Divine promise delivered to him by Nathan, which forms a new stage in the history of the kingdom of God. When David had rest from his enemies round about him, he announced to the prophet Nathan his intention of building a temple as a permanent dwelling-place for the Lord. Nathan at first agreed with him, but received in the night direction from God to bid David renounce this undertaking, on account, as we are told 1 Chron. xxii. 8, xxviii. 3, of the blood which, as a warrior, he had shed. It seemed inconsistent with Divine decorum that this work of peace should be executed by hands so defiled with blood. That son of David whom God had chosen to be His son was to be permitted to accomplish it. On the other hand, God promised to build David a house, to bestow the kingship on his seed for ever, and though chastisements might not be omitted, never to withdraw His favour from him (see the commentary on this passage, Ps. lxxxix. 20-28). The eternal covenant of God
with David and his seed now entered as a new element into the history of revelation (comp. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5); the full manifestation of the kingdom of God being henceforth combined with the realization of the “sure mercies of David,” Isa. lv. 3, comp. with Ps. Ixxxix. 50; and thus upon the foundation
; of the theocratic notion of kingship arose the prophecy of its antitypical perfection in Messiah (9).
It is not, however, solely in virtue of his theocratic position, but also by reason of his personal religious development, that David is an important character in the history of the Old Testament. That opposition between sin and grace, which it is the object of the pædagogy of the law to bring to light, attacked his inner life in its full severity; and that life evidences, as its external course advances in a state of continual conflict, both the deep degradation of the fallen, sin-burdened man, and the elevation of a spirit richly endowed with Divine grace. David experienced in a greater degree than any other Old Testament character, the restlessness and desolation of a soul burdened with the consciousness of guilt, the desire for reconciliation with God, the struggle after purity and renovation of heart, the joy of forgiveness, the heroic, the all-conquering power of confidence in God, the ardent love of a gracious heart for God; and has given in his Psalms imperishable testimony as to what is the fruit of the law and what the fruit of the spirit in man. And in saying this, we have touched
upon that particular in which David most powerfully affected the spiritual life of his people. It was in him, the sweet singer of Israel, as he is called 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, that sacred lyric poetry attained its climax in Israel. Sacred song, which, to judge by existing specimens, had before him manifested more an objectively epic than a subjectively lyric character, had indeed been cultivated in Israel from the earliest times (as was shown $ 105, note 10, and $ 113); but it was not till after it had been elevated by David into an essential element of worship (on which see the next $), and the people had received from him and other poets of his times a copious supply of sacred songs, that they could duly learn how to bring before God in music and song the joy and grief, the hope and fear, the prayer and praise that moved their inmost heart. It is impossible to rate too highly the treasure that Israel possessed in the Psalms, that copy-book of the saints, as Luther called them; nor can it be doubted that it was chiefly by means of the Psalms that the word of God dwelt in the homes of Israel, and that the knowledge of the sacred history was kept up among the people.
(1) In 2 Sam. v. 2 the people express—in perfect accordance with Deut. xvii. 15—their acknowledgment of the Divine call of David : “ The Lord said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over Israel ;” and David hereupon concludes a covenant before the Lord, with the people as represented by their elders. The expression on
niz?!, ver. 3, involving the notion that the two contracting parties had not equal rights (comp. $ 80 above), should be observed.
(2) Hence all the attributes of the latter are ascribed to him: he is destined to subdue the heathen (Ps. xviii. 44, 48); his dominion is to extend to the end of the earth (ii. 8, comp. Ixxii. 8, etc.), and is of continual and eternal duration (2 Sam. vii. 16, xxiii. 5), etc. (Art. Kings of Israel.)
(3) See on this narratives 200, and Ewald in the 10:h Jahrb. der bibl. Wissenschaft, p. 34 sqq.
99 (4) When Gad is called David's seer, 2 Sam. xxiv. 11, 1 Chron. xxi. 9, there is no reference to any special official position at court, in the sense in which court prophets have been spoken of, as a kind of king's privy councillors. The independence of the prophetic office is witnessed by the circumstance that there is no mention of prophets in those passages in which the officials of David and Solomon are enumerated (2 Sam. viii. 16, xx. 23; 1 Chron. xxvii. 32 899.; 1 Kings iv. 2 sqq.), though even the high priests appear in these lists of royal functionaries (art. Prophetenthum des A. T.).
(5) Hence all his successors are, in the history of the kings