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midst of the house. From hence it is evident, that the expression of prophesying is appli. cable to the influence either of evil or good spirits ; and it is applied, both by Plato and Plutarch, to the agitations of the Sibyls, and other enthusiasts, who were, as the Heathens expressed it, possessed by the god : so that the very Heathens ascribed such agitations to a supernatural agency.
Thus much is certain : Saul's mind was now disturbed to such a degree, that David's musick had no more power over him *.
This quickly appeared; for as he played to calm him, Saul determined upon his destruction, and, watching his opportunity, with a javelin in his hand, darted it at him: which David (with a felicity exceeding that of Dioxippus) twice declined : 'then, being sufficiently warned of his danger, he avoided Saul's presence. : '.,
Saul's envy now began to be haunted with terror, that a man so excellent at his weapons as he was, should now twice miss his aim, and at so near a distance, had
* To this, possibly, may allude that passage in the lviiith Pfalm, which refuse to biar the voice of the charmer, &c.
something in it very extraordinary! And it was very natural for him to think this could not be, without a remarkable interposition of Providence in David's behalf. Such an interposition must be for some extraordinary end. And what end could that fo probably be, as his designation to royalty ? He knew his kingdom was given away to a better man than himself (the prophet had exprelly declared that): And who was so probably this better man, as the man whom all Ifrael preferred to him ?
Full of this fear, he removes David from him, by an honourable exile : he made him captain over a thousand: but where, or at what distance, is not said. All that we know, is, that here also David behaved himself with remarkable prudence, and good conduct ; which, instead of reconciling Saul to him, served only to inflame his fears the more: Wherefore (says the text) when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him : but all Israel and Judab loved David, because he went out and came in before them. He headed them in all their expeditions with a bravery and a conduct equally distinguished : greatest in com
mand, yet greater in his example ! which naturally won the affections of the people to him ; insomuch that it might be said with great truth, of him, and his master Saul, what was afterwards observ'd of Germanicus and Tiberius, that the one reigned in the hearts of the people, the other only in the provinces.
It were hard to paint out the distempered state of Saul's mind, under the continued series of David's successes ; the fight rack'd him : but at the same time he had fagacity enough to derive some consolation from it. David, it is true, was often successful ; but it did not follow that he must always be so : he had prudence, prowess, and conduct ; but all these are often disappointed and defeated in their best-laid schemes. What means then so likely to destroy him, as flattering him in his good fortune, and inflaming his vanity to get higher and bolder attempts? What human heart is proof against flattery well conducted ! and what so likely to point it right, as the prospect of the king's alliance ? And now Merab, the king's eldest daughter, is promised to him in marriage, pn condition of his exerting all his fortitude
in the defence of his master and his country, against the enemies of God and them.
This was the bait laid for his destruction : Had Saul killed David when he attempted him with his javelin, his madness might have pleaded his defence. Nor was David then so thoroughly established in the affections of the people ; such an attempt must now be attended with more hazard : nor could it be acquitted of deliberate design; and therefore this other method was fixed upon : And Saul said unto David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife ; only be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord's battles : for Saul said, Let not mine band be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. .
DAVID's answer to this tempting promise, is to me, I own, no ill presumption of his being swayed by something more than human! And, indeed, what less than some heavenly influence could set the foul of an obscure youth, suddenly exalted, so far above the reach of the highest and strongest temptations * ! He did not, indeed, decline the
honour . * She was due to him before (says the learned Doctor Trapp) by promise, for killing Goliah; yet he that twice
honour proposed to him ; that, prudence and decency forbad ; but he did more : instead of claiming, or even accepting it as his right, he declined all appearance of pretending to it on the score of merit : And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be fon-in-law to the king? It is true, he had often hazarded his life in the service of his prince : but what was such a life as his, compared with the honour of such an alliance ?
How far he merited this honour by his subsequent behaviour, is no-where particularly told us ; and, indeed, was unnecessary to be told, being sufficiently implied in those characters of prudence, wisdom, and valour, which distinguished his whole conduct. However, we are informed, that when the time came for conferring it, Saul most shamefully violated his promise, and gave Merab to another, to Adriel the Mekolathite.
This indignity and disappointment seem to be attended with all the circumstances that could heighten both. Probably, the
enquired into the reward of that enterprise before he undercook it, never demanded ic after that archievement.