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sion of true penitence in Ps. li. 4, 'Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sightf.'
14. There was to be an immediate punishment in the death of the child, as well as the more remote one foretold in ver. II.
16-22. We find David thus lying prostrate upon the earth again, when he thought that all his sons had been slain by Absalom (xiii. 31).
David here exhibits the ordinary signs of mourning for the dead, while entreating that the child's life may be spared. But as soon as he finds that the special object of his prayer is denied him, he resigns himself to the will of Him who chasteneth whom He loveth' (Heb. xii. 6).
23. David's words about reunion with his child are one of the passages of the Old Testament which imply belief in a future state. Among several others, the most remarkable are that in the Book of Job, beginning 'I know that my Redeemer liveth' (xix. 25-27); the words of Isaiah, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise'
repentance unto salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.'
I According to its title, Ps. li was composed at this time, and its whole tone breathes the spirit of David's contrition. As the most profound expression of true and deep sorrow for sin and desire of amendment; for that change of heart and life (uetavola), for which David prays in the words, 'Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,' it is selected as the penitential psalm for our Commination Service.
'In this the crisis of his (David's) fate, and from the agonies of his grief, the doctrine emerges, as universal and as definite as was wrung out of the like struggles of the Apostle Paul. Now, if ever, would have been the time, had his religion led him in that direction, to have expiated his crime by the sacrifices of the Levitical ritual.' But he knows that it is another and higher sacrifice which God approves. ...“ The sacrifices of God,” he says, "are a broken spirit, &c.”' (Stanley, J. C. ii. 112).
There is another psalm which also refers to this period, Ps. xxxii, beginning . Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered': in which David shows his perfect faith in God's goodness, and in the 'pardon and peace' which have been promised him.
210 Solomon born—Ammonite War ended.
is this that thou hast done ? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
22. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live ?
23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast ? can I bring him back again ? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
22. HISTORY OF DAVID'S REIGN TO THE
REBELLION OF ABSALOM.
2 SAMUEL xii. 24-xv. 6.
Another child is born to David and Bath-sheba. He is named, by David, Solomon, or 'peaceable'; and, in a Divine message brought by Nathan, Jedidiah, or beloved of the Lord!
The conclusion of the Ammonite war is next recorded, the long siege of Rabbah being brought to a successful close. Joab, after taken the lower town or 'city of waters?, sends a message, summoning the king to come and complete the conquest in person, and David repairs with a large force to Rabbah. The spoil of the city is great, and includes the huge golden crown taken from the head of the national idol 3. The captives are treated with barbarous cruelty. David has them 'put under' or cut through with saws*, or torn with 'harrows of iron,' or burned alive in the 'brick-kiln'or furnaces.
These external successes are the last gleam of brightness in David's reign. Henceforth it is clouded by the family disasters which are the punishment for his sin.
(Isa. xxvi. 19); and the words of Daniel, 'And many of them that sleep in the dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt 8' (Dan. xii. 2).
8 · They are not to be heard which feign that the fathers did Took only for transitory promises' (Articles of Religion, VII).
These words of David also imply belief in personal identity' in a future life; that is, that those who shall meet in another world may recognize one another. This seems also to be implied in St. Paul's argument (1 Cor. xv, 42-44). Jesus Christ, though not always recognized after His Resurrection (Luke xxiv. 16; John xx, 14, xxi. 4), was recognizable; and He proved his identity to Thomas (John xx, 21).
22. HISTORY OF DAVID'S REIGN TO THE
REBELLION OF ABSALOM.
2 SAMUEL xii. 24–xv. 6. · The name Shelomoh or Solomon thus forecasts the character of his reign. We find a feminine form of it in Salome (Mark xv. 40, xvi. I). Suleyman, 'the favourite title of Arabian and Turkish princes,' is its diminutive. •Alexander, the name of the greatest king of the Gentile world in Eastern ears,' was regarded by the Jews as the Western version of it (Stanley, J. C. ii. 162).
The name Jedidiah, an assurance at the time of Divine favour, s never afterwards used. In Neh. xiii. 26 Solomon is described as having been 'beloved of his God.'
2 It was so called from a perennial stream of water, rising within the walls, and running through the city (Stanley, J. C. ii. 102). It was probably this supply which enabled the city to hold out so long.
On the site of Rabbah afterwards stood the Greek town of Philadelphia, founded by the immigrants who followed in the wake of Alexander the Great. This was one of the Decapolis (Matt. iv. 25; Mark v. 20, vii. 31), or league of ten towns, banded together against their Semitic neighbours (G. A. Smith, Holy Land, pp. 593, 596).
3 • Their king's crown' should probably be the crown of Malcam' or Milconi (see R. V. marg. ; cp. Zeph. i. 5).
212 Amnon slain-Flight and Recall of Absalom.
The troubles begin with the outrage of Amnon, David's eldest son, on his half-sister Tamar. His love for her afterwards turns to hatred; and Absalom, Tamar's own brother, finding her in her ' desolation,' resolves to avenge her. After waiting two years, he invites the king and his family to his feast of sheep-shearing. He asks specially for Amnon's presence, but all the king's sons go with him. During the feast Amnon is assassinated, and the other princes take to flight. News is brought to David that all have been murdered, but this rumour is corrected by his nephew Jonadab.
Absalom finds a retreat with his grandfather, Talmai, king of Geshur, where he stays for three years. At last Joab devises a plan for bringing about his return. He sends a'wise woman’ of Tekoah' to David, with a story of the murder of one of her sons by the other. She asks the king's aid to prevent the vengeance, which the rest of the family are seeking on the murderer 8. David does not at first recognize the object of this story, but, when she has explained it to him, he discerns in it 'the hand of Joab,' who confesses his share in the matter, and his motive ! Absalom is recalled, but for two more years is not admitted to his father's presence.
Resolved to see Joab, who refuses to visit him, Absalom at last tells his servants to set the commander's barley-field on fire; and, when Joab comes to complain, persuades him to intercede with the king. A reconciliation between father and son takes place, but this leads to unlooked-for results. Absalom, whose personal beauty has made him very popular, at once prepares for rebellion ; surrounding himself with a retinue of horsemen, and chariots, and footmen, and gaining the favour of the people by administering justice, which duty the king is neglecting 10. "So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.'
• In Heb. xi. 37 we are told of the same cruel death being inflicted on heroes of the faith ; "they were sawn asunder.'
The making them pass, through furnaces was doubtless suggested by their own barbarous custom of thus sacrificing their children to Moloch, the national god. The correct reading here is perhaps through Malcam.'
• This was always a time of hospitality and rejoicing. We may compare the story of Nabal in 1 Sam. xxv.
6. There is much doubt as to David's feeling about Absalom during this time. The words in ch, xiii. 39, about his soul longing to go forth unto Absalom,' may imply that David is longing for his return, or that he now abandons his design of pursuing and punishing him. The LXX and Vulgate adopt the latter meaning (łkónadev TOû & Fedoelv: cessavit persequi).
7 Tekoah was a village five miles south of Beth-lehem. It was afterwards the birthplace of the prophet Amos (Amos i. 1).
8 This woman is rich in figurative language. She speaks of ‘quenching the coal that is left, a metaphor for destroying her only surviving son ; and she compares the end of human life to
water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.' She tells too of the mercy of God, who · deviseth means that His banished be not expelled from Him'; a forcible account of His desire that all should come to repentance, which might well recall to David his own experience.
• David seems to have been fully aware of Joab's interest at this time in Absalom, who is the heir-apparent to the throne. But Joab's desire to win Absalom's favour is soon changed by the latter's outrageous conduct.
10 Absalom stands beside the way of the gate,' the usual court of justice, to settle all controversies (see pp. 65, 67).
Adonijah assumed the same royal state and retinue, when aiming at the kingdom (1 Kings i. 5).