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DAVID Fleeth TO SAMUEL.
Had not the LORD preserved him, David must hare fallen a victim to Saul's jealousy, which now knew no bounds, for he was absolutely bent on David's destruction. Forgetful of the solemn oath he had so lately taken, the king spake to Jonathan and all his servants that they should kill David; but Jonathan, who cherished the most faithful friendship towards David, apprized him of his father's intentions, and advised him
upon his guard; he also remonstrated with his father in David's behalf: Saul, notwithstanding, flung a javelin at David, designing to kill him, as he was playing on his harp; and on bis escaping, he sent people to seize him in his own house, but Michal his wife, Saul's daughter, let him down by a window, and put an image in his bed, pretending he was sick, which she shewed io the messengers as David. Whilst David's house was watched to prevent his escape, he is supposed to have made the following prayer to God*.
Delider me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.
For lo, they lie in wait for my soul; the mighty are gathered against me: not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.
They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold.
They return at evening : they make a noise like a dos, and go
round about the city.
* Psalm lix,
Because of his strength will I wait upon thee : God is my defence.
The Gon of mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my
desire ироп mine enemies. But I will sing of thy power : yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning : for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.
Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing : for God is my defence, and the God of niy mercy*.
David was surrounded with such difficulties, that he knew not what course to take; he therefore fled to Sa. muel, in order to learn the will of God, who took him to the school of the prophets at Naioth, concluding that Saul would let him abide there in peace; but no place was sacred in his sight; he cared not for God, nor religious institutions, and sent messengers thither to seize David; but, instead of executing their commission, they were actuated by a sudden holy impulse, as Saul formerly had been, and joined with the congregation in praising God. Saul, however, was resolved to effect his purpose, but was prevented; being obliged, against his will, to utter the words of Divine inspiration; and he was so overcome by the Spirit of the Lord, that he fell into a kind of trance, and having pulled off his royal robes lay on the ground all night.
It may seem strange to us to read of Saul's being at one time inspired by the LORD, and at another actuated by an Evil SPIRIT; but we'must remember, that it was in the Lord's power to restrain the evil spirit; and we find, that he did not constantly torment Saul, only on
* As some parts of the foregoing Psalm require a particular explanution, I have onitted them, because such comments would interrupt the history; and this rule will be observed respecting those P'salas in general, that shall be occasionally introduced.
those occasions when he gave way to his passions and forgot his duty: he had long intervals of reason, during which he should have humbled himself and repented, in which case the LORD would have delivered him front the power of the Devil.
David, driven from his sacred retreat, took the advantage of fleeing while Saul lay entranced; but where could he seek for shelter from the future effects of his rage? In this extreme perplexity, he hastened to his dear friend Jonathan, who he knew would take a tender part in his distress, and pour the balm of consolation into his afflicted mind. Jonathan was so moved with the terror which David suffered, that he promised to do whatever he should require of him, knowing that he had too much integrity to desire him to commit a sinful action ; he therefore contrived a plan in order to discover, whether the extraordinary event which had lately befallen Saul, had made any change in his sentiments towards David : and to encourage David to repose entire confidence in him, Jonathan renewed the solemn covenant he had formerly made with him.
Jonathan then desired David to conceal himself in a certain field till the morrow, promising in the mean time to endeavour to reconcile his father to him; and, as he could not hold a public conference with David, he told him he would go into the field, as if with a design to practice shooting at a mark, and take a little lad with him; and that if he had been successful with Saul, he would say to the lad, the arrows are on this side of thee, which David might consider as a token that his peace was made; but if the contrary, he would
to the lad, behold the arrows are beyond thee, which David was to regard as a signal for his escape.
It was a part of the Mosaic law, to offer sacrifices, and keep religious feasts every month for two days, at the first appearance of the new moon; and David had a right to a seat at the royal table, as he was the king's son-in-law; but Saul, disdaining his alliance, when enquiring why David was absent, contemptuously called him the son of Jesse ; and on Jonathan's offering to excuse him, Saul fell into a furious rage, treated him with the most opprobrious language, and accused him of meanness of spirit, for not destroying a man who, he said, would rob him of his birth-right: Saul was so enraged, that he even flung a javelin at his son, to kill him; on which Jonathan arose from his seat, and left his father in great anger.
Jonathan seems to have understood that the Lord had appointed David to succeed to the kingdom ; and he was so perfectly convinced of David's innocence, that he resolved to plead for him, though at the hazard of his life; for he was more concerned for his friend than for himself.
As soon as David was made acquainted by the appointed sign, with Saul's implacable disposition towards him, he came forth from his hiding-place, to cast him. self at the feet of his kind benefactor; his gratitude was too great for utterance, and the reflection that he must leave this generous faithful friend, perhaps for ever, awakened such tender emotions as tears only could express. Jonathan well understood the meaning of this pathetic behaviour, and returned David's embraces with all the fervour of sympathetic friendship; and, in order to comfort David, he reminded him of the solemn agreement they made to be mutually true to each other's interest.
When Jonathan left him and returned back to the city, David suffered the most violent perturbations of mind; and perhaps the severe necessity he was under of parting with his dear companion and faithful com. forter, made him suppose that God had forsaken hin; for instead of applying to the Lord for succour, he had recourse to such stratagems as could only be suggested by despair : nay, he was even guilty of a violation of truth, for he went to Nob, where the Tabernacle was, and pretending that he came on hasty business from the king, he obtained from Ahimelech the high-priest, the sword of Goliath, and arıned with that very weapon with which he had beheaded the mighty champion of Gath, he went to that city tu seek refuge. Whether David's reason was so disturbed by his misfortunes, that he was incapable of reflection; or whether he acted the madman through policy, as the only mcans of saving his life, is difficult to decide ; but he was treated as a person beside himself, and Achish, the king of Gath, refused to entertain him; he therefore retired from thence, and having no earthly friend to flee to, he went and hid himself in a cave at Adullam, where he might be safe, at least for a time, from the persecution of Saul. It was a place fortified by nature, and so fitted for the security of persons in distress, that we are told, it has frequently given refuge to Christians, who have fled thither with their flocks and herds, when in danger from the Turks.
When David's relations heard how Saul had treated him, they had reason to fear that he would extend his malice to them also ; they therefore repaired to the cave of Adullam, in order to concert measures for their mutual security ; and many others, whom distress or oppression had driven into exile, came to join David, supposing that he would endeavour to supplant Saul; so that he soon had 400 men under his command. Filial piety, for which David was remarkable, made liim very solicitous for the safety of his parents: and he procured a place of refuge for them in the land of Moab, which