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la shallow one. What are faults, what are the outward details of a life, if the inner secret of it, the remorse, "temptations, the often baffled, never ended struggle of it
be forgotten? ... David's life and history as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider to be the truest emblem ' ever given us of a man's moral progress and warfare here below. All earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful 'struggle of an earnest human soul towards what is good and best. Struggle often baffled--sore baffled-driven as ' into entire wreck: yet a struggle never ended, ever with ' tears, repentance, true unconquerable purpose, begun anew.''
As in the Psalms, so in the bistory, the force of the original character is seen to regain its lost ascendancy. The pas- Death of
his child. sionate grief of the King over the little infant born to Bathsheba is the first direct indication of that depth of parental affection which fills so large a part of David's subsequent story. His impenetrable seclusion during the illness of the child, the elder brothers gathering round to comfort him, the sudden revulsion of thought after the child's death, with one of those very few indications of belief in another life that break through the silence of the Hebrew Scriptures, “I
shall go to him, but he shall not return to me'-are proofs that, through all his lapses into savage cruelty and reckless self-indulgence, there still remained a fountain of feeling within, as fresh and pure as when he fed his father's flocks and won the love of Jonathan.
But, though the “free spirit' and 'clean heart' of David The effects came back, and though he rallied from the loss of his infant
polygamy. child; though the birth of Solomon was as auspicious as if nothing bad occurred to trouble the victorious return from the conquest of Ammon; the clouds from this time gathered over David's fortunes, and henceforward “the sword never
• departed from his house." The crime itself had sprung
'! from the lawless and licentious life, fostered by the polygamy which David had been the first to introduce; and out of this same polygamy sprang the ? terrible retribution.
In order fully to understand what follows, we must return to the internal relations of the royal family. In his early youth he had, like his countrymen generally, but one wife, the Princess Michal. Her ardent love for him, his adventurous mode of winning her hand, the skill and courage with which she assisted his escape, -we have already seen. Then came her second marriage with her neighbour Phaltiel, her exile with him across the Jordan, his bitter lamentation when on the border of their common tribe he was parted from her at Bahurim, the probable estrangement between her and David, and the final breach when her regal pride and his eager devotion were brought into collision on the day of his entrance into Jerusalem. Whether, according to Jewish tradition, she returned to Phaltiel, or whether, as the sacred narrative seems to imply, she remained secluded within the palace, her influence henceforth ceased.
The King's numerous concubines 3 were placed together in his own house. But the six wives whom he had brought from his wanderings and from Hebron—to whom he had now added a seventh, Bathsheba (if not * more), lived, as it would seem, with their children, each in separate establishments of their own. With them, as we have seen, there lived on terms of intimacy their cousins, who stood to them, however, from their superior age, rather in the relation of uncles. I 2 Sam. xii. 10.
Contrast the far superior morality of ? The Jewish tradition made the the Biblical narrative. offence of David, which called down 3 2 Sam. xv, 16. That the ten left these calamities, to be the fraud behind in Jerusalem were but a part which caused the massacre of the of the whole establishment, appears priests at Nob, and interpreted the from xix. 5. forty years of 2 Sam. xv. 7 (Jerome, * 2 Sam. v. 13; 1 Chr. xiv. 3. Qu. Heb. ad loc.), to be the interval $ 2 Sam, xiii. 7, 20. between the crime and the punishment.
Each of the princes had his royal mule. The princesses were distinguished by the long ? sleeves of their robes.
The eldest of the Princes was Amnon, the son of Ahinoam, Amnon. whom the King cherished as the heir to the throne, with an affection amounting almost to awe. His intimate friend in the family was his cousin Jonadab, one of those + characters who in great houses pride themselves on being acquainted and on dealing with all the secrets of the family. This was one group in the royal circle. Another consisted of the two children of Maacah, the princess of Geshur-Absalom and Absalom. his sister Tamar, the only two of purely royal descent. In all of them the beauty for which the house of Jesse was renowned-David's brothers, David himself, Adonijah, Solomon-seemed to be concentrated. Absalom especially was in this respect the very flower and pride of the whole nation. In all Israel there was none to be praised for his * beauty,' like him. From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. The magnificence of his hair was something wonderful. Year by year or month by month its weight was known and counted. He had a sheep-farm near Ephraim or Ephron, a few miles to the north-east of Jerusalem, and another property near the Jordan Valley, where he had erected a monument to keep alive the remembrance of his name, from the melancholy feeling that the three sons who should have preserved his race bad died before him. He had, however, one daughter, who afterwards carried on the royal line in her child, called, after her grandmother, Maacah, and destined to play a conspicuous part in the history of the divided kingdom. This daughter was named Tamar, after her aunt. The elder Tamar. Tamar, like her brother and her niece, was remarkable for
"2 Sam. xiii. 29.
· Ibid. 18 (Hebr.); comp. Cant. 1.3, and see Josephus, Ant. vii. 8, 31. • Ibid. 5, 21 (LXX.).
* 2 Sam. xiii. 4, 5, 32, 35.
Ibid. 23, xviii. 18. 6 See Lecture XXXVI.
her extraordinary beauty,' whence perhaps she derived her name, the palm-tree,' the most graceful of oriental trees. For this, and for the homely art of making a peculiar? kind of cakes, the Princess had acquired a renown which reached beyond the seclusion of her brother's house to all the circle of the royal family.
There had been no cloud to disturb the serene relations of these different groups till the fatal day when Amnon, who had long wasted away, grown ‘morning by morning paler and paler, leaner and leaner,' from a desperate passion for his half-sister Tamar,-at last contrived, through the management of Jonadab, to accomplish his evil design. It was a moment long remembered as the beginning of woes,' when on his brutal hatred succeeding to his brutal passion, she found herself driven out of the house, and in a frenzy of grief and indignation tore off the sleeves from her royal robes, and, with her bare arms, clasped on her head the handfuls of ashes which she had snatched from the ground, and rushed to and fro through the streets screaming aloud, till she encountered her brother Absalom, and by him was taken into his own house. The King was afraid or unwilling to punish the crime of the heir to the throne.
But on Absalom, as her brother, devolved, according to ' Eastern
notions, the dreadful duty, the frightful pleasure, of avenging Murder of his sister's wrong. All the Princes were invited by him to a Amnon.
pastoral festival at his country house, and there Amnon was slain by his brother's retainers. There was a general alarm. It would seem as if there was something desperate in Absalom's character which made those around him feel that there was an immeasurable vista of vengeance opened. The other Princes rushed to their mules and galloped back to Jerusalem. The exaggerated news had already reached their father that all bad perished. Jonadab reassured him. Still, the truth
1 2 Sam. xii. 1, xiv. 27. 2 2 Sam. xiii. 6, 8, 9.
: As in Gen, xxxiv. 25, 31.
was dark enough; and in the presence of a loss which appears to have been deeply felt, not only by the King, but by the whole family, Absalom was forced to retire to exile beyond the limits of Palestine, to his father-in-law's court at Geshur.
But much as the King had loved Amnon, he loved Absalom more : Joab, always loyal, always ready, saw that he only needed an excuse to recall the absent son, and by a succession of devices, Absalom was brought back first to his country property, and then to Jerusalem itself. But meanwhile, he Conspiracy himself had been alienated from David by his long exile. Absalom. He found himself virtually chief of the King's sons. That strength and violence of will which made him terrible among his brethren was now to vent itself against his father. He courted popularity by constantly appearing in the royal seat of judgment, in the gateway of Jerusalem. He affected royal state by the unusual display of chariots and warhorses, and runners to precede him. Under pretext of a pilgrimage to Hebron, possibly as the Patriarchal sanctuary, perhaps only as his own birthplace, he there set up his claims to the throne, and became suddenly the head of a formidable revolt. In that ancient capital of the tribe of Judah, he would find adherents jealous of their own elected king's absorption into the nation at large. And not far off, amongst the southern hills, in Giloh, dwelt the renowned Ahithophel, wisest of all the Israelite statesmen. According to the traditional interpretation of several of the Psalms,3 he was in the closest confidence with David, though, if we may trust the indications of the history, he had through the wrongs of his granddaughter Bathsheba, the deepest personal reasons for enmity.
It was apparently early on the morning of the day after he had received the news of the rebellion that the King left
See the comments of Thenius. four.' See Ewald, iii. 217, 227. : 2 Sam. xv. 1. The date of forty' Ps. xli., 9; lv. 12-14, 21. years in verse 7, should probably be