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How touching is the entrance on the scene of the one man who could charm away the demon of madness, the one bright spirit in the gloomy court, the one who finds favour in his sight; and yet the one who ministers, in spite of himself, to the waywardness of the diseased mind, which he was called in to cure, himself the victim of the love which a distempered imagination turned into jealousy and batred. "And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil Saul and
David. 'spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now com'mand thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a • man, who is a cunning player on a harp: and it shall come 'to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. And • Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can ‘play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of 'the young men and said, Behold, I have seen a son of • Jesse the Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in speech, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.' From this time forth the history of the two is indissolubly united. In his better moments Saul never lost the strong affection which he had contracted for David. He loved
him greatly.'? "Saul would let him go no more home to his father's house."3 •Wherefore cometh not the son of • Jesse to meat ?'4 They sit side by side, the likenesses of the old system passing away, of the new system coming into existence. Saul, the warlike chief, his great spear always by his side, reluctant, moody, melancholy, and David, the youthful minstrel, his harp in his hand, fresh from the schools where the spirit of the better times was fostered, pouring forth to soothe the troubled spirit of the King the earliest
According to the Jewish tradition this was Doeg, who did it with malicious foresight of the result (Jerome, Quæst. Heb. in loc.).
1 Sam. xvi. 21.
of those strains which have soothed the troubled spirit of the whole world. Saul is refreshed and is well, and the evil spirit departs from him. And then, again, the paroxysm of rage and jealousy returns. Wherever he goes he is alternately cheered and maddened by the same rival figure. By David he is delivered from the giant Philistine, and by the songs of triumph over David's success, he is turned against him. He dismisses him from his court, he throws him into dangers; but David's disgrace and danger increase his popularity. He makes the marriage with his daughter a trap for David, and commands his son to kill him ; and his design ends in Michal's passionate love, and in Jonathan's faithful friendship. He pursues him over the hills of Judah, and he finds that he has been unconsciously in his enemy's power and spared by his enemy's generosity; and with that ebb and flow of sentiment so natural, so true, so difficult to square with any precise theories of predestination or reprobation, yet so important as indications of a living human character — the old fatherly feeling towards David revives. Is this thy voice, my son David? And he lifted • up his voice and wept. I have sinned. Return, my son • David: behold, I have played the fool, and erred ex'ceedingly. Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt · both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. David
went on his way and Saul returned to his place.'' So they part on the hills of Judah. One support was still left to the house of Saul. David we shall track elsewhere. The love of Jonathan for David we shall have occasion to follow in David's history. But we do not, perhaps, sufficiently appreciate the devotion of Jonathan for his unfortunate father. From the time that he first appears he is Saul's constant companion. He is always present at the royal table. He holds the office afterwards known as that of the king's
11 Sam. xxiv. 16; xxvi. 17-25.
* friend.') The deep attachment of the father and the son is everywhere implied. Jonathan can only go on his dangerous expedition by concealing it from Saul. Saul's row is confirmed, and its tragic effect deepened by his feeling for Jonathan-though it be Jonathan my son.'3 Jonathan
cannot bear to believe his father's enmity to David. My 'father will do nothing, great or small, but that he will show • it me: and why should my father hide this thing from .me? it is not* so.' To him, if to any one, the frenzy of the king was amenable. "Saul hearkened unto the voice . of Jonathan.'s Once only was there a decided break 6 disclosure, as it would seem, of some dark passage in the previous history of Ahinoam or of Rizpah, - Son of a
- a perverse, rebellious woman! Shame on thy mother's • nakedness!' 'In fierce anger In fierce anger'Jonathan left the royal
7 presence. But now that the final parting was come, he took his lot with his father's decline, not with his friend's rise—and “in death they were not divided.'
The darkness, indeed, gathered fast and deep over the fated house. The Philistines, so long kept at bay, once more broke The battle
of Mount into the Israelite territory. From the five cities they ad- Gilbou. vanced far into the land. They had been driven from the hills of Judah. They now summoned all their strength for a last struggle in the plain of Esdraelon, where their chariots and horses could move freely. On the central branch of the plain, on the southern slope of the range called the Hill of Moreh, by the town of Shunem, they pitched their camp. On the opposite side, on the rise of Mount Gilboa, was the Israelite army, keeping as usual to the heights which were their security. It was as nearly as possible where Gideon's
i 1 Sam. xx. 25; 2 Sa
Sam. xix. 6.
Ibid. 34. 8 2 Sam. i. 6.
camp had been pitched against the Midianites, hard by the spring,' which from the fear and trembling' of Gideon's companions, had been called the spring of Harod, or “trembling. We know not what may have been the
' feeling of the army at this second like conjuncture. But there was no Gideon to lead them. Saul (we are told, with a direct allusion to the incident which had given its name to the place), ' when he saw the camp of the Philistines, was . afraid, and his heart trembled exceedingly.'? • The Spirit of • the Lord,' which had roused him in his former years, had now departed from him. There was now no harp of the shepherd Psalmist to drive away the evil spirit; and when · he inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not;' no vision was vouchsafed to him in trance or dream, as before, when he lay under the Prophetic influence all night at Ramah ; no intimation of the Divine will by the Urim and Thummim of the High Priest's breastplate, for the house of Ithamar. had been exterminated by the sword of Doeg, and its sole survivor, Abiathar, was following the fortunes of his fugitive rival; no consoling voice of the Prophets of God, for Samuel, his ancient counsellor, had long since parted from him, and had descended in mourning to his grave. He was left alone to himself; and now the last spark of life the religious zeal which he had followed even to excess this also vanished; or rather, as must always be the case when it has thus swerved from the moral principle which alone can guide it, was turned into a wild and desperate superstition. The wizards and familiar spirits, whom in a fit perhaps of righteous indignation he had put out of the land, now become his only resource.
Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
On the other side of the ridge, on which the Philistines
11 Sam. xxix. 1; Judg. vii. 1, 3.
? 1 Sam. xxviii. 5.