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One was Jonadab, the friend and adviser of his eldest son Amnon. The other was Jonathan, who afterwards became the counsellor of David himself.
The first time that David appears in history at once admits us to the whole family circle. There was a practice once a year at Bethlehem, probably at the first new moon, of holding a sacrificial feast,» at which Jesse, as the chief proprietor of the place, would preside, with the elders of the town, and from which no member of the family ought to be absent. At this or such like feast suddenly appeared the great Prophet Samuel, driving a heifer before him, and having in his hand his long horn filled with the consecrated oil preserved in the Tabernacle at Nob. The elders of the little town were terrified at this apparition, but were reassured by the august visitor, and invited by him to the ceremony of sacrificing the heifer. The heifer was killed. The party were waiting to begin the feast. Samuel stood with his horn to pour forth the oil, which seems to have been the usual mode of invitation to begin a feast. He was restrained by a Divine control as son after son passed by. Eliab, the eldest, by his height' and his countenance,' seemed the natural counterpart of Saul, whose successor the Prophet came to select. But the day was gone when kings were chosen because they were head and shoulders taller than the rest. 'Samuel said unto Jesse, Are these all thy • children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, 6 and behold he keepeth the sheep.
This is our first introduction to the future king. From the sheepfolds on the hill-side the boy was brought in. He took his place at the village feast, when, with a silent gesture, perhaps with a secret whisper? into his ear, the sacred oil
1 2 Sam. xiii, 3.
5 • The oil;' ibid. 13, and so Joseph. Ant. vi. 8, $1.
• Comp. 1 Sam. ix. 13, 22.
over bis head. We are enabled to fix his appearance
at once in our minds. It is implied that he was of short stature, thus contrasting with his tall brother Eliab, with his rival Saul, and with his gigantic enemy of Gath. He had red or auburn hair, such as is not unfrequently seen in his countrymen of the East at the present day. His bright eyes? are especially mentioned, and generally he was remarkable for the grace of his figure and countenance ("fair
of eyes,'' comely,' 3 goodly '), well made, and of immense strength and agility. In swiftness and activity (like his nephew Asahel) he could only be compared to a wild gazelle, with feet like harts' feet, with arms strong enough to break a bow of steel.* He was pursuing the occupation usually allotted in Eastern countries to the slaves, the females, or the despised of the family. He carried a switch or wand 6 in his
,5 hand, such as would be used for his dogs, and a scrip or wallet round his neck, to carry anything that was needed for his shepherd's life, and a sling to ward off beasts or birds of
prey. Such was the outer life of David, when he was
s taken from the sheepfolds, from following the ewes great with young, to feed Israel according to the integrity of his heart, and to guide them by the skilfulness of his hands.' 8 The recollection of the sudden elevation from this humble station is deeply impressed on his after-life. It is one of those surprises which are captivating even in common history, but on which the sacred writers dwell with peculiar zest, and
' 1 Sam. xvi. 12, xvii. 42. "Ruddy' = red-haired; aupsaans, LXX. ; rufus, Vulg.: the same word as for Esau, Gen. xxr. 25. The rabbis (probably from this) say that he was like Esau. Josephus (Ant. vi. 8, §1) makes it his tawny complexion (Favóds ahv xpóav).
? 1 Sam. xvi. 12 (Heb.): gopods tas obers, 'fierce, quick,' (Jos. Ant. vi. 8, $1). * 1 Sam. xvi. 18, same word as for
Rachel, Gen. xxix. 17.
4 Ps. xviii. 33, 34.
• Comp. the cases of Moses, Jacob, Zipporah, and Rachel, and in later times Mahomet (Sprenger, Life, p. 8).
6 1 Sam. xvii. 40. The same word as is used in Gen. xxx. 37; Jer. i. 11; Hos. iv. 12.
? Ibid. xvii. 43.
which makes the sacred history a focus of disturbing, even révolutionary, aspirations, in the midst of the commonplace tenor of ordinary life. The man who was raised up on • high.' 'I have exalted one chosen out of the people.' * I took thee from the sheepcote.'' It is the prelude of simple innocence which stands out in such marked contrast to the vast and chequered career which is to follow.
Latest born of Jesse's race,
But abrupt as the change seemed, there were qualities and experiences nursed even in those pastoral cares that acted unconsciously as an education for David's future career.
1 2 Sam. xxiii. 1; Ps. lxxxix. 19; 2 Sam. vii. 8. Lyra Apostolica, lvii.
The scene of his pastoral life was doubtless that wide His undulation of hill and vale round the village of Bethlehem, shepherd which reaches to the very edge of the desert of the Dead Sea. There stood the Tower of Shepherds. There dwelt the herdsman Prophet Amos.? There, in later centuries, shepherds were still ‘watching over their flocks by night.'
Amidst those free open uplands his solitary wandering His life had enabled him to cultivate the gift of song and music minstrelsy. which he had apparently learned in the schools of Samuel, where possibly the aged Prophet may have first seen him. And, accordingly, when the body-guard of Saul were discussing with their master where the best minstrel could be found to drive away his madness by music, one of them, by tradition the keeper of the royal mules, suggested'a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. And when Saul, with the absolute control inherent in the idea of an Oriental monarch, demanded his services, the youth came in all the simplicity of his shepherd life, driving before him an ass laden with bread, with a skin of wine and a kid, the natural produce of the well-known vines, and corn-fields, and pastures, of Bethlehem. How far that shepherd life actually produced any
of the existing Psalms may be questioned. But it can hardly be doubted that it suggested some of their most peculiar imagery. The twenty-third Psalm, the first direct expression of the religious idea of a shepherd, afterwards to take so deep a root in the heart of Christendom, can hardly be parted from this epoch. As afterwards in its well-known paraphrase by Addison, who found in it, throughout life, the best expression of his own devotions--we seem to trace the poet's allusion to his own personal dangers and escapes in bis Alpine and Italian journeys, so the imagery in which
Gen. xxxv. 21, Edar.
Lecture XVIII. Amos i. 1.
5 Macaulay's Essay on Addison, : Luke ii. 8.
Edinb. Rev. lxxviii. p. 203, 211, 259. • 1 Sam. xvi. 18; xix. 18-20. See
the Psalmist describes his dependence on the shepherd-like Providence of God must be derived from the remembrance of his own crook and staff, from some green oasis or running stream in the wild hills of Judæa, from some happy feast spread with flowing oil and festive wine beneath the rocks, at the mouth of some deep and gloomy ravine, like those which look down through the cliffs overhanging the Dead Sea. And to this period, too, may best be referred the first burst of delight in natural beauty that sacred literature contains. Many a time the young shepherd must have had the leisure to gaze in wonder on the moonlit ? and starlit sky, on the splendour of the rising sun 3 rushing like a bridegroom out of his canopy of clouds; on the terrors of the storm, with its long rolling peals of thunder, broken only by the dividing flashes of the forks of lightning, as of glowing coals of fire. Well may the Mussulman legends have represented him as understanding the language of birds, as being able to imitate the thunder of Heaven, the roar of the lion, the notes of the nightingale."
With these peaceful pursuits, a harder and sterner training was combined. In those early days, when the forests of southern Palestine had not been cleared, it was the habit of the wild animals which usually frequented the heights of Lebanon or the thickets of the Jordan, to make incursions into the pastures of Judæa. From the Lebanon at times descended the bears. From the Jordan? ascended the lion, at that time infesting the whole of Western Asia. These creatures, though formidable to the flocks, could always be kept at bay by the determination of the shepherds. Sometimes pits were dug to catch them. Sometimes the shep
Ps. xxiii. 2, 4, 5. ? Ps. viii. 1, 3 (eridently by night). 3 Ps. xix. 1-5. * Ps. xxix, 3-9; xviii, 7-15. • Koran, xxi. 9, xxii. 16.
Weil's Legends, p. 151.
. Amos v. 19; 1 Sam. xvii. 34, The lion and the she-bear,' i.e. the usual enemies. Comp. 'the wolf,' John x. 12.
; Jer. xlix. 19; Zech. xi. 3.