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4 'Sharp arrows of the mighty, With coals of juniper.
Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, That I dwell in the tents of Kedar! 6 My soul hath long dwelt
With him that hateth peace. 7 I am 'for peace; But when I speak, they are for war.
• Or, a man of poaca
* Or, it is as the sharp arrows
of the mighty man, with coals
b Gen. 10. 2. Ezek. 27. 18.
Jer. 49. 28, 29.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALM CXLI.
PSALM OF DAVID.
The residence of David in the wilderness of Paran was all that he had foreboded. He could literally say,
“My soul hath long dwelt
Yet his life was not uselessly nor inactively spent; but among the important services he was enabled to render his countrymen, was the protection he offered to shepherd-life on the frontier. Among those who profited by these services of David, was one Nabal, an extensive proprietor residing in Maon, about eight iniles southeast of Hebron. This man lived in the luxury of an Eastern nabob, or sheikh, having three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and other possessions corresponding. His shepherds were scattered everywhere, often far from home in the desert, wherever pasture could be found, and they say, David and his men
were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we anything, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields; they were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep."
At the time of sheep-shearing it was anciently, as now, customary, among the pastoral tribes of the East, to give feasts, and to send presents to relatives and to the poor. In the spirit of this custom David, when he “heard, in the wilderness, that Nabal did sheer his sheep,” sent messengers to him to receive a present. But Nabal was an ill-bred, miserly man, and answered the messengers of David roughly and insultingly, and returned them unrequited to their master. This abusive treatment from one who was not only in his power but had received such important services at his hand, so exasperated David that he instantly resolves on summary vengeance.
With his armed band he advances toward Maon, and his bloody purpose would certainly have been executed, had not Abigail, the amiable wife of Nabal, met him in the way with a princely present, and with humble entreaty interceded for the life of her churlish lord. Soon after this Nabal died, and David, charmed with the chivalry and grace of Abigail's conduct, no less than with the beauty of her person, negotiates, after the Oriental fashion, and concludes with her a marriage.
By this union the prospects of David brightened, as he now came into possession of an estate sufficient for the permanent supply of himself and his trusty band of warriors. He is
now, therefore, induced to remove from Paran, and once more to adventure into the wilderness of Judah. Here he again halts in the vicinity of Ziph, within about three miles from Carmel, where lay the principal possessions of Abigail, and about four miles from Maon, the place of her former residence. No sooner had the treacherous Ziphites learned of David's return to their neighbourhood, than, with characteristic baseness, they report him a second time to Saul. David had resided scarcely a year in Paran, and though when he last parted with Saul at Engedi, it was with a solemn covenant of peace, yet the fitful mind of the king had had ample leisure to retract, and he was now again rejoiced at the prospect of apprehending one whom he dreaded as a rival, though to his magnanimity he owed his life and his kingdom. With three thousand chosen men, he again hastens to the wilderness of Ziph, and "pitched in the hill of Hachilah," where he had been informed David and his men lay.
The form of Saul's camp was a hollow sphere, Saul occupying the centre, while around him was drawn the military baggage, beyond which were arranged his soldier's tents. No sentinels were placed by night at the outposts, and the camp-fires were suffered to go out. David cautiously reconnoitered the camp, and while all were asleep he, with the brave Abishai, penetrated to the centre, where the king lay. The spear of Saul, in true Arab form, was stuck in the ground at his head, as a kind of ensign “to mark the station of the chief.” As they approached the king, the impetuous Abishai begged permission to strike him dead with one thrust of his spear; but David forbade him. It was not his desire to open his way to the throne by regicide. Simply, therefore, taking Saul's spear and the flask of water near his pillow, they silently withdrew to a rocky cliff, opposite the encampment.
The day following, David hailed Abner, Saul's general, from a distance, and reproached him for his careless manner of guarding the king, his master, and then turning to Saul and presenting to view the royal spear and water cruse, he addressed to him an earnest and just appeal in vindication of his innocence. Again Saul perceived that David had spared his life, and again his heart is subdued to tenderness, confessing he has “played the fool, and has erred exceedingly.” With a second promise of friendship, he again returns to his abode in Gibeah.
After this event, David remained some time in the vicinity of Maon and Carmel; but, as he had just reason to apprehend a return of Saul's vengeful spirit, and a renewal of his persecutions, he resolves once more to leave his native country. Indeed, his return to the wilderness of Judah seems to have been rather with the intent to arrange the estate of Abigail, preparatory to his residence abroad; for in his appeal to Saul (1 Samuel, xxvi, 19) he complains that his enemies had forced him into exile. Again, therefore, his eyes are turned toward the Philistine country. Here was a settled government, and a state of civilisation equal to that of the Phænicians themselves; and whether it was owing to David's improved circumstances, or to any real reformation of the court of Achish, it is evident that a more friendly disposition prevailed toward him from that quarter, and he now again determines to take
up his residence at Gath, or in some village under the powerful protection of Achish.
This second removal out of the kingdom of Saul, David regarded as a dictate of necessity; and his enemies, hy thus forcing him into exile among a heathen people had, to use his own words, virtually said to him, “Go, serve other gods.” 1 Samuel, xxvi, 19. It is an ancient maxim that “evil communications corrupt good manners," and David himself feared the effect which heathen society might have on his religious character and feelings. This apprehended effect he devoutly deprecates, in verses 3 and 4 of the Psalm written on this occasion. Verse 6 seems to be an allusion to the complete overthrow of Saul's malicious plans in the rocky desert of Ziph, when David took his spear, and the pacific words of David on that occasion.
“Their judges were dismissed by the side of the rock;
Ver. 6, Noyes's translation.
“He was now driven from Judea, and far from the sanctuary, but even here, prays that the devotion of his heart, and the elevation of his hands, might be accepted; that the one might ascend to heaven, fragrant and well-pleasing as the cloud of incense, and the other, in conjunction with it, be prevalent as the Minchah, or evening oblation.” (Verse 2.) -Bagster.
WHEN DAVID FLED THE SECOND TIME TO GATH.
David prayeth that his worship may be acceptable, 1, 2; he pleadeth to be preserved from wickedness, 3–5; he professeth good will to his enemies, 6; his perilous state, 7; he committeth himself to God, 8-10.
TA Psalm of David.
| LORD! I cry unto thee: 'make haste unto me;
Give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. ? Let bmy prayer be 'set forth before thee as incense;
And d the lifting up of my hands as e the evening sac
rifice. 3 Set a watch, O LORD! before my mouth;
Keep the door of my lips. 4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, To practice wicked works with men that work iniquity;
And flet me not eat of their dainties. 5 'Let the righteous smite me—it shall be a kindness: And let him reprove me—it shall be an excellent oil, Which shall not break
head: For yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, They shall hear my words; for they are sweet. 7 Our bones are scattered & at the grave's mouth, As when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the
earth. 8 But "mine eyes are unto thee, O God the LORD!
In thee is my trust; 'leave not my soul destitute. 9 Keep me from the snare which they have laid for me,
And the gins of the workers of iniquity. 10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
Whilst that I withal ‘escape.
d Pse 184. 2. 1 Tim. 2. 8.
kindly, and reprove me; let
my head, &c., Prov. 9. 8. and
19, 25. and 25. 12. Gal. 6. 1.
and 123. 1, 2.
i Psa. 119. 110.
and 140. 5.
and 142. 8. k Psa. 85. 8. • Heb. pass oder.