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INTRODUCTION TO PSALM IN 2 SAMUEL XXII, AND
PSALMS OF DAVID.
On his arrival at Gath, David was honoured with a gracious reception by Achish, the king, who entertained the highest respect for his talents, and was anxious to attach him to his interests. But it was not David's wish to reside in a royal city, where voluptuousness and idolatry reigned. He feared the moral contagion of example, and, besides, he was not ignorant of the fact that many of the courtiers of Achish still looked upon him with suspicion. At his earnest request, therefore, Achish gave him Ziklag, a small village on the southern border of Philistia. This was both generous and politic in Achish. Ziklag lay in a beautiful plain country, which possessed every advantage of soil and climate for the richest agricultural productions; but from time immemorial this beautiful district had been but imperfectly occupied on account of its exposure to the marauding tribes of Arabia. By occupying this village, therefore, David could defend the Philistine border in this quarter; and by awing the predatory hordes of the desert could still extend to his own native tribe a similar protection. Already his military renown had reached the surrounding nations, and his name was a terror to these lawless children of the desert.
In Ziklag David found himself in a more settled and independent condition. He was now the head of a family, the proprietor of a princely estate at Carmel, the chief of a trusty band, and the subordinate ruler of a little kingdom. Upon hearing of his more settled and prosperous condition, many came to him from the land of Israel, and swelled the number of his brave volunteers. David abode in Ziklag sixteen months, during which time he engaged in several martial exploits against the ancient enemies of Israel, who roved over Arabia Petræa, from the “south of Judah” to the Pelusiac province of Egypt. The severity of these wars cannot be excused, although the conduct of David is certainly mitigated when we view it in the light of that age, and of the laws of war then prevalent, and particularly when we consider the bandit character of the van
quished tribes. The deceptive accounts which David made to Achish must also be condemned by the moral law of veracity. Upon the whole we are compelled to record a decline of piety, and an increase of courtly address and worldly policy, in our hero from the date of his second entrance into the Philistine country.
At length the decisive hour approaches, which is to terminate the reign of Saul and the wanderings and persecutions of David. The Philistines muster their forces for war, and from every quarter the cities and villages pour forth their myriads of men. The boldest expedition hitherto undertaken is now determined, and an innumerable army is collected and marched into the heart of Palestine, and spread over the vast plain of Esdrælon. Everything betokens the approach of a sanguinary and decisive struggle between the two nations. It was the purpose of Achish to take David with him in this expedition, and the latter accordingly had actually joined the Philistine army. But the “lords of the Philistines,” ever distrustful of David's motives, interfered, and the king, overborne by their remonstrances, was forced at length to grant him permission to return. David, accordingly, leaves the army and returns to Ziklag, where he arrives after an absence of three days. But here an unexpected scene of woe and desolation presents itself. During his absence the Amalekites had made an incursion into the southern border, had pillaged and burnt Ziklag, and carried the entire population, including David's wives and those of his men with them into captivity. A calamity so appalling and unexpected for a while paralyzed action and whelmed all hearts in the profoundest grief. Loud lamentations and bitter cries arose on every hand, “ until they had no more power to weep.” When this paroxysm had abated, David's men mutinied, and threatened to stone him. But his resolute courage, sustained by a calm trust in God, soon quelled this sudden outburst, and his promptness in action left no time for the contagious spirit of rebellion to operate. Having inquired of the Lord he immediately set out in pursuit of the robbers. In their retreat it appears the Amalekites had taken a southern route, ascending the valley now called el-Arish, (which is the valley through which flowed the brook called in Scripture the “river of Egypt,") till they reached the vicinity of the mountains now called el-Tih, (probably the same range as is called
“Mount Paran” in Deuteronomy xxxiii, 2; Habakkuk iii, 3,) forty or fifty miles north of Mount Sinai; and here, considering themselves out of danger, they halted and gave themselves up to feasting and revelling. Here David overtook them, and falling impetuously upon their disordered companies, dispersed and destroyed them, retook the captives with immense spoil, and returned to Ziklag. Three days after his return he receives intelligence of the great and decisive battle between the Philistines and the Israelites, and the death of Saul and Jonathan upon Mount Gilboa. He pauses a brief space to indulge in natural expressions of undissembled sorrow, writes his inimitable elegy on the death of the two heroes, (2 Samuel i, 17–27,) and then turns his thoughts to the vacant throne of Israel.
David was now, according to the supreme law of the Hebrew commonwealth, the real king of Israel, and nothing was needed to invest him with the full authority of that office but the ceremony of the formal submission of the tribes. He, therefore, inquires of the Lord what measure he shall adopt to attain this end, and in pursuance of the Divine direction he returns to the strong city of Hebron, in the land of Judah. It was proper that David's native tribe, the most powerful in the land, should first declare itself; and accordingly they now assemble and confirm him, by their representatives, in the kingdom, tendering him for immediate service six thousand eight hundred troops. 1 Chronicles xii, 23, 24. The entire nation did not at once declare itself for David, but through the powerful influence of Abner, the generalissimo of the army, Saul's eldest son, Ishbosheth, was proclaimed king at Mahanaim, east of Jordan, and a state of civil war kept up for seven and a half years. Yet, from the first, David was safely seated on the throne. The hearts of the people were already his, and they needed only an opportunity to manifest their sincere loyalty.
David now begins to realize the fulfilment of those long delayed promises on which his faith had rested through all the dark vicissitudes of his past history. His enemies at last had fallen. Saul and his perfidious court were destroyed, and David ascends to power beyond the reach of malice and of calumny. Two acts seemed now to be required of him by his peculiar circumstances. First, a review of his life called for special thanksgiving; secondly, in view of his new and prospective relations it seemed proper to make some statement of the character of his court, and of the principles that should distinguish his administration. The first is supplied in the Psalm as it is recorded in its original and unrevised state, in 2 Samuel xxii. The last is given in Psalm ci. David had long seen and deplored the corruption, falsehood, flattery, and deceit which had prevailed at the court of Saul, and in this latter Psalm he endeavours to give a “model according to which a wise prince should regulate his conduct and his government.” 1 Samuel, xxvii to xxxi; 2 Samuel, i and ii, 1-4.
PSALM RECORDED IN 2 SAMUEL XXII.
ON DAVID'S DELIVERANCE FROM ALL HIS ENEMIES AND
David praiseth God for his manifold and marvellous blessings. 1 "And David spake unto the Lord the words of this
song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the
hand of Saul. And he said :" The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my de
liverer ; 3 The God of my rock; bin him will I trust :
He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, My high dtower, and my ® refuge, my saviour; Thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised:
So shall I be saved from mine enemies. 6 When the 'waves of death compassed me,
The floods of ’ungodly men made me afraid; 6 The 'sorrows of hell compassed me about;
The snares of death prevented me; 7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God:
a Deut. 82. 4.
d Prov. 18. 10.
2 Heb. Belial.
And he did & hear my voice out of his temple,
Then h the earth shook and trembled;
And shook, because he was wroth. 9 There went up a smoke 'out of his nostrils, And kfire out of his mouth devoured:
Coals were kindled by it. 10 He 'bowed the heavens also, and came down;
And mdarkness was under his feet. 11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly:
And he was seen upon the wings of the wind. 12 And he made • darkness pavilions round about him,
*Dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. 13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire
kindled, 14 The Lord P thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered his voice. 16 And he sent out 9 arrows—and scattered them;
Lightning-and discomfited them.
The foundations of the world were discovered,
He sent from above,
And from them that hated me:
For they were too strong for me. 19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity;
But the LORD was my stay.
& Exod. 3. 7. Psa. 34. 6. 15, 17. m Ex. 30. 21. 1 Kl. 8. 12. Ps. 97. 2.
Jadgis 5. 4. Psa. 77, 18. n Psa. 104. 3. I Job 26. 11.
o Psa. 97. 2. * Heb. by.
6 Heb. Binding of waters. Ps. 97.8. Hab. 3.5. Heb. 12. 29. p Judges 5.20. 1 Sam. 2. 10. I Psa. 144. 5. Isa. 64. 1.
Psa. 29. 3. Isa. 30. 30.
4 Deut. 32. 23. Psa. 7. 18
Hab. 3. 11. r Exod. 15. 8. Psa. 106. 9.
Nah. 1. 4. Mat. 8. 26. • Or, anger. Pse 74. 1. * Or, great