« AnteriorContinuar »
After this we find, that David, fo clofely was he pursued by Saul, was obliged to take refuge in the territories of the Philistines, where Achish, king of Gath, gave him a village, named Ziklag, for the refidence of himfelf and his companions. And here he abode for a year and four months: about the expiration of which time, the kings of the Philistines united themfelves together, and made an inroad into the Hebrew dominions.
And now the period arrived, when the denunciations against Saul, that he should be cut off from his kingdom and people, and be fucceeded by the man he perfecuted, were to be accomplished. He collected all his forces, and marched to repel the invaders, but without fuccefs. The two armies met, and the Ifraelites, being overpowered, were defeated with great flaughter. Jonathan, with two others of the king's fons, were among the flain. As for Saul himfelf, being forely wounded, and finding the event of the day greatly in his disfavour, he requested his fword-bearer to difpatch him, left he should fall into the hands of his enemics, and they fhould treat him in an ignominious manner before they flew him. But his attendant
being unwilling to embrue his hands in his mafter's blood, the king fell upon his own fword; and, as foon as he had done fo, his armour-bearer followed his example.
This fad cataftrophe was made known to David, who fill refided at Ziklag, the third day after it had happened. But, far from rejoicing at the death of the man that had fo long and fo unjustly perfecuted him, he felt the fincereft forrow at the melancholy event, and lamented the lofs of him and his fons, particularly of his beloved friend Jonathan, in fuch pathetic and expreffive language, as plainly spoke the reality and magnitude of his woe. Some of the sentences uttered by him on this occafion, have been handed down to us, and contain all the flowery beauties of the Eaftern poetry.
After the death of Saul, David left the dominions of the Philiftines, and returned with his fmall band of faithful adherents to his own country. And when he arrived in the city of Hebron, the principal men of Judah came to him, and chofe him for their king. This was a capital ftep to David's exaltation; but it was upwards of seven years, through the oppofition he met with
from a furviving fon of Saul, before he attained the throne of Ifrael. At the expiration of that time he mounted it, amidst the acclamations of a united people, and reigned over Judah and Ifrael more than forty years.
Thus, a younger fon, whose employment was to tend his father's fheep, and without the most distant profpect of fuch an elevation, was David raised, by "that unfeen hand which makes all our moves," to rule over two extenfive kingdoms. His comelinefs and valour firft made him confpicuous," and procured him the esteem of the Hebrews. His amiable manners confirmed that esteem; and when he became their king, wifdom and piety being added to those qualities, and all fhining forth in an eminent degree, rendered him a great and celebrated potentate, and enabled him to make thofe over whom he reigned, a flourishing and happy people.
INSTANCE THE SIXTH.
Beauty has pow'r to foothe the favage breast;
Its fascinating nod all ranks obey,
A LONG fucceffion of princes mounted the throne on which David (as recited in the foregoing inftance) had, through the divine favour, been feated, and fwayed his fceptre in Jerufalem. But, alas! many of them deviated from the path of piety and prudence, in which their predeceffor had fteadily walked. Forgetful of the precepts of their holy law, and of his great example, inftead of worshipping the God of Abraham, of Ifaac, and of Jacob, who in fo many fignal inftances had been the governor, the friend, and the guardian of their forefathers, they turned afide, and worshipped the fic
Book of Efther. Jofeph. Antiq. book ii. chap. 6.
titious deities of the furrounding nations; appropriating their facred groves to their images, and entering into all the fuperftitious rites of the moft profeffed idolaters.
These repeated deviations from the true religion, did not go unpunished. During the reign of Manaffeh, the city of Jerufalem was taken by the Affyrians, and that prince carried away captive to Babylon; but humbling himfelf before the God of his fathers, and repenting of his idolatries, he was fhortly after reftored to his kingdom. Zedekiah, one of his fucceffors, not long after, pursuing the fame fteps, without being at any time. confcious of the impropriety of them, and likewife rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Jerufalem was, by order of that monarch, facked and deftroyed; the magnificent temple which Solomon had built, with fo much labour and expence, was razed to the ground; its facred implements and treafures feized by the conquerors, and all those who escaped the fword carried to Babylon, where they remained in a state of captivity till they were reftored by Cyrus to their freedom, and permitted to rebuild their city.
During the period of this captivity, anoF ther