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THE FAITH OF ONE PERSECUTED
--MAY 2.--1 SAMUEL 19.--
SAUL'S JEALOUSY OF DAVID -- ATTEMPTS TO INJURE HIM -- FREQUENT DELIVERANCES SUPERHUMAN -- SATAN OUR GREAT ENEMY SEEKS
OUR INJURY -- DEVOTION TO GOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS SECURES US DELIVERANCE -- WHY SUCH EXPERIENCES ARE PERMITTED -- THE ARMY AND THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL PRAISED AND IDOLIZED THE YOUTHFUL DAVID.
"Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe."--Proverbs 29:25.
WARS with the Philistines continuing, David
was made a regular soldier, with a command
over a regiment and closely in touch with
King Saul himself. Victory after victory
came wherever David was engaged, and
King Saul saw the admiration of the people
turned from himself to David. The
sentiment reached a climax when, returning
from one of the victories, the women and
girls of a village came forth singing:
"Saul hath slain his thousands, But David his tens of thousands!"
The flame of jealousy took full possession of the king,
and thenceforth his one purpose seems to have been to
destroy David. It was a secret withheld from him that
David was already anointed by Samuel to be his successor.
He merely knew that Samuel the Prophet had told
him that, as a consequence of his failure to carry out the
Divine instructions regarding the Amalekites, the kingdom
would be taken from him and his family and given to another.
He possibly hoped that this might never come
true--that his son Jonathan might be his successor.
Jealousy is the bitter fruit of selfishness gone to seed.
It unbalances reason, extinguishes happiness. It subjects
its possessor to horrible melancholy, so that when it is in
control he is really crazy. Not only is this illustrated in
King Saul's case, but it is more or less illustrated in the
experiences of every human being. Who does not by
experience know what jealousy is? and the more he knows
of it the worse. It has made murderers of children, as
well as of grown-ups. It has wrecked homes, as well as
business enterprises. It is the most terrible, and at the
[R5663 : page 105] same time the most foolish, manifestation of selfishness.
Every one recognizing it in himself should be alarmed--
should throttle it promptly, seeking victory through
vigilance, and if a Christian, through prayer.
SAUL'S JEALOUSY WAS CRAFTY
When under control of these fits of jealousy, King Saul
is described as having had an evil spirit from the Lord,
but more properly, we shall say, an evil spirit opposite
from the Lord's--the reverse of the Lord's Spirit of
kindness, justice, love. When the king was laboring under
these fits of melancholy which followed the cessation of
the Philistine wars, young David could sometimes soothe
him by skilful playing on a harp; yet he knew the king's
treacherous mood and, keen eyed, on two occasions caught
the king with his eye in time to hinder Saul from throwing
at him a javelin-scepter which he usually carried.
Intent upon drawing David into a quarrel which might
be construed as traitorous and justifying his death, the
king promised him his elder daughter to wife, and then
gave her to another. David, however, was discreet, and
merely commented that he was not of a sufficiently noble
family to expect such honors; neither was he able financially
to give a sufficient dowry for a king's daughter.
Another trap was to betroth to him the king's younger
daughter, Michal. Young David again told of his unworthiness
of the daughter and his lack of wealth for
dowry, whereupon Saul stipulated that the dowry should
be the evidence of the killing of a hundred Philistines.
No doubt he hoped confidently that in the attempt to meet
this requirement David would lose his own life; but instead,
young David killed twice the number and received
Michal, Saul's daughter.
The king, getting more insanely jealous, told his son
Jonathan and his courtiers in general that David must be
destroyed. The sentiment of Jonathan was as loving and
brotherly as his father's was cruel, jealous, selfish. It was
Jonathan who would lose by David's attainment of the
honor of the kingdom. Hence the love of Jonathan has
become a proverb. Additionally, he had the true spirit of
manhood and brotherhood, the spirit of a peacemaker. He
interceded with his father for David. His language is a
beautiful model of filial respect as well as of devotion to
his friend David. He said, "Let not the king sin against
his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned
against thee, and because his works have been to theeward
very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and
slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation
for all Israel; thou sawest it, and didst rejoice; wherefore
then wilt thou sin against innocent blood to slay
David without a cause?"--Verses 4,5.
The plea of the peacemaker was successful. The king
relented. David was brought back and became again a
member of the household. But it was only for a time.
The king was not without some noble sentiments, but they
were not deep enough. They did not control his life.
On the contrary he was under the control of the evil mind,
the selfish mind, the jealous mind, which is far from, and
opposite to, the mind, the Spirit, of God.
Ere long, in a jealous fit again, the king not only made
the motion to throw the javelin, but threw it with deadly
aim and smote into the wall just behind where David sat;
for David was quick and dodged it. David went to his
room; but a guard had been stationed there, instructed that
upon his coming forth he was to be killed. His wife informed
him and assisted him to safety by letting him down
out of a window. Possibly the house was built upon the
wall, as in the case of St. Paul's similar deliverance.
TWO HUNDRED MURDERS FOR A WIFE
Scoffers seize upon one feature of this lesson to condemn
the Bible as encouraging murder and with being,
therefore, in conflict with righteousness and in conflict
with a God of righteousness. They say, "Here we find
David, a Prophet, described as being very discreet and as
having the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of a sound mind;
[R5663 : page 106] and yet we see him taking the lives of two hundred human
beings as the price of a wife, and not a word in the Scriptures
Such charges and arguments should be met in a reasonable
way--they should not be passed over with the remark,
"No use reasoning with you; you are an infidel."
He that doeth righteousness is righteous; he that doeth unrighteousness
is unrighteous. This Bible proposition applies
to God and to David, as well as to others. But, when
inquiring respecting it, we should approach our subject
with unprejudiced minds. Instead of condemning from
the standpoint of prejudice, we should rather inquire how
this course can be made to square with the principles of
justice, which the Bible everywhere maintains.
In the first place, we must have in mind the difference
between being a Jew under the Law Covenant and being
a Christian under the headship of Christ. Second, we
should remember that the Bible does not teach that those
who die still live and pass immediately into everlasting
torture. It teaches that the dead are really dead, and
that the hope which God holds out for them is a resurrection
from the death state in the future under more
favorable conditions, under the blessed influences of Messiah's
Kingdom. The Bible informs us that the penalty of
sin is death--not torment after death. It informs us that
this penalty was justly inflicted upon Father Adam because
of his intelligent and wilful sin. It tells us that the
human family are dying because, by laws of heredity, the
seeds of sickness, imperfection, death, are in us, from the
hour of our birth.
From this viewpoint, our entire world is a world of convicts
under death-sentence. This accounts to us for the
different treatment which God accords to humanity from
that which He gives to angels--joy, peace, life, perfection.
This accounts to us for God's permitting various death-dealing
circumstances to have control--famine, pestilence,
earthquakes, cyclones, etc. When we come to see that the
same God who justly condemned all through one man's
disobedience has made a provision for the justification of
all through the obedience of Christ unto death, then we
see things in a new light. When we learn that Messiah's
Kingdom is to be set up for the very purpose of bringing
light, knowledge of God and full opportunity of return to
His favor and everlasting life, our hearts rejoice.
Coming back to our first proposition, we realize that we
are not to judge David and people of his time as we would
judge ourselves of this Gospel Age. He must be judged
by the Law, under which he and his nation were placed at
Mount Sinai--"an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a
man's life for a man's life." The Israelites were informed
that the people of the Land of Canaan had allowed their
cup of iniquity to come to the full (1 Samuel 15:2,3); and
that the children of Abraham were given that entire land,
with the Divine approval of their taking possession of it
as quickly as possible. They were fully commissioned to
slay all their enemies there as being enemies of the Lord,
not even being told that the Lord had a future provision
for them all in Messiah's Kingdom.
The Philistines were in the Land of Canaan, where they
not only held their own portion, but had invaded the portion
which Israel had already conquered. They had
caused loss of many lives in Israel. It was in full accord
with the Divine instruction to the Israelites that the Philistines
and all other occupants of Canaan should be utterly
destroyed. David, therefore, was merely carrying out
what all Israelites recognized as being the Divine instruction
respecting the Divine Program. From this viewpoint
alone can the Lord's instructions and the conduct of
the Israelites in the past be recognized as proper.
Under the New Dispensation which began with our
Lord's redemptive work and the Pentecostal blessing, the
Lord's people of this Age, the Church, are under new
orders, and by word and by example they are to illustrate
the principles of mercy as in previous times the Jews were
commanded to illustrate the principles of Divine Justice.
We are to love our enemies, to do good unto them that
hate us and that persecute us and say all manner of evil
against us falsely. Thus we shall be the children of our
Father who is in Heaven, and manifest that we have been
begotten of Him by His Holy Spirit. But the Jews were
not children of God. They were a "House of Servants."
(Hebrews 3:5.) They never thought of speaking of
themselves as sons of God. When Jesus declared Himself
to be the Son of God they were indignant, said that He
blasphemed, and took up stones to stone Him.
The first human son of God was Adam, and when he
sinned, he was cut off from that relationship to God; and
none others from Adam's time down to Jesus' time were
ever recognized or spoken of in the Bible as sons of God.
They were sinners, strangers, aliens, foreigners, convicts,
under death sentence. But with Jesus came not only the
new teaching but the new relationship. "Moses verily was
faithful as a servant over all his House; but Christ as a
Son over His own House [of sons]; whose House are we,
if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the
hope firm unto the end."--Hebrews 3:5,6.