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KING SAUL'S LAST BATTLE
--MAY 23.--2 SAMUEL 2-5.--
DISTRESSED, HE ASKED AID OF THE WITCH OF EN-DOR -- DECEIVED BY EVIL SPIRITS -- THE BATTLE LOST -- SAUL AND JONATHAN SLAIN -- THE SONG OF THE BOW, OR SAUL'S DEAD MARCH -- DAVID KING OF JUDAH -- THEN OF ALL ISRAEL.
"Jehovah is my strength and my Shield; my heart hath trusted in Him, and I am helped."--Psalm 28:7.
TODAY'S STUDY covers an interesting period
in the history of Israel and in the
experiences of David, the beloved of God.
Persecuted and hunted by King Saul, no
place was safe for David. The Philistines,
desiring him for a friend rather than a
foe, gave to David and his followers the
city of Ziklag. While residing there, David's
conquests were over the Amalekites,
and never against the Israelites. He could
not willingly battle against the Lord's people, though he
felt free to fight against those whom the Lord declared
were to be destroyed because their wickedness was come
to the full, to the limit of Divine permission.
Meantime, the end of Saul's reign was nearing. A
fresh invasion of the Philistines required all the army
he could muster, and then he felt very dubious respecting
the results. Although as king, in harmony with the
Divine regulation, he had ordered all witches, wizards,
and all who claimed to communicate with the dead to
leave the land of Israel, nevertheless there were some
here and there remaining. In his extremity, seeing the
Lord would not answer him, King Saul visited the
Witch of En-dor--said by some to have been the mother
of the king's chief general, Abner.
The witch, after being assured that it would not
work ill for her, got into communication with the fallen
angels, who she supposed, as spiritualists still suppose,
were the spirits of the dead. Doubtless she was honest,
and thought it was Samuel that was called. But the
Bible assures us that "the dead know not anything."
Samuel was sleeping with his fathers, waiting for the
resurrection morning, and could give no counsel, could
know nothing about matters going on.
The evil spirits, however, in that time as well as
now through mediums, personated the dead and, using
their superior knowledge, answered as instead of the
dead. The questions having been propounded in this
case, the answer was that the king would lose the battle
the next day, and that himself and his sons would be slain.
We do not know how the fallen angels know so much
about the matters of our race, but we do know that it
is unwise for any to have any dealings with them; for
the Lord has forbidden it. Their sole object is to deceive
the people; and, according to St. Paul, through
dreams and revelations they have brought into the
Church various doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1),
which, becoming incorporated in our creeds, like the fly
in the ointment, have made them to stink.--Eccl. 10:1.
Happy would it be for people if they realized what
the Bible so clearly teaches; namely, that the dead are
dead and can give no information of any kind, that they
have neither joy nor suffering, but are simply in a state
of suspended animation, awaiting the Dawn of the better
Day in which Immanuel, Messiah, will bring the
knowledge of the glory of God to all as the result of
His Ransom-Sacrifice at Calvary. The teaching that the
dead are more alive than they were when they were
alive is not only senseless, but contradictory to the
Lord's Word, and has become the foundation of all the
various grievous errors which have distressed the reasoning
faculties of Christian people. None would pray
for the dead, or say masses for them for their release
from Purgatory, if they knew that their dead friends
were merely sleeping until the resurrection morning.
[R5674 : page 124]
But, worst of all, this theory that the dead are alive
has become the foundation of serious blasphemies
against God, in which all denominations are more or less
joined as represented by their creeds. These blasphemies
consist in declarations respecting God's character
and Plan which would be a disgrace to any devil, and
are far from the character and attributes of the God of
all grace, the Father of all mercies, from whom cometh
down every good and every perfect gift.--James 1:17.
"THE SONG OF THE BOW"
When David heard of the results of the battle, his
sympathy for Saul and for Jonathan was expressed in
a beautiful poem, which is remarkable for the fact that
it contains not a single suggestion of how Saul had persecuted
him or sought his life. It compliments Saul for
what good he had accomplished. It tells of the tender
love of Jonathan, surpassing that of women. This ode
is recorded in 2 Samuel 1:17-27. The Dead March from
Saul is an attempt on the part of the musician to put
the sentiment of David's Song of the Bow for Jonathan
and Saul into the music of our day; and thus it has become
identified with the funeral services of the great today.
In the battle Saul's sons were killed, including Jonathan.
Saul himself was wounded. Fearing that if he
should fall into the hands of the Philistines alive they
would torture him to death, he desired his armorbearer
to slay him, and finally suicided with his own sword.
A young Amalekite, thinking to curry favor with
David, and knowing something of how he had been persecuted
by Saul, brought him the news of the death of
Saul and gave him Saul's crown and the bracelet that
was on Saul's arm, telling that he had dispatched King
Saul at the latter's request--probably, however, manufacturing
this part of the story to bring honor to himself.
At all events, David received the matter in a totally
[R5674 : page 125] different way from what was expected, saying to him,
"How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand
to destroy the Lord's anointed?" David then commanded
him to be put to death. But for Saul and Jonathan he
mourned until evening.
David waited upon the Lord those many years, fully
confident that in the end he should be the king of Israel,
but not hastening the event in any way, simply standing
ready for the responsibilities and the power of the office
where the Lord should put him. What a wonderful example
we have in David's course! How much Christians
can learn of patient waiting for the Lord's time in
all their affairs--not only waiting for the Kingdom
while they pray, "Thy Kingdom come," but also waiting
for the Lord's leading and providence in all their affairs,
overruling them all for good! It is one of the too frequent
mistakes made by Christians, that they overlook
the Lord's providence and promised supervision of their
interests, and attempt to do for themselves, often to
their own disadvantage.
David realized that the time had probably come for
himself and his companions to move from the Philistines'
country, and he inquired of the Lord by the priest
and the ephod. The answer was that he should go into
Judea. Next he made inquiry, Into which city? and the
answer was, Hebron. Thither David and his companions
removed with their families; and the tribe of Judah, his
own tribe, promptly recognized him as their king. It
was over seven years after this, however, before he became
the king of all Israel. Meantime, one of the sons
of King Saul, Ishbosheth, had survived; and Abner,
Saul's chief general, had him anointed king of Israel.
King David of Judah made no attempt to coerce the other
tribes, but continued his waiting for the Lord's due time.
Meantime, however, Abner gathered an army against
David's servants, and a fierce battle ensued, in which David's
forces were the victors; the others lost the fight.
Finally Abner, angered with King Ishbosheth, proposed
to David that he would become David's vassal, and
would assist in turning the hearts of all the Israelites
toward him. King David appreciated the proposition,
doubtless considering it to be the Lord's will and in harmony
with the Lord's promise. However, the matter did
not so carry out; for Joab, David's nephew, the chief
man of war, slew Abner deceitfully. Again we see David's
conduct in contrast with the average sentiment of
his time. Instead of rejoicing in the death of Abner,
the king mourned for him, and denounced his nephew
for the wrong course he had pursued. He was courageous
enough in the presence of his own ablest soldier to
extol the virtues of Abner as a great soldier, saying, "A
mighty man has fallen in Israel."
KING OF ALL ISRAEL
But a little while after this, others, misunderstanding
King David, slew King Ishbosheth and brought his
head to David as an evidence of his death, expecting
doubtless that they would be rewarded. On the contrary,
they also were condemned. They had slain the king.
They were esteemed worthy of the same punishment,
and were themselves slain. Thus did the people see exemplified
in David's course principles of righteousness
quite uncommon in his day, and we might say, uncommon
still. All these things served to endear to the people
the king, who, they perceived, was not merely self-seeking,
narrow, but was broad-minded and even generous
toward his opponents, his enemies. He seems to
have had a great appreciation of justice and also a
breadth of sympathy for his enemies.
King David was thirty-seven years old when finally
the eleven tribes sent a delegation to confer with him,
indicating that they would appreciate having him as the
king over all Israel. This was seven years and a half
after the death of King Saul, and probably about seventeen
years after David had been anointed first by Samuel.
Faith and patience mark every step of those years
and show us King David's character as we could not
otherwise have known it. Its grandeur was chiefly shown
in that it manifested a devotion to God and a submission
to the Divine will.
The king's acceptance as king of all the tribes of
Israel marked the third time that the holy anointing oil
was put upon his head.
Meantime King David had grown stronger and
stronger in conquering his enemies--the enemies of the
Lord--those whom God declared should be destroyed.
We remind our readers afresh that the Lord declared
that the iniquity of the Amorites had come to the full,
and thus indicated it to be His will that they should be
destroyed from the earth. Whether destroyed in battle
or by pestilence or famine, mattered nothing to them, as
the Divine sentence of death must be carried out.
However, all the while that God has been permitting
sickness, war, famine, pestilence, death, to reign in the
world. He has been preparing for human redemption,
human salvation through the great Redeemer. Messiah's
Kingdom is soon to take control of the earth, to
cause a cessation of the reign of Sin and Death, to
cause the binding of Satan and to cause the sunlight of
Divine Truth to flood the earth. Then all the blind eyes
will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped,
to know, to understand the true God, His true Message.
Meantime, those who died by Israel's sword will
know nothing of the lapse of time. They will awake in
the Millennial Kingdom, when all that sleep in the dust
of the earth will awake. They will then be under the
most favorable conditions we could ask for them--freed
from the shackles of ignorance and superstition, with
Messiah's Kingdom ready to help them out of their
weaknesses and degradation back to human perfection,
lost in Eden, redeemed at Calvary.