Jonathan and David;

or, Faith and its difficulties.

1 Samuel.

1868 113 The knowledge of God, by which any are separated off from the world which lies in the wicked one, can only be by faith in His effectual calling, the truth and power of which carry out the soul in hope of the glory which lies beyond.

This is very evident in the call of Abraham: "get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred … to a land that I will show thee;" and the principle remains the same, however diverse the character of the calling may be. In connection with the faith which thus separates off to God is the justifying faith by which we are personally made righteous before God — we go out to Him upon His calling by grace, and He comes in to walk with us on the footing of this righteousness. Faith is the new power which enables us to measure every thing by God. Are promises given to Abraham? He will not stagger through unbelief, but be "fully persuaded, that what God had promised, he was able to perform." Indeed the whole character of this intercourse is blessedly summed up in the fact, "he was strong in faith, giving glory to God."

If we quit the patriarchal age for a later one, we shall find the original principles maintained between Jehovah and His people, but with accumulated difficulties to the man of faith — arising from the failure in real testimony of what God had put into the hands of those with whom He walked. Take Samuel as an example during the priesthood of Eli, and the consequent judgment of God upon him and his two sons. Moreover the glory itself was departing from Israel, and "Ichabod" marked the anguish of the heart that felt it, and saw the ark of the Lord taken by the Philistines. If we follow history still farther, we shall find but the record of repeated failures on the part of man; though accompanied by fresh displays of God's resources in grace to His people, and in righteousness to His own name.

Complications are at the thickest, as we see the men of Ashdod carrying the ark of the Lord, and placing it in the house of their god, Dagon. True the hand of Jehovah was heavy on the Philistines, and in the morning Dagon was fallen to the ground. God's displeasure continues till the milch-kine and the new cart with the messengers deposit the ark in the house of Abinadab, and they sanctify Eleazar his son to keep it. Well may the men of Bethshemesh say, "Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God, and to whom shall he go up from us?"

How different are the lessons which the Lord teaches by this ark of the covenant! He has put terror into the hearts of His enemies, and outwardly they are plagued because of its capture; while to the Israelites it had been the bright token of Jehovah's presence, and of their blessing. In a different scene, and far later, we may recall men taking Jesus, and with wicked hands crucifying Him; and when they had done their worst, the angel of the Lord rolls away the stone from the sepulchre and makes himself master of the scene. His countenance like lightning, and His raiment white as snow, puts terror into the hearts of His enemies and "for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men;" while on the other hand, "the angel said to the women, Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified."

The patriarchs have closed their history; the priesthood of Israel has gone down in obscurity; and now, kingship is established by God in the person of Saul, and Samuel has "brought him forth to the people, and they shouted, God save the king."

But ere passing on to consider the history of David and Jonathan in connection with the above, we would call attention to another principle in the path of faith, which is of a different nature, and only comes into operation when the former has failed to maintain a true witness for God in the walk of those who obeyed the original call to come out. Lot departed from Mesopotamia with Abraham; but the principle alluded to led Abraham to separate from the man who was attracted by the well-watered plains of Sodom! Separation unto holiness and unto God guided Moses to pitch the tabernacle outside the camp of Israel — an act which Jehovah sanctioned by His own presence. How different is this from their triumphant march out of Egypt, when all their enemies lay dead upon the seashore! And who has not marked the action of Phinehas in the matter of the whoredom at Moab, when the javelin avenged the outrage against the Holy One of Israel, and turned away His wrath? The mountains of Gilboa and David's lamentations over Saul and Jonathan are of a kindred character, and show us plainly enough that, beyond the original election, there is the further election out of the primary one, till God gets "the man after his own heart."

How painful this second separation is — whether in the outward Israel at the time of the golden calf, or in the professing church of our times, when there is that in her midst which is far worse — is too well known by exercised souls to require any comment. When moral declension marks the progress of the individual, or the body which God has called out to be a witness of the glory that lies beyond, it is evident He would have to go along with the failure and to sanction it, unless He raised up a further testimony by the Holy Ghost, and in a corresponding power of life bestowed on those who come out on this further call of His grace to Himself. The ministry of the prophets was of this character, and embraced this object; and more especially the ministry of Christ in the double form of the Messiah or the Son (not to bring a further proof, and the last on record, from Stephen's address to the Jews in the Acts). The house which God leaves, becomes the house into which Satan enters and dwells; the temple had been turned into a den of thieves when Jesus emptied it by the scourge of small cords; and in the yet future state of the nation, the devil returns to the house from which he went out, "and the last state is worse than the first."

The lamentations of Jeremiah over the city which sat solitary, and the loving compassion of Him who wept over Jerusalem, when He sought to gather her children "as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings," are proof and warrant enough, to leave the outward and visible body, which maintains the name when the power is lost.

Christendom's destiny is of the same nature, and authenticated by the same call to come out, "that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues, for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." The principle is plain: Adam and Eve could only be either with God or the devil. When nationalism was established Israel formed a third power, from which they had to keep separate, because they had been taken out of the midst of all surrounding kingdoms. So now the Church, the body of Christ, called up to God, and waiting for the marriage of the Lamb, has to maintain her place on earth, "as a chaste virgin, espoused unto Christ."

But to return, these two lines of separation unto God, in the practical power of the walk of faith, may be further observed and illustrated in the case of Saul, Jonathan, and David. When Samuel had anointed Saul as the king of Israel, the Spirit of God (true to this election) came upon Saul in the matter of Jabesh-Gilead, as he sent his threatening message throughout all the coasts, unless they came forth to the battle "after Saul, and after Samuel." What a beginning is this identification of the prophet and the king! Victory is theirs, for God is with His anointed, and Saul can declare "there shall not a man be put to death this day … for the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel." If we pass from 1 Samuel 11 — 13 we shall find Saul and Jonathan together, in conflict with the Philistines, the enemies of God. Their concurrent action, in this combined effort, is beautiful, for "Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines, and Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the host, saying, Let the Hebrews hear." And now the Philistines as the sand which is upon the seashore for multitude come out to fight against Israel, and all the people follow Saul trembling.

Alas for Saul! the real question is not how many the Philistines may be, but will Saul tarry seven days at Gilgal for Samuel? Will the king put himself in the place of the prophet, and derange the order and ways of God, or will he tarry the full time? And Saul said, Bring hither to me a burnt-offering and peace-offerings, and he offered the burnt-offering, and Samuel came, and Saul excuses himself for his disobedience! "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams," but Saul, guided by the seeing of the eye, forced himself out of the place of dependence into transgression.

How much of modern service finds its scope in the self-will which cannot wait for Samuel, or wait on the Lord, or the guidance of the Holy Ghost; so that the amount of unsuccessful labour is enormous in the midst of apparent bustle and untiring energy! Samuel's responsibility was to come to Gilgal at the end of seven days, "and show thee what thou shalt do." Happy for Saul if he had fulfilled his in waiting! The whole scene has changed, for Samuel said to Saul, "thou hast done foolishly, and hast not kept the command of the Lord thy God … and now thy kingdom shall not continue." Sooner or later, the first man — the sons of Aaron, the prophet, and the king — each failing to keep up the character of their relation to God, is met with this question, "What is this that thou hast done?" As it was in those early records, so now — all is at an end between Jehovah and Saul.

What will Jonathan the man of faith do, now that his father is formally set aside from the throne? What can he do, but the same as any child of God must do today, who seeks to be guided into the steps that God is taking for the glory of His own name and the blessing of souls? If Jehovah has set aside Saul by the lips of the prophet, he can no longer be a co-worker for Jonathan, and God must be depended upon alone. Here is faith's earliest lesson of separation in practical action; and happy as it is to be found in combined service with any who fear His name, yet Jonathan does not hesitate to call the young man who bare his armour, and to pass over single-handed if needs be into renewed conflict with the enemies of God. "But he told not his father" are ominous words!

Observe, the faith that will be with God will find Him "the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." "And Jonathan said, It may be that the Lord will work for us, for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few." Here are these two men climbing on their hands and knees, and their enemies fall before Jonathan, and his armour-bearer slew after him. Everything on the right hand and on the left, in heaven and upon the earth, is made subsidiary to the full triumph of faith; for there was "trembling in the host and in the field, and the earth quaked, and there was a great trembling." What an answer from God to the faith that honours Him!

But where is Saul, and what keeps him apart from the work, where the power of God is so manifest? Saul is at Gibeah, and has with him Ahiah, a grandson of Eli, the Lord's priest in Shiloh, and wearing an ephod. What a question do these two positions present to the soul — Saul surrounded by what was external and ceremonial, and Jonathan outside it all, and alone with God! But who can hesitate a moment as to practical action? or who can demur to the acceptance of such a principle, for the discovery of what is right? "And Saul said to Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God;" and Jonathan, with his armour-bearer, were found wanting. Moreover, Saul had adjured the people, saying, "Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening." But Jonathan heard not what his father had done, "wherefore he put forth the end of a rod, and dipped it in an honey-comb, and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes were enlightened." What a hindrance is the outward and formal thing to the man of God who is outside it in faith! The very activities which Saul and the priest originate well nigh cost Jonathan his life, but for the intervention of the people. What could Saul or the nation do? or what can the professing church accomplish in these days, when dropped by God, but take the lead of what is around, and be content to put itself in the initiative of the nations? Israel afterwards was but the standing witness of a bygone time, as it had already been in Eli's days, when Ichabod was prophetically, but really pronounced upon it. And what is Christendom now to the enlightened eye, notwithstanding all its pretensions — but Saul, and Ahiah wearing an ephod? Do we ask Where is the real power then, or now? With Jonathan and his armour-bearer, the two men who, without the sanction or knowledge of what is formally accredited, to the eyes of the nation, are doing wonders, and who have God and the resources of heaven on their side in the current of the work. So now, in spite of an ordained ministry and all that stands organized under the consecration of man's hand, or by human appointment, the word of God is not bound, nor the Holy Ghost restricted, nor the power of the name of Jesus lessened! Thousands are witnesses that the work of God, whether among His own people or sinners, has been more outside establishments and the ordered system of Saul, than as connected therewith — nay further; that in many cases the outward system, bound by its own laws (like Saul and the people), have for consistency with their oaths discredited on this account, what they could not gainsay! In this way, contempt has been poured upon a direct work of the Holy Ghost. Let such take heed and judge themselves, by seeing whether Saul or Jonathan was the hinderer to God's work in Samuel's day.

And "Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? … but he answered him not that day." Power and the presence of the Lord are no longer with Saul, though the priest and the ephod are with him; and Jonathan did but anticipate such a day when he said to his armour-bearer, "Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised."

It will be instructive to trace the consequences of Saul's "curse upon the man that eateth any food till the evening." In the first place, "the men of Israel were distressed, and the people flew upon the spoil and took sheep and oxen, and did eat them with the blood." And Saul said, Ye have transgressed. And Saul built an altar unto the Lord, the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord. What a melancholy recital are the actings of this king, who, having set himself in the place of Samuel at Gilgal, and obstructed the path of faith in Jonathan, now puts himself to be as God, and to issue a commandment, and pronounce a curse, detects transgression in others, builds an altar, and forgets that Samuel has declared him, to be the transgressor against God! Do what he may in the energy of his own will, "the kingdom is taken from Saul and given to the man that is worthier than he."

See again the effects as regards Jonathan, who knew not the decree of his father, and had dipped his rod in an honey-comb. Saul said unto the God of Israel, Give a perfect lot; and Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped; and they two cast lots, and Jonathan was taken. And Saul said, Thou shalt surely die, Jonathan. Alas for Saul's measure of right and wrong, restricted to his own command and his curse on transgression. How low that man must have fallen, whose jealousy is not for the holiness or ways of God, but reduced to mere consistency with his own rashness! Darius, and the laws of the Medes and Persians around him, led him to cast Daniel into the lions' den. Herod's birthday, and his oath to Herodias, and consistency in the presence of the captains who sat at meat with him, ended by bringing in John the Baptist's head in a charger. Need we multiply instances, either in scripture or in church history? Nay rather, let us return to our chapter, and see God's deliverance through the people. They demand of Saul, "Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid; there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not."

The time is come for the Jehovah of Israel to open a path for Himself and for the faith that follows Him, by clearing away the obstructing power of Saul, or at least by bringing in the man of His own appointment. The strength of the Philistines' enmity is headed-up in Goliath, who defies the armies of the living God; and it is into these two paths that He will introduce "the man after his own heart." David, instructed by the Lord in secret among the sheepfolds, and measuring his prowess by the lion and the bear, is in due time the declared champion of Jehovah's hosts against the proud defier of the living God. "And David put his hand in his bag and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, and David took the head and brought it to Jerusalem."

It may be well to note here, that no circumstances are so trying to nature, and certainly none which afford so great an occasion for the display of faith, as when we are called to accredit the man, the place, or the thing, with which God has connected Himself, and to disown as readily the house which is to be left desolate, according to His righteous decree. Jonathan when put to this test fails, though many a scene shows us that his convictions and attachments are with David, while in effect he lives with Saul, and at last falls with him. How touchingly does 1 Samuel 18 introduce them to each other — "It came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul … and Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle." As for Saul, abandoned of God, a wicked spirit comes upon him; moreover, left to the workings of his own heart, in the midst of a scene where David was to be everything, the jealousy which is cruel springs up as he hears the women answering one another as they played, saying, "Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands, and Saul eyed David from that day and forward." The faith of Jonathan, in the declared purpose of God, and to set aside Saul, and the knitting of his soul with David by natural affection, and by the covenant they had made, are strong enough to shelter David from the anger and jealousy of Saul; but this does not identify Jonathan with David. In 1 Samuel 19, "Saul spake to his servants that they should kill David; but Jonathan delighted much in David, and he told him, saying, My father, Saul, seeketh to kill thee; now therefore I pray thee, take heed to thyself … and abide in a secret place and hide thyself till the morning." Moreover, Jonathan ventures to speak well of David, and rehearses his conquest of Goliath, "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?" Outwardly, Saul relents, and swears as the Lord lives he shall not be slain.

But the objects of Jonathan's soul are not in the current of God's as to David, or they would have drawn him out of Saul's house. In their own range and purposes, they would have brought back David to the house of Saul, as in fact they did, and "he was in his presence, as in times past." The amiabilities of a loving spirit naturally tend to smooth the way, and draw those together, who in the intentions of God are set in entirely different paths." "By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt." Few dangers are like this — for Jonathan had faith, but a faith which practically brought David back into its own circumstances, where the evil spirit from the Lord was, and came upon Saul, who had smitten the javelin into the wall, so that David slipped away out of his presence and escaped that night.

The defective faith of Jonathan does not suit the man who is to be put in a position suited to the onward steps of God and His people: for Jonathan is not there himself, and David, by yielding to the man with whom his soul was knit, gets into greater dangers till, encountering the whole enmity of Saul's treacherous jealousy, he escapes from the entire scene. Where will the pathway of the man of faith be guided now? To the prophet that was in Israel, for David fled and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him; and he and Samuel went and dwelt at Naioth. The prophet in the outside place with God suits and strengthens the man of Jehovah's choice, till all the intervening hindrances are set aside by judgment, or triumphed over by grace. Nevertheless, David is not free from the pursuit of Saul, though he be with Samuel at Ramah, for he first sends messengers to take him, and finally goes thither himself. The Spirit of God takes possession of the sent and the sender, so that they prophesy, and Saul stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner; wherefore they say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" God knows how to make the wrath of man to praise Him, as in this instance; or as when, in earlier days, Balaam was rebuked for his iniquity; "the dumb ass, speaking with man's voice, forbad the madness of the prophet."

Once more David seeks Jonathan and proposes to take his place at meat with the king, though in his fear he adds, "There is but a step between me and death." But God graciously uses this for discipline to the heart till faith leads David out, beyond the region of fears and alarms, to walk with God in the calm security of His presence, lead where He may. If He be for us, who can be against us? The bow and the arrows, the field and the lad, are interpreted according to the arranged symbols which flesh and blood understand. And David arose out of his hiding place, "and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city."

Has not such a picture as this a great moral lesson for our days as well as in Samuel's time? Do we not often see — yea, have we not been put to the same proof? — by sorrow and joy, as David, who is cast out of Saul's kingdom to walk with God where He leads, till, in almighty power, David is established on his throne at the coming day of glory?

In the meanwhile David "goes in peace," as Jonathan said. But why are they parted? Did they not make a covenant with one another? Why does one go in peace, and the other go back into the city? Is there no difference in these two paths which these sworn friends take? and what is the divergence if one leads away from peace? Such questions fairly arise; and how important the answers! Let Mount Gilboa answer for Jonathan, and the lamentations of the anointed David reply likewise.

The shepherd-king, who in early life had learned his lessons by the lion and the bear, and afterwards by the sling and the stone in the encounter with Goliath, is passing through the far deeper cuttings of heart and conscience which Saul's enmity had brought upon him. Witness the many psalms which give to us the experience, feelings, and faith of this sweet singer of Israel.

To return to the narrative. Where will David bend his steps now that Jonathan has left him? He is first with Ahimelech the priest, and then escapes to the cave of Adullam.

Faith in God and true-heartedness led Jonathan into conflict with the Philistines, the common foe of Israel. Faith in God's purposes respecting David, and real affection too, led Jonathan to brave many a danger on his behalf with Saul; but now that David is the outcast one and hidden in the cave of Adullam, will Jonathan join him there, and own him in the day of his rejection? Alas! in the record of those whose loyalty and devotedness drew them to David in the cave Jonathan's name is missing! Saul, his house, and the city pulled the other way, and were too strong. The men who gathered to David in Adullam were, it is true, a motley group; but they were gathered to the right person, and in the right place, as the issue proved. The cave gave birth to the mighty men of renown who are chronicled in 2 Samuel 23, the men of might were from thence. No matter where Jonathan was, he was not with David, and therefore was not with God.

What a searching inquiry should every Christian make, as to his own acknowledgment of the rejected Jesus, and of His rights and titles. He presented Himself to Israel and the Gentiles, and was refused and cast out. The heavens have received Him till a coming day, and God by resurrection has owned all that He was and is in this time of His rejection. He is the anointed One, the true David, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Do Christians think of this and seize the opportunity given them of owning Him now while the kingdom of Saul is running itself out? Are not the throne, the sceptre, the government, and the kingdom the birthright — and now the purchased right by redemption — of Christ Jesus the Lord? Or is He to be refused again (now that He is in heaven) as the only lawful holder of these dignities and glories, by the very people He came to purchase by His own blood that they might be kings and priests in the day of His glory?

The outcast David and the cave of Adullam are open to us now, or never. The soul cannot get into such an association with our Lord, except in the world which has cast Him out. Jonathan was not equal to the occasion; but what answer do we make to such an appeal? Oh! for wholeheartedness to Christ, that we may know Him and the power of His resurrection, being made conformable unto His death.

Saul continues his hot pursuit of David, and persecutes "the man after God's own heart." What a picture is this of one who breaks away from God, and following his own will, becomes tenfold more the child of the devil than before! Acting on the flesh himself, he makes his appeal to the flesh in others, and asks "Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields, and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds?" This appeal calls out Doeg, who impeaches the priests of Nob. "And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod."

In 1 Samuel 23:14 we read that "David abode in the wilderness in strongholds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand."

"And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God." David is now in the circumstances suited to faith and to God; and this chapter shows how much he is the gainer by being cast beyond the influence, though not out of the reach, of intermediate links, which throw off the soul from entire dependence on God. David never had so much to do distinctly with God as to himself and his path; and he gets his answers directly from the Lord as to Keilah, the Philistines, and Saul. Even Jonathan must come out to David on this footing, no longer to weaken the heart by useless attempts to connect David with the house and kingdom of Saul, by bringing him back, but to strengthen his hands in the path of separation to God. Moreover Jonathan is a step in advance of himself, through the faith of David, and says to him, "Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth." Nothing of this prophetic assurance breaks down, except that part which refers distinctly to the man who made it. Personal attachment, and covenants made and repeated, yea, the faith which can strengthen another's hand in God, and say, "Fear not," may yet turn away from the position and the path with God, which are necessary for the accomplishment of His intentions. "And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house." And they meet no more! Brighter scenes for David; and heavier ones for Jonathan.

God honours the faith that honours Him and can be happy where He leads. David is not only kept out of the hand of Saul, but God puts his enemy into his power. The skirt of the robes which David holds up to Saul tells how his eye spared him; and Saul is obliged to confess "Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil." The hill of Hachilah further proclaims the moral triumphs of David, as he goes thither with Abishai, who says, "God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand; let me smite him, I pray thee, even to the earth at once." But David leaves his enemy in the hands of God, with the same confidence, as he has placed himself there. Faith refuses Abishai's wish to kill Saul, and dispenses with him as an adviser, leaving all to the sovereignty of God. A deep sleep from the Lord has fallen on Saul, and upon Abner, and the whole host: so David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster, and they got them away. Coals of fire heaped on Saul's head are David's moral weapons. He demands from Abner where the king's spear is, and where the cruse of water that was at his bolster? "Then said Saul, I have sinned: behold, I have played the fool, and erred exceedingly." But Saul must not only acknowledge what he has been, but, further, own what David is: "Then said he, Blessed be thou, my son: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail." So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place. They part, and they part for ever.

Saul is abandoned of the Lord: for when be inquires respecting the host of the Philistines, "the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets." Left to himself, and discovering the insufficiency of everything, to extricate him from the consequences of his sin, or to master them, what can he turn to but the witch of Endor — type of the wicked one, the beast to whom the dragon gives his power, seat, and authority? Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto the? And he said, Bring me up Samuel, who says, "Wherefore dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee and is become thine enemy?" Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth and was sore afraid. David, on the contrary, encouraged himself in the Lord his God and recovers the spoil from the Amalekites and rescues his two wives, and there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters. David recovered all. Such is the difference God puts between "the man that feareth him and the man that feareth him not." Saul forfeits all by disobedience and finally perishes; whereas David prospers in the school of adversity and comes in, at the close of this book of Samuel, possessor of place and partaker of the real power of God, by which he recovers everything from the enemy's hand. Moreover, David sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, "Behold a present for you, of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord." Thus David brings blessing to Israel, as the fruit of the faith which owns God — an important principle too, in the Church of God, "that there should be no schism in the body," etc.; but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: "they shall share alike." Hence David will not allow any separate interests to exist, lest selfishness should make a footing for itself, and bring upon the people the judgment of God.

But where is Jonathan who rehearsed his fortunes in the light of David's triumphs, and said, "Thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee?" Alas for Jonathan! he is one with Saul in defeat and falls as they who are slain in battle; for the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons, and the Philistines slew Jonathan. Whose heart does not go along with David in the outbreak of his grief as he utters his lamentations on Mount Gilboa? "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice." And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished! But be girds himself, in virtue of his anointing, to carry out the intentions of God to Israel, which were connected with himself. Jeremiah's lamentations over Jerusalem and the nation give place likewise to rapturous strains in his prophecy of the future prosperity of Israel, when brought under the new covenant with their Messiah, the true Son of David, in the coming day of millennial glory.

We may note, too, the peculiar searchings of heart, which the Apocalyptic lamentations to the seven churches call forth; yet John's relief is to counsel one and another, and to reveal the present resources for faith in the closing hours of its long day of difficulty. "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David … behold I have set before thee an open door," etc.

The Lord give grace and confidence to the exercised in Saul's day to accept the proffered hand and listen to the voice of love: "Behold I come quickly, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."