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mourned in secret over his departure from God's commandments, and how earnestly he longed to be restored to his favour, which to him was better than life itself. Hear the cry which proceeded from his inmost heart, “ Wash me throughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin; for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence: take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Oh! give me the comfort of thy help again.”
Thus did the royal penitent bewail his sin. Such was the mournful language in which he cried to God for pardon. Nor did he cry in vain. The same prophèt who had declared the anger of the Almighty, now speaks of his tender mercies. “Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin : thou shalt not die.”.
E. Then God did forgive David, mamma? How glad I am of that!
M. Yes, my love; the Lord is very pitiful, and of great compassion: and he is still ready, for Christ's sake, to forgive those who repent, as David repented, mourning, as he did, bitterly for their offences, and turning to him with shame and sorrow for the past, and with sincere desires to serve him better for the time to come. But although God forgave David, he chastised him for the sins of which he had been guilty. From the very moment that he forsook God, troubles rose up about him, and he continued a mourner almost all the rest of his life: first he lost an infant child, which was very dear to him ; then the sword, of
which God had spoken, entered his house; for wars and quarrels, exceeding bitter, arose among his children, insomuch that one of his sons, called Amnon, was killed by his own brother Absalom. And then, as if that were not misery enough, Absalom rebelled against David himself, and sought to kill him.
This wicked young man was very handsome, and had been a very great favourite with his father; but he did not love this tender parent, and, in the pride and wickedness of his heart, he tried to get the kingdom for himself, and stole away the affections of the people from his father; trying to persuade them, that he should rule them with more kindness and justice, and make them a much better king than David did; thus tempting them to join him in endeavouring to get the crown for himself. And he raised a great army, and went at the head of it, to fight with his own father. Think what must have been David's feelings, when he found himself obliged to flee from Jerusalem, in order to save his life from the hands of his cruel son! Surely the sword of which God had spoken had not only entered his house, but his soul also.
E. Did his wicked son get the kingdom away from him, mamma?
M. No, my love. God did not allow him to go on long in his evil ways: his wickedness did not re main unpunished for any great length of time; he and his people fought a great battle with the servants of king David, in the wood of Ephraim, in the land of Gilead; and the servants of David conquered the people who were with Absalom, and having slain a great many of them, put the rest to flight. Now, as Absalom was riding in the wood, his mule went under
the thick boughs of an oak, and his hair, which was very long and beautiful, caught in the boughs of the tree, and the mule going on, he was left hanging by the hair in the tree. Just at this moment, Joab and others of king David's servants passed by; and when they saw him in the tree, they gathered round about him and slew him; and when he was dead, they cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a heap of stones upon him.
E. Was David glad, mamma, when he heard that Absalom was dead? Perhaps not, as he loved him so much.
M. No, my love; so far from rejoicing at the news, he mourned greatly; for he had loved Absalom exceedingly, notwithstanding all his ingratitude towards him, and had charged his servants, when they went out against him, saying, "Deal gently, for my sake, with the young man, even with Absalom." You may judge, therefore, of his sorrow, when he heard that his unhappy child had been cut off in the midst of his sins. Deeply did this good father mourn for his undutiful child; saying, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
Such, my child, were some of the heavy troubles, with which God saw fit to visit his servant David, for the sad disgrace which he had brought upon his religion. Grievously had he sinned, and grievously was he chastised; meekly too, and sweetly, like a true penitent, did he bear his sorrows, bending humbly under the hand of God, and patiently bearing the evils which his heavenly Father brought upon him. Many a time, I have no doubt, did he wish that he
had never departed from the way of his God.
But David, as I have already told you, was not cut off for ever from the favour of God. No; God had pronounced his pardon by the lips of his prophet; and we know that he was with him to support and comfort him in all his troubles, which would otherwise have been too heavy for him to bear. Listen to what David himself says in one of the beautiful psalms which he wrote in a time of affliction. Hear him exclaiming, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God; he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. In the multitude of the sorrows which I had in my heart, thy comforts, O Lord, refreshed my soul.” And again, “ The Lord hath chastened and corrected me; but he hath not given me over unto death."
And now, my dear child, that I have made you quite happy, by assuring you that king David was restored to the love and favour of God, I must send you to your pillow. Next Sunday I hope to give you all that remains of a history which has interested you so much.
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY EVENING.
DAVID'S PREPARATIONS FOR THE TEMPLE.
M. You remember, Edward, how very anxious David was, in the early part of his reign, to build a house to the Lord, and that it pleased God to deny