Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1 Samuel 26:1-12. (THE HILL OF HACHILAH.)
1. David's innocence with respect to any evil design against Saul was fully vindicated at their previous meeting. Saul himself was melted to tears, confessed, "Thou art more righteous than I," etc., prayed that the Lord might reward his preserver, and declared, "I know well that thou shalt surely be king" (1 Samuel 24:17-20); but his insincerity, instability, and. perversity were such that as soon as he was informed by the treacherous Ziphites that David was again in the hill of Hachilah (1 Samuel 23:19), he started in pursuit with his 3000 men (1 Samuel 13:2). His sin was now greater than before because of its opposition to his clearer conviction of the integrity of David and the purpose of God, and there are indications in this interview of the increased obduracy of his heart.
2. The aim of David is not so much to afford a further vindication of himself as to stay the persecution of Saul, and induce him to act in accordance with his former confession (ver. 18). For this purpose he proves to him that although he might have the power to deprive him of his authority and life, he has no wish to do so, and is his most faithful guardian (ver. 16); appeals to his best feelings, and warns him that he is fighting against God and exposing himself to his righteous judgment. He takes away his spear sceptre (an emblem of royal authority - Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalm 45:6) and his cruse of water (a necessary sustenance of life - 1 Samuel 25:11), but only to restore them into his hand (ver. 22).
3. In acting thus David shows his incomparable superiority to Saul, and that he alone is worthy to reign over Israel, even as he has been ordained to succeed to that exalted dignity. "Behold now, once more, our David, as he goes away with Saul's spear, the emblem of his sovereign power. At that moment he presents a symbolically significant appearance. Unconsciously he prophesied of his own future, while he stands before us as the projected shadow of that form in which we must one day behold him. In the counsel of the invisible Watcher it was indeed irrevocably concluded that the Bethlehemite should inherit Saul's sceptre, and here we see before us a dim pre-intimation of that fact" (Krummacher). As the man most worthy to rule, and furnishing in some respects a pattern to others, he was distinguished (see 1 Samuel 13:14) by -
I. PRE-EMINENT ABILITY (vers. 4-7). In the enterprise which he undertook during the night (either with the express intention of doing what he did, or from some internal impulse) he displayed those qualities for which Saul and his ablest general, Abner, were noted, and in a higher degree than they, viz. -
1. Sagacity, skill (Psalm 78:72), and practical wisdom; perceiving what was defective in the condition of his adversaries and how to take advantage of it. Tact, although by no means one of the highest mental endowments, is an indispensable qualification in a successful ruler.
2. Vigilance. His experiences in the desert had taught him to be ever on the alert, and he watched while others slept (vers. 4, 16).
3. Courage. "Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp?" (ver. 6). Even the brave Hittite dared not accept the challenge, and only Abishai (afterwards David's pre-server - 2 Samuel 21:17) would accompany him. They went fearlessly (like Jonathan and his armour bearer) right into the midst of danger.
4. Energy and activity, by which alone he could achieve success. Mental and physical strength is of God, should be ascribed to him and employed for him.
"For by thee I can scatter a troop,
II. LOWLY REVERENCE, submission, and obedience. "The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed" (ver. 11; 1 Samuel 24:6). There was in David (as there should be in others) -
1. An unbounded reverence for God as the source of power, justice, order, and all excellence. This was the principle from which his conduct toward Saul proceeded.
2. Profound respect for every authority ordained by God. Saul had been anointed king, and was still openly reigning by Divine permission (his rejection having been only privately declared to him); his person was therefore regarded by David as sacred. "Liable as the Israelite kings were to interference on the part of priest and prophet, they were, by the same Divine power, shielded from the unholy hands of the profane vulgar; and it was at once impiety and rebellion to do injury to the Lord's anointed" (Kitto, 'Cyc. of Bib. Lit.'). "He gives two reasons why he would not destroy Saul, nor permit another to do it: -
(1) It would be a sinful affront to God's ordinance.
(2) It would be a sinful anticipation of God's providence" (M. Henry).
3. Due subordination of the claims of every such authority to the claims of God; which both rulers and subjects, who have proper reverence for him, must observe.
4. Entire subjection of personal impulses, purposes, and aims to the will of God, in the assurance that he will" render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness" (ver. 23). "Commit thy way unto the Lord," etc. (Psalm 37:5-9).
III. NOBLE GENEROSITY. "Destroy him not," etc. (vers. 8-11; Psalm 57., inscription, Altaschith = Destroy not; see Hengstenberg). The opportunity of slaying his enemy was again placed in his hands, and in sparing him a second time David showed still greater forbearance than before, because of -
1. The renewed persecution to which he was subjected, and the increased hopelessness of turning Saul from his purpose. "I say not unto thee, Until seven times," etc. (Matthew 18:22-35).
2. The peculiar circumstances of the case. He was there alone with Abishai in the night, and his companion entreated that he might be permitted to give but one stroke (ver. 8). None else would witness the deed. Moral restraint alone prevented his permission of it.
3. His not entertaining the temptation for a moment; even the thought of it could find no place in his breast. Recent experience had evidently strengthened his spirit (1 Samuel 25:32).
4. His fixed determination to leave the matter entirely with God (ver. 10). "It is evident that David's faith in God was one of the great roots out of which all these fruits of forbearance and compassion grew. He was confident that God would in his own way and in his own time fulfil the promises which had been made, and, therefore, instead of taking the matter into his own hands, he could rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him" (C. Vince). And he alone who will exercise power in mercy as well as in justice is worthy to have it intrusted to him.
IV. DIVINE APPROVAL. "A deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them" (ver. 12), indicative of the fact that the Lord 6, favoured David's enterprise." He was providentially preserved from harm, and this, along with many other circumstances (all concurring with his eminent personal qualifications), manifested it to be the will of God that he should rule over his people. The sceptre which he had no desire to wrest from the hand of Saul would be given to him by the hand of God, and be "a sceptre of uprightness." The highest realisation of these principles appears in One greater than David, and alone "worthy to receive" the sceptre of universal dominion (1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 23:2; Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 5:5, 12). - D.
1 Samuel 26:13-16. (THE HILL OF HACHILAH.)
"A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt;
1. The body must be the servant of the soul. It was designed, with its various passions, to obey, and not to rule; and to keep it "in subjection" (1 Corinthians 9:27) requires watchfulness, self-control, and manly strength.
"Call to mind from whence ye sprang;
2. The mind must be faithful to the truth; esteeming it as more precious than gold, searching for it as for hid treasure, receiving it on proper evidence, cleaving to it when discovered, and confessing it without fear. Here is room for the exercise of the highest virtue or martial courage. "In understanding be men" (1 Corinthians 14:20).
3. The heart must be set on the supreme good; resisting and overcoming the temptation to set its affections on wealth, pleasure, fame, that "satisfy not" (Psalm 4:6).
"Let thy heels spurn the earth, and thy raised ken
4. The conscience must be reverenced as the king; its integrity defended against all foes, its voice obeyed at all risks, and its favour desired above all earthly dignities. "Reverence thyself" (1 Samuel 22:22).
5. The will must be fixed on doing the will of God - resolutely, firmly, and constantly; in striving against sin, advancing in holiness, and promoting his kingdom. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13).
"Be as the tower that, firmly set, 6. The character must be conformed to that of "the man Christ Jesus," the highest and only perfect pattern of true manhood (John 13:15; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 2:5), and the Saviour and Helper of all who endeavour to be like him. 7. The present life must be a preparations for the future. Man is made to live forever, and it is not manly to live only for the passing moment. He who sleeps at his post of duty and neglects to watch and pray is surely "worthy to die" (ver. 16). "Look up to heaven, look down to hell, live for eternity!" - D.
6. The character must be conformed to that of "the man Christ Jesus," the highest and only perfect pattern of true manhood (John 13:15; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 2:5), and the Saviour and Helper of all who endeavour to be like him.
7. The present life must be a preparations for the future. Man is made to live forever, and it is not manly to live only for the passing moment. He who sleeps at his post of duty and neglects to watch and pray is surely "worthy to die" (ver. 16). "Look up to heaven, look down to hell, live for eternity!" - D.
1 Samuel 26:13-25. (THE HILL OF HACHILAH.)
1. This meeting took place at night. The encampment of Saul was over against the desert by the way (ver. 3). The light of the stars, or of the moon, and the flickering campfires, together with the intense silence of the place, would enable the quick eye and ear of David to perceive its position and defenceless condition. And it may have been early morning when, on his return from his adventurous and successful enterprise, the voice of David rang across the ravine which separated him from it. "Answerest thou not, Abner?'
2. The conversation that followed occurred in the presence of the followers of Saul, and was doubtless heard by them, on awaking, like Abner, out of the deep sleep that had fallen upon them (ver. 12). At the former interview Saul was alone with David and his men, and, having no reason for concern about the manner in which his royal dignity, of which he was always so jealous, might be regarded by others, his feelings were less restrained and his expressions more explicit. What was now said must have shown them the evil of the course he pursued; it was a public testimony against the wickedness of the men who incited him to it (ver. 19), and could not but convince them of David's integrity and future success (ver. 25).
3. It took place under circumstances which made it impossible for Saul to do him harm. David's distrust of him was such that he took care to gain a safe position before speaking. The temptation to get him into his power was always too strong for Saul to resist. He was not morally, but physically, restrained from effecting his purpose (1 Samuel 25:32). David could have destroyed Saul, but he would not; Saul would have destroyed David, but he could not; he was under the dominion of a depraved will, even when he expressed his determination to abandon his evil designs, and seemed to himself and others sincerely penitent. In this interview then we see -
I. THE CONSCIOUS INTEGRITY OF AN UPRIGHT HEART. After asking, "Wherefore doth my lord pursue after his servant?" etc., David said, "If the Lord have stirred thee up against me," etc. (vers. 19, 20); and again, "The Lord render to every man his righteousness," etc. (vers. 23, 24). His conscious integrity appears in -
1. Earnestly urging the adoption of proper means to overcome temptation. "Pray to God that he take the temptation from thee" (Bunsen). "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God," etc. (James 1:13, 14). But God often affords him opportunity to manifest the evil that is in his heart, with a view to his conviction of sin and turning from it; and "if he does not repent, the forms in which sin exhibits itself are no longer under his control, but under God's dispensation, who determines them as pleases him, as accords with the plan of his government of the world, for his own honour, and, so long as he is not absolutely rejected, for the good of the sinner" (Hengstenberg). And he has respect to the offering that is presented to him in righteousness (Genesis 4:7). The meat offering (minchah) here meant "was appended to the burnt and peace offerings to show that the object of such offerings was the sanctification of the people by fruitfulness in well doing, and that without this the end aimed at never could be attained" (Fairbairn). David spoke from his deep experience of temptation, his faithful endeavour after holiness, his exalted estimation of the Divine favour and help, and was as desirous that Saul should stand in a right relation to God as of his own deliverance from persecution (Psalm 141:2). "The way in which he addresses Saul is so humble, so gentle, and so reverent that we may sufficiently thence recognise the goodness of his heart."
2. Solemn invocation of Divine judgment on wicked men who incite to wickedness. "If it be the children of men," etc. (ver. 19). This is in accordance with the tone which pervades the imprecatory psalms, and should be interpreted in the light of his personal conduct toward Saul, his zeal for the kingdom and righteousness of God, the facts of the Divine treatment of evil men, similar expressions in the New Testament (Matthew 11:21; Matthew 23:13-39; Acts 8:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:4), and the inferior position occupied by saints under the Old Testament dispensation (see commentaries on the Psalms by Tholuck, Perowne, and others). "When David's whole career is intelligently and fairly viewed, it leaves on the mind the impression of a man of as meek and placable a temper as was ever associated with so great strength of will and such strong passions" (Binnie, 'The Psalms'). "David is the Old Testament type of the inviolable majesty of Christ, and therefore his imprecations are prophetic of the final doom of the hardened enemies of Christ and his Church. As such they are simply an expansion of the prayer, 'Thy kingdom come.' For the kingdom of God comes not only by the showing of mercy to the penitent; but also by the executing of judgment on the impenitent" (Kurtz).
3. Fervent entreaty of an enemy to abandon his unjust, unpitying, and unworthy designs. "Now, therefore," etc. (ver. 20). "This speech of David was thoroughly suited to sharpen Saul's conscience and lead him to give up his enmity, if he still had an ear for the voice of truth" (Keil).
4. Confidently appealing to the perfect justice of God and his merciful interposition on his behalf. "The Lord render to every man," etc. (vers. 23, 24). This is not the language of boastfulness or self-righteousness, but "the answer of a good conscience toward God." He desired that God would deal with him as he had dealt with others (Psalm 7:4, 5), and fully vindicate his "righteousness and faithfulness" by delivering him "out of all tribulation." Only one who was consciously upright in heart could speak thus; and similar expressions often occur in the Psalms (Psalm 17:1-5). "The Psalmist is not asserting his freedom from sin, but the uprightness and guilelessness of his heart toward God. He is no hypocrite, no dissembler; he is not consciously doing wrong" (Perowne). In addition to the eight psalms previously mentioned as referred by their inscriptions to the time of Saul's persecution, there are two others, viz., Psalm 63., 'Longing in the wilderness for the presence of God in the sanctuary' (see inscription; vers. 19, 20): -
"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee. II. THE UNCONSCIOUS INSINCERITY OF AN EVIL HEART. "And Saul said, I have sinned," etc. (vers. 21, 25). He acknowledged the sin and folly of his past conduct (though not with tears, as before), invited David to return, and promised no more to do him harm, uttered a benediction upon him, and predicted that he would "do great things and prevail" (omitting, however, any allusion to his royal dignity, as on the former occasion) - "at once a vindication of David's conduct in the past, and a forecast of his glory in the future." He doubtless meant at the time what he said, but it is to be observed that - 1. The most corrupt heart is capable of good impressions, emotions, and purposes. History and observation afford innumerable instances of the fact. 2. It is apt to be the subject of them under special circumstances (1 Samuel 24:16-22), and particularly when convinced of the futility of sinful endeavours, and restrained by a power which cannot be effectually resisted. "Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest" (Jeremiah 3:5). So long as the power to do evil things is possessed, it is exercised; but when it is taken away men often seem sincerely penitent and fully determined to do good. But how seldom does the "goodness" exhibited in such circumstances prove really sincere and enduring! 3. The experience of them is no certain evidence to a man himself or others of a right state of heart. They are liable to deceive, and can only be depended upon when expressed and confirmed by corresponding and continuous acts. Strong feeling is often temporary and never transformed into settled principle. 4. The removal of tint influences by which they are produced, and the occurrence of favourable opportunities for the manifestation of the true character, commonly prove its utter insincerity. It was thus with Saul. He did not repent in deeds of righteousness, nor "bring forth fruits meet for repentance." On the contrary, he soon afterwards renewed his persecution, and ceased not until David was wholly beyond his power (ch. 27:1). "They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow" (Hosea 7:16). He was under the dominion of an evil disposition and depraved will, and with every broken promise of amendment his moral condition became worse, until he sank into despair. "The only good thing in the world is a good will" (Kant). "But ill for him who, bettering not with time, Recurring and suggesting still!
II. THE UNCONSCIOUS INSINCERITY OF AN EVIL HEART. "And Saul said, I have sinned," etc. (vers. 21, 25). He acknowledged the sin and folly of his past conduct (though not with tears, as before), invited David to return, and promised no more to do him harm, uttered a benediction upon him, and predicted that he would "do great things and prevail" (omitting, however, any allusion to his royal dignity, as on the former occasion) - "at once a vindication of David's conduct in the past, and a forecast of his glory in the future." He doubtless meant at the time what he said, but it is to be observed that -
1. The most corrupt heart is capable of good impressions, emotions, and purposes. History and observation afford innumerable instances of the fact.
2. It is apt to be the subject of them under special circumstances (1 Samuel 24:16-22), and particularly when convinced of the futility of sinful endeavours, and restrained by a power which cannot be effectually resisted. "Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest" (Jeremiah 3:5). So long as the power to do evil things is possessed, it is exercised; but when it is taken away men often seem sincerely penitent and fully determined to do good. But how seldom does the "goodness" exhibited in such circumstances prove really sincere and enduring!
3. The experience of them is no certain evidence to a man himself or others of a right state of heart. They are liable to deceive, and can only be depended upon when expressed and confirmed by corresponding and continuous acts. Strong feeling is often temporary and never transformed into settled principle.
4. The removal of tint influences by which they are produced, and the occurrence of favourable opportunities for the manifestation of the true character, commonly prove its utter insincerity. It was thus with Saul. He did not repent in deeds of righteousness, nor "bring forth fruits meet for repentance." On the contrary, he soon afterwards renewed his persecution, and ceased not until David was wholly beyond his power (ch. 27:1). "They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow" (Hosea 7:16). He was under the dominion of an evil disposition and depraved will, and with every broken promise of amendment his moral condition became worse, until he sank into despair. "The only good thing in the world is a good will" (Kant).
"But ill for him who, bettering not with time,
Recurring and suggesting still!
1 Samuel 26:21. (THE HILL OF HACHILAH.)1 Samuel 13:13); and now (a man of about sixty years of age), looking back upon a long course of disobedience and self-will, and more especially upon his recent persecution of David, he himself said, "I have sinned... Behold, I have done foolishly, and have erred exceedingly." "There is no sinner so hardened but that God gives him now and then a ray of illumination to show him all his error." And under its influence many a man, in reviewing the past, has been constrained to make a similar confession. With reference to the case of Saul, a man plays the fool -
1. When he suffers illusive thoughts and sinful passions to find a place within him. This was the root of Saul's wasted and miserable life. How different would it have been if he had adopted proper means to expel such thoughts and passions from his breast, and prevent their return! "How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" (Jeremiah 4:14).
2. When he listens to the false representations of wicked men, insinuating, it may be, suspicions of his best friend, and urging him to regard him as his worst enemy (1 Samuel 24:9).
3. When he acts in opposition to what he knows to be right. Saul had done so continually, following the impulses of "an evil heart of unbelief, instead of the dictates of reason and conscience. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
4. When he rests in feelings merely, and does not translate them into deeds (1 Samuel 24:17). They are "dead without works." Every delay to act in accordance with them weakens their power, renders it less likely that they will ever be acted upon, and prepares the way for the return of the "evil spirit."
5. When he makes good resolutions and immediately breaks them (ver. 21), thereby destroying his moral power, and hardening himself in sin.
6. When he contends against the Divine purposes in the vain hope of succeeding (ver. 25). Sooner or later he must be crushed. "Who hath hardened himself against him and prospered?" (Job 9:4).
7. When he expects to find happiness except in connection with holiness. The illusion is dispelled, if not before, at the hour of death and the dawn of eternity, and he has to confess his folly when it is too late to repair it. - D.
I. THE BIBLE IS FULL OF REDUPLICATION. It teaches by line upon line, precept upon precept, and narrative upon narrative. There are repetitions of the same story or song. There are also separate and independent narratives which go over similar ground, and teach the same lessons, the second confirming the first. Joseph is described as having had duplicate dreams with one and the same meaning. So also Pharaoh. Nebuchadnezzar's dream of empires is followed by Daniel's dream of the same. And there are duplicate parables of Jesus Christ. Then actual events described are followed by other events so closely resembling them that they might almost be taken for the same - e.g. Abraham's weakness, Sarah's danger, and Pharaoh's respect for the sanctity of marriage (Genesis 12.) seem to be all repeated (Genesis 20.), with the Abimelech of Gerar substituted for the Pharaoh of Egypt. And then all the incidents are told again of Isaac and Rebekah, and the Abimelech of their time (Genesis 26.). We have Moses fetching water from the rock in Horeb, and the same prophet fetching water from a rock at Kadesh Barnea; Jesus Christ anointed by a woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and the same Divine Master anointed by a woman in the house of Simon the leper. Again, we have Jesus feeding 5000 men, besides women and children, from a small stock of bread and fish, and then the same Lord feeding 4000, besides women and children, from a similar inadequate supply. The similarity of the story in this chapter to that which we have read in the twenty-fourth chapter of this book need not surprise us, or raise a suspicion that they are independent reports of the same adventure admitted into the pages of the history by a clumsy compiler. The reduplication is in harmony with Biblical usage; nay, more, it is in harmony with historical truth.
II. HISTORY IS FULL OF REPETITION. In private life the same conditions recur with startling precision; and in public affairs the same emergencies occur again and again, and lead to the same line of action, the same remedies, and even the same blunders. Why should it be thought incredible, or even improbable, that Saul fell back into his former mood of hostility to David? Alas, what is more common than that fools forget admonition, and return to their folly; sinners, after promises of amendment, relapse into their old sins? The amendment goes against secret inclination, whereas the sin indulges some constitutional propensity or passion. So it is that a man who has grown too fond of strong drink, after abstaining from it for a time, goes back to his bottle. A libertine, after a short attempt to live purely, goes back to his intrigues. And in like manner Saul, being passionately jealous, forbore from the pursuit of David only for a season, and then, at the first offer of help from the Ziphites, went back to his cruel pursuit of the son of Jesse. There are cases in which history repeats itself on the favourable side, in a return to goodness; but such is man, that the more frequent experience is of a return to evil courses, obliterating the very traces of a short-lived, superficial repentance.
III. SUPERFICIAL REPENTANCE MAY BE EXPECTED TO END IN RELAPSE. We mean by superficial repentance a mere emotional effect, while the root of sin lies undisturbed in the unrenewed will. A man of impulsive constitution can repent in this fashion again and again, with no conscious insincerity, and yet remain at heart the same; nay, grow worse in the very habit of lamenting without abandoning his besetting sin. There is some indication of such a falling off in Saul. On the first occasion, when his life was spared at Engedi, he shed tears over David's magnanimity and his own folly, and he openly confessed that the man whom he had sought to kill was more righteous than himself, and was destined to fill the throne. On the second occasion, at Hachilah, he was ready again to confess his fault and to promise abandonment of his unnatural and unjust pursuit of David, but we hear nothing of tears. There is a ring of vexation rather than of contrition about his confession: "I have sinned. I have played the fool." Cases of superficial repentance leading to relapse and deterioration are not rare. Emotion fades away; and some temptation is sure to come, as the Ziphites came to Saul and induced him to resume what he had renounced. So it happens that converts from among the heathen, who are changed only on the surface, and not in heart, but are baptized and endure well for a while, relapse under temptation into their old customs. Criminals in our own country, who have to all appearance sincerely repented, and have, after undergoing punishment, begun a new course of life, relapse after a while into the old roguery, tired of honest industry. In fact, it is not so difficult to induce men to turn over a new leaf as to keep them, after turning it, from turning back again.
IV. ONE MAY MUCH ADMIRE NOBLE CONDUCT AND YET NEVER IMITATE IT. Saul retained enough of his early magnanimity to feel the moral superiority of David's behaviour - his grand forbearance and chivalrous loyalty. He acknowledged the contrast between David's conduct and his own, and yet he never imitated what he admired. He turned back from the pursuit, as he had done before, but he did not reinstate his son-in-law in the honour to which he was entitled, or relieve him of the harassing sense of insecurity. So we often see that it is one thing to recognise and applaud what is good, another thing to do it. How many admire great and generous characters in history, poetry, and romance, and yet themselves remain small minded and ungenerous! How many applaud good men and kind actions, and yet continue in their own bad habits and selfish lines of conduct, without any vigorous effort to follow what they praise! After all, a man is himself, and not another, and as his heart is, so will his action be. Unless the tree be made good from the root, it is vain to expect good fruit on its branches.
V. A SELF-ACCUSER MAY BE PROUDER THAN ONE WHO PROTESTS HIS INNOCENCE, A careless reader might think better of Saul confessing his folly so frankly than of David appealing to God for his integrity. But he who appeared so humble was still proud and obstinate, and he who maintained his rectitude was of a lowly and tender heart. A certain amount of self-reproach is quite easy to a pliant nature, which takes emotion quickly on its surface, and yet is quite unchanged beneath. Such was Saul's confession, which did not for a moment change his character or delay his fate. On the other hand, self-vindication against misrepresentation and unjust treatment may issue from a man who entirely abhors self-righteousness and self-praise. It is this which we trace in David and the prophets; in the Apostle Paul, and in the greatest and lowliest, the man Christ Jesus. A servant of God breaks no rule of humility when he repels calumny, and asserts his innocence or his integrity. In this view read the seventeenth and eighteenth Psalms, the latter of which has a significant title - "Of David, the servant of God." All the Psalms are for the servants of the Lord. Sometimes, alas, they can chant none but those which are penitential, because sin has prevailed against them and defiled them. But in their experience of the mercies and deliverances of the Lord they can sing praises; and in the consciousness of the cleanness of their hands, their innocence and integrity of purpose and action towards their fellow men, they may even venture to go through the hundred and nineteenth Psalm in all that wonderful strain of devout feeling which combines with cries for Divine pardon and direction, assertions of loyal obedience and entire sincerity. - F.
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