Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
2 Samuel 4:1-3. - (MAHANAIM.)1 Chronicles 8:33) is a most pitiable one. The last surviving son of Saul, he bore little resemblance to his heroic father; owed his life to his incapacity for military enterprise; was the legitimate successor of Saul according to the law of Oriental succession; after the brief suspense in which the elders of Israel seemed disposed to accept David as king (2 Samuel 2:7; 2 Samuel 3:17), was taken under the patronage of Abner; at the end of five years was fully recognized, being forty years old; and reigned two years (2 Samuel 2:10). It is uncertain how far he was aware of David's Divine designation to the throne, and consciously opposed its fulfilment; and, since the latter was not chosen by the elders, he was not guilty of usurpation. Although David could not speak of him as king, he called him "a righteous person" (ver. 11) - "a man who had done no one any harm" (Josephus) - in the same magnanimous spirit as he always exhibited toward the house of Saul. He was:
1. Raised to a position for which he was unfit. "The Scripture presents in him a living example of how the sacredly held right of legitimate inheritance has no root when it is not ennobled by vigorous personality. When the Divine calling is lacking, no legitimate pretensions help" (Cassel). He was destitute of mental force, courage, and energy; ambitious of royal honour and ease; not of royal service and beneficence. The highest offices should be held by the best men. In an ideal state of society it cannot be otherwise; but in its actual condition we often see "servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth" (Ecclesiastes 10:7). He who seeks or consents to occupy a position of influence and responsibility for which he is unfit, and those who seek or accept his appointment to it, inflict a serious injury upon themselves and one another. The rule of the "bramble" results in the destruction of all the trees of the forest (Judges 10:15).
2. Deprived of the support on which he relied. "Abner was dead;" by whom he had been exalted and sustained, and to whom, rather than to God, he looked for counsel and help. Although he had alienated him by imprudent remonstrance (2 Samuel 3:7), yet "he may have hoped to obtain an honourable satisfaction by his mediation" (Hengstenberg). This hope was now cut off. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man," etc. (Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 143:3, 4).
3. Reduced to a condition of extreme weakness. "His hands became feeble." Nothing remained but unconditional submission or ineffectual and hopeless resistance. He was prepared for neither, and surrendered himself to despair; suffering the consequences of his own "foolishness" (Proverbs 19:3).
4. Contributory to the distress of a whole people. "And all Israel was troubled" - agitated, alarmed, confounded, desponding; having no confidence in his ability, participating in his fears, and, like him, experiencing the effects of former errors. "By his death the treaty with David was broken off; or there was no one to manage it with such authority and prudence as Abner had done" (Patrick).
5. Exposed to the villainy of unfaithful servants. "And Saul's son had two men," etc. They belonged to his own tribe, and, should have been his protectors; served him in prosperity, when he could reward them; but turned against him in adversity, when he could no longer serve their interests; and, although they had suffered no wrong at his hands (ver. 11), acted toward him unjustly and with "treasonous malice," craft, and cruelty.
6. Smitten at a season of apparent security. "At noon, in his own house, upon his bed;" where he sought a brief repose, and slept to wake no more. He was left unguarded, and perished "unawares" (Luke 21:34). His head was buried "in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron;" and the opposition to "the house of David" was at an end. None survived of "the house of Saul" save an afflicted son of Jonathan (ver. 4), who could be supposed to have any claim to the crown.
7. Removed as the last obstacle to the accession of a worthier man. And herein the overruling providence of God again appears in bringing to pass "the word of the Lord by Samuel" (2 Samuel 1:1, 2). "It is significant that the destruction of Saul's house and kingdom should have issued from Beeroth, the Gibeonite city (2 Samuel 21:1, 2)" ('Speaker's Commentary'). - D.
2 Samuel 4:4. - (GIBEAH.)1 Samuel 29:1), his father went forth with the king from Gibeah to fight against them in Jezreel, and he was left at home in the care of a nurse (his mother probably being dead). They waited anxiously for news of the conflict; and at length there came a messenger saying that the battle was lost, the king and Jonathan were dead, and the terrible Philistines were coming to plunder and burn the place. The nurse caught up the child, and carried him away on her shoulder; but in her flight across the hills she stumbled, and the little prince fell, was hurt in both his feet, and became a helpless cripple for the rest of his days.
I. CHILDHOOD IS BESET BY MANY PERILS. No other creature on earth is weaker, more helpless or dependent at the commencement of life, than a child. He is peculiarly liable to accident and susceptible to disease; incapable of defending himself from harm or preserving his own life; and is cast entirely upon the care of others. A little neglect on their part may prove fatal. More than a fourth of all the children that are born die before they are five years old. There is the still greater danger to your souls of being allowed to grow up in ignorance and led into "the way of transgressors," stumbling and perishing therein (Matthew 18:6). Be thankful to your parents, nurses, and teachers for their care over you; still more to your heavenly Father who has taught them such care, appointed his holy angels to be your guardians, sent his Son to bless you, and himself loves, preserves, watches over you, and seeks your salvation (Matthew 18:10-14).
II. EVEN A PRINCE IS NOT FREE FROM MISFORTUNE. You may sometimes wish that you belonged to a royal or wealthy family, lived in a palace, and had numerous servants to wait upon you; supposing that you would be happier than you are. Well, here is a prince; yet motherless, fatherless, homeless, helpless, and hopeless. How much better is your condition than that of this poor little orphan cripple! No condition of life is above the reach of trouble; none beneath the possession of enjoyment. Envy not the lot of others, nor fret and be dissatisfied with your own. Hear a fable of three little fishes that dwelt in a beautiful stream. On being asked what they wished for, one said, "Wings," and when these grew he flew away so high and so far that he could not get back, sank exhausted, and breathed his last; another said, "Knowledge," and when he obtained it, became anxious and fearful, and durst not touch a fly or a worm or eat any food, lest it should contain a fatal bait, pined away and died; the third said, "I wish for nothing, but am contented with my lot," and this little fish had a long and happy life. Have you not heard of the apostle who was a prisoner for Jesus' sake, and said, "I have learned in whatsoever state [am therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11)?
There is a cross in every lot, III. THE UNFORTUNATE ARE NEVER LEFT WITHOUT A FRIEND. And "a friend in need is a friend indeed." What became of Mephibosheth? He was carried beyond the river Jordan, out of the reach of the Philistines; found a home "in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar" (2 Samuel 9:4; 2 Samuel 17:27), in the neighbourhood of Mahanaim, among the mountains of Gilead; was treated with kindness; and dwelt in a place of safety until he became a man. Only a few persons knew where he lived, or whether he were alive; and when King David heard of him, he invited him to Jerusalem, that he might show him kindness "for Jonathan's sake." Affliction appeals to our pity, and tends to call forth our sympathy and help. We should never despise the unfortunate nor mock at their misfortune; but always try to do them good. Above all, in our trouble we should trust in God, in whom "the fatherless findeth mercy" (Hosea 14:3). "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm 27:10). IV. A GREAT MISFORTUNE OFTEN PROVES A GREAT BLESSING. If Mephibosheth had not been made lame by the accident of his childhood, he would have been tempted to aim at the crown, and might have rushed into ambitious and godless enterprises as others did, and perished in like manner. As it was, he spent his days in quietness and peace. His affliction was the means of making him humble, thankful, patient, and devout. His father's property was restored to him by his father's friend; and he had an honourable place assigned to him at the royal table (2 Samuel 9:13). How often is an orphan taught by the loss of his father to seek his father's God! The hand of God overrules evil for good. And all earthly trouble, when endured in a right spirit, is a preparation for a heavenly home. - D.
III. THE UNFORTUNATE ARE NEVER LEFT WITHOUT A FRIEND. And "a friend in need is a friend indeed." What became of Mephibosheth? He was carried beyond the river Jordan, out of the reach of the Philistines; found a home "in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar" (2 Samuel 9:4; 2 Samuel 17:27), in the neighbourhood of Mahanaim, among the mountains of Gilead; was treated with kindness; and dwelt in a place of safety until he became a man. Only a few persons knew where he lived, or whether he were alive; and when King David heard of him, he invited him to Jerusalem, that he might show him kindness "for Jonathan's sake." Affliction appeals to our pity, and tends to call forth our sympathy and help. We should never despise the unfortunate nor mock at their misfortune; but always try to do them good. Above all, in our trouble we should trust in God, in whom "the fatherless findeth mercy" (Hosea 14:3). "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm 27:10).
IV. A GREAT MISFORTUNE OFTEN PROVES A GREAT BLESSING. If Mephibosheth had not been made lame by the accident of his childhood, he would have been tempted to aim at the crown, and might have rushed into ambitious and godless enterprises as others did, and perished in like manner. As it was, he spent his days in quietness and peace. His affliction was the means of making him humble, thankful, patient, and devout. His father's property was restored to him by his father's friend; and he had an honourable place assigned to him at the royal table (2 Samuel 9:13). How often is an orphan taught by the loss of his father to seek his father's God! The hand of God overrules evil for good. And all earthly trouble, when endured in a right spirit, is a preparation for a heavenly home. - D.
I. THE EVILS THEY INVOLVE.
1. Sometimes constant bodily suffering.
2. Always many privations. Incapacity for active employments and their emoluments. Yet it is wonderful how far this may be conquered. The writer knew a lady who was one of many pupils who learnt drawing from a teacher born without arms or legs, but who, by indomitable perseverance, became proficient in the art. Such affliction also involves inability to share in many enjoyments.
4. Various temptations. To despondency, spiritlessness, indolence; to discontent, murmuring, fretfulness; to resentment against those who may have occasioned the affliction; to envy of such as are free from similar trial.
II. THE DUTIES THEY IMPOSE.
1. Trustful resignation and patience. However they may have arisen, they are the appointment of the infinitely wise and good Father, who thereby calls for and exercises faith and submission. If active service of God be impossible, the service of patient endurance is not, and may be equally acceptable and useful.
2. Thankfulness. For the blessings which remain, and those of which the affliction is a channel; and for the affliction itself, as a sign of God's fatherly love and care.
3. Watchfulness against the peculiar temptations of such a condition.
4. Endeavours after the good which is attainable notwithstanding, or by means of, the affliction.
III. THE ALLEVIATIONS AND COMPENSATIONS BY WHICH THEY ARE OFTEN ATTENDED.
1. Larger enjoyment of spiritual blessings. If the earthly is a good deal closed by such a trouble, the heavenly is all the more open and accessible. The needs of the soul may be the more constantly felt, and their supply the more habitually sought. Reading, reflection, and prayer may be more practised. The grace of God may be more abundantly enjoyed. Constant affliction brings the Christian into fuller communion with the sufferings of Christ, and larger participation of his Spirit and realization of his love and salvation. The consolation received may outweigh the suffering.
2. Hence a higher Christian life and more beautiful Christian character are often attained by those who are so afflicted. They become more fully "partakers of God's holiness."
3. Human sympathy and kindness are usually enjoyed in greater measure and continuance. A source both of pleasure and profit.
4. Even the power for good over others is often increased. The increased Christian intelligence and force and beauty of character, the patience, cheerfulness, and thankfulness displayed, move the hearts of others towards him who is their source. The habitual sufferer might often adopt St. Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 4:10-12; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. His weakness may be made the occasion of the more powerful manifestation of the living energy of Christ through him for the spiritual profit of relatives and friends.
IV. HOW THEY SHOULD BE REGARDED AND TREATED BY OTHERS.
1. With pity and sympathy.
2. With practical assistance.
The weak and suffering are especially commended by our Lord to the care and kindness of the strong. His example enforces his words. To minister consolation, and, where necessary and practicable, material assistance, blesses him that gives as well as him that receives. The lifelong affliction of one may thus become a lifelong discipline and blessing to his benefactors. But to treat the feeble with hardness or contempt, or to take advantage of their weakness for our own selfish purposes, is peculiarly base, and will not be forgotten by him who will condemn, in the day of judgment, even the neglect of the poor and suffering (Matthew 25:41-46). Finally:
1. If we enjoy freedom from lifelong afflictions, or at least serious ones (for few, perhaps, are quite free from them), thankfulness should impel us to care the more for those who are burdened with them; and if we suffer from them, our sympathies should be the keener with fellow sufferers, and such help as we can render be all the more cheerfully given.
2. Let those who suffer much and long in this life make sure that their life hereafter shall be free from suffering, and that their afflictions shall work out for them an eternal greater glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). These unspeakable blessings are the portion of those who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, receive his teaching, and follow his directions. - G.W.
2 Samuel 4:5-8. - (MAHANAIM.)
1. What useful purpose can the record of the atrocious deeds of such men serve? To throw light upon the condition of the age in which they occurred. To confirm inspired testimony concerning human depravity (Psalm 14.). To exhibit the tendency of the evil principles and passions by which these men were actuated, and incite hatred and abhorrence of them. To show that the wickedness of the wicked is subject to restraint and returns upon their own heads in significant punishment. To make us grateful for our preservation from crime and from calamity; thankful for the improved condition of society, and zealous for its farther advancement.
2. The crime of the two brothers, Baanah and Rechab, which has given them an infamous immortality, was not an ordinary murder. What their former course had been, and whether they were influenced by any other motive besides the love of gain, we know not. But in taking away the life of the head of their tribe, the ruler under whom they held their position, and in their subsequent conduct, they acted disloyally, ungratefully, deceitfully, basely. Notice their -
I. DELIBERATE TREASON. Having lost the feeling of reverence and obligation, they marked the helplessness of Ishbosheth, and resolved to take advantage of it; consulted together as to the time and means of effecting their design; "went, and came about the heat of the day," etc. (ver. 5); "and behold, the woman who kept the door of the house winnowed wheat, and she slumbered and slept. And the brothers Rechab and Baanah got through unobserved," etc. (LXX.).
1. In proportion to the duty of men to do good to others is their guilt in doing them evil.
2. Premeditated sin greatly aggravates its guilt.
3. Those whose hearts are set on crime are lured on by circumstances to its commission.
II. HEARTLESS CRUELTY. "He lay on his bed in his bed chamber," taking his midday siesta, "and they smote him" etc. (ver. 7). Men of violence, with more than the ordinary fierceness of their tribe, they "murdered sleep, the innocent sleep," without pity and without compunction, being "past feeling;" escaped with their ghastly trophy; and "gat them away through the plain [of the Jordan] all night" to Hebron (a distance of sixty miles), knowing not that they were swiftly pursued by nemesis with unerring aim, and hurrying to their doom (Acts 28:4).
III. HYPOCRITICAL MEANNESS. "Behold the head of Ishbosheth thine enemy," etc. (ver. 8). In order to gain the favour of David they hesitated not to blacken the character of their former master by attributing to him feelings of personal revenge; called him their lord the king; and represented their crime as an act of judgment performed by them under the sanction of Jehovah. How often do ungodly men profanely and hypocritically use the name of God when it suits their purpose; and even paint their shameful villainies as praiseworthy virtues! "Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue."
IV. MERCENARY SELFISHNESS. Like the Amalekite (2 Samuel 1:2), they sought, not David's welfare, but their own interest (ver. 10). Hence "their feet were swift to shed blood" (Isaiah 59:7; Romans 3:9-18), and "their mouth was fall of deceit" (Psalm 10:3-10). "Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person" (Deuteronomy 27:26). For thirty pieces of silver Judas betrayed the Lord.
V. SELF-BLINDED MISJUDGMENT. They were probably acquainted with the manner in which Abner had been treated (2 Samuel 3:20) and with the impunity of his murderer; and not unnaturally supposed that whatever promoted the interests of David would be pleasing to him. The nature of the wicked is ever to measure others by themselves. Their ruling motive gives its colouring to their views of everything, and leads them to attribute to the same motive actions which are due to one entirely different. Their delusion is sometimes suddenly dispelled, and they fall into the pit which they have digged (Psalm 7:15; Psalm 37:15). "Hell is truth discovered too late."
VI. JUSTLY DESERVED DOOM. (Ver. 12.) "David acted with strict justice in this case also, not only to prove to the people that he had neither commanded nor approved the murder, but from heartfelt abhorrence of such crimes and to keep his conscience void of offence toward God and toward man" (Keil). "Indeed, in a war of five years' continuance, which followed upon Saul's death, David never lifted up his sword against a subject; and at the end of it he punished no rebel; he remembered no offence but the murder of his rival." "Though Mephibosheth (the next avenger of blood) was lame and could not overtake them, yet God's justice followed and punished them when they little expected" (Wordsworth). - D.
2 Samuel 4:9-11. - (HEBRON.)
1. An oath, such as David took, is properly an act of worship - a direct and solemn appeal to God as a witness, in confirmation of an assertion or of a promise or expressed obligation. There is implied an imprecation of Divine displeasure if the truth be not spoken or the engagement be not fulfilled. It was customary from ancient times (Genesis 14:22; Genesis 21:23); often enjoined in the Law (Deuteronomy 6:13; Exodus 22:10); and served important purposes (Hebrews 6:16). Nor is it absolutely prohibited under the Christian dispensation (Matthew 26:63; Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 1:8). "The Saviour forbids absolutely such oaths only as are hostile to the reverence that is due to God" (Tholuck, 'Serm. on the Mount;' Hodge, 'Syst. Theology,' 3:307; Paley; Dymond, 'Essays').
2. Baanah and Rechab virtually claimed the Divine sanction to their deed, which, they said, was an act of judgment on David's enemies, and a means of preserving his life. But David could not admit their claim, and would have no part in their crime, however it might seem to promote his interest; and (lifting up his right hand toward heaven, Deuteronomy 32:40) he appealed to the living God, on whom, and not on man, least of all on man's wickedness, the preservation of his life depended, in confirmation of his purpose to inflict upon them the punishment of death, which was more richly deserved by them than by one on whom he formerly inflicted it when he confessed to a similar deed.
3. His appeal, considered with reference to the principles and feelings it involved, may be regarded as a statement of the motto of his life and expressive of -
I. BELIEF IN THE LIVING GOD. "Living (is) Jehovah," equivalent to "as surely as Jehovah liveth" (Judges 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Samuel 25:34; 1 Samuel 29:6; Jeremiah 38:16, "who has made for us this soul"). "Along with the name of God, the person swearing would at the same time designate his other attributes, his power and greatness, or whatever else of the essence of this God appeared to him at the moment of swearing of special significance" (Ewald, 'Antiquities'). "Jehovah liveth" (2 Samuel 22:47; 1 Samuel 17:26). A godly man believes in:
1. His actual existence and self-originated, personal, independent life. With him "is the fountain of life" (Psalm 36:9). He "hath life in himself" (John 5:26). He "only hath immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). The life of all creatures he gives, sustains, or takes away as it pleases him.
2. His immediate presence and accurate observation of everything as it really is, every thought, word, and action; and his approbation or disapprobation of it, according to its moral character. He is "a true and faithful Witness" (Jeremiah 42:3; Isaiah 65:16).
3. His active intervention in human affairs, with wisdom and might, justice and mercy. "He is the living God, and an everlasting King" (Jeremiah 10:10), and gives to every man his due reward (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is not merely a general persuasion of these sublime truths, but also an intense realization of them, and a personal surrender to their influence. It is "an intelligent conviction of the truth, a hearty affection for the truth, and a practical submission to the truth."
II. GRATITUDE FOR PAST DELIVERANCE. "Who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity" - an expression often on the lips of David (1 Kings 1:29; Psalm 25:22; Psalm 34:22; Psalm 103:4; Psalm 116:8), and never uttered without thankfulness to God.
1. The path of even a good man is beset by many dangers. What a scene of peril was David's life from his youth upwards (2 Samuel 19:7)!
2. He traces his deliverance from them to the hand of God, and sees therein an evidence of his loving, constant, and distinguishing care for his "soul."
3. He is wont to cherish the recollection of such deliverance; and is incited thereby to "speak the praise of the Lord." Nothing is more becoming or beneficial than a thankful spirit; but it is by no means a common possession.
"Some murmur when their sky is clear
And some with thankful love are filled,
III. CONSCIOUSNESS OF PRESENT RESPONSIBILITY. A good man feels that he is accountable to God; not impelled by forces over which he has no control, nor liberated from moral law; but, whilst free to act, bound by the highest motives to obey. His faith in the living God quickens his conscience, and shows him plainly the way of duty; his gratitude for past deliverance incites him to walk therein.
1. By abhorring that which is evil, and avoiding it.
2. By sincerity of heart, speaking the truth, and doing what is just and right.
3. By using the authority and power entrusted to him, not according to his own will and for selfish ends, but according to the will of God, and for his honour and the welfare of men. His motto is Ich dien ("I serve"). He ever lives under a sense of obligation, and finds in faithful service his strength and joy (John 4:34). "I must work" (John 9:4). "Remember now and always that life is no idle dream, but a solemn reality; based upon eternity, and encompassed by eternity. Find out your task: stand to it: the night cometh when no man can work" (Carlyle).
IV. CONFIDENCE IN FUTURE PRESERVATION. The path of peril is not yet past. But a good man looks to God rather than to men to protect him against the wrath of men and deliver him from all evil. And his confidence is strong, because of:
1. His conviction of the Divine faithfulness. "Jehovah liveth," to fulfil both his promises and his threatenings.
2. His experience of the Divine favour (see 1 Samuel 17:32-37).
3. His obedience to the Divine will, and express assurances of safety and of a "crown of life" to every faithful servant. "The righteous hath hope in his death." "Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth" (Psalm 31:5). "The foundation of David's character is a firm unshaken trust in Jehovah, a bright and most spiritual view of creation and the government of the world, a sensitive awe of the Holy One of Israel, a striving ever to be true to him, and a strong desire to return after errors and transgressions" (Ewald). - D.
1 Kings 1:29 (where the words of the original are precisely the same). Occurring thus at the beginning and the end of his reign, we may reasonably conclude that it was employed in the intervening years, reminding him, in the height of his prosperity and power, of the days of adversity which had preceded them, and of him who had rescued and exalted him. This representation of God would probably be more helpful to the piety of David than grander but more general conceptions of him. So shall we find it well to include in our thought of God what he has been to us and done for us individually (comp. Genesis 48:15, 16). As to the words: "redeemed" is not to be taken here in the signification suggested by its etymology, "bought back," "ransomed," but simply "delivered:" The use of the words, "my soul," must not lead us to suppose that David is thinking of the "redemption of the soul" in the spiritual sense. He refers to his deliverance from the perils, hardships, and anxieties of his previous life, through the enmity of Saul and his attempts to destroy him. The phrase is substantially equivalent to "me," though it may suggest that the seat of all the "distress" that attends adversity is the soul. The words are suitable to be used -
I. IN VIEW OF ACTUAL DELIVERANCE FROM VARIED OR PROLONGED TROUBLES. As David used them. They recognize and call to mind:
1. The extent of the deliverance. "From all adversity." The reference is to the past. David did not mean that he had done with adversity. Nor can we in this world use the words in that sense; but as from time to time troubles arise out of which we are delivered, be they adversities in the ordinary sense, or troubles of the soul strictly (temptations, conflicts, falls, pangs of remorse, fears, insensibility, gloom), let us mark and record our deliverance.
2. The Deliverer. "The Lord," Jehovah, the God who "liveth." Not self, not men, but God. David had employed his own great powers of thought and action, and had been well served by human helpers, but he does not ascribe his deliverance to the one or the other, but to God. He well knew that all power for self-help, and all human helpers, are the gift of God; that they are effectual through his working with them; and that apart from them God operates in ways transcendental and inexplicable. The greatness and variety of his troubles, the imminence of his perils, the wondrous special incidents which had contributed to his deliverance, all rendered conspicuous the hand of God. To him, therefore, he gave the glory. Most of our lives will, if carefully reviewed, furnish similar proofs of the operation of the living God, not merely of matter and dead laws, and of friends. And we should gratefully recognize and confess his goodness. Hence will spring humility, continuance and increase of thankfulness, and also confidence and hope in respect to future adversities (see 2 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:17, 18).
II. IN VIEW OF THE REDEMPTION FROM ALL EVIL EFFECTED FOR US BY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. The word "redeem" will in this case have the full signification of "ransom by payment of a price." We have "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." In redeeming us from our sins, he redeemed us from all kinds and degrees of evil. All who accept him as their Redeemer and Lord are thus assured of complete deliverance from all that now distresses them, and from all in the future world that would have distressed them but for his redeeming work; and, in the certainty that the purposes of his death will be accomplished, may speak of their deliverance as already effected. Nor can they fail to remember with unutterable thankfulness and perpetual thanksgiving the redemption thus wrought for them.
III. BY THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED FINAL AND COMPLETE DELIVERANCE FROM ALL THE EVILS OF THIS PRESENT WORLD. What a blessed thing it will be to look back on all the evils of this present state, including death itself, as actually past! and to look forward to an eternity of complete freedom from evil, of full enjoyment of good! No sin, no want, no sickness, no pain, no sorrow, no peril; but perfect peace, perfect service of God, perfect communion with him, "fulness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11; Revelation 7:14-17; Revelation 21:4). And evermore will the "redeemed from the earth" be mindful of their Deliverer, and unite in praise of God and the Lamb. In view of this glorious and complete redemption:
1. Let Christians be patient and thankful while enduring the adversities which belong to their condition on earth.
2. Take heed lest, redemption being effected, you fail to attain to its actual experience. To reject Christ is to reject deliverance from death and misery. - G.W.
2 Samuel 4:12. - (HEBRON.)2 Samuel 17:23), the direct judgment of God (2 Samuel 6:7), the judicial sentence of man. Capital punishment for murder was of old deemed right and necessary and divinely sanctioned (see 2 Samuel 1:13-16). In this execution, we see that:
1. The agents by whom the purposes of God are effected (ver. 8) without his commission and from selfish motives are not entitled to the reward of faithful service, although they sometimes expect to obtain it, being turned aside by "a deceived heart."
2. The reward which wicked men obtain for their wickedness is the opposite of that which they expect (ver. 10). Even if they gain their immediate object, they fail to find therein the happiness they anticipated, and sooner or later suffer loss and woe.
3. The guilt of the crime which such men commit against a fellow man is aggravated by his innocence and the circumstances under which the crime is committed. "A righteous person in his own house upon his bed."
4. The authority to which they vainly appeal in justification of their conduct surely requires their condemnation. "He will by no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34:7). What they did as private persons to Ishbosheth without Divine commission, David, as king and "minister of God," was commissioned to do to them, and "take them away from the land" which the Lord had given, but which they had polluted and were unworthy to enjoy. "Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men" (Psalm 26:9).
5. The example afforded by a severe and signal punishment is sometimes necessary to maintain public justice; to manifest the evil of sin and the certainty of retribution; to deter others from wrong doing. The hands that did the deed and the feet that "ran eagerly for reward" were cut off, and their bodies exposed to open shame.
"He that's merciful 6. The termination of strife in a land is usually attended with melancholy circumstances. "And they took the head of Ishbosheth," etc. 7. The saddest events are often succeeded by a season of gladness (1 Chronicles 12:40) and prosperity, and even directly conducive to it. With the death of Ishbosheth "the whole resistance to David's power collapses;" and "thus at last, not by his own act, but through circumstances over which he had no control - allowed by him who gives liberty to each man, though he overrules the darkest deeds of the wicked for the evolving of good - David was left undisputed claimant to the throne of Israel. Faith, patience, and integrity were vindicated; the Divine promise to David had come true in the course of natural events; and all this was better far than even if Saul had voluntarily resigned his place or Abner succeeded in his plans" (Edersheim). "Thus God will make all the sins of evil men to be one day ministerial to the extension and final settlement of the universal dominion of Christ" (Wordsworth). - D.
6. The termination of strife in a land is usually attended with melancholy circumstances. "And they took the head of Ishbosheth," etc.
7. The saddest events are often succeeded by a season of gladness (1 Chronicles 12:40) and prosperity, and even directly conducive to it. With the death of Ishbosheth "the whole resistance to David's power collapses;" and "thus at last, not by his own act, but through circumstances over which he had no control - allowed by him who gives liberty to each man, though he overrules the darkest deeds of the wicked for the evolving of good - David was left undisputed claimant to the throne of Israel. Faith, patience, and integrity were vindicated; the Divine promise to David had come true in the course of natural events; and all this was better far than even if Saul had voluntarily resigned his place or Abner succeeded in his plans" (Edersheim). "Thus God will make all the sins of evil men to be one day ministerial to the extension and final settlement of the universal dominion of Christ" (Wordsworth). - D.