I. -- LOYALTY IS PRECIOUS TO THE KING OF KINGS.
In the days when the son of Jesse had but few friends, it was a precious thing to be treated in the style Barzillai and his neighbours entertained him (see 2 Sam. xvii.27-29). They were rich farmers, and had land which brought forth with abundance, so were able to act with princely hospitality to the fugitive monarch. But plenty may live with avarice, and when that is the case it is not to be expected that men who are fleeing for their lives will be received with kind generosity. In this case, however, the sight of the needy soldiers made the hearts of those kingly farmers beat with sympathy, and so the provisions were put there for the men to help themselves. "Hungry, weary, and thirsty" were they, but their hospitable entertainers made them welcome. Never would those dust-covered soldiers forget the halt they made in those green fields.
None felt, though, as David did. He had seen one trusted friend after another fall away, and the thought that the chief among the rebels was his own beloved son pierced him to the heart. It was then he composed the fourth Psalm. And just then to have this welcome feast must have cheered his soul even more than his body.
Do you live among those who are the enemies of David's greater Son? Is Jesus in a minority? Are there those who work with you who delight in making assaults upon your faith? Do they insult your God? Stand up for Jesus! Be faithful when others are recreant or hostile. A working man the other day, who has to win his bread among those who hate the name of God, and who profane the air with their blasphemies, said to one who was cursing, "Draw it mild there, that's the name of my best friend." Let us play the man even though we be alone. What did Barzillai care for Absalom's popularity? David is my king, and he shall have the best I have: Sooner or later the king will have the opportunity of rewarding the faithful. The king kissed Barzillai when parting from him; he had pressed his friend to go back with him to Jerusalem, but
II. -- WE SEE A BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATION OF CONTENTMENT. -- They had come down together after the great battle, and David said, "Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me at Jerusalem." It was worthy of them both, and we cannot but feel touched at David's gratitude; he would fain have the patriarch spend his last days with him. "With me," said he, "I will see thou hast everything thou canst want." "Nay," said the old man, "I will see thee safely over the river, and then I will return to the green fields I love, and when the time comes for me to die I will be laid by the side of my father and my mother."
When will men learn that it is not their surroundings but themselves that make a place comfortable or not? Paul could say, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content," and he said this in a letter he wrote to the town where he had sung praises in the jail! Some people would have jumped to have had this chance of going to live in a palace, but this farmer said, "Give me my farmhouse and my quiet grave beside my mother." Elevation may undo us. A sparrow could only chirp even though in a golden cage. Barzillai felt, "A rustic, like I am, seems all right among my ploughs and cattle, but I should not fit a palace." Many a man has made himself a laughing stock because he left the place he was fitted for, and so looked like a dandelion in a conservatory.
III. -- We have in Barzillai's words AN OLD MAN'S VIEW OF EARTHLY ENJOYMENT. As though he had said, "I have lost hearing, sight, and taste; what are all these things to me? I am soon to be in my grave, what do I want away from home?" It would be well for most of us to weigh these words, "How long have I to live?" To judge from the way we see men toil to get houses and land, you would think they were going to live for ever. Watch them how they are scraping the money they have; they have none to spare to feed the hungry and clothe the naked; they have poor relatives, but they cannot help them. Are they not going to be rich, live in a splendid house, be grand folks some day? Aye, but death cannot be bribed. I was passing through a splendid estate the other day, and was told of the gentleman that owns it; he is an old man, but he will not own to it, and he is quite a fraud, with his dyed hair and wrinkled face; he looks quite ghastly, in spite of all that art can do to pad him and make him up. I wish some of those who are denying themselves the luxury of giving, because they have determined to have a splendid estate for their children, would think "How will my mansion look with the blinds down, and a hearse at the door with a coffin in it, with my name on a silver plate?" We cannot refuse to help the poor, and hear Jesus say, "Well done." We cannot save money for selfish purposes and go to heaven. Besides, to leave riches for those who come after us is the way to have dry eyes at our funeral!
IV. -- THOSE WHO ARE LOYAL SHALL WIN PROMOTION FOR THEIR CHILDREN. -- Although Barzillai was not willing to go to live in Jerusalem, he felt that his son might enjoy it, and so called the king's attention to Chimham. Let him go over with my lord the king. He is not too old to bend. He can adapt himself. There would be many questions asked by those who had not left the palace when the king returned, as to who this rustic was who was in the palace of David, and they would be told, "This is the son of Barzillai. His father was a faithful friend when friends were few, and his son is promoted to dwell with the king."
When David gave his dying charge to Solomon, he said, "Show kindness to the sons of Barzillai" (1 Kings ii., 7). Tears had passed since he saw the provision made for him and his men, but he could never forget it. On his deathbed he could see the bed that was placed by the road side, and upon which he had rested his weary limbs when a fugutive, and so he would repay his debt to the children of the aged farmer. How true it is that we can make futurity our servant and the servant of our children by at the present time caring for our King. Does God see that we stand by His cause when it is weak? Do we find food and comfort for His fainting soldiers? Then he shows His appreciation by inviting us to Jerusalem the golden. We shall not wish to excuse ourselves from going to that blessed spot. Be we young or be we old, we shall not wish to return, but shall go on to find that the singing men and singing women wish us to join their number and to help them in praising the King, immortal, invisible, to whom be glory and honour for ever.