1 Samuel 16:17
And Saul commanded his servants, "Find me someone who plays well, and bring him to me."
Sermons
David's ReignD. Fraser 1 Samuel 16:1-23
Samuel's Visit to BethlehemR. Steel.1 Samuel 16:4-18
A Young ManJohn McNeill.1 Samuel 16:17-18
A Young Man from the CountryJ. T. Davidson, D. D.1 Samuel 16:17-18
Early Years of DavidJ. H. Newman, B. D.1 Samuel 16:17-18
The HarperF. W. Krummacher, D. D.1 Samuel 16:17-18
The Harper Foreshadowing the PsalmistW. G. Blaikie, M. A.1 Samuel 16:17-18
The Promotion of DavidJ. T. Woodhouse.1 Samuel 16:17-18


The soul is an arena where light and darkness, good and evil, heaven and hell, strive for mastery. But it is not an unconscious scene or passive prize of the conflict. It is endowed with the power of freely choosing right or wrong, and, with every exercise of this power, comes more or less under the dominion of the one or the other. Saul was highly exalted, but by his wilful disobedience sank to the lowest point of degradation. His sin was followed by lamentable effects in his mental and moral nature, and (since soul and body are intimately connected, and mutually affect each other) doubtless also in his physical constitution. His malady has been said to be "the first example of what has been called in after times religious madness" (Stanley). His condition was, in many respects, peculiar; but it vividly illustrates the mental and moral effects which always, in greater or less degree, flow from persistent transgression, viz.: -

I. THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE DIVINE SPIRIT. "And the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul" (ver. 14; 1 Samuel 10:10).

1. His presence in men is the source of their highest excellence. What a change it wrought in Saul, turning him into "another man." It imparts enlightenment, strength, courage, order, harmony, and peace; restrains and protects; and, in the full measure of its influence, quickens, sanctifies, and saves (Isaiah 11:2; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9).

2. His continuance in them depends on the observance of appropriate conditions. He is often compared with the wind, water, and fire, the most powerful forces of the natural world; and as there are conditions according to which they operate, so there are conditions according to which he puts forth his might. These are, humble and earnest attention to the word of the Lord, sincere endeavour to be true, just, and good, and believing and persevering prayer.

3. His departure is rendered necessary by the neglect of those conditions. "They rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit," etc. (Isaiah 63:10; Acts 7:51; Ephesians 4:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). And with his departure the effects of his gracious influence also depart. Hence David prayed so fervently, "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me."

II. SUBJECTION TO AN EVIL INFLUENCE. "And an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him." The expression is only used once before (Judges 9:23), - "God sent an evil spirit between the men of Abimelech and the men of Shechem" (producing discord, treachery, and strife), - and denotes a breath, influence, agency, or messenger (1 Kings 22:22) which -

1. Prevails only after the withdrawal of the Divine Spirit. When the soul ceases to be governed by God, it lies open to the power of evil, and comes under its dominion.

2. Is sent in just retribution for sin. "No man living needs a heavier chastisement from the Almighty than the letting his own passions loose upon him" (Delany). But the expression means more than this. "It is a spiritual agency of God, which brings to bear upon Saul the dark and fiery powers of Divine wrath which he has aroused by sin" (Delitzsch). Even that which is in itself good becomes evil to those who cherish an evil disposition. As the same rays of the sun which melt the ice harden the clay, so the same gospel which is "a savour of life unto life" in some is "a savour of death unto death" in others (2 Corinthians 2:16). And it is God who appoints and effectuates the forces of retribution. "The punitive justice of God is a great fact. It is stamped on all the darker phenomena of human life - disease, insanity, and death. It is in the nature of sin to entail suffering, and work itself, as an element of punishment, into all the complicated web of human existence" (Tulloch).

3. Implies the domination of the kingdom of darkness. Josephus, speaking according to the common belief of a later age, attributes the malady of Saul to demoniacal agency. "It was probably a kind of possession, at least at times, and in its highest stage. As a punishment for having given himself willingly into the power of the kingdom of darkness, he was also abandoned physically to this power" (Henstenberg). How fearful is that realm of rebellion, evil, and disorder to which men become allied and subject by their sin!

III. THE EXPERIENCE OF UNCONTROLLABLE FEAR; "troubled him" - terrified, choked him.

1. In connection with the working of peculiar and painful thoughts: brooding over the secret of rejection, which might not be revealed to any one; the sense of disturbed relationship with God, and of his displeasure, the removal of which there was no disposition to seek by humble penitence and prayer.

2. In the darkening aspect of present circumstances and future prospects; suspicion and "royal jealousy, before which vanish at last all consistent action, all wise and moderate rule" (Ewald).

3. In occasional melancholy, despondency, and distress, irrational imaginations and terrors (Job 6:4), and fits of violent and ungovernable passion (1 Samuel 18:10, 11). "There are few more difficult questions in the case of minds utterly distempered and disordered as his was than to determine where sin or moral disease has ended, and madness or mental disease has begun" (Trench). Sin not only disturbs the moral balance of the soul, but also disorders the whole nature of man. It is itself a kind of madness, from which the sinner needs to "come to himself" (Luke 15:17). "Madness is in their hearts," etc. (Ecclesiastes 9:3; 2 Peter 2:6).

IV. THE TENDENCY TO RAPID DETERIORATION.

1. In the case of the malady occasioned by sin there is no self-healing power in man, as in many bodily diseases, but it tends to become worse and worse.

2. Its fatal course may often be distinctly marked. "These attacks of madness gave place to hatred, which developed itself in full consciousness to a most deliberately planned hostility" (Keil). His courage gave place to weakness and cowardice; general fear and suspicion fixed on a particular object in envy and hatred, displayed at first privately, afterwards publicly, and becoming an all-absorbing passion. "The evil spirit that came upon him from or by permission of the Lord was the evil spirit of melancholy, jealousy, suspicion, hatred, envy, malice, and cruelty, that governed him all the after part of his life; to which he gave himself up, and sacrificed every consideration of honour, duty, and interest whatsoever" (Chandler).

3. It is, nevertheless amenable to the remedial influences which God, in his infinite mercy, has provided.

"All cures were tried: philosophy talked long
Of lofty reason's self-controlling power;
He frowned, but spake not. Friendship's silver tongue
Poured mild persuasions on his calmer hour:
He wept; alas! it was a bootless shower
As ever slaked the desert. Priests would call
On Heaven for aid; but then his brow would lower
With treble gloom. Peace! Heaven is good to all;
To all, he sighed, but one, - God hears no prayer for Saul.
At length one spake of Music"


(Hankinson) = - D.







Provide me now a man that can play well.
Sin is the harbinger of sorrow. A bad heart makes a troubled life. One sin may blight the fairest prospects and fill a palace with gloom. Saul's courtiers knew the cause of the king's depression, yet they did not counsel him to abandon his sins, and cry to God for mercy; but they said: "Command thy servants to seek out, a man who is a skilful player on an harp."

I. THE FAME OF DAVID THE HARPER. "I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is a skilful player, and a mighty, valiant man." David possessed four qualifications for the duties he was expected to discharge.

1. He was skilful. "A cunning player." True greatness reports itself. The right employment of our leisure moments may fit us for the most exalted positions in life.

2. He was courageous. "A mighty valiant man." Courage in the discharge of ordinary duties is a pledge of devotion in more responsible trusts. "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful in much."

3. He was prudent. Men require various qualifications for the efficient performance of official duties — wisdom, tact, and prudence.

4. He was devout. "The Lord was with him." The inward work remains when the outward sign is lost. There was no oil left on David's bead, but the work of grace was progressing in his heart

II. THE JOURNEY OF DAVID THE HARPER. "Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David, thy son, who is with the sheep. And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul"

1. David's journey was undertaken by royal request, Saul sent for David. When God calls a man to a special work, He will make the way clear for him. God has access to every heart. A man's enemies may become his helpers. Preferment comes through the most unlikely persons, and in the most unexpected ways.

2. David's journey was undertaken in a loyal spirit. David did not run before be was sent, but immediately the summons came he was ready.

III. THE ARRIVAL OF DAVID THE HARPER. "And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armour bearer."

1. David's introduction made a favourable impression on the king. "Saul loved him greatly." True men win the admiration and esteem of the wicked. Goodness is power.

2. David's services were speedily rewarded by the king. "He became his armour bearer." The wicked prefer the services of the good. Worth wins.

3. David's acceptableness was openly acknowledged by the king. "He hath found favour in my sight." It is a good thing to be surrounded by religious influences. Devout men are a blessing to society.

IV. THE SUCCESS OF DAVID THE HARPER. "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."

1. Notice Saul's depression. However exalted a man's position may be, sin will make him unhappy. Happiness or misery depends on the state of a man's heart. A bad heart makes a dark life. If the Holy Spirit leave us, the bad spirit will find us. A heart without God is like a universe without a sun.

2. Notice Saul's recovery. "So Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."

(J. T. Woodhouse.)

For the first time we now see David come forth into publicity from his quiet, peaceful life. Already there begin to appear about him faint traces of that future greatness which in continuous unfolding presented itself to the hopes of the thoughtful in Israel. Let us see how he came to King Saul and what he experienced at the king's court. We know that something sorrowful has happened. The king has sinned grievously. When Samuel charged him with his transgression, the whole impurity of his character came out to view. Instead of being led to resolve, with contrite heart, to seek the face of the Lord, he rather, like Cain, and afterwards Judas Iscariot, fled in terror still farther from Him. So it happened to him also at last, as it once did to the unhappy apostle. Through the righteous judgment of God, Satan was permitted to gain dominion over him. "The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him." These words are not to be understood as figurative, nor only as indicating a paroxysm of mental dejection, nor a darkening of his soul under the shadow of a great sadness, but open up before us a more dismal sphere than that of a natural melancholy. The power of darkness, which is personal, and in souls in the condition of that in which Saul's now was, finds all open for his operations, wrought in him with prevailing energy to deepen yet more and more that dreadful gulf which separated the king from Jehovah, yet, to increase the estrangement of the miserable man from God yet more and more, till it became a demoniacal hatred of God. What wonder, therefore, that we meet the king today in a state of mind which makes us scarcely able to recognise the man once so cheerful and vigorous in action. His eye appears fixed, his lips are violently compressed, and his whole countenance bespeaks a deep, bitter animosity and gloom. How could be have peace after be bad put himself into hostility both with God and the world? The melancholy of the king naturally lay like a dark pall over the souls of all the courtiers, yea, spread its sorrowful, gloomy shadow even over the surrounding neighbourhood. "In the light of a king's countenance," says Solomon, is life, but the wrath of a king is a messenger of death." The truth of this latter saying was now felt throughout almost the whole land. The royal servants advised this and that for the purpose of trying to set free from this dismal state of mind their high lord, whose palace was now more like a dull chamber of sorrow than the proud residence of a monarch. The accustomed scenes of revelry, shows, banquets, spectacles, dancing, and such like are denied to the servants. Then at last there occurred to them, as one would say, a "happy thought." They appeared before their master, and said to him, "Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee: let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a men, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well." What a saying was this! Does not the penetration of these people, who, in forming a judgment regarding the melancholy of their master, did not look at the surface, but descended into the depths of the matter, excite our surprise? Are we not astonished at the far reaching enlightenment which they here manifest in their knowledge of the existence of a world of fallen spirits, whom Jehovah is wont to make use of, not seldom, for putting to trial His own people, as well as for visiting with punishment the wicked? Must we not conclude that they were indeed already acquainted with the book of Job, and that it was a constituent, part of their holy canonical books? What we further wonder at in the courtiers of King Saul is, first, the clearness with which they recognised demoniacal agency in the disconsolate condition of their master; then the frankness, combined, indeed, with the deepest respectfulness, with which they, regardless of the consequences which might arise to them from such a step, announced their opinion of his ease, which was by no means flattering to him; and, finally, the suitableness of the counsel which they felt themselves constrained to give to him. They recommend to him the power of music as a means for relieving his mind, but with a wise, discriminating judgment regarding its character. There was, indeed, no lack of musicians at the court at Gibeah; but they appear to have been devoid of the qualifications which were at this time needed. The music which the servants of the king thought of was not that which pleaser the world, and which only opens the door to unclean spirits, but such as animated by a nobler inspiration, might insensibly elevate the soul by its harmonious melody, as on angels' wings, towards heaven. And when the king, as if in a waking dream, entered into the proposal of his well-meaning servants, and said to them, "Provide me a man that can play well on the harp, and bring him to me," one of them remarked, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him." He who communicated it proved himself hereby to be a man of understanding, in that he placed in the foreground those qualities of the musician he recommended, which he believed would at once secure the favour of the king; but, on the contrary, that which was to him the chief matter, and by which he principally expected the deliverance of the king from the demon of dejection, viz., the piety of the harper, and the fact that God was with him, he mentioned last, as if it had been a trivial circumstance. It is, indeed, greatly to be desired that they who are called to the office of seeking to heal diseased souls, and to help into the right path those who have erred from the ways of morality, should not only possess piety, but also other mental endowments, such as are held in estimation by the world. And how frequently has the gospel, in such circumstances, proved itself to be a "power of God." which is a match for every influence which holds the soul in thraldom; and substantially, though with more lasting results, there has been frequently repeated what we here today see happen at the court of Gibeah. David at length reaches Gibeah, carrying his harp hanging on his shoulder band, and is immediately introduced to the king. Here now they stand opposite each other — the one like the clear shining of the sun in spring, the other like a black thundercloud ominous or evil; the one full of blooming, hopeful life; the other, a dark spectre arising from the realm of death. It was a song without words whose soothing melody then fell upon the ear of the king. Words corresponding to the music would have effected the contrary result to that which was aimed at, and might even have increased the ill-temper of the king. There are even yet men enough of his sort — persons without faith, yea, at variance both with God and the world — whom solemn music is able most powerfully to delight, and in whom it awakens, at least for the time, dispositions which border on devotion and piety, while yet the words which correspond to the sacred melody would produce in them the very opposite effect. What is manifest from this, but that in the soul of such persons the last point at which they may be touched by that which is sacred, has not yet wholly decayed away? The sounds from David's harp had, for the moment at least, wrought a true miracle. "Did the music," we ask, "banish the demon?" Not so; but the higher frame of mind into which the king was brought by it sufficed to limit at least the sphere of the operation of the evil spirit within him; while a full, clear, conscious life of faith on the part of Saul, would have altogether destroyed the power of the wicked one. Besides, the silent intercessions which David sent up to heaven on the wings of the music of his harp must have contributed not a little to the results with which his melodies were crowned. It appeared to be God's purpose in sending David to the king, to afford to him a new and a last means of grace. He must become conscious of what a man of childlike piety, such as David. is able, by the help of God, to do against all the powers of darkness; and, in the way of such an experience, he ought himself to have been won to a life of piety. But, alas! all the efforts to deliver the unhappy man were fruitless. One of our great secular poets has imagined what an elevating, yea, sanctifying power, may dwell in a God-consecrated music. He represents the hero of his poem as saved from an assault of darkest thoughts by harmonies of a sacred choir sounding out from a neighbouring cathedral into his chamber. But the poet did not understand the rich harmonious music before which the power of all evil spirits must yield, not for a passing moment only, but forever. This is the music of the holy gospel.

(F. W. Krummacher, D. D.)

The nature of the malady that afflicted Saul, and that was overcome for a time by the soothing influence of David's harp, has been copiously illustrated from history. A whole book was written on the subject by a learned professor at, Wittemberg. illustrating the remarkable power of music in soothing both mental and bodily ailments. Kitto and other writers have added more recent instances, One is a case mentioned, among many others, in the Memoires of the French Royal Academy of Sciences for 1707 — that of a person seized with a fever which threw him into a violent and raging delirium, and for which music proved an effectual remedy. When the music was discontinued, the symptoms returned; but by frequent repetitions of the experiment, during which the delirium always ceased, the power of the disease was broken, and the habits of a sound mind reestablished. Six days sufficed to accomplish the cure. Another case is that of Charles IX of France, of whom it is said that after the massacre of St. Bartholomew his sleep was wont to be disturbed by nightly horrors, and he could only be composed to rest by a symphony of singing boys. Still more striking and more like that of Saul, is the case of another royal personage, Philip V of Spain. He was seized with deep dejection of spirits, which totally indisposed and unfitted him for all public duty and appearances. A celebrated musician, Farinelli, was invited to Spain; and on his arrival it was contrived that there should be a concert in a room adjoining the king's apartment, in which the artist should perform one of his most captivating songs. The king, says Kitto, appeared surprised at first, then greatly moved; and at the end of the second air, he summoned the musician to his apartment, and loading him with compliments and caresses, asked him how he could reward such talents, assuring him that he could refuse him nothing. The musician answered that he desired only that his Majesty would allow himself to be shaved and dressed (which hitherto he had obstinately refused to be), and that he would endeavour to make his appearance in the council as usual. The king yielded; from this time his disease gave way, and the musician had all the honour of the cure. We may readily believe that that harp in its soothing power was not inferior to any of the other instruments to which allusion has been made. Still, with all its temporary success, it was but a humble and ineffective method of soothing a troubled spirit, compared to the methods which David was afterwards to employ. It dealt chiefly, if not exclusively, with man's animal nature. It did not deal with man as an intellectual and moral being; it did not strike at the root of all trouble — alienation from God; it did not attempt to apply the only permanent and effectual remedy for trouble — restoration to His favour and fellowship. It was a mere foreshadow, on a comparatively low and earthly ground, of the wondrous way in which David, as the Psalmist, was afterwards to provide the true "oil of joy for the mourner," and to become a guide to the downcast, soul from "an horrible pit and the miry clay," up to the third heaven of joy and peace. The temporary calm which the soft notes of David's harp spread over the stormy soul of Saul was but a superficial emotion compared to the holy rest, on the bosom of their God, to which the Psalms have guided many an anxious and weary sinner. It was like the passing emotion of an Oratorio, compared to the deep peace of the Gospel. Nor is the contrast less striking between the results of the two kinds of repose. Under the soothing influence of David's harp, Saul might have calmness enough to plan a few useful measures, or to execute a few needed reforms; but under the influence of the holy rest into which many a believer has been guided by the Psalmist, some of the greatest victories have been gained over sinful tendencies, and some of the highest achievements of the new nature have been realised. The prisoner, soothed to patience and contentment in his dismal dungeon; the tortured confessor nerved in the hour of fiery trial to regardlessness of man; the martyr, elevated to a sublime contempt alike of worldly pains and worldly joys; have all, in these great victories, exemplified the influence of the tranquillising yet elevating spirit that breathes out from the Psalms, and seems to say, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee!"

(W. G. Blaikie, M. A.)

It is noteworthy that the character of David, as given in this verse, is from the mouth of a servant; from a human standpoint, it was simply the reputation he had among those about him.

1. First of all, he was "cunning in playing." David all this time had no idea, of course, of how by this very skill, and by the means of his enemy Saul, the road to the throne was to be opened to him. It is often when a young fellow really hands himself over to God, body, soul, and spirit to be used by Him, that he sees how even in his unconverted days God had His plan of preparation in the thing that he did. He sees this by the light God has now abed on his life's track — a light that will never fade. Now, is there not many a young fellow who is not cultivating even his own natural abilities, who is not developing what is already in him? And the Gospel quite encourages this cultivation: it does not say to us, "Be so heavenly-minded that you can't touch a flute."

2. David was fond of music, with all the soothing and refining influences it brings — he loved it — but at the same time he was "a mighty valiant man." And it is worth while noticing how the two things are put side by side. I like the combination. We are apt to think that those who bare a turn for music, and develop it, are soft men, mere carpet knights, fit only for drawing rooms and small concerts, without grip and sinew and muscle. Such, at all events, was not, the ease with David, and God knew it when He chose him. God is always looking out for capable men, so keep yourself up to the mark — develop all that is in you. David was a brave spirit, too — "a man of war." he had the grand and wonderful combination of the suaviter with the fortiter. How many of us have this? There are some of you, I grant, who have quite enough of the flint about you, and whom I shouldn't care to thwart or cross, but what about the soft side of your nature? Others, again, are all soft, and haven't a bit of the flint at all, though it will have to come in and on you before you'll make much progress, either as regards this world or the next. David was brave, outspoken, and manly. He was "prudent in matters." This point will come home to many of you if the foregoing haven't. Perhaps you have no taste for music, and you haven't had a chance to cultivate or display your bravery like him. But here is prudence — this is a thing you find you need right in your everyday life. It seems to be just the next thing to the Grace of God. David had it, and by it he reined in his burning and ardent convictions, which would otherwise, perhaps, have borne him to destruction When we sit down to a game of chess or draughts we need, in order to win the game, not so much great dashes, but simply prudence and watchfulness. A hush falls on yourself and your partner, and the excitement is just enough to call forth all your powers, but if you mean to do well it will not go the length of making you nervous or fumbling, or cause that dimness in hand and eye which ends in a blunder. So it is in life: we ought to be keenly alive to what is going on around us, and of our position in the midst. I fear that oft-times from our young men trying to be too supernatural, they fall beneath the level of average commonsense, which they would have avoided had they but exercised a little prudence.

4. David was also "a comely person." Some of you may not be so, and are not to blame for your physique, for you had not the making of yourselves, but don't you think you might be a little better than you are? We ought to train and develop our bodies. I never did so much tossing the caber, or putting the stone, or used the dumbbells to such an extent as after I was converted. I felt then that I had a body that wanted looking after. David was a fine, strapping, stalwart fellow, "ruddy and good to look to," and we also ought to be as comely as God intended we should be.

5. Now we come to the point; not as in the case of Naaman — "he was a leper" — but "the Lord was with him." Can we meet David here? Have we got the supernatural as well as the natural? We have the same chance here at all events, as he had, if in all the other respects he stands alone. He accepted the Lord when He came to him on Samuel's feet, and without Him he would have been a mere skilful player and valiant man, that was all. But the Grace within could not be hid. It would not, and permeated far and wide. It was the common report that he was a good and religious fellow For, remember again, that this is the estimate of him by one of those among whom he was. God grant that we too may so live that the world may say of us, "There is something good about that man."

(John McNeill.)

I. SOME REMARKS ON DAVID'S EARLY LIFE AND ON HIS CHARACTER AS THEREIN DISPLAYED. David's anointing was followed by no other immediate mark of God's favour. He was tried by being sent back again, in spite of the promise, to the care of his sheep, till an unexpected occasion introduced him to Saul's court. David came in the power of that sacred influence whom Saul had grieved and rejected. The Spirit which inspired his tongue guided his hand also, and his sacred songs became a medicine to Saul's diseased mind. Saul "loved David greatly, and he became his armour bearer;" but the first trial of his humility and patience was not over, while many other trials were in store. After a while he was a second time sent back to his sheep. An accident, as it appeared to the world, brought him forward. I need not relate how he was divinely urged to engage the giant, how he killed him, and how he was, in consequence, again raised to Saul's favour; who, with an infirmity not inconsistent with the deranged state of his mind, seems to have altogether forgotten him. From this time began David's public life; but not yet the fulfilment of the promise made to him by Samuel. He had a second and severer trial of patience to endure for many years; the trial of "being still" and doing nothing before God's time, though he had (apparently) the means in his hands of accomplishing the promise for himself. It was to this trial that Jeroboam afterwards showed himself unequal. He, too, was promised a kingdom, but he was tempted to seize upon it in his own way, and so forfeited God's protection. David's victory over Goliath so endeared him to Saul that he would not let him go back to his father's house. Repeated attempts on his life drove David from Saul's court; and for some years after, that is, till Saul's death, he was a wanderer upon the earth, persecuted in that country which was afterwards to be his own kingdom. Like Abraham, he traversed the land of promise "as a strange land," waiting for God's good time. Nay, far more exactly, even than to Abraham, was it given to David to act and suffer that life of faith which the Apostle describes, and by which "the elders obtained a good report." By faith he wandered about, "being destitute, articled, evil-entreated, in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth." On the other hand, through the same faith, he "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."

II. NOW, THEN, LET US CONSIDER WHAT WAS, AS FAR AS WE CAN UNDERSTAND, HIS ESPECIAL GRACE, WHAT IS HIS GIFT; as faith was Abraham's distinguishing virtue, meekness the excellence of Moses, self-mastery the gift especially conspicuous in Joseph. This question may best be answered by considering the purpose for which he was raised up. (1 Samuel 13:14.) The office to which first Saul and then David were called was different from that with which other favoured men before them had been intrusted. From the time of Moses, when Israel became a nation, God had been the king of Israel, and His chosen servants, not delegates, but mere organs of His will. Moses did not direct the Israelites by his own wisdom, but he spake to them, as God spake from the pillar of the cloud. Joshua, again, was merely a sword in the hand of God. Samuel was but His minister and interpreter. God acted, the Israelites "stood still and saw" His miracles, then followed. But, when they had rejected Him from being king over them, then their chief ruler was no longer a mere organ of His power and will, but had a certain authority entrusted to him, more or less independent of supernatural direction; and acted, not so much from God, as for God, and in the place of God. David, when taken from the sheepfolds "to feed Jacob His people and Israel His inheritance," "fed them," in the words of the Psalm, "with a faithful and true heart; and ruled them prudently with all his power." From this account of his office, it is obvious that his very first duty was that of fidelity to Almighty God in the trust committed to him. Saul had neglected his Master's honour; but David, in this an eminent type of Christ, "came to do God's will" as a viceroy in Israel, and, as being tried and found faithful, he is especially called "a man after God's own heart." David's peculiar excellence, then, is that of fidelity to the trust committed to him; a firm, uncompromising, single-hearted devotion to the cause of his God, and a burning zeal for His honour. There is a resemblance between the early history of David and that of Joseph. Both distinguished for piety in youth, the youngest and the despised of their respective brethren, they are raised, after a long trial, to a high station, as ministers of God's Providence. Joseph was tempted to a degrading adultery; David was tempted by ambition. Both were tempted to be traitors to their masters and benefactors. Surely the blessings of the patriarchs descended in a united flood upon "the lion of the tribe of Judah," the type of the true Redeemer who was to come, he inherits the prompt faith and magnanimity of Abraham; he is simple as Isaac; he is humble as Jacob; he has the youthful wisdom and self-possession, the tenderness, the affectionateness, and thee firmness of Joseph. And, as his own especial gift he has an overflowing thankfulness, an ever-burning devotion, a zealous fidelity to his God, a high unshaken loyalty towards his king, an heroic bearing in all circumstances, such as the multitude of men sea to be great, but cannot understand.

(J. H. Newman, B. D.)

Now, many testimonials which young men carry about with them are hardly worth thy paper on which they are written; but this certificate of character is so genuine and so comprehensive that it is worth our looking into for a little. In our passage we meet with David as still but a young man; and there are five distinct things mentioned about him, which you may find it interesting and useful to consider.

I. I wish to say something to you about HIS PERSON, his pleasing and attractive presence or address. Someone says to me, "You may pass over this matter, it is a point of little importance." I beg your pardon; it is not a point of little importance. A man may have a very shabby exterior, and yet be a true nobleman. M. Renan speaks of St. Paul disrespectfully indeed, but perhaps truthfully, as "the ugly little Jew:" and yet, we all know that though "his bodily presence" may have been "weak," that man had moral weight enough to shake the world. There are deformed men, and dwarfs, and cripples, who command instant and profound respect; whilst there are fine-looking, strapping fellows, who are only big boobies. Sometimes, though the casket is very poor, there is a glorious jewel within. Perhaps you would be surprised to see, in running through the Bible, how frequent is the allusion to bodily form. Why, I could give you quite a string of names of persons, both male and female, who are described as having been "comely" to look to. The body, no doubt, is but the tabernacle, the shell; but don't despise it; it bears the stamp and image of God. He was "a young man from the country." None the worse for that. As I read the story of his life, I smell the breath of the new-mown hay, and I hear the bleatings on the Bethlehem hills. A good many of us have come from the country. And some are silly enough to be ashamed of it. Be proud of it. Be proud if you know all about yoking the horses and herding the cattle, or even (as Mr. Gladstone said one day when addressing the young men of Glasgow University) about blowing the country forge, or keeping the toll gate.

II. But now for a few words, secondly, upon his PASTIME. Every sensible man must have some pastime. We cannot be always working. We are not mere mechanics; both body and mind demand occasional relaxation. In the LXX version of the Old Testament — that copy of it from which our Lord and His Apostles generally quoted — I find, strange to say, an additional Psalm to the hundred and fifty in our Bibles. It is entitled "A genuine Psalm of David." "Small was I among my brethren, and youngest in my father's house; I tended my father's sheep. My hands formed a musical instrument, and my fingers tuned a psaltery. And who shall tell nay Lord? The Lord Himself, he hears, he sent forth His angel, and took me from my father's sheep, and He anointed me with the oil of His anointing. My brothers were handsome and tall; but the Lord did not delight in them. I went forth to meet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols. But I drew his own sword and beheaded him, and removed reproach from the children of Israel. Praise ye the Lord." Well, I want you to observe that David consecrated this great gift of his to the highest ends, and that he found music to be most enjoyable when it was linked with sacred themes. What a pity that so sublime a gift is often prostituted to ignoble ends! What a shame that it is so frequently consecrated to the devil! And what vile rubbish you do sometimes listen to under the name of music! The grand chorales of Luther did quite as much as his preaching to arouse the people from their slumber of spiritual death. Now, hundreds of you are crazy about music. It is your chief pastime. And an elevating one it is, if wisely directed and controlled.

III. I point you now to his PATRIOTISM. The text calls him "a mighty valiant man, and a man of war;" but I must have you notice that David's courage and chivalry were not confined to camps and battlefields, but characterised his whole life. If ever man loved his country it was he. If ever there was a noble, chivalrous, magnanimous, unselfish spirit it was he. His heroic fearlessness of danger was constantly put to the proof. True men, nature's noblemen, are scarce; and Goldsmith was right when he said: —

"Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,

When wealth accumulates, and men decay,"A healthy and unselfish public spirit needs to be cultivated. We want a larger number of young men who, not content to see their country's honour and weal in the hands of a select few, are ambitious of contributing their quota to the formation of a healthy public opinion; and will willingly bear burdens, and take rubs, and forego conveniences, if they can in any way advance the national welfare. There must be some here who well remember how, during the Franco-Prussian War, many a young German, knowing his country was likely to be invaded, hurried home from a safe and lucrative position in England and America, to take his place in the line of battle, and, if need be, pay the penalty with his life. And when the war rolled over into France, many a young Frenchman went from quiet homes in distant and safe parts of his own land, to march with disorganised armies, and under doubtful generalship, through great and constant hardships; destined, alas! to find in a few weeks a nameless grave. Well, they only did their duty. And I am as certain as I am of my own existence that there are scores of young patriots here, who, under similar circumstances, would do precisely the same. There are bloodless achievements within the reach of all of you, by which you can nobly serve your fatherland. Ay, there are battles to be fought in Cornhill and Lombard Street, in Manchester and Liverpool, and thousands of other places at home, that demand a perseverance, a pluck, and a heroism quite as great as though you were summoned, with rifle and knapsack, to the jungles of Burmah or the mountains of Afghanistan.

IV. I point you now to his PRUDENCE. The text describes him as prudent in matters" — i.e., a young man of sound judgment, of sterling common sense. This is a wonderful recommendation to a man, no matter what kind of office he has to fill. Next to piety — and we are coming to that immediately — there is no endowment more valuable than what in England goes by the name of good common sense. "Prudent in matters." This word "prudent" is just a contradiction of "provident," and provident literally means looking before you, providing for the future. The one hundred and twelfth Psalm is just a portrait of a wise and generous man; and in it David says that such a person will "guide his affairs with discretion," and in consequence, "will not be afraid of evil tidings." if you are prudent in your affairs you will not spend all you earn upon immediate gratification, but will endeavour to make some provision for after days, and for those who possibly may be dependent on you I suppose there were no life insurance offices in those early times, or I feel sure David would have taken a wise step, which I urge upon every young man; and the sooner you take it the better.

V. And last point of all, David's PIETY — "And the Lord is with him." He was "a man after God's own heart." The breathings of his soul in these wonderful Psalms have for ages been, in the whole Christian Church — alike Greek, Latin, Puritan, and Anglican — the chosen expression of the most profound devotion. Now you may have all the other qualifications described here, yet, if you lack this, you are awfully incomplete; you cannot be presented to the King, nor stand, harp in hand, before His face in glory. A friend was one day speaking to the late learned Dr. Duncan, of Edinburgh, about religious life in England, and was contrasting southern theology with the robust and stern orthodoxy of Scotland, and he let fall the expression, "It is like a limpet, it has no bone in it." "Ah, well," replied Dr. Duncan, "a limpet is not a strong thing, but it cleaves fast to the rock." Cleave to the rock, and you will not be swept away by those strong currents of error or torrents of temptation which are sure to sweep around you. Decide what the principles of your life are to be, and stand by them at any cost. Have more manliness than to heed the jeers of the scoffer. The world is always for compromise; compromise between truth and error, between right and wrong. If a man dies for his flag, the world calls him a hero; but if he is prepared to die for a principle, it calls him a fanatic. Yet the latter is the nobler of the two.

(J. T. Davidson, D. D.)

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