2 Samuel 23:1
These are the last words of David: "The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man raised on high, the one anointed by the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel:
David's Last WordsB. Dale 2 Samuel 23:1-3
Broken IdealsJ. Thew.2 Samuel 23:1-5
David's Last Words2 Samuel 23:1-5
David's Swan SongJ. R. Macduff, D. D.2 Samuel 23:1-5
Last WardsG. S. Bowes, M. A.2 Samuel 23:1-5
The Dying King's Last Vision and PsalmA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Samuel 23:1-5
The Last Words of DavidC. Vince.2 Samuel 23:1-5
The Last Words of DavidW. G. Blaikie, D. D.2 Samuel 23:1-5
The Righteous RulerG. Wood 2 Samuel 23:1-7
The Son of Jesse, and the Son of DavidB. Dale 2 Samuel 23:1-7
2 Samuel 23:1-3. - (JERUSALEM.)
[The closing years of David's life (after the insurrection of Sheba was subdued, ch. 20.) were spent in peace. Having secured a site for the altar (2 Samuel 24:25; 1 Chronicles 21:28), he made preparations for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 22.). At length his strength began to fail; but, when made acquainted with the conspiracy of Adonijah, he displayed something of his former energy in hastening the accession of Solomon (1 Kings 1.). He also "gathered together the princes of Israel," etc. (1 Chronicles 23:1, 2), made numerous arrangements, sacred and civil (1 Chronicles 23:3-32; 1 Chronicles 24-27.), addressed a convocation of princes, gave a charge to his successor, and offered thanksgiving to God (1 Chronicles 28; 1 Chronicles 29:1-25). He subsequently gave further counsel to Solomon (1 Kings 2:1-9). About the same time, probably, he uttered these last prophetic words; and then, at the age of seventy, he "fell on sleep" (1 Kings 2:10; 1 Chronicles 29:26-28). "The omission of David's death in the conclusion of this work is satisfactorily explained from the theocratic character and aim of the composition, since in this conclusion the fulfilment of the theocratic mission of David is completed" (Erdmann).]

"And these are the last words of David:
An oracle of David, son of Jesse,
And an oracle of the hero highly exalted,
Anointed of the God of Jacob,
And pleasant (in) Israel's songs of praise.

The Spirit of Jehovah speaks within me,
And his word is on my tongue;
Says the God of Israel,
To me speaks the Rock of Israel," etc. How varied are the last words of men! How significant of their ruling passion! And how instructive to others (Genesis 48:21, 22; Genesis 49:1; Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 23:14; Joshua 24:27; 2 Kings 13:19; Luke 2:29; Acts 7:59; 2 Timothy 4:6-8)! Here is David, "the man of God's own choice," about to go "the way of all the earth" (2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 2:2). Highly exalted as he was, he must die like other men. "We walk different ways in life, but in death we are all united." Ere he departs his spirit kindles with unwonted lustre, as not unfrequently happens in the case of others; he is under the immediate inspiration of God (Numbers 24:3, 4), and sings his last song of praise, sweet as the fabled notes of the dying swan. "No prince, and certainly no one who had not acquired his kingdom by inheritance, could possibly close his life with a more blessed repose in God and a brighter glance of confidence into the future. This is the real stamp of true greatness" (Ewald). "These are the words of the prophecy of David, which he prophesied concerning the end of the age, concerning the days of consolation which are to come" (Targum). They show that he has in death (what it is also the privilege of other servants of God in some measure to possess) -

I. GRATEFUL MEMORIES of the favour of God; which has been manifested:

1. Toward one of lowly origin and condition. "A son of Jesse." "Who am I?" etc. (1 Samuel 18:18). "I am the least in my father's house" (Judges 6:15). He recognizes his natural relationships, recalls his early life, renounces all special claim to Divine favour, and is filled with humility. "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (1 Corinthians 4:7).

2. In raising him up to exalted honour. "The man [hero] who was highly exalted." Earthly distinction is the portion of a few, but spiritual distinction is the possession of every good man; he is a partaker of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), raised; up with Christ, and made to sit with him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), and an heir of all things (1 Corinthians 3:23). "The Christian believes himself to be a king, how mean soever he be, and how great soever he be; yet he thinks himself not too good to be servant to the poorest saint" (Bacon, 'Christian Paradoxes').

3. In appointing him to royal dominion over men. "Anointed," etc. He has "an anointing from the Holy One," and shares in the dominion of Christ. "To him will I give power over the nations," etc. (Revelation 2:26).

4. In conferring upon him excellent endowments, in the exercise of which he quickens the spiritual susceptibilities of men, furnishes them with "acceptable words" in their approach to God, and becomes a helper of their noblest life and joy. Pleasant [lovely] in [by means of] the praise songs of [sung by] Israel." "He was not only the founder of the monarchy, but the founder of the Psalter. He is the first great poet of Israel. Although before his time there had been occasional bursts of Hebrew poetry, David is he who first gave it its fixed place in Israelite worship" (Stanley).

"The harp the monarch minstrel swept,
The king of men, the loved of Heaven,
Which Music hallow'd, while she wept
O'er tones her heart of hearts had given;
Redoubled be her tears, its chords are riven!
It soften'd men of iron mould,

It gave them virtues not their own;
No ear so dull, no soul so cold,
That felt not, fired not to the tone,
Till David's lyre grew mightier than his throne!"

(Byron, 'Hebrew Melodies') Although his greatness was peculiar, yet a measure of true greatness belongs to every one of the "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:6, 9; Revelation 1:6) of the spiritual Israel. He has power with God and with men, represents God to men and men to God, employs his power with God on behalf of men, and his power with men on behalf of God; and if, by the culture and use of the gifts bestowed upon him, he has contributed to the highest good of men - this (together with all the Divine benefits he has received) is a matter of grateful remembrance and fervent thanksgiving (Psalm 37:25, 37, 39; Psalm 103.). "It is not what we have done, but what God has done for us and through us, that gives true peace when we come to the end."

II. GRACIOUS COMMUNICATIONS by the Spirit of God; inasmuch as he is:

1. Filled with Divine inspiration. "The Spirit of Jehovah speaks within me." Such inspiration is of various kinds and degrees, and given for different special purposes. "Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16). But every one who has fellowship with God is inhabited, pervaded, inspired by his Spirit, enlightening, purifying, elevating, gladdening, and strengthening him. Some are "full of the Holy Ghost." In a dying hour, what a marvellous elevation of thought and feeling have they sometimes attained! "Holy men at their death have good inspirations" (see 'Last Words of Remarkable Persons;' ' Life's Last Hours;' Jacox, 'At Nightfall,' etc.; S. Ward, 'The Life of Faith in Death;' J. Hawes, 'Confessions of Dying Men,' etc.).

2. Enabled to utter the Divine Word. "And his Word is on my tongue." Even though there be no new, definite, and infallible revelation of the Word of God, there is often a new indication of its meaning and application, and a fresh, fervid, and forcible expression thereof. "As the Spirit gave them utterance."

3. Made a recipient of Divine promises. "The God of Israel says." He who entered into a covenant relation with Israel, and promised to be their God, gave to David the promise of an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and still gives it, with an inner voice that cannot be mistaken. He also "speaks all the promises," not only in the written Word, but also in the soul of every one to whom that Word comes in "much assurance."

"Oh, might I hear thy heavenly voice
But whisper, 'Thou art mine!'
Those gentle words should raise my song
To notes almost Divine."

4. Constituted a witness of the Divine faithfulness in the fulfilment of the promises. "To me speaks the Rock of Israel" (1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, 3, 32, 47). "He is faithful that promised" (Hebrews 10:23). His faithfulness is the foundation of his promises. "And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Jehovah: and thy faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones" (Psalm 89:1, 2, 5, 8, 24, 33). On this the believer rests when all things fail, and of this he testifies in death, committing his soul into the hands of God, as "unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19; Psalm 31:5).

III. GLORIOUS ANTICIPATIONS of the kingdom of God; wherein the glory of the present merges into the greater glory of the future, and earth and heaven are one (vers. 3-5; Psalm 85:11). He sees:

1. The majesty of the King of righteousness; like the splendour of the rising sun. His view of the ideal theocratic ruler of the future has its perfect realization in him who is "King of kings, and Lord of lords." The chief object of the Christian's contemplation in death is the glory of Christ. "Herein would I live; herein would I die; herein would I dwell in my thoughts and affections, to the withdrawing and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, unto the crucifixion of all things here below, until they become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way meet for affectionate embraces" (Owen).

2. The brightness of a heavenly day; "the drawing near of the kingdom of the heavens," and abounding life and happiness forever (2 Samuel 22:51; ver. 5). "Nevertheless we according to his promise," etc. (2 Peter 3:13).

3. The realization of a blessed hope; the hope of personal salvation (ver. 5), associated with and assured in the immortal life of the King and his people (Psalm 16:9-11; Psalm 17:15; Psalm 49:15; Psalm 73:24; John 14:19).

4. The destruction of all iniquity. (Ver. 6.) The people shall be all righteous. "The dying eyes see on the horizon of the far off future the form of him who is to be a just and perfect Ruler; before the brightness of whose presence, and the refreshing of whose influence, verdure and beauty shall clothe the world. As the shades gather, that radiant glory to come brightens. He departs in peace, having seen the salvation from afar. It was fitting that this fullest of his prophecies should be the last of his strains, as if the rapture which thrilled the trembling strings had snapped them in twain" (Maclaren).

"They who watch by him see not; but he sees -
Sees and exults. Were ever dreams like these?
Those who watch by him hear not; but he hears,
And earth recedes, and heaven itself appears."

(Rogers) His funeral obsequies were celebrated with the greatest pomp ever yet known in Israel, and his arms were preserved as sacred relics in the temple; but the lapse of time only increased the reverence in which his memory was held in the national heart, until it finally culminated in a glowing desire to behold him once again upon the earth, and to see the advent of a second David (Ewald). - D.

Now these be the last words of David.
According to a commonly received interpretation of this passage, David mourned over the ungodly state of his children, but exulted in the assurance of his, own personal salvation. He first repeated the description he had received from the Lord of the character which kings and rulers should maintain, and it is supposed that he next lamented the fact that his children did not answer to the Divine ideal. It is further supposed that his sorrow on account of their shortcomings instantly gave place to grateful joy in the hope that, through the mercy and faithfulness of God, he himself should be secure and blessed for ever. It might go ill with his children, but it would be well with him. His family troubles were great and many. Some of his children were anything but what his conscience could approve and his heart could desire. They were thorns in his side and arrows in his heart. Still, is it not incredible that David, as he contemplated the lost condition of his children, could instantly get comfort by thinking of his own safety? He was sometimes sadly unlike his true self, but assuredly he was never so unlike himself as to say in effect, "My children may perish, but, the Lord be praised, I shall get to heaven myself!" This must be deemed impossible to David, even by those who take the worst view of his conduct in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. There is another interpretation of the passage which makes it chiefly and almost exclusively a prophecy of Christ. It is supposed to regard Him as the King ordained of God, and to describe the perfection of His kingly character, the righteousness of His rule, the benignity of His sway over those who submit to it, and the destructive effects of His sovereignty upon those who are rebellious and disobedient. Those who adopt this interpretation make certain changes in the translation of the passage which remove from it everything like lamentation on David's part. There is a third interpretation according to which David here sets forth the Divine ideal of a ruler over men as he in early life received it from the Spirit of the Lord. Now that he has reached the close of his kingly career, he compares that career with the description of a good king which God had given to him, and he finds that he has fallen far short of it. When he speaks of his "house" not being "so with God," he does not mean his domestic circle, but the reigning dynasty, and he refers, not to the godless character of his children, but to the imperfections of his own kingship. That had not been altogether such as Gad had enjoined, and as he himself had desired and determined. When he speaks of the "covenant ordered in all things," he exults, not in the thought that he is personally safe despite the irreligion of his children, but in the assurance that he shall be saved despite his shortcomings and failures as a king.

1. These "last words" reveal to us the lofty standard of kingly character which was set before David in early life. Righteousness towards men and reverence towards God are named as the two great essentials in a good king. For lack of these, monarchs have been curses instead of blessings, and peoples have been oppressed, and kingdoms have been ruined. But where the authority of God has been recognised, and the rights of the people have been respected, nations have flourished, and kings have been a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well. Stress is laid upon justice rather than upon compassion, and history warrants the emphasis. The benignant influence of a God-fearing and righteous ruler is described in expressive figurative language. Gladness and growth shall characterise his reign, for "he shall be as the light of the morning," etc. Several years elapsed before the throne promised to David came into his possession; and it is probable that this vivid picture of kingly perfection was also placed before him some time prior to his accession. These last words reveal to us the sad consciousness which David had in his old age, that the lofty standard set before him in early life had not been reached. His kingship was anything but a great failure. It cannot be questioned that David's reign was a great blessing to the Jews, and that in the review of his career there was much to inspire him with joy and thankfulness. Earthly perfection is one of the pleasant dreams of inexperience. It is generally the honest determination of young beginners to do very great things, and they firmly believe that all their lofty aspirations will be fully realised This is one of the illusions of life by which every new generation is fascinated despite all the disappointments of preceding generations. Each fresh comer into the field is blissfully forgetful of human frailties and heroically defiant of difficulties, and nothing but his own personal experience will be able to shake his faith in the splendour of his future achievements. There never lived but One in this world whose review of His earthly life was free from all the sadness which sight of fault and failure brings. When Jesus hung upon the cross, He could think of such a work as had never been devolved upon man or angel, and of that matchless work He could say, "It is finished!"

(C. Vince.)

The song falls into four parts.

1. In the introduction, we cannot but be struck with the formality and solemnity of the affirmation respecting the singer and the inspiration under which he sang. The first four clauses represent David as the speaker; the second four represent God's Spirit as inspiring his words. The introduction to Balaam's prophecies is the only passage where we find a similar structure, nor is this the only point of resemblance between the two songs. In both prophecies, the word translated "saith" is peculiar. While occurring between two and three hundred times in the formula, "Thus saith the Lord:" it is used by a human speaker only in these two places and in Proverbs 30:1. The second part of the introduction stamps the prophecy with a fourfold mark of inspiration.

1. "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me."

2. "His word was in my tongue."

3. "The God of Israel said."

4. "The Rock of Israel spake to me."So remarkable an introduction must be followed by no ordinary prophecy.

2. We come, then, to the great subject of the prophecy — a Ruler over men. It is a vision of a remarkable Ruler, not a Ruler over the kingdom of Israel merely, but a Ruler "over men." The Ruler seen is One whose government knows no earthly limits, but prevails wherever there are men. It is worthy of very special remark that the first characteristic of this Ruler is "righteousness." There is no grander or more majestic word in the language of men. Not even love or mercy can be preferred to righteousness. And this is no casual expression, happening in David's vision, for it is common to the whole class of prophecies .that predict the Messiah. It is the grand characteristic of Christ's salvation in theory that it is through righteousness; it is not less its effect in practice to promote righteousness. To any who would dream, under colour of free grace, of breaking down the law of righteousness, the words of "the Holy One and the Just" stand out as an eternal rebuke, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." And as Christ's work was founded on righteousness, so it was constantly done "in the fear of God" — with the highest possible regard for His will, and reverence for His law. Having shown the character of the Ruler, the vision next pictures the effects of His rule. No imagery could be more delightful, or more fitly applied to Christ. The image of the morning sun presents Christ in His gladdening influences, bringing pardon to the guilty, health to the diseased, hope to the despairing. The chief idea under the other emblem, the grass shining clearly after rain, is that of renewed beauty and growth. The heavy rain batters the grass, as heavy trials batter the soul; but when the morning shines out clearly, the grass recovers, it sparkles with a fresher lustre, and grows with intenser activity. So when Christ shines on the heart after trial, a new beauty and a new growth and prosperity come to it.

3. Next comes David's allusion to his own house. In our translation, and in the text of the Revised Version, this comes in to indicate a sad contrast between the bright vision just described and the Psalmist's own family. The key to the passage will be found, if we mistake not, in the expression "my house." We are liable to think of this as the domestic circle, whereas it ought to be thought of as the reigning dynasty. What is denoted by the house of Hapsburg, the house of Hanover, the house of Savoy, is quite different from the personal family of any of the kings. So when David speaks of his house, he means his dynasty. In this sense his "house" had been made the subject of the most gracious promise. But take the marginal reading — "Is not my house so with God?" Is not my dynasty embraced in the scope of this promise? Hath He not made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure? And will He not make this promise, which is all my salvation and all my desire, to grow, to fructify? It is infinitely more natural to represent David on this joyous occasion congratulating himself on the promise of long continuance and prosperity made to his dynasty, than dwelling on the unhappy condition of the members of his family circle. And the facts of the future correspond to this explanation. Was not the government of David's house or dynasty in the main righteous, at least for many a reign, conducted in the fear of God, and followed by great prosperity and blessing? David himself, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah — what other nation had ever so many Christlike kings?

4. The last part of the prophecy, in the way of contrast to the leading vision, is a prediction of the doom of the ungodly. While some would fain think of Christ's sceptre as one of mercy only, the uniform representation of the Bible is different. In this, as in most predictions of Christ's kingly office, there is an instructive combination of mercy and judgment. Nor could it be otherwise. The union of mercy and judgment is the inevitable result of the righteousness which is the foundation of His government. Sin is the abominable thing which He hates. To separate men from sin is the grand purpose of His government. Oh, let us not be satisfied with admiring beautiful images of Christi Let us not deem it enough to think with pleasure of Him as the light of the morning, a morning without clouds, brightening the earth, and making it sparkle with the lustre of the sunshine on the grass after rain!

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

It was fitting that "the last words of David" should be a prophecy of the true King, whom his own failures and sins, no less than his consecration and victories, had taught him to expect. The dying eyes see on the horizon of the far-off future the form of Him who is to be a just and perfect ruler, before the brightness of whose presence and the refreshing of whose influence verdure and beauty shall clothe the world. As the shades gather round the dying monarch, the radiant glory to come brightens. He departs in peace, having seen the salvation from afar, and stretched out longing bands of greeting toward it. Then his harp is silent, as if the rapture which thrilled the trembling strings had snapped them.

1. We have first a prelude extending to the middle of verse 3. In it there is first a fourfold designation of the personality of the Psalmist-prophet, and then a fourfold designation of the Divine oracle spoken through him. Similarly, the fourfold designation of the Divine source has the same purpose, and corresponds with the four clauses of verse 1, "The spirit of the Lord spake in (or, 'into') me." That gives the Psalmist's consciousness that in his prophecy he was but the recipient of a message. It wonderfully describes the penetrating power of that inward voice which clearly came to him from without, and as clearly spoke to him within. Words could not more plainly declare the prophetic consciousness of the distinction between himself and the Voice which he heard in the depths of his spirit. It spoke in him before he spoke of his lyric prophecy.

2. The Divine oracle thus solemnly introduced and guaranteed must be worthy of such a prelude. Abruptly, and in clauses without verbs, the picture of the righteous Ruler is divinely flashed before the Seer's inward eye. The broken construction may perhaps indicate that he is describing what he beholds in vision. There is no need for any supplement such as "There shall be," which, however true in meaning, mars the vividness of the presentation of the Ruler to the prophet's sight. David sees him painted on the else blank wall of the future. When and where the realisation may be he knows not. What are the majestic outlines? A universal sovereign over collective humanity, righteous and God-fearing. In the same manner as he described the vision of the King, David goes on, as a man on some height telling what he saw to the people below, and paints the blessed issues of the King's coming. It had been night before he came — the night of ignorance, sorrow, and sin — but his coming is like one of these glorious Eastern sunrises without a cloud, when everything laughs in its early beams, and, with tropical swiftness, the tender herbage bursts from the ground, as born from the dazzling brightness and the fertilising rain. So all things shall rejoice in the reign of the King, and humanity be productive, under his glad and quickening influences, of growths of beauty and fruitfulness impossible to it without these.

3. The difficult verse 5, whether its first and last clauses be taken interrogatively or negatively, in its central part, bases the assurance of the coming of the king on God's covenant (2 Samuel 7), which is glorified as being everlasting, provided with all requisites for its realisation, and therefore "sure," or perhaps "preserved," as if guarded by God's inviolable sanctity and faithfulness. The fulfilment of the dying saint's hopes depends on God's truth. Whatever sense might say, or doubt whisper, he silences them by gazing on that great Word. So we have all to do.

4. But the oracle cannot end with painting only blessings as flowing from the king's reign. If he is to rule in righteousness and the fear of the Lord, then he must fight against evil. If his coming causes the tender grass to spring, it will quicken ugly growths too. The former representation is only half the truth; and the threatening of destruction for the evil is as much a part of the Divine oracle as the other. Strictly, it is "wickedness" — the abstract quality rather than the concrete persons who embody it — which is spoken of. May we recall the old distinction that God loves the sinner while He hates the sin? The picture is vivid. The wicked — and all the enemies of this king are wicked, in the prophet's view — are like some of these thorn-brakes, that cannot be laid hold of, even to root them out, but need to be attacked with sharp pruning-hooks on long shafts, or burned where they grow. There is a destructive side to the coming of the king, shadowed in every prophecy of him, and brought emphatically to prominence in his own descriptions of his reign and its final issues. It is a poor kindness to suppress that side of the truth. Thorns as well as tender grass spring up in the quickening beams; and the best commentary on the solemn words which close David's closing song is the saying of the King Himself: "In the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers," Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. David's words as king, "David, the man who was raised on high, saith" (ver. 1.)

2. David's words as Psalmist, "David saith, the sweet psalmist of Israel" (ver. 1.)

3. David's words from God, "The spirit of the Lord spake by me" (ver. 2.)

1. "These be the last words of David."

(1)David's many words;

(2)David's precious words;

(3)David's last words.

2. "The man whom God raised on high."

(1)The lowly origin;

(2)The Divine uplift;

(3)The exalted end.

3. "The spirit of the Lord spake by me."

(1)David the voice;

(2)God the speaker.

(1)The source of revelation;

(2)The mediums of revelation.


1. What good rulers must be: "One that ruleth righteously, in the fear of God" (ver. 3.)

2. What good rulers are like: "He shall be as the light of the morning" (ver. 4.)

3. How God treats good rulers: "He Hath made with me an everlasting covenant" (ver. 5.)

1. "He shall be as the light of the morning."

(1)He illuminates;

(2)He invigorates;

(3)He comforts.

2. "He hath made with me an everlasting covenant,"

(1)The source of the covenant;

(2)The recipient of the covenant;

(3)The scope of the covenant;

(4)The duration of the covenant.

3. "It is all my salvation, and all my desire." God's covenant

(1)As a source of blessing;

(2)As an object of desire.


1. Equipped for evil: "The ungodly shall be all of them as thorns" (ver. 6.)

2. Overcome by power: "The man that touched them must be armed with iron" (ver. 7.)

3. Doomed to destruction: "They shall be utterly burned with fire" (ver. 7.)

1. "The ungodly shall be all of them as thorns to be thrust away." The ungodly

(1)Intrinsically harmful;

(2)Universally doomed.

(1)Full of virulence;

(2)Appointed to destruction.

2. "Armed with iron and the staff of a spear."

(1)Man's equipment for extirpating thorns;

(2)God's equipment for extirpating rebels.

3. "They shall be utterly burned with fire in their place." The end of the wicked:

(1)Its terribleness;

(2)Its completeness.

(Sunday School Times.)

The history does not inform us at what period of David's chequered life "the God of Israel — the Rock of Israel," spake thus to him. We may not be presumptuous, however, in fixing on what in our judgment would appear to have been the most likely time. Voices of highest inspiration, visions of loftiest things, come, as a rule, to men in early life. By an irresistible sense of the fitness of the figure, we speak of the youth as the "Morning of life," when all within and without is at its brightest and its best, and heaven and earth smile with the promise of the coming day. It would seem but natural, then, that we should place this vision of the ideal man — the ideal ruler — at least in some period of David's earlier life. There are two or three purposes which ideals and visions serve, and though they are the mere commonplaces of all serious thinking, I may be permitted briefly to state them.

I. IDEALS AND VISIONS ARE OUR ONLY POSSIBLE MEANS OF ENLARGEMENT AND ENRICHMENT. For the chances of true greatness everywhere never lie so much in what a man is as in what he sees, in perhaps rare moments, he may become. This is clear and obvious enough to all our minds; but in days when men are asking whether ideals do not stand in our way, it will bear enforcement. An ideal is the soul, the only soul, and the only soul in every conceivable direction of sustained effort and assured progress. Our Saviour knew this full well when He pitched the tune of our Christian lives in the highest key of all, and bade us "be perfect, as our Father who is in heaven is perfect." And the high ground which He took, all experience approves. A vision of our personal possibilities may be extravagant — it may even be misleading; but find a man who has ceased to see such visions, who has ceased to be allured by them, who has ceased to follow them, and you find a man who is growing from small to less, from mediocrity to insignificance.

II. WE SHOULD FEEL THINGS AS WELL AS KNOW THEM, There is no chance of continuous and successful effort, apart from a strict fidelity to what, in our best moments, "the God of Israel — the Rock of Israel," has said to us, or has set before us. Moral precepts will help us on a long way, but they cannot kindle an abiding endeavour. Abstract injunctions and commands will help us on a long way, but I doubt if they ever yet carried a single struggling soul within sight of a very high goal.

III. GOD SENDS US OUR IDEALS — our religious ideals — to break the binding arid blinding spell of religious custom. What stagnation, what paralysis sometimes comes over us! Then, happy is the man whom the memories of former days, of former visions, of former vows, disturb at such a time; who accepts, as from God, the reproachful looks of former ideals; who goes back in thought to the times of his youthful consecration, and who determines that henceforth Christ and not custom shall be his King. And when memory travels back to life as it shaped itself to our young imagination, and then reflect on the way and manner in which it has all turned out, it requires something like ah effort to talk about ideals. And yet consider —

1. Most of the deepest things m life we can only, learn from conscious, perhaps repeated failure. In a fine lecture on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the late Principal Shairp tins the following: "Through the wounds made in his own spirit, through the brokenness of a heart humbled and made contrite by the experience of his own sin, he entered into the faith which gave rest, the peace which settles where the intellect is meek." Now wounds and failures, and even sin, remembered ideals that seem sometimes only to reproach us, sometimes almost to mock us, these things have a good account to give of themselves, if they accomplish for us anything like that

2. Patiently, too, do we come to look upon our brother's failures. Sons of consolation indeed do we become when we learn to look through the open windows of our own. The Voice of voices to this generation exclaims, "Oh! my brother, my brother, why cannot I fold thee to my breast?" That brother cannot be folded to this breast in any very effective way till I have come to know much more what is inside than I could know when "the God of Israel — the Rock of Israel," first spake to me.

3. Lastly, there are many great sights in this world. There are many great and noble things done under the sun. Heroes and heroines are only scarce to those who, often enough for good reason, cannot see them.

(J. Thew.)

And now comes the last "Lay of the Minstrel," with its flashes of heavenly fire — the true "Swan song." If we treasure with peculiar fondness the closing sayings of great men, with what devout interest may we not listen to the concluding strains of the Laureate of the universal church — the last cadences of that harp of a thousand strings! The grandeur of earthly empire is fast waning. He has heaven in view. But he would give to his people — to the world — this dying "Confession of faith" farewell ode of victory. The whole poetry of his nature seems summoned up for the expiring effort.

(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)

Dr. Preston: "Blessed be God! though I change my place, I shall not change my company; for I have walked with God while living, and now I go to rest with God." Matthew Henry: "You have been used to take notice of the sayings of dying men, this is mine — that a life spent in the service of God, and communion with Him, is the most comfortable life that any one can lead in this present world." Rutherford: "If he should slay me ten thousand times ten thousand times, I'll trust." "I feel, I feel, I believe in joy, and rejoice; I feed on manna." "Oh, for arms to embrace Him. Oh, for a well-tuned harp!" Rev. James Hervey: "You tell me that I have but a few moments to live. Oh, let me spend them in adoring our great Reedeemer! Oh, welcome death! thou mayest well be reckoned among the treasures of the Christian." His last words, "The great conflict is over: all is done." President Edwards, after bidding goodbye to all his children, looked about, and said, "Now, where is Jesus of Nazareth, my never-failing Friend?" And so he fell asleep, and went to the Lord he loved. Rev. John Wesley: "The best of all is, God is with us." Rev. Charles Wesley: "I shall be satisfied with Thy likeness; satisfied — satisfied!" Dr. Payson: "The battle's fought — the battle's fought; and the victory is won — the victory is won, for ever! I am going to bathe in an ocean of purity, and benevolence, and happiness to all eternity." "Faith and patience, hold out."

(G. S. Bowes, M. A.)

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