William M. (William Mackergo) Taylor.

David, king of Israel: his life and its lessons online

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show himself a worthy man, there shall not a hair of him
fall to the earth : but if wickedness shall be found in him,
he shall die."

So ended this day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy ;
but, satisfactory as the conclusion was, so far as Solomon
was concerned, something more was needed before he could
be regarded unchallengeably as his father's successor. As


we have repeatedly seen, the constitution of the kingdom of
Israel required not only that the monarch should be desig-
nated by Jehovah and anointed by the priest, but also that
he should be publicly recognized and accepted by the tribes,
or their properly authorized representatives. Thus, a consid-
erable time after his anointing by Samuel, Saul was chosen
by the people ; and many years intervened between David's
designation at Bethlehem and his election to the throne, first
of Judah at Hebron, and afterward of the twelve tribes at
Jerusalem. Until, therefore, the assembly of the representa-
tives of the people had ratified and, as it were, repeated the
deed of Zadok, Solomon was not, in all respects, the king.
Hence, some time after the event which we have just de-
scribed, when David had gained so much strength that he
could undergo the fatigue of a long day in the open air,
he summoned " all the princes of Israel, the princes of the
tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to
the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and
captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the
substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with
the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the val-
iant men, unto Jerusalem." It was a solemn occasion, like
to that on which Moses had taken farewell of the tribes
whom he had led through the wilderness, or that on which
Joshua had given his parting exhortation to the people whom
he had settled in Canaan ; or that on which Samuel had for-
mally laid aside his functions and handed over the sover-
eignty to Saul.

Deep must have been the feelings of David's heart as he
presided for the last time over the assembly of the people ;
and with mingled emotions they must have looked on the frag-
ile form of him who had been so long identified with their
national history, and on the intelligent countenance of the
youth at his side, who was so soon to add new lustre to their


renown. With tender affection, David addressed them as
his brethren and his people (i Chron. xxviii., 2), and unfold-
ed to them the cherished purpose of his heart to build a
temple to Jehovah, together with the message which he had
received from Nathan in regard to it. Then, turning to the
blushing youth beside him, he said, "And thou, Solomon my
son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a
perfect heart and with a willing mind : for the Lord search-
eth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the
thoughts : if thou seek him, he will be found of thee ; but if
thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever. Take heed
now ; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build a house for the
sanctuary : be strong, and do it."

After this he gave him the plans which he had already
prepared, by divine direction, of "the porch, and of the
houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the up-
per chambers thereof, and of the inner parlors thereof, and
of the place of the mercy-seat, and the pattern of all that he
had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and
of all the chambers round about," and a list of the things
which he had already consecrated for the purpose. Then
he brought forth the gold which he had accumulated for
the various articles which the Temple required ; and when
the spectators had recovered from the amazement which the
sight of such treasures must have produced, he renewed his
charge to his son, saying, " Be strong and of good courage,
and do it : fear not, nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, even
my God, will be with thee ; he will not fail thee, nor forsake
thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of
the house of the Lord." But Solomon was not the only par-
ty concerned ; so, turning to the congregation, David com-
mended his son to their confidence and care, detailing still
more of the preparations which he had made for the great
work which he wished to be performed, and beseeching them


to do their best, since " the palace was not for man, but for
God." Nay, as he was their God, as well as the God of their
king, it was meet that they also should be sharers with him
in the honor and the privilege of carrying forward this holy
undertaking ; so he made an appeal to them in this heart-
searching question: "Who then is willing to consecrate his
service this day unto the Lord ?" The response was liberal
and enthusiastic ; for the people, catching the holy infection
of the royal self-sacrifice, laid upon the altar " of gold five
thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten
thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and
one hundred thousand talents of iron," while those who had
precious stones generously devoted them to the sacred en-
terprise. It was a gladsome day ; a time of holy privilege
highly prized ; a season of precious opportunity thoroughly
improved ; an era of revived spiritual life, leading to unre-
served consecration of soul and substance to the Lord. The
hearts alike of king and people were opened to receive God's
blessing, and in the receiving they gave out their own incense
of gratitude, even as the flower, when it unfolds its petals to
the morning sunbeam, does, by the very unfolding, give forth
its fragrance to the air around. But it is ever thus. He
who knows and feels that he is receiving is then and thereby
led to give out of his heart's gratitude to God ; and, looking
at once to the origin and the issue of this great national re-
vival of religion, we regard it as the grandest scene in Da-
vid's whole career.

As sometimes the setting sun gilds the western sky, and
makes of the very clouds which had obscured the afternoon
a bank of burnished gold, giving thereby a glory to the heav
ens which in the absence of the clouds could never be pro-
duced, so this last public appearance of the aged monarch
fringes with a golden border even the dark passages of his
life, and borrows, too, from them a frame-work of blackness


which, by its very contrast, brings out more vividly the bright-
ness of the departing luminary. The clouds had been very
dark, but the sun had been behind them all the while ; and
now, ere he goes down beneath the west, he has broken
through them and partially dispersed them, and men recog-
nize once more his greatness. We see now the "one in-
creasing purpose " which ran through all his life. We un-
derstand now why he was so eager in amassing treasure, and
so active in adding spoil to spoil ; for as the student, on his
return from college, lays reverently in his mother's lap the
prizes which he has toiled night and day to win, so David
here places devoutly on Jehovah's altar all that he had gain-
ed throughout his earthly career, saying, virtually, " For thee
I won them, and to thee I give them." Even as he laid
them there, indeed, they were wet with his penitential tears
over the great transgression of his life. Still he laid them
there ; and he who forgave the iniquity of his sin accepted
the gift he brought.

Such an assembly, crowned with such an offering to God,
could not separate without an act of special worship, and
who so fit to lead the devotions in speech as he who had led
them in the worship of liberal offerings ? So, taking his place
before the people, David blessed the Lord in language as af-
fecting as it is sublime, as tender as it is true. I can not re-
sist the impulse to repeat it here : " Blessed be thou, Lord
God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord,
is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victo-
ry, and the majesty : for all that is in the heaven and in the
earth is thine ; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art
exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of
thee, and thou reignest over all ; and in thine hand is power
and might ; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to
give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank
thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what


is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly af-
ter this sort ? for all things come of thee, and of thine own
have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and
sojourners, as were all our fathers : our days on the earth are
as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God,
all this store that we have prepared to build thee a house
for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine
own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and
hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness
of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things : and
now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here,
to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac,
and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination
of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their
heart unto thee : and give unto Solomon my son a perfect
heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy
statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace,
for the which I have made provision." This prayer was fol-
lowed by a sacrificial feast, after which Solomon was anoint-
ed for the second time as the accepted monarch of the tribes
of Israel.

But this public service was probably not the only thing
connected with Solomon's anointing, for after the assembly
had dispersed, and the aged king had retired to his cham-
ber, it is not unlikely that he took his harp once more, and
sang to its strains that wondrous Messiah-psalm which, ris-
ing from the circumstances of his son, looks down through
all the ages to the final triumph of the Redeemer's kingdom.
I refer to the 72d Psalm ; and as we read it now, in the light
of the events which I have recounted, we can not but feel a
new interest in it, and derive new inspiration from it. I can
not go fully into its consideration, but must content myself
with giving the briefest summary of its substance. Begin-
ning with the description of a king who, blessed with. Jeho-


vah's judgments, should "judge his people with righteousness
and his poor with judgment," he passes to the benignity of
his sway. " He shall come down like rain upon the mown
grass : as showers that water the earth." Then he asserts
the universality of his dominion : " His dominion shall be
from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the
earth ;" and the perpetuity of his reign : " His name shall
endure forever : his name shall be continued as long as the
sun : and men shall be blessed in him : all nations shall call
him blessed." The conclusion is a grand outburst of praise,
which seems almost to anticipate the hallelujahs of the skies.
" Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only
doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name
forever : and let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen." Little wonder that as men read this glow-
ing ode, they say, "A greater than Solomon is here." This
is emphatically the missionary Psalm, and it were well if,
every time we sang it, our hearts would expand into the no-
ble liberality manifested by the king and the people of Isra-
el on the day by which it was probably occasioned ; for what
is the cause of missions but the building of a nobler temple
than that which Solomon reared a temple, the stones of
which are living souls ; the incense of which is the love of
holy hearts, and the praises of which are the songs of the re-
deemed ?

Let me make this thought the centre of the practical re-
marks with which my exposition must conclude. Observe,
then, in the first place, the work to which God has called
us in the world. It is that of building a temple for his
abode. The edifice for which David made such magnifi-
"cent preparations, and which Solomon reared in splendor,
was, after all, only a typical structure. That which was out-
ward came first, and afterward that which is spiritual. In
the New Testament, indeed, the figure of the temple is em-


ployed with a threefold reference. Sometimes it is used to
signify the body of the Saviour himself, as when he said to
the Jews, " Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise
it up again." Sometimes it is applied to the body of the be-
liever, as when Paul says, " Know ye not that your body is
the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have
of God ?" But more usually it is employed to describe the
spiritual church' which our Lord Jesus Christ has founded in
the world. The Lord himself is the foundation of this holy
edifice, according as Paul has said, " Other foundation can
no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Be-
lievers are the stones of which it is composed, as Peter has
written : " Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual
house ;" and Paul again has affirmed, " In whom ye also are
builded together for a habitation of God through the Spir-
it." Apostles, evangelists, ministers, missionaries, and active
Christian workers are the builders engaged in its erection,
for Paul has called himself " a wise master-builder," and urges
others to enthusiasm in the great undertaking ; while at the
same time he bids every man " take heed how he buildeth

This, then, is the work which is committed to our care as
Christians the building in of believing souls to this great
living edifice; which we call the Christian Church, or, in
simpler and less figurative phraseology, the conversion of
human souls, and the formation in them of a holy character ;
and it will be completed only when the prophecy shall be
fulfilled, that " the earth shall be filled with the knowledge
of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." I have said this
is our work, and yet in another sense, and from another side,
it is the work of God himself; but it is his work, carried on,
in, and through our consecration of ourselves to its perform-
ance, "for we are laborers together with God." And what a
work it is ! There is an interest deep and peculiar in taking



the stones from the quarry, and hewing them into shape, and
polishing them into shining smoothness, and placing them in
their courses one above another, until at length the house is
finished for a royal palace, or a temple of worship. But what
is that, after all, to the delight which is felt, or the enthusi-
asm which is awakened, as we dig up human souls from the
quarry of sin, or ignorance, or degradation, and, through the
processes of a loving and holy education prepare them for
their places in this living temple ! What marble so precious
as a human soul ! what granite so indestructible as an im-
mortal spirit ! what beauty so rare as that of a character
which is moulded and fashioned after the pattern of the Re-
deemer himself! And it is given to us to work with such
valuable and imperishable materials for the adornment of
that stately structure which is " built upon the foundation of
the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the
chief corner-stone." What an exalted honor, but what a sol-
emn responsibility ! Let us not loiter at our holy enterprise,
but day by day let us labor on with untiring earnestness, un-
til, when evening comes, we shall be greeted with the " well-
done " of him who is the architect and is to be the inhab-
itant of the temple itself. My hearer, hast thou builded in
yet even one living stone into this holy fane ?

Observe, in the second place, that it is not given to any
one man, or to any single generation, to finish this glorious
structure. David gathered the materials, and Solomon built
the house. So, many of those who were present on the joyful
occasion which we have described might also be spectators
on the gladsome day of the consecration, when the mystic
cloud descended and filled the newly-finished- Temple. But
with the Church of Christ it is different. That has been in
process of erection for centuries, and it is not completed yet.
In this respect it resembles not so much the sacred building
that crowned the height of Moriah as one of these mediaeval


cathedrals on which many successive generations labored,
and which to-day remain as the result of many hundred years
of toil. "Other men have labored" on it, and "we are en-
tered upon their labors." The architect is one ; the builders
are multitudinous, belonging to every age and nation. It is
but a small portion of it we can hope to rear at best, there-
fore let us employ every moment of our time, and let us make
our part worthy of the workmanship of our illustrious prede-
cessors. It is ours to carry forward a building on which Paul,
and John, and Augustine, and Chrysostom, and Luther, and
Calvin, and Knox, and Edwards, and Wesley, and Whitefield
spent their strength and showed their skill. Let us not dis-
honor their workmanship, but let us strive so to do our por-
tion that those who may come after us shall be stimulated by
our example, as we have been by that of those who have
gone before us.

Observe, again, the principles by which we should be ani-
mated in prosecuting this work. " The palace is not for man,
but for God." What we do for him, therefore, should be of
our best, the more especially as every thing which we have
has come from him. Every day we are receiving new favors
from his hands ; and behind and above all the rest there is
the unspeakable gift of his Son. Let us do as we may, there-
fore, it is still true that " of his own we give to him ;" for if
we lay our hearts upon his altar, it is he who has produced
within us the holy impulse of self-consecration ; and if we
bring our offering of silver and gold to him, we are but giv-
ing to him that which is already his, since in the sense of ab-
solute possession he is the sole proprietor of the universe, and
we are only the hands by which for the time he holds that
wealth which we so fondly call our own. To adopt the New
Testament words, "We are stewards of the manifold bounty
of God;" and if we had a right idea of our duty, we would seek
to use every thing which we have for him. Now he desires


us specially to build this spiritual house for his own abode ?
Shall we not, then, gratefully, lovingly, and liberally obey his
command ? Moreover, this house will be his eternal habita-
tion. The Temple of Solomon is no more, and the stateliest
cathedral must one day crumble into dust ; but this spirit-
ual edifice abides, and shall be the temple of the skies. In
threading our way through the streets of some ancient city
such, for example, as the Cowgate and Canongate of Edin-
burgh we mark the strange devices graven above the portals
of the houses, which indicate that in former days they were
the habitations of nobility ; and here and there we come Upon
some quaint mottoes, such as this, " My trust is in the Lord ;"
or this, " Be merciful to me, O God," which render it proba-
ble that the dwellings on which they are engraved were first
erected by those " who feared the Lord and thought upon his
name." But now they are for the most part the homes of
the guilty and the vile, and wickedness is holding riot in the
chambers which architecture originally reared for the habita-
tions of rank or the homes of piety. One can not visit these
places as they are to-day without thinking of the transitori-
ness of all earthly things, and wondering whether, if the first
builder had foreseen the base uses to which his house would
be ultimately turned, he would have bestowed so much pains
in its erection, or adorned it with such exquisite products
of the sculptor's skill. But there is no danger of such a de-
terioration in the house composed of human souls which
Christian men are rearing for a habitation of God through
the Spirit. The Lord shall be the eternal inhabitant, and the
beauty and the grandeur of his palace shall be as immortal
as he is himself. It was the boast of the Grecian artist that
he painted for eternity, and yet his works have all but disap-
peared already ; but they who engage in the service of Christ
and succeed in bringing souls to him, are building literally
for eternity. Their work shall abide. Time that changes


all things else will not eat into these spiritual walls, and
eternity itself shall see no decay in this fabric of the ages.
It will need all time for its completion, indeed, but then
it will last through eternity ; and so, if we wish to put forth
our efforts where they will be most permanently effective,
we will devote them to labor on this palace for the King
of kings.

Once more, let us reflect that the progress of this spiritual
edifice, thus honoring to God, is also inseparably associated
with the happiness of men. Recall for a moment the words
of the 72d Psalm, which, though applicable primarily to the
influence of the Prince of Peace as a ruler, may be trans-
lated into harmony with this great temple-building. "Men
shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him bless-
ed ;" that is to say, in proportion as souls are brought to Je-
sus and built into this spiritual fabric, the purity, the pros-
perity, and the progress of mankind shall advance. Does
any one doubt this ? Let him look around ! To what do
we owe our liberties, our privileges, and our proud position
among the nations of the earth ? Is it not to the degree
in which the Gospel of Christ has leavened the land ? The
Christianity of the nation is the nation's life. All that is
true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good
report among us has been but a development of the princi-
ples which centre in the cross of Calvary ; and if the evils
that remain are ever to be removed, they can only be so
by the conversion of the masses of our fellow-citizens to Je-
sus; that is, by the building of them into this living temple
that has been rising so majestically through all the Christian
ages. Nay, wider still, if the world is to be elevated and pu-
rified, if the race of men is to be developed to its noblest
possibilities of good, whether intellectual, or moral, or social,
the Gospel of Christ must still be the instrument which we
employ ; and that end shall be reached only when the head-


stone of this holy house shall be brought forth with shout-
ings, " Grace, grace unto it !"

Having, therefore, all these truths before you, suffer me
now to make the appeal of David : " Who then is willing to
consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" Who is
willing. It is a voluntary thing. The Lord will accept no
begrudged laborer. He will have no reluctant toil. Whoso
labors for him must labor with a will. "Who is willing to
consecrate his service?" It is a holy offering a laying of
self, and service, and substance upon the altar of Jehovah ;
"for the palace is not for man, but for God," of whom riches
and honor come. "Who then is willing to consecrate his
service this day unto the Lord ?" This day ! this day ! " For
our days upon the earth are as a shadow, and there is none
abiding." Even now it may be almost even-tide with many.
The eleventh hour may have struck for some, and the warn-
ing of the twelfth may have sounded for others from the
clock of destiny ; yet as they stand idly in the market-place,
there comes even to such the command, " Go, work to-day
for me." Make haste that you may do something before
the opportunity goes past. And if there should be here
some David whom God has intrusted with large possessions
or great prosperity, or what is better than either, a great
heart, let him, too, hasten to bring forth his gifts for this glo-
rious cause, that so his example may stimulate others, and
we may see a revival of life, liberality, and labor in the
Church of Christ. As said the great, good Whitefield, in
days past, so say I. now to you: "I want more tongues, more
bodies, more souls for the Lord Jesus. Had I ten thousand,
he should have them all. So that I had as many tongues
as there are hairs on my head, the ever-loving, ever lovely
Jesus should have them all !" " Who then is willing to con-

Online LibraryWilliam M. (William Mackergo) TaylorDavid, king of Israel: his life and its lessons → online text (page 32 of 36)