« AnteriorContinuar »
Nehemiah Redressing the Extortion of the Jews 431
Ahasuerus Feasting; Vashti Cast off; Esther
ON THE PRINCIPAL PASSAGES IN THE
SAUL IN DAVID'S CAVE.
Ir was the strange lot of David, that those whom he pursued preserved him from those whom he had preserved. The Philistines, whom David had newly smitten in Keilah, call off Saul from smiting David in the wilderness, when there was but a hillock betwixt him and death.
Wicked purposes are easily checked, not easily broken off. Saul's sword is scarce dry from the blood of the Philistines, when it thirsts anew for the blood of David; and now, in a renewed chase, hunts him dry-foot through every wilderness. The very desert is too fair a refuge for innocence. The hills and rocks are searched in an angry jealousy. The very wild goats of the mountains were not allowed to be companions for him, which had no fault but his virtue. Oh the seemingly-unequal distribution of these earthly things! Cruelty and oppression reign in a palace, while goodness lurks among the rocks and caves, and thinks it happiness enough to steal a life.
Like a dead man, David is fain to be hid under the earth; and seeks the comfort of protection in darkness: and now the wise providence of God leads Saul to his enemy, without blood. He, which before brought them within a hill's distance without interview, brings them now both within one roof; so as that while Saul seeks David and finds him not, he is found of David unsought. If Saul had known his own opportunities, how David and his men had interred themselves, he had saved a treble labor, Div. No. XXXI. A
of chase, of execution, and burial; for had he but stopped the mouth of that cave, his enemies had laid themselves down in their own graves. The wisdom of God thinks fit to hide from evil men and spirits, those means and seasons, which might be, if they had been taken, most prejudicial to his own. We had been oft foiled, if Satan could but, have known our hearts. Sometimes we lie open to evils, and happy it is for us that he only knows it, which pities instead of tempting us.
It is not long since Saul said of David, lodged then in Keilah, God hath delivered him into mine hands; for he is shut in, seeing he is come into a city that hath gates and bars; but now, contrarily, God delivers Saul, ere he was aware, into the hands of David; and, without the help of gates and bars, hath enclosed him within the valley of death. How just is it with God, that those who seek mischief to others find it to themselves; and, even while they are spreading nets, are ensnared. Their deliberate plotting of evil is surprised with a sudden judgment.
How amazedly must David needs look, when he saw Saul enter into the cave, where himself was ! 'What is this,' thinks he, 'which God hath done? Is this presence purposed, or casual? Is Saul here to pursue, or to tempt me? Where, suddenly, the action bewrays the intent; and tells David, that Saul sought secresy, and not him. The superfluity of his maliciousness brought him into the wilderness; the necessity of nature led him into the cave: even those actions wherein we place shame, are not exempted from a providence.
The fingers of David's followers itched to seize on their master's enemy; and, that they might not seem led so much by faction as by faith, they urge David with a promise from God; The day is come, whereof the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, and thou shalt do to him, as it shall seem good to thee.' This argument seemed to carry such command with it, as that David not only may but must imbrue his hands in blood, unless he will be found wanting to God and himself. Those temptations are most powerful, which fetch their force from the pretence of a religious obedience; whereas those, which are raised from arbitrary and private respects, admit of an easy dispensation.