May 13.—Morning. [Or September 22.]
“There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
2 Samuel 9
AND David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?
Good men are grateful men. Jonathan had shown David great kindness, and therefore David sought to return it to his descendants. He who is not faithful in friendship gives no evidence that he is sincere in religion.
2, 3 And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
4 And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar. (He was living in the country in great retirement, perhaps in fear that David might seek his life. We are often afraid of the very men who will turn out to be our best friends.)
5 ¶ Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar.
6 Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. (He was both awed by the splendour of the court, and alarmed lest the king should injure him, but David soon comforted him in the kindest manner.) And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
9, 10 Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master’s son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. (And therefore he would be able to equip Mephibosheth with a suitable attendance becoming his royal rank.)
11 Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons.
12, 13 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.
From this story we learn to remember past kindnesses. If in his prosperity any man has been good to us, let us deal well with him if we ever see either him or his children in want. Never let it be said that a child of God is ungrateful to his fellow-men. If we are to do kindness to those who have treated us ill, much more are we bound to repay the favours of those who have been our friends. A further lesson may be found in the fact that David and Jonathan had made a covenant, and that David was faithful to it, even though Jonathan’s son was both obscure in his abode, poor in his estate, and deformed in his person. The Lord also is true to his covenant; he will not forsake those who put their trust in him. Though many of his people are, spiritually, as lame as Mephibosheth, yet he remembers them, and even deigns to invite them to sit at his table in familiar intercourse with him. The Lord is not ashamed of the poor; feeble friends of Jesus, but out of love to their well-beloved Lord and Master he will grant to them to eat continually at the king’s table, even though they be lame on both their feet.
Poor, weak, and worthless, though I am,
I have a rich almighty Friend;
Jesus, the Saviour, is His name:
He freely loves, and without end.
He cheers my heart, my wants supplies,
And says that I shall shortly be
Enthroned with him above the skies:
Oh! what a friend is Christ to me!
God is gone up with shouts of joy,
And angels harping round;
Our Lord is welcomed to the sky
With trumpet’s joyful sound.
Open, ye heavenly gates, to let
The King of glory in;
The Lord of hosts, of saying might,
Who vanquished death and sin.
And shall not mortals join their songs,
Though poor their notes may be?
The lisping of believing tongues,
Makes heavenly minstrelsy.
Jesus, where’er thy people meet,
There they behold thy mercy-seat:
Where’er they seek thee, thou art found
And every place is hallow’d ground.
For thou within no walls confined,
Inhabitest the humble mind;
Such ever bring thee where they come,
And going, take thee to their home.
Behold, to thee we pour our vow,
Our daily dwelling place art thou!
And whilst the light of life we see,
Our happy souls shall rest in thee.
Jesus, with thy salvation blest,
We yield the glory to thy name:
Fix’d in thy strength our banners rest,
With joy thy vict’ry we proclaim.
Let men the rattling chariot trust,
Or the swift steed, with courage stored.
In thee our confidence we boast,
Jesus, Messiah, conquering Lord!
Safe shall we stand, nor yield to fear,
When sinners with their hopes shall fall:
Save, Lord, O King Messiah, hear!
Hear, mighty Saviour, when we call.
The head that once was crown’d with thorns
Is crown’d with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty victor’s brow.
The highest place that heaven affords
Is his, is his by right,
The King of kings, the Lord of lords,
And heaven’s eternal light.
To him let every tongue be praise,
And every heart be love:
All grateful honours paid on earth,
And nobler songs above.
Lead me not, for flesh is frail,
Where fierce trials would assail;
Leave me not, in darken’d hour,
To withstand the tempter’s power.
Save me from the tempter’s wiles,
Keep my heart when pleasure smiles;
On my watch tower may I be,
Lest I should dishonour thee.
While I am a pilgrim here,
Let thy love my spirit cheer:
As my guide, my guard, my friend,
Lead me to my journey’s end.
May 13.—Evening. [Or September 23.]
“Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”
WE now come to that mournful occurrence in David’s life, which changed his whole career from prosperity to sorrow.
2 Samuel 11:1–3; 6–10; 12–17; 26, 27
1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
Perhaps he had begun to indulge himself in ease, and therefore left the battles of his country to be fought by others. If so, we are hereby taught that indolence is the nurse of vice.
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: (Did he not rise from his bed till so late in the day? Had he grown self-indulgent? If so, who wonders that he fell?) and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? (David at once sent for her and took her to himself, thus committing the grossest sin. Alas! Alas! how were the mighty fallen!
In a short time David found that his sin would be discovered, and therefore he sent for Uriah to come home, that his shameful conduct might be concealed.)
6, 7 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.
8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.
9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.
10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? (To this, Uriah answered that he would not go home to sleep at ease while the ark and his fellow-soldiers were in tents, or encamped in the open field. Here we find a common soldier austere and self-denying, while the renowned psalmist had become luxurious and wanton.)
12, 13 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. (What wickedness was this on David’s part to lead honest Uriah into drunkenness! One sin draws on another as links of a chain. With all his cunning, David did not succeed in concealing his crime, and therefore, he went further still, and became guilty of murder to screen himself. “How art thou fallen from heaven, thou beautiful star of the morning!” “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”)
14, 15 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.
17 And the men of the city went out; and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. (The man after God’s own heart had fallen so low as to be both an adulterer and a murderer! Other princes in those days did such things commonly, and their people dared not complain, but this was a chosen servant of God, and in him it was foul iniquity.)
26, 27 And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. (Though the sinner may have dreamed that he had cleverly hidden his crime, this last sentence was the death knell of his security. If our conduct displeases the Lord, nothing is well with us.)