« PreviousContinue »
were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto Jehovah our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burntoffering wholly unto Jehovah : and Samuel cried unto Jehovah for Israel; and Jehovah heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but Jehovah thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them ; and they were smitten before Israel.”—Chap. vii. 7–10. When Saul cannot find his father's asses, he applies to "s the man of God” to tell him where they are :
“ Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is. And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to-day, and to-morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart. And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found.”—Chap. ix. 18-20. Prayer and sacrifice is the worship paid to Jehovah : one circumstance is, however, observable. The sacrifice is not always offered on one particular spot; but the worshipper may erect his altar wherever he chooses. Supplications and sacrifices are always offered before going to the fight.
Twice only does Samuel express worthy notions concerning the worship due to Jehovah ; and the circumstances which gave rise to their utterance reflect no credit
this overbearing prophet.
* Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”—Chap. xv. 22.
“ Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart.”
Chap. xvi. 7.
THE PSALMS OF DAVID AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES.
The Psalms were composed at various times, and by different writers. In this chapter we shall refer to those only which are generally allowed to be the genuine productions of David and his contemporaries.*
From the time of the formation of Samuel's School of the Prophets, and perhaps even carlier, there were among the Hebrews, men of some education and reflection, who gradually improved the ancient and imperfcct notions of their brethren; and who, by the study of man's moral condition, the contemplation of nature, and the perception of the adaptation of each mean to its appointed end, discovered convincing proofs of the power, the wisdom, and the beneficence of the Deity. By degrees more worthy conceptions of God became more and more widely diffused, though, owing to the continued obscrvance of the Mosaic ritual, and the existence of a very deficient morality, many unjust and inconsistent opinions of the Supreme Being were long retained.
David may, with peculiar propriety, be classed among the improvers of his age. He proclaimed, in beautiful and emphatic language, that Jehovah is God alone, and that there is no God beside him: that he is the Creator of heaven and carth, that he is manifested through his works, and that they display infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. David clothed his religious opinions and feelings in a number of poems and songs, which were sung on many different occasions; they thus became extensively circulated, and firmly impressed on the minds of his people, and they must have been very influential in raising the whole character of the Jewish nation.
Representations of God. Jehovah is the Creator of the universe :
* It is generally allowed that above twenty of the Psalms were written during the captivity; and about an equal number after the return of the Jews to their own land. See the works of Calmet, De Wette, Hitzig, &c.—TR.
“ The earth is Jehovah's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”—Psalm xxiv. 1, 2.
By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made; and all
Psalm xxxiii. 6-9.
when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest
rejoice in thy name.”—Psalm lxxxix. 8-12. It is unnecessary to multiply quotations; many might be added under each subject which we shall have occasion to notice.
Though it cannot be said that David teaches the eternity of Jehovah, in the strict sense of that term, and the Hebrew language has no word expressing the philosophical notion of eternity,) yet he declares Jehovah to have existed prior to the creation, and to be from everlasting to everlasting.
“ Jehovah, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountaiņs were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction ; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch
in the night.”—Psalm xc. 1-4.* It is distinctly stated that there is no God but Jehovah, and that the gods of the heathen are vain, having neither existence, life, nor activity. All nations, instead of being governed by their own deities, are dependent on Jehovah for all they possess: therefore all people are called upon to acknowledge the divinity and almighty power of Jehovah.
All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship * This psalm is ascribed to Moses, but it contains internal evidence that it could not have been written by him. It belongs rather to the age of David.
before thee, O Jehovah ; and shall glorify thy name. For thou
Psalm lxxxvi. 9, 10.
I have hated them that regard lying vanities, but I trust in Jehovah.”—Psalm xxxi. 6.
Blessed is the man that maketh Jehovah his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”
Psalm xl. 4. “ All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto Jehovah : and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is Jehovah's: and he is the governor among the nations.”—Psalm xxii. 27, 28.
Thou shalt judge the people righteously and govern the nations upon earth...... God shall bless us; and all the ends
of the earth shall fear him.”—Psalm lxvii. 4. 7. Though David speaks of Jehovah as the Creator and the Preserver of all men, he considers him at the same time in a peculiar sense the God of the Hebrews. He represents him as selecting one chosen people from among all nations of the earth, and regarding all other men as nothing in comparison with Israel. This one favoured race he loads with benefits; works miracles for their advantage; guides them by his laws ; gives them a priesthood; and places his divine oracle among them. It is evident that such a partial view of God must lead to false notions of his relation to mankind in general—to all who were not Jews. From the time of Abraham till the time of David Jehovah had been worshipped as a mere national-God. We now find him recognised as the one only God, besides whom there is none other. A more rapid progress in the knowledge of God could not be reasonably expected. And it is not wonderful that David, who was an Israelite, did not throw aside the prejudices of his nation, but still fondly cherished the belief that Jehovah entertained a particular love and partiality for his people Israel.
“ Jehovah hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee. Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion.”
Now know I, that Jehovah saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.”—Psalm xx. 1, 2, and 6.
" They break in pieces thy people, O Jehovah, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say Jehovah shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.”—Psalm xciv. 5-7.
“ Jehovah is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.”—Psalm xxviii. 8, 9.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”
Psalm xxxiii. 12. “O come let us worship and bow down : let us kneel before Jehovah our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”—Psalm xcv. 6, 7.
"Jehovah is King for ever and ever : the heathen are perished out of his land.”—Psalm x. 16.
“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron ; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”—Psalm ii. 8, 9.
The Attributes of God. The most beautiful descriptions of the divine attributes are to be met with in the Psalms; and the firm belief in these attributes produced that steady and never failing confidence in God, which forms so prominent a feature in the character of David. Jehovah is omniscient:
“ Jehovah is in his holy temple, Jehovah's throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men, Jehovah trieth the righteous.”—Psalm xi. 4, 5.
Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the
Psalm xvii. 3.
From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the
“Thou tellest my wanderings : put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book ?”—Psalm lvi. 8. Jehovah is holy :
“ Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.”—
Psalm v. 4, 5.