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place of Araunah the Jebusite. And David spake unto Jehovah when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done?” &c.—2 Samuel, xxiv. 16, 17. Everything that happens is the work of God. Good and noble intentions, superior talents (such as the talent for poetry), unusual energy and enthusiasm, and also a cheerful disposition, are effects attributed to the agency of the spirit of Jehovah, or the divine power :
“ Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation ;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.”—Psalm li. 11, 12. David implores God to give him his good spirit to enable him to do his will and govern the people.
Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good ; lead me into the land of uprightness.”—Psalm cxliii. 10. David believes the power of composing hymns and psalms to be derived from God, and he ascribes the holy emotions, or the deep depression which he felt while inditing them, to the spirit of Jehovah. Every poet is considered as inspired by Jehovah, numine divino afflatus. The writer of the ninety-ninth Psalm thus sings
“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. I will incline mine ear to
a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp." He here seems to imply that his hymn is merely the echo of heavenly song of wisdom which sounds in his ear.
David recognises two revelations; that which God gives of himself in his works—the revelation of Nature, displayed in the whole creation; and also, the revelation of God given in his law-in the religion given by him to Moses.—See the 19th and the 119th Psalms, both which were probably written by David.
David teaches the belief in a Providence which rewards the righteous with temporal prosperity, and punishes the wicked with temporal adversity. He encourages the good with the promise of God's favour, and the possession of those external blessings which are most prized by him, who knows nothing of a future state of retribution; he ad
monishes the wicked, and reminds them that the evil doer shall be rooted out from the land, that his name shall be no more known, that he shall come to an untimely end, and that his children shall beg their bread :
“O fear Jehovah, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger : but they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing. Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of Jehovah. What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of Jehovah is against them that do evil to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry and Jehovah heareth and delivereth them out of all their troubles."
Psalm xxxiv. 9-17. “ Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive from famine.”
Psalm xxxiii. 18, 19.* The inculcation of a doctrine, which every day's experience contradicted, led to scepticism and distrust in God and his providence. Some denied God's watchful care over his people, and asserted that God reigned in heaven, and knew not what was done upon the earth. David speaks of such doubters as madmen, fools, holding the most pernicious and false principles :
“ The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight; as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved : for shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud : under his tongue is mischief and vanity."
“ He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten : he hideth his face ; he will never see it.”—Psalm x. 4-7 and 11.
“ The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”—Psalm xiv. 1. But there was another class of doubters; those who, in firm reliance on the promises of Jehovah, had laboured to
* See also Psalms xxxvii., xci., and cxxviii.
obey his commands and to lead a virtuous life, but who had only reaped the disappointment of all their hopes, and who were at length driven to despair, by witnessing the prosperity of the wicked.
David seeks to comfort such, by assuring them that though heaviness endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning. He tries to convince them, that the good are never finally deserted by God, and that their end shall be peace; but that the wretchedness of the wicked man shall be great in proportion to his temporal prosperity, and his end terrible :
“ Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
and wither as the
Psalm xxxvii. 1, 2, and 10.
“ Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world ; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.”
“ When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places : thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one waketh ; so, O Jehovah, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image."
Psalm lxxiii. 3; 12-14; 16-20. David and his contemporaries acknowledge that burnt offerings and sacrifices cannot be a form of worship pleasing to a holy God, unless they be offered by an humble and penitent heart, and that purity of mind, obedience to the law, and a thankful spirit are of more worth in the sight of God than the flesh of bulls or the blood of goats :
“ Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee; I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the
world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats ? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most high : and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”—Psalm 1. 7-15.
“O Jehovah, open thou my lips ; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it : thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”—Psalm li. 15-17.
NOTIONS CONCERNING GOD ENTERTAINED BY SOLOMON.
The Book of the Proverbs. A CONSIDERABLE portion of the Book of the Proverbs is unquestionably the production of Solomon; and those parts which cannot be considered as genuine, are believed to have been written and collected before or during the reign of Hezekiah. Allowing that the first nine chapters may be an introduction, written by another author, the religious opinions contained in the entire book are sufficiently harmonious, and consistent, to justify us in regarding it as belonging to one and the same period.
The Book of the Proverbs is, perhaps, one of the most valuable books of the Old Testament. The religious views, and the moral precepts contained in it, are so excellent, and the truths inculcated are so agreeably, beautifully, and briefly expressed, in the form of maxims easily fixed in the memory, and readily recalled upon appropriate occasions, that it is much to be regretted that it does not teach the immortality of the soul, instead of the descent after death into the gloomy region of Hades; and that it does not encourage mankind to pursue virtue from a higher and worthier motive than the desire of selfish gratification and reward.
Representations of God. Though in the Proverbs the name of the national-God of the Hebrews, Jehovah, is employed, and though God is spoken of as that God who manifests himself more especially to the Israelites, yet he is much more generally represented as the Creator of the universe, the Governor of the world, the Ruler of man, and the Disposer of human destinies. God is the first, the self-existing cause of all things, and it is man's highest duty to recognise and acknowledge the perfect