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my father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee, and what I see, that will I tell thee. Accordingly Jonathan spoke good of David unto Saul his father, and thus pathetically pleaded for his friend, even for the man whom he knew was to be the means of depriving him of the crown and royal dignity. “ Let not the king sin against his servant, against David: because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good : for he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel : thou sawest it, and did rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan : and Saul sware, as the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain. And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past."'*
It proved, however, that this reconciliation was either deceitful on the part of Saul, or that his envy of David was so inveterate, that it was liable to be rekindled upon the slightest occasion ; for a fresh war having broken out with the Philistines, and David having fought with, and slain then with a great slaughter ; the evil spirit came again upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand; and David, notwithstanding his former narrow escapes, once more attempted to relieve his sovereign's malady, by playing before him ; when Saul again sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin ; but David slipt away out of Saul's presence, and escaped that night.
These repeated attempts, and as frequent escapes, had driven the unhappy monarch to a state of frenzy ; so that, laying aside all reserve, he sent messengers to beset David's
house, and to slay him in the morning ; from which new danger he was delivered by his wife Michal letting him down through a window during the night ; and in order to afford sufficient time for his escape, she pretended he was confined to his bed with illness, in which she placed an image to represent him. * Saul having remonstrated with his daughter for allowing his enemy, as he chose to call David, to escape, Michal alleged (what no doubt was quite false) that David had threatened to kill her.
David's first step was to flee to Samuel in Ramah, and tell him all that Saul had done, and, no doubt to ask his counsel and guidance; and he and Samuel dwelt in Naioth.
As soon as Saul had discovered the retreat of David, being now determined to effect his purpose, he sent messengers to apprehend him; and although we are sure that all the previous deliverances of David had been provided by a faithful God, yet that God now chose to honour his servant by a still more signal and marked interference on his behalf. For when the messengers of murder made their appearance at Naioth, they found a company of prophets in the act of prophesying, with the holy Samuel at their head, standing as appointed over them; whereupon the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. Upon sending other messengers, they were, in like manner, compelled to yield to the constraining influence of the Spirit of God, and they prophesied also. At last Saul determined to go himself, and when he came to a great well that was in Sechu, he inquired for Samuel and David; and being conducted to Naioth, as soon as he came into the presence of the holy assembly, the Spirit of God came upon him also, and he too prophesied; and stript off his clothes,t and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all
that day, and all that night. And the circumstance gave rise to a proverb in Israel, “ is Saul also among the prophets ?""*
Who cannot in this relation discover the forbearing mercy of God. After such determined contempt of the intentions of God, so plainly intimated by his conduct, to Saul's messengers; who would not have expected that the repetition of the insult to the offended Majesty of Heaven would have called forth the almighty vengeance; and instead of seeing the wicked and murderous rage of the impious monarch merely neutralized, and himself compelled only to lay on the ground and prophesy, disarmed and helpless, we might have anticipated that he would have been struck to the earth by the thunderbolts of divine vengeance.
So certain also is the security of those who place their trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel.f If an Elisha is pursued by the troops of a wicked Ahab, the Lord will interpose horses and chariots of fire for his preservation ;and if the life of David is sought by the murderous and devoted Saul, Saul himself and his assassins shall, in order to preserve God's chosen servant, be rendered physically incapable of accomplishing their sanguinary purpose !
After this miraculous deliverance, David Aled from Naioth, and came to Jonathan, pathetically enquiring, in the anguish of his soul, what have I done? what is mine iniquity and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life? Jonathan assured him of his protection, and the next day, being the feast of the new moon, when David, from his office, ought to sit at meat with the king, they agreed that he should absent himself, under pretence of attending a yearly sacrifice for all his family in Bethlehem. And it was settled
• Sam. xix. 24. + Ruth ij. 12. 2 Kings vi. 17. $ New Moon, that is, the first day of the month. 1 Sam. xx. 5. between them, that if Saul did not discover anger at the absence of David, Jonathan should shoot some arrows beside the stone Ezel; and if he gave directions of one description to a lad who was to be waiting, David was to understand that Saul had no evil purpose against him; but, on the contrary, if Saul exhibited disappointment and passion, Jonathan was to give different directions, so that David might know that Saul had determined upon his destruction. *
The fidelity and affection of Jonathan to David, is the more amiable and affecting, as it is manifest he was well aware of the consequence of his friend's future exaltation; for he said to him, “ O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father, about to-morrow any time, or the third day, and behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee; the Lord do so and much more to Jonathan : but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father. And thou shalt not only, while yet I live, shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not: but also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David, every one from the face of the earth. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, let the Lord even require it at the hand of David's enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him : for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”+
On the first day of David's absence, Saul smothered his secret purpose; but on the second day, when he found from Jonathan that he had given David leave to go to Bethlehem, he could no longer conceal his intentions, or restrain his violence; but thus reproached Jonathan, “ thou son of the
perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness ? For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, wherefore shall he be slain ? What hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him, to smite him. So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David."*
Jonathan having communicated with David, according to the signal agreed upon, they met at an appointed place, and took an affectionate farewell of each other; for David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times : and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, the Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.t
David proceeded to Nob, a city of Benjamin, and being in want of provision, and, by a falsehood, concealing from Ahimelech that he had fled from Saul, obtained some of the consecrated bread from that priest ; and also the sword of Goliath, which was laid up there in a cloth behind the ephod. Doeg, an Edomite, and chief herdsman to Saul, was at Nob, when the above transaction took place, and David, probably afraid he would betray him, fled to Achish, King of Gath; but the people of that city exclaimed, “ is not this David, the king of the land ? Did they not sing one to another of him in