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Goliath, amongst other things, had been the king's eldest daughter ; but hitherto Saul had omitted to redeem that pledge. Now, however, with the basest intentions, he offered to give him Merab to wife ; adding, be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord's battles : for, said he, let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. It does not appear from the sacred history, whether David really wished to avoid or to embrace this offer, as his answer may be considered either as an expression of modest diffidence, of his own unworthiness, or a delicate refusal of a favour he did not covet. It seems, however, that when the period arrived, perhaps after some victory, or a prescribed period of time, that Merab should have been given to David, Saul gave her unto Adriel, the Meholathite, to wife ; but we are not told that David ever shewed any resentment, or made any complaint to Saul upon this subject.
Saul, however, had another daughter named Michal, and it is said she loved David, from which we may presume, that the attachment was mutual; and to the existence of that attachment we may probably ascribe the cautious answer David gave to Saul as to Merab, and the little anxiety he betrayed at her being given to another. This attachment, however, gave Saul another opportunity of shewing his malice and envious spirit against David, for the thing pleased him, in the hope that his daughter might be a snare to David, and that the hand of the Philistines might be against him, wherefore Saul said to David, thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in the one of the twain.
By the command of Saul, his servants communed secretly with David, and said, behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee; now, therefore, be the king's son-in-law. Still, however, David was cautious, for he said, “ seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed "
When this answer was returned to Saul, he desired them to tell David, that he desired not any dowry ; but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies; and that, in the hope that David would fall by their hands.
We here see a melancholy instance how far a man, who neglects God, and forsakes his laws, may be given up to the utmost extent of folly, as well as of sin and wickedness ; for it is repeatedly said, that Saul knew the Lord was with David : he knew, also, that he was himself rejected, and that the kingdom was destined for David : and he had lately seen how signally the Lord had sustained and protected him: how then could he imagine it would be a matter of difficulty for him to slay 100 Philistines ? As soon as David was assured of Saul's declaration, it pleased him well, and he and his men went forth and slew 200 Philistines, and brought their foreskins to Saul, who disguising his disappointment and chagrin, gave him his daughter Michal for a wife.
This union, however, only served to increase the apprehensions of Saul, so deep rooted was his malignity ; for he became David's enemy continually: but the Philistines having gone forth, David acted more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that he rose into high estimation.
The more, however, that David prospered, the more he became an object of distrust and hatred to Saul, who no longer affected to conceal his malice ; for he not only practised with his servants to destroy him, but hesitated not to try to involve bis own son Jonathan, in the dreadful crime of murder. But Jonathan delighted much in David, and therefore told him, that Saul, bis father, sought to kill him, and besought him to take heed to himself until the morning, and to abide in a secret place, and hide biniself.
But the friendship of Jonathan was not satisfied with merely giving David a warning; he proceeded to serve him more effectually, for he said, I will go out and stand beside
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 them 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
• 1 Sam. xix. 4-7.
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, 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.+ If an Elisha is pursued by the troops of a wicked Ahab, the Lord will interpose horses and chariots of fire for his preservation ;I and if the life of David is sought by the murderous and devoted Saul, Saul himself and his assassins shall, in order to preservo God's chosen servant, be rendered physically incapable of accomplishing their sanguinary purpose !
After this miraculous deliverance, David fled 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 ii. 12. * 2 Kings vi. 17. New Moon, that is, the first day of the month. 1 Sam. xx. 5.
Ans. Bayley in Loco. Burder, 0. C. No. 316.