Now the acts of King David, from first to last, they are indeed written in the Chronicles of Samuel the Seer, the Chronicles of Nathan the Prophet, and the Chronicles of Gad the Seer,
I. HIS AGE "A good old age" is not here what we should call such; for David's life does not seem to have exceeded seventy years. Yet it was not cut short; and, as he was suffered to live for the appointed term of life, he had opportunity to carry out his plans and to see their success. He was, in the expressive Hebraism, "full of days."
II. HIS RICHES. These were acquired by the industry of the population and by the spoils of war. They enabled him to adorn the metropolis which he had won by his sword, and to make preparation for building the temple of his God.
III. HIS HONOUR. He had been raised from the sheepfold to the throne. He had been fortunate in his counsellors and his generals. His victories had given him a widespread renown. And in his spiritual lyrics he had laid, all unwittingly, the foundations of a far wider and more honourable fame. As "the sweet singer of Israel," and "the man after God's heart," he is known throughout the Jewish and the Christian world.
1. The life of David is one fitted to encourage our confidence in Divine providence. The man himself felt, and the sacred historians felt, that there never was a more signal instance of an individual being called forth by God's voice and qualified by Divine discipline for a great work in life. It gives peace and dignity to our life to be ever assured that "our times are in God's hands," and that he will use us for his glory.
2. The life of David is a warning against yielding to temptation. He gave way alike to sins of the flesh and to sins of the spirit, and again and again proved his fallibility and infirmity. Well may each reader of his biography lay to heart the lesson: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."
3. The life of David shows how possible it is to serve God in different ways. He was a soldier, a poet, a king, a religious leader; and in all capacities he glorified God. We may have few gifts, but we may learn that the use of one gift is no excuse for the neglect of another.
4. The life of David reveals the true secret of happiness and usefulness. He was one whose fellowship was much with God; hence his strength. Read his psalms, and you will be convinced that this was so. It is thus that strength and fortitude are to be sustained.
5. The life of David shows us that, during this earthly existence, a good man may begin a good work which shall continue after his death. David did not abide for ever, but he prepared a throne for his son; he did not build the temple, but he put all things in train with a view to the work. Let us live so that when we are no more here others may say, "He being dead yet speaketh." - T.
Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer.
I. OF THE SUPREME PROVIDENCE OF GOD ORDERING ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL. Time passes over us like a mighty current, but as Andrew Fuller observed, we are like little fishes playing in the stream; we are borne along with the current, but we cannot control its direction nor alter its course. This illustrates the language of Scripture (Acts 16:26).
II. HOW INSIGNIFICANT, IN ONE POINT OF VIEW, AND HOW IMPORTANT IN ANOTHER, IS A LIFE OF ORDINARY DURATION.
III. THAT THOUGH TIMES PASS OVER US WITHOUT BEING SUBJECT TO OUR CONTROL, THOUGH WE HAVE BUT LITTLE INFLUENCE UPON THEM, THEY HATE A GREAT INFLUENCE UPON US. By the character of the times that pass over us our moral condition is greatly affected.
IV. THAT IN PROPORTION TO THE IMPORTANCE AND THE STIRRING CHARACTER OF THE TIMES THAT HAVE PASSED OVER US MUST BE OUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
Homilist.I. They are NUMEROUS.
1. There are personal vicissitudes.
(1) (2) (3) 2. There are common vicissitudes. The earth is a theatre of perpetual change. II. They are MEMORABLE. The vicissitudes of life deserve a record; they are things to be remembered by man. Why? 1. Because they serve to unfold the preparatory character of our state. 2. Because they develop the agency of God. 3. Because they show the importance of confiding in the Immutable. 4. Because they tend to direct us to the true scene of rest. The vicissitudes of our history are hands on the face of life's chronometer; they measure the hours in our short days that are gone, and intimate the few that may yet remain. (Homilist.)
(2) (3) 2. There are common vicissitudes. The earth is a theatre of perpetual change. II. They are MEMORABLE. The vicissitudes of life deserve a record; they are things to be remembered by man. Why? 1. Because they serve to unfold the preparatory character of our state. 2. Because they develop the agency of God. 3. Because they show the importance of confiding in the Immutable. 4. Because they tend to direct us to the true scene of rest. The vicissitudes of our history are hands on the face of life's chronometer; they measure the hours in our short days that are gone, and intimate the few that may yet remain. (Homilist.)
(3) 2. There are common vicissitudes. The earth is a theatre of perpetual change. II. They are MEMORABLE. The vicissitudes of life deserve a record; they are things to be remembered by man. Why? 1. Because they serve to unfold the preparatory character of our state. 2. Because they develop the agency of God. 3. Because they show the importance of confiding in the Immutable. 4. Because they tend to direct us to the true scene of rest. The vicissitudes of our history are hands on the face of life's chronometer; they measure the hours in our short days that are gone, and intimate the few that may yet remain. (Homilist.)
2. There are common vicissitudes. The earth is a theatre of perpetual change.
1. Because they serve to unfold the preparatory character of our state.
2. Because they develop the agency of God.
3. Because they show the importance of confiding in the Immutable.
And the times that went over him
I. Note "TIMES" which make up each life. By "the times" the writer does not merely mean the succession of moments. Each life is made up of a series, not merely of successive moments, but of well-marked epochs, each of which has its own character, its own responsibilities, its own opportunities, in each of which there is some special work to be done, some grace to be cultivated, some lesson to be learned, some sacrifice to be made; and if it is let slip it never comes back any more. The old alchemists used to believe that there was what they called the "moment of projection" when, into the heaving molten mass in their crucible, if they dropped the magic powder, the whole would turn into gold; an instant later and there would be explosion and death; an instant earlier and there would be no effect. And so God's moments come to us, every one of them — a crisis.
II. THE POWER THAT MOVES THE TIMES. How dreary a thing it is if all that we have to say about life is, "The times pass over us," like the blind rush of the stream, or the movement of the sea around our coasts, eating away here, and depositing its spoils there, sometimes taking and sometimes giving, but all the work of mere aimless and purposeless chance or of natural causes. There is nothing more dismal or paralysing than the contemplation of the flow of the times over our heads, unless we see in their flow something far more than that. The passage of our epochs over us is not merely the aimless low of a stream but the movement of a current which God directs. "My times are in Thy hand."
III. HOW ELOQUENTLY THE TEXT SUGGESTS THE TRANSIENCY OF ALL THE "TIMES." They "passed over him" as the wind through an archway, that whistles and cometh not again. How blessed it is to cherish that wholesome sense of the transieney of things here below! The times roll over us, like the seas that break upon some isolated rock, and when the tide has fallen and the vain flood has subsided the rock is them. If the world helps us to God, we need not mind though it passes and the fashion thereof.
IV. THE TRANSITORY "TIMES THAT WENT OVER" ISRAEL'S KING ARE ALL RECORDED IMPERISHABLY ON THE PAGES HERE. The record, though condensed, lives for ever. It takes a thousand rose-trees to make a vial full of essence of roses. The record and issues of life will be condensed into small compass, but the essence of it is eternal. We shall find it again, and have to drink as we have brewed, when we get yonder.
(A. M Maclaren, D. D.)
I. IN INDIVIDUAL LIFE. Each one has his own times — his own part in the events which transpire as the great wheel of providence revolves. How varied a scene does life for the most part present. We are like travellers who pass now through smiling vales, and now are shut in by mountains, and look up on steep cliffs and overhanging crags. We am mariners around whom the winds are ever shifting, and often dying into calm — now they spread their salts to the breeze, now again not a breath is astir and they can scarcely feel that they advance — now yet again they have to make way against head-wind, and to tack hither and thither to make way at all — variable are the scenes of our journey or of our life's navigation. Look at David; at Paul. See the great Tasso, at one time frequenting a palace, and wooing, as was thought, princesses with his song, but ere long immured in a prison. Think of Napoleon at Erfurt when on his way to Russia, with attendant kings waiting in his ante-chamber, and of the same man a few years afterwards at St. Helena — his visions of glory all gone — thrown back wholly on the memories of the past, the caged conqueror of the nations! These are marked cases illustrative of "the times" of human life. All these things constitute an important moral exercise. This discipline of life is in wise and beneficent co-operation with the voice of conscience and the calls of the Bible. It varies the tones of the appeal by which men are summoned to duty and to God.
II. THE NATIONAL. LIFE. Here we find the same variety in the complexion of events, the same aspect of vicissitude, as in the caps of individuals. Look, for example, at Israel, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Venice, and our own country. In nature the wild play of the winds, and the drifting of the snow, and the seething of the lightning is all but part of a system. We might think that these agencies were running riot, controlled by no law, and tending to no issue but confusion and chaos. But it is not so. And in the times that go over the earth year by year, as summer pasture into autumn, and the temperature declines, and the days are shortened, and the trees are stripped of their foliage, and the discoloured leaves are seen falling to the ground, and rotting there, till there comes the rigour and the frost of winter — all, nevertheless, is not going to desolation. The failing leaves nourish the soil on which they are left to decay. Wild winds and storms, shortened days and lengthened nights, are just the discipline the earth needs, and winter becomes thus the necessary prelude to and preparation for the opening buds of spring and the fertility of summer. So it is in nature, and so it often is in the providence of God over nations and the world.
(E. T. Prust.)I. Times make a deep mark upon the BODY.
II. Equally marked is their effect u they pass over us upon our INTELLECTUAL NATURE.
III. Not less striking or important is the stamp of time upon the HISTORY OF OUR SENSIBILITIES.
IV. The most important change is the one that refers to our MORAL AND SPIRITUAL STATE.
V. OUR SOCIAL AND RELATIVE CONDITION IS SUBJECT TO THE CONSTANT VARIATIONS OF TIME.
(S. T. Spear.)
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