Who are you?' he asked. So I told him, 'I am an Amalekite.'
I. IT WAS THE END OF A LIFE WHOSE BEGINNING WAS FULL OF PROMISE. Arising from:
1. His personal qualities. Those of body - tall and commanding, fitting him in such times to be a leader of men. Those of moral nature. Character is the most powerful factor in a life; and if we see a youth of good character we hope well of him. Saul comes before us as a modest, humble, unassuming youth, diligently discharging his duty as a son, and affectionately concerned not to give pain to his father (1 Samuel 9:5, where "take thought" means "fear," "be anxious"). Still even then, judging from the silence of the narrative he was without decided piety.
2. Divine calls and gifts. Chosen of God to be king, he was anointed by Samuel, and received unmistakable signs that the prophet was the representative of God in the matter. Chosen also by lot, although some were disaffected, he was soon able to secure general acceptance by his prowess and able leadership in war; and was solemnly set apart as sovereign. Moreover, a change passed over himself which fitted him for his post. "God gave him another heart" (1 Samuel 10:9). He became also a partaker of the spirit of prophecy. (1 Samuel 10:10.)
3. Great opportunities. The career opened to Saul was one of peculiar dignity and honour. Called to be the first king of God's nation, he might have been also the father of a race of such kings, and have thus occupied no mean place in the development of God's plans for the redemption of mankind. And his immediate work, that of leading the people to victory over their heathen oppressors and clearing the land of them, and then of drawing the tribes of Israel more closely into unity and framing them into a "kingdom of God," was worthy of the highest powers and the strenuous labours of a long life.
4. Early achievements. Those, for instance, recorded in 1 Samuel 11., in which he manifested both courage and capacity, and which obtained for him the general consent of the people to his appointment.
II. IT WAS THE END OF A LIFE WHICH HAD BEEN A CONSPICUOUS FAILURE. He lost his opportunity, forfeited his throne, and deprived his family of the honour of succeeding him. He was tried, found wanting, and rejected. He had shown that he possessed some kingly qualities. Did he possess the most essential quality for the king of such a people - a king under God as supreme Monarch - that of faith in God, showing itself by ready and hearty obedience even under difficulties? It was peculiarly important that the first king should not fail in such qualities. Twice especially he was put to the proof and failed; in the first instance (1 Samuel 13.) by doing what he ought not to have done, and in the second (1 Samuel 15.) by leaving undone what he ought to have done. Twice his doom was pronounced by Samuel, who then sorrowfully retired, and left him to his own self-will and certain fate. But though he thus failed in securing the great prize set before him, he had space and opportunity for repentance and its fruits. He became after a time aware who was to secure the honour which he had forfeited, and had he been humbled in spirit and penitent, he might have shown by his conduct to David that he acquiesced in the Divine will, and was prepared to be a coworker with God in its accomplishment. He might have cherished the spirit of John the Baptist, and said with resignation, if not joy, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Instead of this he cherished envy, which ripened into hatred, and would have culminated in murder but for the special providence which guarded David's life. Baffled in his repeated attempts on his life, he sought to kill his own son, because he pleaded for David; and actually slew eighty-five priests, their wives, children, and cattle, because one of them had shown kindness to David, in ignorance of the real state of affairs. Meanwhile David acted towards him with the utmost forbearance, sparing him when once and again he could easily have taken his life; the subsequent knowledge of which softened the king, but only for a little while. Yet he was not without some zeal for the Law of God, and, besides his sacrificial offerings, "had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land" (1 Samuel 28:3). In the extremity, however, of his distress and perplexity, he sought the help of a woman that had a familiar spirit, but only to have his doom once more pronounced.
III. IT WAS THE END OF A LIFE IN WHICH THE DISPLEASURE OF GOD HAD BEEN MADE SIGNALLY MANIFEST.
1. By the sentences of rejection pronounced upon Saul by Samuel. (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:23.)
2. By the sorrowful abandonment of him by Samuel. (1 Samuel 15:35.)
3. By the departure of the Spirit of the Lord from him, and the entrance into him of "an evil spirit from the Lord." The Spirit which had fitted him for the discharge of his duties forsook him, and an evil spirit troubled him - an habitual melancholy, most likely, and depression. He felt he was not the same man. He was continually haunted with the sense of his being condemned and rejected, of the inevitableness of his fate, the certainty that, however long he might continue sovereign, he could not transmit the dignity to his son. And this gloom sometimes passed over into frenzy. He was, as we should say, subject to fits of insanity. This, doubtless, furnishes some excuse for the madness of his conduct.
4. By the refusal of God to answer his prayers in the depth of his distress. (1 Samuel 28:6.) That had come upon him which is described in Proverbs 1:24-31.
5. By his miserable end. Nothing, surely, can be more affecting than the circumstances of his death, as recorded in 1 Samuel 31:3-6, supplemented by our text.
1. Every man has a Divine mission. Not only kings and great men. God has assigned us our pest, and expects us to fill it as under him. In doing so he gives the opportunity of great distinction and honour, even the attainment of an everlasting crown of glory.
2. Habitual regard to the Divine will is essential to the fulfilment of our mission. And how shall we ascertain it? We have no inspired Samuel by our side. But we have a greater than he, even the Lord Jesus Christ - the Word he has given us, the Spirit he bestows, the principles of godliness, holiness, and love which he implants. We need not seriously err.
3. Disobedience will be surely followed by punishment.
4. One serious failure in obedience to God may blight and ruin the whole life.
5. Persistent rebellion issues in utter rejection of God. And the final doom may be foreshadowed by the withdrawment of God's Spirit, and entire abandonment to the spirit of evil.
6. Let not the young trust to their good moral qualities. Let them seek at once through Christ that change of heart which will turn their virtues into holiness, render them loving and loyal to God, and ensure for them his favour now and evermore. - G.W.
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan.
(H. O. Mackey.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
The Study.I. THE LOVE OF JONATHAN TO DAVID WAS WONDERFUL IN ITS CONDESCENSION, If we take into account the state of society at the time, the difference between a prince and a shepherd was not so great as it now appears. But still the social difference was great. The heir to the throne of Israel loved the shepherd lad.
II. THIS LOVE WAS WONDERFUL IN ITS DEPTH AND INTENSITY. Jonathan "loved him as his own soul" (1 Samuel 18:1). The love of Christ is in the same respect wonderful. His love is no feeble flame. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." His soul is indeed "knit" to us so closely that "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ."
III. THIS LOVE WAS WONDERFUL IN ITS UNSELFISHNESS. Had Jonathan been of less nobler mould, he might have felt envious when David's deed of valour brought him into such notice in the camp. But Jonathan's generous nature knew nothing of such feelings. If they rose for a moment, they were strangled in their birth. Jonathan could expect to reap no advantage from his friendship. So with Christ's love to us. We are eternally enriched by His love gifts, and can make but poor return. We give Him, it is true, our love, our service, our devotion, but what at best are these returns for His great love ,to us?
IV. THIS LOVE WAS WONDERFULLY PRACTICAL. True love ever seeks to utter itself in action, rather than words. It finds in loving deeds its fittest expression.
1. This practicalness was seen in Jonathan taking his own robe and putting it on David, so that he was clothed in princely attire. Has not Christ ,clothed us with His own raiment? We become beautiful in His comeliness.
2. In the promise he made him (See 1 Samuel 20:4). Christ has made to us exceeding great and precious promises, even to a share of His glory, His eternal glory.
3. In pleading with his father on David's behalf. The result of this pleading was David's restoration to favour at court. There is, however, this difference. In this case Jonathan pleads David's merit; but Christ pleads not ours, but His own.
4. Jonathan revealed to David his father's thoughts concerning him. Saul proposed to slay him. Jonathan makes this known (See 1 Samuel 20:35). Jesus has unbosomed to us the father. He has made known to us His purpose of mercy. Jonathan's was a warning voice, bidding David flee, but Christ's is a voice of love, bidding us to return to the bosom of God.
V. THE LOVE OF JONATHAN WAS WONDERFULLY CONSTANT. No change in David's circumstances altered the character of his friendship. When David was an outlaw, when Saul was seeking his life, Jonathan remains true (See 1 Samuel 23:16). Whatever changes human friendship may know, the love of Jesus, like Himself, is the same "yesterday, to-day, and for ever."
I. THE LOVE OF CHRIST WAS WONDERFUL WHEN WE CONSIDER THOSE HE LOVED.
1. There was nothing lovely in us. It is as natural for anything lovely to draw forth our admiration as for the magnet to attract the iron or the flower to attract the bee. There was great reason why Jonathan should love David. But when we come to consider our Lord's love for us, we have to say —
What was there in me that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?It is recorded that a minister once announced his intention of being in the vestry of his Church, for a certain time on a certain day, to meet any one who might have scriptural difficulties, that he might try to solve them. Only one came. "What is your difficulty," said the minister. The man answered, "My difficulty is in the ninth chapter of Romans, where it says, 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.' "Yes," said the minister, "there is great difficulty in that verse; but which part of the verse forms your difficulty?" "The latter part, of course," said the man. "I cannot understand why God should hate Esau." The minister's reply was this: "The verse has often been a difficulty to me, but my difficulty has always been in the first part of the verse; I never could understand how God could love that wily, deceitful, supplanting scoundrel, Jacob."
2. There was nothing loving in us. — We haw a familiar saying, that "love begets love." And it is very largely true in daily experience. "Why is it that everybody loves you?" said Dr. Doddridge to his little daughter when she was dying. "I do not know, without it is because I love everybody." Many a one who could not aspire to be called beautiful, nevertheless has become greatly loved because of an affectionate, loving disposition they possess. But this is not the key that unlocks the mystery of Christ's love to us. No love of ours drew it forth. If we love Him at all, it is because lie first loved us. "Come, bright spirit, I charter you to find for us when first Christ's love began." Away into the past speeds our messenger. He lingers at the cross. "Pause not there," we say, "He loved us before that." He waits a moment at the manger cradle. "We know that His coming was a great sign of love, but it began not then." He flies on to the days of creation, and seeing the loving provision made for us he pauses yet again. Yet His love began not then. On flies the spirit into the dim recesses of eternity, when as yet there was no creation, when God was wrapped about in His own solitude, even there he finds God loved us. The task is given up, for he finds from all eternity God loved His people. We are stricken dumb at the greatness of such love. Its nature is indeed a marvel to us. Nothing lovely and nothing loving in us, and yet He loved us. Again let us give utterance to our text, and say, "Thy love to me is wonderful."
II. THE LOVE OF CHRIST IS WONDERFUL IN ITS EXPRESSION.
1. Calvary. The greater expression of the love of Christ is seen in Calvary. A tragedy in the street will always attract a crowd. Business men will spare a moment to make inquiries, frail women will venture in the throng to hear of the deed, and even the infirm and aged cannot be kept away. There was once a tragedy which stopped the flight of angels as well as the flight of men. A cross is lifted up, bearing its load of shame and pain. Who is He? How came He there? He is the Son of God! Love brought Him there. Thinkest thou it was the nails, the cords, that Roman soldiery kept Him there? It was none of these, it was love! Jesus our love was crucified. Here was love passing what tongue can tell, or mind imagine, or heart conceive. His love to us was wonderful.
2. We still have expressions of His love. It was the misfortune of David that he had to speak in the past tense — "Thy love to me us was wonderful."
III. THE, LOVE OF CHRIST IS WONDERFUL IN ITS POWER.
1. There is its melting power:, We feel confident there is more power in love than in fear. Fear is a power, but love is a greater power. Some may have been driven into the kingdom by fear, but more have been wooed into it by love. It is said that when the Moravian missionaries first laboured in Greenland a considerable time passed without any fruit being seen to their labour. They had been earnest, truthful, consecrated, and yet there was no result. Anon they gathered the Greenlanders together and read the story of the Lord's death as recorded by Matthew. The bare recital of the story without any comments upon it had a marked effect upon the Greenlanders. Tears were in many eyes. Some said, "Did He die for me?" Many gave themselves to the Lord, and thus commenced a great revival in those regions. The love of Christ is wonderful when we remember its melting power.
2. Think, too, of its constraining power. It bends the saint to the will of Christ. "The love of Christ constraineth me." The word "constrain" is a strong word, meaning to press, to press painfully. It is used by Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is translated, "being pressed in spirit." That well-known text, "I have a baptism to be baptised with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" contains this same word, translated "straitened." The love of Christ is a great power. It restrains our life from useless aims, and compresses it into the right channel. There is a beautiful Greek story, which may be mythical in its origin, but bears in it a beautiful moral. It is said a prince, his wife, and two sons were taken prisoners by a neighbouring monarch, and were brought before him. Said the king to the prince, "If I let your eider son go free, what givest thou me?" And the prince made answer, saying, "I will give thee half my possessions." "And if I let your younger son go free what givest thou me?" And the prince answered, "I will give thee the other half of my domains." The monarch spoke again, saying, "If I let the princess go free, what wilt thou give me?" Now the prince had given all away for the redemption of his sons, and knew not what answer to make; but anon he said, "If thou lettest my wife go free, I will give thee myself." So pleased was the monarch that he let them all free. As they went homeward the prince said to his consort, "Didst thou see the beauty of the king's countenance?" "Nay," said the princess. "Didst thou see the glory of his court?" "Nay," again said the princess. "Didst thou see the splendour of his throne?" "Nay," again replied his wife, "for I had only eyes to see him who was willing to give himself for me." Oh, my soul, Jesus was net only willing but did give Himself for thee. Have only eyes for Him. The realisation of His love will be a power in thy life. No command of his will be grievous. His love will prove to be wonderful in its constraining power.
3. Christ's love has also a translating power. There seem to be many persons, even good persons, who all their life are held in bondage by the fear of death. The only reason why this is so is that they must fail to understand the power of the love of Christ. What is death? It is the journey home. "To be with Christ" is how the apostle described the result of death. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." Now, if you really love a person, and realise deeply the love of that one to you, you long to get to them, and no journey, however inconvenient and distressful, would make you hesitate or shrink. You would be glad to go. Apply this to Christ and death.
(W. L. Mackenzie.)I. JONATHAN'S LOVE TO DAVID.
1. Jonathan's was a singular love, because of the pureness of its origin. Jonathan loved David out of great admiration of him. When he saw him come back with the head of Goliath in his hand, he loved him as a soldier loves a soldier, as a brave man loves another brave man.
2. Jonathan's love proved also to be most intense. It is said that "he loved him as his own soul." He would at any moment have sacrificed his life to preserve the life of David; in fact, I do not doubt that Jonathan thought David's life much more valuable than his own, and that he was quite willing to expose himself to peril that David might be preserved. Jonathan's was a very intense love.
3. Jonathan's love was very disinterested. David had been anointed king by Samuel. The kingdom was to be taken from the house of Saul, and given to the house of David. That friendship, in which a man can set himself on one side for the sake of another, is not yet so common that we can hawk it in the streets.
4. Jonathan's love was a love which bore up under all opposition.
5. And this love was very active, for you know how he pleaded for David with his father. He went out into the field, and took counsel with David. He arranged plans and methods for David's preservation; and, on one occasion, we find that he "went to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God." Yes, his love was not a matter of mere talk, it was real, practical, active; it was a love which never failed.
II. THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO ME. "Thy love to me was wonderful."
1. I think that we feel this most when we see our Saviour die. Sit down at the foot of the cross, and look up. Behold that sacred brow with the thorny wreath upon it. See those blessed eyes, red with weeping; mark those nailed hands, that once scattered benedictions; gaze on those bleeding feet, which hurried on errands of mercy; watch till you can peer into that gaping side, how deep the gash, how wide the breach, see how the water and the blood come streaming forth! This is the Lord of life and glory, who this dies amid derision and scorn, suffering the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
2. I think, also, that we sometimes feel the greatest love to dear friends when we find others doing them despite. When David found that Jonathan's body had been dishonoured by the Philistines, that they had taken away the bodies of King Saul and his sons to hang them on the wall of Beth-shan, then was he sorely troubled, and his love broke forth again in sighs, and cries, and tears. And I must say to-night that I love my Lord all the more because of the insults others heap upon him.
3. Now let me briefly tell the story of that love. Part of its wonder lies in the object of this love, that it should be bestowed upon me: "Thy love to me." Then throw the emphasis on the first word, "Thy love to me," and you have another part of the wonder, that is, in the Giver of this love. Now begin, if you can, to consider the commencement of this love. When did God begin to love His own elect? There was a time when He began to make the worlds; but from eternity He has loved His chosen. Before the first flash of light illumined the primeval darkness God loved His people. Christ's love, then, is wonderful in its beginning; and when it began to work on me it was still wonderful, for what did I do? I refused it. And when Christ's love led Him to come here, and take our nature, was it not wonderful? He reigned enthroned in heaven; seraphim and cherubim gladly did his bidding. He was God, and yet he came down from yonder royal palace to that stable at Bethlehem, and to the manger where the horned oxen fed. 'Tis He! 'Tis He! But as George Herbert reminds us, He hath unrobed Himself, and hung His azure mantle on the sky, and all his rings upon the stars; and there He lies, a babe in swaddling bands, taking human nature into union with His divinity because He loved us. The brotherly and condescending character of this love. Times have been when we, who love Christ's name, have been in trouble, and He has been very near to us. Times have been when we have been misrepresented, and abused, and He has smiled, oh, so sweetly on us! Times have been when bodily pain has made us very faint, and He has put underneath us the everlasting arms. Think, also, of the comforting and thoughtful provisions of Christ's love. Our lives are not all to our credit; there have been sad moments, when unbelief has crept in on the back of thoughtlessness, and you have been almost a sceptic. There have been evil moments when sin has insinuated itself into the imagination, and you have almost done that which would have been your ruin. Have there not been times in your life when you have been smitten, and if there had not been some One to uphold you, you would have fallen, almost unconsciously fallen, and there have lain down to die? But, oh, how Jesus has watched over you, and cared for you! But the love of Christ to us is most of all wonderful in its plans for the future.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO US IS WONDERFUL, BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING IN US LOVELY. In the spangled sky, the rainbow, the woodland hung with diamonds, the sward sown with pearly dew, the rosy dawn, the golden clouds of even, the purple mountains, the hoary rock, the blue boundless main, Nature's simplest flower, or some fair form of laughing child or lovely maiden, we cannot see the beautiful without admiring it. That is one law of our nature. Another is that so far as earthly objects are concerned, and apart from the beauty of holiness, we cannot help loving what is lovely, and regarding it with affection. Our affections are drawn to an object as naturally as iron is charmed by a loadstone. God made us to love; and when brought near to such an object our feelings entwine themselves around it, as the soft and pliant tendrils of the vine do around the support it clothes with leaves, and hangs with purple clusters. Such analogy is there between the laws of mind and matter! Without detracting from Jonathan's merits, it must be owned that, however wonderful the love was which He bestowed on David, it was not bestowed on an unworthy object. One brave man loves another. In the old days of chivalry, men honoured courage in their enemies; loving and admiring bravery even when it was in arms against them. We turn now from them to Jesus and ourselves; and what do we find in man to win the love of Calvary? It is not enough to say that there was nothing lovely in us; that, as a holy God, God saw nothing in us to love. Sin, that abominable thing which He hates, the seed and germ of all evils, a thing so hateful that it is said, "He cannot look" on it, had so pervaded the nature of every individual man, and the whole race of men, that it necessitated God to abhor His own creatures. Look at a corpse! purred, bloated, infecting all the air; every feature of humanity shockingly defaced; the bright eye; the damask cheek; the sweet lips; the lovely form changed into vilest loathesomeness; a banquet to worms which, as they creep out and creep in, give a horrible life to death! Were the dearest, fondest object of our affections reduced to a state like that, how would we throw it, shuddering, from our embraces; regard it with the utmost horror; and turning away our eyes, call in pity for a grave to bury our dead. This may teach us how sin makes those whom God once loved with Divine affection abhorrent in His sight. Historians relate how, with all her baseness, her duplicity, her cruelty, her bloody bigotry, the passions and crimes that have left an indelible stain on her memory, Queen Mary had much queenly grace. So perfect was her form, her face so beautiful, her smile so winning, that it was only men cast in the stern mould of Knox that could resist their witchery. And to advert to better attractions than the beauty which is consumed before the moth, I have seen some who, with not a little calculated to repel, possessed in moral and mental excellencies, some loveable, compensating, and redeeming properties. But, in the sight of God's infinite and unspotted holiness, sin left us none. If it be true of all mankind that they are altogether become filthy; true that there is none that doeth good, no, not one; true that "every imagination of man's heart is evil continually;" true that we may all adopt the words of the Apostle, and say, I know that in me, that is in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing — then sin left us with nothing to engage, but everything to repel, the affections of a holy Saviour.
II. THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO US IS WONDERFUL, BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING IN US LOVING. We love what loves us. Such is the law of our nature; and love comes in time to see its own face reflected in the heart of another, as in water at the bottom of a draw-well. We cannot resist loving what loves us; it matters not who or what it is; though but the dog that barks, and bounds, and wheels in joyous circles around us on our return — "the first to welcome and foremost to defend." I would hold his friendship cheap who did not love a dog that loved him; and care little for the child that would not drop some tears on the grave of his humble but faithful playmate — or, to borrow a figure from Bible story, of the "little ewe lamb which the poor man nourished, which ate of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was to him as a little daughter." Let a poor dumb creature love us, we are drawn to love it in return, by a law of nature as irresistible and Divine as that which draws a stone to the ground, or makes the stream flow onward to the sea. Whatever secrets this key unlocks; whatever strange and singular marriages it may explain, it does not open the mysteries of Calvary; it does not explain the love of Christ. I have, indeed, seen some that had abandoned themselves to a life of vice who still respected virtue, and look back with remorseful regret to their days of childhood and the innocence of a father's home. I have seen a profligate son, who, though wringing a pious mother's heart and bringing her grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, yet loved her; mourning his own failings, he returned her affection; yielding to sin, still he clung to his mother as a drowning wretch to a piece of the wreck which he hopes may float him to the shore. Now, if our love of goodness had survived the loss of it; if we had retained any love to God after we had lost his image; if we had cast back some lingering looks on Eden; and, like Absalom, who felt pained at being two whole years in Jerusalem without being admitted into his father's presence, if we had been grieved at God's displeasure, then, with such goodly vestiges of primeval innocence, Christ's love to us would not have been so wonderful. But there were no such feelings in man to awaken the love of Christ.
III. THIS LOVE IS WONDERFUL IN ITS EXPRESSION. A sight is here that might have stayed an angel's wing; and filled both heaven and earth with wonder. Who is this? Hear, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! By the cross where He dies, the ear of faith catches the voice of the Eternal: "This is my beloved Son." He there, who is buffeted by cruel hands, and meekly bears the blows; who faints from loss of blood, and sinks beneath his cross; who hangs upon the tree, while the blood streams from his hands and feet; whose dying ear is tilled, not with holy prayers and psalms, but with the shouts and mockery of an impious crew; He, hanging mangled and lifeless on the middle cross, with head dropped on his breast, the pallor of death spread over His cheek, the seal of death on His lips, the film of death on His eyes, is the Son of God. The Prince of life has become the prey of death; at once its noblest victim and its almighty conqueror. How did it happen? One word conveys the answer — that word is Love; love to sinners, to the greatest, guiltiest sinners. Love brought him from the skies; love shut Him up in Mary's womb; love shut Him up in Joseph's tomb; love wove the cords that bound His hands; love forged the nails that fastened Him to the tree; love wept in His tears, breathed in His sighs, spake in His groans, flowed in His blood, and died upon His cross.
I. JONATHAN WAS THE MODEL OF — A LOVING — FRIEND. A friend is good for nothing unless he really loves us. And the better he loves us, the more his friendship is worth. Let us look at some illustrations of what loving friends will be, and do. A boy in a town in Germany was playing one day with his sister, when the cry was heard — "A mad dog! a mad dog!" The boy saw the dog coming directly towards him; but instead of running away, he took off his coat, and wrapping it round his arm, boldly faced the dog, holding out his arm covered with the coat. The dog flew at his arm, worrying over it, and trying to bite through it, till men came up and killed him. "Why didn't you run away from the dog, my little man?" asked one of the men. "I could easily have done that," said the brave boy, "but if I had the dog would have bitten my sister." He was truly a loving friend and brother. There is a well-known story of two men, who lived about four hundred years before the birth of Christ, that comes in very nicely here. Their names were Damon and Pythias. They were educated men, and what were called — philosophers — in those days, and were very warm friends. Some one accused Damon to Dionysius, the king of the country, of doing something that made him very angry. Kings, in those days, had the power of life and death in their own hands. So Dionysius ordered Damon to be put to death. Before this sentence was executed, Damon begged to be allowed to go home 'and arrange the affairs of his family. The king said he might go, if he could get some one to take his place in prison, and to die for him, if he did not come back by the time fixed for the execution. As soon as his friend Pythias heard of this, he came and offered to take his place. He was put in prison, and Damon went to visit his family. The day fixed for the execution arrived, and Damon had not returned. He had to cross the sea to get back, and the wind had been ahead for several days. A platform had been erected, on which the execution was to take place, and the king sat by, on a sort of throne. Pythias was brought out for execution. He asked permission to say a few words to the crowd of spectators. Permission was granted. "My countrymen," said he, "this is a happy day for me. I am not only willing, but glad to die in the place of my friend Damon. I am thankful that the wind has kept him back. He will be here to-morrow. And it wilt be found that he has done nothing wrong. He is an honest, upright, honourable man, and I am glad of the opportunity to shed my blood in order to save his life. Executioner, do your duty." Just as he had finished speaking, a voice was heard in the distance crying — "Stop the execution!" The crowd around the scaffold took up the cry, and exclaimed, in a voice of thunder — "Stop the execution!" The execution was stopped. Presently, panting, and out of breath, Damon appeared. He mounted the scaffold. He embraced his friend Pythias; and said how happy he was that a change of wind had allowed him to get there just in time to save his life. "And now," said he, "I am ready to die." "If I may not die for you," said Pythias, "I ask the king to let me die with you; for I have no wish to live any longer in this world, when my friend Damon, whom I have loved so truly, is taken out of it." I have one other story to illustrate this part of our subject. A teacher in a day-school had to punish one of his scholars for breaking the rule of the school. The punishment was that the offending boy should stand, for a quarter of an hour, in a corner of the schoolroom. As the guilty boy was going to the appointed place, a little fellow, much younger than he, went up to the teacher, and requested that he might be allowed to bake the place of the other boy. The teacher consented. The little boy went, and bore the punishment due to the other boy. When the quarter of an hour was passed, the teacher called the boy to him, and asked if his companion had begged him to take his place. "No, sir," he replied. "Well, don't you think that he deserved to be punished?" "Yes, sir; he had broken the rule of the school, and he deserved to be punished." "Why, then, did you want to bear the punishment in his place?" "Sir, it was because he is my friend, and I love him."
II. JONATHAN WAS THE MODEL OF — A GENEROUS — FRIEND. Let us look at some illustrations of this same kind of friendship. In one of the battles in Virginia, during the late war, a Union officer fell, severely wounded, in front of the Confederate breast-works. He lay there crying piteously for water, A noble-hearted Confederate soldier heard his cry, and resolved to relieve him. He filled his canteen with water, and though the bullets were flying across the field, and he could only go at the risk of his life, yet he went. He gave the suffering officer the drink he so greatly needed. This touched his heart so much that he instantly took out his gold watch and offered it to his generous foe. But the noble fellow refused to take it. "Then give me your name and residence," said the officer. "My name," said the soldier, "is James Moore, of Burke County, North Carolina." Then they parted. That soldier was subsequently wounded, and lost a limb. In due time the war was over, and that wounded officer went back to his business as a merchant, in New York. And not long after, that Confederate soldier received a letter from the officer, to whom he had given the "cup of cold water," telling him that he had settled on him USD10,000, to be paid in four annual instalments of USD2,500 each. USD10,000 for a drink of water! That was noble on the part of the Union officer. But to give that drink of water at the risk of his own life was still more noble on the part of that brave soldier. I never think of it without feeling inclined to take off my cap and give a rousing "Hurrah!" for that noble Confederate soldier. Thomas Samson was a miner, and he worked very hard every day for a living. The overseer of the mine said to him one day: "Thomas, I've got an easier berth for you, where there is not so much work to do, and where you can get better wages. Will you accept it?" Most men would have jumped at such an offer, and would have taken it in a moment. But what did this noble fellow do? He said to the overseer: "Captain, there's our poor brother Tregony: he has a sickly body, and is not able to work as hard as I can. I am afraid his work will shorten his life, and then what will his poor family do? Won't you let him have this easier berth? I can go on working as I have done." The overseer was wonderfully pleased with Samson's generous spirit. He sent for Tregony, and gave the easy berth to him. How noble that was! It was indeed the very spirit of Christ. Now, all the four stories we have here show the same generous spirit that Jonathan had in his friendship with David. He was the model of a generous friend.
III. JONATHAN WAS THE MODEL OF — A FAITHFUL — FRIEND.
(R. Newton, D. D.)
Christian Endeavour Times.May heaven give us such generous friendship as this ! A star that breaks the darkest clouds of earth and that will shine on us for ever. True friendship is immortal. "The friendship," says Robert Hall, "of high and sanctified spirits loses nothing by death but its alloy; failings disappear, and the virtues of those whose faces we shall behold no more appear greater and more sacred when beheld through the shades of the sepulchre."
(Christian Endeavour Times.)
Great Thoughts.Getting along well with another is a small matter. There is no friendship in that. Decent enemies can get on with each other, when there is no particular occasion for conflict or variance. But friendship makes both friends gladder, happier, more efficient in very sphere, together than apart. As Thoreau said, "Friends should not only live in harmony, but in melody."
(Great Thoughts.)Luther and Melancthon: — With such feelings did Luther and Melancthon meet; and their friendship continued till death. We cannot sufficiently admire the goodness and wisdom of God in bringing together two men so different, and yet so necessary to each other. Melancthon was as remarkable for calmness, prudence, and gentleness, as Luther was for wisdom, impetuosity, and energy. Luther communicated vigour to Melancthon; Melancthon moderated Luther. They were like positive and negative agents in electricity, by whose reciprocal action an equilibrium is maintained. If Melancthon had not been at Luther's side, the torrent might have overflowed its banks. When Luther was not by, Melancthon faltered and gave way, even where he ought not. Luther did much by power; Melancthon did no less, perhaps by following a slower and gentler method. Both were upright, open-hearted, and generous: both, full of love for the word of eternal life, proclaimed it with a fidelity and devotion which governed their whole lives.
(Alex. Whyte, D. D.)
Passing the love of women.
(H. J. W. Buxton.)
(Richard Newton, D. D.).
PeopleAmalekites, David, Jasher, Jonathan, Saul
PlacesAshkelon, Gath, Gilboa, Mount Gilboa, Ziklag
Outline1. The Amalekite who accused himself of Saul's death is slain
17. David laments Saul and Jonathan with a song
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 1:1-10
LibraryThe History of the Psalter
[Sidenote: Nature of the Psalter] Corresponding to the book of Proverbs, itself a select library containing Israel's best gnomic literature, is the Psalter, the compendium of the nation's lyrical songs and hymns and prayers. It is the record of the soul experiences of the race. Its language is that of the heart, and its thoughts of common interest to worshipful humanity. It reflects almost every phase of religious feeling: penitence, doubt, remorse, confession, fear, faith, hope, adoration, and …
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament
The Christ Crowned, the Fact
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