And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest until the rain from heaven poured down on the bodies, she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
In the days of David, King of Israel, there prevailed a famine which lasted three years. On inquiring of the Lord the cause, David received for answer that it was "because of Saul and his bloody house." Already is one striking lesson to be derived from the history. We learn, not only that the weather is in the hands of God, — Rain and sunshine, "wind and storm, fulfilling His word"; but also, that one of the causes which influence Him in sending the weather which produces abundance, or which occasions famine, is the conduct of the people. Now the crime of Saul was this. Whereas Joshua and the men of Israel on first coming into Canaan had entered into a solemn covenant with the Gibeonites that they would do them no injury, but suffer them to dwell on unmolested, Saul had sought to slay them. That ancient oath and covenant of the people of the land, — made upwards of four hundred years before, — Saul, the unscrupulous, irreligious Captain of the Lord's people, had. broken; and three years of famine were the penalty, inflicted on all Israel for the sin of their ruler. Money they spurned. They would have the lives of seven of Saul's sons. Accordingly, seven men were surrendered, and "hanged in the hill before the Lord." Two mothers here come to view, — Rizpah and Michal. Of the latter, little is related: but we are guided to a very solemn warning to be derived from this seemingly casual mention of her name. Saul's daughter had loved David when she knew him as the warlike and victorious captain; but despised him when she beheld him as the religious King, transported with holy joy at the recovery and return of the Ark of God. Michal proved childless: but she is found from this place of Scripture to have adopted five of her sister's children and made them hers. Yet, mark you! Those five children are taken from her to complete the number required to make atonement for her father's sin; and she remains childless until the day of her death. Very different is the character of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, — who becomes for evermore a pattern to mankind in respect of piety towards the dead. The sackcloth which she is said to have taken and spread upon the rock, was a token of her mourning, as well as an emblem of her grief. What is of more importance, is the hint afforded us of Rizpah's piety towards God no less than towards man, contained in those words, — "until water dropped upon them out of Heaven." "Cursed" (says the Law,) "is every one that hangeth upon a tree": and here were seven men appointed to sustain the curse which rested upon the land, and to make atonement for the sin of Saul and of his bloody house. So long as the famine (occasioned by the want of rain) lasted, so long was it to be thought that the wrath of God rested upon the people, and the atonement remained unaccepted by the injured majesty of Heaven. The poor mother watched, therefore, in sackcloth, upon the hard rock; "until water dropped upon them out of Heaven": and Rizpah enjoyed the blessed assurance that the Lord was pacified, and that His wrath had indeed passed away! Only one circumstance more requires to be mentioned. "It was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul had done." David beholds in Rizpah's conduct a lesson to himself; and he proceeds at once to copy the example of piety which that sorrowful bereaved mother has set him. He bethinks him of the bones of Saul and of Jonathan his son which are still lying dishonoured at Jabesh-gilead; sends for them; causes the bones of the seven sons who had been hanged at Gibeah to be gathered also; and honourably buries them. So true is it that no one lives to himself; but the effect of good example spreads, and (as in the case before us) a weak woman's example becomes a model for the imitation of the monarch on the throne! We never know, we cannot possibly tell the remote consequences of our acts for good or for evil. We cannot even pretend to describe their present influence, and the results which they may immediately occasion.
This verse is part of a narrative full of difficulty and darkness. It stands out a bright light in the midst of the darkness - a grand exhibition of a mother's love.
I. A MOTHER'S LOVE IS MUCH TRIED. Not often as Rizpah's was; but always in some way or other; as:
1. By the conduct of her children.
2. By the conduct of others towards them.
3. By their troubles.
4. By their deaths;
especially when untimely or by violence; and most of all when their untimely or violent deaths are the penalty of their misconduct, which was, however, not the case with the sons of Rizpah.
II. IT OCCASIONS HER MUCH SORROW. Love, in this world, always brings grief, through making the sorrows of others our own, as well as rendering us sensitive to their treatment of ourselves. The more deep and tender the love, so much the more poignant the grief. And, as a mother loves most, she is most susceptible of sorrow. She is often pained by her children when they do not think it; and every stroke inflicted on them strikes her to the heart.
III. IT IS UTTERLY UNSELFISH. She loves because it is her nature - freely, spontaneously, making no calculation, asking for no return. Not without hope, indeed, that she may one day be rewarded by her children's welfare and affection; but far from regulating her love by this: rather she lavishes it most on those from whom she cannot expect recompense - the weakest, the most sickly, those most likely to die; yea, as Rizpah, those who are dead. "Death might bereave her of them, not them of her love" (Bishop Hall).
IV. IT IS MOST SELF-DENYING. Prompting to and sustaining in arduous labours, long and wearisome watchings, self-inflicted privations, for the good of her children. For the sake of their health, she willingly hazards, and even sacrifices, her own. For the sake of their education and advancement, she cheerfully gives up, not only luxuries, but comforts, and even necessaries. And when they have gone beyond her reach into the unseen world, their mortal remains are dear to her, and she will spare nothing that may honour them or prevent dishonour to them. Of such affection Rizpah is a signal instance.
V. IT IS MOST PERSISTENT. Through six months Rizpah continued watching day and night (with the aid, doubtless, of her servants) by the crosses on which the bodies of her sons and other relatives hung, that neither vulture, nor jackal, nor any other "bird of the air" or "beast of the field" might devour, or mangle, or even "rest on" them, until she had gained her point in their honourable burial. A striking example of the persistence of a mother's love. But this was only the crowning proof of her affection. A mother's love is lifelong. "A mother's truth keeps constant youth." It endures through years of toil, hardship, and suffering; when feebly responded to, or quite unappreciated, or requited by neglect, hardness, or cruel wrong. When son or daughter is utterly debased and degraded, the mother clings and hopes; when cast off by all the world, she does not abandon them.
"Years to a mother bring distress,
But do not make her love the less."
VI. IT IS SOMETIMES BROUGHT INTO NOTICE AND HONOURED. Thus it was with Rizpah. What she had done was reported to the king; it aroused his attention to his neglect to give honourable burial, in the family sepulchre, to the bones of Saul and Jonathan. He now repaired the neglect, and buried, not only them, but (as is implied) the remains of the seven which had so long been hanging exposed, "in the sepulchre of Kish his (Saul's) father." Thus a mother's love, in this case, exercised a powerful beneficial influence. Moreover, it received honourable mention in the holy records, and wherever the Bible comes, "there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her" (Matthew 26:13). And although usually the light of a mother's love shines chiefly in the privacy of home, and she neither asks nor expects applause or record, it is impossible that she can act a noble part without exercising an influence for good which may widen and ramify far more than she could have imagined, and may secure her an honour she never desired. And if no others, "her children arise up, and call her blessed" (Proverbs 31:28), and tell of her character and works to their children. In conclusion:
1. If human love be so deep and strong, what must be the love of God, from whom it springs, and of which it is one great sign and proof? All the love of all parents, of all human beings, flows from this original Fountain. The Fountain is greater than the streams.
2. Mothers should seek to have their love perfected, by being sanctified and elevated by the love of God, and directed supremely to the ends which he seeks - the moral, spiritual, and eternal welfare of their children. With this view, they should watch carefully their living children (as Rizpah her dead ones), and especially whilst they are young, that they may not be defiled or injured by foul bird or beast.
3. How strong and constant should be the love of children for their mothers! Prompting them to all that would gratify and honour them and promote their happiness; to self-denial and self-sacrifice for their good, should they live to need the help of their children; and to patience and forbearance towards them, should they, under the infirmities of old age, make demands on these virtues. "Despise not thy mother when she is old" (Proverbs 23:22).
4. How base the conduct of many children (especially of many sons) to their mothers! Selfishly wasting their resources, imposing on their credulity, abusing their indulgence, disgracing their name, breaking their hearts. "A foolish [wicked] son is the heaviness of his mother" (Proverbs 10:1). - G.W.
And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth.
We may generally see the cause of any suffering if we only go far enough. David began to enquire, and found out the cause. The demand of the Gibeonites was in harmony only with that crude, cruel, harsh age. They demanded that the survivors of Saul's race should be handed over to them, that they might do that which they thought would appease outraged law. Some have supposed that David was glad of the opportunity of getting rid — after an Eastern fashion — of possible rivals to the throne; but this could not have been his motive, or he would not otherwise have spared the one who was the only direct and lineal descendant, Mephibosheth, the eldest son of the deceased heir apparent, Jonathan. If all forsake those who hang as accursed, Rizpah will not. She cannot hinder the seizure of her sons and relatives, but she can watch that no further dishonour shall be done to their bodies. She takes sackcloth, spreads it to shield her by day and to rest on at night. Stifled by the heat, and chilled by the cold night air, she remains near to those sun-scorched, haggard, weird, blackened, dishonoured bodies, watching to save them from further ignominy.
I. We may gaze with admiring wonder at A WOMAN'S FAITHFULNESS, LOVE, AND PATIENCE. What faith I She believed that sooner or later God would be entreated for the land, and that when the rains came it would show that guilt had been appeased, and that her dear ones might at least have honourable burial. She believed that they hung there, not for their own sin, but for the sin of others, and, therefore, she does not forsake them. It is so easy to turn .our back on those whom the world forsakes. Rizpah would not believe her sons were wrong. How like a woman! They are always slowest to believe wrong, and always readiest to bear the heaviest burdens for those they love. And what a burden, to watch through all those slowly passing weeks.
II. THE SORROWS THAT ARE SILENTLY ENDURED. In thousands of homes every day, there are wives and sisters and daughters who are watching as assiduously, either by the bedside of loved sufferers, or mourning at their death, as Rizpah on the rock of Gibeah. How many there are out of whose lives all that is bright is gone, because one to whom they gave their heart's best devotion is lying pulseless, in the blank stare of death.
III. THE BITTEREST TRIALS OF LIFE COME THROUGH THE WRONGDOINGS OF OTHERS. Rizpah had nothing to do with Saul's sin, and yet, she had to bear some of the fearful consequences. Here, too, we see how Christ has suffered through the sin of others. There was no sill in Him. Yet was He treated as a sinner, because He became one with us. Love bound Him to us. How He drove back the vultures of sin and the demons of darkness! How He hung on the cross in the full blaze of a broken law that He might take away the sin of the world! How He has waited since, like Rizpah, at the door of the heart, to give life and peace, and to let the rain of His mercy drop on us out of heaven! Our sins nailed Him to the tree, but He does not love us the less. He knows that when we see how He has loved us, love will break or melt our hearts. For that sign of penitence and love He waits through the long years, as Rizpah did through dabs of furnace heat and nights of intensest cold, for the sign of coming rain from heaven. Oil, how unwearied is Jesus in His waiting for souls I His locks are wet with the dews of heaven, and His form withered as by the solar heat!
IV. THE OVERWHELMING INFLUENCE OF A DEVOTED LIFE IS SEEN IN THIS ACT OF RIZPAH. That silent, watching woman little thought how others were taking note of her, — how her heroic action would be recorded in the Book which would be the most widely read of all books. Example has immense power. Men submit to it more readily than to any commands. Of it speaks Hudibras —
"Example, that imperious dictator
Of all that's good or bad to human nature;
By it the world's corrupted or reclaimed,
Hopes to be saved or studies to be damned."
However obscure, we cannot be sure but that our example may have a good or an evil influence. In proportion to the extent of our circle, so our power for good or evil.
V. FAITHFUL LOVE IS FINALLY REWARDED. Rizpah, at last, when the dead are buried, can rest, and Duly think with a shudder of the long and weary days when her strong arm drove off the vultures, or of the nights when the wild beasts were only kept at bay by the fire that flashed from her eye, and the force that she threw into her voice. And as we think of Him who was homeless, rejected, crucified, we ask, "Will not Christ see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied?"
One of the most affecting narratives in Holy Writ — a story, full of beauty and pathos, is the solitary vigil of Rizpah as she watched with a mother's love over the dead bodies of her two sons. In years gone by she had been a favourite with Saul. Her home was in the king's palace; in his love she found both home and happiness. She had no wishes ungratified; whatever could add to her wondrous beauty or minister to her woman's vanity was freely at her command. The hues of health and youth mantled in her checks, the rose and the lily lent to her their charms, the light, of hope sat upon her calm brow and brightly beamed in her dark eve; her light, elastic step told of the joy that filled her heart. The stream of life flowed gently on, as a river of peace; the present hour was without a cloud of care; the visions of the future were as bright and rose-coloured as her own playful fancy could paint them. All men paid their court to her, they lived upon her smiles; she was the beneficent fairy who administered happiness and favour to the admiring throng. Far above all these and more than all these was the king's love, the love of Saul, not more distinguished for his manly honours than for the grace of his manly beauty, for his heroic courage and valour, for his warlike triumphs — those qualities which might well commend him to her woman's heart. He was the lover of her youth, the father of her children, the two beautiful boys, who were not only the source of the young mother's pride and joy, but the pledge and assurance of her continued reign in the royal heart. Well might she move on in her peerless beauty and pride, careless of the whispering envy that followed her steps, and mindful only of the great prize she had won and so gracefully bore. The scene changes; we stand upon the mountains of Gilboa. Over them like a sirocco has swept the rude blast of war; they are covered with the dying and the dead. Woe, woe to the land, for the Philistines have triumphed; the beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places, the mighty are fallen. Weep, O ye daughters of Israeli weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Such might have been the exclamations of Rizpah over the dead body of Saul. Her bosom was rent with anguish, her heart broken with sorrow. At one fell blow all her hopes were crushed; vain now were her beauty and her pride. The palace was no longer a fitting home for one so forlorn and distressed; its stores of wealth, its jewelry and costly array, had departed from her for ever; another king had come to the throne who knew not Rizpah. But what cared she? Why, when Saul was himself lost, tell her of past splendour and past joys? Had she not already suffered the worst that could befall her, since the king's death, from one of the new king's captains — insult, ignominy, and shame? A consuming sorrow preyed upon her life; grief had done the work of years, and, if she lived on. it was but for the sake of her two sons. They were all that was left her of her former wealth, and while the mother love survives the human heart still preserves its capacity to suffer and endure. So she went forth — she, so delicately nurtured and cared for; her summer friends had all forsaken her; she went forth into a world of poverty and loneliness with her two sons. She sought some retired hamlet, that she might devote her life to her sorrow and to them. They had now come to the years of youth, or, it may be, of manhood, and were able to do something to repair the mother's toss and to repay her love. Their united toil provided the scanty fare and supplied their simple wants. With untiring patience and love they devoted themselves to her comfort, living not for themselves, but for her. Rizpah could not but be touched with the spectacle; she could but see with maternal pride their beauty and virtues. Despite herself, hope would re-kindle in her heart, not for her own future, that was dead for ever, but for theirs; she could but think and believe they so honoured her that their days would be long in the land. They might, they ought, to regain their ancestral name and wealth; they would be the comfort and the solace of her declining years, and would pay her the last sad offices of love. God, had come very near to her, but He had not left her altogether without comfort; while her two sons survived, such sons as mother never had before, she need not wholly despair. It was perchance while Rizpah thus communed with her own heart in her chamber and was still, while she was thus recovering from the staggering blow which Providence had dealt upon her, that she heard the tramp of horses' feet approaching her lowly cottage; she looks up, and the king's messenger is at the door. Her heart beats with agitation, but not with fear. Already God has heard her prayers; her two sons are to be restored to the king's court; even on earth they will reap in part their reward. The royal David has heard the touching story of their love; her visions and her hopes are to be realized. Her neighbours and her friends know, alas l how vain such an imagination is. They have suffered from the famine; the only remedy and relief has been bruited abroad — the sacrifice of the seven sons of Saul on the hill before the Lord; it has reached all ears but the ears of Rizpah. Who should break such a tale to that lone and sorrowing woman? Who should bear to her what might be her own as well as the death-warrant of her two sons? What manly courage would not shrink from her wail of woe? Without any fault or crime of theirs, having violated no law human or divine, they, the good sons, were to die a death of shame; like malefactors, they were to be hanged upon a tree. It is one of the strange workings of Providence we can neither fathom nor explain, the visiting upon the innocent children the father's sins, though it is every day exemplified before our eyes. The sacrifice was ordained; it was accepted of God. The king's messenger had come; he tells his sorrowful errand, and Rizpah makes no resistance and no reply. Her heart is paralyzed, she is dead to the world; naught survives in her but that maternal love which, like the instinct of modesty, may remain long after all outward consciousness is gone. The signal is at length given, the fatal drop falls, and the sacrifice is complete; the seven sons of Saul have ceased to live; the multitude depart, and Rizpah is left alone with her misery and her dead. Now commences her sad, solitary vigil. Her two sons have died like criminals; no sacred burial rites await them. The gibbet on which they perished is to be their only tomb; they are left to be a prey to the unclean birds of heaven and to the wild beasts of the field. From this last indignity the love of Rizpah shields them. What a picture for the pencil of the painter or for the pen of the poet! What a proof of the strength and devotion of maternal level It survives death and the grave; it lives through good and through evil report; in the discharge of its office it fears no danger and shuns no toil. Who can tell but she may yet win them that last favour man can bestow upon the sons of Saul — the rite of burial? So she watches in darkness and in light; the very stillness of her sorrow spreads over her a halo of sanctity that scares away all that would molest or make afraid. A vigil so remarkable soon attracts the notice of the passers-by, the piteous tale is told from one to another, until at length it reaches King David's ears. His royal heart, is moved with compassion for her sorrows. He collects the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and of their dead sons, and gives them such royal burial as it became a king to bestow. Thus the work of Rizpah was done, her painful vigil ended; and she lays down to die, perhaps to share the grave of Saul and of her two sons, and God was entreated for the land, and instead of famine plenty reigns. Oh! wondrous power of maternal love, hallowing by its sacred influences even the gibbet of infamy, and lending a halo to the noisomeness of death and the grave. Oh only love of earth which finds its prototype in the love of God!
()Rizpah, the widow of Saul, was getting to be an old woman when her two sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth, were hanged in Gibeah, at the demand of the Gibeonites, who had been ravished and desolated by the cruel wickedness of Saul, their father. These men suffered not only for their own sin, but for the sins of the wicked family in which they were born, and especially for the sins of their father. Rizpah stands out as the true type of the undying loyalty of motherhood. What the world owes to good mothers, who have sacrificed themselves with all joy that they might live again in their children, no statistician will ever be able to adequately determine. John Newton, who caused his mother much sorrow while she lived, was brought back to righteousness long after she had gone to heaven by the recollection of the lessons she had taught him. God brought her back to him again in a vision, and the memory of her prayers and of her tender solicitude broke his heart and turned him away from sin. John Randolph once said: "I should have been an atheist if it had not been for one recollection — and that was the memory of the time when my departed mother used to take my little hand in hers and cause me on my knees to say, 'Our Father, which art in heaven.'" When General Grant was at West Point, he wrote to his mother: "Your kind words of admonition are ever present with me. How well do they strengthen me in every good word and work. Should I become a soldier for my country, I look forward with hope to have you spared to share with me any advancement I might gain, and I trust that my future conduct will prove me worthy of the patriotic instruction you and father have given me." No human being in this world has so much power over the life of man or woman, taking it all in all, as the mother. A mother gives the very emphasis and tone and colour to the speech of her child, and that is only an "outward indication of the way she moulds the plastic soul within. Of all the most important classes for the welfare of the world, mothers lead the van. No wonder Napoleon said, in his wicked day, "What France needs is good mothers." And as there is no devotion more beautiful and splendid than that of a mother's, so there is nothing that wins a higher meed of love and gratitude in return, The affection which the noblest and truest men and women in the world have had for their mothers brightens up the pages of history. Lord Macaulay once said that it was worth while being sick to be nursed by a mother. William Cowper said: "Every creature that bears an affinity to my mother is dear to me." When Thomas Guthrie, the great Scotch preacher, was on his deathbed, his latest words were these: "How strange to think that within twenty-four hours I may see my mother and my Saviour!" How much it means when God says that He will comfort us, when we give our hearts to Him, as a mother comforteth her child! How can anyone fear to yield completely to the mother-like arms of Divine love? It is this mother-God to whom I call you to-night,
()Some of the worst distresses have come to scenes of royalty and wealth. What porter at the mansion's gate has not let in champing and lathered steed bringing evil despatch? On what tesselated hall has there not stood the solemn bier? Under what exquisite fresco has there not been enacted a tragedy of disaster? What curtained couch hath heard no err of pain? What harp hath never trilled with sorrow? What lordly nature hath never leaned against carved pillar and made utterance of woe. Gall is not less bitter when quaffed from a golden chalice than when taken from a pewter mug. Sorrow is often attended by running footmen, and laced lackeys mounted behind. Queen Anne Boleyn is desolate in the palace of Henry VIII. Adolphus wept in German castles over the hypocrisy of friends. Pedro I. among Brazilian diamonds shivered with fear of massacre. Stephen of England sat on a rocking throne. And every mast of pride has bent in the storm, and the highest mountains of honour and fame are covered with perpetual snow. Sickness will frost the rosiest cheek, wrinkle the smoothest brow, and stiffen the sprightliest step. Rizpah quits the courtly circle and sits on the rock. Perhaps you look back upon scenes different from those in which now from day to day you mingle. You have exchanged the plenty and luxuriance of your father's house for privation and trials known to God and your own heart. The morning of life was flushed with promise. Troops of calamities since then have made desperate charge upon you. Darkness has come. Sorrows have swooped like carrion birds from the sky and barked like jackals from the thicket. You stand amid your slain, anguished and woestruck. So it has been in all ages. Vashti must doff the spangled robes of the Persian Court, and go forth blasted from the palace gate. Hagar exchanges Oriental comfort for the wilderness of Beersheba. Mary Queen of Scots must pass. out from flattery and pomp to suffer ignominious death in the Castle of Fotheringay. The wheel of fortune keeps turning, and mansions and huts exchange, and he who rode in the chariot pushes the barrow, and instead of the glare of festal lights is the simmering of the peat-fire, and in place of Saul's palace is the rock, the cold rock, the desolate rock. But that is the place to which God comes. Jacob with his head on a stone saw the shining ladder. Israel in the desert beheld the marshalling of the fiery baton. John on barren Patmos heard trumpeting, and the clapping of wings, and the stroke of seraphic fingers on golden harps, and nothing but heavenly strength nerved Rizpah for her appalling mission amid the scream of wild birds and the steady tread of hungry monsters.
()But it hardly ends before you cry out: What a hard thing that those seven boys should suffer for the crimes of a father and grandfather! Yes. But it is always so. Let everyone who does wrong know that he was not only, as in this case, against two generations, children and grandchildren, but against all the generations of coming time. That is what makes dissipation and uncleanness so awful. It reverberates in other times. It may skip one generation, as is suggested in the Ten Commandments: which say: "Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." Mind you, it says nothing about the second generation, but mentions the third and the fourth. That accounts for what you sometimes see, very good parents with very bad children. Go far enough back in the ancestral line and you find the source of all the turpitude. "Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation." If, when Saul died, the consequences of his iniquity could have died with him, it would not have been so sad. Alas, no! Look on that hill a few miles out from Jerusalem and see the ghastly burdens of those seven gibbets, and the wan and wasted Rizpah watching them. Go to-day through the wards and alms-houses, and the reformatory institutions where unfortunate children are kept, and you will find that nine out of ten had drunken or vicious parents. Yea, day by day, in the streets of our cities you find men and women wrecked of evil parentage. They are moral corpses. Like the seven sons of Saul — though dead — unburied. Alas! for Rizpah, who, not for six months, but for years and years has watched them. She cannot keep the vultures and the jackals off.
()What mother, or sister, or daughter would dare to go out to fight the cormorant and jackal? Rizpah did it. And so would you if an emergency demanded. Woman is naturally timid and shrinks from exposure, and depends on stronger arms for the achievement of great enterprises. And she is often troubled lest there might be occasions demanding fortitude when she would fail. Not so. Some of those who are afraid to look out of door after nightfall, and who quake in the darkness at the least uncertain sound, and who start at the slam of the door, and turn pale in a thunderstorm, if the day of trial came would be heroic and invulnerable. God has arranged it so that woman needs the trumpet of some great contest of principle or affection to rouse up her slumbering courage. Then she will stand under the cross fire of opposing hosts at Chalons to give wine to the wounded. Then she will carry into prison and dark lane the message of salvation. Then she will brave the pestilence. Deborah goes out to sound terror into the heart of God's enemies. Abigail throws herself between a raiding party of infuriated men and her husband's vineyards. Rizpah fights back the vultures from the Rook. Among the Orkney Islands an eagle swooped and lifted a child to its eyrie far up on the mountains. With the spring of a panther the mother mounts hill above hill, crag above crag, height above height, the fire of her own eye outflashing the glare of the eagle's; and with unmailed hand stronger than the iron beak and the terrible claw she hurled the wild bird down the rocks. In the French Revolution, Cazotte was brought to be executed when his daughter threw herself on the body of her father and said, "Strike! barbarians! You cannot reach my father but through my heart!" The crowd parted, and linking arms father and daughter walked out free. During the siege of Saragossa, Augustina carried refreshments to the gates. Arriving at the battery of Portillo she found that all the garrison had been killed. She snatched a match from the hand of a dead artilleryman and fired off a twenty-six pounder, then leaped on it and vowed she would not leave it alive. The soldiers looked in and saw her daring, and rushed up and opened another tremendous fire on the enemy. The life of James I. of Scotland was threatened. Poets have sung those times, and able pens have lingered upon the story of manly endurance, but how few tell the story of Catherine Douglas, one of the Queen's maids, who ran to bolt the door, but found the bar had been taken away so as to facilitate the entrance of the assassins. She thrust her arm into the staple. The murderers rushing, against it, her arm was shattered. Yet how many have since lived and died who never heard the touching, self-sacrificing, heroic story of Catherine Douglas and her poor shattered arm. You know how calmly Madame Roland went to execution and how cheerfully Joanna of Naples walked to the castle of Mute, and how fearlessly Madame Grimaldi listened to her condemnation, and how Charlotte Corday smiled upon the frantic mob that pursued her to the guillotine. And there would be no end to the recital if I attempted to present all the historical incidents which show that women's courage will rouse itself for great emergencies.
()In the time of George IV., two men were convicted of robbing the Brighton mail-coach, and were hung on gibbets on the spot where the crime had been committed. When the clothes and the flesh had at length fallen away, an aged woman was observed to go night after night, in all weather, to the lonely spot, and bring away something in her apron. These were the bones of her son, which she interred with her own hands in the parish churchyard.
PeopleAbishai, Adriel, Aiah, Amorites, Armoni, Barzillai, Benjamin, David, Elhanan, Gibeon, Gibeonites, Goliath, Ishbibenob, Israelites, Jaareoregim, Jabesh, Jair, Jonathan, Kish, Mephibosheth, Merab, Michal, Rapha, Rizpah, Saph, Saul, Shimea, Shimeah, Shimei, Sibbecai, Sibbechai, Zeruiah
PlacesBeth-shan, Gath, Gibeah, Gilboa, Gob, Jabesh-gilead, Jerusalem, Zela
TopicsAiah, Ai'ah, Air, Allow, Allowed, Animals, Beast, Beasts, Bed, Beginning, Birds, Bodies, Commencement, Daughter, Dropped, Fell, Field, Fowl, Grain-cutting, Haircloth, Harvest, Heaven, Heavens, Herself, Placing, Poured, Rain, Rained, Rest, Rizpah, Rock, Sackcloth, Sky, Spread, Start, Stretcheth, Suffered, Taketh, Till, Touch, Wild
Outline1. The three year Gibeonite famine ceases, by hanging seven of Saul's sons.
10. Rizpah's kindness unto the dead
12. David buries the bones of Saul and Jonathan in his father's tomb
15. Four battles against the Philistines, wherein four men of David slay four giants.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 21:10
8300 love, and the world
2 Samuel 21:9-10
I. Beth-cerem, Nehemiah 3:14. "The stones, as well of the altar, as of the ascent to the altar, were from the valley of Beth-cerem, which they digged out beneath the barren land. And thence they are wont to bring whole stones, upon which the working iron came not." The fathers of the traditions, treating concerning the blood of women's terms, reckon up five colours of it; among which that, "which is like the water of the earth, out of the valley of Beth-cerem."--Where the Gloss writes thus, "Beth-cerem …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
The Exile Continued.
"So David fled, and escaped and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done unto him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth" (1 Sam. xix. 18)--or, as the word probably means, in the collection of students' dwellings, inhabited by the sons of the prophets, where possibly there may have been some kind of right of sanctuary. Driven thence by Saul's following him, and having had one last sorrowful hour of Jonathan's companionship--the last but one on earth--he fled to Nob, whither …
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate, …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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