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God on that occasion, and the divine promises made to him
Heb. i. 5.)
neighbouring nations. (viii.-X.) Part II. The troubles of David, and their cause, together with his
repentance, and subsequent recovery of the divine favour. (ch. xi.-xxiv.) Sect. 1. The cause of David's troubles, his first great offence
against God, - his sin in the matter of Uriah, and the divine
judgments denounced against him on that account. (xi. xii.) Sect. 2. The punishments in consequence of that sin, first, from
domestic troubles in the sin of Amnon (xiii.) ; and secondly, public troubles, in the rebellion of Absalom, which, for a short time, exiled David from the throne (xiv. xv.-xvii.); the death
of Absalom (xviii.) and David's mourning on his account. (xix.) PART III. David's restoration to his throne, and subsequent transac
tions. (ch. xx.xxiv.) Sect. 1. David's return to Jerusalem, and the insurrection of
Sheba quelled. (xx.) Sect. 2. His punishment of the sons of Saul, and successful bat
tles with the Philistines. (xxi.) Sect. 3. His psalm of praise, on a general review of the mercies
of his life, and the many and wonderful deliverances which he had experienced. (xxii.) This divine ode, which contains the noblest images perhaps that were ever expressed in words, also occurs in the book of Psalms, (Psal. xviii.) with a few variations. We have it here, as originally composed for his own closet and his own harp; but there we have it as delivered to the chief musician for the service of the church, with some amendments. For, though primarily calculated for the royal prophet's immediate use, yet it might indifferently assist the devotion of others, when giving thanks for their deliverances: or, it was intended that his people should thus join with him in his thanksgivings; because, being a public person, his deliverances were to be accounted public blessings, and called for public ac
knowledgments. Sect. 4. The last words of David, forming a supplement or con
clusion to the preceding sublime hymn (xxiii. 1—7.), which are followed by an enumeration of his mighty men. (xxiji. 8–39.) ECT. 5. David's second great offence against God, in numbering the people; its punishment; David's penitential intercession
and sacrifice. (xxiv.) V. This second book of Samuel bears an exact relation to the
1 The offence of David seems to have chiefly consisted in his persisting to require a muster of all his subjects able to bear arms, without the divine command, without necessity, in a time of profound peace, to indulge an idle vanity and presumption, as if he put his trust more in the number of his subjects than in the di. vine protection ; and the offence of his people might also have been similar, always elated as they were, and provoking the anger of the Lord in prosperity by their forgetfulness of him. Deut. vi. 10-12. Þr. Hales's, Analysis, vol. ii. p. 356.
preceding, and is likewise connected with that which succeeds. We see throughout the effects of that enmity against other nations, which had been implanted in the minds of the Israelites by the Mosaic law, and which gradually tended to the extirpation of idolatry. “This book, likewise, as well as the former, contains other intrinsic proofs of its verity. By describing without disguise the misconduct of those characters, who were highly reverenced among the people, the sacred writer demonstrates his impartial sincerity: and, by appealing to monuments that attested the veracity of his relations when he wrote, he furnished every possible evidence of his faithful adherence to truth. The books of Samuel connect the chain of sacred history by detailing the circumstances of an interesting period. They describe the reformation and improvements of the Jewish church established by David : and, as they delineate minutely the life of that monarch, they point out his typical relation to Christ. Many heathen authors have borrowed from the books of Samuel, or have collected from other sources, many particulars of those accounts which he gives.” In the falls of David we behold the strength and prevalence of human corruption; and in his repentance and recovery, the extent and efficacy of divine grace. The two books of Samuel are of very considerable importance for illustrating the book of Psalms, to which they may be considered as a key. Thus, Psalm iï. will derive much light from 2 Sam. xv. 14. et seq. ; - Psal. iv. from 1 Sam. xxii. xxiii. xxvi.; Psal. vii. from 2 Sam. xvi. 5. 11.; - Psal. xxiv. from 2 Sam. vi. 12. et seq. ; – Psal. xxx. from 1 Sam. v. 11.; - Psal. xxxii. and li. from 2 Sam. xii.; Psal. xxxiv. from 2 Sam. xxi. 10-15.;—Psal. xxxv. from 2 Sam. XV.-xvii.; - Psal. xlii. and xliii. from 2 Sam. xvii. 22–24. ; - Psal. lii. from 1 Sam. xxii. 9.; Psal. liv. from 1
. Sam. xxiii. 19. and xxvi. 1.; Psal. lv. from 2 Sam. xvii. 21, 22. ; Psal. lvi. from 1 Sam. xxi. 11-15.;- Psal. Ivïi. from 1 Sam. xxii. 1. and xxiv. 3.;- Psal. lix. from 1 Sam. xix. 11.; Psal. lx. from 2 Sam. viii. 3—13. and x. 15-19.; – Psal. Ixiii. from 1 Sam. xxii. 5. and xxis. 14–16.; — Psal. Ixviii. from 2 Sam. vi. 3—12.;Psal. Ixxxix. from 2 Sam. vii. 12. et seq.; and Psal. cxlii. from 1 Sam. xxii. 1. and xxiv. 1. et seq.
ON THE TWO BOOKS OF KINGS.
I Order and title of these books. - 11. Author. - III. Argument
and synopsis of the first book of Kings. - IV. Argument and synopsis of the second book of Kings. - V. General observations on
these books. 1. THE two books of Kings are closely connected with those of Samuel. The origin and gradual increase of the united kingdom of Israel, under Saul and his successor David, having been described in
1 Dr. Gray's Key, p. 181.
the latter, the books now under consideration relate its height of glory under Solomon, its division into two kingdoms under his son and successor Rehoboam, the causes of that division, and the consequent decline of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, until their final subversion; the ten tribes being carried captive into Assyria by Shalmaneser, and Judah and Benjamin to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. In the most correct and antient editions of the Hebrew Bible, the two books of Kings constitute but one, with a short space or break sometimes between them; the first book commencing with 1 Sam. xxij. 40. Some of the early fathers of the Christian church seem to have begun the first book of Kings at the death of David. (ii. 12.) The more modern copies of the Hebrew Bible have the same division with our authorised version : though, in the time of the Masoretes, they certainly formed only one book; as both (like the books of Samuel) are included under one enumeration of sections, verses, &c. in the Masora. They have evidently been divided, at some unknown period, into two parts, for the convenience of reading.
The titles to these books have been various, though it appears from Origen that they derived their name from the initial words
vaMelech David, Now king David ; in the same manner as (we have seen) the book of Genesis does. In the Septuagint Greek version, it is simply termed BAXIAEINN of reigns or kingdoms, of which it calls Samuel the first and second, and these two the third and fourth. The Vulgate Latin version entitles it, Liber Regum tertius ; secundum Hebræos, Liber Malachim, that is, the third book of Kings; but, according to the Hebrews, the first book of Malachim. The old Syriac version has : Here follows the book of the Kings who flourished among the antient people ; and in this are also exhibited the history of the prophets, who flourished in their times. In the Arabic it is thus entitled : In the name of the most merciful and compassionate God; the book of Solomon, the son of David the prophet, whose benedictions be upon us.
Amen. II. Concerning the author or authors of these books, the sentiments of learned men are extremely divided. Some have been of opinion that David, Solomon, and Hezekiah wrote the history of their own reigns; others, that Nathan, Gad, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets who flourished in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, undertook the office of historiographers. We know that several of the prophets wrote the lives of those kings who reigned in their times; for the names and writings of these prophets are mentioned in several places of the books of Kings and Chronicles; which also cite or refer to the original annals of the kings of Israel and Judah, of which those books have transmitted to us abridgments or summaries. Thus, in 1 Kings xi. 41. we read of the acts of Solomon, which acts were recorded in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer (2 Chron. ix. 29.); which Iddo was employed, in conjunction with Shemaiah the prophet, in writing the acts of Rehoboam. (2 Chron. xii. 15.) We also read of the book of Jehu the prophet, relating the transactions of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. xx. 34. 1 Kings xvi. 1.); and Isaiah the prophet wrote the acts of king Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 22.), and also of Hezekiah (2 Chron. xxxii. 32.), and it is highly probable that he wrote the history of the two intermediate kings Jotham and Ahaz, in whose reigns he lived. (Isa. i. 1.)
It is evident therefore that two descriptions of writers were concerned in the composition of the books of Kings:- First, those original, primitive, and contemporary authors, who wrote the annals, journals, and memoirs of their own times, from which the authors of our sacred history subsequently derived their materials. These antient memoirs have not descended to us : but they unquestionably were in the hands of those sacred penmen, whose writings are in our possession, since they cite them and refer to them. The second class of writers consists of those, by whom the books of Kings were actually composed in the form in which we now have them. The Jews ascribe them to Jeremiah ; and their opinion has been adopted by Grotius and other eminent commentators : others again assign them to the prophet Isaiah. But the most probable opinion is, that these books were digested into their present order by Ezra. The following are the grounds on which this opinion is founded and supported :
1. The general uniformity of style and manner indicates that these books were written by one person.
2. The author evidently lived after the captivity of Babylon : for, at the end of the second book of Kings, he speaks of the return from the captivity. (2 Kings xxv. 22, &c.)
3. He says that in his time the ten tribes were still captive in Assyria, whither they had been carried as a punishment for their sins. (2 Kings xvii. 23.)
4. In the seventeenth chapter of the second book of Kings, he introduces some reflections on the calamities of Judah and Israel, which demonstrate that he wrote after those calamities had taken place. Compare 2 Kings xvï. 6—24.
5. He almost every where refers to the antient memoirs which he had before him, and abridged.
6. There is also every reason to believe, that the author was a PRIEST or a prophet. He studies less to describe acts of heroism, successful battles, conquests, political address, &c. than what regards the temple, religious ceremonies, festivals, the worship of God, the piety of princes, the fidelity of the prophets, the punishment of crimes, the manifestation of God's anger against the wicked, and his regard for the righteous. He every where appears greatly attached to the house of David. He treats on the kings of Israel only incidentally; his principal object being the kingdom of Judah, and its particular affairs.
Now, all these marks correspond with Ezra, a learned priest, who lived both during and subsequently to the captivity, and might have collected numerous documents, which, from the lapse of time and the persecutions of the Jews, are now lost to us. Such are the reasons on which Calmet has ascribed the books of Kings to Ezra, and his opinion is generally received. There are however a few circumstances that seem to militate against this hypothesis, which should be noticed, as not agreeing with the time of Ezra. Thus, in 1 Kings viü. 8. the ark of the covenant is represented as being in the temple "to this day :” and in 1 Kings xii. 19. the kingdoms of Israel are mentioned as still subsisting. In 1 Kings vi. 1. 37, 38. the author mentions the months of Zif and Bul, names which were not in use after the captivity. Lastly, the writer expresses himself throughout as a contemporary, and as an author who had been an eye-witness of what he wrote. But these apparent contradictions admit of an easy solution. Ezra generally transcribes verbatim the memoirs which he had in his possession, without attempting to reconcile them. This clearly demonstrates his fidclity, exactness, and integrity. In other places some reflections or illustrations are inserted, which naturally arise from his subject ; this shows him to have been fully master of the matter he was discussing, and that, being divinely inspired, he was not afraid of intermixing his own words with those of the prophets, whose writings lay before him.
The divine authority of these books is attested by the many predictions they contain : they are cited as authentic and canonical by Jesus Christ (Luke iv. 25—27.), and by his apostles (Acts vii. 47. Rom. xi. 2–4. James v. 17, 18.), and they have constantly been received into the sacred canon by the Jewish and Christian churches in every age. Their truth and authenticity also derive additional confirmation from the corresponding testimonies of antient profane writers.?
III. The FIRST BOOK OF KINGS embraces a period of one hundred and twenty six years, from the anointing of Solomon and his admission as a partner in the throne with David, A. m. 2989, to the death of Jehoshaphat, A. M. 3115. It relates the latter part of David's life; his death, and the ascension of Solomon, whose reign comprehended the most prosperous and glorious period of the Israelitish history; and prefigured the peaceful reign of the Messiah ; Solomon's erection and consecration of the temple at Jerusalem (the beauty and perfection of which was a type of the beauty and perfection of the church of God): his awful defection from the true religion: the sudden decay of the Jewish nation after his death, when it was divided into two kingdoms, - under Rehoboam, who reigned over the kingdom of Judah, comprising the tribes of Judah and Beniamin, and under Jeroboam, who was sovereign of the other ten tribes
1 The consideration that these books were digested from memoirs, written by different persons who lived in the respective times of which they wrote, will hela to reconcile what is said of Hezekiah in 2 Kings xviii. 5. that ofter him none was like him of all the kings of Judah, with what is said of Josiah in chap. xxiii. 25. that, like unto him was there no king before him; for, what is said of Hezekiah was true, till the eighteenth year of Josiah, when that pious sovereign began the reformation of which so much is said in the sacred history. Mr. Reeves, Pref. to Books of Kings.
2 Josephus, Antiq. Jud. lib. viii. c. 2. Eusebius, Prep. Evang. lib. x. Grotius de Veritate, lib. iii. c. 16., and Allix, Reflections upon the Books of the Old Testamont, chap. ii. have collected several instances of the confirmation of the sacred historians from profane authors. On this subject also consult the testimonies givex in Vol. I. pp. 159-188. supra.