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Cont. II.] DAVID'S END, AND SOLOMON'S BEGINNING. 249 comes now to David to sue for the life and who, in Solomon's glory, saw their own honour of Bathsheba : and he that was sent safety! Benaiah applauds it, and not fearing from God to David to bring the news of a a father's envy, in David's presence wishes gracious promise of favour unto Solomon, Solomon's throne exalted above his; the comes now to challenge the execution of it people are ravished with the joy of so hopefrom the hands of a father; and he, whose ful a succession, and break the earth, and place freed him from suspicion of a faction, fill the heaven, with the noise of their music complains of the insolent demeanour and and shouting. proclamation of Adonijah; what he began Solomon's guests had now at last better with an humble obeisance, shutting up in cheer than Adonijah's, whose feast, as all a lowly and loving expostulation: “ Is this wicked men's, ended in horror: no sooner thing done by my lord the king, and thou are their bellies full of meat, than their ears hast not showed thy servant who should are full of the sound of those trumpets sit on the throne of my lord the king after which at once proclaim Solomon's triumph, him?" As Nathan was of God's council and their confusion : ever after the meal is unto David, so was he of David's council ended, comes the reckoning. God could as both to God and the state. As God, there easily have prevented this jolity, as marred fore, upon all occasions, told Nathan what it; but he willingly suffers vain men to please he meant to do with David, so had David themselves for a time in the conceited sucwont to tell Nathan what he meant to do cess of their own projects, that afterwards :n his holy and most important civil affairs. their disappointment may be so much the There are cases wherein it is not unfit for more grievous. No doubt, at this feast God's prophets to meddle with matters of there was many a health drunken to Ado. state: it is no disparagement to religious nijah, many a confident boast of their pro. princes to impart their counsels unto them spering design, many a scorn of the despised who can requite them with the counsels of faction of Solomon; and now, for their last God.
dish, is served up astonishment, and fearful That wood which a single iron could not expectation of a just revenge. Jonathan, rive, is soon splitted with a double wedge : the son of Abiathar the priest, brings the the seasonable importunity of Bathsheba news of Solomon's solemn and joyful enand Nathan, thus seconding each other, thronization : now all hearts are cold, all hath so wrought upon David, that now his faces pale, and every man hath but life love to Adonijah gives place to indignation, enough to run away. How suddenly is this nature to a holy fidelity; and now he re | braving troop dispersed! Adonijah, their news his ancient oath to Bathsheba with a new prince, Aies to the horns of the altar, as passionate solemnity: “ As the Lord liveth, distrusting all hopes of life, save the sanctity who hath redeemed my soul out of all ad- of the place, and the mercy of his rival. versity, even as I sware unto thee by the So doth the wise and just God befool Lord God of Israel, saying, Assuredly So proud and insolent sinners, in those secret lomon thy son shall reign after me, and he plots wherein they hope to undermine the shall sit upon my throne in my stead ; so true Son of David, the Prince of peace ; will I certainly do this day.” In the decay | he suffers them to lay their heads together, of David's body, I find not his intellectual and to feast themselves in jocund security, powers any whit impaired: as one, there and promise of success; at last, when they fore, that from his bed could, with a perfect, are at the height of their joys and hopes, he if weak hand, steer the government of Is- confounds all their devices, and lays them rael, he gives wise and full directions for the open to the scorn of the world, and to the inauguration of Solomon : Zadok the priest, anguish of their own guilty hearts. and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the captain, receive his grave and princely charge for the carriage of that so weighty CONTEMPLATION II. — DAVID'S END, AND a business. They are commanded to take
SOLOMON'S BEGINNING. with them the royal guard, to set Solomon upon his father's mule, to carry him down in It well became Solomon to begin his state to Gihon, to anoint him with the holy reign in peace. Adonijah receives pardon oil of the tabernacle, to sound the trumpets, upon his good behaviour, and finds the and proclaim him in the streets, to bring him throne of Solomon as safe as the altar. Daback with triumph ard magnificence to the vid lives to see a wise son warm in his seat; court, and set him in the royal throne, with and now he, that yielded to succession. all the due ceremonies of coronation. yields to nature. Many good counsels had
How pleasing was this command to them, | David given his heir ; now he sums them
250 DAVID'S END. AND SOLOMON'S BEGINNING. [Book XVII. up in his end. Dying words are wont towhat he cannot pay, he will owe, and ap. be weightiest ; the soul, when it is enter-prove himself at last a faithful debitor: now ing into glory, breathes nothing but divine : / he will defray it by the hand of Solomon. “ I go the way of all the earth." How well | The slaughter was of Abner and Amasa. is that princely heart content to subscribe | David appropriates it : “ Thou knowest to the conditions of human mortality! as what Joab did to me.” The sovereign is 'one that knew sovereignty doth not reach smitten in the subject ; neither is it other to the affairs of nature. Though a king, than just, that the arraignment of mean he neither expects nor desires an immunity malefactors runs in the style of wrong to the from dissolution, making no account to go king's crown and dignity. How much more in any other than the common tract, to the dost thou, O Son of David, take to thy. universal home of mankind, the house of self those insolencies which are done to thy age. Whither should earth, but to earth? poorest subjects, servants, sons, members, and why should we grudge to do that which here upon earth! No Saul can touch a all do ? « Be thou strong, therefore, and Christian here below, but thou feelest it in show thyself a man.” Even when his spirit | heaven, and complainest. was going out, he puts spirit into his son: But what shall we think of this ? David age puts life into youth, and the dying ani. | was a man of war, Solomon a king of peace; mates the vigorous. He had well found, yet David refers this revenge to Solomon. that strength was requisite to government; How just it was that he who shed the blood that he had need to be no less than a man, of war in peace, and put the blood of war that should rule over men. If greatness upon his girdle that was about his loins, should never receive any opposition, yet should have his blood shed in peace, by a those worlds of cares and businesses that prince of peace! Peace is fittest to rectify attend the chair of state are able to overlay the outrages of war: or whether is not any mean powers. A weak man may obey ; this done in type of that divine administra. none but the strong can govern. Graceless tion, wherein thou, O Father of heaven, courage were but the whetstone of tyranny: hast committed all judgment unto thine eter“ Take heed therefore to the charge of the nal Son? Thou, who couldst immediately Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to either plague or absolve sinners, wilt do keep his statutes." The best legacy that neither, but by the hand of a Mediator. David bequeaths to his heir, is the care of Solomon learned betimes what his ripe. piety: himself had found the sweetness of ness taught afterwards : “ Take away the a good conscience, and now he commends wicked from the king, and his throne shall it to his successor. If there be any thing be established in righteousness." Cruel that, in our desires of the prosperous con Joab and malicious Shimei must be there. dition of our children, takes place of good fore upon the first opportunity removed: ness, our hearts are not upright. Here was the one lay open to present justice, for the father of a king, charging the king's son abetting the conspiracy of Adonijah, neither to keep the statutes of the King of kings ; needs the help of time for a new advanas one that knew greatness could neither tage; the other went under the protection exempt from obedience, nor privilege sin ; of an oath from David, and therefore must as one that knew the least deviation in the be fetched in upon a new challenge. The greatest and highest orb, is both most sen- | hoary head of both must be brought to the sible, and most dangerous. Neither would grave with blood, else David's head could he have his son to look for any prosperity, not be brought to his grave in peace. Due save only from well-doing. That happiness punishment of malefactors is the debt of is built upon sand or ice, which is raised authority: if that holy king has run into upon any foundation besides virtue. If So-arrearages, yet, as one that hates and fears lomon was wise, David was good; and if old to break the bank, he gives order to his Solomon had well remembered the counsel paymaster; it shall be defrayed, if not by of old David, he had not so foully miscarried. him, yet for him.
After the precepts of piety, follow those Generous natures cannot be unthankful. of justice, distributing in a due recompense, Barzillai had showed David some kindness as revenge to Joab and Shimei, so favour in his extremity; and now tl:e good man to the house of Barzillai. The bloodiness will have posterity to inherit the thanks. of Joab had lain long upon David's heart: How much more bountiful is the Father of the hideous noise of those treacherous mur- mercies, in the remuneration of our poor ders, as it had pierced heaven, so it still unworthy services ! Even successions of filled the ears of David: he could abhor the generations shall fare the better for one villany, though he could not revenge it; / good parent.
CONT, II.] DAVID'S END, AND SOLOMON'S BEGINNING. 251
The dying words and thoughts of the to wife. If it were not the Jewish fashion, man after God's own heart did not confine as is pretended, that a king's widow should themselves to the straits of these particular marry none but a king; yet certainly the charges, but enlarged themselves to the power both of the alliance and friendship of care of God's public service. As good men | a queen, must needs not a little advance are best at last, David did never so busily his purpose. The crafty rival dare not and carefully marshal the affairs of God, as either move the suit to Solomon, or effect when he was fixed to the bed of his age the marriage without him ; but would cunand death. Then did he load his son So- ningly undermine the son by the suit of that lomon with the charge of building the house mother, whose suit had undermined him. of God; then did he lay before the eyes of The weaker vessels are commonly used in his son the model and pattern of that whole the most dangerous suggestions of evil. sacred work, whereof if Solomon bear the Bathsheba was so wise a woman, that name, yet David no less merits it. He some of her counsels are canonized for dinow gives the platform of the courts and vine; yet she saw not the depth of this drift buildings; he gives the gold and silver for of Adonijah: therefore she both entertains that holy use, a hundred thousand talents the suit, and moves it. But whatever were of gold, a thousand thousand talents of sil. the intent of the suitor, could she choose ver, besides brass and iron passing weight; but see the unlawfulness of so incestuous he weighs out those precious metals for a match? It is not long since she saw her their several designments : every future late husband David abominating the bed of vessel is laid out already in his poise, if not those his concubines that had been touched in his form. He excites the princes of Is- by his son Absalom ; and can she hold it rael to their assistance, in so luigh a work; lawful that his son Adonijah should climb he takes notice of their bountiful offerings; up to the bed of his father's wife? Somehe numbers up the Levites for the public times even the best eyes are dim, and dis. service, and sets them their tasks. He ap- cern not those things which are obvious to points the singers and other musicians to weaker sights: or whether did not Baththeir stations; the porters to the gates that sheba well see the foulness of the suit; and should be: and now, when he hath set all yet, in compassion of Adonijah's late rethings in a desired order and forwardness, pulse, wherein she was the chief agent, and he shuts up with a zealous blessing of his in a desire to make him amends for the loss Solomon, and his people, and sleeps with l of the kingdom, she yields even thus to grahis fathers. O blessed soul, how quiet a tify him. It is an injurious weakness to be possession hast thou now taken, after so drawn upon any by-respects, to the furthermany tumults, of a better crown! Thou | ance of faulty suits of unlawful actions. that hast prepared all things for the house No sooner doth Bathsheba come in place, of thy God, how happily art thou now wel.than Solomon, her son, rises from his chair comed to that house of his, not made with of state, and meets her, and bows to her, hands, eternal in the heavens! Who now and sets her on his right hand, as not so shall envy unto good princes the honour of remembering himself to be a king, that he overseeing the businesses of God and his should forget he was a son. No outward church, when David was thus punctual in dignity can take away the rights and oblithese divine provisions ? What fear can be gations of nature. Had Bathsheba been of usurpation, where they have so glorious as mean as Solomon was mighty, she had a precedent?
| carried away this honour from a gracious Now is Solomon the second time crowned son; yet, for all these due compliments, king of Israel; and now in his own right, as | Bathsheba goes away with a denial : reveformerly in his father's, sits peaceably upon rence she shall have; she shall not have a the throne of the Lord : his awe and power condescent. come on faster than his years. Envy and In the acts of magistracy, all regards of ambition, where it is once kindled, may natural relations must give way. That sooner be hid in the ashes than quite put which she propounded as a small request, out. Adonijah yet hangs after his old is now, after a general and confused engagehopes : he remembers how sweet he found ment, rejected as unreasonable. It were pity the name of a king; and now hath lajd a we should be heard in all our suits. Bath. new plot for the setting up of his cracked sheba makes a petition against herself, and title. He would make the bed a step to the knows it not: her safety and life depend throne ; his old complices are sure enough; | upon Solomon's reign, yet she unwittingly his part would gather much strength, if he moves for the advancement of Adonijalı. might enjoy Abishag, the relict of his father, Solomon was too dutiful to check his
mother, and too wise to yield to her. In the house of Eli; now doth it come to exeunfit supplications, we are most heard when cution. This just quarrel against Abiathar, we are repelled. Thus doth our God many the last of that line shall make good the times answer our prayers with merciful de- | threatened judgment. The wickedness of nials; and most blesseth us in crossing our Eli's house was neither purged by sacrifice, desires.
nor obliterated by time. If God pay slowly, Wise Solomon doth not find himself per- | yet he pays sure. Delay of most certain puplexed with the scruple of his promise: henishment is neither any hinderance to his that had said, “ Ask on, for I will not say justice, nor any comfort to our miseries. thee nay,” can now swear,“ God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah hath not spoken this word against his own life." His CONTEMPLATION III. THE EXECUTION OY promise was according to his supposition;
JOAB AND SHIMEI. his supposition was of no other than of a suit- honest, reasonable, expedient; now ABIATHAR shall live, though he serve he holds himself free from that grant, where- not. It is in the power of princes to remit, in there was at once both sin and danger. at least, those punishments which attend No man can be entangled with general the breach of human laws: good reason words against his own just and honest in- they should have power to dispense with tentions.
| the wrongs done to their own persons. The The policies of wicked men befool them news of Adonijah's death, and Abiathar's at last: this intercession hath undone Ado | removal, cannot but affright Joab, who now nijah, and, instead of the throne, hastens runs to Gibeon, and takes sanctuary in the his grave. The sword of Benaiah puts an tabernacle of God: all his hope of defence end to that dangerous rivalry. Joab and is in the horns of the altar. Fond Joab, Abiathar still held champerty with Adoni- hadst thou formerly sought for counsel from jah: their hand was both in the claim of the tabernacle, thou hadst not now needed his kingdom, and in the suit of Abishag. to seek to it for refuge; if thy devotions had There are crimes wherein there are no ac- not been wanting to that altar, thou hadst cessaries: such is this of treason. Abiathar not needed it for a shelter. It is the famay thank his burden that he lives : had shion of our foolish presumption to look he not borne the ark of the Lord before ! for protection where we have not cared to David, he had not now carried his head yield obedience. upon his shoulders: had he not been af- Even a Joab clings fast to God's altar in Alicted with David, he had perished with his extremity, which in his prosperity he reAdonijah: now, though he were, in his own garded not. The worst men would be glad merit, a man of death, yet he shall survive to make use of God's ordinances for their his partners: “Get thee to Anathoth, unto advantage. Necessity will drive the most thine own fields." The priesthood of Abi- profane and lawless man to God: but what athar, as it aggravated his crime, so it shall do these bloody hands touching the holy preserve his life. Such honour have good altar of God? Miserable Joab! what help princes given to the ministers of the sanc- canst thou expect from that sacred pile ? tuary, that their very coat hath been defence Those horns, that were besprinkled with enough against the sword of justice: how the blood of beasts, abhor to be touched much more should it be of proof against by the blood of men ; that altar was for the contenipt of base persons !
the expiation of sin by blood, not for the Besides his function, respect is had to protection of the sin of blood. If Adonijah his sufferings; the father and brethren of fled thither and escaped, it is murder that Abiathar were slain for David's sake, there- pursues thee more than conspiracy. God fore for David's sake Abiathar, though wor hath no sanctuary for a wilful homicide. thy of death, shall live: he had been now! Yet such respect doth Benaiah give to a dead man, if he had not been formerly that holy place, that his sword is unwilling afflicted. Thus doth our good God deal to touch him that touches the altar. Those with us : by the rod he prevents the sword, horns shall put off death for the time, and and therefore will not condemn us for our give protraction of the execution, though sins, because we have suffered. If Abiathar not preservation of life. How sweet is life, do not forfeit bis life, yet bis office he shall; even to those who have been prodigal of he must change Jerusalem for Anathoth, the blood of others, that Joab shifts thus and the priesthood for a retired privacy. to hold it but some few hours ! Benaiah It was fourscore years ago since the sen-returns with Joab's answer, instead of his tence of judgment was denounced against head, “ Nay, but I will die here." as not 283
Cont. III.? THE EXECUTION OF JOAB AND SHIMEI. daring to unsheath his sword against a man Only Shimei remains upon the file; his sheltered in God's tabernacle, without a course is next, yet so, as that it shall be new commission. Young Solomon is so in his own liberty to hasten his end. Upon well acquainted with the law of God, in David's remission, Shimei dwells securely such a case, that he sticks not at the sen. in Bahurim, a town of the tribe of Bentence: he knew that God had enacted, jamin : doubtless, when he saw so round “ If a man come presumptuously upon his justice done upon Adonijah and Joab, his neighbour, to slay him with guile, thou shalt guilty heart could not think Solomon's take him from mine altar, that he may die.” message portended aught but his execu. He knew Joab's murders had not been more tion; and now he cannot but be well pleased presumptuous than guileful; and therefore with so easy conditions of dwelling at Jeruhe sends Benaiah to take away the offender salem, and not passing over the brook Kiboth from God and men, from the altar dron : what more delightful place could he and the world.
choose to live in than that city, which was No subject haa merited more than Joab. the glory of the whole earth? what more When proclamation was made in Israel, pleasant bounds could he wish than the that whoever should smite the Jebusites sweet banks of Kidron? Jerusalem could first, he should be the chief and captain, be no prison to him, while it was a paraJoab was the man: when David built some dise to his betters; and, if he had a desire part of Jerusalem, Joab built the rest; so to take fresh air, he had the space of six that Jerusalem owes itself to Joab, both furlongs to walk from the city to the brook ; for recovery and reparation. No man held he could not complain to be so delectably so close to David; no man was more intent confined ; and besides, thrice every year, to the weal of Israel ; none so successful he might be sure to see all his friends, within victories; yet now is he called to reckon | out stirring his foot. jor his old sins, and must repay blood to Wise Solomon, while he cared to seem Amasa and Abner. It is not in the power not too severe an exactor of that which his of all our deserts to buy off one sin, either father had remitted, prudently lays insenwith God or man: where life is so deeply sible twigs for so foul an offender: besides forfeited, it admits of no redemption. the old grudge, no doubt, Solomon saw
The honest simplicity of those times knew cause to suspect the fidelity of Shimei, as not of any infamy in the execution of jus- a man who was ever known to be hollow tice. Benaiah, who was the great marshal to the house of David; the obscurity of a under Solomon, thinks not his fingers de country life would easily afford him more filed with that fatal stroke. It is a foolish safe opportunities of secret mischief: many niceness to put more shame in the doing of eyes shall watch him in the city; he canjustice, than in the violating of it.
not look out unseen, he cannot whisper In one act Solomon hath approved him-unheard ; upon no other terms shall he enself both a good magistrate and a good son, joy his life, which the least straying shall fulfilling at once the will of a father and the forfeit. charge of God; concluding upon this just Shimei feels no pain in this restraint. execution, that, “ Upon David, and upon how many nobles of Israel do that for pleahis seed, and upon his house, and upon his sure, which he doth upon command? Three throne, there shall be peace for ever from years hath he lived within compass, limited the Lord;" and inferring, that without this both by Solomon's charge and his own oath; there could have been no peace.
it was still in his power, notwithstanding Blood is a restless suitor, and will not David's caveat, to have laid down his boary leave clamouring for judgment, till the head in the grave, without blood: the just mouth be stopped with revenge. In this God infatuates those whom he means to case favour to the offender is cruelty to plague. Two of Shimei's servants are fled the favourer.
to Gath; and now he saddles his ass, and Now hath Joab paid all his arrearages is gone to fetch them back: either he thinks by the sword of Benaiah; there is no suit this word of Solomon is forgotten, or in the against his corpse, that hath the honour of multitude of greater affairs, not heeded, or a burial fit for a peer of Israel, for the near this so small an occurence will not come to cousin to the king. Death puts an end to his ears. Covetousness, and presumption all quarrels : Solomon strikes off the score of impunity, are the destruction of many a wlien God is satisfied: the revenge that soul; Shimei seeks his servants, and loses survives death, and will not be shut up in | himself. How many are there who cry out the coffin, is barbarous, and unbeseeming of this folly, and yet imitate it! These true Israelites.
| earthly things either are our servants, or