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29 All \ they that be fat upon earth shall eat and wor
ship: All 'they that go down to the dust shall bow before
And none can keep alive his own soul. 30 A seed shall serve him ; It mshall be accounted to the LORD for a generation.
n shall come, and shall declare his righteousness Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done
* Psa. 45. 12.
m Psa. 87. 6.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS LVII, LVIII, AND LXIII.
PSALMS OF DAVID.
The wilderness of Judah embraces a wide tract of desert, monntain and valley, running north and south from the latitude of Jerusalem to that of Beer-sheba, and lying between the cen. tral mountains of Judah on the west, and the Dead Sea on the east. This vast tract of about fifteen miles east and west, by fifty north and south, is totally uninhabited, except in a few spots. Only six cities are reckoned to it in the enumeration of Joshua XV, 61, 62, of which Engedi, near the shore of the Dead Sea, was by far the most important. On these barren mountains subsist the wild goat, the gazelle, the jackal, the Syrian fox, the bear and other beasts of prey, the quail, and the partridge. In the valleys and gorges are occasional strips of verdure, particularly in the winter season, to which the shepherds retire with their flocks, sometimes adventuring far in quest of pasture, and returning to the more fertile districts westward, as the dry season approaches. The only structures of art throughout this vast solitude were the occasional “sheep cots,” erected by the shepherds for the protection of their flocks from beasts of prey by night. In the northern part of this desert was laid the scene of the “parable of the good Samaritan;" while in the southern border, in the habitable parts, John Baptist opened his evangelical mission. Such was the scene of David's wanderings. Here he sought to elude the vigilance of his unnatural persecutor.
Hitherto he had not retired beyond the eastern border of this desert, keeping within the neighbourhood of cities and cultivated districts, where supplies of food for his men might be more easily obtained; but the treachery of the Ziphites and his narrow escape from Saul in the wilderness of Maon, had awakened new apprehensions, and made it apparent to him that the inhabitants in that quarter might not be friendly, and could not be trusted. He now, therefore, crosses the desert eastward to the vicinity of the Dead Sea, where the lofty mountains of lime-stone rock rise in sterile and awful grandeur, and on their rugged and torn sides open immense caverns and frightful gorges, unexplored by man, in whose dark passages he might hope to find an asylum from his persecutor. On the eastern slope of these mountains, near the Dead Sea, were the city and the vineyards of En-gedi. Here is a strip of land shut in by mountains, lying far down in the basin of the Dead Sea, enjoying a tropical climate and fertility of soil of world-wide celebrity. From this spot David might draw his supplies, and in the adjacent mountains remain concealed.
When Saul returned from his expedition against the Philistines, he was again informed of the place of David's retreat, and with three thousand chosen men hastened in pursuit. The climate about En-gedi and in the basin of the Dead Sea is the hottest in Palestine, and in the middle of the day, according to the general Oriental custom, all active labour is suspended, and the hours devoted to rest. On such occasions, when the king took his siesta, he would retire to his inner parlour alone, and his servants waited in the outer, or guard chamber, till his return. (See Judges iii, 24.) One day when Saul was overcome by heat and fatigue, he retired alone into the mouth of a spacious cavern to rest, and soon fell into a deep sleep. In the sides and recesses of this same cavern were David and his men concealed. The darkness of the interior prevented Saul from seeing them, while he, entering at the mouth and in the direction of the light, became perfectly recognizable. He was now at a distance frożn his guards, asleep, and perfectly within the power of David. One stroke of the sword of Goliath, which David carried with him, would have forever rid him of the fear of his enemy, and opened an unobstructed passage to the throne. His men urged him to take vengeance, but he forbore. God had anointed Saul, and he would not "put forth his hand against him." Yet, that he might prove to Saul his entire innocence of any criminal intention against his life or his kingdom, David cautiously descended and cut off the skirt of the king's robe, which, being long and flowing, was used as a covering while sleeping, and then retired again to the dark passages of the cave.
When Saul arose and left the cave, David also crept from his concealment and followed at a prudent distance. From a distant cliff he called after Saul, and declared to him all that had transpired in the cave; holding up the skirt of his robe, to prove that, had he indulged in any criminal intention, he had had ample opportunity of gratifying it, and appealing the justness of his cause to the righteous decision of Jehovah. At the well-known voice of David, and this unquestionable evidence of his innocence and magnanimity, Saul's better nature awoke, his heart melted, and he burst into tears. With a lamentable cry he exclaimed, “Is this thy voice, my son David! Thou art more righteous than I.” He now saw that all his fears of a conspiracy were groundless, and that he whom he sought to slay was really a faithful subject and a righteous man.
With this conviction was also revived the assurance, which was really the cause of all his enmity, that David would one day fill the throne of Israel, and supplant his own son; and he now solemnly adjures him, that when he shall come to the kingdom he shall spare his offspring. David promises, and with this covenant they part, Saul returning home, and David to his “stronghold” in the mountain: for though he had seemed to effect a reconciliation, and had laid Saul under obligations the most sacred, yet he had long since learned how little faith could be placed in his promises, or the permanence of his good will and friendship. 1 Samuel xxiii, 29, xxiv.
In his Psalms on this occasion he expresses his confidence in the Divine mercy and protection; his hope of ultimate deliverance; and his longing after God and the worship of his sanctuary; and complains of the false tongues and treacherons men who con
tinually surround the person of Saul, and denounces them. The following Psalms may be supposed to have been written at different times during his sojourn in the wilderness of Judah.
Note. For an explanation of Psalm lviii, 4-6, see article on Vindictive Psalms, in the General Introduction of this work.
ON DAVID'S REFUSAL TO KILL SAUL IN THE CAVE.
David in prayer taketh refuge in God's mercy, 1, 2; he foretelleth his own deliver
ance, 3; he complaineth of his dangerous case, 4-6; he encourageth himself to praise God, 7-11.
To the chief Musician 'Al-taschith, Michtam of David, [i. e. Destroy not.
A golden Psalm of David,] 'when he fled from Saul in the cave.
1 Be a merciful unto me, O God! be merciful unto me: For my soul trusteth in thee: Yea, "in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, Until these calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God most high ;
Unto God that performeth all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven, and save me From the reproach of him that would fswallow me up.
My soul is among lions ;
and arrows, And i their tongue a sharp sword. 6 Be thou exalted, O God! above the heavens;
1 Psa. 59, title.
Psa 142, title. . Psa. 56. 1.
Psa. 17. 8. & 68. 7.
c Isa. 26. 20
would swallow me up.
(Psa. 56. 1. & Psa. 40. 11 & 43. 8. h Prov. 80. 14. 1 Psa. 55. 21. & 64. & k Pea. 108. 5.
Let thy glory be above all the earth. 6 They 'have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down: They have digged a pit before me, Into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves.
Selah! 7 My n heart is ‘fixed, O God! my heart is fixed :
I will sing and give praise. 8 Awake up, "my glory! awake, psaltery and harp!
I myself will awake early. 9 I ° will praise thee, O LORD! among the people :
I will sing unto thee among the nations. 10 For Pthy mercy is great unto the heavens,
And thy truth unto the clouds. 11 Be thou exalted, O God! above the heavens:
Let thy glory be above all the earth.
I Psa. 7. 15. 16. & 9. 15. in Psa 103. 1, &c.
* Or, prepared.
. Psa. 108. 8.
A CONTINUATION OF PSALM LVII.
David reproveth the people for judging him unrighteously, 1, 2; describeth the
nature of the wicked, 3–5; devoteth them to God's judgments, 6–9; whereat the righteous shall rejoice, 10, 11.
1 To the chief Musician, 'Al-taschith, Michtam of David, [i. e., Destroy not.
A golden Psalm of David).
ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation ? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men ?. 2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness;
Ye a weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. 3 The bwicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray 'as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
* Psa. 37, title,
a Pe. 94. 20. Ps 10.1.
b Ps. 51. 5. Is. 48. &
. Heb. From the belly.