Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a

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Chapter 35—David

God selected David, a humble shepherd, to rule his people. He was strict in all the ceremonies connected with the Jewish religion, and he distinguished himself by his boldness and unwavering trust in God. He was remarkable for his fidelity and reverence. His firmness, humility, love of justice, and decision of character, qualified him to carry out the high purposes of God, to instruct Israel in their devotions, and to rule them as a generous and wise monarch. 4aSG 85.2

His religious character was sincere and fervent. It was while David was thus true to God, and possessing these exalted traits of character, that God calls him a man after his own heart. When exalted to the throne, his general course was in striking contrast with the kings of other nations. He abhorred idolatry, and zealously kept the people of Israel from being seduced into idolatry by the surrounding nations. He was greatly beloved and honored by his people. 4aSG 85.3

He often conquered, and triumphed. He increased in wealth and greatness. But his prosperity had an influence to lead him from God. His temptations were many and strong. He finally fell into the common practice of other kings around him, of having a plurality of wives, and his life was imbittered by the evil results of polygamy. His first wrong was in taking more than one wife, thus departing from God's wise arrangement. This departure from right, prepared the way for greater errors. The kingly idolatrous nations considered it an addition to their honor and dignity to have many wives, and David regarded it an honor to his throne to possess several wives. But he was made to see the wretched evil of such a course by the unhappy discord, rivalry and jealousy among his numerous wives and children. 4aSG 86.1

His crime in the case of Uriah and Bath-sheba was heinous in the sight of God. A just and impartial God did not sanction or excuse these sins in David, but sends a reproof, and heavy denunciation by Nathan, his prophet, which portrays in living colors his grievous offense. David had been blinded to his wonderful departure from God. He had excused his own sinful course to himself, until his ways seemed passable in his own eyes. One wrong step had prepared the way for another, until his sins called for the rebuke from Jehovah through Nathan. David awakens as from a dream. He feels the sense of his sin. He does not seek to excuse his course, or palliate his sin, as did Saul; but with remorse and sincere grief, he bows his head before the prophet of God, and acknowledges his guilt. Nathan tells David that because of his repentance, and humble confession, God will forgive his sin, and avert a part of the threatened calamity, and spare his life. Yet he should be punished, because he had given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. This occasion has been improved by the enemies of God, from David's day until the present time. Skeptics have assailed christianity, and ridiculed the Bible, because David gave them occasion. They bring up to Christians the case of David, his sin in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba, his polygamy, and then assert that David is called a man after God's own heart, and if the Bible record is correct, God justified David in his crimes. 4aSG 86.2

I was shown that it was when David was pure, and walking in the counsel of God, that God called him a man after his own heart. When David departed from God, and stained his virtuous character by his crimes, he was no longer a man after God's own heart. God did not in the least degree justify him in his sins, but sent Nathan his prophet, with dreadful denunciations to David because he had transgressed the commandment of the Lord. God shows his displeasure at David's having a plurality of wives by visiting him with judgments, and permitting evils to rise up against him from his own house. The terrible calamity God permitted to come upon David, who for his integrity was once called a man after God's own heart, is evidence to after generations that God would not justify any one in transgressing his commandments, but that he will surely punish the guilty, however righteous, and favored of God they might once have been while they followed the Lord in purity of heart. When the righteous turn from their righteousness and do evil, their past righteousness will not save them from the wrath of a just and holy God. 4aSG 87.1

Leading men of Bible history have sinned grievously. Their sins are not concealed, but faithfully recorded in the history of God's church, with the punishment from God, which followed the offenses. These instances are left on record for the benefit of after generations, and should inspire faith in the word of God, as a faithful history. Men who wish to doubt God, doubt christianity, and the word of God, will not judge candidly, and impartially, but with prejudiced minds will scan the life and character, to detect all the defects in the life of those who have been the most eminent leaders of Israel. A faithful delineation of character, God has caused to be given in inspired history, of the best and greatest men in their day. These men were mortal, subject to a tempting Devil. Their weakness and sins are not covered, but are faithfully recorded, with the reproof and punishment which followed. “These things were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 4aSG 87.2

God has not allowed much said in his word to extol the virtues of the best men that have lived upon the earth. All their victories, and great and good works, were ascribed to God. He alone was to receive the glory, he alone to be exalted. He was all and in all. Man was only an agent, a feeble instrument in his hands. The power and excellence was all of God. God saw in man a continual disposition to depart from, and to forget him, and worship the creature, instead of the Creator. Therefore God would not suffer much in the praise of man to be left upon the pages of sacred history. 4aSG 88.1

David repented of his sin in dust and ashes. He entreated the forgiveness of God, and concealed not his repentance from the great men, and even servants of his kingdom. He composed a penitential Psalm, recounting his sin and repentance, which Psalm he knew would be sung by after generations. He wished others to be instructed by the sad history of his life. 4aSG 88.2

The songs which David composed were sung by all Israel, especially in the presence of the assembled court, and before priests, elders and lords. He knew that the confession of his guilt would bring his sins to the notice of other generations. He presents his case, showing in whom was his trust and hope for pardon. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according to the multitude of thy mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation.” 4aSG 88.3

David does not manifest the spirit of an unconverted man. If he had possessed the spirit of the rulers of the nations around him, he would not have borne from Nathan the picture of his crime before him in its truly abominable colors, but would have taken the life of the faithful reprover. But notwithstanding the loftiness of his throne, and his unlimited power, his humble acknowledgment of all with which he was charged, is evidence that he still feared and trembled at the word of the Lord. 4aSG 89.1

David was made to feel bitterly the fruits of wrongdoing. His sons acted over the sins of which he had been guilty. Amnon committed a great crime. Absalom revenged it by slaying him. Thus was David's sin brought continually to his mind, and he made to feel the full weight of the injustice done to Uriah and Bath-sheba. 4aSG 89.2

Absalom, his own son, whom he loved above all his children, rebelled against him. By his remarkable beauty, winning manners, and pretended kindness, he cunningly stole the hearts of the people. He did not possess benevolence at heart, but was ambitious and, as his course shows, would resort to intrigue and crime to obtain the kingdom. He would have returned his father's love and kindness by taking his life. He was proclaimed king by his followers in Hebron, and led them out to pursue his father. He was defeated and slain. 4aSG 89.3

David was brought into great distress by this rebellion. It was unlike any war that he had been connected with. His wisdom from God, his energy and war-like skill, had enabled him to successfully resist the assaults of his enemies. But this unnatural warfare, arising in his own house, and the rebel being his own son, seemed to confuse and weaken his calm judgment. And knowing that this evil had been predicted by the prophet, and that he had brought it upon himself, by his transgressing the commandments of God, destroyed his skill and former unequaled courage. 4aSG 89.4

David was humbled and greatly distressed. He fled from Jerusalem to save his life. He went not forth with confidence and kingly honor, trusting in God as in previous battles; but as he went up by the ascent of the mount of Olivet, surrounded by his people, and his mighty men, he covered his head in his humility, and walked barefoot, weeping, and his people imitating the example of deep humility manifested by their king, while fleeing before Absalom. 4aSG 90.1

Shimei, a kinsman of Saul, who had ever been envious of David because he received the throne and kingly honors which had once been given to Saul, improved this opportunity of venting his rebellious rage upon David in his misfortune. He cursed the king, and cast stones and dirt at him, and his servants, and accused David of being a bloody and mischievous man. The followers of David begged permission to go and take his life, but David rebukes them, and tells them to “let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” If my son “seeketh my life, how much more now may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.” 4aSG 90.2

He thus acknowledges before his people and chief men, that this is the punishment God has brought upon him because of his sin, which has given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme. The enraged Benjamite might be accomplishing his part of the punishment predicted, and if he bore these things with humility, that the Lord would lessen his affliction, and turn the curse of Shimei into a blessing. David does not manifest the spirit of an unconverted man. He shows that he has had an experience in the things of God. He manifests a disposition to receive correction from God, and in confidence turns to him as his only trust. God rewards David's humble trust in him, by defeating the counsel of Ahithophel, and preserving his life. 4aSG 90.3

David was not the character Shimei represented him to be. When Saul was repeatedly placed in his power, and his followers would have killed him, David would not permit them to do so, although he was in continual fear of his own life, and was pursued like a wild beast by Saul. At one time when Saul was in his power, he cut off a piece of the skirt of his robe, that he might evidence to Saul that he would not harm him, although he might have taken his life if he was so disposed. David repented even of this, because he was the Lord's anointed. 4aSG 91.1

When David was thirsty, and greatly desired water of the well of Bethlehem, three men, without his knowledge, broke through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, and brought it to David. He considered it too sacred to drink and quench his thirst, because three men, through their love for him, had periled their lives to obtain it. He did not lightly regard life. It seemed to him that if he drank the water these brave men had put their lives in jeopardy to obtain, it would be like drinking their blood. He solemnly poured out the water as a sacred offering to God. 4aSG 91.2

After the death of Absalom, God turned the hearts of Israel, as the heart of one man, to David. Shimei, who had cursed David in his humility, through fear of his life, was among the first of the rebellious to meet David on his return to Jerusalem. He made confession of his rebellious conduct to David. Those who witnessed his abusive course urged David not to spare his life, because he cursed the Lord's anointed. But David rebuked them. He not only spared the life of Shimei, but mercifully forgave him. Had David possessed a revengeful spirit, he could readily have gratified it, by putting the offender to death. 4aSG 91.3

Israel prospered and increased in numbers under David's rule, and, as they became strong, and had increased in wealth and greatness, they became exalted and proud. They forgot the Giver of all their mercies, and were fast losing their peculiar and holy character, which separated them from the nations around them. 4aSG 91.4

David, in his prosperity, did not preserve that humility of character and trust in God which characterized the earlier part of his life. He looked upon the accessions to the kingdom with pride, and contrasted their then prosperous condition with their few numbers and little strength when he ascended the throne, taking glory to himself. He gratified his ambitious feelings in yielding to the temptations of the Devil to number Israel, that he might compare their former weakness to their then prosperous state under his rule. This was displeasing to God, and contrary to his express command. It would lead Israel to rely upon their strength of numbers, instead of the living God. 4aSG 92.1

The work of numbering Israel is not fully completed before David feels convicted that he has committed a great sin against God. He sees his error, and humbles himself before God, confessing his great sin in foolishly numbering the people. But his repentance came too late. The word had already gone forth from the Lord to his faithful prophet, to carry a message to David, and offer him his choice of punishments for his transgression. David still shows that he has confidence in God. He chooses to fall into the hands of a merciful God, rather than be left to the cruel mercies of wicked men. 4aSG 92.2

Swift destruction followed. Seventy thousand were destroyed by pestilence. David and the elders of Israel were in the deepest humiliation, mourning before the Lord. As the angel of the Lord was on his way to destroy Jerusalem, God bids him to stay his work of death. A pitiful God loves his people still, notwithstanding their rebellion. The angel clad in warlike garments, with a drawn sword in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem, is revealed to David, and to those who were with him. David is terribly afraid, yet he cries out in his distress, and his compassion for Israel. He begs of God to save the sheep. In anguish he confesses, “I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. Let thine hand be against me, and against my father's house, and not upon the people.” God speaks to David by his prophet, and bids him make atonement for his sin. David's heart was in the work, and his repentance was accepted. The threshing-floor of Araunah is offered him freely, where to build an altar unto the Lord; also cattle, and everything needful for the sacrifice. But David tells him who would make this generous offering, that the Lord will accept the sacrifice which he is willing to make, but that he would not come before the Lord with an offering which cost him nothing. He would buy it of him for full price. He offered there burnt-offerings and peace-offerings. God accepted the offering by answering David in sending fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice. The angel of God was commanded to put his sword into his sheath, and cease his work of destruction. 4aSG 92.3

David composed many of the Psalm in the wilderness, to which he was compelled to flee for safety. Saul even pursued him there, and David was several times preserved from falling into the hands of Saul by the special interposition of Providence. While David was thus passing through severe trials and hardships, he manifested an unwavering trust in God, and was especially imbued with his Spirit, as he composed his songs which recount his dangers and deliverances, ascribing praise and glory to God, his merciful preserver. In these Psalm is seen a spirit of fervor, devotion and holiness. He sung these songs, which express his thoughts and meditations of divine things, accompanied with skillful music upon the harp and other instruments. The Psalm contained in 2 Samuel 22, was composed while Saul was hunting him to take his life. Nearly all the sacred songs of David were arranged in the earlier period of his life, while he was serving the Lord with integrity and purity of heart. 4aSG 93.1

David purposed to build a house for God, in which he could place the sacred ark, and to which all Israel should come to worship. The Lord informed David through his prophet that he should not build the house, but that he should have a son who should build a house for God. “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” God manifests pity and compassion for the weakness of erring man, and promises, if he transgress, to punish him, and if he repent, to forgive him. 4aSG 93.2

The closing years of David's life were marked with faithful devotion to God. He mourned over his sins and departure from God's just precepts, which had darkened his character, and given occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. The Lord, through his angel, instructed David, and gave him a pattern of the house which Solomon should build for him. An angel was commissioned to stand by David while he was writing out, for the benefit of Solomon, the important directions in regard to the arrangement of the house. David's heart was in the work. He manifested an earnestness and devotion in making extensive preparations for the building, and spared neither labor nor expense, but made large donations from his own treasury, thereby setting a noble example before his people, which they did not hesitate with a willing heart to follow. 4aSG 94.1

David feels the greatest solicitude for Solomon. He fears that he may follow his example in wrong doing. He can see with the deepest sorrow the spots and blemishes he has brought upon his character, by his falling into grievous sins, and he would save his son from the evil if he could. He has learned by experience that the Lord will in no case sanction wrong doing, whether it be found in the loftiest prince, or the humblest subject, but would visit the leader of his people with as much severer punishment as his position is more responsible than the humble subject's. The sins committed by the leaders of Israel would have an influence to lessen the heinousness of crime on the minds and consciences of the people, and would be brought to the notice of other nations, who fear not God, but who trample upon his authority, and they would be led to blaspheme the God of Israel. 4aSG 94.2

David solemnly charges his son to adhere strictly to the law of God, and to keep all his statutes. He relates to Solomon the word of the Lord, spoken unto him through his prophets. “Moreover, I will establish his kingdom forever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day. Now, therefore, in the sight of all Israel, the congregation of the Lord, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the Lord your God, that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you forever. And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever. Take heed now, for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.” 4aSG 95.1

After giving this charge to his son, in the audience of the people, and in the presence of God, he offers grateful thanks to God for disposing his own heart, and the hearts of the people, to give willingly for the great work of building. He also entreats the Lord to incline the heart of Solomon to his commandments. He says, “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart, I have willingly offered all these things. And now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee. And give unto Solomon, my son, a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision.” 4aSG 95.2

David's public labor was about to close. He knew that he should soon die, and he does not leave his business matters in confusion, to vex the soul of his son, but while he has sufficient physical and mental strength, he arranges the affairs of his kingdom, even to the minutest matters, not forgetting to warn Solomon in regard to the case of Shimei. He knew that he would cause trouble in the kingdom. He was a dangerous man of violent temper, and only kept in control through fear. Whenever he dared, he would cause rebellion, or, if he had a favorable opportunity, would not hesitate to take the life of Solomon. 4aSG 96.1

David, in arranging his business, sets a good example to all who are advanced in years, to settle their matters while they are capable of doing so, that when they shall be drawing near to death, and their mental faculties are dimmed, they shall have nothing of a worldly nature to divert their minds from God. 4aSG 96.2

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