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opportunity shortly occurring to rid himself of his rival, ho embraced it with his usual precipitancy. From whatever cause it might arise, Amasa proved more dilatory in his muster than David had anticipated, and as the danger was pressing, Abishai, with the royal guards, were directed to put themselves under the orders of the commander-in-chief. With that chosen band Joab went forth, ostensibly as a volunteer, but in reality to effect his own purpose, and coming suddenly upon Amasa, under pretence of saluting him, he stabbed him in the side, and left him for dead. He then put himself at the head of his old cohorts, which seem to have obeyed him without any reluctance, and following hard upon the heels of Sheba, came up with him, where he had taken refuge in the fortified town of Abel. The place was immediately invested; but from the miseries of a siege the inhabitants saved themselves, by throwing the head of Sheba from their walls into Joab's camp. With that trophy Joab returned to Jerusalem, and such was still his influence with the army and the people at large, that David found himself compelled to pass over the assassination of Amasa and to continue him in his command.
It happened that about this period a grievous famine oppressed the country, and the seasons continuing adverse for a considerable length of time, David became satisfied that the calamity originated in other besides natural causes. He accordingly consulted the Divine Oracle, and was informed that God had sent the famine upon Israel, in vindication of the Gibeonites, whom, contrary to the standing treaty entered into on the first arrival of the Hebrews in Canaan, Saul had, on many occasions, cruelly slaughtered and abused. In consequence of this announcement, and a positive order from God to afford to the Gibeonites whatever satisfaction they might demand, David gave up to them seven of Saul's descendants, two of whom were that monarch's sons by his concubine Rizpah, and five his grandsons by his daughter Michal. These persons the Gibeonites put to death by hanging them on gibbets, where their bodies were condemned to remain till rain should fall upon the earth ;-- a harsh sentence doubtless, but not at variance with the manners and superstitions of those who pronounced it; while its execution gave occasion to one of those touching displays of piety which are nowhere so beautifully
described as in the Bible. Rizpah, with a mother's fondness, “ Took sackcloth and spread it upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest till water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest upon them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.” David was greatly moved when the above anecdote was communicated to him. The rain no sooner began to fall than he caused the bodies to be collected, and buried them with the bones of Jonathan and Saul, which he removed for the purpose from Jabesh-gilead, in the sepulchre of Kish, at Zelah, in Benjamin.
The famine was scarcely removed when the Philistines began to renew their hostilities, and several battles were fought at different places. All of them ended in David's favour, though on one occasion he himself narrowly escaped falling by the hand of one of their champions, and some gave occasion to feats of singular courage on the part of David's servants. Among these, the daring exploit of three champions deserves to be recorded, who, on the king's expressing a desire to drink of the water of a particular well at the gate of Bethlehem, burst through a guard of Philistines that covered it, and brought the prize to their master. But David would on no account indulge the whim which had thus put the lives of brave men in jeopardy. He amply rewarded their zeal, but the water he solemnly poured out to God upon the ground.
David had now attained that period of life when 1032.
the corporeal frame ceases to be capable of enduring
the fatigues of war; and he was, in consequence, prevailed upon to lay aside the sword, and to assume more than he had hitherto done the sceptre of civil government. Unhappily for his country, the venerable monarch's vanity rose high in proportion to the decay of his bodily vigour. In an evil hour he permitted his imagination to run wild on the subject of his own and his people's greatness; and forgetting whence that greatness came, issued orders to his chief men to make a census of the military population of the einpire. It was in vain that Joab, to whom he immediately addressed himself, ventured to remonstrate against the king's command. David was not to be moved from his purpose, and an account was in consequence taken of all persons, both in Israel and Judah, who were in a condition to bear arms. But
the pride of the sovereign, and the luxury of the people, which had increased to an extraordinary degree, were alike doomed to meet with a reproof. The mustering officers were scarcely returned, when Nathan, the prophet, appeared before David with a message of wrath from Jehovah, and a grievous choice was submitted to him, of famine, pestilence, or unsuccessful war.
It was no easy matter to decide which of the three evils might most easily be borne ; but David, trusting more to the clemency of God than of men, finally entreated that his kingdom might suffer from pestilence rather than from war. His request was granted, and for three days a plague raged in Israel, wbich swept off no fewer than seventy thousand
At last, however, as the infection drew nearer and nearer to the capital, David, in bitterness of spirit, prayed that upon his head, and not upon the heads of his people, God's
anger might be poured out; and God, taking pity upon a nation already sufficiently humbled, consented to arrest the progress of the disease, David was accordingly commanded to offer a burnt-sacrifice on Mount Moriah, at the threshing-floor of Araunah, the Jebusite ; and the monarch no sooner obeyed the command, having previously purchased the field from its owner, than the plague was stayed.
This was one of the last public acts of David's life, on whom old age and sickness began to press heavily ; but even when enfeebled in body, it was not the destiny of the minstrel monarch to enjoy an absolute freedom from mental anxiety. His son Adonijah, Absalom's brother, and now, in consequence of the death of that prince, the eldest of David's family, taking advantage of his father's weakness, began to aim at the throne ; and entering into a conspiracy with Joab, the commander-in-chief, and Abiathar, the highpriest, withdrew himself from the court, in order to arrange his plans of insurrection. This was no sooner made known to Nathan, the prophet, than he urged upon Bath-sheba the necessity of obtaining a formal enactment from David, in favour of Solomon ; and the king, having long ago pledged himself that Solomon should be his heir, immediately complied with her request. He first of all pronounced, in presence of his counsellors, a decree appointing Solomon to the succession; and then, for the purpose of putting an end to cabals, caused him to be solemnly anointed and associated with himself in the government. These were prompt and decisive measures, and they produced the desired effect. The conspiracy was instantly broken up, and the chief actor in it fled for safety to the altar within the tabernacle, from whence he was after a while, on promise of future submission, permitted to retire with the new king's pardon,
“ Now the days of David drew near that he should die ;"! and like a prudent and just prince he devoted his last moments to the duty of advising his son and successor. He warned Solomon of the impolicy as well as wickedness of erring from God's laws, by paying implicit obedience to which, a king of Israel could alone hope to prosper; and then entering into more minute details, he gave him directions as to his mode of dealing with certain persons, of whosé turbulent dispositions David had received numerous proofs, though he had not possessed the power adequately to requite them. Having done this, and religiously blessed his son, David gave up the ghost, and was buried in Sion, after a reign of forty years, during seven of which he poss sessed the crown of Judah only.
The funeral rites were scarcely completed ere 1030.
Adonijah, secretly dissatisfied with the disposition
which his father had made of the throne, began to speculate upon the possibility of exciting a rebellion. As a preliminary step, he determined to obtain Abishag, the last concubine whom David had taken, to wife ; and hoping to conceal his real motives, he employed Bath-sheba, Solomon's mother, to demand her for him of the king. But Solomon saw at once into his brother's duplicity. Instead of granting the favour sought, he gave orders that Adonijah should be put to death ; and he followed up the blow by other measures not less prompt nor less prudent. Abiathar, the highpriest, was deprived of his office, and banished to his country-house ; Joab was slain when clinging to the horns of the altar ; and to Shimei it was announced, that though his life was spared for the present, it would be forfeited in the event of his presuming, on any pretext whatever, to pass beyond the gates of Jerusalem. Unfortunately for himself, Shimei failed to pay rigid attention to these terms. He did pass beyond Jerusaiem in pursuit of a fugitive slave, and was put to death immediately on his return.
The reign of Solomon, though splendid and glorious, pre
sents few subjects of minute detail to the pen of the modern historian. From foreign wars he was, at least for many years, free ; and though the Jews dwell, with not unbecoming pride, upon the magnificence of his court and the extent of his resources, these hardly deserve from us the degree of attention which other matters demand. His wisdom, sagacity, great learning, and high renown are likewise subjects better calculated to occupy the mind of individuals than to swell the pages of a narrative; while his apostacy, in his latter years, from the worship of the true God presents one of the most melancholy pictures of the inconsistency of human nature that has ever been drawn. With this preface, we proceed to enumerate certain of the leading events which occurred during his lifetime, leaving the reader to consult the pages of Scripture for more minute particulars.
One of the first steps which Solomon took after ascending the throne was, to ally himself by marriage to Pharaoh, King of Egypt ; after which he offered an immense burntsacrifice to Jehovah, at Gibeon. Here he was favoured by night with a divine vision, in which God laid before him a choice of many blessings; and Solomon, like a modest and upright man, prayed that he might receive an understanding heart and be rendered competent to govern God's people with equity. His prayer was heard; and no great while elapsed ere an opportunity presented itself of proving to his subjects at large that an understanding heart had been granted to him. There came before him, on a certain occasion, two women, the inhabitants of one house, praying him to give judgment in the following case : They had both been delivered of children at the same time, but one of them overlaying her infant, it died, and she now set up a claim to be the mother of the child which survived. Solomon, after listening to their respective stories, declared himself incapable of deciding between them; but that neither might have cause to complain of partiality, he ordered a sword to be brought, that he might divide the child, and give half to each claimant. Now it was that natural instinct disclosed the true mother. The woman whose child was dead readily assented to the king's decision, while the parent of the living infant entreated that it might be given entire to her rival, rather than be put to death. This was precisely the effect which Solomon desired to produce. Instead of cutting the little innocent