[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]
PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).
Seventh Study.—The Rise of David's Empire.
[The material of this " study" is furnished by Professors Beecher and Burroughs. It is edited by Professor Harper.]
I. PRELIMINARY NOTES.
1. This "study" and the following are pre-eminently biographical. " The life and character of David are presented to us with a completeness which has no parallel in the O. T."
2. It is of interest to note how the history of Israel, at this period, is intimately related to the life of David; how, in a sense, his life is the representation and interpretation of his times; e. g.,
3. It will be found profitable to compare the life of David, considered as Scripture biography, with biography in general,
II. THE BIBLICAL LESSON.
1. Examine and learn the following outline of David's reign:
III. HISTORICAL, LITERARY AND BIOGRAPHICAL TOPICS.
1. David's Heirship.
2. Royalty in Israel (see 2 Sam. 1:14,16; cf. 1 Sam. 24:6; 26:9, etc.).
3. Important Localities. Make a study of historical facts and circumstances as related to the following places, consulting the concordance:
4. Jerusalem (see 5:6).
5. Various Readings.
6. Parallel Pentatenchal Passages.
7. Parallel Accounts in Chronicles.
8. Abner, Joab and Abishai.
9. David and his Sin.
1. Draw, by tracing or otherwise, an outline physical map of the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, with the adjacent country, as far east as the upper Tigris, and as far west as the mouths of the Nile.
2. On this map draw lines (preferably colored lines) indicating the probable boundaries
3. Trace on the map the history of David's foreign wars, defensive and offensive.
V. QUESTIONS FOR PRACTICAL WORK.
1. From the narrative, as a whole, show how character built up in struggle and adversity, is threatened by prosperity.
2. From the fall of David, show how one sin leads on to another until the man is entangled in a net-work of wickedness.
3. Consider the strength and nobility of character which are essential to and disclosed in real repentance.
4. Which involves more of character, trust in self or trust in God?
1) This view of the reign of David differs much from those commonly held. From Josephus down, it has been held that the bringing up of the ark, 2 Sam. 6, took place soon after David began to reign in Jerusalem, and before most of his great wars. But this view of the case is beset with difficulties. Probably the strongest reasons in support of it are the presumption that the events in these chapters are narrated in the order in which they occurred, together with the use of the phrase "after this" in 2 Sam. 8:1; 10:1, and the corresponding verses in 1 Chronicles. But these reasons are not decisive, provided sufficient evidence against them is forthcoming; the author may here have preferred some other order than the chronological, and "the " after this may be a part of the phraseology of the older writings used by him, retained here notwithstanding the fact that these passages have been removed from their original connection. See second " study " iv. 4 (3).
On the other hand, if we accept I Chron. 13:1-5 as historical, that is conclusive as to the point that the bringing up of the ark did not take place till after the completion of David's conquests "from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering in of Hamath." And when we seek an arrangement of the events that will be in accordance with this fact, we presently find an order so natural and consequent as strongly to confirm the fact itself.
For example, on the scheme thus constructed, David's moral history—the great stumbling block pointed at by those who argue that all our accounts of him are unhistorical—is as follows: During most of his relations with Saul, say up to the time when he was twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, he comes very near to being the most gifted and the most high-minded man described in the Bible. To this part of his life belong most of the Psalms that are dated in their titles, Pss. 7; 34; 52; 54; 56; 57; 59, for example. In the last years of Saul, David had deteriorated; this appears in his conduct toward Nabal, his readiness to join the Philistines against his own nation, his plan of gaining influence by marrying many wives. When he became king, prosperity did not lift him from this low moral plane; he was faithful in ordinary duties, and in many things obedient to Jehovah; but he continued his policy of polygamy; he illegally made his sons priests; he neglected to inform himself as to his duties to the worship of Jehovah; his muse celebrated the lives of Jonathan and Abner, rather than the praises of Jehovah. His tendency to moral degradation was strengthened by his withdrawal from active military service, 2 Sam. 21: 17, and the luxurious living consequent thereupon. It culminated in the horrible combination of sins in the matter of Uriah; contemporaneous with these were the dreadful cruelties he practiced in war, 12:31; 8: 2, etc. In the experiences of these months, God showed David the wickedness of his heart. Repenting of his great sin, David led a reformed life. He entered upon his neglected religious duties, at first blunderingly, and needing the rebuke that came in the death of Uzzah, afterward more carefully. But notwithstanding his repentance, the consequences of his misdoing followed him in the troubles that beset his later years.—W. J. B.
2) Such a study of the passages is expected as will enable the student to present the substance in a brief but comprehensive form.
3) It will be necessary, because of the view of the reign of David taken in these " studies," seven and eight, to combine the references to the literature of the subject. See Smith's "Bible Dictionary," and McClintock & Strong's "Cyclopaedia," art. David, concluded; Geikie's "Hours with the Bible," vol. iii. chapters 8-13, pp. 183-313; Stanley's "Jewish Church," lects. 23, 24; Delitzsch's "0. T. History of Redemption," pp. 84-94; Lenormant's "Ancient History of the East," pp. 136-142; Blaikie's "Manual of Bible History," pp. 243-257; Edersheim's "Prophecy and History," pp. 183-190; von Orelli's "O. T. Prophecy," pp. 148-188; Briggs' "Messianic Prophecy," pp. 121-153; Oehler's " Theology O. of T.," pp. 156-169, etc.
4) The student who carefully looks up these references will find, in the several accounts, a good many marked differences of statement—differences which it is certainly possible to regard as contradictions, invalidating the credit of the narratives. But in no case is it necessary so to regard them; they may be accounted for either (1) as referring to different parts of the event they mention, and therefore as not inconsistent with one another; or (2) as possible errors of copyists; or (3) as real inaccuracies, perhaps retained from the older accounts used by the writers of the books, not affecting the essential truth of the accounts. Other things being equal, the first of these three explanations is to be preferred, in any given case. In very many instances, the apparent discrepancies vanish, the moment you gain a clear understanding of the event.
5) "David's sons were priests," 2 Sam. 8:18. This eighth chapter seems to be a summary of David's wars of conquest, fuller particulars of some of these wars being given in chapters 10-12. The " government" here described is probably that which existed at or near the close of these wars. Some light is thrown on the date by the fact that David now had sons old enough to fill public offices; putting this with other indications, we may guess the date as near the middle of the forty years of David's reign. There is no reason for giving the word "priests" here any other than its usual meaning. The fact that David's sons were priests was a gross irregularity, of a piece with those that attended the first attempt to bring up the ark; we may presume that it was corrected, after the death of Uzzah, along with those other irregularities, 1 Chron. 15: 2.— W. J. B.
6) See concordance; Bible Dictionary; notes p. 82 and note 6, p. 239, Kirkpatrick's 2 Samuel.
7) Note also the parallel sections, following the order of 1 Chronicles as follows: 1 Chron. 11: 1-9 = 2 Sam. 5:1-3,6-10; 1 Chron. 11:10-41 = 2 Sam. 23:8-39; 1 Chron. 14 = 2 Sam. 5:11-25; 1 Chron. 18 = 2 Sam. 8; 1 Chron. 19 = 2 Sam. 10; 1 Chron. 20:1-3 = 2 Sam. 11:1; 12: 26-31; 1 Chron. 20:4-8 = 2 Sam. 21:18-22.
8) A complete study of the sin of David can only be made in connection with the subsequent portions of the narrative, which disclose its consequences. The consideration of David's inward life as discovered in his Psalms, is reserved for later " studies."