Reign of King David
50.—The Great and Pious King David.
1. After Saul's death David was chosen king of Israel. He established his residence at Jerusalem, and, by the number of his armies and the brilliancy of his victories, was very renowned amongst the neighboring nations. He had twelve generals, each with an army of twenty-four thousand men under him, and, over all, Joab was placed general-in-chief.
2. During his long and turbulent reign David carried on many wars. In turn he subdued the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, the Edomites, and the Ammonites. By his victories, immense treasures of gold and great quantities of booty were brought to Jerusalem. When David died he left a kingdom that extended from Egypt to the Euphrates. In every respect this was the most brilliant period in the history of Israel, as well for its victories abroad as for the wisdom of its legislation at home.
3. David paid much attention to the administration of justice. He chose wise men for his counsellors and upright men to rule the people. He also appointed honest men to guard the royal treasures and manage the crown lands. Order was everywhere.
4. David, moreover, strove, as well by his own example as by his influence, to cultivate and spread the worship of the true God among his subjects. On Mount Sion he built a magnificent tent in which to place the Ark of the Covenant. When all things were ready the Ark was carried thither with great pomp and show. In the procession were all the princes of the people, clad in purple robes, while the priests wore their richest vestments. Three thousand armed men served as a guard of honor, whilst the people attended in countless numbers.
5. Those who marched before and those who immediately surrounded the Ark played upon lutes and harps, and on cymbals and trumpets. David himself walked before the priests, playing on his harp, while at every few steps a bull and heifer were offered in sacrifice to the Lord.
6. After this David divided the priests into twenty-four classes, and each, in its turn, was commanded to serve before the Lord. From amongst the Levites were chosen four thousand singers, whose duty it was to chant, day by day, the praises of God, and to play on all manner of musical instruments.
Questions to Consider: 50.—Who was chosen king? What is said of him? What of his armies? Who were subdued? What was brought to Jerusalem? What is said of David's reign? What was built on Mount Sion? What was placed in it? How were the priests divided? What was the duty of the Levites?
51.—The Revolt and Chastisement of Absalom.
1. David committed two grievous crimes: first, he persuaded Bathsheba to sin with him, and then, to hide her shame, caused Uriah, her husband, to be murdered. But the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to him, who fearlessly reproached him with his crimes. David humbly acknowledged his faults and confessed his sins against the Lord. At the sight of his humiliation God pardoned him, but, as a punishment, sent him many trials.
2. Of these the most severe was the revolt of his son Absalom, the most beautiful man in Israel. Absalom began by flattering the people and pandering to their prejudices. When he thought himself strong enough he openly revolted. From all sides the people ran to his standard. When David heard this he left Jerusalem, and, passing over the brook Cedron, went, barefooted and his head uncovered, up the Mount of Olives, weeping on the way.
3. A man from the house of Saul, named Semei, met David as he fled, and, throwing stones at him, cursed him, calling him a man of blood. Abisai, one of David's servants, wished to kill Semei, but David forbade him, hoping God might perhaps turn his curses into blessings.
4. In the mean time Absalom pursued his father beyond the Jordan; the two armies met, and Absalom was defeated. While he fled, mounted on a mule, Absalom passed under a large oak-tree, in the branches of which his hair became entangled, and, the mule passing on, he was left hanging by the hair. When Joab, one of the king's generals, heard this, he ran and thrust three spears into the ungrateful heart of Absalom. He threw the body into a deep pit, and cast upon it a great heap of stones.
5. When David heard of his son's death he was greatly afflicted, and, weeping, cried out, "My son Absalom, would to God I had died in your stead, Absalom, my son Absalom." After this David returned to Jerusalem, accompanied by his army and a great multitude of people who came forth to meet him.
6. David is a figure of Jesus Christ—in his family residence, Bethlehem; In the obscurity of his youth; in his victory over Goliath; in his sorrow when he passed over the brook Cedron; by his ascent of the Mount of Olives; in his generosity to his persecutors; and, finally in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
7. As David had to contend against two enemies, Saul and Absalom, so have two enemies risen against Christ and His Church—the first, Judaism, which the Church replaced: the second, heresy, which has so often risen against the Catholic Church, and, by flattering the passions of men, succeeded in blinding the multitude and leading them astray.
Questions to Consider: 51.—Whom did God send to David? What did David do? What great punishment did God send? Who cursed David? What happened to Absalom? Where did David go? Of whom is David a figure? How?
52.—The Last Days of David.
1. David reigned over Israel from his thirtieth to seventieth year. When he saw his end approaching he called together the princes and principal men of the nation, and told them how he bad intended to build a Temple to the Lord; how he had gathered together gold and silver, brass and iron, and wood and stone, but that God had forbidden him, as he was a man of blood and of many wars. God, however, would allow his son Solomon to build the Temple.
2. Then David gave Solomon minute directions as to its construction, and warned him that it was not a house for man he was building, but a dwelling-place for the Lord. David, besides, told Solomon never to forsake the Lord, but to serve Him with a docile heart; and, further, to remember that in the day he forsook God, God would forsake him.
David died, and was buried on Mount Sion, and Solomon, his son, succeeded him.
Questions to Consider: 52.—How long did David reign? What did he say about the Temple? What did be say to Solomon?