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(1 Chronicles Xxviii, Xxix.)
David, who had long filled the throne of Israel, finding that he was on the borders of the grave, appointed his successor in the person of his son Solomon. This was known to Adonijah, his eldest surviving son, who, notwithstanding, took measures to obtain the throne for himself. But he was unsuccessful. Hearing of his rebellion, David caused Solomon to be publicly crowned, and, the voice of the people being generally in his favour, Adonijah dropped his ambitious designs, and sank into retirement.
Shortly after this, the aged monarch called a general assembly of the nation, to ratify the coronation of Solomon, and to make a public declaration of his views and designs. Standing up on his feet, he addressed the assembly at considerable length. He pointed out how the sceptre had been assigned to Judah; and in the tribe of Judah, to the family of Jesse; and of the sons of Jesse, to himself; and of his own children, to Solomon.
David's charge was not confined to the ratification of the coronation of Solomon. His heart had long been inflamed with pious zeal for the honour of God, and he had long meditated the erection of a temple, on the fair site of the hill of Zion, where his people might assemble, and unite in prayer and praise to his holy name. This is discovered in his inimitable verse:—
Lord, remember David,
And all his afflictions:
How he sware unto the Lord,
And vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
Surely 1 will not come into the tabernacle of my house,
Nor go up into my bed;
I will not give sleep to mine eyes,
Or slumber to mine eyelids,
Until I find out a place for the Lord,
An habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Psa. cxxxii. 1—5.
This pious resolve of David was not forgotten in his old age. Neither prosperity nor adversity abated his zeal, and hence this object formed a conspicuous feature in his charge. After explaining the reason why he had been prevented from carrying his design into effect—because he had been engaged in war—he exhorted Solomon and the nation to erect the temple, according to the model which he had himself supplied, and to contribute liberally towards it, in addition to the stores and materials which he had, in the course of his reign, been enabled to provide. His personal address to Solomon is replete with interest and instruction:—" 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 for ever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.—Be strong, and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship, every willing skilful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment." 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, 10—20.
In the course of his address to Solomon, the aged monarch gave him the pattern of the Temple, and an account of the gold and silver which he had collected for the hallowed work. But, great as this amount was, it was not sufficient for the magnificent Temple he contemplated, and hence he exhorted the assembly to assist in the undertaking. His discourse was so animated, that his people responded to his exhortations by making the most liberal contributions on the spot, towards its erection. Their zeal was so great, that, in contemplation of it, David uttered this noble and devout thanksgiving to Jehovah:—" Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever. Thine, 0 Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine: thine is the kingdom, 0 Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we
given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. 0 Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. 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—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." 1 Chron. xxix. 10—19.
The monarch paused, and called upon all to unite with him in a solemn act of worship; after which Solomon was again anointed king in the presence and with the sanction of the assembly, by Zadok, and David resigned the regal authority to him.
It is to this interesting occasion that both the leading and subjoined engravings have reference. In the former, the artist has endeavoured to represent the aged monarch in the regal costume of that period, and his attendants in the observance of the ceremonial proper to the king's presence. The sovereign stands—" Then David stood up;" and his son and the great officers sit, in token of reverend submission to the sacred authority of the Lord's anointed. David wears upon his head a state cap, and is clothed in a double-sashed tunic, bordered on the edges. The assembly are attired in appropriate costumes, but all of them of a light and airy character, and the dresses of the head are calculated to protect both the head and neck from heat, and at the same time to distinguish the respective rank of the individuals. The authority upon which the artist has chiefly rested, is a seal discovered at Antioch, and which is probably of the age in which David lived.
The assembly consisted of the princes of Israel; the princes of the tribes; the captains of the companies in immediate attendance upon the monarch; the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds; the stewards over all the substance and possession, or cattle of the king; the sons of the monarch; and the officers or secretaries, with all the mighty and valiant men in Jerusalem. These various ranks are depicted in the engraving, and the observer will scarcely fail to distinguish the one from the other. They are, indeed, placed therein according to their priority of rank, the royal personages and great officers of state being nearest the monarch, and so on down to the meanest in the assembly.
The zeal of David and his people, as recorded in this interesting portion of Holy Writ, is well calculated to quicken that of the Christian reader, in his endeavours to promote the glory of God in the world. Who can, in truth, read of the lively zeal of the monarch of Israel, and not feel his heart warmed with the same holy principle? And then, the importance of the work which the Christian is called upon to assist in erecting, by his talents and his substance, should act as a powerful incitement to his zeal. It is not simply to the erection of temples made with hands, but to the erection of a temple composed of living stones, or immortal souls. This great truth is too frequently forgotten by the subjects of the Prince of peace. They give; but it is with a sparing hand, and as though it were for a nugatory purpose. But the redemption of souls is no trifling matter. It cost much, even the precious blood of a crucified Saviour, to redeem them; and it becomes the Christian, the man who considers his own soul safe for time and eternity, to stretch every nerve for the salvation of others throughout the wide and universal world.
Wealth, labour, talents, freely give,