Imagens das páginas

say, that he came to Bethlehem merely to present an offering. So Samuel went, taking with him his horn of sacred oil. When the venerable man, so solemn in appearance and bearing, approached, the people were afraid and asked him, 'Comest thou peaceably?' Samuel replied that he had come to offer up a sacrifice, and bade all sanctify themselves and be present at the ceremony. Among the people were Jesse and seven of his sons; David was absent, tending the sheep. As the brothers arrived, Eliab, the eldest of them, a tall and comely youth, met first the eye of Samuel. The prophet, remembering that Saul had been chosen for his imposing stature, thought within himself, that this was surely the Lord's anointed. But the grace of God was not given to this youth. Samuel heard the Divine voice, The Lord sees not as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. Then the other six sons of Jesse passed before Samuel; but none of them was the chosen one of the Lord. The prophet asked Jesse whether he had no other sons ? And Jesse replied, he had one more, the youngest of all, who was in the fields keeping the flocks. Samuel requested that this youngest son should be brought before him. It was David. As he appeared before Samuel, ruddy, with beautiful eyes and heartwinning grace, the Lord said, 'Arise, anoint him, for this is he!' Samuel took his horn, and anointed David at once in the midst of his brothers. . And the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.'

But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.' Dark and terrible were the days now in store for the forsaken king, overshadowed by a gloomy cloud, cast down by tormenting sadness. His servants, seeing these symptoms with sorrow and alarm, proposed to find some skilful player on the harp, who with sweet sounds might soothe his troubled

mind. Saul consented, and the young shepherd David, renowned for his gift of music, was sent for: he came from his flocks, bringing as a present to the king from his father Jesse an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid. Saul from the first loved him; and when he felt depressed by the evil spirit, he ordered him to take his harp and play, and he was cheered. David accompanied the king everywhere, and was soon made his armour-bearer. But it appears that he did not remain long with Saul; he must after a while have returned to his father's house and to his old occupations; for it is as a shepherd that we hear next of him.


[1 Sam. XVII.)

The Philistines, although repeatedly defeated by Saul, were neither subdued nor apparently much weakened, and they again determined upon a war of aggression. They entered the territory of Judah, and pitched their camp in a hilly country between Shochoh and Azekah, eastward of their own town Ekron. Saul entrenched himself with his men on an opposite height. A wide valley separated the two armies. The Philistines had among them, as their principal champion, a man of Gath, Goliath by name, a soldier whose towering form, 'six cubits and a span' high, was a well-known object of dread to the Hebrews. His panoply of war is minutely described : he had a helmet of brass; his coat of mail, which was also of brass, weighed five thousand shekels; he wore greaves of the same metal upon his legs, and carried a brazen javelin between his shoulders; the staff of his spear resembled in size a weaver's beam, while the iron point of that weapon weighed six hundred shekels. Thus armed, the giant

appeared constantly before the camp of the Hebrews, and shouted forth, 'I defy the armies of Israel this day: give me a man that we may fight together. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants; but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall you be our servants, and serve us.'

For forty days did the ruthless warrior thus challenge the Israelites; but not one of Saul's men ventured to answer the summons to the formidable single combat, upon the issue of which so much was to depend.

The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed the king to the war, while David had remained at home, tending the flocks as usual. One day he was charged by his father to proceed to the camp with provisions for his brothers and their captain, and to return speedily with news of their welfare. The two armies were drawn up in battle-array in front of each other, and just as David ran up to salute his brothers, the terrible Philistine champion stepped out before the line, and repeated his insulting speech as before. The men of Israel shrank back in fear. David, who had been listening intently to the words of Goliath, turned to question those near him what all this meant ; who that giant was ? and what would be the reward of the man who killed him? Upon which he was told that the king would give the conqueror great riches, marry him to his daughter, and declare his father's house free from all burdens. Eliab had noticed that his youngest brother was in eager conversation with some of the soldiers; and well aware of his daring and intrepid spirit, he upbraided him with angry vehemence : Why hast thou come down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy presumption and the wickedness of thy heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle !' But David, though conciliatory to his brothers, remained firm in his

purpose. This was reported to Saul, who summoned the youth into his presence. There he persisted in his resolution, and said : Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.' Saul answered compassionately, 'Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him ; for thou art but a boy, and he is a man of war from his youth. Then David, anxious to obtain the king's consent, related his successful encounters with the lion and the bear, and concluded, • The Lord that delivered me out of the

paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.' Yielding at last, , Saul said, 'Go, and the Lord be with thee.'

David was clad in the king's armour, and Saul presented him with his spear and his sword; but the shepherd boy could hardly walk in the large and ponderous coat of mail; so he laid it off, and prepared for the difficult combat in his own manner. He took his staff in one hand and his sling in the other; and choosing five smooth stones out of the brook, he put them into his shepherd's bag or scrip, which he threw round his shoulder. Thus armed, he drew near to Goliath. The Philistine came forth, preceded by his armour-bearer; but when he saw the fair and ruddy youth of small stature, he exclaimed disdainfully : “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?' and he cursed him by his gods. Come to me,' he continued, and I will give thy flesh to the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field. But David, conscious of his good cause, and inspired by it to a sublime courage, replied, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and

and with a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. . . . And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give

with a spear,

you into our hands.'

The Philistine, enraged by this bold reply, advanced towards his opponent. Now David quickly drew a stone from his bag, and placing it in his sling, flung it against the forehead of the Philistine. It pierced the giant's head, who fell upon his face to the ground. Running near and grasping the large sword of his fallen foe, David slew him, and cut off his head. At this sight the Philistine hosts were seized with consternation; they turned and fled in wild confusion ; the Hebrews followed in rapid pursuit, and pressed the fugitives on as far as Ekron and Gath. When they returned, they were received with shouts of triumph and rejoicing. David, carrying the head of Goliath in his hand, was brought before Saul, who apparently did not recognise in him the skilful harp-player, for he asked him, Whose son art thou, young man?' And he answered, 'I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.' Saul would not let David return to his father's house from that day. And then commenced that noble friendship between the king's son and the future king of Israel, which the Bible records in these simple but expressive words : “ The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. ... Then Jonathan and David made a covenant; and Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and his bow, and to his girdle.


« AnteriorContinuar »