Billeder på siden

transgression in my hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but my hand shall not be


thee. As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked : but my hand shall not be upon thee.' After whom is the King of Israel come out ? after whom dost thou pursue ? after a dead dog, after a flea ? The Lord therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thy hand. And it came to pass when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, “Is this thy voice, my son David ? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. And he said to David, thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me; forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thy hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him


y? wherefore the Lord reward thee good, for what thou hast done unto 'me this day.' In this case, the law of kindness produced an excellent result; for it robbed

* 1 Samuel xxiv: 7.-19.

Saul of his murderous design, and softened the iron purpose of his revenge, opened the fountain of his tears, and sent him home without any · desire to accomplish the object for which he

left it.

Another most striking instance of the power of kindness, occurred later in the history of the Jews, than the foregoing fact. The King of Syria was at war with Israel. In order to overcome the armies of Israel, Ben-hadad formed two plans of ambush to entrap them. But the King of Israel, being timely informed of those plans, was enabled to escape them so certainly, that Ben-hadad concluded that some one of his servants had been treacherous and betrayed his plans to the enemy. But one of his servants informed him, that there was no treachery in the case; that the King of Israel obtained his information from the prophet Elisha, who, by the power of inspiration, could read the thoughts of the heart. Vexed by the defeat of his plans, Ben-hadad, learning that Elisha was in Dothan, sent an army to make him captive. They surrounded the city in the night. In the morning, instead of assaulting the city, that whole host of Syria was smitten with blindness, in answer lo a prayer sent up to Heaven by the prophet.Elisha then went forth to the host, and said to them, “this is not the way, neither is this the

city; follow me, and I will lead you to the man whom


seek.' They followed him, and he led them into Samaria; so that when their eyes were opened, they discovered that they were in the midst of their fues, and at their mercy. When the King of Israel perceived that they were in his power, he inquired of the prophet, “my father shall I smite them ?''4 Now unquestionably the prophet might, by a single word, have slain the Syrians, deluged the streets of Samaria with their blood, and sent wailing and despair into Syria. But he uttered no such word. He answered the King, “thou shalt not smite them; wouldst thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and thy bow !-set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.”I The King obeyed the prophet, fed them, and sent them to their own country. The effect of this splendid exhibition of the law of kindness, is given in the simple language of the historian, “ SO THE BANDS OF SYRIA CAME NO MORE INTO THE LAND OF ISRAEL." They were so touched by generosity, so subdued by affection, that they could no more appear in arms against Israel-they were enemies most

[ocr errors]

12 Kings

*1 Kings vi: 19. † 2 Kings vi: 21. vi: 22. 0 2 Kings vi: 23.

my father

effectually, overcome, for the fire of love had melted their enmity. How very different this result from that which followed the harsh conduct of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, when he ascended the throne. The congregation of Israel came to him, and said, “thy father made our yoke grievous; now, therefore, make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee."* After consulting with his young men, Rehoboam answered, made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”+ He might evidently have conciliated the people by kindness—but by pursuing a course of malignity, he introduced rebellion into his dominions; for ten of the tribes revolted against him, and formed a separate kingdom which never again united with the rest of the Jews; but was frequently embroiled in war with them until the ten tribes carried

away into ptivity. In this case, Rehoboam added evil to evil, and the consequence was discord, bloodshed and anarchy.-Elisha, on the contrary, met evil with good, and his enemies were changed into affectionate friends, who refused to lift the hand of opposi


* 1 Kings xii: 4.

ti Kings xii: 14.


tion against him or his country. The contrast between the result of love and hate, are very obviously marked in these convincing instances. Hate and revenge as surely ended in bloodshed and war, as love and kindness rooted

up weed of animosity and gave birth to respect and affection. Rehoboam multiplied his enemies by harshness-Elisha gained many friends among the pagan Syrians by forbearance and goodness. The power

of the law of kindness is beautifully exhibited in the events with which the apostle Peter was concerned, at the betrayal of Christ. When Peter denied his Lord, and in his fear declared that he knew not the man, his bitter tears would never have flowed, nor his sorrow have been so pungent and complete, had not recollections of the kindness of his Lord came thronging over his feelings, powerfully contrasting his base ingratitude with that love which had instructed and blessed him. Peter bowed under it-he could not withstand the good with which his evil was met—and he mourned his defection with sincere repentance, and was ever after true to his Saviour, even unto death.

After the venerable Evangelist John had returned from his banishment to the isle of Patmos, he made it his duty to visit various

« ForrigeFortsæt »