The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 69: David Called to the Throne
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David, upon hearing of this treacherous assault, exclaimed,
"I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord forever from
the blood of Abner the son of Ner. Let it rest on the head of
Joab; and on all his father's house." In view of the unsettled state
of the kingdom, and the power and position of the murderers—
for Joab's brother Abishai had been united with him—David
could not visit the crime with just retribution, yet he publicly [p. 700] manifested his abhorrence of the bloody deed. The burial of
Abner was attended with public honors. The army, with Joab
at their head, were required to take part in the services of
mourning, with rent garments and clothed in sackcloth. The king
manifested his grief by keeping a fast upon the day of burial; he
followed the bier as chief mourner; and at the grave he pronounced
an elegy which was a cutting rebuke of the murderers.
"The king lamented over Abner, and said:
"Died Abner as a fool dieth?
Thy hands were not bound,
Nor thy feet put into fetters:
As a man falleth before wicked men,
So fellest thou."
David's magnanimous recognition of one who had been his
bitter enemy won the confidence and admiration of all Israel.
"All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them: as
whatsoever the king did pleased all the people. For all the people and
all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay
Abner the son of Ner." In the private circle of his trusted counselors
and attendants the king spoke of the crime, and recognizing
his own inability to punish the murderers as he desired, he
left them to the justice of God: "Know ye not that there is a
prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel? And I am this
day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of
Zeruiah be too hard for me: the Lord shall reward the doer of
evil according to his wickedness."
Abner had been sincere in his offers and representations to
David, yet his motives were base and selfish. He had persistently
opposed the king of God's appointment, in the expectation of
securing honor to himself. It was resentment, wounded pride,
and passion that led him to forsake the cause he had so long
served; and in deserting to David he hoped to receive the highest
position of honor in his service. Had he succeeded in his purpose,
his talents and ambition, his great influence and want of
godliness, would have endangered the throne of David and the
peace and prosperity of the nation.
"When Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his
hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled." It was [p. 701] evident that the kingdom could not long be maintained. Soon
another act of treachery completed the downfall of the waning
power. Ishbosheth was foully murdered by two of his captains,
who, cutting off his head, hastened with it to the king of Judah,
hoping thus to ingratiate themselves in his favor.
They appeared before David with the gory witness to their
crime, saying, "Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul
thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged
my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed." But David,
whose throne God Himself had established, and whom God had
delivered from his adversaries, did not desire the aid of treachery
to establish his power. He told these murderers of the doom
visited upon him who boasted of slaying Saul. "How much
more," he added, "when wicked men have slain a righteous person
in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now
require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the
earth? And David commanded his young men, and they slew
them. . . . But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in
the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron."
After the death of Ishbosheth there was a general desire
among the leading men of Israel that David should become king
of all the tribes. "Then came all the tribes of Israel to David
unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and
thy flesh." They declared, "Thou wast he that leddest out and
broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed
My people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. So all
the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and King David
made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord." Thus
through the providence of God the way had been opened for him
to come to the throne. He had no personal ambition to gratify,
for he had not sought the honor to which he had been brought.
More than eight thousand of the descendants of Aaron and of
the Levites waited upon David. The change in the sentiments of
the people was marked and decisive. The revolution was quiet
and dignified, befitting the great work they were doing. Nearly
half a million souls, the former subjects of Saul, thronged Hebron
and its environs. The very hills and valleys were alive with
the multitudes. The hour for the coronation was appointed; the
man who had been expelled from the court of Saul, who had fled [p. 702] to the mountains and hills and to the caves of the earth to preserve
his life, was about to receive the highest honor that can be
conferred upon man by his fellow man. Priests and elders, clothed
in the garments of their sacred office, officers and soldiers with
glittering spear and helmet, and strangers from long distances,
stood to witness the coronation of the chosen king. David was arrayed
in the royal robe. The sacred oil was put upon his brow by
the high priest, for the anointing by Samuel had been prophetic
of what would take place at the inauguration of the king. The
time had come, and David, by solemn rite, was consecrated to his
office as God's vicegerent. The scepter was placed in his hands.
The covenant of his righteous sovereignty was written, and the
people gave their pledges of loyalty. The diadem was placed
upon his brow, and the coronation ceremony was over. Israel
had a king by divine appointment. He who had waited patiently
for the Lord, beheld the promise of God fulfilled. "And David
went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with
him." 2 Samuel 5:10.
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