Page images

ties which had so gained him the loving favor of the Lord, delight and admiration—that to him this privilege was accorded, must utterly have prevented all thought and emotion but veneration and rejoicing; but that it was merely exterior beauty and brilliant qualities which had attracted her, is clearly evident from the scornful contempt with which she regarded him, when these were laid aside for the moment, and nought could find entrance into the heart of David, but rejoicing, thankfulness, and holy zeal.

David was satisfied with administering a just reproof; but the Lord was not: and from the punishment which befel Michal, we must infer that her sin was greater than at a first perusal it may seem. That it was not contempt of David only which she felt, but contempt of the holy service in which he was engaged; and therefore was it “ that Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death :" not only debarred from having children of her own, but even deprived by a subsequent act of the Eternal's justice of the five she had acquired by adoption. In 2 Sam. xxi., we find mention of a famine in Israel, which was to arouse David to the fact that all the awful actions of Saul and his bloody house were not yet atoned, and reparation to the Gibeonites still to be made. Seven of Saul's nearest descendants they demanded should be delivered up to them, in lieu of either gold or silver, or even execution on the part of Israel's king. David, guided by the Lord, delivered up in consequence two of Saul's remaining sons, and his five grandsons, which Merab his eldest daughter had borne to her husband Adriel, and whom Holy Writ informs us, “ Michal had brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite,"

Thus was she doubly childless, and by a bereavement most awful in its kind; yet the very choice of these might not only be for justice done to the Gibeonites, but to work out still more fully the Eternal's anger against Michal. The same spirit which had incited her to scorn His holy service, might have prompted the very adoption of these children in proud defiance to His almighty will. Children of her own she might be restrained from having, but who or what was to prevent her adopting the children of her sister, and making them in every respect her own? If such were in truth her incitement to their adoption (and we only suppose it from an impartial consideration of her character), how fearfully must she have been taught the sinful and miserable vanity of striving with the Lord. How much better it would have been to have humbled herself in penitence and prayer before Him, acknowledge the justice of His first sentence of childlessness, and endeavour so to reform her heart and life, as not only to become more worthy of her husband's love, but to regain the loving mercy of the Lord; not by a change in His decree, for that was immutable as Himself, but by the spiritual calm and blessedness which He grants to all who love Him. Had she done so, she might have been happier, notwithstanding her having no child, than she had ever been before; but of such conduct we have no trace. She looked only to human means for the acquirement of happiness, and those proved indeed “the reed whereon if a man lean, it will

go into his hand and pierce it.” The mention of her having brought up the sons of Adriel, is the last notice which we have of Michal. Her character is not one to linger on, with either pleasure or admiration, and therefore we cannot regret that we have reached its close. The only pleasing trait about her is, her love for David; and that he truly loved her, endows her with an interest scarcely her own. Nor can we find any part of either her history or character to hold up as an example. A warning indeed it presents us, and one which alas ! but too many of us need. How often does silent and unavowed, yet still realised contempt, fill the human heart, when we witness an outpouring of zeal, to which our own cold unexcitable natures never can attain. How frequently do we condemn enthusiasm as romantic folly, only because to us it is incomprehensible; and, an evil still worse, how often do we secretly scorn the religion of those whose outward forms may appear to us childish, or unfounded, and not needed to bring up our prayers before the Lord. How many times do we contemn those who in the merest trifle differ from that standard of holiness which we may have set up for ourselves, and refuse to believe in their sincerity, because its semblance is unlike our own. And in scorn and disdain towards those who serve the Lord with those forms which their conscience approves and dictates,-0 let us beware, lest contempt extend to the service, as well as to the servers—to the religion, as well as to the forms. This was the sin of Michal. For this the Lord Himself chastised her; and that she was chastised, is an unerring proof to us how deeply displeasing in the sight of the Eternal is contempt for holy things. Let us then look with more charity on the mere outward forms of our brethren, however they may differ from our own preconceived opinions. Let us not condemn their zeal, or be too hasty in pronouncing enthusiasm the service of the lip and not of the heart. If we look well within ourselves to know what may be lurking there, what may need rooting out (even if to do so painfully severs the habits and prejudices of years), to discover if our own hearts and spirits be perfect with our God, we shall have little time for contempt towards the religious observances of others, and be thus effectually shielded from following in the mistaken steps of Michal, and like her incurring the wrath and chastisement of the Lord.



BEFORE commencing our next biographical sketch, we would call our readers' attention to one verse contained in the history we have just completed, as it so strikingly confirms our often-repeated assertion, that in the religion of God, the women of Israel were privileged to join in all religious ceremonies, and to receive the blessings of king or priest equally with the men.

We have already noticed the procession of the Ark into Hebron, the sacrifices and shoutings and soundings of the trumpets; and that when they had brought in the Ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the Tabernacle that David had pitched for it—and David had sacrificed burnt offerings and peace-offerings before the Lord-as soon as he had made an end of the offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts. And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the WOMEN as the men, “ to every one a cake of bread, a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine; so all the people departed, every one to his house.”

In most public rejoicings, it is generally thought sufficient to provide for families not for individuals. In Israel, we find every one sent away, with the means of not only feasting for the day, but for some days afterwards. And by the particular mention of women as well as men, we see that they were not only witnesses of the sacred

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »