« PreviousContinue »
thought of so little, encouraged because it is no palpable vice, so blinding the eyes of its possessor as to fling its black shadow on all his associates, till they are thought the churlish, not himself; temper, the severer of so many gentle ties, the rude breaker of so many loving hearts, the baleful spirit of so many otherwise richly favoured homes,—0, what but a character, a piety, an energy like Abigail's, can enable us to sustain its trials, in a manner acceptable to the Lord, and not overwhelming to ourselves ? As women, as women of Israel more especially, let us endeavour to cultivate these noble qualities, and feel that even for the sufferings of a churlish temper, we have sympathy, comfort, and guidance in the Bible. We may not all have either the beauty, or the good understanding of Abigail; but we may all have piety and energy and influence if we so will, the one springs from the other; for the want of energy, the absence of all influence, arises from a listless indifference which never can exist with true piety. The service of God demands constant watchfulness, constant activity, ay, and constant thought; nor can we serve Him, apart from serving our fellow-creatures. To bear and forbear is peculiarly woman's duty-in every station of life, and more especially towards a husband; and every religious and justly feeling woman will rouse her every energy to conceal, or at least prevent, the evil consequences of temper and ill judgment spreading over her household, and lowering the character of a husband in the minds of his inferiors. Abigail's constant superiority of judgment and action we learn by her servants going to her without hesitation. They must have frequently confided in her judgment
before, else they could not have demonstrated such implicit trust in a moment of danger.
Her influence we as clearly perceive in the success of her appeal to David; a quick judgment and few well chosen words saved herself and household from destruction, and David from the committal of a great sin. And if by the cultivation of mind and manner woman can achieve such things, who shall deny her the privilege of being an instrument of good, or seek to confine her to a false and degraded position, and so compel either vacuity and idleness, or frivolity and folly? We may not be called upon to exert our influence in a matter of life or death, but few are the women who pass through this life without some opportunity to use their natural influence for good, either in the encouragement of worth, or the wise and gentle guidance from the paths of sin. If there are some who will deny this, who will assert that in their isolated position they have influence on none, and have no power to do good, we would say, it is because they seek it not, not because they have it not; and beseech them to rouse their dormant energy to find and use it, and by the superiority of their mental resources, their spiritual piety, their noble energy, and pure meek womanly influence, alike in their domestic and social position, make manifest to the nations how deeply they feel and glory in the privileges accorded to, and in the duties demanded from them, as the female children of the Lord.
WISE WOMAN OF TEKOAH.-WOMAN OF Abel.–Riz
PAH. JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON.-WIDOW OF ONE
The period of our history which we are now regarding, will not supply us with such regular biographies as the preceding ones. Between Abigail and the Shunammite, in the time of Elisha, there is no female character which we can look upon as a whole, and derive thence individual benefit; but in the years of the monarchy stretching between the two above mentioned, there are some notices of women peculiarly valuable to us in a national sense, as pourtraying our position, both social and intellectual.
The first of these is the wise woman of Tekoah, suborned by Joab to incline the king's heart towards Absalom. In what sense the epithet " a wise woman” was regarded, we cannot exactly determine; but from Joab sending at once to Tekoah, we are led to suppose her a person noted for her wisdom, and selected for that
Her story is, of course, a feigned one, and therefore does not command our commiseration; but it is valuable, as it so undeniably manifests how easy it was for the women of Israel to obtain the ear of the monarch, and receive justice and protection at his hand, even against the opinions of the people. She tells David that she is a widow who had two sons, one of whom, in striving with the other, had smitten and slain him. That the whole family had risen against the widow, commanding her to deliver up the survivor, that they might revenge his brother's death by also slaying him; and so, in the beautiful language of Scripture, “ quench my coal which is left, and not leave my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.” David, in answer, desires her to return to her home in peace; that he would give charge concerning her. Still she lingers, and he reiterates, “ Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him unto me, and he shall not touch thee any more. Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the Lord thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the ground.”
By this we are led to believe, that the supposed crime of the one brother against the other came under the accidental murders, where the slayer was permitted to seek the cities of refuge. It is, as we know, a fictitious tale of grief; still it is important to mark how exactly it tallies with obedience to the laws. The woman asserts herself to be a widow, and consequently the peculiar care of her brethren. Her position is sanctified, and therefore is it that David not only hears her, and promises that he will take her in charge, but pledges himself to yet greater leniency than the law allows. In his own case, one exactly similar, David had done such violence to his own parental feelings, that three years had elapsed since he had looked on his darling Absalom, towards whom we are expressly told his soul longed to go forth. The laws of his country might not be transgressed for him, though
a sovereign; and yet for a mourning widow his kind heart yielded. This does not evince disregard to woman's feelings, or that they were less objects of care in the state than man, but rather the complete contrary; the king's son was to remain in exile and ignominy, the widow's son was to be protected and pardoned.
Not content with the favour granted the supposed widow, she proceeds to entreat the king, “ Let thine handmaid speak, I pray thee, one word unto my lord the king. And the king said, Say on.” And then boldly and unhesitatingly the suppliant turns reprover; and, making her own case the king's, pronounces it a faulty judgment, else why does he not fetch home his banished? We need not transcribe the whole of her well-judged appeal (see 2 Sam. xiv.). The king's penetration at once discovered the real mover of this scene, and addressing the woman as his equal, instead of demanding the truth from her as some might imagine due to his royal prerogative, he asks, “ Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this?” The whole was consequently revealed; but no anger at the deception followed. The king's word had passed, and though it was to a supposed case, he would not withdraw it. The young man Absalom was recalled from his grandfather's court, and brought by Joab to Jerusalem; but still, true to his paternal severity, David would not listen to his feelings ; and for two years, though dwelling in the same town, the father and son never saw each other's face; whereas, had the widow's story been true, he would have per