76 Sermons on the Old Testament

I wish to continue with my sermons on the Psalms of David and those which were continued under his influence, to show how the Hebrews turned to God for trust, strength to overcome the threats and struggles of the earth life and for consolation in his hours of bereavement.
In the last sermon I have been considering the Psalms of David from the point of view of an intimate approach of man to the Father, wherein God is essentially seen not as the early tribal and community deity in which the individual soul is submerged in the conception of a national God, but wherein the human being, in his own right as a living entity; turns to His Maker and seeks from Him that consolation, that love, that power to help him combat evil in his soul, and, through prayer and more elevated ethical conduct, shows his trust in the Father to strengthen him in his daily struggles in a grim existence, and delivers him from those enemies and hostile forces with which he needs must contend and overcome to survive.
The psalms of David, and those written under his inspiration, are songs of many moods -- from joy and exultation, to sorrow, penitence and despair. These are songs of praise of God, hope and faith in His bounty and mercy, in the soul's knowledge that only faith in God can give man the inner strength to go on in the face of hostile events and circumstances, and count on ultimate deliverance. They are the knowledge which the soul has that God is man's rock of salvation, so that obedient to God's law to avoid sin, man's place with God will be secure, and further, that God will deliver man out of the evils of the material world because of such faith. These songs were prayers which the soul addressed to God in great supplication and petition growing out of the soul's desperate need for help and assurance.
These sermons on the character of King David, which underline those episodes showing his essential goodness of heart in the difficult position of being leader of Israel's armies in the nation's wars against her hostile neighbors, have sought to explain why David was designated a man after God's own Heart. It was precisely for this goodness of heart, which he was able for the most part to maintain in the face of the brutal conditions which prevailed, that he was thus designated.
Another instance of David's forebearance is found in preventing Abishai, Joab's brother, from killing Shimei, a man of the house of Saul, when that individual cursed David as he came to the village of Bahurim. Shimei came out of his dwelling, cursing and picking up stones, cast them at the king and his servants. And thus said Shimei, 'Begone, thou man of blood, and base fellow; the Lord has visited upon thee all the blood shed by thee of the house of Saul in whose place thou has reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son, and behold, thou art taken in thy own mischief, because thou art a man of blood.'
Yes, I am here once more to continue my story of David, the king, as a man whose innate impulses were good, in that, faith in God, kindness and generosity were in his heart.

I have tried to show that David, in his conduct towards Saul, Jonathan and Abigail, Nabal's wife, revealed a heart in which forebearance and restraint were much in evidence. Through this goodness of action, David gained a respect and popularity which helped to give him the allegiance of hundreds and later thousands of men, all leading towards his accession to the throne of Judah, and ultimately, to kingship of the entire Hebrew nation.
The sermons I am delivering to you about David the king are important in showing readers that warfare and swordsmanship are not everything that characterizes the greatest of the Hebrew kings, but that there was a facet to his behavior which reveals his human love, which is seen in his kindness, his sympathy and his forebearance.
In countless stories and commentaries about David, his valor in battle, his power of leadership, his skill in extending boundaries of the Hebrew nation and inevitably his sins with Bath-Sheba and her husband Uriah are those themes which constantly come up, and they are, perhaps, warranted and justified in estimating the qualities of the man and judging his character, and I should also add, from the religious viewpoint, his unshakeable faith in the Father, and, of course, this is true, but I also want to tell you that David was also a man of personal warmth and that he showed kindness and sympathy not as a duty which he thought was due to God, but which came from his heart and which he felt as a human being.
I have been telling you about those narratives in the Old Testament wherein God is visualized as a God of Love, if not the Father of Divine Love, then the Jehovah whose love shines forth on that human level displayed by His children. In the previous sermons I have pointed out how love between brothers, for a father, between in-laws, reflects this love between man and his fellow man indicative of the human soul created in the image of the Father.
In this sermon, I continue to show you how the Old Testament of the Hebrews developed stories in which some of the characters act towards their fellow men in a spirit of love attesting to that human love which was implanted in mankind by God and was the forerunner of that sublime love which the Father has available for whomsoever of His children seek it in earnest prayer, so that, abiding in their souls, it will provide the salvation which, as the Messiah of God, I brought with me when on earth.

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