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THE FAVOURED SHEPHERD.
THE FAITHFUL SERVANT.
How fully did David-how fully must all the Lord's servants in their different stations fulfil that injunction of the apostle—“Be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord !” The servant of Abraham, to whose piety we have undoubted testimony, (Gen. xxiv.) would not eat after a long journey until he had told his errand; and having done this and accomplished all that his master had sent him to do, he resisted all invitation beyond the hospitality of one night's rest, and rising up early in the morning said, “Send me away that I may go unto my master; hinder me not, seeing that the Lord hath prospered my way.”. Joseph too, was wise and diligent in preserving his adopted country from the evils of famine, and promoting the interests of the king who had raised him to be next in station to himself; and thus David, the beloved of the Lord, “went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely, and he was accepted in the sight of Saul's servants and in the sight of all the people; he behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was much set by.”
Who will not be ready to join in the exclamation, whether said respecting those in public capacities, as counsellors, ministers, nobles, or of those in the more private stations of stewards or menials of every degree in families, who will not be ready to join in the exclamation, “ What a blessing is a faithful servant !” And who is, or can be, a faithful servant but the faithful follower of the Lord Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith? Who is the wise servant but the follower of Him who is the source of all wisdom? Who is the obedient servant but he who seeks to follow implicitly that Lord who hath said, “ If ye love me, keep my commandments?” Such a servant is indeed, as has been abundantly proved, a blessing to a nation or a family, while we look in vain for faithful service where the ruling principle is self-interest instead of the constraining love of Christ. Taking a broader view of the matter, however, in one sense, we are all servants -servants of the Most High God; and well will it be for us if in his service, which is perfect freedom, we walk so guided by the wisdom which is from above as to be worthy of that sentence which He will hereafter pronounce on those who have found righteousness and strength in the Lord Jesus—“Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Happy Saul, to bave such a servant as the son of Jesse! How his heart must have thrilled with thankfulness as he heard the rejoicings on the defeat of his enemies by the hand of the valiant David! How must his heart have responded to the sound of the tabret and the song of minstrels“ Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands ?” But what! is it possible that the favoured master can be envious of the well-earned praises of his faithful David, the conqueror of his foe, the deliverer of his
kingdom? It was even so, for the scripture narrative goes on to inform us that “ Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him, and he eyed David from that day forward.” 1 Sam. xviii.
Now to what can we trace this evil conduct in the infatuated king of Israel ? It was no new principle then for the first time reigning in the human heart, and adapted to Saul's peculiar circumstances. It was the same principle St. John speaks of (1 John iii. 12.) as actuating Cain when he slew his brother, “because his own works were evil and his brother's righteous ;” it was that spoken of by the apostle Paul with reference to Ishmael: (Gal. iv. 29.) “ As he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now:” it was that alluded to by our Saviour when he said, (John xv. 19.) “ because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you :” and it was the same that now influences the hearts of men, when the consistent walk of the believer in Christ sheds such a bright light around him, (John iii. 20.) that the careless or hypocritical professor hates bis Christian neighbour, while he envies the light he sheds, though he draws not nearer to the source whence it is derived, “ lest his deeds should be reproved.” It is an evil sign when we dare not bring ourselves to the light of God's truth, or when we cannot bear a near comparison with God's holiest and most eminent saints, without feeling envy and bitterness. Whenever such tempers are excited, we may well tremble lest it be with us as with Saul, for “ the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him.” And here let us distinguish between the gifts and graces alike distri
buted by God the Holy Spirit, the third person in the ever-blessed Trinity. Saul, like Balaam, possessed the valuable gift of prophecy; but prophecies may fail, tongues may cease, and knowledge vanish away, while the Spirit of grace never finally leaves the heart in which he has once dwelt, but conducts it safely, through many trials frequently, to glory. O let us beware of grieving that Holy Spirit, lest by departing from us it is proved that we have hitherto had nought of his existence but the most ordinary gifts, wbich, like the strength of Sampson, may at any time be taken away.
Nor is it surprising that from envious thoughts, the enemy of God and his servant should proceed to deceitful and murderous action: the repeated endeavours to smite him to the wall with his javelin, while in the act of ministering to his comfort, not succeeding, he presses upon him the honour of marriage with one of his daughters, requiring that for a dowry the acquisition of which would expose him to almost certain death. In this too he was disappointed; the God who had given his servant strength to kill the lion and the bear, and who had given to the stone from his sling force sufficient to hurl Goliath to the earth, gave him success in this instance also; so that Saul was yet more afraid of David, and became his enemy continually, endeavouring to put him to death with his own hand, or watching his house to kill him, on which he was forced to fly from the court to which he had been invited, and to which he had rendered such faithful service.
In all these passages of David's life we cannot but see in him the type of the suffering, persecuted Saviour, and with him his militant church. Christ
wrestled with Satan in the wilderness, and came off conqueror in a battle much more important than that of David with Goliath of Gath. His gainsaying enemies would have burled him from the precipice, had he not used his own omnipotence to pass through the midst of them and escape their malice. In his very infancy the enemy sought his life, and sent out a fierce edict that the sword should pass through a certain portion of the land he governed, that he might smite the Saviour and annihilate his kingdom. But both David and Christ were preserved ; the one to sit upon the earthly throne to which God had appointed him, and to be a beacon to Christians of every age; the other to finish the work his co-equal Father gave him to do when he said, “ Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, against the MAN THAT IS MY FELLOW; smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Zech. xiii. 7.) And who (to follow out the type and antitype in this part of the history) was the faithful servant, the wise steward, the perfect man, of whom David in all these characters was. but a mere shadow? Who but be of whom it was said, “ Never man spake like this man;" and
“ wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth; ” who went about doing good, and who, when his time was come to be offered, could say in the perfection of his manhood, as well as the perfection of his Godhead, “ I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do, and now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory that I had with thee before the world was.” (John xvii. 4, 5.)
But here the type falls miserably short of the antitype, for David was but a sinful and imperfect man like