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into deep distress, so highly did he think of his beloved mother as to plead even his descent from her, if not also the pains she had taken with him, as one ground of his petitions. “O turn unto me,” he prays, “ and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.” On another occasion he says, “ Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” I have thought it not improbable, that here he alluded to the death of his mother, since, as though he had desired to follow in her train, he immediately adds, “ O Lord ! truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid.” “ Not only,” as though he had said, “ am I subject to thine authority and obedient to thy laws, but I am the child of a godly mother.” In delineating character, the greatest caution is observable in Scripture: let the reader therefore only consider what is involved in the expression, “ handmaid of the Lord,”—the terms employed with reference to the mother of Samuel and the mother of Jesus,- he will then be disposed to admit the influence which the wife of Jesse, as well as Jesse himself, had in forming the man “ according to God's own heart.”
One scene in the life of this great man shews the high regard which he entertained for these his parents. Concealing himself from Saul in the cave of Adullam, he felt in the greatest extremity. Appealing to God, he exclaimed, “ They have prepared a net for my steps ; my soul is bowed down.” As for himself, his mind was fixed. “In the shadow of thy wings,” says he, “ will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast." But when his parents came to sympathize with him there, they must not be so exposed. Recollecting, perhaps, that the grandmother of Jesse, his father, was a Moabitess, he conducts him and his mother to the other side of the Dead Sea, to Mizpeh of Moab : “ and he said to the king of Moab, Let my Father and my Mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you till I know what God will do with me. And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the cave.”
The death of this venerable pair, or at least the solace of their company, and the benefit of their advice, David surely had in view on another occasion ; for whatever others did, long as they lived, they never cast him off; no, they never once voluntarily forsook him; and his language goes to the heart as finely descriptive of the only way in which he imagined, that, to him, the loss could ever be repaired in this world. “ Leave me not,” he says, “ leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation! When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up! Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path because of mine enemies.” At all events, for an individual grown up to manhood, who had already been celebrated by the daughters of Israel for his prowess as a warrior, who had been anointed to be a king, and had the prospect of a throne, and such a throne! for such a man thus to refer to his father and mother, and to hand this down to posterity, I must consider an indubitable proof of a great mind: and if, by this time, he was already on the throne, these expressions of filial regard render him greater still. What became of the old people we are not informed: but, long as David lived, he remembered his father. When even Solomon ascended the throne in his sight, he forgot not his descent from such a parent; and, in the last psalm he is generally supposed to have penned, he closes by saying,—the prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.” When even his last words are recorded, (2 Samuel, xxiii. 1.), the father's name, it seems, must not be omitted : so that, to the very close of life, this great and extraordinary man is held up to us as the “ stem of Jesse.” Parental influence therefore, in David's case, will, it is presumed, now be admitted.
As a father, David himself will yet be noticed. Amidst the affairs of his kingdom, and frequent wars, as a parent, at one period, he failed sadly, and, as a husband, he fell. For such neglect, however, even the affairs of a kingdom form no apology. These sins, therefore, not only cost him extreme anguish, but they stand recorded as the greatest blots in his character. Still, after his own iniquities had corrected him, and his backslidings had reproved him, there was one child who filled his old heart with joy. · This, however, was a son whom he himself instructed, and one of whom both himself and the mother took such care, and with whom they were at such pains, as will appear afterwards.
JOHN THE BAPTIST.-To this parental influence, eminence in the church as well as in the state may very often be distinctly traced.
Of John the Baptist, one said, who knew perfectly
every prophet that had preceded him, “ Verily, I say to you, among them that are born of women, there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.”
But this wonderful man was in the desert till the day of his shewing unto Israel, there enjoying the benefit of such parents as Zacharias and Elizabeth must have been. “ They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” With what delight then must the Father have uttered these words: “ And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way!" Old though he was, long as he breathed, he, as well as Elizabeth, must have watched over him; for their early death is, at best, a mere conjecture,—but other instructors John had none. The sayings respecting him might be “noised abroad through all the hill-country of Judea,” and interest in other quarters a few like themselves; but Scribes, or priests, or teachers of the law, he had none. Under his parent's eye, “the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”
SOLOMON.—Among the characters in Scripture conspicuous for greatness of mind, another individual, equally remarkable for political wisdom, and for general as well as religious knowledge, must not be omitted, Solomon, the son of David: a man who possessed “ wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, as the sand that is on the seashore,—whose wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the East, and all the wisdom of Egypt; one, in short, who was wiser than all men, and whose fame was in all nations round about: who uttered three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five,—who spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall; who spake also of beasts and of fowl, of creeping things and of fishes.”
It is true that, at one remarkable period of his existence, he received what no parent, however anxious, could bestow; an immense accession to all his powers immediately from the Almighty: but then this accession to his former greatness was in answer to his own request, and it stands recorded as the effect of his own choice. Now, at the auspicious moment when Jehovah put the question, “ Ask what I shall give thee.”—Why select wisdom and understanding ? At a moment when he had every thing in his option which God himself could give, had parental influence and parental advice, tenderly and often repeated, no share in guiding him to this selection ? Solomon himself will tell you. “I was," he replies, “ I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me,Let thine heart retain my words ; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.—Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom : and, with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her.” To these parental monitions, if the reader desires to hear an echo of approbation from heaven, he may do so, in 1 Kings iii. 10-14; and should he