Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

David Made King

Saul, in the meanwhile, had heard that the Philistines were coming, and he was very anxious to know how the war would end. As the spirit of the Lord had left him, and he could not find out what would happen in any other way, he now made up his mind to do as many people did then, and consult a witch.

Saul had often rebuked the Israelites for doing this, and as they did not heed him he had killed nearly all the witches in his land some time before. Only one had escaped him, and she now dwelt at Endor, where Saul went in disguise to ask her advice.

The witch soon recognized the king, although he came without his usual train of followers; but, after making him promise that he would not harm her in any way, she consented to use her magic arts in his presence. By spells and incantations she then called up the spirit of the prophet Samuel, whom Saul said he wished to see.

Saul questioned the spirit when it rose up before him, and learned not only that his army would meet with a terrible defeat, but that he and his sons would perish on that same fatal day.

In a gloomy frame of mind he left the witch of Endor, and went forth to meet the Philistines. As Samuelís wraith had foretold, the Israelites were beaten, and Saulís sons were killed. Then the king and his armor-bearer, unwilling to survive and become the prisoners of their foes, fell upon their swords and died also.

David, coming back to his town among the Philistines after a short absence, now found that the Amalekites had taken and burned it, and had carried off his two wives, Abigail and Ahinoam. After consulting the high priest Abiathar, and getting his leave to fight, David pursued and defeated the Amalekites, and gave their spoil to his own followers. As he came back to his own town, he was met by a messenger, an eyewitness of the terrible battle between the Philistines and the Israelites.

This man told David about the defeat of the Israelites and the death of the king and his sons. Then, hoping to win Davidís favor, he added that it was he that had killed Saul with his own hand. This untruth received a speedy punishment; for David, believing it, bade one of his soldiers cut off the manís head.

The death of all the royal family was a great blow to David, but he mourned especially for his friend Jonathan. Several of his psalms, which bear the impress of his grief, are supposed to have been composed at this time, and to be a sort of funeral lament for the royal race.

The whole country was in a terrible condition at this time. Although Abner, general-in-chief of the Israelite army, had proclaimed Ishbosheth, the youngest son of Saul, as king, the Philistines had taken possession of the greater part of the country.

For two years Ishbosheth made a feeble attempt to reign; but Abner saw that Davidís party daily became more powerful, so he finally proposed to make peace with him and join him. David accepted these proposals, and promised to receive Abner kindly, provided that his wife Michal was given back to him.

All would have gone well, and the two parties would have been good friends, had not Joab, Davidís captain, slain Abner soon after he left his masterís presence. This act of treachery so angered David that he cursed Joab and all his family, and mourned publicly for the murdered Abner.

When the rest of the people saw how just David was, they all said that they were in favor of him. Two captains then slew Ishbosheth and carried his head to David, from whom they expected a reward. But David, who despised all treachery, put them both to death.

Although some members of Saulís family were left, David was now called sole king; and he reigned at Hebron seven and a half years before he moved to Jerusalem. In this new capital, "David went on, and grew great, for the Lord God of hosts was with him." It was here, too, that Hiram, King of Tyre, sent to ask his alliance, promising him in exchange cedar wood from Mount Lebanon for the building of a new palace at Jerusalem.

This palace was very grand and spacious; for David, not content with Michal, Abigail, and Ahinoam, had many other wives, and was the father of many children, who all dwelt under his own roof.