Page images

into a high hill, called Mount Pisgah, and saw the country where the Hebrews were to live. Here Moses praised God, blessed the people, and died. The people were afflicted, and mourned for him very much they had been very wicked, and had troubled him often; now they were grieved to lose such a benefactor and friend. Aaron had died before.


After Moses died, Joshua took care of the Hebrews; he went with them into Canaan. They were obliged to kill a great many people, who lived there, before they could have the country; at length they took possession of it, and lived there many hundred years.

The country of Canaan was afterwards called Judea; it is now called Palestine; and is in Turkey, in Asia. It is easy to find upon a map where these events happened. This part of the history of the Hebrews is to be found in the Old Testament, in different chapters, from the beginning of the book of Exodus, to the twenty-third chapter of the book of Joshua.


MOSES died 1490, fifteen centuries, nearly before the birth of Christ. After his death Joshua led the Israelites into the country of Canaan. God commanded the Israelites to kill the wicked inhabitants of Canaan, and to take possession of their country. The Israelites killed great numbers of the different tribes of

people who dwelt in Canaan, and divided the land among their own tribes. A tribe of the Hebrews consisted of all those persons, men and women, who were descended from one of Jacob's sons. The descendants of Judah formed the tribe of Judah-the descendants of Gad were the tribe of Gad, &c.

For about four hundred years the Israelites were governed by the laws which God gave to Moses, administered by the priests; by the chiefs, called princes of the tribes; and by a supreme magistrate, who was sometimes a mili tary officer, and sometimes a civil governor, and who was called a Judge. Samuel was the last judge. During Samuel's life the Israelites asked him to give them a king to rule over them. The neighbouring nations, the Syrians, Egyptians, and others, had kings, and the Israelites desired one. Their first king was Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Some years after Saul was made king, God informed Samuel, it was not his will that the posterity of Saul should reign over his people, as the Israelites were called. At the same time, God commanded Samuel to repair to the dwelling of Jesse, an old man of the tribe of Judah, who lived in Bethlehem, and there to anoint one of the eight sons of Jesse to be king of Israel. At first Samuel was unwilling to do as he was commanded, lest Saul should hear of it, and kill him for anointing a king in his place. But God promised to instruct him how to act when he should arrive at Bethlehem; and Samuel trusted that he should be safe under the divine protection. Samuel was first command

ed to prepare a sacrifice, and call the family of Jesse to the holy service.


And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And Samuel said, Peaceably I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And Samuel sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. "And it came to pass when they were come, that Samuel looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

"Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And Samuel said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this. Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And Samuel said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.


Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And Jesse said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.


"And Jesse sent, and brought him in. the youth was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the

Lord said, Arise, anoint him for this is be. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah."


Anoint. To anoint a priest or king was to pour a fragrant oil over his head, and to entreat the blessing of God upon the anointed person. The priests and kings of the Israelites were sometimes called the "Lord's anointed."

Sanctify. To make holy.-Do not come to the Lord's service with worldly or wicked thoughts, nor with soiled hands, and unclean garments-make yourselves fit to hold communion with a holy God-raise your thoughts to him, and perpare your hearts for what he shall be pleased to communicate to you. Such was the meaning of the injunction, "Sanctify yourselves," which Samuel uttered to Jesse and his sons. We ought now to sanctify ourselves, when we attend the worship of God.

Sacrifice. An offering of some animal, or of fruits, or flowers, accompanied with prayers to God.

[ocr errors]

David after he had been anointed king, returned to the care of his flocks, but he was soon called into the presence of king Saul. David was a poet and a musician. Those beautiful poems, the Psalms of the English bible, were composed by David, in the Hebrew lan

guage; and sung sometimes in the worship of the Israelites; and sometimes by the divine poet alone, accompanied by the harp—a stringed instrument known to the ancients.

Saul was disturbed in mind," an evil spiri from the Lord troubled him," he was afflicted, and nothing but music could calm his agitation.

“And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our Lord now command thy servants, who are before thee, to seek out a man who is a cunning player on a harp and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.

"And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning at playing, and a mighty valiant man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.

"Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, send me David thy son, who is with the sheep. And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.

"And David came to Saul, and stood before him and Saul loved David greatly; and he became Saul's armor-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favor in my sight.

« PreviousContinue »