The Royal Flight Across the Mount

2 Sam. 15:13, 14, 17, 18, 23, 30
A messenger came and told David, "The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom." Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, "Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword."

So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at a place some distance away. All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king.

The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the desert.

But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up.

2 Sam. 16:5, 6, 11, 12, 14
As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul's family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king's officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David's right and left.

David then said to Abishai and all his officials, "My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today."

The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.

(See also 2 Sam. 15:1-31 and 2 Sam. 16:5-15)

The most sacred and impressive memorials of Mount Olivet are to be found in the evangelical narrative, and associated with the words and work of the Divine Redeemer. In the truest sense of the term, the Memories of Olivet are the Memories of Jesus. Its rocks, its footpaths, its little dells and ravines and olive groves, are, above all, fragrant with "the name which is above every name." Its green slopes are a sacred scroll--an illuminated book--glowing with the records of His presence and power--His pleadings and His tears. The Old Testament, however, is far from being either silent or devoid of interest regarding a locality, which was to receive its loftiest and truest consecration at a later and brighter day--and the passages indicated at the head of this chapter, form alike the earliest and the most remarkable of these "Memories" which preceded the Gospel Era.

Few single incidents indeed in Old Testament story, are so vividly photographed in all their minute details as that which we are now to consider. Touching must have been the scene here unfolded. The uncrowned and unsandalled King, with head covered and eyes dim with tears, pursuing his way along the precipitous road "by the ascent of the Olives" to the country of exile whence he might never return--the wailing crowd, like a long funeral procession, their heads similarly muffled, (for "the whole land wept"), tracking his steps.

"Put not your trust in Princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." "Cease you from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of." To all outward appearance, the Minstrel King of Judah had been securely seated on his Throne. Though a man of war from his youth, his sword was sheathed, his empire consolidated, his capital strengthened and beautified--peace seemed to be within its walls and prosperity within its palaces. But a storm was gathering, and the noblest vessel on that surging sea is driven on the rocks! Sundry political causes, on which we need not now enter, may have tended to foster and stimulate the national disaffection. Chiefly among these, may be noted, the impolitic appointment of mercenaries for the Royal Body-guard--"Cherethites, Perethites, and Gittites, six hundred men, which came after him from Gath," (2 Sam. 15:18.)

It is not difficult, indeed, to seek David's personal reasons for this enlistment of foreign soldiers and counselors. There is no doubt that at this period of the monarchy his popularity was on the wane. Since the commission of the great crime of his life, his whole character as a ruler seems to have deteriorated. That crime had recoiled terribly on its perpetrator. He secluded himself more from his subjects. He was deeply conscious that he had justly forfeited, at least the former enthusiastic ardor of their love and loyalty. He was no longer either physically or morally the hero he once was. Losing his own self-respect and self-confidence, he lost confidence in the attachment of his old and trusted advisers, and with a short-sighted policy availed himself of extraneous aid. Add to this--some have inferred, from references in several of the Psalms, that at this period he had become the victim of bodily ailment; an ailment so severe, as to prevent him, for the time, discharging indispensable public duties; more especially that, which has ever possessed peculiar charm in the eyes of Orientals, seating himself day by day by the City Gate--the arbiter in disputes and the redressor of wrongs.

The unscrupulous Absalom avails himself of the tempting opportunity--the favoring conjunction of circumstances--to ingratiate himself with the populace and gratify his unnatural ambition. His gaudily-caparisoned horses and chariot; his noble demeanor and kingly countenance; his indefatigable attendance at early morn to hear causes of debate and controversy; His deceitful reflections and insinuations regarding the King's absence and neglect to appoint a deputy; at the same time with bold effrontery asserting his own pretensions, "Oh that I were made a Judge in the land, that every man which has any suit or cause might come unto me and I would do him justice"--all this king-craft or prince-craft was only too successful with a people fond of outward glitter and show, and possessing the frequent national characteristic of fickleness and love of change. The Royal conspirator "stole the hearts of the men of Israel."

The course was only too successfully laid, and all that had to be done was to apply the torch. It must have been, need we say, to the aged Father, the trial of all trials, that the arrow which pierced him was one feathered from his own bosom--that it was the child of his affections, his favorite son--around whose future his too fond heart had weaved visions of bright hope, whose gallant demeanor had won a nation's love--it was he who was the fomenter of the rebellion, and the plotter of his parent's ruin--who had put forth his hand to embitter his old age, and bring down his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave!

Let those who know what it is to mourn the early death of loved ones--who have gathered around the grave of household treasures and wept over lives of usefulness and promise and love prematurely nipped in the bud--let such come and learn from the Old King of Judah, to thank God that, by these early removals, He may have spared tears and anguish far more bitter, for they may have been "taken from the evil to come." How willingly would that smitten monarch have exchanged places with you--taken your aching heart, with its hallowed memories and sublime solaces, to be freed from woes and sorrows too deep for utterance or for tears.

He, also, had once lost a child; and deep and intense was his grief, when the wavelets of that fragile life were ebbing--when for seven whole days and nights he lay prostrate on the ground, importunate that it might be spared. But what was this? What this sudden and early drying up of a little well-spring of joy within his Palace? dust in the balance compared to the woe of woes that was now crushing him to the earth. Truly we may say, in the well-known words of an old writer, "Better David's dead child, than his living Absalom."

But to return to the narrative. What resolution in the present emergency must the King adopt? His life as well as his throne is in peril--the insurrection is spreading--the disorganization is complete--the artifices of Absalom have triumphed. Not a moment is to be lost. The usurper is mustering his renegade army at Hebron; another day will find him marching on the Capital. David, from his Palace windows, looks out on his loved city, "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth." What will he not do to save it from pillage and mutilation? If he remains and attempts a defense, as his old indomitable courage would perhaps have dictated, a fierce struggle must ensue that may deluge its streets with blood. He must leave it instantly. "Arise," he says, "let us flee."

It must have been yet early morning, the sun had just risen over the somber hills of Moab, and Olivet was casting its shadows athwart the Valley of the Kedron, when he gathered his faithful adherents around him. Himself barefoot, (another token of grief)--the center figure of a vast concourse--he prepares to cross "the brook," and to wend along the same bridle-path which a Greater than he often traversed in a future age. The first halt is by a solitary Olive-tree which marked the commencement of the toilsome road leading across the Mount by the way of the wilderness. At this spot all the household troops, including the Philistine body-guard and the six hundred retainers, defiled before the King.

The flight was in one sense abrupt, but yet, in keeping with David's old martial habits, an order of march was formed and preserved. Humbling and mournful--no, rather we should say, noble and impressive procession! Never is David more worthy of admiration than in his hour of adversity--never truly greater is this Cedar of God than when wrestling with the storm. His keenness of temperament might have roused far other emotions. If he had been naturally reserved, stolid, unemotional, we would not have wondered to see him mount the steeps of Olivet in sullen silence, submitting passively to his fate. But with these his feelings so finely set--cut to the quick with the imputation of unmerited wrong (for "reproach," he tells us, had "broken his heart," Ps. 69:20) could we have wondered if, stung to madness--chafed like a lioness robbed of her whelps--we had witnessed, in this season of sudden reverse, uncontrollable irritation--some outburst of vehement rage--some vow of fierce revenge.

How different! In tearful emotion, indeed, but with no repining on his lips, he turns his back on his capital, and pursues his way. Even when Shimei comes forth at Bahurim, on the descent of the Mount, scrambling along the top of the cliff with his storm of curses, and hurling his stones and dirt--the expression of the long-suppressed hatred of the fallen family of Saul; and when Abishai--a representative of the spirit of the world--would at once stop the villain's mouth with his sword, "let me go over and cut off his head," David says, No! "My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn't this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it." Nothing will sting me after this--no wave can buffet me after this.

"I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because You did it!" (Ps. 39:1-9.) Let none say, David was a veteran in trial--that his finer and more sensitive feelings were now blunted, that he made a virtue of necessity, and submitted with cold stoical endurance to the stern fortunes of war. No, we see the saint of God, the resigned believer, his soul even as a weaned child--"Persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed," remaining calm and unmoved, like a rock in the midst of the surge--cherishing the spirit of an older and kindred sufferer, "It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to Him," (1 Sam. 3:18.)

At the commencement of his retreat just as he has crossed the Kedron, and is beginning the ascent of Olivet--there are two incidents which we are called to note. The first illustrates the tender considerateness and unselfishness of David's character. Amid the body-guard of Philistines, his eye falls on Ittai of Gath. David knew well, at a crisis like this, the incalculable value of the experience and valor of such a soldier--what a loss his shattered cause would sustain by the departure of this chief and his six hundred veterans. But why should this brave man share the disasters of a kingdom in which he was a stranger and foreigner? The fallen monarch importunes him to march with his Gittite band back to his own frontiers, and not to imperil his life and theirs with a desperate cause.

Ittai, however, (compared as he has been to the Peter of a future age, along with a nobler guard who surrounded their Master near the same spot,) testifies the strength of his attachment by refusing to leave the royal presence, and chivalrously avowing his resolution to follow him to prison and to death!

Again, we have to mark a sudden stop. The procession pauses. In the motley crowd of soldiers and citizens, we see a group attired in holy vestments. In the panic of the hour, Zadok and Abiathar, with the officiating Levites--faithful to their King, and, as they imagined, to their God--had rescued the sacred symbol from the tabernacle in Zion, and borne it on their shoulders to the place where they knew the Royal fugitive was. Happy accompaniment! we are naturally led to say. The ark of God is with the exiles--the symbol of their nation, the sacred pledge of ultimate deliverance and victory. They may well cheer their hearts and dry their tears--Jehovah will bless the house of David, as He did that of Obed-edom, "for the ark's sake." The furious anarchists who have sided with Absalom, when they march into Jerusalem and discover the removal, will pronounce that the glory of the city has, with it, departed. Its presence with David will rally all waverers. He has only to hasten across Jordan and make known that the symbol of ancestral glory is there, and thousands will give their adhesion to his cause--its name and prestige, more than sword or shield or shields of mighty men, will win back the hearts of his disaffected subjects. Wherever the first great feast--be it Passover, or Pentecost, or Tabernacles, is held--there will "the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to the Testimony of Israel to give thanks to the name of the Lord."

No more, as he hastens to Jordan by way of Jericho, may he not bear in memory the marvels associated, at both, with that consecrated shrine? and now, as its custodian, may he not ask, "Is the Lord's hand shortened that it cannot save?" In one word, will it not prove to him and his, like the Pillar of Fire of old--reflecting brightness on their cause, and spreading darkness and gloom over the camp of the adversary?

Different altogether is David's feeling and determination and royal command--"The king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city!"

The noblest, purest, most unselfish motives, doubtless, dictated this decision. He cherished no superstitious idea that the retention of the Ark would in any way act as a magical charm. He may perhaps reverently have thought that it would be unbecoming and unseemly to risk this holy treasure in the hour of precipitate retreat; But the will of Jehovah, here, as at other times, doubtless decided him. "In Judah is God known. In Jerusalem also is his tabernacle." David will not attempt to purchase peace and restoration by an unrighteous expedient, or by following divisive courses. God (the God who dwelt between the Cherubim) had said of Jerusalem, "This is my rest." Neither priest nor king has a right to propose a transference without divine authority and sanction, and to pillage the Holy City of that which gave it, by distinctive pre-eminence, the name of "The Mountain of Holiness."

If David had been a time-server--guided by worldly artifice, policy, base expediency--if he had made his religion a mere cloak to cover and expedite his schemes of aggrandizement--he would joyfully have hailed the presence of the sacred chest. He would have said, 'By all means keep it. Abandon what else you may. Let my Palace treasures go; the accumulated silver and gold for my projected Temple. Let my best soldiers, if they please, desert my ranks. Let the counsel of Ahithophel, my most sagacious adviser, be given to the enemy. But, at all hazards, retain the Theocratic symbol. Its moral influence is worth half an army, half a kingdom. If my usurped Throne can be re-purchased on no other terms, the Ark of God will do it--I shall hold it out as the price of unconditional surrender!' David, however, was above all such unrighteous diplomacy. His command was imperative; and before he advances another step, he sends Zadok and Abiathar on their way back, with the hallowed ark, to the tabernacle on Zion.

Besides, the veteran saint took a far higher view of the whole matter. If this expulsion from his throne and kingdom had been man's doing--the result of uncontrolled human passion or wayward caprice, he might have altered his tactics--he might have stooped to unworthy compliances, and willingly assented to the expedient worldly wisdom suggested. But it was very different. Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him." 2 Samuel 15:25-26

Ah, doubtless at that moment (unknown to those around) there was a silent voice, more terrible than Shimei's taunts and imprecations, speaking to the sorrowing exile. Nathan's solemn words must have been ringing their echoes of judgment in his ear. The blood of the murdered Uriah, and the foul guilt which followed, must have hung like a cloud of vengeance over his head. Even the name and place of the human agents in the plot, were not without their retributive significancy.

"The sword" that was "never to depart from his house" was now unsheathed; and it was the hand of his own child that was the first to draw it from its scabbard. The defection of Ahithophel--the wisest and wiliest of the political leaders--and his confederacy with Absalom, had its explanation in the family disgrace involved in the crime of his grand-daughter Bathsheba; while the very 'stones' hurled by Shimei, would remind the great wrong-doer of the peculiar death, which, by the laws of his country his crimson guilt entailed, and which doubtless his regal position had alone averted. Conscience was writing bitter things against him.

Others, his still confiding subjects, may have wondered at this sudden reverse of fortune; but David himself wondered not. He had often perhaps had a gloomy premonition of the present hour. He had rather reason to marvel why his God had so long delayed the merited retribution. The Being he had offended was only showing him, "by terrible things in righteousness," that He was "not a man that He should lie." As the aged monarch sped him up these slopes--when he looked on his own sackcloth attire, and listened to the loud wail of his people waking every echo of the mountain--when he looked behind him on the city and palace that had been the scene of his aggravated crime, the dreadful admonishment must, like a funeral bell, have rung in his ears--"be sure your sin will find you out!"

'Talk not,' he seems to say, 'of retaining the Ark. Restore it to its own holy rest. If the God who is now judging righteous judgment, has resolved to bring me back, He will do it independently of any such outward instrumentality. I am in His hands. I will not stoop to a dishonorable strategy, or the arts of base expediency. I may see my beloved Jerusalem once more. Often has He restored me in times past, and led me in the paths of righteousness; and He can do so still; He may yet turn my mourning into dancing--take off my sackcloth and gird me with gladness--I may yet praise Him on the loud cymbal and psaltery.'

'On the other hand, if He has forgotten me; if He has resolved to leave me to perish in exile--I deserve it all, and will submit to it all. If I am to cross that Jordan to my grave--if I am left as a desolate panting deer amid the mountains of Gilead, sighing in vain for the brooks of Zion, I shall not, I dare not murmur. My punishment may be greater than I can bear, but it is not greater than I deserve. He who "stills the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people," may in His own time utter the mandate, "Peace, be still." "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me!"'

Onward the mournful cavalcade sweeps, from the top of the hill, down the undulating slopes, and across the wild, jagged limestone rocks, with the hills of Moab and Gilead demarcating the horizon. Jerusalem, with all its hallowed memories and princely splendors, is exchanged for "a dry and thirsty land where there is no water."

In gathering a few PRACTICAL LESSONS from this 'Olivet Memory,' let us learn–

1. The unsatisfactory nature of all earthly things. This, we find, is the topic of David's special musing in that Psalm, (39.) which was evidently penned along with others, on a retrospect of the mournful incidents of his flight, "Surely every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Surely every man walks in a vain show--Surely they are disturbed in vain--he heaps up riches, and knows not who shall gather them." Here was the result of all this great man's wars and campaigns, all his diplomacy and statesmanship, all his efforts for the consolidation of his empire, the beautifying of his capital, the prosperity of his people.

"All was vanity." In one brief hour the dream had vanished. It was a pantomime--"a vain show." He had been "heaping up riches," accumulating costly materials in his palace--they were to be "gathered" by an ungrateful son, and to fall into the hands of base unscrupulous partisans. What a requital for his toil! What a mockery of the pageantry of the past, and of the bright hopes he had indulged for the future! He could adopt the epitaph, over this mimicry of true life, written in a later age--"The fashion" (or as that word means, 'the shifting drama') "of this world passes away."

And was David's case a singular or exceptional one? Alas! no. Every day makes additional disclosures of the "vain show;" and writes the old "sum of the whole matter"--"This also is vanity." A man "heaping up riches"--but it is a golden pyramid, erected over his own dead and ruined hopes.

One man has toiled a whole lifetime. The coveted riches have come at last--houses and lands and equipage and luxury--all is realized. But, it is "a vain show." Disease unexpectedly supervenes--he has no health, no heart to enjoy them--the riches are there, but the zest is gone! Another has toiled with equal success. He had a beloved child, all worthy of inheriting his wealth; but, at the hour he least dreamt of, the footfall of the dread messenger was heard at the door, and the object of his fondest anticipations is borne away to the last home! What to him now are the long, toiling, fretting years of the past? His gold is poor base alloy; that amassed fortune passes to some unknown or distant relative in whom he feels no interest. It is again "the vain show"--the "castle of fairy frost-work" which rises in a night and perishes with the morning sun--"he heaps up riches, and knows not who shall gather them," (Ps. 39:6.) Yes! there are many broken and sad hearts that will be ready to subscribe this experience as their own--who, in the memory of frustrated hopes, disappointed schemes, forfeited friendships, sorrowful bereavements, will tell that the world is not the gay and gladsome and happy thing many take it for. Would that, in the midst of this constant experience of its vanity and unsatisfactoriness; we might adopt David's words in that same Psalm as our habitual motto--they would temper the joys of prosperity, they would reconcile to the bitterness of adversity, by keeping us mindful that this changeful, deceitful earth is not our home--"I am a stranger with you and a sojourner, as all my fathers were!"

2. Let us learn next, from the example of the royal fugitive, the lesson of RESIGNATION under affliction, patience under injuries, and of humble, child-like reliance on God. In the midst of dark providences, let us seek to have no wish or will of our own; no reproaches or slanders on the Divine faithfulness. Some may be disposed to think, that, even in the eyes of David there might have been room for such repinings, and that the sincerity of his repentance, years before, might have exempted him from present judgment. He might have thought so himself. 'It is hard for me,' might have been his inward reflection, if not the utterance of his lips, 'to encounter this sweeping blast in my old age. After a life of devotion to the God of Israel; after seeking to discharge, as faithfully as I could, my duties as His anointed servant, the king of His covenant people, and the minstrel of His Church--hard it is to have the harp snatched from my hand, or left hanging tuneless and mute in my Cedar-palace, and to be driven an exile and wanderer on alien soil!'

But no such reasoning escapes his lips. Of all the Psalms he ever sung, this 'living-psalm' was one of the grandest--when he climbs Mount Olivet, weeping and barefoot, yet so humble, unselfish, generous, submissive, resigned--"not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing."

Would that we had ever such a heart in us in the midst of afflictions, unmerited taunts, unkind insinuations! When God in a moment overturns our cherished schemes, and sends us forth, barefoot and weeping, across the mount of trial; or when some unkind and cruel human persecutor--some slanderer like Shimei--comes forth with malicious and railing accusations, launching missiles "more cruel than spears and arrows, their tongue a sharp sword"--be it ours to feel that all is ordered--even the wrath of man, the tongue of calumny--"Let him curse on, for the Lord has bidden him." 'I will look high above all 'human' instruments--"The wicked who are your sword, the men of the world who are your hand." O God! here am I, do to me as seems good to You--take me, use me for Your glory. I wish not to evade any cross or suffering. The lot may be a bitter one, cast into the lap, "but whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."'

3. And if the example of David teach us Resignation for the present, let it teach us also Trust for the future.

Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him."

He felt the future was not in his own hands, but in the hands of Him who had gathered these storm-clouds round his head. The same One who gathered them, could, by a word, disperse them. "It may be, that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day." He trusted to better times. He seemed to say, in the words of a royal descendant, when placed in similar circumstances of peril, with an host encamping against him, "We have no might against this great multitude, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon You!"

One recorded incident in this sudden flight is enough of itself, touchingly and beautifully to unfold to us the hidden inner life of this man of God. How calm that religious trust must have been, which, in the midst of his hurried retreat, prompts him at noon, when every moment was valuable, to pause at the altar on the top of the Mount and engage in worship. Ah! it is easy enough in prosperity, when our circles are unbroken and our worldly hopes unblighted, to own God's hand--to erect our altar and kindle our sacrifice, and raise our thankful song. But it is not so easy, when the hearth is swept and the home desolate, and the mount of trial, the "hill difficulty" has to be climbed--it is not so easy then, amid the peltings of the storm, to kneel and utter words of faith and trust, and to say, as David did, in the spirit, if not in the language of the Psalm of his exile–

"I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

"O God my rock," I cry, "Why have you forsaken me? Why must I wander in darkness, oppressed by my enemies?"

Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!" Psalm 42:7-9, 11

And the God he thus trusted, did not fail nor forsake him. A few weeks afterwards, that same Mount of Olives is crowded with a different throng. Its echoes are awoke with joyful songs of victory, as the old King is conducted back to his throne and palace, amid the hosannas of his people, who had come down to the Jordan to welcome him.

God's dealings have always some great end in view, and when the end is accomplished "He gives his beloved rest." Great surely is the comfort for us to know, with David, that the Lord "looks upon our afflictions;" that the troubles He sends are needed troubles; that He graciously and wisely metes them out and apportions them--as "a refiner of silver," watching until the process of purification be complete; and though He does and will cause us to pass (when He sees we require it) through the flames, He will not "make a full end" of us. God's furnace is to purify and refine, not to destroy and consume.

"If they break my statutes," says He, "and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail," (Ps. 89:31-33) As He raised up unlooked-for comforts to the aged king in his hour of bitter adversity--temporal refreshment, (2 Sam. 16:14) and the better solace of generous and faithful friendships, destined long to survive the season of exile--crowning all, with a safe return from beyond Jordan, and a triumphant entrance within the walls of his beloved Zion--so in the case of His tried people.

For them, also, does He spread a table in the wilderness. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them." "I will open" "rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys--I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." Thus does He cause them to sing of mercy in the midst of judgment; imparting when they most need it, new and undreamed of consolations--strength in the hour of weakness, support in the hour of danger, friends in the hour of loneliness, sympathy, human and Divine, in the hour of sorrow. Above all, whatever be their desert experiences and desert trials, bringing them at last, in safety, across the dark border-river into the Heavenly Zion--the new Jerusalem--where the wail of sadness, the dirge of crushed hopes and blighted or buried affections, shall never more be heard.

Oh! trust in this faithful covenant-keeping God. Trust Him in exigencies . Take the words of this Royal sufferer in another of his Psalms, for your motto, in all time of your tribulation--"Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You!" Trust Him--even when, like David, you may have the sackcloth on your loins and the tear in your eye. "Commit your way unto the Lord--trust also in Him, He will bring it to pass. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday." "The Lord is good--a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him."

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