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change awaited their return! The city was a heap of smoking ruins, and their wives and their sons and their daughters, all had been carried off; the Amalekites had made an invasion in the south, and without tarrying to slay, had marked their path with fire, and carried off every woman and child. Few lengthy descriptions of grief bave the force and beauty of the Scriptural relation, “ Then David and the people that were with him lifted
their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep." And David himself had not only to mourn the loss of his two wives, but was a greatly distressed, for the people spake of stoning bim, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters." Stoning him, the Lord's anointed! How fearfully must grief have disordered the minds and hearts of his followers; and how paguful the position of David. To feel distress was no weakness in Israel. Human nature is never described in the Bible as other than deeply susceptible of all human and gentle emotions. Religion ‘in Israel was never intended to render the heart insensible to the sweet charities of life and all their subsequent afflictions. It was no sin to weep—no weakness to feel distressed—but as “ David encouraged himself in the Lord his God," so too must we, when the deep waters of affliction flow over us; and like him we shall receive the guidance and encouragement we need. But even in this emergency, when every human feeling must have been striving within him, urging instant action, we find him in meekness and humility inquiring of the Lord. And to him God vouchsafed reply, and bade hun pursue, "for thou shalt surely overtake them and without faii recover all.”
To enter into the detail of this chivalrous expedition we have not space, as it relates more to David than to his wife, whose history we are recording. Our readers will find the whole far more emphatically told than could be by an uninspired pen, in the xxxth chapter of the First Book of Samuel. Suffice it here to state, “that David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away; and he rescued his two wives, and there was nothing lacking to him, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, nor anything that they had taken to them; David recovered all."
The whole of this stirring tale reminds us of those narratives of the middle ages, on which the youthful lovers of chivalry delight to linger; why should they not then feel equal pleasure in the inspired story of their immediate ancestors? We have quite enough of Abigail's character and sentiments revealed, to give us all sufficient for a just conception of what not only her feelings but her conduct must have been, when she saw the city of her husband burnt and sacked, and herself and all her female companions, with their helpless children, carried off by their lawless foes—exposed to every horror which the mind could frame or the heart could dread. The wild attack; the hurried flight; the agony of those days of capture which could have no hopeful future, for David and his men were with Achish, and the time of their return to Ziklag so uncertain, that traces of the Amalekite spoilers might be lost ere their capture was ever known; and then the wild rekindling of hope at the sudden descent of David and his men ; the awful strife lasting from even unto even ; the glorious conquest; and the reunion of husbands and wives, children and fathers ; are so completely all the elements of romance, that we need little of imagination to give it life and breath, or turn to the records of fiction for events to stir the very heart's blood with the recital of chivalric deeds.
But not to record it merely in its romantic bearings, have we brought this portion of Scripture forward. It is to remark how truly and beautifully both the grief and the exertions of David and his men demonstrate the extent of love, conjugal and parental, which reigned in the Hebrew households. beautiful illustration of the spirit of those Mosaic laws, which, penetrating the very homes of the first-born of the Lord, guided and sanctified the conduct of husbands and wives, children and parents. Love was the watchword of Israel, alike in their relations to their Father in heaven, and to each other. That the law was severe in its justice, is no contradiction to this assertion. Its perfection of justice was far purer, deeper, more influencing Love, than the modern codes which are pronounced so much more merciful.
The social and domestic position of the wife of Nabal must have been as perfectly free, independent, and influencing, as that of any woman of the present day, be the laws which guide her what they may.. We perceive the counsel and wisdom of their mistress, sought and followed by the servants of Nabal without the smallest regard to their master. Compare this liberty of
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will and action, this exercise of judgment displayed in the history of Abigail, with the position and the characters of the Eastern females of the present day, under the laws of Mahomet, and then let truth pronounce which are the degraded ? Again, we are expressly told, that Abigail was not merely a beautiful woman, but of good understanding, which her whole story proves; and yet more, every word of her address to David evinces an almost remarkable knowledge of the ways and the words of the Lord. She is even called by the Ancient Fathers a prophetess.
“ There were seven women of Israel,” they say, “ who were prophetesses—Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.” We know not on what authority our venerable sages have honored by the term prophetess, those whom the Bible does not so distinguish; but it is a forcible proof of the deep learning and profound knowledge of the Word of God which must have been possessed by Abigail
, and which she could not have acquired without study. The study of reli gion, then, was evidently not prohibited to the women of Israel; and therefore we know not by what authority such blessed study can be denied to us now.
Nor is it only religious knowledge which Abigail's character developes. It is a perfect acquaintance with human nature, else she had not so soon turned aside the wrath of David. Judg.. ment, intellect, and talent all breathe in her eloquent appeal, and evince an elevation of intelligence impossible to be obtained were the social position of woman confined to household work. The more we study the story of Abigail, the more deeply we must feel how valuable it is to us as women of Israel; how impressively it marks out our privileges in every relation of life, and how unanswerably it proves that Jewish women need no other creed to give them either spiritual or temporal advantages.
As women, the character of Abigail equally concerns us. We have frequently insisted that the narratives, as well as the precepts, of the Bible are written for our guidance; and therefore are we so anxious to bring forward all that can aid our young sisters in making their Bibles their daily guide. Many would do so, but they know not how, from the sad scarcity of religious books amongst us, in modern tongues. The more we daily study the Bible, the more easy in truth shall we find it; but then we must not confine our readings to the five books of
Moses. One chapter every morning, one every night, and threo on the Sabbath, complete the whole Bible-Pentateuch, Hagio. graphy, and Prophets—all, with the sole exception of the Psalms, in the three hundred and sixty-five days forming the Nazarene year; and this formed into a habit
, not done one year and laid aside, but persevered in for a life, would, in process of time, and without .either labor or weariness, give the comfort and the knowledge that we seek. Nor need we fear that we shall grow weary of the task; each year it would become lighter and more blessed, each year we should discover something we knew not before, and in the valley of the shadow of death feel, to our heart's core, that the word of our God is in truth “ the rod and the staff, they comfort me," of which the Monarch-Psalmist spake.
We have already noticed the little power which Nabals churlish temper, and all the discomforts thence ensuing, had over the pious and energetic character of Abigail
. From her wise forbearance towards him, both in acting without his knowledge in seeking David, and in not mentioning the effect of that interview till he was in a state to hear it, we can quite infer, that she not only bore with a churlish temper, but well knew how to manage it
-a task not a little difficult, and which none but an unselfish and well controlled temper ever can attempt. Many women, instead of acting on such an emergency, would have lost all the proper time of action in vain lamentations, and in bil ter reproaches of the churlish folly which had caused it;
if they acted as Abigail did, many would have displayed triumph, would have vaunted of their own skill in turning wrath aside, and taunted Nabal with what might have befallen him. But Abigail, with true womanly dignity, did neither. That she had been permitted to save her household from an imminent danger was enough for her-and if the kind providence of the Eternal had not ordained it otherwise, she would have returned to all her usual quiet duties and silent endurance, never dreaming that her conduct had evinced anything worthy of reward.
Let us then, as woman, not only admire, but imitate the piety, the forbearance, and the energy of our gentle ancestress, assured that such virtues are acceptable to our God. Many and many a one have a Nabal in their households in one or other relation of life. Temper, thought of so little, encouraged because it is no palpable vice, so blinding the eyes of its pos
sessor as to fling its black shadow on all his associates, till they are thought the churlish, not himself; temper, the severer of so many gentle ties, the rude breaker of so many loving hearts, the baleful spirit of so many otherwise richly favored homes,oh, what but a character, a piety, an energy like Abigail's can enable us to sustain its trials, in a manner acceptable to the Lord, and not overwhelming to ourselves ! As women, as women of Israel more especially, let us endeavor to cultivate these noble qualities, and feel that even for the sufferings of a churlish temper, we have sympathy, comfort, and guidance in the Bible. We may not all have either the beauty or the good understanding of Abigail; but we may all have piety and energy and influence if we so will, the one springs from the other; for the want of energy, the absence of all influence, arises from a listless indifference which never can exist with true piety. The service of God demands constant watchfulness, constant activity, aye, and constant thought; nor can we serve Him, apart from serving our fellow-creatures. To bear and forbear is peculiarly woman's duty-in every station of life, and more especially towards a husband; and every religious and justly feeling woman will rouse her every energy to conceal
, or at least prevent, the evil consequences of temper and ill judgment spreading over her household, and lowering the character of a husband in the minds of his inferiors. Abigail's constant superiority of judgment and action we learn by her servants going to her without hesitation. They must have frequently confided in her judgment before, else they could not bave demonstrated such implicit trust in a moment of danger.
Her influence we as clearly perceive in the success of her appeal to David; a quick judgment and few well chosen words saved herself and household from destruction, and David from the committal of a great sin. And if by the cultivation of mind and manner woman can achieve such things, who shall deny her the privilege of being an instrument of good, or seek to confine her to a false and degraded position, and so compel either vacuity and idleness, or frivolity and folly? We may not be called upon to exert our influence in a matter of life or death, but few are the women who pass through this life with. out some opportunity to use their natural influence for good, either in the encouragement of worth, or the wise and gentle guidance from the paths of sin. If there are some who will