Samuel was not called to declare those profound truths which relate to the appearance and reign of Christ as the Saviour of mankind, nor the fate of idolatrous nations, nor even the future vicissitudes connected with the Hebrew nation, but to found a school of religious teachers, to revive the worship of Jehovah, guide the conduct of princes, and direct the general affairs of the nation as commanded by God. He was the first and most favored of the great prophets, and exercised an influence as a prophet never equalled by any who succeeded him. He was a great prophet, since for forty years he ruled Israel by direct divine illumination,—a holy man who communed with God, great in speech and great in action. He did not rise to the lofty eloquence of Isaiah, nor foresee the fate of nations like Daniel and Ezekiel; but he was consulted and obeyed as a man who knew the divine will, gifted beyond any other man of his age in spiritual insight, and trusted implicitly for his wisdom and sanctity. These were the excellences which made him one of the most extraordinary men in Jewish history, rendering services to his nation which cannot easily be exaggerated.
Considering how much has been written about David in all the nations of Christendom, and how familiar Christian people are with his life and writings, it would seem presumptuous to attempt a lecture on this remarkable man, especially since it is impossible to add anything essentially new to the subject. The utmost that I can do is to select, condense, and rearrange from the enormous quantity of matter which learned and eloquent writers have already furnished.
The warrior-king who conquered the enemies of Israel in a dark and desponding period; the sagacious statesman who gave unity to its various tribes, and formed them into a powerful monarchy; the matchless poet who bequeathed to all ages a lofty and beautiful psalmody; the saint, who with all his backslidings and inconsistencies was a man after God’s own heart,—is well worthy of our study. David was the most illustrious of all the kings of whom the Jewish nation was proud, and was a striking type of a good man occasionally enslaved by sin, yet breaking its bonds and rising above subsequent temptations to a higher plane of goodness. A man so elevated, with almost every virtue which makes a man beloved, and yet with defects which will forever stain his memory, cannot easily be portrayed. What character in history presents such wide contradictions? What career was ever more varied? What recorded experiences are more interesting and instructive?—a life of heroism, of adventures, of triumphs, of humiliations, of outward and inward conflicts. Who ever loved and hated with more intensity than David?—tender yet fierce, brave yet weak, magnanimous yet unrelenting, exultant yet sad, committing crimes yet triumphantly