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bis repentance, thạt Nathan instantly ree plied, The Lord also hath put away thy fin. 6 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord: for he is gracious, and merciful, and forgive eth iniquity, tran/gression, and sin.
The last years of his life were émbittered by private and public calamities : his son Absalom, having, in a great degree, ito. len the affections of the people from his aged father, broke out into open rebellion, and obliged him to flee from Jerusalem : but the rebels were foon defeated, and the young prince, as hic fied upon a mule, was caught by his hair in the boughs of a thick oak, and suspended between heaven and earth, till Joab, David's general, sew him. After which, the people resorted to the king with great fubiniffion and zeal: yet grow. ing jealous, on account of the partial regard which he shewed for his own tribe, they revolted against him under Sheba ; 'but they were soon overpowered, and public peace was restored.
While David was enjoying the sweets of peace and prosperity, he was desirous, out of vain-glory and a foolish curiosity, to know the number and strength of his subjects, and commanded Joab to take an ac
count of all the people. For this act of pride and arrogance, and for the wickednefs of the people in general, God sent a dreadful peftilence, which in a short time destroyed seventy thousand persons; and the devastation was still increasing, when God in his mercy heard the prayers of the penitent king, and put an end to the calamity.
At length, David, being about seventy years of age, and sensible of the approach of death, gave his last folemn advice to his fon Solomon, and urged this particular infruction: it Observe the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes and commandments : that thou mayest proper in all that thou Locst, and whither joever thou turneft thyself.
CHAP. XXVI. THE REIGN OF SOLOMON Before COLOMON, as soon as he was seta' Christ w tled firmly in his kingdom, appli. 2015. ed himself to the management of public affairs, and the encouragement of divine worship. The Lord looked down upon his conduct with approbation; and after a facrifice at Gibeon, appeared to him in a
dream, and promised 'to give him whatever he should alk. The young prince did not ask for long life, or riches, or honour; hut conscious of the difficulty of governing an extensive kingdom, and dispensing justice to a numerous people, he desired a wise and understanding heart. The prudence and modeity of this request procured for him not only such a degree of wisdom as ex. ceeded ihat of all other inen; but also a promise of those blessings, which he had not asked, dependant upon his ohedience to God. 15 Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things Mhall be added unto you.
An opportunity foon offered for the trial of his wisdom; two women, bringing two children, the one dead and the other alive, came to hiin for justice; both disowned the dead child, both claimed the living child, How could the truth be discovered, and the infants be given to their proper mothers ! Solomon had recourse to the workings of nature for the discovery of the secret : ho commanded, that the child for which they contended with equal warmth, should be divided, and half of it given to each woman, One of them was willing to have it so divi. ded; but the other cried out in despair and agony, that it should not be fo; 0, my Lord, give her the living child, and by rio means say it. This affectionate anxious desire to save the life of the infant, mania fested the true mother; and Solomon accordingly gave her the child, to the fatisfaction of the whole assembly.
His wisdom was no less distinguished in the government of his kingdoin ; and in many learned treatises, which he wrote,, upon the nature of plants and trees, and of beasts, birds, and fishes. Peace and plenty were diffused through his dominions, and by his extensive alliances and commerce, gold and silver were brought to him in such abundance, that the riches of the world seemed to have been gathered together in the city of Jerusalen. Having by these means added a vast quantity of materials to those which David had collected, he applied himself to the great work, which his father had so much at heart, and built a temple to the Lord. It was the most beautiful and magnificent editice in the world. The grane deur and richness of it are thought to have exceeded all description. When it was finished, and the ark was deposited by the priests in the most holy place, the glory of. the Lord filled the house, and appeared vi. fibly, as it were, to take possession of it. Then the king offered up a wife and devout
prayer, entreating God to hear favourably the fupplications which his people should at any time offer in or toward that holy temple; to avert the evils they should fear, and grant the blessings they should ask.
The fame of the wisdoin and magnificence of Solomon, was spread through all the earth; and drew many persons of wealth and learning from the most distant nations to his court. Particularly the queen of Sheba, a princess as remarkable for undera standing, as for power and riches, came from the farthest part of the south, to see his glory, and be an ear-witness of his wisdom.
Solomon, however, so beloved of God, and so admired by men, did not persevere in this happy state ; but farted a jöde like a broken bow, and from the love of wisdom, degenerated to the love of women and ido. latry. He took wives out of those nations, with which God hail commanded the I/rael. ites not to make any alliance. These foon corrupted his heart, and drew him from the service of the true God; so that he built temples for idols, and worshipped their gods and goddesses, going after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians; and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. Thus the glory he had obtained by his wil.