Bible History for the Use of Catholic Schools - R. Gilmour

Age IV:
From David to the Division of the Kingdom

50.—The Great and Pious King David.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. After Saul's death David was chosen king of Israel. He established his residence at Jerusalem, and, by the number of his armies and the brilliancy of his victories, was very renowned amongst the neighboring nations. He had twelve generals, each with an army of twenty-four thousand men under him, and, over all, Joab was placed general-in-chief.

2. During his long and turbulent reign David carried on many wars. In turn he subdued the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, the Edomites, and the Ammonites. By his victories, immense treasures of gold and great quantities of booty were brought to Jerusalem. When David died he left a kingdom that extended from Egypt to the Euphrates. In every respect this was the most brilliant period in the history of Israel, as well for its victories abroad as for the wisdom of its legislation at home.

3. David paid much attention to the administration of justice. He chose wise men for his counsellors and upright men to rule the people. He also appointed honest men to guard the royal treasures and manage the crown lands. Order was everywhere.

4. David, moreover, strove, as well by his own example as by his influence, to cultivate and spread the worship of the true God among his subjects. On Mount Sion he built a magnificent tent in which to place the Ark of the Covenant. When all things were ready the Ark was carried thither with great pomp and show. In the procession were all the princes of the people, clad in purple robes, while the priests wore their richest vestments. Three thousand armed men served as a guard of honor, whilst the people attended in countless numbers.

5. Those who marched before and those who immediately surrounded the Ark played upon lutes and harps, and on cymbals and trumpets. David himself walked before the priests, playing on his harp, while at every few steps a bull and heifer were offered in sacrifice to the Lord.

6. After this David divided the priests into twenty-four classes, and each, in its turn, was commanded to serve before the Lord. From amongst the Levites were chosen four thousand singers, whose duty it was to chant, day by day, the praises of God, and to play on all manner of musical instruments.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 50.—Who was chosen king? What is said of him? What of his armies? Who were subdued? What was brought to Jerusalem? What is said of David's reign? What was built on Mount Sion? What was placed in it? How were the priests divided? What was the duty of the Levites?

51.—The Revolt and Chastisement of Absalom.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. David committed two grievous crimes: first, he persuaded Bathsheba to sin with him, and then, to hide her shame, caused Uriah, her husband, to be murdered. But the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to him, who fearlessly reproached him with his crimes. David humbly acknowledged his faults and confessed his sins against the Lord. At the sight of his humiliation God pardoned him, but, as a punishment, sent him many trials.

2. Of these the most severe was the revolt of his son Absalom, the most beautiful man in Israel. Absalom began by flattering the people and pandering to their prejudices. When he thought himself strong enough he openly revolted. From all sides the people ran to his standard. When David heard this he left Jerusalem, and, passing over the brook Cedron, went, barefooted and his head uncovered, up the Mount of Olives, weeping on the way.

3. A man from the house of Saul, named Semei, met David as he fled, and, throwing stones at him, cursed him, calling him a man of blood. Abisai, one of David's servants, wished to kill Semei, but David forbade him, hoping God might perhaps turn his curses into blessings.

4. In the mean time Absalom pursued his father beyond the Jordan; the two armies met, and Absalom was defeated. While he fled, mounted on a mule, Absalom passed under a large oak-tree, in the branches of which his hair became entangled, and, the mule passing on, he was left hanging by the hair. When Joab, one of the king's generals, heard this, he ran and thrust three spears into the ungrateful heart of Absalom. He threw the body into a deep pit, and cast upon it a great heap of stones.

5. When David heard of his son's death he was greatly afflicted, and, weeping, cried out, "My son Absalom, would to God I had died in your stead, Absalom, my son Absalom." After this David returned to Jerusalem, accompanied by his army and a great multitude of people who came forth to meet him.

6. David is a figure of Jesus Christ—in his family residence, Bethlehem; In the obscurity of his youth; in his victory over Goliath; in his sorrow when he passed over the brook Cedron; by his ascent of the Mount of Olives; in his generosity to his persecutors; and, finally in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

7. As David had to contend against two enemies, Saul and Absalom, so have two enemies risen against Christ and His Church—the first, Judaism, which the Church replaced: the second, heresy, which has so often risen against the Catholic Church, and, by flattering the passions of men, succeeded in blinding the multitude and leading them astray.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 51.—Whom did God send to David? What did David do? What great punishment did God send? Who cursed David? What happened to Absalom? Where did David go? Of whom is David a figure? How?

52.—The Last Days of David.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. David reigned over Israel from his thirtieth to seventieth year. When he saw his end approaching he called together the princes and principal men of the nation, and told them how he bad intended to build a Temple to the Lord; how he had gathered together gold and silver, brass and iron, and wood and stone, but that God had forbidden him, as he was a man of blood and of many wars. God, however, would allow his son Solomon to build the Temple.

2. Then David gave Solomon minute directions as to its construction, and warned him that it was not a house for man he was building, but a dwelling-place for the Lord. David, besides, told Solomon never to forsake the Lord, but to serve Him with a docile heart; and, further, to remember that in the day he forsook God, God would forsake him.

David died, and was buried on Mount Sion, and Solomon, his son, succeeded him.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 52.—How long did David reign? What did he say about the Temple? What did be say to Solomon?

53.—The Wisdom of Solomon.[B.C. 973]

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. In the beginning of his reign Solomon loved the Lord, and walked in his father's footsteps. One night the Lord appeared to him, and bade him ask what he would. Solomon asked for wisdom, that he might rule with justice. When the Lord heard this He was much pleased, and gave Solomon not only the wisdom he had asked for, but also riches and honors and a long life.

2. Besides, God gave him a true knowledge of all things in nature, so that he understood the admirable order of creation, the power of the elements, the course of the seasons, the position of the stars, the instincts of animals, and the thoughts of men, together with a knowledge of the diversity of plants, and the medicinal virtues of their roots. All nature was open to his mind, whence it came to pass that the wise men of the world and the princes of nations stood in admiration at the wisdom of Solomon.

3. One day two women came to him demanding judgment in their case. The first said: "This woman and myself live together in one house. We have each had a child. During the night her son died. When she discovered this she rose, whilst I slept, and took my son from my side, and laid her dead son in his place. In the morning I saw the dead child, but, on a closer examination, I discovered it was not mine."

4. In answer to this the other said, "Surely your son is dead, and mine lives." But the first answered, "It is not so." Thus the two women disputed before the king. Then Solomon ordered a sword to be brought and the living child to be divided, and half to be given to one, and half to the other. When the mother of the child heard this she was filled with dismay and overwhelmed with agony. Torn with a mother's love for her child, she cried out to the king, "My lord, give her the child alive; do not kill it." But the other said, "Let it be divided."

5. Then Solomon ordered the living child to be given to the first: "for," said he, "she is the mother." Soon this judgment was known in all the land of Israel, and the people were filled with admiration for Solomon, because they saw the Spirit of God was in him.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 53.— What is said of Solomon? What did God give him? What besides wisdom? What is said of the two women? What was Solomon's decision?

54.—The Building and Dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem.

1. In the fourth year of his reign Solomon began to build, on Mount Moria, in Jerusalem, a Temple to the Lord. During its construction seventy thousand men were employed to cut and bring the wood that was needed, while eighty thousand more were engaged in quarrying and dressing the stone, Besides these, thirty-six hundred overseers were needed to lee that all was done according as it had been planned. Ten thousand Israelites were sent to cut down cedars and pine-trees on the mountains of Libanus.

2. The building itself was of vast and magnificent proportions. Its length was sixty cubits, its height thirty, and its breadth twenty cubits. Besides this there were added porticos that ran round the main building, and also courts for the use of the priests and the people. The interior was lined with cedar, and ornamented with carvings representing cherubim, palm-trees, and all kinds of flowers. Everything deeded in the Temple for the worship of God was of the purest gold, among which are enumerated ten tables, a large number of candlesticks, and a hundred chalices.

3. At the end of seven years the Temple was finished, when the princes and ancients of the people assembled together, and carried the Ark from Mount Sion to the sanctuary prepared for it. The people walked before, while the Levites played upon cymbals and harps, and a hundred priests sounded their trumpets, and all tae multitude sang, "Praise to the Lord, because He is good; and His mercy endureth forever." On the way an innumerable number of oxen and sheep were offered in sacrifice.

4. When the Ark was placed within the sanctuary, a cloud filled the Temple, and the multitude fell upon their knees. Solomon, lifting up his hands towards heaven, said: "Lord, the God of Israel! nothing can be compared to Thee; nor can the heavens contain Thee, much less this house: nevertheless I have built it, that here Thou mayest listen to the prayers of the people, and mayest be merciful to them. "

5. Whilst Solomon was yet praying and the people were round about adoring, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices. God again appeared to Solomon, and told him his prayer was heard; and this Temple he had built should ever be a place where the prayers of those who came to offer their vows would be heard.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 54.—What did Solomon build? How many men were engaged upon it? Describe the Temple and the things needed for the worship of God. Describe the dedication. What happened when the Ark was placed in the sanctuary? What did God promise Solomon I

55.—The Magnificence of Solomon. —His End.

1. For the first twenty years of his reign Solomon walked in the footsteps of his father David. His name and his greatness were known throughout the world. Nations paid him tribute, and his vessels whitened the seas from India to Spain, carrying gold and ebony and precious stones to his capital.

2. In this general prosperity many cities were built through the land, and Jerusalem rose to the highest splendor and magnificence. Solomon built a palace of untold wealth; his throne was of ivory overlaid with gold, while within the palace hung fifty massive bucklers of the same precious metal.

3. The vessels, the chalices, the utensils, and everything necessary for the service of the Lord, were of the purest gold. The people lived in peace, and neighboring nations sought Solomon's friendship. Even the Queen of Saba, dazzled by the splendor of his fame, came to visit him, that she might for herself see his magnificence and prove his wisdom. These were the days of Israel's glory.

4. But Solomon did not end his reign as he began it. When he grew old he was led away from God by the blandishments of pagan women; his heart became corrupted, and he fell into idolatry; nay, to please his women, he built a temple for their idols. When the Lord saw this He became exceedingly angry, and told Solomon, that, for his sins, the kingdom would be divided and given to another: "yet," said the Lord, "for the love I bore thy father David, I will leave two tribes to thy son."

5. Hurried on by his passion, and blinded by his sins, Solomon fell from his greatness. He oppressed his subjects, and scandalized his people, until discontent and revolt showed themselves everywhere. Amid general gloom, Solomon, the wisest of men, died—a sad example of the weakness and fickleness of man and the vanity of life.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 55.—What is said of the first years of Solomon's reign? Describe Solomon's magnificence. What is said of the ornaments and vessels of the Temple? Who came to see Solomon? How did Solomon end his days?

56.—The Division of the Kingdom. [B.C. 932]

1. After the death of Solomon the people came to his son Rehoboam, and asked him to lighten a little the burden which his father had imposed upon them. Rehoboam bade them return in three days. In the mean time he consulted the old men, who recommended mercy and kindness; and then the young men, who advised harshness. Following the advice of the young men, Rehoboam said to the people, on the third day: "My father put a heavy yoke upon you; I will make it heavier. My father beat you with whips; I will chastise you with scorpions."

2. When the people heard this they became very angry and stoned Aduran, the king's messenger, and, choosing Jeroboam, one of Solomon's servants, made him king over ten tribes. The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin adhered to Rehoboam.

Thus, according as God had foretold Solomon, were the Jewish people divided into two kingdoms—Israel and Judah. Jerusalem remained the capital of Judah, while Samaria, at a later period, became the capital of Israel.

3. This sinful separation of the ten tribes from their harsh yet lawful king is a figure of so many who by heresy and sin, separate themselves from the Catholic Church, God's true representative upon earth.

Jerusalem represented truth; Samaria, heresy. At the former was the Temple, where alone sacrifice pleasing to God could be offered. There was the Ark of the Covenant, and there alone was the priesthood that God had established.

4. The separated tribes, from which was formed the kingdom of Israel, were by far more numerous than the two that remained faithful. This mattered not. As with heresy, so with them; in a few years they entirely disappeared from history, leaving but a name behind them.

5. To the two tribes God showed mercy, for from them came the Saviour of the world. So shall it be with the Catholic Church: she has seen the rise and fall of all forms of heresies, many of which for a time, seemed to threaten her existence; but they have passed away, while she remains, as she will remain to the end.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 56.—How did Rehoboam treat the people? What happened? What was Jeroboam made? Who adhered to Rehoboam? Into what were the Jews divided? What were the capitals of the two nations? What is said of the kingdom of Israel and of the kingdom of Judah? What is said of the Catholic Church and heresy?