Monday, February 18, 2013

Surrounded by bees

I'm working my way - very slowly - through Charles Spurgeon's massive book, The Treasury of David.  Certainly the Book of Psalms, to which the title refers, is a treasure, but what makes Spurgeon's book interesting beyond this are the notes that he added to each Psalm: not only his own notes, but those he culled from dozens of books by various authors who had preceded him, some of them dating back two or three centuries; as well he sometimes quotes the old Fathers of the Church such as Augustine.  He also quotes extracts on occasion from writers who describe modern day equivalents of situations mentioned in the Psalms.  The following is such a one, relating to the verse in Psalm 118 verse 12: They (David's enemies) surround me like bees.  It comes from George Schweinfurth's "The Heart of Africa," published in 1873...

Now, as the north east wind of course was adverse to any north east progress, it was necessary that the boat should be towed by the crew. As the rope was being drawn along through the grass on the banks it happened that it disturbed a swarm of bees. In a moment, like a great cloud, they burst upon the men who were dragging; everyone of them threw himself headlong into the water and hurried to regain the boat. The swarm followed at their heels, and in a few seconds filled every nook and cranny of the deck. What a scene of confusion ensued may readily be imagined. Without any foreboding of ill, I was arranging my plants in my cabin, when I heard all around me a scampering which I took at first to be merely the frolics of my people, as that was the order of the day. I called out to enquire the meaning of the noise, but only got excited gestures and reproachful looks in answer. The cry of "Bees! bees!" soon broke upon my ear, and I proceeded to light a pipe. My attempt was entirely in vain; in an instant bees in thousands are about me, and I am mercilessly stung all over my face and hands. To no purpose do I try to protect my face with a handkerchief, and the more violently I fling my hands about, so much the more violent becomes the impetuosity of the irritated insects. The maddening pain is now on my cheek, now in my eye, now in my hair. The dogs from under my bed burst out frantically, overturning everything in their way. Losing well nigh all control over myself, I fling myself into the river; I dive down, but all in vain, for the stings rain down still upon my head. Not heeding the warning of my people, I creep through the reedy grass to the swampy bank. The grass lacerates my hands, and I try to gain the mainland, hoping to find shelter in the woods. All at once four powerful arms seize me and drag me back with such force that I think I must be choked in the mud. I am compelled to go back on board, and flight is not to be thought of... I felt ready, in the evening, for an encounter with half a score of buffaloes or a brace of lions rather than have anything more to do with bees; and this was a sentiment in which all the ship's company heartily concurred. 
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