Israel's Preparation for, and Failure in, the Land.

1. 1886 35

No where does the patience and longsuffering of God appear greater than in His dealings with Israel in the wilderness. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. The antediluvian world, the cities of the plain, and Egypt bore witness to the judgment of God; the wilderness to His mercy. Why is this? Because those who went through it were sprinkled with blood before they entered it. Mercy, even though the people put themselves under law, thus became a necessary feature in God's righteous dealing. Yet this is not the deeper thing. God would display Christ, and the various victims offered upon the altar, the incense upon the golden altar in the holy place, the varied duties and functions of Aaron, all declare Him, and are for the instruction of the church of God. The New Testament alone unfolds their meaning; a book which Israel never had, but which is laid open to the church of God. Nevertheless we do not find all we need in the wilderness; for the saints of the church are not only contemplated as pilgrims passing through a wilderness, but as dwellers in a land, i.e. blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. Not yet in heaven, still on earth, in the body, in the midst of enemies but warring a good warfare with blessed victory.

So when Israel enters the land, a new scene altogether different from the wilderness is presented for our learning; where new energies are called forth to meet different trials and testings, as seen in the conflicts of Israel under the leadership of Joshua with the inhabitants of the land.

How different too the character of the failure and sins in the wilderness to those in the land which are recorded in the book of Joshua. It is the same flesh, and the sin in the land is the complement of the sin in the wilderness. There, the main feature is distrust of God, in the land it is rather vain confidence in man in his strength as at Ai, in his wisdom as in the matter of the Gibeonites. Whatever the contrariety in appearance and working, whether the despondency that would make a king and return to Egypt, or the confidence apart from God that would meet the power and the wiles of the enemy, it is the same old nature that never learns, never submits, never seeks the wisdom and grace of God.

Christians as being in the wilderness, and seated in heavenly places, are liable to both these sins. They may not be manifested in the same believer at the same time, but, looking at the whole church these two aspects of the church are always visible. How prone we are to doubt and fail in confidence in God, to repine at His dealings, to murmur because of sorrows and difficulties, to long for the things of the world, and then to rebel in heart. These are the experiences of the wilderness, and are far from being uncommon. Other dangers characterise the land. A believer who has in any way known the power of God in believing, or in service, may forget the source whence victory came, and take glory to himself; forgetting that not his ram's horn, but God made the walls to fall. He forgets himself as well as God, his flesh is puffed up, and confident in himself he despises the enemy. God makes him feel his powerlessness, and puts him to shame. This is the experience of the land. Not despairing of God, but confidence in self. Our true place is where we put the sentence of death upon ourselves, and have full confidence in God.

The wilderness condition is not one endowed with power, as in the land. The great lessons in the wilderness were the varied aspects but complete work of Christ; and it was necessary that He should thus be set forth that when they — Israel — possessed the land, they might see how their blessing all centred in Him. The nation has not yet learned it, nor can they till the new heart is given them. It was absolutely necessary that we should have all these details, that we might learn how to judge and deal with our own old nature. And when grace has taught us that Christ, made in the likeness of sinful flesh, died bearing its full judgment, and that we in Him have died to sin, then do we as believers receive power to maintain conflict with the world. It is vain to attempt battle with the enemy without, before the enemy within is judged.

The change in the typical presentation of Christ, i.e. from Moses to Joshua, corresponds to the growing of the believer when he first apprehends the truth of being in heavenly places in Christ. Both Moses and Joshua are types of Christ. The former led Israel through the wilderness, and Christ is the power that leads us through the world, and while believers look to Him, there may not be consciousness of the Holy Spirit's presence and power. Blessed it is, when, not realizing power over the flesh, we are able, burdened and sorrowing, to turn to Him. But to be delivered from the burden, to rise above the sorrow is something more, and this is when we know Him not only as the Captain of our salvation — our Joshua — but also as our High Priest in heaven, and the Holy Spirit sent down as the connecting link between the Head in heaven and His members on the earth. But Christ is also with us here, not bodily, but by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us through Priesthood to look to Him as seated on the throne. So that He is with us here, and in heaven, and Priesthood connects these two, so that we have direct and immediate access to God. Joshua has to stand before Eleazar the priest who shall enquire of Jehovah for him. It is Christ by the Spirit leading us to approach Him as our High Priest above, and to God, through Him revealed as our Father. "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father." We must be in the land to know this fully. But to be in the land — seated in Him in the heavenlies, does not take us out of the wilderness as to the body. On the other hand, only those who by grace know their standing in Christ can bear without murmuring the trials of the wilderness. And thus it is that the christian as to circumstances, is yet in the wilderness; and as to his standing, in the heavenly places, with and in Christ. A riddle to the world, a divine reality for us.

Turning to Israel, before they enter the land, through the claim of the daughters of Zelophehad to their father's inheritance, God proves the sovereignty of grace, and makes provision in a case where the law made none. We get the families of Manasseh, and the children known by the name of the head of the family. But Zelophehad had no sons, and none to perpetuate the family name. There were only four daughters (Num. xxvi. 33). By the law only sons could inherit. Is this inheritance to be lost, swallowed up by others? Nay, grace gives to these daughters the inheritance of their father, and grace made it a "statute of judgment." Already is given, in shadow, the great truth that in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female; all believers are sons, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

We note, in passing, how absorbed Moses is here in the welfare of Israel. Elsewhere we read his pleading to be allowed to enter the good land, until God told him to speak no more of this matter. Here when Jehovah bids him ascend Mount Abarim to see the land, and then die, he immediately prays, not for himself, but that "Jehovah the God of the spirits of all flesh" may "set a man over the congregation." This is very beautiful, it is nearly the same abnegation of self as when on a previous occasion he said, "Blot me . . . out of Thy book which Thou hast written" (Ex. xxxii. 32). Moses knew the people, how necessary that there should be a leader who should go out before them, and go in before them, one who would never lose sight of them, so that they might not wander and be as sheep which have no shepherd.

The Lord Jesus when He was here said, He was this good Shepherd. Joshua led them out of the wilderness and in to the promised inheritance. The Lord led His own sheep out of Judaism (which had then become a wilderness) into the green pastures of grace. Not personally while on the earth but by His Spirit after He had ascended. And is not this way and purpose of God seen — enough but darkly — in that Moses dies before Joshua leads Israel into the land? But it is the Spirit, the Comforter, the Servant of Christ, Who now leads us, acting in Christ's name, into all truth, and takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. The Jew out of his Judaism, the Gentile out of his degradation into the richer fields of Christianity. The Spirit of Christ in the Psalm (Ps. xxiii.) puts the song of faith in the mouth of the redeemed of Israel, and in a more blessed way, in our hearts now, in this day of reproach and misrepresentation. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters."

The people were numbered before Joshua was appointed. He was appointed for their sake, just as the good Shepherd came to seek the lost sheep. How the numbering of the people, and the record of the name of each family, and the allotted inheritance for each, prove the care and love of God, entering — so to say — into the details of their life, so that place and quality of their possessions are appointed by Him. There was due preparation made, the order of their march was determined. It was God's army going to take the promised inheritance; the rank and file, as well as each officer, knew their place, and the march did not begin till all was ready.

There is the same loving care watching over us, not such order as the world may see, nor to such possessions as the world may take away. Our possessions are heavenly. But neither are we left as orphans now; all that we have now is appointed by His wisdom and goodness. To most of God's children now in this world, it is poverty, suffering, to not a few; but the best to all. This challenges our faith. Is suffering with its varied aspects the best for us? Ought we to doubt it, seeing that, having given us Christ, God will with Him surely give us all things? ' Oh, for more confidence in the supreme love of our Father and God! Our portion is not here but above, our city is one made without hands eternal in the heavens. But if the people who are to have the less glorious portion are recorded by name, why is it that the names of the first-born ones are not given? Yea, they are all recorded where our inheritance is. It was right and proper that the names of. Israel's families should be known here, for here is their inheritance, and their title-deeds are in God's book for the earth. It is equally right and proper that our names should not be given. How, if by name declared before the world, could it be said of us — "as unknown?" Known we should be by the moral traits which the Lord taught, but not by name as the families of Israel. Yet we are known by name to God; and in the Lamb's book of life not the family name, but the name of each individual is written.

Directions as to the feasts are given, but in reference to the land. And a conditional provision of mercy for the man-slayer. These all look onward to the future of Israel. Though well we know how the gospel appears in the institution of the cities of refuge. Neither the feasts, nor the cities can apply to the wilderness. Yet we have the best share in each. Our portion is not the earthly and material, but the spiritual and the heavenly. The feasts are not for us to be observed respectively at different seasons, but all are in one, One which combines all, where, though there is the material bread and wine, yet the spiritual and the heavenly overshadow all as we in remembrance of Him "show the LORD'S DEATH till He come." For these two words contain the worth, and dignity, and the sacrifice, that were ever prefigured in the types of old, whether of High Priest or of Victim.

 

2. 1886 51.

Israel numbered, and a new leader appointed, are not all the preparation needed to enter the land, for in these their responsibilities do not appear. Accordingly they are reminded of Jehovah's dealings with them since they came out of Egypt. He had led them through that great and terrible wilderness, and had cared for them; their feet did not swell, nor did their garments wax old. He had fed them with quails — earthly food — and with manna — angels' food — from heaven. At the same time He had made them know that He was holy and just, and visited their iniquities with judgment; yet at the close of their journey had crowned them with mercies and loving kindnesses, and notwithstanding their sin had brought them to the promised land. All this is recounted to them by Moses in Deuteronomy. Israel's responsibilities were so important that, to remind them that their continued possession of the promised land depended upon their obedience, another book is written, and the results of faithfulness according to the law, and of disobedience, are all foretold. This was an integral part of the preparation, for they were under bond of perfect obedience, though they had broken the bond continually ever since they made the rash vow.

And here see the contrast between the tenure of possession as then proposed, and of their establishment in the good land when the counsels of God are fulfilled. Not obedience to the law, but sovereign grace gives them permanent possession. It rests on the same ground as does our assurance now of the possession of a far brighter land than they will have. Their land — now a wilderness — shall truly blossom as the garden of the Lord, but our citizenship is in heaven, our mansions are above, our city is one made without hands. While Israel are yet men upon the earth, though enjoying the greatest blessing foretold by-and-by for the earth, we shall be in risen bodies of glory drinking new wine with the Lord Jesus in the Father's kingdom. But all, whether for the church in heaven or for Israel on earth, is founded upon Christ.

Our responsibilities flow from grace, theirs rested upon the ground of law-obedience, enforced by mercies and judgments, and the precepts and warnings, in the book of Deuteronomy, flow from law ground; and therefore this book is consistently both preceptive and comminatory. Yet underneath the solemn warnings and the sure judgments lie the determined counsels of God; here and there a promise and a prophecy of future blessing appear amid the claims of righteousness and the threatenings of a broken law. Indeed the book almost begins with a glimpse of the blessedness and glory to come, presented in the form of a prayer, or desire of Moses, but to be gloriously fulfilled in good time. "The Jehovah God of your fathers make you a thousand times as many as ye are, and bless you as He hath promised you" (Deut. i. 11). Restoration is implied, for mercies are theirs, and grace is sovereign (see also xxxiii. 26-29).

The possession was at first conditional, and such conditions as made their continuance in the land impossible. For fallen man had engaged to be perfectly obedient to God. This was the ground Israel had chosen, such the tenure upon which they presumed to hold the land. Deuteronomy recognises this ground, and though grace had come in, and God, rising above law, had declared His mercy, the demands of the law are not abated, nor the penalties mitigated. All are enforced by the past mercies and future judgment. But they are crowned with blessing, and warned as sinful men under law; thus they are made ready, and the power of Jehovah leads them.

Yet is there something more ere they tread the long-wished-for land. In no common ordinary way must Israel enter, but just as the power of Jehovah led them out of Egypt through the divided waters of the Red Sea, so must they enter the good land and pass through the Jordan dry shod. The power of Jehovah their God was their triumphant banner as they passed through. He is the Lord of all the earth and His people must be led into their possessions in a way befitting this Name; "tomorrow Jehovah will do wonders among you" (Joshua iii. 5). Not only must Israel be known as His people but the nations must have a witness of His eternal power and Godhead; and they trembled at the thought that the Lord of all the earth was the God of Israel. "And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites which were by the sea, heard that Jehovah had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was their spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel" (v. 1).

The ark is 2000 cubits in advance of the people as they march towards the Jordan, that they may see the way to go; and in the midst of Jordan it remains till all have passed over. This was a preparation like the numbering and the appointing of a new leader quite apart from their responsibility. This new way of entering the land was not only a wondrous display of Almighty power, but from which Israel should have learnt to live in obedience to Him Who held the waters in the hollow of His hand. The holiness demanded by law was surely enforced by the power of the law-giver. After the last words of Moses (Deuteronomy) what more fitting sequel than the evidence of the truth that God was for them (cf. Rom. viii. 31)? But they saw not the moral bearing of the miracle, it was but another wonder added to the many already witnessed both in Egypt and in the wilderness. God would fit them (as it were) for dwelling in the land, but they understood not His ways. Israel saw the miracle; it was reserved for the church to know its meaning.

Indeed the truth conveyed by the ark going through the Jordan never could be known till Christ came, nay, only by His going away through the path of death, and then making a way for us through the same waters, but His presence abiding that the power of it might keep back the overflowing waters of death. The ark going through the Jordan is neither suffering for sin nor intercession for a rebellious people; it is Christ in power, but a power which is the special result of having Himself gone under death's power when He made His soul an offering for sin, winning victory where it could be won in no other way than by the death of the Victor. The Jordan is not so much the Victor's death, as His power over death, though undoubtedly the way in which He won the victory is not indistinctly seen. But prominently we see the fruit of the work and cross of Christ, Who triumphantly leads His own people, as it were, in the very face of death, and through its domain, a way hitherto unknown, to the knowledge of the heavenly places in Him. This way is impossible to man, yea to saints save as He is there to keep back and stay the otherwise overwhelming flood. The ark in the Jordan is no part of atonement, but the presence of the power of Christ which alone can withstand the power of death, our only bulwark against it. Not their past mercies, nor the promises alone kept back the flood from destroying Israel, but the ark resting in the midst while the people passed before [in presence of] it. All the promises are made good in Christ; He accomplishes the purposes of God whether for Israel or for the church.

The Red Sea was the way from death to life, and there is seen the power of death over the enemy — the world as such has no more dominion over us — while death to the foe it is life to the blood-sprinkled. It is ours to know how we get victory over the world, through the death and resurrection of Christ; but there is a more subtle power than the world to be overcome, even the flesh. The Red Sea — in type — gives us the standing of death and resurrection through Christ, but as a condition of soul, I apprehend, not realized till by faith we pass through the Jordan, that is, till consciously dead and risen with Christ we write sentence of death upon the flesh. What type in the wilderness foreshadowed the truth of our having died, and being risen in Christ? Some if not all point to it, surely all are in harmony with it, but all pointed directly to the Person and work of Christ. So the ark in the Jordan not less to Him, but also to our death with Him in that He died to sin, and to our rising with Him in that both the people and the ark come up out of the Jordan. For as Israel followed the ark into the waters of death, so we, sustained by His power, pass through — not feeling its power as He felt it — rejoicing in His victory and gain our good land, sitting with Him in the heavenlies. On the cross Christ met death as a Victim, that was atonement. Here, as typified by the ark in the Jordan, He meets death as a Conqueror. Jordan may overflow its banks, but He quells the power of death and we triumph in His triumphs. He gave proof of His victory over the power of death when He rose for He could not be holden of death, but He conquered death and the grave, not for Himself but for others. "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt. xxvii. 52, 53). "After His resurrection" for in all things He must have the pre-eminence; He is the First-born from among the dead. This victory over death for the body we shall know when He comes; but we are called to know it now for the soul in what may be called a higher aspect, at least as regards holiness if not glory.

For victory now is connected with our faith, by which we triumph over the power of death in the "flesh." The resurrection of the body is not by the power of faith, but by the power of God apart from faith; the trump of God and the voice of the arch-angel will awaken every dead saint, and every living saint shall be changed, and both will rise to meet the Lord in the air. Faith leads us now to anticipate the joy and the glory, but the fact of resurrection will be by the power of God, in His own good time. The Lord said, I will raise him up at the last day.

Jehovah will have a memorial of their glorious entry into the land, and twelve stones are taken out of the bed of the river to be left in the lodging place where they should lodge this night. But not only for them, it was also to be a sign for their children. The stones are to be a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. But this memorial is erected in the place where they lodge. The first night at least they could not forget. No vague remembrance as of a thing past and done with, but the stones would remind them of the river and how they passed through, and would tell them of the power and presence of God; was it not also by implication a pledge of His continued presence and future conquest? They were not to forget God, for He would never fail them.

But there was another twelve stones, but not for Israel's eye. Israel have no visible part with these twelve stones, save as all their blessedness flows from Christ. Not a man from each tribe, but "Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan" (ver. 9). When the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, the sea stones — this memorial — was seen only by God. And there is in the Person and work of Christ a preciousness and value which only God can estimate, beyond any created intelligence. For beside being the Saviour of them that believe, He is the Vindicator of God's name, of His truth and righteousness. If no soul had ever believed in Him, He the Lord Jesus, would still be the delight of God, Who exalted Him where sin had dishonoured Him, and conquered sin and death that had ruined man and spoilt creation. This is God's peculiar position in Christ. The believer gets the blessings flowing therefrom, but he cannot measure Christ's worth, nor God's estimate of it. We read of two goats, one of which was called Jehovah's portion. So here the twelve stones beneath Jordan's swelling flood is God's portion. For a time the raging waters of sin and death hide Christ from men; soon He will reign in power and glory, and God be exalted in the earth. Not even then will man or angel know all the worth of Christ.

But what a blessed portion is ours as we look at the stones in the lodging place! We are only "lodgers" in this world, and that only a "night." But we have a memorial given to us of the Lord, and one which tells of our salvation, and also how it was accomplished. So that we have, as it were, the memorial in the Jordan connected with that in the lodging place. But who even of the first-born ones can fully estimate the Lord's death? As the stones were for a memorial for the children of Israel for ever, so the Lord's supper is in remembrance of Him until He come.

The stones in the lodging place were as much for Joshua as for any other Israelite. We do not read that he was commanded to set up twelve stones in the Jordan. Moses was the only one of all Israel who "by faith kept* the passover." Did Joshua's faith go beyond the memorial in the lodging place, and he alone of all Israel worship God in the place of death, where the priests' feet had stood? Thus owning the power of death but worshipping Him Who conquered death? Then though not in so great light as the church of God, he was partaker of a like faith which is never limited to mere external obedience. It was Christ — the ark — Who overcame and stayed the power of death, and Joshua returned to bless the God of his salvation. It was an act of worship in the same spirit, though not in the same form as when we remember the Lord in His death.

[*It may be "instituted" as a permanent emblem Ed.]

3. 1886 68.

Israel is exalted among the nations upon whom the terror of Jehovah is fallen. Jericho is witness that at the first report of Jehovah's wonders in Egypt, notably in the Red Sea, also to the two kings of the Amorites, their hearts did melt, and there remained no more courage in them. The crossing of the Jordan completed their dismay, the dreaded nation was come, armed with the might of the God in heaven above and in earth beneath. For now it was not mere report, but the power of God attested by the waters of Jordan.

How true a picture of man is given by these Canaanites; for terrified at first by the report of God's judgments, they are found after forty years' delay ready to oppose what they confess to be the power of God, and if their hearts still melted with fear, they had the will to resist. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccles. viii. 11).

After such wonderful interpositions of the power of Jehovah for Israel, what more is needed but that they march immediately on to victory? There is nothing more true than that after grace shown, God looks for a corresponding answer from His own people. Under law the answer required was obedience, now under grace it is obedience still but springing from altogether a different source. And herein lies the responsibility of saints now, so different from that of men, as such. Man's responsibility apart from the gospel is, "Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecc. xii. 13). Sinful man is utterly incapable of doing his duty. Sovereign grace appears, saves him, makes him a new creation, and changes the whole ground of responsibility: not annulling the command — the duty of fearing God, but putting him where, and supplying the power by which, the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in him. He is thus on the ground of "no condemnation," and of the indwelling Spirit, and the corresponding answer to this is, to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. Thus the Holy Spirit — the law of life, as in a new creation — makes a fresh starting point on new ground where old things are passed away and all things become new. The duties and obligations attaching to all the relationships of life remain, but the past failure is forgiven and the believer begins afresh, and now with power from God. A new responsibility commences; the former was without strength, this is with the assurance of power from God. It is no excuse for the failing believer to plead the power of nature; a superior power, that of the Holy Spirit, is given, and christian responsibility is measured by that gift. Our privileges are greater, our enjoyments are higher, and our responsibilities are deeper, than those of Israel, even had they been perfectly obedient.

Returning to the chapter before us (Joshua 5), Jehovah had wrought for them, His grace had followed them ever since they came out of Egypt. Hitherto there had been no response to all this favour; for forty years they had remained in an uncircumcised condition. Nor would they have thought of it now, content to lie under the reproach of Egypt; but God never forgets the claims of holiness, and now that the dangers of the wilderness are past, Israel must respond to their new position. If their untoward manners in the wilderness gave reason for the forbearance of God, there can be no more delay. "At that time Jehovah said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time." God is rich in grace and will have them (in type at least) such as His holiness requires. That which is offensive must now be judged. Nature had had full sway in the wilderness, but in the land the knife must be used; for it is impossible that an unrestrained, unmortified, nation can fight the battles of the Lord. It would be like Satan attempting to cast out Satan. Not the knowledge alone of sins forgiven fits us for contending with spiritual wickedness in high places. Israel had that (typically) in the wilderness, the blood on the altar pointed to it. The power of Christ quelling the power of death — as the ark in the Jordan — and then the practical result — the sharp knife — must be realised before saints now are equipped for the war. Paul tells the Ephesians that they are in heavenly places in Christ; then he bids them be strong in the Lord, and to put on the whole armour of God. The circumcision of Israel was carnal, ours is that of the heart; in each it precedes victory.

And this, though practically the believer's act upon himself, is due solely to the grace of God. It is only by the Holy Spirit in us that we can live contrary to the old self. The natural man denying himself is an impossibility. He may by strength of will deny himself one thing, but it is always the exalting of himself in another. To judge the whole nature, root, and branch, is nothing less than of the Spirit of God in us, "that ye may not do the things that ye would." The will of God is our sanctification.

Then when the work is done, God rejoices in it. And surely it is no small matter to us, that the mortifying of the flesh is not the produce of our mind — no monkish effort — but so in accord with the mind of God that He, as it were, identifies Himself with us in it, and says, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you" — I, not you. His is the power, His be the praise. So the apostle, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." What a marvellous blending of the saints' responsibility with the sovereign power of grace!

Scripture speaks of the reproach of Christ; and every believer is more or less bearing either the reproach of Christ, or that of Egypt. Heb. xiii. 13 shows us what the reproach of Christ is, and who they are that bear it. To leave the camp and go to Him is a deep affront to the religious world. For this is the reproach cast upon those who "go forth," that they are disorderly, self-righteous, narrow-minded, separatists: and wherefore? Because it is a going forth to Him, as Lord, Master, and having no rule but His word, no bond of connection but His Spirit. Separatists indeed from the camp, but how can that be called narrow-minded which would and does embrace all the children of God? Nevertheless it does bring on us reproach, and the Spirit of God says it is the reproach of Christ, the reproach of Him Who was crucified without the gate, as a malefactor, as the religious world of that day were the prime actors in that deed. It was a religion of forms and ceremonies, once acceptable, but which then had become worthless. But the "camp" still exists, and has its forms and ritual, and the same hatred for those who separate from them. Yet there must be some deeper reason than that of leaving the camp's ritual and formalities, a reason which lies possibly unseen at the bottom of the well. There is no covering so thick under which love of the world, and an uncircumcised heart, may so comfortably lodge as religious forms and a sensuous ritual. This is making room for the flesh in the things that professedly belong to God. And this is just what Israel would have done, save for the intervention of grace, which put the sharp knife into their hand; and it needs a sharper knife to cut one's self away from the associations of the religious world, than from the profane world. Hence the dislike of the religious world for those they speak against is far more expressed, than that of the outside world. If those who go forth to Him without the camp bear His reproach, those who cling to the camp bear the reproach of Egypt. And every child of God found there, dishonours God, dishonours Christ, yea, himself too as a believer. It is the same grace that now leads a believer out of the camp, as then led Israel to Gilgal.

Since Israel uncircumcised could not have overcome their enemies, nor even inherited the land, human reason would say, Let them be circumcised before they cross the Jordan. Not so the wisdom of God. Grace is first, then afterwards the results of grace. Holiness is the fruit of faith. Israel passed through the Jordan before they were led to Gilgal, and the believer must know his place as risen with Christ before he can realise power to overcome the flesh. "If ye then be risen with Christ mortify your members which are upon the earth." Believers bear the name of Christ, not because they walk worthily, bat the worthy walk should follow the bearing of the Name.

Judging, or mortifying, the flesh is not the act of a moment; and he who pretends that it costs nothing to deny himself has never yet judged himself rightly. It is he who has suffered in the flesh that has ceased from sin (1 Peter iv. 1). There are deep searchings of heart; and only when the old nature is fully exposed and found to be nothing but sin, is it truly judged. There must be the suffering — I do not say the yielding — before there can be the judging. The flesh is found to be enmity against God, and in presence of His grace and love, it is abhorred and condemned. This is using the sharp knife, God working in us. The forgiveness of sins is one act, and abides forever. It is not moral dealing in the soul, but God's act for the soul. Moral dealings are not momentary acts, more or less time is needed ordinarily to discern the incorrigible evil of our nature. After this fight with self is won, i.e. when the question of victory is settled for ever in the death of Christ, and faith apprehends our risen position in Him, the saint — so to say — is in a fighting condition and able with the assurance of victory to meet all enemies. This moral dealing with the soul is symbolically seen in Israel at Gilgal; they remained in their place till they were whole.

Before Israel begins the war, the passover is eaten on the appointed day. No blessing, no height of enjoyment, can be separated from the foundation truth set forth in the passover, the divine reason why God can and does bless. There His righteousness had (typically) its full demands, and the Avenger passed over the guilty. All their after mercies flowed from that. It is most instructive to us to see it here in connection with their position in the land. It recalls Egypt, the house of bondage; then they were slaves, now they are receiving a kingdom, and all due to the passover. And saints, now sitting in heavenly places in Christ, still remember that "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." The feast of unleavened bread is the proper sequence of the passover, and so the apostle adds, "therefore let us keep the feast."

"And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the self-same day." The knowledge of our risen position in Christ does not remove the necessity of watchfulness against the flesh. On the contrary, such high standing ought to make us more unsparing of all that is of this world. We have a nature that loves the leaven of this world. In purging ourselves from this we eat unleavened cakes. But we have also a new nature, and by it are capable of eating the old corn of the land. I say capable; but not without the indwelling Spirit could even the new nature, although having the capacity, realise the blessedness of fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. It is thus we eat of the old corn of the land. While here below, unleavened cakes mark our responsibility, the old corn of the land is the grace of God known in its highest aspect; and these keep pace together, eaten in the self-same day.

If the unleavened cakes must still be eaten with the old corn, why does the manna cease? This is an instance of how impossible it is to set forth the place and privileges of the christian in one comprehensive type. Israel could not be in the wilderness and in the land at the same time, and therefore in the type, manna, which is the special food for the wilderness, ceases necessarily. On the other hand the old corn is peculiar to the land and could not be had in the wilderness. The christian is both in the wilderness and in the land; he is both a pilgrim passing through a world which to him is a desert, and in heavenly places in Christ. Therefore he still feeds upon Christ as the true bread that came down from heaven, and as risen, eats of the old corn, of the fruit of the land. To know the cleansing power of His precious blood, to know Him as High Priest ever living to make intercession for us, maintaining us in faith, delivering us in the hour of temptation is just what we need as pilgrims here below, but does not reach to the height of being blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

The Lord Jesus said before He left the world "Peace I leave with you," and this includes all wilderness mercy and blessing; but "My peace I give unto you" is the possession which the Lord, as man, had with the Father in heaven. And He was the first man that knew such peace; never before had there been such intimate communion between God in heaven, and a man upon earth. It was peculiar to Him. The voice from heaven was heard saying, "This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." And the response from the only perfect Man, was, "I do always the things that please Him." Who can measure the peace, the communion of the Father and the Son? Yet this peace, peculiarly His own, is the special bequest of His love to His disciples. This is truly the fruit of the land of our heavenly Canaan. It is more than grace, mercy, and peace as needed during our sojourn in the wilderness; it is communion with Christ in possession of heavenly things. To have our mind set upon the things which are at the right hand of God where Christ is, to find our highest, nay, our only true joys there, and to find their spirit influencing and permeating our whole life down here, is truly to eat of the old corn of the land.

4. 1886 83.

Yet one thing more before the conflict begins. Joshua, though the most prominent in Israel is not the real Leader. The real Captain of the host is Jehovah Himself. Joshua did not know who the man with the drawn sword was. Had he not yet learnt that He Who had led would still lead? He had led through the wilderness, He would still lead against their enemies. But the fact was revealed to a prepared heart, and he "fell on his face to the earth and did worship and said unto Him — what saith my Lord unto His servant." And mark, the word of the Captain is not as to the order of battle against Jericho, that is given later, but first a word which reminds Joshua in Whose presence he is. "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so" (Joshua 5:15).

Saints now need the same word. Indeed there is no word ever given to the saints of old but what finds its application to saints now. While we rejoice in God our Father, let us never forget that our Father is God, and that reverence and godly fear is ever our becoming attitude in His presence. It is no spirituality and deeper communion when we hear too familiar language used in prayer or praise. This is not so much lacking in addressing the Father; it is when speaking to the Lord that irreverential manner is most frequent. Holy confidence, and freedom of access does not mean familiarity, which may imperceptibly become levity. Jesus is indeed our Saviour and Friend, but saints should constantly remember that God hath made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ. And so the Lord Himself says, "Ye call me Master . . . and ye say well for so I am" (John xiii.). Evidently the first thing for Joshua is to loose his shoe, for he was on holy ground; but that is where the church of God is now, and there to know the Lord as worthy of honour even as the Father, as well as our great Leader against all spiritual wickedness. The reverential worship of Joshua, and the man with the drawn sword just express our position in the world, only that our warfare is not with men but with the powers of evil in heavenly places (cf. Eph. vi. 12).

When the father received the prodigal, among other things he said, "put shoes on his feet." It was not fitting that he should be shoeless in his father's house; he was no longer a homeless wanderer, but a son restored to all the privileges he had lost. And we, forgiven and received into the Father's family, have shoes on our feet, for we are sons not hired servants. It is the witness of acceptance, and place in the house. Israel left Egypt with feet shod; readiness for the journey, and breaking with the world. And the saint is now told to have his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and this is activity in service. All these have to say as to our position through grace before God and before man, as leaving the world behind us, as having our associations and joys with those who are of the Father's household, and as having God's message of love and peace for man. But here in Joshua it is something far higher and is not for the world's cognisance. The unshod feet in God's presence is the sign of subjection, the heart, the understanding, and the will, surrendered to God. Joshua said "What saith my Lord unto His servant." The outward manner must be in accordance with the inward spirit, and he puts off his shoe.

There is no true worship apart from holiness, reverence and godly fear. And if all these are taught Israel through Joshua in view of their earthly Canaan, how much more heed should we give, having in view our greater privilege and higher destiny! Nor is there a true fitness for the battle to be fought with the world, the flesh and the devil, unless the three things now before us, namely, consciously risen with Christ, self-judgment, and subjection in true worship, are known and enjoyed. Equipped with these the believer goes on to victory. Israel now prepared after a carnal sort, we for the heavenly places, for the spiritual conflict by faith in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The taking of Jericho is marvellous proof that Jehovah was Captain of the host. The imposing yet strange array of the army as it marched round the city, — rendered more striking still by the presence of the ark and the attendant priests — must have filled with wonder if not with dread the minds of the dwellers in Jericho. But there was a power with the army beyond what they could see, of which the ark was the symbol. By that power alone apart from man was the city won. Israel did not raise a finger till Jehovah by His unseen power had thrown down the walls; then it was that every man went straight before him. And then it was not battle but judgment upon the guilty. This first victory is a confirmation of the word spoken to Joshua, "As Captain of Jehovah's host am I now come." It was also a sample of how future victories should be gained. For victory is sure for those who trust in God. The presence of the ark would be a witness of faith in Him, as the ram's horn is expressive of contempt for human might. For it was with these two most prominent characteristics — faith in God, and no confidence in the flesh — that the Captain's power was made so manifest. Later we may see more energy, and faith more active. When the sun and the moon stood still at the word of Joshua there was more of the boldness of faith than at Jericho. Yet even that, when one day was made equal to two, does not reach to the height of the glory when by the will of Jehovah the walls fell down flat. The standing still of the sun and the moon was equally the power of God, but Joshua and Israel were very busy in the fight; here it is man standing aside and as it were looking on while God single-handed — if we may so say — performs the whole work. The Captain of the host made good His word and proved His power.

Why no such display of sovereign power afterwards? If man (Israel) is more active in subsequent battles, and the intervention of their Captain not so marked and glorious, it was because failure came in. After failure, when grace brings in restoration, faith frequently appears more energetic. It was so with Israel; at Jericho their might was in abeyance; as to the Red Sea they were told to stand still and see the salvation of God, so here they wait till God overthrows the first barrier in the land to their possession. This wondrous overthrow is the pledge of final victory, the assurance that the Captain of the host is leading them. But why is there no following instance 'of the same power acting apart from man? Because they had to be taught the necessity of watchfulness and dependence upon God, of which they did not feel the need when at Jericho. The required moral condition had been symbolically set forth, i.e. no confidence in themselves, but faith in God; but they had to learn their need practically. So while they still overcame their enemies, there was greater demand for the exercise of faith; a putting forth of their own might, yet under the control of God, was the appointed way of possessing the land. All was theirs according to promise, actual possession was "every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon" (Joshua i. 3). Unfaithfulness prevented full possession, and God would not throw down walls for those who failed in faith. Surely all wisely and graciously overruled for our instruction. But never after was the presence of the Captain so marked. And how fitting that this first trophy in the conquest of Canaan should be rather the evidence of His presence than the result of Israel's prowess. It was the confirmation of the original promise first made to Abraham; joy to Israel and terror to the Canaanite. At no subsequent point in their history were they so exalted as at this moment. Even the glories of Solomon, and of the temple when dedicated did not more manifestly show the presence of Jehovah.

Compare them now with what they were on leaving Egypt. Let the eye run down the whole thread of their history when they cried out for fear (Ex. xiv. 10) to this day of triumph, and then say, What hath God wrought? Yes, it is the triumph of grace. Grace which like Jordan overflowed its banks. Grace which had been put to the test, which had never been found wanting, which it is not enough to say had met all the need of a perverse nation in the wilderness, but the need of Him Who in spite of their rebelliousness would righteously bring them into the good land according to His promise. And now behold this self-same people crowned with glory in the presence of their enemies; is it not the overflowing of grace? Yea, of sovereign grace, which will continue to be sovereign, rising still over every obstacle until the day come when He, the Captain of the host — now our risen Lord — shall come in power and glory, and visit the earth with sudden and overwhelming judgment, of which the fall of Jericho is both a type and a warning.

Beautifully interwoven with Israel's greatness is the story of Rahab — one of the most degraded in the guilty city. This is truly the river of grace overflowing both its banks, towards the Gentile as to the Israelite. And with no other event in their warfare could it so suitably be found. Quite in keeping with Jehovah working in grace for Israel apart from any putting forth of their own strength. The same grace singles out one from among the crowd of sinners in Jericho, but she the only one who truly bowed to the word of God. Grace would not leave that one to perish, and the word of judgment which bowed her soul before the God of Israel is followed by the word of grace. Spies, so called, were sent to view the city, but really they were messengers of grace to a woman who was a sinner; and she trusts the word of the spies — bringing glad tidings — as she had before bowed to the impending judgment. Her soul was prepared to receive the message of mercy. None accept grace but those who bow to God's sentence against themselves. God's grace is only truly glad tidings to the soul that owns the righteousness of judgment. When this is not the case the result of hearing the gospel is sometimes like seed falling on ground where there is no deepness of earth.

Spies! They went to her house, lay hid all the time, and then escaping by the window fly to the mountain and hide again for three days. What had they discovered? Nothing but what might have been apprehended already by faith. "I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee (Ex. xxiii. 27 etc.). The spies only verified the word of promise spoken forty years before, and they report that "all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us." But what did they discover? They found a poor sinner who trembled at God's word, and they showed her the way of salvation, and she believed, and perished not with them that believed not. And this was the reason why spies entered Jericho. The Captain of the host needed no spies; He could look over the battlements and highest towers of the city; He could search every man's heart. Besides, He was going to throw down their walls; no spies needed for that. Nor were they unseen; their entry, though by night, was immediately told to the king of Jericho. But when it is the purpose of God to save, what can this king do? Rahab was one of God's sheep; not of the fold of Israel, but brought into it through grace. Grace was at that moment breaking bounds even for Israel. God had said that He would make their enemies turn their back unto them, but it was beyond Israel's expectation that upon their shout He would throw down the walls. God had said that they should possess all the land wherever they trod, but He did not tell them in what a marvellous way He would lead them to tread the streets of Jericho. If His grace was then overleaping and going beyond the strict letter of the promise, how could it be restrained from going still further and rescuing a poor Gentile from destruction? It was an intimation, at that early date that God would call whomsoever He would, and is the exercise of that sovereign grace which afterwards would be characterised by bringing in Gentiles when Israel would be set aside. The Lord Jesus said when leading out the sheep of Israel to new pastures, "other sheep I have . . . them also I must bring." And Rahab was one reckoned among the "other" sheep while Israel was still nominally the people of God. "Must!" There in Rahab's case is the same necessity of grace: then to number her with Israel (Joshua vi. 25); now, whether Jew or Gentile, to greener pastures and streams of living water, and to be numbered among His "one flock."

Only after the cross did the great ingathering of "other sheep" from among the Gentiles begin. Yet before the gospel was sent out to all nations God had His witnesses outside Israel, with varying intelligence and faith according to the truth revealed. Job stands foremost in his day and God bears testimony that there was none like him in all the earth. His three friends doubtless were saints though far behind Job in intelligence of the ways of God. They were accepted through the intercession of Job. Melchizedec, the royal priest, wondrous type of Christ as without beginning of days or end of life; Jethro, who confessed the God of Israel though he would not cast in his lot with them: Rahab, pre-eminent as witness of sovereign grace: Ruth, who gave up the advantages her own country offered, to share the poverty of Naomi in order that as she says, "thy God shall be my God," thus identifying herself with the poor of Israel — the same spirit as is recorded of Moses who chose to bear the reproach of Christ, rather than enjoy the pleasures of Egypt. And Ruth like Rahab has a place in the line of the ancestry of the Son of David. Naaman again, who submitted to the word and received healing: the widow of Zarephath, Gentile witness of life in resurrection power. And, coming down to the days of our Lord, we have the Centurion whose faith exceeded any in Israel: and the Syro-phenician woman — another Gentile witness of the power of Christ over Satan. All these testify to the grace of God Who sought and found sheep bearing a testimony apart from the special witness of Israel. Each of these has a specific character. All proclaim the sovereignty of grace.

The presence and power of the Lord Jesus in the earliest days of the church when on Peter's first preaching three thousand were converted is analogous to this first victory in Canaan. On each occasion the enemy was surprised. The Christ-rejecting Jews and Satan at their head, not less so, when the power of the Holy Ghost came upon the gathered disciples, and immediately after three thousand converted, than were the men of Jericho when their defence suddenly disappeared and gave free entry to Israel. In the church (Acts ii.) it is a victory of grace, of Christ over Satan, and wresting from him the captives that he thought must now be his for ever, seeing that they had crucified the Lord. But that death is the means of life; what greater proof than the three thousand added to the church? Such was the mighty display of power in Israel and in the church before man cast his dark shadow over its bright glory; a glory which otherwise would have continued to shine in its power. But a blot came upon the church through Ananias and Sapphira as upon Israel through Achan. Grace, in each case mingled with judgment, was sufficient for both emergencies. But neither in Israel nor in the church was such a thing afterwards seen as walls falling at the presence of the ark, or of three thousand souls converted at one preaching. Afterwards the responsibilities of faith more appear. The grace of God still saves, the power of the word is still felt, but the energy of faith is more prominent. Divine wisdom controls all. By faith we overcome the world. The servant of the Lord is now in a position where his own dependence upon God is more felt. Most essential this to faithful and true service, yet not as a principal, but as a subsidiary to the grace of God, i.e.,. the faith and devotedness of the servant — which as a rule mark the successful evangelist — is used as a means by which God will accomplish His purpose of sending His message of love to souls.

Thus, then, Israel is prepared for the land. They have been led through the waters of death, they have set up their twelve stones as having overcome death (it was the ark that stayed the waters). They are circumcised, and they have Jehovah Himself as their Captain, Who has proved His might at Jericho. How did they answer to all this grace and painstaking?

Israel's Failure in the Land.

5. 1886 100.

Man being in honour abideth not. Such is the divine testimony. Failure is inherent in man. In innocence, under law, or under grace, no matter what the position, or the privilege, he has never abode therein. Failure may first be secret, in the heart, sometimes the act is hidden, but if unjudged is sure to appear in its consequences. One would naturally suppose the greater the honour the greater would be the jealous care to abide therein; this as a rule holds good in worldly honours; alas, in the things of God the contrary is constantly seen. Favour through the evil nature of man has led to unwatchfulness, and in many instances with ruinous results; always, in the case of a believer, bringing grievous chastening.

To forget God even while enjoying the blessings is the history of man from Adam down to this day. Until the call of Abram, save for a few witnesses, God was shut out in man's thought, from His own world; and outside the chosen race the condition of all was "having no hope and without God." The fearful consequence was that as they did not like to retain the knowledge of God they were retributively given up to their own evil. Divine light came into this scene of darkness, not at first shed upon all — that full light was reserved for the time when Christ came, Who coming into the world is the true light for every man — but upon a particular race and only upon others as by reflection when they came in contact with Israel. Though not the full blaze for them, it raised them above all other nations and gave them a special place of honour. The point before us now is not the purpose of God in thus separating this race from others, proclaiming Himself as Jehovah, the One God, and proving them, but the fact that they were in honour and abode not.

Another race is now chosen not one according to nature, but called out and separated from the world after another manner: blest with the fullest light, with the complete truth, having not Abraham but Christ as Head. And here as in Israel, this new company abode not in honour. The first blot upon the honour both in the church and in Israel in the land was visited with death; but the pristine vigour and glory of the church had not departed ere failure came in, and a failure equally if not more ruinous as regards public testimony than that of Israel. To them the special testimony was the truth of the One God. To the church it is God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. "This is the record that God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11). As Israel failed in testifying to the unity of the Godhead and rushed into idolatry, so Christendom has failed to bear witness that life is only in the Son, and placed it partially if not wholly in works. The grace which nevertheless maintained Israel in the land (for a time, and not without judgment) now acts more prominently in and for the church, which in a far higher and different way is the habitation of God, not in a temple made with hands but by the Spirit (Eph. ii. 22). In Israel it was in such a way as the natural man could apprehend. God through the Spirit dwelling in the church is not discernible by the natural man, but only by faith which alone realises His presence.

It is because of the Spirit's indwelling that all in the church of God, i.e. every true believer, are members one of another. Therefore necessarily if one member fail or suffer the whole body is affected, and far more intimately than the congregation of Israel could be. This close intimacy of suffering and equally so of rejoicing, is through the unity of the Spirit which was not possible before Christ had ascended as the risen Man, and had taken His place on the throne of God. Thence He sent the Comforter to abide with us. Thus one Spirit abiding in each, in all, constitutes the one body.

The effect of the sin of one member is not confined to himself. There is what may be called its corporate consequence. If the Spirit is grieved the whole assembly — the local representative of the body — suffers; corporate blessing is hindered, the presence of the Lord not realised in the meetings. There is no remedy for this but humiliation and united prayer. The Holy Spirit may through the intercession of the assembly lead the failing member to judge himself, and, restored in soul, the hindrance to corporate blessing is removed. But if not, the Lord will surely make bare the wrong which the assembly is bound to judge, it may be by public rebuke, or require excision, but the Lord's name must be vindicated, and the purity of the assembly maintained. When the failing one judges himself before the secret becomes known, and is restored in soul, it remains a matter between himself and the Lord. "For if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged" (1 Cor. xi. 31 etc.). This scripture has special reference to the disorders that crept in at Corinth when the saints mixed the Lord's Supper with feasting as a common meal. But it embodies the principle that if sin is discerned, and therefore judged by the individual himself, he will not be judged. And this judgment is not the judgment of the world, which no believer can come under, but the chastening of the Lord. The chastening of the Lord is that which is administered through the assembly; not the same as the Father's chastening in Heb. xii.

We see in Israel not the real unity of the Spirit, but a little foreshadowing of it, and all the clearer, because the image of it is not in an occasion of joy and victory, but of deep shame and fear. Had the occasion been some remarkable feat by a chief, all would share in the rejoicing as a natural thing, but when it is a sin involving death, then the reality of the thing foreshown comes vividly before the mind. Achan sinned, but God said "Israel hath sinned." It is the first time that the hidden sin of one individual is charged upon the whole congregation. Achan, and his family, alone knew his guilt, but the consequences of his sin were felt by all Israel; they were put to flight by a despised enemy. But though all suffer why is the sin charged upon all, when they were ignorant of it? Is it not a proof that Israel was not THE object before the mind of God, but the church, where the shadow given in Israel becomes to us a divine reality. Surely it was also teaching them that since they were under the lead of such a "Captain" in Whose presence Joshua had to loose his shoes from off his feet, they must be jealously careful that no secret evil should be found among them. It was a sharp lesson, but the holiness of God admits of no compromise. At that moment Israel had charge of it, as its witness before the nations of Canaan. But if Israel failed to guard and keep it, and being known as Jehovah's people, God would vindicate it Himself. Hence the swift and complete judgment of Achan and his family. They had all been defiled though not all consciously guilty, and if Jehovah is the Captain of the host, then every man must be clear from guilt, and from every defilement.

It was in the joy of their first victory in the land, that the first failure occurred. Its effects soon appeared. One man sins, the whole congregation suffer. New circumstances bring the sin to light. Israel left to their own resources find they cannot stand before their enemies. Confident in their own strength, elated with the ease with which Jericho was taken — as if it had been by their own arm — they decide as to Ai. The defiling power of Achan's sin was already working. Joshua, and priest, and all forgot God and attempt to do without Him. Had they asked counsel of God, the sin of the guilty man would have been at once disclosed and the shameful flight from Ai prevented. Israel failed through vain confidence, which was the result of Achan's sin. Yet all was overruled that they might know the necessity of holiness, and of the power of Jehovah for victory. The deeper truth of being members one of another, that if one suffer, all suffer, is intimately connected with the church of God, and the call to us to be watchful, to be holy, comes with far more solemn importance. For we are knit together with a closer tie, called to a higher and inward holiness, to contend with more dangerous foes, and to bear the name of the risen Lord in the midst of enemies who hate Him more than the Canaanites hated Israel. It is the church which has the special interest in this failure of Israel. But the church is the body of Christ, therefore really it is Christ the Head, Whose glory as Head is before the mind of God. As indeed from Genesis to Revelation He is the centre of all God's ways with man.

The things that Achan coveted pointed also to the evils that have crept into the nominal church and tainted more or less the character of real believers. The wedge of gold and the silver, under the Babylonish garment is the symbol of the love of the world and of that which gives power in the world — gold — under the pretence of religion; i.e. the world's religion which is to God the most offensive thing under the sun. Observe the words "and the silver under it," wrapped in the Babylonish garment. It is covetousness — which is idolatry — covered over and hidden under the semblance of piety which has marked the history of the world-church. And soon every evil will be found in the cup of the scarlet-clothed harlot whose name is "mystery, Babylon the great." Thus at the very beginning of Israel's possession are shadowed though dimly, the evils which has brought ruin upon the nominal church, which in the end will be spued out of His mouth. For Israel to possess silver and gold and the goodly things of this world — not to covet as Achan — would be a mark of God's favour. But for the church to covet these is a practical denial of its true position, a disparagement of its peculiar heavenly riches, and a deeper offence to Christ than the sin of Achan to Jehovah. Achan did not bring such fatal results upon the congregation of Israel as his imitators have upon the professing church.

The judgment upon Achan and his house declares how abhorrent this world-religiousness is to God, as well as His holy resentment against the one who had interposed his sin, a barrier to the uninterrupted and continual display of the glory of Jehovah in His mighty power leading Israel, lately circumcised, Gilgal and the twelve stones fresh in their minds, into the possession of the given inheritance. God resents nothing so much as interference with His ways of grace.

At Jericho we see the exhibition of the glory and power of Jehovah, and how He would subdue and drive out the Canaanite before the chosen people. At Ai is displayed His manner to those who while reaping the promises, have dimmed the lustre of the glory of their Leader, the "Captain of the Lord's host." Here is not the éclat of throwing down the walls, not the power that acted without the lifting up of one hand of Israel, but making them feel that their sin had prevented and hindered the visible expression of His power as they had seen it, and in consequence the ordinary and human means of stratagem are used. The trick of pretending to flee was by the command of Joshua, and God gave them the little city, but oh, how little is seen in this of the glory of Jehovah, when the whole force f Israel is brought against the small city of Ai; and even then with the appearance of not daring to meet them in open battle. How far all this is beneath the exceeding display of God's power at Jericho. Then they could boast of the great power of their "Captain." Now it is mingled with a sense of failure and dishonour, and to all among them who had a care for the glory of Jehovah, the feeling that they had tarnished His glory before the Canaanites. God would have continued the wondrous display, but while giving further proof of His grace and faithfulness, Israel has put an obstacle to the visible manifestation of His Godhead to the Gentile as had been seen at Jericho. For there was overwhelming testimony; that glorious conquest might have brought every nation to submit without daring to fight, but Israel's discomfiture at their first attempt against Ai eventually armed the nations and gave them courage to resist if possible Israel's further advance; it gave them the thought that perhaps they might overcome the dreaded people, and that the God of Israel after all was not so greatly to be feared. The Canaanites would naturally think that it was only by mere stratagem that Ai was overthrown. There was apparently nothing supernatural in the taking of Ai as at Jericho, the wonders of which they would willingly forget. Human skill in stratagem, or mere force they could meet. Hence Israel had to contest every step of the way. Only the ground on which they stood could they call their own. Was not this the consequence of their own sin? And so the word is fulfilled (Joshua i. 3) not yet according to the fulness of the original promise, but for the present modified according to their failure in the matter of Achan.

But Israel's failure is used of God to teach us now how imperative holiness is in the church of God. Without such teaching how much we should have lost. Could the holiness which God demands, and the revenging of ourselves against all defilement (cf. 2 Cor. vi. 11) be more solemnly impressed upon the conscience of the assembly than in the judgment of Achan? And more, we should not have known how grace acts in wisdom, restoring, yet in such a way as to make the restored people remember their folly. Marvellous are the ways of grace. The process of discovering sin in the assembly may he most painful, always humiliating, but it is in order that the presence of the Lord might again be realised. Achan did not judge his sin, he valued the things he stole. His own conscience unpurged, he defiled the whole congregation, and Jehovah must step in to purge out the leaven that was leavening the whole lump. The end of discipline is to restore, not perhaps exactly to the same position as before, for the failure will ever remain as a fact; but the restoration of any saint always deepens the power of godliness in his soul, and is always to the praise of His grace.

6. 1886 114.

The vain confidence of Israel in their own might was seriously rebuked at Ai; and no less was their wisdom found to be folly in the matter of Gibeon when as at Ai they forgot to seek counsel from God. Trusting to themselves, they are deceived by circumstances and make an alliance which is not according to the expressed will of God. They have made it in the name of Jehovah, and it cannot be broken. How easily they were ensnared! Even a little close questioning would have exposed the true character of the Gibeonites. For, if they dwelt in so distant a country as the mouldy bread and the rent wine bottles pretended, there was no cause to fear Israel. They had heard what God did in Egypt, to the kings of the Amorites beyond Jordan, and that He would destroy the Canaanites and give the land to Israel. If they were beyond the limits why fear, and hasten to own themselves servants to Israel? Their eagerness to form an alliance would have betrayed them to the wise of the world. But Israel were then in a position where, if they had not wisdom of God, they must sink beneath the world's wisdom. The cunning of the Gibeonites was too much for them: they were foolishly deceived. The princes, even Joshua, seemed a little doubtful at first, but the stout assertions of the Gibeonites soon lulled their suspicions to sleep. It is an instance recorded for our admonition how far more easily than others the people of God may be deceived when they attempt to decide any matter without His counsel and guidance. Let us remember there is no folly so great as a saint depending upon his own mind, or acting according to the maxims of the world.

That their folly was overruled, and that God made it an occasion for showing how He would be merciful to those who trembled at His word, even though they were of the accursed race of Canaan, is most blessedly true. Isaiah proclaimed it (Isa. lxvi. 2); but God here shows it. How far mightier the display of mercy, of grace since the cross! The Gibeonites also give the true position of a soul really penitent, for they bow to the sentence of death; they were sore afraid of their lives, and therefore did that thing. They plead not the alliance, they surrender themselves unconditionally, "behold we are in thine hand; as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do." So true is it that glimpses of richest grace, and of practical righteousness, of the reality of the soul's lost condition before God, are thickly scattered through the pages of God's book, long before the great foundation Was laid in the precious blood of Christ. Here on one side is Israel cursing the Gibeonite, on the other the submissive Gibeonite content to be anything that Joshua may determine. Over both is seen the picture of God's mercy to a self-judging sinner.

But we are looking at Israel's failure; before as to their might, now as to their wisdom. If Israel while contending for an earthly kingdom needed to be endowed with power and wisdom from God, how much more we who are receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, a heavenly kingdom, in seeking and receiving which our obedience, and dependence, and wisdom should be as far above that required of Israel as the realities of holiness are above its mere types!

Alas! the church of God very soon followed in the footsteps of Israel. At the beginning the presence of God was as manifestly with the church, as He had been with Israel. The Holy Spirit came to take His abode in the newly formed body, and attested His presence by a rushing mighty wind and the cloven tongues of fire. He was the promised Comforter come to guide them into all truth, even as the Captain of Jehovah's host appeared to Joshua, and to lead the armies of Israel. And the energy of the Holy Spirit's power was soon felt by the great enemy, and three thousand were added together. What a triumph here of the name of Jesus over the power of Satan who had so blinded the Jew as to reject Him. It was the taking of another Jericho. Not more wonderful the falling down of city walls than the conversion of so many souls on that Pentecostal day. This was to the church, as that was to Israel, the pledge and pattern of victory over every foe had there been faithfulness in each to have continued in the goodness of God. But when did man individually or corporately continue in His goodness? Individuals from the first Adam have not continued, saints have needed and still need restoring grace. And as to man incorporate, there are two notable witnesses. Israel as a nation, and the church (far more intimately incorporated than the nation), both have failed, both like individuals need restoring grace. Nor will God fail in this; for Israel's blessing is nearing, and the glory of the church yet nearer. But the untrustworthiness of man, and of saints must appear. The glory is God's. If the church had learnt in the presence of God the lessons that the course of Israel afforded, what shame and sorrow would never have been known!

The apostles had not long departed ere the church forgot God as the source of power. It forgot that it was only in the name of Jesus that the world could be overcome. "In my Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark xvi.). In Mr Name only. Not using His Name as a mere talisman, as Sceva's sons attempted (Acts xix.) but in true faith, and then the wondrous results follow. The church in its name and strength dared to contend with the world, and the world won the victory as easily as the men of Ai over Israel.

When Israel fled, it brought humiliation and crying to God, and this brought to their knowledge that they were defiled, and so they are led to restoration and joy. God gave them victory over the same foe that had so recently triumphed over them. It was a grand sight to see Israel on their faces before the Lord. Did the church as a whole ever take such a place? Nay. Here and there might have been a gathered few, but their numbers were lost in the general mass of profession. The result is far worse for the nominal church than for Israel. Indeed the analogy between Israel and the church lies rather in the principle of the flesh, trying to be independent of God, than in the manner. In the spiritual warfare of the church with the world the words of the Lord have been forgotten, "In my name;" the names of men have been substituted for His Name, and the world gained a victory. The nominal church is now a power of, and in, the world. As such, it is hastening to its doom; it is the nauseous thing that Christ will spue out of His mouth, and then as a mere harlot it will be destroyed by the world (Rev. xvii. 16).

The manner of the church's failure is rather in contrast with Israel's at Ai and with Gibeon. Israel attempted no compromise with Ai. The mistake was in not seeking counsel from God, and in attempting to fight Jehovah's battles in their own strength; they did not try to enlist the enemy, and swell their ranks with aliens. But this is what the church did, and spared no pains to win whole masses of men to the profession of the fundamental dogmas of Christianity. And when the priest was turned out of the temple where stood his idol, the so-called christian priest took possession of the temple and changed the name of the idol to the name of the virgin, or of a "saint." And this was called conversion! It was the birds of the air lodging in the branches of the great tree. Naturally when such an element came into the professing church, it needed the powers of the world to preserve order, which however did not succeed, as ecclesiastical history abundantly testifies, the strong arm of the law in not a few instances being appealed to. And what a pitiful groping after wisdom we see in the early ages of the church, which are more marked by squabblings than by unanimity! It. could not be otherwise. It was an unholy alliance between the church and the world, and was deliberately entered into. Distinctive grace and truth were lost.

Israel's alliance with Gibeon was a greater sin than their proud contempt of Ai, though it was not apparently so disastrous. True, Israel was betrayed into it through unwatchfulness; but after the previous experience of the consequences of not asking counsel of God, their neglect in this case is still more inexcusable. And to make alliance with the world, even though unwittingly, brings in its wake the greatest evils. Israel's league with Gibeon was more dishonouring to God than their attempt apart from Him to take Ai. How could Israel be a witness for God against the wickedness of Canaan, and at the same time in league with one of the nations? Gibeon's submission was not for their consideration. And the union of church and world has surely destroyed in this day corporate testimony for God, such as the whole church was and is called to hear. Israel did it ignorantly, the nominal church knowingly. The church is more guilty than Israel. To know the Lord's will and to do it not will bring the "many stripes" upon Christendom.

Many associations of professing christians have taken the sword and thus endeavoured to fight against the world. But the men of Ai have invariably overcome them. The true soldiers of Christ remember that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, and that they who take the sword shall perish with the sword. But union with the world is fatal, and the church as a whole has lost its character. The true and living church — only known to God — is but a remnant among the mass of professors.

Gibeon was no help to Israel; they became the occasion for the combination of the remaining kings of Canaan who sought to wreak their vengeance upon the city which in their eyes had proved traitorous. Gibeon, now the servants of Israel, call upon their masters for protection. This alliance brings immediate war. Satan resents the submission of Gibeon to the word of God, and to the people of God; he gathers his forces against them, but only to manifest more gloriously the presence of the great Captain of the hosts of Israel.

Israel might have been slow to prosecute the war. God overrules all, and uses their failure to carry out His purpose. The time of rest was not yet come. And now armed with a direct promise they prepare to meet the confederate kings. "Fear them not; for I have delivered them into thine hand, there shall not a man of them stand before thee." Jehovah says, "into thine hand," yet did the hailstones destroy more than the sword of Israel. This may not have been so strikingly supernatural as the falling of the walls of Jericho, but faith sees the same hand in both. The former event was contrary to the common law of nature the latter was the power of God using nature beyond its ordinary limit. In each there was a direct intervention of nature's God.

What a glorious day for Israel. The combined forces flee, Joshua wields his sword with might from Jehovah. The "Captain of the host" is with him. And that is not enough, for Jehovah Himself appears apart from human instrumentality and thus completes the victory. The Lord of creation commands and nature obeys, and the hailstones smite not Israel, but the flying foe. Each stone with its own special message discriminates between Israelites and Canaanite. The sword of Israel and the great stones of Jehovah are both guided by the same mighty and unerring Hand. Once before there was a similar intervention of God for His people; then the hail was mingled with fire (Ex. ix. 24). Then the people were bond slaves, now they are conquerors "for Jehovah fought for Israel" (Joshua x. 14).

Joshua at the sight rises in faith and power, and bids the sun stand still upon Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, that the triumph of Jehovah and of Israel may be complete. In the sight of all Israel, he speaks and God hearkens to the voice of a man.

How one witness after another comes crowding up before the idolatrous world of His eternal power and Godhead! The hailstones, and the long day of twice the usual length, assert in unmistakeable language even to the degraded Canaanite, that God was the one God in the earth as in the heaven. They are without excuse. They still worshipped the false gods of their own making. But when we remember that even the highly favoured nation of Israel, even the people on whose behalf these astonishing displays of power were made, did themselves soon sink into the lowest depths of idolatry, and became worse than the nations whose land was now given them, whose sin was the cause of their extermination, we have a strong — if not the strongest — proof that no display of divine power, of goodness short of the grace that comes through the cross, can wean the heart of man from the love of evil.

In this most renowned battle of Joshua is seen the double thing — the energy of God in man, and the same energy apart from man: the power that, clothed all Israel; and the faith that is prominent in Joshua. Faith truly proves itself to be the gift of God by its own power; for to command the sun to stand still is greater than the confidence of victory. But the energy of divine power apart from and above man is now manifest. Israel had the privilege to prove their valour, then Jehovah appears and crowns their victory. Thereafter it is a record of victory; the kings and their armies may gather, but city after city is taken until the people find rest. No further tale of sin or failure follows while Joshua lived.

In the church of God not, only we may see the energy of faith in individuals, but there is undoubtedly the action of the Spirit of God who controls the power of the adversary and leads the servants of God to victory. Israel under Joshua in the land is a mirror wherein we see the reflected image of the church, though so many centuries before the church was called. All were warnings, admonitions, and ensamples. Alas! where is our profit?

Preparation for Messiah's Kingdom.
7. 1886 131.

From the call of Abram to Joshua's victories in the promised land, the great lessons of faith — separation, pilgrimage, God's patience with man, judgment of sin, resources of grace for a perverse people, the sacrifices and ordinances connected with the tabernacle, the functions of the priesthood — all, while for the people then, and pointing to the foundation and ensuring their future blessing, are yet, as we learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews, more for the instruction of Jewish believers than for the nation when going through the wilderness. That Epistle was to detach believing Jews from the carnal observance of these ordinances and to point them to Him in whom they believed as the One who filled the eye and mind of God when the tabernacle was set up, and the priesthood established; but not to the exclusion of Gentile believers, who enter into all the joys and privileges of the common faith, learn the value and significance of all the offerings, and glory in the excellencies of the Great High Priest who abideth for ever. Although the argument, point, and power of the Epistle were specially addressed to Hebrew Christians, it gives the true position for the believer whether Jew or Gentile, outside the camp. It marks out the path which only faith can follow and therefore peculiarly instructive to Israelites; but it is ours as well as theirs as disciples of the same risen Lord.

He who now speaks is the Son, who is God. None but He was worthy to bring such a message of grace, none but He able to declare it perfectly. He as man was the appointed Servant, and is therefore the appointed Heir of all things. Yet by Him the worlds were made; He is both Creator and Heir. This is the joining of two glorious names which the wisdom of the world would never have imagined. The Epistle to the Hebrews opens with the great fact of the Person of the Christ, the Son who is Creator and Heir. The "worlds" which He made are not confined to the mere material world: there is a moral idea contained in it, the ages of the dispensations, and the relationship and responsibility of man to God, as seen in all the phases of His dealings with the earth. In all Christ is the object — by Him and for Him, for His glory. He was from eternity the appointed Heir. Therefore His was the appointing and ordering of the dispensational ages, or worlds. And whether in the world of types and shadows, or in the coming world of millennial glory, the Christ, the Son is the One Object in all.

God rested on the seventh day. Sin came in, and God began to work again. The Lord Jesus bears testimony to this. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Before God appeared, and in a sense began the world over again in the person of Noah, He allowed space for man, now fallen, to show what be was. Left to himself he filled the earth with violence and corruption, and became a prey to the angels that kept not their first estate. The whole period since his expulsion from Eden to the flood was preparatory to prove the necessity for God (in grace) to work if His divine purpose in creation — His own glory — was to be fulfilled. Not that He left Himself without witness; grace was active in Abel, Enoch, and Noah. But the solemn fact remains, man without government ended in the deluge. The next step in God's dealings is government entrusted to man, wherein is given another proof that God must work. The first governor had been a preacher of righteousness; but as soon as he was in the responsible and new position of governor he got drunk. God did continue government by man in the earth, but his unfitness to wield the sword of justice was proved in his first act. And the failure — which coming so soon and so marked proved it to be inevitable — is not in a man of the world, but in a saint; not in a man with no knowledge of God, but in one who knew His power and had seen it in the overthrow of the antediluvian world, and had preached righteousness. Here indeed is proof of man's incapacity, but by this is declared how he needed the interposition of God, and so the way was cleared for the coming of the Man of God's right hand.

The idea of government was not lost upon the earth. But the one notable instance in that early day was Egypt, the firstborn of the nations, and the expression of the world's strength. The king is found in proud defiance of Jehovah, "Who is Jehovah?" he said. If the saint as governor failed, what else could be seen in a proud heathen but sturdy rebellion against the authority of God? Of course it was only crushed by unsparing judgment. But God was carrying on His purpose, and bringing to view that man at the best was a failing creature, and, when invested with power and authority, used it against God. It was right that man should be made manifest and be set aside to make place for the Only Man who is able to rule. To this end Pharaoh was raised up so that in him the power of the world should be set aside. "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth" (Ex. ix. 16).

Meantime God was preparing a people as a platform whereon to display His purpose of having two great companies, the one heavenly and the other earthly. 1 The people from whom the earthly company is formed are the first called, but not to enter at once into their own special place. They are led through circumstances which become means of instruction for the second company which was to be formed ages after. Every trial, every difficulty, every failure of Israel, is recorded as warning for the saints of the church. All the grace and resources of God to meet the need of His people as displayed in the functions of Aaron, and in the various offerings, are to declare to us what a fulness resides in Christ who is both God's Lamb and High Priest. All no doubt was to maintain Israel in the way; but let us take the heavenly standpoint, and what a flood of light is cast over all, from the passover to the possession of the promised land! Now we see what Moses could not see. The hidden mystery revealed through Paul may not be discerned, but there is heavenly provision for more than earthly need. The wilderness was surely a fitting preparation for Israel to possess the land; but how much more does it express the christian position — pilgrims lately come out of Egypt, on our way to God. How fitting, we may surely say, that the pattern of good things to come should be given in the wilderness, which itself is a type of our place in this world; of what it is, or should be, to us. When Moses was about to set up the tabernacle, God gave him a heavenly pattern for all that belonged to it, "And look that thou make them after their pattern which was showed thee in the mount" (Ex. xxv. 40; Ex. xxvi, 30, Ex. xxvii. 8). The pattern was heavenly; why a pattern of heavenly things if only for an earthly people? The apostle so reasons of the whole service and priesthood connected with the tabernacle in the wilderness, in his Epistle to the Hebrews. And now that the heavenly things themselves do appear — Christ and the church — those who still cleave to the figure, for the time then present, cannot be perfect as to conscience! and, again in stronger language, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle" (Heb. viii. 5, Heb. xiii. 10).

Israel having passed through the desert and at rest in the land (Joshua xxiii. 1), not the rest that fulfils the purpose of God (see Heb. iv. 8), but rest from war during the remainder of Joshua's life and his contemporaries, sufficient for the then purpose of God, Israel at that time affords a type of the Christian's highest position short of being actually in the glory with Christ. It is an image of the church sitting in the heavenlies in Christ, which is revealed to faith while yet here below.

It is not only God's purpose to have a church, but also that Messiah shall have an earthly kingdom; and the same people who have already served specially for the future needs of the church, themselves also participating in the results of the death and priesthood of Christ, though not so fully as the church, are now to be prepared for the advent of the kingdom of Messiah, as distinct from His kingdom of the whole world as Son of man. And it was necessary for the glory and honour of Messiah that the people should know that none but He could reign, and establish them in righteousness and in blessing. Though called the people of God, and by that name distinguished from all other nations of the earth, they are for a season allowed to manifest their own evil before David, the man of God's choice, is called to reign, that they might know in the age to come that all their blessing and their greatness is due to God's grace, yea, to Him whom they rejected and crucified, Who alone bears up the pillars of the earth. And therefore the top-stone of their greatness will be brought with shoutings of grace — grace unto it (Zech. iv. 7; Ps. cxviii. 22, 23).

Sad picture in the book of Judges of what man becomes even with highest privileges if left to himself! Soon Israel became like the worst of the heathen. From the closing chapters it may be said of them, as of the men before the flood, they filled the land with violence and corruption. Nowhere is depravity more exposed. The hatred of man to God culminates in the cross; but as yet he had not the opportunity to show it. But so far as the goodness and patient forbearance of God appear, so far does the incurable evil of man appear; the longsuffering of God only brings out in clearer lines his wickedness, and the absolute necessity that by stern discipline and righteous judgment the people should be trained to say when Messiah comes to reign, "Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Luke xix.). How much there was, and is needed for this! How long a time for evil to increase, which could only be surpassed by the mercy of God who will accomplish His purpose of grace to man and of glory in Christ!

But the book of Judges does not contain images of the heavenly things now revealed; no allusion is made to it in the epistle to the Hebrews save the brief mention of a few names, exemplars of the power of faith (Heb. xi. 32). Truly there is much for individual saints, as indeed everywhere, but nothing which points to the special truths for the christian. These special lessons are ended, and a new chapter opens of God's ways with Israel. If the church was before the mind of God in the ordinances given to Israel in the wilderness, not less is the kingdom of Messiah before Him when Israel is in the land. God is preparing the people for the kingdom of the Son of David; as the antediluvian age was preparatory to the intervention of God in government, and as the times of the Gentiles, when world-power was given to Nebuchadnezzar, are preparatory to the universal kingdom of the Son of man. In each case the disorder and wickedness of man proves the necessity of His intervention for the fulfilling of His own counsels.

Throughout this book we see nothing of the rule and power of the priest of God. It was the idol-priest that swayed the people, and idol-worship prevailed in the land. God gave them up to their enemies. In mercy deliverers were raised up and a temporary respite afforded. Here and there a passing beam of light, but soon to go out into deeper darkness. It is a descending scale of iniquity. They became lawless, each one doing what was right in his own eyes (Judges xvii. 6), and the result was civil war, when one tribe was nearly exterminated. In those who were raised up temporarily as judges there were characteristics and marks which (looked at as symbols) proved them to be imperfect and unfit to rule. Nor was it God's will that they should. They were only instruments in His hand to do His will, and then to be put aside. And all of them to a certain extent are a reflex of the condition of the people. When the true King comes, He will not reflect them, but they Him. He will come as God's First-born; the first judge we read of was a younger son. Another had an ox-goad which truly proved the power of God, but was no fitting emblem of kingly power. Barak was a weak man and gave the place of honour to a woman; of the coming King it will be said His own arm brought salvation. And how patient God was in teaching Gideon to have faith, who truly reflected the condition of Israel when he cowered behind the winepress threshing wheat, and himself the least in his father's house. Jephthah — whose faith was marred by a heathenish vow; provision was made in the law for thank-offerings: why imitate the heathen? But Jephthah was the son of a harlot, Samson, the unfaithful Nazarite. Yet these are instances of faith, cited by the Holy Spirit. How many others, like treacherous Ehud, or whose names are only mentioned, or not even this? God is sovereign in the choice of His instruments. Indeed all of them were only raised up for special deliverances; and, when their given work was done, they passed away leaving no power behind them; and after each, the people fell back into their old evil of idolatry, yea, worse than before.

Such were the people who ere long are to be a holy nation, every one taught of God. What a triumph of grace when this stiff-necked and rebellious race shall be obedient, and in a position second only to the church in glory! From the opening of the Book of Judges to the end of the reign of Solomon is one connected chain of events, and so given as to show that all as different parts form one whole, or as the bright and darkest colours of the same picture, the preparation for, and the establishment typically of, Messiah's kingdom.

From the beginning God allowed man to follow his own will first, and then according to His infinite wisdom made man's wisdom to be a means, or used it as an occasion, for the accomplishing of His own purpose. Mark the successive steps in this fresh chapter of God's ways; sin abounding, judges forgotten, the priest rejected, man's choice of a king, God's choice persecuted; but the man of the world perishes, the man of God is exalted. It is an epitome of the world's history.

8. 1886 148.

As with the antediluvians, so with Israel, God leaves not Himself without witness. Among them He called out Abel, Enoch and Noah, and now He elects Ruth, having given her a position in a family of Israel. The time was not come for a Gentile testimony independent of the ancient people. But this little remnant — Elimelech and his family — is marked off from the nation, their history is not given incorporated with that of the guilty people but in a little book by itself. It hints at the purpose of God to separate His own from among the mass of the ungodly. He has a separate book where He writes the names of His saints, even the book of life. This family failed in faith, they lost sight of the fact that the land they were leaving was God's gift to them, and let the famine be ever so grievous, He knew how to provide. Elimelech looked at the famine and had faith enough to perceive that it was judgment upon Israel, but forgot the power that was able to keep those that trusted in Him. This man and his household depart into a foreign land to dwell among the enemies of God. Would it not have been far better to have abode where God placed him? to have suffered even with guilty Israel, than to flee, as it were, from His presence and seek relief where surely the want of faith led him? To him, as an Israelite, the consequences were most distressing; he died away from his inheritance, in the midst of a people that of old sought Satanic aid to destroy Israel. And his two sons, sinking deeper in disobedience, marry daughters of Moab. The chastening hand of God finds them out, and they die. Naomi is left alone with her daughters-in-law. Husband and sons gone, who are now to provide for Naomi? All is lost, what can she do in a strange land? In these distressful moments did she regret the want of faith which led them so far from home? Ah, it was with her as with many another of God's chosen ones. Far better wait to bear heavy trials where God has cast our lot, than to seek a way of escape by human means, which are always the fruit of lack of confidence in God, and bring spiritual loss. Naomi left the land because of famine. Husband and sons die, and though there be no famine in the land of Moab, it is still famine for her.

The God of mercy steps in, the news comes that Jehovah hath visited His people in giving them bread, and she is brought back to the land which ought never to have been left. The loving-kindness of God never fails, His mercy endures forever. Mark the overruling wisdom of God; if the chosen witnesses fail in testimony for God, His grace raises up a brighter witness for Himself in the person of a Gentile. One of the daughters of Moab will leave her kindred, and her people, and her nation's gods, to follow Naomi into a strange land, saying, "Thy God shall be my God." Here was a witness for the true God raised up from among the idolatrous Moabites to be His brightest witness among the feeble remnant in the land. Truly not one of them had made such sacrifices as Ruth made. And how great the reward! she enters the line of David's ancestry, yea, of David's greater Son. But what a rebuke in the simple faith of Ruth for Naomi who left the land not submitting to God! yet a rebuke in the form of restoring grace, crowning her in her widowhood with tender mercies and loving-kindness. It is the manner of His love; and saints now bear testimony to the same manner. Ruth comes in among the people, who, though so guilty, were still owned as God's people. He visited His people with bread. (Ruth i. 6.) She knew them to be His people, and though her faith was veiled under strongest attachment to Naomi, she says not merely, "thy people shall be my people," but adds, "thy God shall be my God." Thus, amid the violence and corruption of Israel, a little company bears testimony to the God of Israel. It is but a brief sketch, yet is the hand of God as visible in marvellously providing for the well-being and honour of Ruth — and through her for Naomi — as it was in the judgments that fell upon Israel. In the midst of the darkness God gives a bright scene of family and household piety, to which we turn with gladness from the surrounding national and social wickedness. What a contrast to the impiety of the idolatrous household of Micah's mother! (Judges xvii.) The book of Ruth, however, is but a passing and transient gleam. Still it proves that in the 'worst times God never left Himself without witness, it declares His faithfulness to the weakest of saints, it manifests His power that all things must bow to His will and subserve His purpose of grace; for a Moabitess is brought in, through Elimelech's failure, to partake in the highest honour which could then be conferred upon any woman of Israel.

At the close of this book (Ruth) God unfolds His purpose, the end He had in view, and the means thereto — to bring in David. But two more generations must come and go, for the time was not yet come, the iniquity of Israel not yet ripe, ruin beyond human remedy must be visible ere God sets His king upon His holy hill of Zion. David closes his chapter of God's dealings with Israel, giving a foreshadowing of even greater iniquity and of a mightier deliverance, when the Son of David shall sit upon His throne. Israel's sins and sorrows will then be over.

The elders and people (Ruth iv. 11.) pronounce a blessing upon Boaz, but the Spirit of God leads them to use words which can only be fulfilled when Messiah comes. "Build the house of Israel." Their Messiah is our Lord Jesus, He will build their house and in the future day do infinitely more than restore the glory of Solomon, so that the nations shall be amazed, and say, like the queen of Sheba, that the half had not been told.

The book closes with the genealogy of David. Is it not remarkable that this record should begin with Pharez? That the elders and the people should take the house of Pharez as a pattern of blessing for the house of Boaz? "Let thy house be like the house of Pharez "? Who was Pharez? Let Gen. xxxviii. answer. Why not begin with his father, Judah? His was the greatest of the tribes of Israel. But it was through Pharez, son of Tamar, the promised blessing must come. God led His line of promise through base things of the world, and took up those that man would spurn. This was to magnify His grace and exalt His name. How unlike man, by whom the greater the object before him, the better the means used. Not so with God; base things, and things that are not, characterise the instruments, or the channels, to accomplish His word. Truly, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah" (Isa. lv.) At that moment, Israel, according to the righteousness of law was ruined, and could have no valid title to any one thing on the ground of obedience and fidelity to God. They had joined themselves to idols; they were then morally in the condition of Pharez, children of transgressions, as the prophet said long after (Isa. lvii. 4). Their own ordinances shut them out, for God had said by Moses, "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of Jehovah" (Deut. xxiii. 2). But in a world of sin, where even saints fail, there can be no other ground, save judgment, than absolute grace, and then sovereign grace. It forms and carries out its own purposes, and chooses its own way; and so it comes to pass that, if the beginning be Pharez, the end is David.

At this point, according to the book of Judges, we see the nation as such, to be idolaters; in the book of Ruth, a little remnant failing in faith, and the grace of God abounding and pointing onward to greater blessing.

We may consider this the first stage in the preparation for the coming kingdom. What is the second?

The Holy Spirit leads through scenes of greater evil and worse abomination, yet ever keeps before us the increasing necessity of His kingdom; His great object, the inbringing of God's King. The next downward step is the failure of the priesthood. The sons of Eli were a greater abomination before God than that recorded in Judges xix. The priest was the connecting link between Jehovah and the people, he was the appointed means, and no other dare assume his functions. But when the priest wickedly departed from God, and used his position to increase the dishonour of God, then the appointed means of communication with God, and of restoration to Him, were gone. Hophni and Phinehas made the people sin. The indulgence of the father was as fatal as, if less criminal than, the iniquity of the sons. Judgment overtakes the wicked sons: they are slain in battle; the father dies under the hand of God. Yet sinfully lenient as he was to his sons, his heart was true to God. Not their death, but the loss of the ark, is the immediate cause of his death. The dishonour to God was more to him than family sorrow and disgrace, and he felt that there was no possibility of approaching God in the appointed way while the ark is in the hands of the Philistines. Ichabod is pronounced upon the people: what is to become of them? There was another beside Eli who felt the extreme gravity of Israel's condition; the wife of Phinehas would not be comforted, and the name of her son bears testimony to her grief. How could they any longer be called God's people? God steps in and provides a new link between Himself and them. Samuel appears, a prophet, the only possible means of recalling guilty Israel, and of communicating to them the word of God. Such means were not needed so long as the normal link of the ark and the officiating priest subsisted. The advent of a prophet was proof that all else was gone. A prophet came to Eli (1 Sam. ii. 27), but his was a special message to one man, not to supply the place of the lost ark and of the guilty priest. This was the position of Samuel, who stands out prominently as the first of the prophets, as it is said, "All the prophets from Samuel" (Acts iii. 24, of Ps. xcix. 6), God thus naming him as the first of that line of messengers to a people utterly rebellious, as "Moses and Aaron among the priests." For the first time the prophet is the link between God and Israel.

But how inveterate the evil of this people, and how unsparingly exposed! They soon reject him and avow their desire to be like other nations and have a king. They had broken the old connection, God brings in a new one. The old office of judge and priest was seen for the last time in Eli; a new position is seen in Samuel, who is judge and prophet. The people refuse the intervention of grace, and prefer connection with the world, and to have a king like other nations. In truth it was the rejection of God, not only of His prophet.

The intelligent reader of God's book cannot fail to see how every recorded sin has been the means of accomplishing God's predetermined will. The purposes of men have been only clay, and the divine Potter has moulded it according to His own will. Everything — even wickedness — is made subservient to His purpose. And in the detail, what wisdom! yea, what grace!

Awful as it was to deliberately reject God as their ruler, desiring a man as their king, it is an immense step in bringing to pass the purpose of God. Only it must be man's king first, then the King of God's choice. As priest he had failed, and after the short transitional period of prophet rule, his failure as king is still more evident. Indeed, whether priest, prophet, or king, there is only One Who could not fail. And the ruin before us in this sad history through the failure of man is the preparation for the coming of that One, and demonstrates the necessity of it. Man must be tried in every way; every proof is given that nothing short of sovereign grace can bring in the promised blessing. Israel from the first were a rebellious people; but mark the controlling power and wisdom of God: He makes their rebellion now take the form of the blessing about to be given them, the form of Kingly rule. It was His deliberate counsel that a king should reign over Israel, but it must be His KING, the Man of His right hand. Man's choice is sure to be worthless. God sanctions their choice for a time, but only to make manifest, that, however good apparently it may be, his failure is inevitable.

And so we have Saul, whose beginning was so auspicious and seemingly prosperous. A bright future lay before him; the providential acts of God clear the way to the throne, and the prophet anoints him. Success attends ere long his first essay in war, and there is great rejoicing among the men of Israel. All this but confirms the testimony against man, that with every advantage he invariably fails. Saul was raised to the throne of Israel to prove, among many other witnesses, the great fact of failure stamped upon human nature, as men put a trademark upon their goods and merchandise. I say for this purpose, as well as to prepare the way for David, the chosen of God. Again, look at the marvellous way of preparation: it was by treachery, hatred, and at last open persecution; just like what the world — the Jew — did to Christ, the Son of David.

Saul began to fail from the first. He had the witness of God's presence with him, he was told that if he were obedient his kingdom would be established; every motive was supplied for faithfulness; but he sank lower and lower till he reached the lowest depths. And when he sought aid from the witch of Endor, he hears his doom; he dies by his own hand and drags down the kingdom which God had entrusted to him into hopeless ruin. Then God intervenes, and the man who had been prepared of God comes to the rescue, and Israel is raised to power and glory more rapidly than they fell into degradation and servitude.

Apart from all human responsibility — for Saul was responsible for the right use of his advantages and high position — we can trace the over-ruling hand of God in bringing Israel to such a condition as would most of all exalt His own power and grace in establishing them as chief among the nations. No sooner does the man of His choice take the reins of government, than the enemies on every side are subdued; the Hebrews despised of the Philistines become the mighty kingdom of David. And what we see in the kingdom of Israel will be yet more gloriously displayed when the Son of Man takes possession of the kingdom of this world. All hangs upon the mighty arm of Him who will be not only God's King upon the holy hill of Zion, but the MAN ordained to rule over the world.

9. 1886 162.

Saul's first failure was not when he impatiently offered a burnt offering (1 Sam. xiii. 8, etc.). This intrusion into the priest's office was open to the eyes of all; the most untaught of the people would know that the functions of the priesthood did not pertain to royalty. The first proof of his unfitness comes in guise of a human virtue, or quality not a little esteemed, and the unobservant reader of his life would fail to discern under the amiable exterior a heart without confidence in God, and consequently disobedient. When he should have appeared before all Israel to be publicly inducted into his high position, we may say his coronation, he was not to be found, but hidden among the stuff (1 Sam. x. 22). This to human eyes had the appearance of modesty, a very lovely feature in any character; but it must be judged in the light of its surroundings.

Three very notable circumstances had just before transpired whose significance was unperceived by the most interested, for they were tokens confirmatory of his call to the throne. First, two men tell him that the asses are found, brought home, not by his diligence, but by the providence of God. Then three men meet him with offerings, going up to God to Bethel; and of these Saul has his portion as the anointed king. After that he comes to the hill of God, and there a company of prophets meets him with rejoicings. Saul himself comes under the immediate power of the Spirit of Jehovah, he prophesies and is turned into another man. "All these signs came to pass that day." They were foretold by Samuel, and were witnesses of the truth of his word. A godly man would surely have recognised the hand of God and sought to understand. But no lasting good effect was produced in his soul; much less could he read in them the deeper intimations of God's goodness in store for Israel. For do we not read in them that Israel who had strayed away from God should be found and brought back to their home? Yet not Saul found his father's asses, neither was it he who shall give even a passing image of Israel's future restoration; this was reserved for David. Saul only scattered and caused deeper ruin. Again, when Jacob, the banished from his home, was nearing it, he was led to Bethel, and there becomes a worshipper; so should Israel return and worship God with meat offerings and drink offerings. The "going up to God to Bethel" reminded of past mercy and is the pledge of future restoration. And though at the time of this typical prediction the hill of God was held by the Philistines — they had a garrison there — it did not prevent God giving to Saul this foreshadowing of blessing which might have been his own (see 1 Sam. xiii. 14), but which will surely come to pass in a day yet future. But the sketch of blessing is not yet complete: the picture is crowned by a company of prophets, who are exulting "with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them." How the tide of blessing swells as it rolls on! First, two men; then three; last a company of prophets. First, restoration, then worship, then exultation and the presence of the Spirit of Jehovah. And the day is not far distant when the true King shall come to His throne, and shall be met with songs, saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that cometh in the Name of Jehovah." And then will the Spirit be poured out upon all flesh (cf. Joel ii.). And when this prophecy is fulfilled, it will be said of the whole nation, as was said of Saul, that it was turned into another man.

Alas! Saul had neither eyes nor ears for God's teachings, and these foreshadowings of grace were lost upon him. And having no faith he failed to reap the immediate blessing. All were to him mere circumstances. He was only a natural man; even his acquaintances had no high thought of him from his previous life, for when he prophesied they were amazed, and said, "What is this that is come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" These indications of grace, vouchsafed to him at the outset of his career, found no response in his heart, and, as the sequel of his life proves, not simply from want of attention to the teachings of God — as many a saint may now lament in his own case — but from utter incapacity to understand his own position, and to know the mind of God. Hence his hiding among the stuff was but the shrinking of a common man from this sudden and unlooked-for elevation to the throne. It is the index of his soul. Utterly dark as to Israel's condition before God — save perhaps as to the outward aspect — and ignorant' of God's mercy, confidence in Him was foreign to his heart. With the timidity of nature the anointed Saul shrinks from the place to which he was called. The timidity of the flesh is not so offensive to us as its boldness, but both are mere nature, and opposed to God. Neither of these appeared when David was called.

Saul held his peace when the children of Belial derided him (1 Sam. x. 27). Apparently he would wait till God should by some public act confirm him yet more in his position. Nor has he long to wait. God had already touched the hearts of a band of men who followed him to his home in Gibeah; and next gives him victory over Nahash, the Ammonite, which would be all the more impressive because of the circumstances of Jabesh-gilead, and the cruel condition of life Nahash would impose upon the inhabitants. God puts His seal upon Saul by this victory; for the Spirit of God had come upon him, and his message to the people was made effectual by the fear of Jehovah falling upon them, so that three hundred and thirty thousand men come at his call. But in all this there was no test of obedience; Saul was only clay in the hand of the Potter. On this as on other occasions when the Spirit came upon him, he was turned into another man. Yet this remarkable first victory showed how God would be with him if he were obedient.

At this point a most important moral question is settled. Israel has a king, and he is crowned with victory; but how does Israel now stand before God? This question has its solemn answer in 1 Sam. xii. There Samuel reminds the people of past mercies. When their fathers sinned and came under the power of their enemies, they cried to God, they did not ask for a king, and God sent deliverers. Now, says Samuel, When. ye saw Nahash the king of the children of Ammon come against you, ye did not cry to God, but said to me, "Nay, but a king shall reign over us, when Jehovah your God was your King." They were worse than their fathers. Jehovah thundered upon them, and in terror they own their sin, "We have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king."

God, while vindicating His own title to be King, allows their choice to stand — for the accomplishment of His own purpose. At the same time by the mouth of the prophet He declares their responsibility and the danger of this new position. Priesthood had connected them with God from Aaron to Eli; that link subsists no longer. The people have chosen royalty not as a new link between God and Israel, but to be like the nations. Such choosing was their sin, it was in truth rejecting God. Nevertheless royalty, was God's purpose, and is henceforth to be the connecting link between God and His people. For so He will be exalted in Israel, and in the world. But the establishment of a king must be in God's way, and the man must be of His choosing. This necessity is proved by the failure of marl's way and of man's king. The divine principle of God acting upon man, is ever "first that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual." Christ's exaltation in the earth is dependent — if we may use such a word — upon the utter inadequacy of man to meet the purposes of God's glory.

Samuel tells the people the consequences of disobedience, "If ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king." The continuance of the king here depends upon the people not doing wickedly; afterwards, in David's line, the prosperity of the people depended upon the king's doing that which was right in the sight of Jehovah. Saul never connected the people with Jehovah. But God would make this people His own by no mere human tie, so that His purposed glory in them might be beyond the reach of human failure, or Satanic power. Saul's advent to the throne is but the solution of man's problem, "Is he fit to govern?" and the answer is, "Not fit." God brings in His Man, His own Son, and when that Perfect One sits upon His throne, then Israel's blessing will be perfect. The difference between man, and God's own Son, is shadowed in Saul and David. Yet David was but a failing man, though so highly exalted as to be chosen the type of Him who will soon fill the earth with His glory. A glimpse, and only a glimpse, is given in the united glories of David and Solomon, nothing like it before, nor will be, till the reality comes, and then will be seen how immeasurably short of it was the glory of the images seen ages before.

Now established by his victory over Nahash — for the carnal heart of Israel would think more of that than of the anointing oil — Saul is, in a manner, left to himself. After two years he is put into the crucible and tested. Is there any gold? Nay, all is dross! Is this the man to be king? Nay, all is failure! In the energy of faith Jonathan, not Saul, smites the garrison of the Philistines at Geba. They are aroused, and Israel is in a strait; there is no faith in Saul to meet the emergency. The people are scattered; for him God is nowhere. No wonder if his difficulties made him too impatient to wait for the prophet. He had lost the sense that the people were God's Israel, and he calls them "Hebrews," the name applied by the Philistines. Impossible for such a one to answer to God's mind concerning Israel. Here in his first trial he is found wanting, and the kingdom goes from him. God has found another whom He has commanded to be captain over His people.

Though sentence is pronounced, judgment waits till the cup of iniquity is full. God lingers over the fallen king, and another and a graver opportunity is afforded. Can he retrieve his position and avert the threatened judgment? Nay, he only increases his guilt. Growing opposition to all that bore evidence of God marks his course ever after. What a lack of intelligence in his rash curse upon any that might take food at a time when to eat was specially needed! God at that very moment was working by Jonathan. Saul mars the victory of faith, and threatens death to the man of faith. In intent he slays his son. Is not this opposition to God? It may be called ignorant opposition; but Satan, who was leading the wretched king to his doom, was not ignorant of the dishonour to God if Jonathan were slain. The people deliver him, and though Saul had said, "Thou shalt surely die, Jonathan," they say, "As Jehovah liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground." The power of the people and the authority of the king are in conflict, and the people prevail. The determination of the people to save Jonathan proves that Saul's authority was gone. King now only in name, he submits. His enmity against Jonathan after that was nearly as great as his hatred of David, when he was brought forward. But the appearance of David closed the trial of Saul.

Remark that in 1 Sam. xiv. 45 is given the first instance in scripture of the democratic element rising and overcoming constituted authority; and in this instance we can truly say, Vox populi, vox Dei. But to argue from this that the source of human authority lies with the people is contrary to the word of God. Consider the circumstances here — Saul was not God's choice; ruin was settled down upon the people; only one man of faith in Saul's army; this public witness Saul would destroy. God will maintain the testimony for Him, and as Sovereign Ruler uses the people to save Jonathan. He steps aside from his ordinary course to preserve His witness, and convicts Saul of sin; makes him feel powerless, and verifies the prophet's word that the kingdom is taken from him.

One other instance we may point to where authority collapses before the energy of the mob. It was when the voices of the people, led by their priests, prevailed against Pilate. And I would say to Christians, those who seem to favour the uprising of the "masses" in this present day, that if the first of these two instances be the manifest interposition of God in the exceptional circumstances of that day, the second is no less the power of Satan who rules far more by the "masses" than by kings. Ever since the cross, the vox populi has borne the impress of the prince of this world.

We have said another and a graver opportunity was afforded to Saul. It is the last, like all the preceding, misused, leaving a heavier weight of guilt upon his soul. He has a direct command to utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are consumed. A little while before when God was at least showing how deliverance was to be obtained for Israel, when Jonathan and his armour-bearer through faith overthrew the garrison of the Philistines, Saul showed himself to be without intelligence, without faith, and without the sphere of blessing. Now to all these he adds positive disobedience. The man who afterwards so persistently sought the life of David, whom he knew to be God's chosen, spares the life of Agag, whom God told him to destroy. And when charged by Samuel with disobeying God, he affirms that the people — not he — took the spoil. Yet he tried to excuse them under the plea of piety; the sheep and the oxen were spared "to sacrifice unto Jehovah thy God." Samuel will not accept this excuse. Saul was responsible, and he far more in this case than the people, for the command (1 Sam. xv. 3) was direct to him. To offer sacrifices to Jehovah is good, but when it is presented as an excuse for disobedience, it is positive sin. "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." In the end, after all his protestations, Saul confesses, "I have sinned," and in extenuation pleads his fear of the people. Poor king! — he admits his authority is gone. What the value of his confession is, appears from his wish that Samuel should honour him before the people. Self was uppermost. "What will the people think of me?" that was his care. Samuel acceding to his wish only confirmed his rejection: it was too late for any more warning. In his eagerness to retain Samuel he rends the prophet's mantle, a circumstance used by the prophet to repeat his words, that the kingdom was rent from him; and from that moment Saul is given up. Samuel returns to his home at Ramah, and came no more to see Saul until the day of his (Saul's) death. That was a fearful hour. The powers of darkness were present in the witch of Endor but held in check by the presence of the prophet. That hour brought the sentence of immediate death, and blank despair, upon the soul of the wretched king.

10. 1886 177.

"Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" (Luke xxiv. 26) Every believer knows the necessity of Christ suffering for salvation, but they were necessary for making good His Messianic glory. He was made a little lower than the angels on account of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He should taste death for everything. It was Christ's glory to exalt God in respect of sin, His especial glory to manifest God's righteousness in such a way, that the utmost mercy, so far from impeaching divine justice, serves but to exalt it the more. The justice is never more clearly seen than when God justifies the ungodly; for then is seen how perfectly Christ has met all the claims of divine righteousness against the justified one. To bring these two together, viz. eternal justice and fulness of grace, yea, each to magnify the other, was the great work of Christ. The cross is the witness of both the justice and the grace, but it also testifies how they unite and blend together to carry out the purpose of God. It is the glory of Christ to have done this. "It is finished," He said, and delivered up His spirit. There was no other way to enter into His glory; and to exalt God and to vindicate His name was the primary object for which Christ came. Then, God being glorified, redemption follows. Unsparing judgment upon the guilty would vindicate the majesty of God, but that excludes all mercy; and such judgment became necessary immediately on the commission of Adam's transgression. Mercy stepped in, and the transgressor was spared. But from that moment it behoved Christ to suffer. In due time He came to suffer; but the necessity for suffering and for death arose at that moment, not only that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, but first that the character of a holy God, and the inflexibility of His righteousness should be upheld and maintained. There were ages during which that righteousness was not declared; nor during that time could mercy so brightly shine.

When the righteousness was established by the cross, there was no further restraint upon the full out-flowing of grace. God had, in His wisdom, other purposes, subsidiary and preparatory to fullest grace, to disclose before He was revealed in Christ. And one was that man must first be proved without strength and ruined, so that Christ may be seen as the Saviour God, and that not in a partial but in an absolute sense. The proof of man's ruin was not necessary for judgment. The one transgression was enough for that. That was truly and in itself irretrievable ruin; but God would have proof sufficient to convict man at the bar of his own conscience. Proof to this extent was necessary for salvation. The trial lasted from Adam to the cross. With the cross man's probation ended; then was the due time, and unsparing judgment and infinite mercy combine, and are displayed in Him whose soul was made an offering for sin. There, on the cross, mercy and truth met together; there, righteousness and peace kissed each other; there, in being made sin and forsaken — there, where perfect judgment of sin, and compassion for the sinner are seen in His death, is the highest moral glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is only through His death that God can declare Himself to the whole universe — the Saviour God.

But this highest glory had no place in the thoughts of the two disciples going to Emmaus. Their aspirations were confined to Israel; they "trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel." The nation's degradation, not their sin, was first in their minds, and all hope seemed crushed by the cross. Yet the third day was come with its wonders; angels tell certain woman, and these tell the disciples, that He is alive. Some of the company go to the sepulchre and verify the report of the women; but where is the corresponding exultation? Not in the hearts of the two; they were sad. The tidings that He was alive astonished and bewildered them. Evidently they did not fully believe the goodness; for, as they walked, they communed together in sadness. Hence the Lord, as yet to them an unknown stranger — for their eyes were holden, says, "O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken t Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" The Lord Jesus is here answering their thought, and we learn that His sufferings are not only necessary for the preaching of repentance and the remission of sins, but equally so for the entering into His glory on behalf of Israel. Truly, Israel needed the atoning sufferings and death of Christ as much as Gentiles. But, while the cross sends the message of mercy to all the world inasmuch as He tasted death for every man, or everything, the sufferings of His whole life as well as of death on the cross are "not for that nation only."

Isaiah (Isa. liii. 1-4) presents the sufferings of Christ from and for Israel apart from atonement, which is unto all. As their Representative He was bruised for their iniquities, the chastisement of their peace was upon Him; but it is by His stripes they were healed, for Jehovah laid on Him all their iniquity. As Representative He necessarily became their Substitute and had to bear their stripes, and "was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of My people was He stricken." The glory of His person makes it impossible to separate propitiation from substitution in His death; nevertheless they are distinct ideas. In the latter part of this chapter there is atonement proper — His soul an offering for sin. The result is, not the being cut off and having nothing, but seeing the fruit of His travail, and victory over His foes. His being cut off are the sufferings which, through the condition of Israel and the righteous judgment of God, Christ must bear in His way to the throne of Israel. He, the Christ, began to bear the blows of scorn, hatred, and contempt long before He came to the cross. The crowd took p stones to stone Him, they led Him to the brow of the hill to cast Him down, the chief priests sent officers to apprehend Him. Were not these, with other indignities, buffets to Him who was the true and only Heir to the throne of David? Was not all this that He suffered really judgment upon the people? It was their King who was so treated. But He is more than their King, and His atonement on the cross gives a value even to non-atoning sufferings which they could not otherwise have. But the remnant in the latter day will say "by His stripes we are healed." Righteousness demanded these stripes for Israel, grace gave an atonement for them and for the world.

No wonder if the hearts of the two disciples burned within them as the Lord opened to them the scriptures which declare the necessity of His sufferings and death, but thus establishing the glory of the kingdom upon an immutable basis, and doubtless proving to them that Israel must be saved from their sins, sprinkled with clean water before the glory shines forth.

Generally the unbelief of the Gentile has a different aspect from that of the Jew. Gentile unbelief either ignores Him altogether, saying that the Gospels are only a fabulous story invented by the cunning of priestcraft to maintain the authority of a sacerdotal caste, or else, while acknowledging the historical truth of the Gospel record, denies the Godhead of Christ and the absolute inspiration of the record. Of Gentile as well as of Jew it can be said, "they esteemed Him not;" but of the Jew alone is it true that he "did esteem him, stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." On the contrary Gentile writers are found who give Him the foremost place among the great reformers (!) of the world, not that He suffered under the wrath of God in judgment of our sins. It is reserved for the blindness of Gentile infidelity to talk of Christianity as a blend of all that was good in paganism and Judaism, with it presenting a code of morals, and imparting a better tone to the inner life of man, i.e. to the world. To esteem the Lord Jesus as merely a good man, even the greatest and best of men, while the Gospels attest that He claimed and received divine worship, is one of Satan's master-strokes in dishonouring Christ and deluding souls. The Jew esteemed Him smitten of God and afflicted, and despised Him. The Gentile affects not to despise Him (save the vulgar infidels of this and all time), does not believe Him smitten of God any more than suffering to atone, but denies the true glory of His person. "We beheld His glory, the glory as of an only begotten with a Father." This is said of the Word Who became flesh. When He came, the Gentiles did not know Him, the Jew would not receive Him; it is not said (John i. 11) the Jews did not know Him. Certainly the Jew, though more guilty, is more logical than the Gentile. Blasphemy characterises the former, guilty ignorance the latter.

When the angel announced to Joseph the birth of Christ, he said, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins." The Pharisees said, We have no sin. Therefore their sin remained, and barred the kingdom; for they could not be saved from the sins they refused to confess, nor could the kingdom come before they were saved. Christ came to save first, and as His mission became more manifest, so Jewish hatred became more intense. Even the hated Roman was preferred to Christ, their true King. "We have no king but Caesar." How true! that "He was despised."

How could Christ reign over such a people save to dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel? that is, to judge them as the heathen (see Ps. ii.) But then what about the promises made to the fathers, to Abraham and Isaac, and renewed to Jacob? What about the word spoken by the prophets, if Israel be entirely and for ever cut off through sin? All the earth is to be blessed through the exaltation of Christ as King of Israel. Where will the earth's blessing be without the kingdom? But where the glory of the coming King if the fairest portion of His earthly domains be not according to the original promise? Isaiah has only Israel before him when he says (Isa. ix. 6), "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulders; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Israel's condition must be changed before Christ could be to them Father of the age to come.* He would ever be the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Mighty God, were Israel swept from the earth; but how then to them the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace? The kingdom must be established; and when the people are gathered out of the lands from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south (Ps. cvii. 3) Messiah says, "Behold I and the children which God has given me" (Heb. ii. 13). The apostle in proving that the Sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one, inasmuch as (they partaking of blood and flesh) He took part in the same, calls the Hebrew believers "children" (not here children of the Father, which is common to all believers now, but) as part of the godly remnant saved before the kingdom comes, quoting (Isa. viii. 18), where the "children" are the remnant for whom Messiah waits while Jehovah hides His face from Jacob. The "children" are correlative to "the everlasting Father." The King will reign in righteousness, in righteousness He will judge the nations. To Israel He is the Prince of Peace, and the prophet continues, "Of the increase of His government and peace, no end." How the Prince of Peace to a nation rebellious from the beginning?

[* This name in no way confounds the person of the Father with the person of the Son, but is a title which Messiah will take in His official glory as King of Israel. This child shall be called the Father of eternity. It is special to Israel, not to the Gentile, nor to the church.]

There is another and a precious name which the prophet does not mention: it, Jesus the Saviour, was reserved for the evangelist (Matt. i. 21). The prophet declares the glory of the King, the evangelist announces the blessing of the people. The first question with God was their sin. No glory even for Messiah as King before that was established. It was the one thing needful for the people. No purging, no glory. Therefore the immediate need of the people is given in Matthew. Christ was born King of the Jews, but He must be a Saviour before He reigns. At His birth prominence is given to this Name; for all His glory, His special glory as Son and Heir of David hangs upon His being first of all a Saviour. He could only be such by the suffering of death. But the glory is decreed (Ps. ii.) — He must reign. If the glory of His kingdom can only be attained through death, "ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" With the two disciples it was simply a question of power, with God it was a question of sin.

If David be the type of Christ the King of Israel, he also must pass through suffering before he ascends the throne. The type is, as every type must be, very imperfect; but it is not a partial type. Anointed at the beginning, then for a time unknown, afterwards brought out, but only to feel the persecuting power of the wicked king, and not till this king is slain does David sit upon the promised throne. I do not say this is a dim shadow of Messiah's path through the world, but here, as in all types, we must see the substance before we can understand and admire the shadow. Now that we have seen Christ we can trace Him in the shadows of David's life. Doubtless all the experiences of David were in connection with his own responsibility as a saint of God. Some of his trials he brought upon himself, and more than once was in danger through want of faith and of dependence upon God. On such occasions he is the contrast of Christ. But there were other occasions, and not a few, where he truly had his own proper experiences, but which are the reflected experiences of our Lord — reflected in the mirror of mere earthly material, where the imperfect surface blurs somewhat the perfect beauty of the original; yet sufficient is seen to lead us to admire the wisdom of God in thus presenting beforehand the sorrows of Messiah and the glories that follow. It is because of this special position, being chosen for that end, that David is called the man after God's own heart (1 Sam. xiii. 14).

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"Though he were Son, yet learned he obedience from the things which he suffered" (Heb. 5:8). Messiah's sufferings were not necessary to teach Him to obey; He was by nature obedient, for He was holy. He never walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful, but delighted in the law of God. And whether He was like the well-watered tree, or as a root out of a dry ground, as He looked in the eyes of the unbelieving Jew, His obedience would ever have been perfect. He had no opposing will. He came into the world not as the first Adam, at once a man, but born and passing through all the phases of humanity from a babe to a full-grown man. He advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke ii.), that is, there was a growth mentally and physically. If the Son were only a man such a statement is needless; if He were only God, it is incomprehensible. But the Son is perfectly human and perfectly divine. As man He suffered, and increased in wisdom; yet though made like unto His brethren He alone could say, "Before Abraham was, I am." But having taken the place of man, He condescended as such to learn obedience. Oh, how perfect His obedience! He alone could say, I do always the things that please my Father. He did not seek His own will but that of the Father. This is the perfection of obedience. It was practised in a path of suffering, the appointed path to the throne. There was no other way possible.

Learning was part of His humiliation when He deigned to become man. The humiliation was deepened when He learned from suffering. The depths of suffering and sorrow were due to Israel's sinful condition. They had learned disobedience, not through suffering, but in the midst of blessing. Jeshurun waxed fait and kicked. They were a perverse nation, and had become enemies. When the Son dwelt among such a people, suffering was inevitable. If He had come clothed with the thunders of Sinai, the suffering must have been theirs; but He came meek and lowly, and riding upon an ass, and the Jews despised Him. The suffering was His. A Messiah, Heir to the throne of God upon the earth, He was lifted up; but His own people rejected and crucified Him. He was cast down.

Messiah took all this from God; not in the mere sense of God permitting it, but as the direct and immediate appointment of God. "The cup which my Father giveth me shall I not drink it." Thus He learned obedience. Suffering was a moral necessity both for His present path, and for His future glory.

When David was anointed, why was not Saul removed from the scene, and the man of God's choice seated at once upon the throne? If Messiah's path was necessarily through suffering, there was equal necessity for David, or else how could he be a type? It is David's glory to be in a measure suffering as did Messiah. He needed training for his coming exaltation. Saul had no such training; he had warnings as well as signal favours from God. But he was God's instrument for teaching David that he might learn obedience from the things which he suffered. And herein is the essential difference between the type and the great Antitype. David learned because he was taught. Christ learned without being taught. When the evil spirit came upon Saul, there was more than discipline for David; it was that he might answer somewhat to Him who endured the malice of Satan as well as of man. Saul henceforth is the symbol of Satanic hate.

Saul is now definitively rejected; and Samuel is sent to anoint another. Here let us pause and look at Samuel. He who so faithfully rebuked the wicked king, now fears to do Jehovah's bidding. No doubt there was in Saul a nascent hatred as a crouching tiger waiting for its prey, ready to pounce upon the man whom God should choose. Samuel knew this, and also that every one who, knowingly or not, assisted David would be exposed to the same murderous hate; as Ahimelech afterwards proved. Hence Samuel says to God, "How can I go? if Saul hear of it, he will kill me." Is this the language of confidence in God? Faith would have said, "What can Saul do against God?" This moment of feeble trust in Jehovah was followed by the mistake of judging from appearances. So clearly is one failure followed by another. Samuel seems to have been much impressed with Saul's magnificent stature. And when he looked on Eliab, who, though he was not of such commanding presence as Saul, was evidently a man of no mean appearance, Samuel admiring the man says, "Surely Jehovah's anointed is before him." But God's choice of a man to be king depends not upon the adventitious advantages of nature. God had provided Himself a man from among the sons of Jesse, but had not named him to the prophet. The mere qualities of nature are nothing to God. "He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man" (Ps. cxlvii. 10). Samuel is rebuked, and we are instructed. "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him; for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart." The calling of God is not according to human preferences. Here we have an instance of the truth declared by the apostle that God chooses the things that are weak and despised by man (sec 1 Cor. i. 27, 28).

The first word to Samuel was, "Fill thine horn with oil and go; I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided me a king among his sons." Samuel is afraid. God has compassion on His timid servant, and then says, "Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to Jehovah, and call Jesse to the sacrifice." As if God said — since you have not sufficient confidence in Me, but fear for your life, I simply bid you call Jesse to a sacrifice, after that "I will show thee what thou shalt do, and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee." God does not change His purpose, but all that Saul or others need know is that Samuel is gone to Bethlehem to sacrifice. The prophet's fears are allayed. But this was not to his honour. Often we ask for, and obtain, a smoother path; but we lose honour and reward.

But what a condition of Israel's when his coming made the elders of Bethlehem tremble. They knew who he was, and they had conscience of sins. He quiets them. "I am come to sacrifice to Jehovah: sanctify yourselves and come.

Seven sons passed before Samuel, none of them chosen. David was the eighth. This number is connected with resurrection and glory. It was a national life of glory, a quasi-resurrection when David came to the throne. When the true David comes to reign there will be a moral resurrection and a new national life for all Israel. Their dry bones shall be brought together again, and the breath of Jehovah shall make them a great army. But this glory is not yet. As night before day, so suffering before the glory. David was not in much honour in his father's house; the chosen one of God was unthought of by his father, who had to be questioned before he remembered the youth away keeping the sheep. Who would have thought of him?

Although David is no type of Christ as Head of the church, but only of Messiah the King (though here and there in his life are circumstances which are characteristic of the church), yet the sufferings he endured from Saul mark the path of Him who is Head of the church as well as King of Israel. If suffering was a necessary introduction to the kingdom, it, cannot be less so to the higher glory of being Head of the church. The glory of the kingdom is for and in the world — the age to come. The glory of the church is separation from this present world in which the church now is. The sufferings of the church take a deeper, (should we not rather say a higher character?) in having fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, the Head, than those of the remnant with Christ the King? The church is a witness for Christ in this world. If there be no suffering from this world, it has lost its true position, and has a different path from the Master, being no longer a true witness for Him.

Saul's anointing is annulled. There cannot be two anointed kings before God. The effect is immense for both Saul and David. From that day forward the Spirit of Jehovah came upon David, and an evil spirit from Jehovah came upon Saul. Upon David the Spirit was abiding, upon Saul the paroxysms of the evil spirit seem intermitted, though he was the constant instrument of Satan. And Saul, when the Spirit of Jehovah departed from him, did not fall back into the ordinary and common condition of man; he was as marked from that day forward as David. But how awful the difference! In the two men, as in types, we see the personal conflict between Christ and Satan.

Now God brings David prominently on the scene, and makes him from that day forward the point round which all else revolve; in every detail he is the central figure. Whether it be David the fugitive, or David the king, he is the object before the eye of God. Nor could it be otherwise, for David is showing, as far as an imperfect man could, the path of the Only begotten of the Father to God's throne.

The nation had failed under priest-rule and under prophet-rule. God is about to establish a king, and their sin and guilt will henceforth be measured by the way they treat Him. And David in this very thing is the type of Christ. The sin of the Jew is measured by the presence of Christ among them; all previous guilt is as nothing compared with their rejection of Him. "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin" (John xv. 22). The judgment of the Jew, of the world, was involved in His presence; both Jew and Gentile united in refusing Him, and the solemn word is uttered, "Now is the judgment of this world."

Little did Saul imagine that the youthful player on the harp was then taking his first step in his way to the throne; or that, when he sent for David, he was sending for the man whom God had anointed to be king. As little did David know when he was soothing by his melodious strains the spirit of the man who would soon become his bitterest enemy, that he was entering a path where he must be disciplined for his high calling, and where in a higher aspect he was to be a type of Messiah. At first Saul loved him greatly; but when he learned, which he soon did, that David was the chosen of God, then he hated him even to death.

How wondrous and wise the ways of God; how perfectly suited the means to accomplish His purposes, manifold as they are! The troubled soul of the king is refreshed, and for a time David remains in the royal household. But how soon man forgets those who have been in any way a means of good to him! only let self-interest stand in the way, and gratitude and honour, which man boasts of so much, are often cast to the winds. All is forgotten, and on the next occasion when David appears before the king, he enquires who he is. Abner might be excused, but Saul ought to have remembered who had played before him. But forgetfulness of his benefactor was not the greatest of his sins; this is simply human; he wilfully opposed the known purposes of God.

The true David, even Christ, has played on His harp to the refreshing of many a troubled soul. He has played to many a sinner on the harp of His great salvation, and refreshed him with His grace. Wondrously sweet to Legion, to Mary of Magdala, when the evil spirits departed from them; and also to the weeping father when He not only commanded the evil spirit to come out of his afflicted son, but added, "and enter no more into him." And how eventually He plays to troubled saints, refreshing them, and encompassing them with songs of deliverance. Alas, how soon we forget all His benefits! But here David causing the evil spirit to depart from Saul (it was only for a season) is a picture of Christ before Whom demons fly.

At first David was rather in a private capacity. But God's time for his public display soon came; it was in presence of the armies of Israel and of the dreaded Philistine. What a proof then was given that the Spirit of Jehovah was upon him. The giant foe defies the armies of Israel, and Jehovah the God of Israel. He comes in all the might and pride of man, with all the adjuncts of the world, a helmet of brass, a coat of mail, greaves of brass upon his legs, a target of brass between his shoulders, with a spear like a weaver's beam. It is material power of the world in array against the power of faith. This man is the expression of the world's might. His stature nearly ten feet; he is invulnerable before and behind. All is useless, for faith overcomes the world.

How in the pride of conscious strength he boasts against Israel! Saul, higher by head and shoulders than any in Israel, is cowed, and all flee from him. How the Philistines must have gloried in him, a confidence equalled only by their terror when he was slain. In his boast against the servants of Saul he did not reckon upon the God of Israel, Who, whatever Saul might be, would vindicate His own name, and in His own way. Not by opposing worldly means to worldly power, as Saul attempted to do when he clothed David with armour, as if faith in Jehovah could use like weapons as the world. Faith puts them off and goes to meet the foe in the name of Jehovah of hosts. That name was David's shield, and nerved his arm, and gave him victory. This manner of fighting raised the scorn and contempt of the world's power, and made the giant yet more insulting. "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah." His Spirit was upon David, and with the (in appearance) contemptible means of a sling and a stone, as against a dog, the giant falls, and receives his death-stroke from his own sword. The battle is won. The victory is by the Spirit of Jehovah. Israel does not contend but pursues a flying foe, and reaps the fruit. But it is David the anointed, who becomes the cynosure of all eyes, the wonder, and for the time, the praise of Israel. Saul might slay thousands, but David his ten thousands.

The women of Israel meet the returning army with songs. Their higher praise of David connects him in Saul's mind with the kingdom; for he knew from the prophet that it was given to another. Therefore from that day and forward he eyed David: the chosen of God as such draws upon himself the fiercest and most implacable hatred of the rejected king. So did the Jew treat Christ. Upon His Holy Head fell the concentrated hate of the rulers. Nor is there any more cruel hate in this world than that of the rejected of God upon the faithful.

At this moment there is a bright gleam; the army is victorious, the women are jubilant. It is but a sample of the achievements of Messiah when He comes to reign. Here, as in other portions of the word, men by their action show the energy of the spirit within them, the women, the position resulting from the action, or conduct of the men. Here it is a scene of joy, of exultation; which gives a glimpse of the future, when all Israel will return with singing.

This is not the first time the women of Israel are prominent in song. Miriam and the women of Israel with instruments of music answered Moses and the men of Israel singing to Jehovah over the drowned Egyptians. Deborah was foremost when she and Barak sang at the destruction of Jabin's army; and here they come forth to meet Saul and his army. Though women are restricted from certain functions in service, both under the law, and now by apostolic command, certainly cordiality in praise was never forbidden them. And it was a grateful thing to the army to meet with a joyful welcome where all united in gladness, save one whose heart was filled with jealous rancour against the man whom God had chosen as the instrument of this glorious victory. The poor wretched king, outside the joy common to all beside, soon turned the glad scene into one of deepening distress and woe. As it were, the slain Philistine revives, and the end is the death of the rejected Saul but the triumph of the chosen David.

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As the victor over Goliath David enters at once into public life. From the humble position of shepherd he rose to be really the chief in Israel. Saul might still be chief nominally, but it was by David that Israel was raised from the depths of despair and fear, and a song of triumph given them. Even so will Messiah at the right time raise Israel from lower depths and give them a more triumphant song. He had already been anointed, and the Spirit of Jehovah rested upon him. The same Spirit led him to the battle and gave him victory. Jesse had no thought but to enquire after David's brethren, but the thoughts of God were far above the thoughts of Jesse.

So the Lord, our David, after He was anointed by the Spirit descending as a dove and abiding upon Him, was likewise led by the Spirit into the wilderness to meet in single combat the antitype of Goliath in his defiance of Israel and of God. And even as Goliath must first be slain before Israel could rejoice in victory, so must the devil first be vanquished before blessing and reinstatement in highest earthly privileges can be brought to Israel. If David be the type of the Messiah, no less is Goliath a symbol of Satanic power. Christ's victory in the wilderness was His first act in His path of service, even as David's first public act was the slaying of Goliath. The great enemy, though not yet banished from the scene of Messiah's glory, must be made to know the power of Israel's future king. In the wilderness the Lord Jesus manifested His power and gave the pledge of His future triumphs. There it was overcoming the tempter, as in resurrection breaking the bands of him who wielded the power of death: pregnant presages of His coming kingdom and power and glory.

But that which gives us a practical lesson even in our everyday life is that both David and Jesus our Lord overcome the foe by the sword of the word of God. The same sword abides for us, and faith nerves the arm to use it. It is written," said the Lord. "I come to thee in the name of Jehovah," said David. God had written His name on Israel's banner, and that was David's confidence. The sure word of God gives us victory in every conflict. Faith rests upon it, and by faith we overcome the world and its prince.

David's victory was in presence of Israel and of their human foes. Christ's victory was unseen by human eyes, but in the presence of God and of the angels — He was seen of angels. Perhaps even the demons beheld the defeat of their chief, as they did afterwards confess His Person and His power, "I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God." But the day is coming when men shall be eye-witnesses of His power and glory, and all then shall know that He is Jehovah.

When the Lord Jesus returned from the wilderness, it was not to receive the praises of men, but their hatred. They did wonder for a little moment, for there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about, and at first He was glorified of all (Luke iv.). David was met with acclamations of joy, but the hatred of Saul prevailed. And with the Lord the scene immediately changed, His path was quickly marked with sorrow. Herod had put John the Baptist in prison, the one who claimed the position of a "friend" (John iii. 29). And His first recorded preaching after His return from the wilderness was in Nazareth where they sought to throw Him from the brow of the hill. A similar path awaits David. It was after his victory over the defier of Israel and of the Jehovah of Israel, that he entered upon that special path of suffering, and tasted of that cup which Messiah drank to the dregs. David might taste, and for that must be sustained; a greater than he drained the cup.

But we must repeat a remark made before, that while David's path of suffering as a whole is typical of Messiah's rejection by the Jew, when we come to details we find how blended is the imperfection of the saint with that which prefigured the perfect path of the Lord in similar circumstances. To distinguish between these surely needs the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Yet, even the saint's imperfection only serves, by contrast, to place in brighter light the absolute perfection of Him who was ever the Faithful and True Witness. David failed quite enough to have been set aside as a type of the Perfect One. But we see in his course the sovereignty of grace towards a much-tried saint, as well as the foreshadows of God's purpose concerning Christ and the supremacy of Israel in the coming age. And though in many points of his life the "type" is most distinct and clear, even there let us never forget the saint's responsibility. It is even so with us now. Not that we are types in any sense whatever, but we may be instruments of God as the channels of blessing, and of conveying truth to others; ourselves, like David, perhaps not conscious at the time of the purpose of God in thus using us. Yet in every case a certain amount of moral responsibility rests upon us measured by our intelligence in the ways of God. David as a type of the Messiah, and as a saint with whom God is dealing for his present and immediate profit, must both be before our minds, or we shall fail to learn what God has written for our learning now, and the unfolding of His purposes in Christ for Israel's glory; perhaps lose altogether the blessedness of being called "friends" (John xv. 15), to whom the Lord discloses the counsels of the Father.

As during the life of Saul the sufferings of David prefigure those of Christ, so does Saul set forth the unrelenting hate of the leaders of the rejecting and persecuting nation. There was no open idolatry daring the king's life; he maintained more or less the external order of the appointed worship. The priests, if not the prophet, were with Saul. But in his heart was hatred of God's anointed. And during our Lord's sojourn here below, there was the absence of idolatry, and with the Pharisees, the dominant religious faction, a hypocritical zeal for the law in external duties and ceremonies, but with that a fiercer hate of Him who is greater than David. The house was swept of its idolatrous abominations, but garnished with hypocrisy (see Matt. xxiii.). Saul at first pretended to be zealous for God, at the same time that he, as in the case of Agag, disobeyed His commands. At first he would extirpate those who had a familiar spirit, at the end he sought their counsel. The Lord foretells that in a similar way the guilty nation will fall again under the power of the unclean spirit, and with it seven other spirits still more wicked. The downward course and miserable end of Saul are a picture of the evil generation that rejects Christ their Messiah, while David and his company, who are eventually exalted, show the portion and destiny of the few that followed Christ in His rejection (Matt. xii., Matt. xxv.).

Israel's praises of David brings Saul's hatred to a point and gives it form. With the quick eye of jealousy he sees David as the future king of Israel, and thereupon seeks to kill him. The wise men from the East came to worship Him who was born King of the Jews, and Herod is troubled, and devises means to slay the young child at Bethlehem. Deceit and treachery marked both Saul and Herod, and each sought to slay God's anointed, whether the type or the great Antitype. Saul told David to fight Jehovah's battles and to he valiant. But he hoped that David would fall by the hand of the Philistines. Foolish Saul! Had he forgotten that David slew Goliath. Herod told the Magi to bring him word when they had found where the young child was. Worship was on his tongue, but death in his heart. Both seemed to feel instinctively the advent of the true and rightful King. Saul tried by means of his two daughters to bring about David's destruction. With the second he imposes what he thinks an impossible task. David brings double the number required; whereat Saul is yet more afraid of David. He proceeds to give a direct command to his servants and even to Jonathan, that they should kill David. How strikingly similar many of the circumstances here recorded are to those which the Lord passed through. The Pharisees gave commandment to their adherents that if they knew where Jesus was they should take Him. They also consulted to take Him by subtlety.

For a brief moment (xix. 7) David had respite. Not for long; the evil spirit again dominates the miserable king'. David seeks shelter from the king's fury in his own home, but as quickly leaves it; for even there the hate of Saul would reach him; he flies to Samuel. Three times messengers were sent to slay him, and three times God interposed in a wondrous way. The messengers of death are turned into prophets. Saul dares the manifest power of God, as if he said that God might turn aside his servants, but should not turn him! No act of his rebellion went beyond this. The mightiest man is only a reed in the hands of the Almighty. Saul must prophesy, he is no stronger than his servants, though his evil heart still retained his purpose against David. But God put a hook in his nose and turned him in a way he would not, as He did the Assyrian in a later day (see 2 Kings xix. 28).

The officers that were sent to take Jesus (John vii. 32) came under a similar power, and were also turned from their purpose. Astonished they return, saying, "Never man spake like this man." We do not know that saving efficacy accompanied in this case the words of the Lord any more than it did the constraining power of the Spirit in the case of Saul and his messengers. In each we see God using the enemy to bear testimony to His power according to His will. What a vain thing is man! When the rulers take counsel together against God's anointed, He has them in derision. For the decree is gone forth: God's king must sit on the holy hill of Zion. David is under the panoply of God, nor can Messiah be touched till the appointed time. David must be preserved all through, he must suffer but not die, for he had not life in himself. Christ had, and was able to go through death in His way to the Throne. How very partially each type can set forth either the depth of His sufferings, or His power and glory. There was that in the path of Christ where no man could go, a cup which none but He could drink, a baptism which was His alone. Death under judgment was His. Many have followed Him in death, but not in judgment. These were not types but disciples. The Master must be first and alone; "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards" (John xiii. 36). He bore away the judgment; then others, His disciples, could follow through death. As regards types Isaac came nearest for he was actually bound and laid upon the altar, but there is essential difference between the figure and the reality of death. It was only in figure that Abraham received his son from death (Heb. xi. 19).

Returning to David, how suited to the circumstances is his deliverance. He was with the prophet whose function is not to fight with the sword, but to bear testimony and, if need be, suffer! God delivers David in an extraordinary way. Saul becomes another man, foregoes his purpose, and in appearance and according to the uninstructed voice of the people is numbered with the prophets, as of the same company with Samuel and David. Not to the discerning eye, for his behaviour savoured rather of the frenzy of the prophets of Baal. Here is no providential mode of escape for David as when surrounded by his pursuers in the wilderness of Mann, Saul is called away by tidings of the invasion of the Philistines. Saul, himself under the direct and immediate hand of God, becomes the instrument of deliverance. May we not say here as Samson when he found honey in the lion's carcase, "Out of the eater came firth meat?" God delivers His saints in unexpected ways, ever for His own glory, yet always in keeping with the position and circumstances of His saints.

Jonathan's love (ch. xx.) was an oasis to David in the desert of persecution which he now feels in its acutest form. Driven from home, a wanderer, a fugitive. he had nowhere to lay his head. The power of Israel wielded by Saul is against him. So it was with the Lord Jesus. Foxes had holes, birds of the air had nests, the cunning and the unclean had a place in this world; He, the Lord, had none. Yet to Him there was a house at Bethany, a little green spot where He could meet with hearts that responded to His own. Of them it is said, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." Of only one other is this intimacy of affection spoken — of the disciple whom Jesus loved. Precious to the Lord was this communion of love in His path of sorrow. The loves of David and Jonathan are but shadows of the Lord's love for that family, and of their love for Him. Yea, however close Jonathan's love to David may be to their love to the Lord Jesus, David's love to Jonathan can be only a faint image of the Lord's special love for these highly favoured ones at Bethany.

In this sorrowful yet deeply interesting meeting of David and Jonathan there is more than their mutual love. In Jonathan we see the godly in Israel owning their king. They confess Him before they see His glory; and they are themselves weak and in fear. Simeon, Anna, Nathanael, confessed Him; but Nicodemus is most like Jonathan, for he also, for fear of the Jews, came by stealth to the Lord Jesus, as Jonathan to David, fearing his father, and unknown to him and to the nation at large. He acknowledges David as the king of Israel. He had before stripped himself of the emblems of royalty and given them to David. Now he acknowledges that his life is in the hand of David. It is complete and perfect submission. There could be no fuller confession of David's rights as king of Israel, for he pleads not only for himself, but also for continued kindness to his house forever. He expected to see David's greatness. "And thou shalt not only while yet I live show me the kindness of Jehovah that I die not; but also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever; no, not when Jehovah hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth," "and I shall be next thee." Jonathan entreats, but his entreaty is in accord with the counsels of God, and therefore his prayer has a prophetic aspect. We see in this the covenanted blessings of the saved remnant in the age to come; not of those who share in the rejection of the Lord, the Messiah, to whom He said, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." David's company became princes in the kingdom. Jonathan never took that place, he returned to the city, and did not follow David. None loved David more than he; but he is used, and (I believe) it was so ordered by God, that he should thus prefigure the future remnant of Israel who never know the reproach of Christ, that will he brought back to the land in "the kindness of Jehovah," and of God's counsels concerning them. The promise is given, repeated, and confirmed with an oath — two immutable things.

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Though dimly, "as in a glass," yet surely in this scene (1 Sam. xx.) historically so sorrowful, we have a glimpse of the coming glory, i.e., of Israel's part in it. Jonathan confidently looks onward to David's exaltation, and the subjugation of all his enemies; and, while mistaken as to his own place, foreshadows the position of the remnant that will be brought to inherit the land. Now, for a little while, David is, as it were, to be hidden till Saul is removed, and the purpose of God is ripe for fulfilment. So Jehovah says to Messiah, who is now hidden from Israel, "Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool." True, Christ is hidden now in the glory whither He went when He left the grave; but they who are His representatives here both suffer and are hidden as David. God through all David's sorrow was preparing his way to the throne, as even at this moment He is preparing the way for the advent of the King of Israel, and for judgment upon His enemies. Then Messiah will reign and take vengeance upon them who would not that He should reign over them (Luke xix. 27). "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron." As upon a footstool so shall He tread them down. And then shall the same remnant be exalted and have the chief place among the nations of the earth, next to the King in His millennial glory. Such is the position which Jonathan personally aspired to; his desire prophetically pointed to the future standing of the restored and purged nation, of which Jonathan is here the type.

Looking at these two men, not as types of Messiah and of Israel respectively, but as saints, there is much to be learned for our profit. The full light which now shines was not then given, and that which seems unnoticed with them is now seen most inconsistent with a life of faith and truthfulness. These two men are not caught up out of their human sphere, but while types of coming glory and blessing for Israel, are still saints and responsible as such. God allows their failures to be seen. They are earthen vessels while holding the future blessing. They were as the prophets of whom Peter speaks; that is, they signified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow, in which on earth the godly remnant of Israel have the chief place. Neither David nor Jonathan could read, in the prayer of the latter, the then hidden counsel of God. It is now revealed, and we rejoice in Christ's glory and the consequent exaltation of Israel, inasmuch as it is one of the many crowns which will adorn the brow of the King of kings and the Lord of lords in that day.

Since He came the true Light shines upon every page of Israel's history. Before the cross the moral light was but little more than the prophetic. The necessity for truth in the inward parts seemed unknown to David and Jonathan. There was a little plot between them to deceive Saul. No doubt David was in great fear and showed but little faith. We cannot boast against him, for since that day many a saint has, with more light and less cause for fear, done worse. The Holy Spirit does not hide their failure, though He uses them in His wisdom. No command was given to David by his brother to be present at a sacrifice in Bethlehem. It was a story invented by David and repeated by Jonathan. "Therefore he cometh not to the feast." Nay, he feared Saul, therefore he cometh not to the feast. There was untruthfulness; and neither seemed to have had any conscience about it. These were the times of ignorance: now the full truth is revealed, and holiness is demanded in accordance with the measure of light. If God passed over (I do not say sanctioned) their duplicity, it is not an example to be followed, rather a warning to judge the secret springs of action and see that all is consonant with truth in the inward parts.

We discern the same want of conscience in the next scene. Truly the love of truth is not acquired in a moment. With some there is seemingly a natural love of truth, while others appear to be without it. But the natural love of truth always fails when tested in the things of God. To buy the truth and sell it not is only by the Holy Spirit working in grace upon the heart, and without Him there is no true love.

David fleeing from Saul comes to Ahimelech who fears, seeing David alone. Not unlikely he had heard of Saul's hatred, and of David's distressful circumstances. "Why art thou alone and no man with thee?" Alas! untruthfulness comes out in a more definite form. "The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee; and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place." Having begun with deception he gets deeper into its toils. Circumstances are invented (so to say) to supplement his first assertion. The king had appointed servants to expedite the business entrusted to David! Was it in remembering this and similar instances, that he afterwards sang of the blessedness of the Man in Whose spirit there was no guile? Well, even this shows the perfection of Him of Whom pre-eminently and absolutely it is said, "Neither was guile found in His mouth" (1 Peter ii. 22).

David's guile brought sad consequences for Ahimelech and his house. Indeed, on the previous occasion it nearly cost Jonathan his life. Saul was far too shrewd a man to accept the story of a sacrifice at Bethlehem, and in his anger threw his javelin at Jonathan. His jealousy and hate made him keen of perception. David succeeded in deceiving the priest, who fell a victim to the king's wrath. Perhaps, had David told the whole truth, the priest might have even then cast in his lot with him, as Abiathar his son did later. Full trust in God would then have doubtless uttered the words of faith which afterwards David said to the son, "With me thou shalt be in safeguard;" even as we are with our David spite of Satan's power and the world's hatred. As it was Ahimelech boldly maintained David's integrity; though was there not a gentle rebuke to him for his want of truth in the words, "Thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more?" The effects of one man's sin are seldom confined to himself, and in some instances defilement is the consequence which is always the case when sin being known is not rebuked in faithfulness to the Lord. But here Ahimelech was not defiled. In his simplicity he accepted David's statement. The effects touched him even to death, but he was guileless. David was the indirect cause of his death, and he afterwards admitted it; for at the time he suspected what the fatal result would be when he saw Doeg. Should he not then have made a full disclosure of his true position? False shame sometimes engenders guile; the effects spread far and wide. Upon Ahimelech is brought destruction, upon his family and the city. Yet wicked and cruel as Saul was, there is more than human revenge. He was the guilty tool of Satan's malignity against all who in any way befriended God's chosen king, and Doeg was the willing tool of Saul. And when the Lord Jesus came, Satan found other willing tools of his hate. The priests were his tools, and Pilate (though he was unwilling) the tool of the priests. In Saul's day the priests were the sufferers, for they were owned of God. In the Lord's day the priests, then disowned of God, are in the place of Saul, and urge, yea, compel the Roman governor to crucify the Lord Jesus.

Again observe how the typical man is interwoven with the failing saint. Historically a fugitive, and flying for his life, and weak in faith, yet connected with this he appears a type of the Rejected One who gives to His disciples the bread of heaven. The showbread was priests' food. Believers are priests unto God; and we live on hallowed bread. In the circumstances of that day the sanctity of the show-bread was annulled, for God's king was cast out. Of what use the ordinances, or even priests' offerings, from a nation that rejected the man of God's choice? All became void. The bread is in a manner common. The Lord refers the Pharisees to David's act, when He was in the cornfields with His disciples. He, rejected, declares that the Sabbath had lost its legal sanctity, and with it all else fell. But while to Israel, the Jew, the holiness of the showbread was gone and was become common as any other bread, it has become to the church the symbol of a blessed truth. To eat together is the sign of communion, and we, made priests to God, have fellowship one with another, as we eat of the bread from heaven. And there is more than fellowship one with another; it is holy, hallowed bread, and in it we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. This bread is to us "common," the common privilege of all believers. But the enjoyment of this high communion with the Father and the Son cannot be without separation from the world. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols," are the last words of the aged apostle. Are the young men pure? ask the priest. They are, said David. It was not enough to follow David (in profession), but is there practical holiness? To such the bread is "common." But this looks rather to the church than to the kingdom.

David flees to Achish. Here are three things so closely linked together as to be like cause and effect. Indeed, failure in trusting God is the root of all departure, now as then. There was deception attempted upon Saul, a bolder aspect of untruthfulness to Ahimelech, and now degradation before Achish. And in this backsliding course the fear of man grows, and trust in God seems quite gone; for how else would he seek refuge with Israel's bitterest foes? It was as giving up his inheritance in Israel, forgetting his anointing, forsaking his God. David sinks very low in the presence of Achish. A saint seeking refuge from fear of trial by going into the world is sure to increase his difficulties and sorrows. So it was with David. Is fear removed? Nay, it only takes a different form, and he is now in real danger of his life; for he had no right to claim the protection of the God of Israel. But mercy is above all, and his great danger is the means of driving him back to the land which he ought not to have left. God even uses the Philistines to remind him that he was the anointed king, and how he was honoured in the memorable fight with Goliath. "And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David, the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another of him in the dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?" They recognise him as the "king of the land," and well interpreted his triumph over Goliath, and the song that greeted him when the women of Israel met him with music and dance. David was ten times greater than Saul. Is it not strange that enemies — the world — are better interpreters sometimes of circumstances than saints? Ought they to be? Alas! how soon believers forget in whose keeping they are. Faith is both the most hardy and most delicate plant of God in the heart, most hardy where unhindered, most delicate where fear of man or other phases of the flesh appear. Both Saul and the Philistines were enemies. Saul said, "I know thou shalt reign." The Philistines call him "king of the land." The only effect of their word is to make David sore afraid. Want of faith leads him to attempt a human means of escape. God in sovereign grace overrules, and Achish sends away a "madman."

Unfaithfulness brought David into a position where his enemies called him mad, and he gave them cause for so saying. Faithfulness and truth brought upon the Lord Jesus the same reproach, mingled with blasphemy. His enemies said, "He hath a devil and is mad." Oh, what a contrast between the type and the Antitype! And why wonder? Here is the Perfect One, there the failing saint. Here is the Christ in all the power of grace and truth, there the saint overcome with fear, and feigning madness in order to escape, the degrading sight of a man scrabbling on the gate. Achish had reason for what he said; the Pharisees knew better, they blasphemed because they hated.

David escapes and finds a temporary shelter in the cave of Adullam. In his own country, and hiding in a cave! Never so low before, he never felt more the effects of Saul's hatred; but it is the moment when his brethren and all his father's house come to him. They would share in his sorrows. Doubtless it was no small comfort to the hunted man. Again we turn to Him in Whom all was fulfilled, Who felt far more deeply both the sorrow of rejection, and joy in the few that followed Him. These were to Him "brother and sister and mother," they were of His Father's house and did His will. It is when David is manifestly a fugitive that his brethren join him; and when the Lord is seen as the rejected One, publicly and with scorn by the rulers (Matt. xii.), He, in words that exclude the nation, declared who were then in nearest relationship to Him. But there is more to be seen in this cave of Adullam. If the brethren and the father's house be taken as the remnant that now are hidden through the love of their Messiah until the fury of the oppression be quenched in His judgment, who are the outcasts that find refuge and shelter with David in the same hiding place? Israel in the coming day will be as outcasts, but they are also brethren and of His house after the flesh. Is there not here the intimation of the coming in of Gentiles while Christ is yet hidden above? David's brethren and the outcasts become one company, even as now grace makes of the twain (see Eph. ii.11-15) one new man. Christ the head; a much closer tie than being Captain over them, as David was to his company. The distressed, the indebted, the discontented, in the cave of Adullam is a striking though imperfect figure of the grace of the Lord Jesus, Who received sinners and did eat with them: the lepers, paralytics, blind and impotent, publicans, and sinners, all that came were received, none refused.

David's followers were not those whom the world called respectable; in the estimation of the wise and prudent, it was a disreputable company. Quite true, and there was but one redeeming feature among them. But that was everything in God's sight: they were with David, and he was their captain. The disciples of the Lord have since borne similar reproach. For the most part they were numbered with the base things of the world before they were chosen, and afterwards had to bear the world's contempt. This we accept: it was His while here. Even men of position (though not many wise, mighty and noble, are called, 1 Cor. i.), having a place in the world, have been content to become fools for His sake, whether in following Him then in view of the kingdom, or now in view of heavenly glory. To Nicodemus they said, "Art thou also of Galilee" — art thou one of that base company? But in the cave of Adullam were found the precursors of those to whom the Lord said, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke xii. 32).

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We may but briefly note the remaining events of David's life, and those only as they prefigure the Messiah. In all there is much for profitable study, much instruction for our walk as saints. Indeed there is nothing either before law or under law that does not take the form of admonition or of encouragement for saints now. And all point to Christ, though some less directly than others. The wisdom of God has made prominent in David's life those events where we may trace a likeness (only in measure) to the sufferings and grace of Christ, and thus would lead our thoughts to Him Who was before the mind of the Spirit when He inspired the historian to write the life of David. Christ was the Object; it is He whom we see, and David, interesting as is his history, is but secondary in the mind of the Holy Spirit.

David is brought out of his difficulty which he created for himself in fleeing to Achish, and now in the land, his true place, becomes the centre of all that God owned. The priest and the prophet come to him and join the feeble company, and he becomes captain over them; and, above all, the power of Jehovah is with him. But what a scene is presented to us! Saul with the might of the nation, the acknowledged king of Israel, and here the leader of the religious world, the opposer of God's counsels, the enemy of God's king on the one side; and on the other God's anointed one persecuted, his life hunted, in distress fleeing from one place to another; yet with him the power of God which in due time seated him on the throne, and raised the despised ones with him to be princes, and honourable, and mighty men of valour.

Saul said to his servants, "Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds?" He had distributed his favours among the men of his own tribe, but now he appears to distrust them, and appeals to their self-interest. Would the son of Jesse enrich and honour them? No, not the followers of Saul, but his own who followed him and shared in his sufferings, whatever their former condition and character, these David appointed to the honourable places in his kingdom (2 Sam. xxi.). Again, we turn to the words of our Lord, which He spake to His suffering chosen ones, "Ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. xix. 28). And again, but including the church's more blessed portion, "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him."

Though he had sought refuge among the Philistines, David's heart was true to God and to Israel. He hears that the Philistines are robbing the threshing floors of Keilah, and he immediately prepares to go against them. But he first enquires of God. And here, as ever, when faith seeks to know and to act according to the mind of God, it is met with objections and doubts. How natural the fears of David's men! Human wisdom and prudence endorsed their objections. The effect upon David is to send him again to God, and his faith is confirmed, and victory assured. Saul — religious Saul — hearing that David is in Keilah, hastens to destroy him, saying, "God hath delivered him into my hand." He thought there was no escape for David, and said God had done it! What a fool man becomes when he attempts to understand the ways of God with His saints, he himself being an enemy! Yes, God did bring David to Keilah, but He also knew how to bring him out of it, not for Saul, but for His own glory and for Saul's confusion. The base men of Keilah would have delivered him to Saul. But he again seeks and finds direction. God led him both to befriend the men of Keilah, and to flee from their ingratitude. The Lord Jesus met with the same ingratitude from those that Be befriended. Among them is the impotent man (John 5) whom the Lord so graciously healed. He told the Jews "that it was Jesus who had made him whole." It was the spirit of betrayal, only he had not the opportunity. The hour was not yet come. This base man was of the generation of the men of Keilah. Doubtless David felt keenly when assured from God that the men whom he had delivered, forgetful of his kindness, would deliver him up to Saul. But how much more did the Lord feel from a baseness and an ingratitude still deeper! Listen to His words of sorrow, "Yea I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy" (Ps. vii. 4). And yet a more touching cry when the betrayal is accomplished: — "Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom 1 trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me" (Ps. xli. 9); words of which the historical occasion was the defection of Ahithophel, but which pointed onward to the greater sin of Judas (John xiii. 18).

Then follows a glimpse of the grace which without interruption marked all the life of our Lord. Circumstances, which seemed to have brought David into extremest peril, in reality put Saul in David's power. But he will not avenge himself, on the contrary he appeals to Jehovah; let Him "therefore be Judge and judge between thee and me, and see and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand." So also the Psalmist where we see the Spirit of Christ, of Him who would not save Himself, but committed all to God, "Plead my cause, O Jehovah, with them that strive with me; fight against them that fight against me," etc. (Ps. xxxv.). The same cry for help and deliverance again, "Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; oh deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man" (Ps. xliii. 1). Saul's better feelings prevailed for a moment, but deceit in some form or other always has marked the persecutor; perhaps even deceiving himself, for not long after a very similar scene occurs (see xxvi.). But there was a transient effect produced, for even the cruelest heart may have its seasons of relenting, though generally succeeded by the same old, if not a greater, hatred. It was so with Saul, in whom we see the persistent enmity of the natural heart, spite of known truth. "I know well that thou shalt surely be king." Yet after this he sought David's life.

A different picture is presented now (1 Sam. xxv.), which, while not dissevered from the kingdom, looks to a higher thing which is called into existence when every outward link with Israel is broken. And so this chapter fittingly opens with the fact of Samuel's death. He was the visible link of the people with God, after the death of Eli, the priest. There was a new link preparing, but he was in the wilderness of Paran, as yet not received by the nation. While still the rejected king, the Holy Spirit brings before us the story of Abigail and her ultimate blessing. She is not the type of the church as a whole, but seems to prefigure church position during this present time. In her we see those of the remnant who as a kind of firstfruits were joined to the Lord, and were added to the church (Acts ii.), soon to share as the Bride in the exaltation and glory of the Bridegroom, though now for a season despised. Some of the characteristic marks of the church are found in her. She renounces her own position, whatever it was after Nabal's death, to share in the sorrows of David, whom Nabal (Israel) despised, but whom she knew to be chosen of God. David's present circumstances has no weight with her. He was suffering because God had called him to the throne, and that was enough for Abigail's faith.

To partake of the sufferings of Christ is our privilege, though how little our measure. We all, more or less, fail individually to follow in His path of sorrow; shrinking from the cross, but loving the blessing.

If Abigail represents the few that clave to the Lord, before the great apostle of the Gentiles carried the word to them, Nabal, making merry in his own house and refusing David, is a symbol of the despising Jew, boasting of his riches, vaunting his own righteousness, resisting the grace of God, and denying the title of Jesus, the Messiah. Abigail acknowledged and bowed to David as the King. She is as it were reproduced in Nathaniel, and in the thief on the cross, who both confessed Christ as King of Israel. Nathaniel's confession went farther than the kingdom; the omniscience of God was there in the Person of the Lord, and he bows before Him as Son of God; but He was also King of Israel.

There is a remarkable "touch" in the supplication of Abigail to David, and in the prayer of the thief. Their common thought is, the kingdom and the coming king, but the faith of the dying thief is higher than that of Abigail. For though David was at that moment a persecuted man, derided by all the Nabals in Israel and hiding from Saul, yet he was at the head of six hundred men, and able to chastise the churlish ingratitude of Nabal. If Nathaniel saw Jesus to be Son of God as well as King of Israel, the thief saw quite as clearly that the question of death had nothing to do with the certainty of Christ exalted as King (save as the appointed way). Abigail saw not a dying man, but one with energy and power, and she says, "When Jehovah shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid." David's answer is not, I have accepted thy gifts, but thy person.

There was no external circumstance which could have given the remotest probability to the mind of the dying malefactor that "Jesus of Nazareth," on the cross — as he says "in the same condemnation" — was the true King; but there was a divinely given faith which pierced the covering of sorrow and shame, and saw His glory, and he says, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom." Neither Abigail nor the thief had to wait for the kingdom, there was immediate honour and blessing for both. She became David's wife before he came to the throne, and to the thief the Lord said, "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." How beautiful to see in the briefest recorded circumstances how the grace of the Lord was prefigured ages before He was manifested.

Yet with the resemblance contrast is intimately connected. David had vengeance in his heart, his purpose was not to leave a single male alive. He was arrested in this by the submission of Abigail, and vengeance was delayed. When the Lord accepted the person of the thief, and promised him more than he asked, His heart was full of love and pity, He was accomplishing redemption. His errand was grace, not judgment. Vengeance will come, will overtake the murderers and despisers of God's King, when He appears the second time. But first He came to save, not to judge. David's purpose was set aside by Abigail, the Lord's purpose of grace was abundantly proved and manifested when He accepted the thief.

Two facts are now given (1 Sam. 25:43, 44) which, if the Holy Spirit had merely meant to show how wonderfully David had been delivered from all his foes, might have been omitted without detriment to the record of God's grace and loving-kindness. But the primary object of the Holy Spirit is not David but Christ. And every event must be brought into His life if we would learn the thoughts of God. "David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives. But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti, the son of Laish, which was of Gallim." Abigail and her attendants may represent the remnant of Israel which clave to the Lord before the church began. What then is Ahinoam, for she also was wife to David? I judge they both together (two witnesses) point to the remnant in the days of our Lord, and to those converted by the preaching of Peter, before the special position of the church was declared. For though the church was formed on the day of Pentecost, Peter's preaching goes not beyond the gospel of the kingdom. Upon their repentance Christ would bring in the times of refreshing and restore all things. It is Paul who begins with the foundation truth of the church, Christ the Son of God; nor is the union of the church with Christ set forth by David's union with Abigail and Ahinoam. For they are two, the church is one. The church is called the Bride, the Lamb's wife, but she has not yet made herself ready (Rev. xix. 7). The church is as yet a chaste virgin. David's two wives cannot typify the church's present position, for the marriage of the Lamb is not yet come, neither are they typical of the future position, for Christ will then appear in His glory. David was still a wanderer when he took them. They are the remnant, the few which followed Christ when here, and swelled to five thousand through Peter's preaching (Acts iv.) and then, losing their special standing as "godly remnant," are merged in the new thing — the church of God, at that time declared, but again to appear as a remnant when the church is gone, and to pass through great tribulation, till they come, forth as the restored nation, i.e., Michal brought back to her first husband.

Ahinoam was of Jezreel, a place early associated with the enemy (Judges vi. 33); afterwards prominent for iniquity, being stained with the blood of Naboth, nor less marked by the judgment of wicked Jezebel. The prophet Hosea declares the gladness of the land in the millennial day; the blessings that come from Jehovah the source reach the utmost, even to Jezreel (see ii. 22). This seems to put Jezreel in the lowest place; but the blessing descends in the same way as the cry went up, and Jehovah and Jezreel are again connected. For His blessing will reach the limits of Israel. Ahinoam is not the figure of this fulness of blessing, but she and Abigail give the position of the remnant before the king reigns, and more than anticipate the joy and glory of the kingdom, inasmuch as they shared in his sufferings (see 1 Sam. xxx. 5). So the line of believers that runs through Israel share in the sufferings and rejection of their Messiah, though the same sufferings have a higher character, as of the church, and therefore higher glory awaits them, as awaits us all.

Hence the words of Abigail (1 Sam. xxv. 24–31) go beyond the thoughts of the remnant in the latter day. There is the deprecation of revenge, taking the iniquity upon herself, the blessedness of simply trusting in Jehovah, and of being bound up in the bundle of life. All this partakes of church character. Abigail shows the faith of those joined to the Lord before He reigns; the Jezreelitess the moral condition out of which they were taken. During this time Michal is given to another; the outward link between Messiah and Israel is broken, but only for a time. When the blessing from Jehovah reaches Jezreel, Michal — the separated wife — will be brought back (Hosea ii. 19, etc.).

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Up to this point David has given us a glimpse of the path trodden by Messiah when He was presented to the Jew. And the remnant that then believed in Him, separated from the nation, sharing in His rejection, but to enjoy a more blessed position, were taken out of the natural position of Israelitish remnant, and with believing Gentiles, after the cross, form one body, the church, where they that are nigh, and those who were far off, the middle wall of partition broken down, are made one "new man." This position of the godly ones of Israel — for God always maintained a testimony for Himself in Israel whether in the former or present dispensation — Abigail and Ahinoam represent. During the time that this body is forming by the Holy Ghost, Israel as a nation — Michal the first wife being separate from her husband — become Lo-ammi.

The chapter that follows gives the trial of David's faith as a saint. For honoured as he was, he was but a man, and his faith must be tested as that of every other believer: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter i. 7). But, besides this proving of David's faith, is there not an analogy between his forsaking the land and making a home among the Philistines, and the professing church forsaking its true place, forgetting its standing and making for itself a home in the world, so as to avoid the consequence of the cross, hatred and persecution from the enemies of Christ? Many of the true children of God are carried away through false teaching, the fruit of unbelief in the word of God. God has kept for Himself a few faithful ones; but the mass of profession is mixed with the world, and rapidly sinking into Laodicean apathy and pride, notwithstanding the seeming zeal seen in the highest and lowest aspects of profession, which is comparable to the unhealthy, because feverish, energy of a sick man. As a whole the professing church is living contentedly in a kind of spiritual Ziklag, until God permits the enemy to overthrow it. Ziklag is burnt not by the Philistines — the world within the pale of profession — but by the Amalekites — the world outside profession. The Amalekites did not burn a city of the Philistines but the refuge which saints had made for themselves in the world. It is righteous judgment, but withal great mercy. For God will bring His people, those true in heart to the person of Christ, out of every false position. The church though broken will be compelled to return from their Ziklag to their true place, individually if not corporately. For us it is waiting for the Son from heaven. For David it was returning to the land of Judah.

David's failure in faith, and Saul's inability to withstand temptation, are the two things next before us. And we learn that not only is the natural man powerless against temptation, and therefore incapable of ruling well and presenting in his high vocation an image of the Great King, but even the saint fails, and in the first principles of trust in God. David's failure brought him into circumstances which well nigh proved fatal. It was only the intervention of God in grace, that opened the door for his escape from the dishonouring position in which lack of faith placed him. One aspect of God's dealing with him at this time is His mercy. Of course we may say, looking at God's purpose in him, that he must be delivered; but this in no ways lessens — nay, rather increases — his sin in going again to seek refuge among the Philistines. But this all the more exalts the compassion and grace of God. For his going over to Achish and settling down in the country of the Philistines, and pressing his service on the Philistine king when marching against Israel, was putting every possible hindrance and doing all he could, against his ever sitting upon the throne of Israel. Could he be the one chosen to be king? As a responsible man he forfeited all the privileges and honour of his anointing. But when did failure in responsibility ever turn aside the flow of God's grace to His saints, or bar the fulfilment of His purpose? God had spoken, and neither David's fear of Saul with its consequences, nor Saul's active opposition, could set aside His word.

In Saul we see the natural man's attempt to forsake evil and his sure failure. There may be an appearance of having succeeded, and so long as no temptation assails him he may maintain the appearance. But when the opportunity comes, the power of evil breaks down every barrier of good resolves and intentions, all which are found to be as tow touched with fire; and with increased impetus the undelivered slave of sin rushes into the same courses from which he seemed delivered. This is the history of many a soul, and it by no means proves the want of sincerity. Many a circumstance may happen to make a man review his past ways with shame and disgust: with such a feeling it is an easy matter to resolve to abandon them. A reformation that has no deeper root than the mere accidents of human life afford, or what man calls gratitude, cannot endure when the tempter and favourable opportunities combine. It may be the reproaching of conscience, for the natural man has a conscience which sometime will speak until it be seared as with a hot iron. In such cases there is no real sincerity; and if there were, sincerity is not power. It is simply self-delusion, and the man is the victim of his deceitful heart.

This was the case with Saul. He recognised (ch. xxiv.) the kindness and forbearance of David; and it so touched him that he "lifted up his voice and wept." He is convinced that David will be king, and prays him to swear that he will not destroy his name out of his father's house. David gives the required pledge, and Saul returns home — doubtless with the thought that he would no more seek David's life. But Satan does not leave his captives alone. A little time may elapse, so that Saul's sense of gratitude and his good resolutions may evaporate, when he would be as ready as ever to follow the path in which Satan was leading him. His hatred was only smouldering till it was fanned into a flame as tierce as before.

For here is very much more than Satan accomplishing the ruin of a soul. Saul was his tool in his enmity against Christ. Saul only saw David. Satan saw in him the type of Christ who is the Son of David. If Satan could only destroy David, where would be the Son and all the promises bound up in Him? not only the future blessing of Israel and of the earth, but the bruising of Satan himself, and wresting from him the world of Which through sin he had become the god and the prince? It is Satan's antagonism to Christ which alone fully accounts for the persistent and unnatural desire of Saul to slay his daughter's husband. It began with jealousy, but David's submissive conduct, so invariable, was quite sufficient to have removed all such feeling so unfounded (but therefore with deeper root), had that been all. Satanic wisdom discerned in the youthful slayer of Goliath the power of God, and the progenitor of Him who was to be the bruiser of his head, and the conqueror of Death and Hell. Therefore it was that Saul's jealousy ripened into Satan's hatred. And all through the scenes the real contest is between the opposing forces — if we may thus speak — the power of God on one side, and, on the other, the power of Satan.

This opposition dates from the garden of Eden. To the serpent, God said, The seed of the woman should bruise his head. From that moment, Satan's constant aim was to destroy the woman's Seed, whenever He should appear, and if possible to prevent His appearing. To this end he made Cain a murderer. Eve thought he was the man; perhaps it was also Satan's thought. A mightier effort followed: he corrupted the whole race, and the deluge came. Satan did not calculate on the race being continued through Noah. Nor was there any clue given (save vaguely in "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem ") till long after to show in what line the promised seed would come, till Abram was called, and upon him Satan immediately fixed his eye. He essayed on three different occasions to swamp the separated line with the nations outside. Twice was Sarah exposed, first, in the house of Pharaoh (Gen. xii. 14), then in the house of Abimelech (Gen. xx.). His third attempt, for the same object, was with Rebecca (Gen. xxvi.), only that God would not permit her to be taken into the Philistine's house. Isaac's sin was the same as Abraham's. If Satan succeeded in corrupting the old world, why not in corrupting also the chosen line? All this was to prevent the coining of the true Seed.

Again, Satan knew that the line ran through Jacob; therefore he led Isaac to give the blessing — in intention — to Esau. The sad story of Dinah shows the hand of Satan for the same end. When Jacob's children were in Egypt, he instigated Pharaoh to decree the destruction of every male child, i.e. to destroy the race. Again, he sought the corruption of the chosen people when he brought the daughters of Moab into the camp (Num. xxv.). David appears, and Satan quickly discerns that the promised Seed will come in this line. The sphere of his plotting is narrowed and his efforts are directed against this chosen man, and Saul is his willing instrument. All these are Satan's attempts to frustrate the purpose of God; for if he could prevent the advent of the promised Seed, he would remain undisputed master of the world. But neither man's sin, nor the saints' failure, nor Satan's opposition, can set aside or annul God's decree.

From this point of view — God's purpose — there can be no doubt as to the issue. Satan may seem for a moment to drive the chosen man to the last extremity; and the chosen one himself may fail in faith, and in despair give up all. But this in the end only makes the interposition of God more pronounced and the discomfiture of Satan more complete.

Saul goes home, and apparently relinquishes all intention of pursuing David any more. Satan bides his time, and at the fitting moment finds means to re-awaken the slumbering enmity in Saul's heart. "And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gilead, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon? Then Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph" (1 Sam. xxvi. 1, 2). Possibly he would never again have gone after David but for the Ziphites. Poor soul! no master of himself. Again he sets out with the same hate, the same purpose, and with the same select force of three thousand chosen men. But a deeper humiliation awaits him.

David does not forget his place in presence of Saul whom he constantly honoured as the anointed king. David says of himself, only "a flea"; that to pursue him is "as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains." What need of such an army as Saul had to seek David with his little band of at most six hundred men! So great means to attain so (apparently) small an end! How very determined the will of Saul against David, yea, against God! He who sits in the heavens has man in derision. He sends a deep sleep upon Saul and his army; and they are all in the power of David, whose reverence for the order of God alone stays his hand. But is there not also a touch of sarcasm in David's words, "The king of Israel is come out to seek a flea"? For the "flea" had been in the king of Israel's camp and had taken away his spear and the cruse of water; i.e. his means of warfare and the necessaries of life. In a word, Saul was powerless. What greater proof than this, that Saul was the "flea," and the power of God, the strength of Israel, with David?

Did he think to come unawares upon David? David knew Saul better than Saul knew himself, and he "sent out spies" and understood that Saul was come in very deed. Appearances might seem fair at first, but David did not trust them, and he sent out spies; and soon proof was given that no confidence could he placed in Saul. And now the interposition of God is very plain. The sentinels who should have watched while the king slept are themselves asleep. God thus, as it were, prepared them for David's nocturnal visit, and led by the hand of God he in the boldness of faith goes straight to the sleeping king. In this moment of triumph his dependence upon God is tested and not found wanting. His follower advises the slaying of Saul. This would have been sin. He would not avenge himself. Saul might be a wicked man, but he was Jehovah's anointed, and David would not take the matter in his own hand. "Jehovah liveth," he says, and that is enough for David. "Jehovah shall smite him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall descend into battle and perish." Would it not have been a continual reproach that he had slain the king while sleeping? Faith committed it to God. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves." But how manifestly the craft of Satan is defeated! Whether Saul slew David, or David slew Saul, either way would have suited Satan's purpose, and have been a hindrance to the purpose of God. The object of David's visit to the camp was accomplished in taking the spear and the cruse of water; and proved unmistakably that a power above Saul was David's guide and preserver.

Saul wakes up to find a further proof of his folly and his impotence. He is compelled to make a confession with deeper shame. "I have sinned; return, my son David; for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day; behold, I have played the fool and have erred exceedingly." He would no more do David harm! Too late, he never again had the opportunity. His race of evil and enmity was run. The Philistines are gathering their armies for battle, and to bring ruin upon his house, a judgment which, if delayed, is sure, the fearful end of man's chosen king. As David had said, "he shall descend into battle and perish." The hour was come, the battle imminent. Visibly forsaken of God who answered him not, "neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by the prophets," he thinks of Samuel and employs Satanic agency to bring him, as if Satan had control over departed spirits — a delusion not unknown in these days. But now, as then, the apparition of the departed spirit would terrify the cunning rogue far more than it would the poor dupe, In despair Saul seeks through the familiar spirit the answer God would not give. Samuel appears, far more to the terror of the witch than of Saul. To her, he was unexpected; Samuel was not her familiar spirit. He appears, not to give counsel, but to pronounce the king's doom. This is the end of the king whose beginning was so promising. The living prophet anointed him with oil, the dead prophet — but sent of God — pronounces his doom. He sought aid and counsel through an agency that he formerly sought to destroy. What will not despair bring a man to? Saul puts himself in the hands of Satan, for well he knew her source of power. Conscious of his inconsistency in seeking counsel of one whom a little before he would have put to death, he disguised himself, and would see her secretly. But the truth is brought out, and the king becomes an object of pity to the witch of Endor. Could he fall lower? And mark, that notwithstanding his former zeal to extirpate witchcraft, its practice still existed, and his immediate attendants knew it, and they hid it from the king. For when in his dire extremity he asks where a woman with a familiar spirit may be found, they are able at once to say, "Behold there is a woman who hath a familiar spirit at Endor." What an index is this to the condition of Israel!

There was a dark fear of his impending doom weighing down his soul. No doubt he wished to see Samuel; but the means he used were, none the less, enlisting the power of Satan to withstand the purpose of God. Conscience told him that God's judgment was near; and he would if possible turn it aside, not by repentance, but by the aid of Satan. This carries our thoughts onward to the day when the Beast will make war with the Lamb. The difference is that the future antagonist of Christ will not disguise himself; he will have no need to seek Satanic aid in the gloomy recesses of a witch's cave, under cover of the night; he is the bold and open enemy endowed with power and authority from the dragon. He is the only man — up to that time — ever clothed with power not from God; for the powers that are now are ordained of God. Saul and the Beast are alike in this, that they are personal antagonists to the Anointed of Jehovah, and also that both fall by special judgment from God: the Beast, by the direct power of Christ when He appears; Saul, by the Philistines who are the executors of God's wrath.

What a scene of despair when the inhabitants forsook their cities and fled! All hope was gone; their king slain, and David in exile, their only prospect was continual bondage to the Philistine. What a judgment upon them when the Philistines came and dwelt in the cities that God gave to Israel! All that they could read in these outward signs of God's feeling was that He had departed from them; and the dying words of the wife of Phinehas would be remembered only to confirm the despair of the hour, "Ichabod, the glory is departed from Israel."

We have dwelt upon Saul ignominious end, not because it marks the downward cause of a soul always rebellious, and increasing in iniquity till he died by his own hand, but because the ruin that he brought upon Israel was a necessary preparation for the advent of David as the type of Messiah; foreshowing the still greater ruin and worse condition of Israel when Christ comes to reign over them. And from this point of view it is no question of individual salvation. Clearly Saul was a wicked man; and he was a wicked man possessing power and using it against God's anointed One. Like Pharaoh centuries before, he was raised up for the purpose that the power of God might be seen, that the flesh in the fairest form, with every advantage, could never be a channel of blessing, and least of all of the promised blessings of God. He was as those who having stumbled at the truth are appointed to a certain niche in the framework of the dispensations for the fulfilling of God's purposes of glory (1 Peter ii. 8).

Another point is that when a king took the place of the link between God and the people and displacing the priest, the prosperity of the people depended upon him; and such a king, who can stand ever before God accepted and beloved, must be a man of God's own giving and preparing. Saul was a choice specimen of humanity and nothing more, till he became king, and then he was an enemy. David in type is the man accepted and beloved. In reality, and in substance, it is Christ the Man of God's right hand.

We have said that this ruin of Israel was as necessary for the coming kingdom of David, as the sufferings and sorrows of David himself. If the man must be disciplined to sit upon the throne, so must the people to rejoice in him. And as the world will be prepared for the kingdom of Christ by passing through tremendous judgment — the vials of His wrath poured out upon them who have rejected God's chosen king, so is Israel prepared for the kingdom of David by passing under a judgment heavier than any before.

The triumph of the enemy however was very brief. It is measured by the rapid rise of David from the condition of an exile, first to be king over the house of Judah, and soon after of all Israel. It was just long enough to show that Israel had lost all power and was ruined, that their ruin was through and owing to the man of their own choice, the fruit of their rebellion against God, in wishing to have a king like the nations. No circumstances could be imagined affording stronger proof of this; and this misery of guilt is brought upon the people that the sovereign grace of God in raising them up might be gloriously manifest, and Israel raised to a higher position than before.

It is characteristic of God's ways at all times with those whom He is about to bless abundantly. The fruits of sin are allowed to ripen; then when all is apparently lost, God appears and gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. How astonishingly all this will be the experience of Israel when re-established in the land! David's kingdom with all its renown is but a shadow of the future kingdom under Messiah, the Son of David. From every tongue shall be heard in praise to Him the words already prepared for them. "Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen and Amen."

But where was David during this crisis in Israel's history?

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Dark was the day for Israel. The king, terrified by the doom pronounced upon him in the cave by the prophet, goes with its impress upon his brow into the battle, with despair in his heart and with a nerveless hand. A day whose last hour would behold him dead, and his sons with him; a day when the power of Israel would be broken, its armies dispersed, fear and dread upon all! Wondrous prelude to the glory and power of the coming king and the peaceful supremacy of his son. It was God's wise way of bringing in His chosen king and of preparing the kingdom, so that all Israel might acknowledge Him to be the source of all power and glory.

But if the kingdom be thus prepared for David, the same God must also prepare David for the kingdom. The way to the throne is open: nothing now remains but for David to take possession of the crown that has just fallen from the head of Saul. Yea, God has something more to say, and has been saying ever since he went to Gath, before he wears the crown. The man called to occupy the throne of Israel, and to present to us in the wisdom of God an image of the circumstances which would usher in the day of the coming king, must be disciplined according to the requirements of the wisdom of God, and of his own need. And he had a deeper need than he had yet learned. Thus, while God is dealing with Israel and their rebellious king, David is in a foreign land, under the influences of the place, and sinks to the level of his surroundings. When hiding in the cave of Adullam or elsewhere from the fury of Saul, he never thought of joining in war against his own people, but, having chosen to dwell in Gath, he breathes the Philistines' spirit. If this is the time of a sad fall, it is likewise the time of grace. For here David was taught a lesson concerning himself which had laid bare his own personal unworthiness. Nor was the teaching of grace without discipline; yet was the discipline — the loss of all his possessions — the stepping stone to the restoration of his soul to renewed communion with God, where he could but learn that the recovery of wives and cattle then, as the possession of the throne afterwards, was the free gift by God. What lower depths could he fall into, anointed for the kingdom as he was, than to fight against Israel? Had such a thing been presented to him in his most trying times, he would doubtless have repudiated the thought and said as Hazael said to Elisha, "But what, is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?" Some saints have to go down very low before they reach the depths of self. But what a mercy, when the lowest is reached, by grace leads them to abhor and judge as did Job. For then God appears in the power of restoring grace. It was degrading to feign madness before this same Achish. It was far worse than madness now to feign willingness (if it was pretence) to go up against Israel. David had to learn that he was in himself only a broken reed, and his call to the throne simply according to the grace and the purpose of God.

Do we not learn from this that the honour God may put upon His saints cannot be taken invariably as the gauge of their faithfulness? The honour of being king of Israel was little compared with being a type of Christ both in the kingly dignity and in the previous suffering. Blessed as David was, his faithfulness did not rise to the level of this high honour. When God calls a saint to any special post of honour, It may be the honour of suffering for Christ's sake, He gives special grace to bear, and to meet the responsibilities of the place, and to walk worthily therein. But when did any earthen vessel fully respond to the grace it contained?

Let us note also that trust in God is not put to such a test when engaged in the activities of faith as when in comparatively quiet obscurity we have simply to wait, to stand still and see His salvation. When openly and actively withstanding the forces of Satan in the world, we are in danger of not duly estimating the enemy's power which it is unwise to forget or depreciate. On the other hand when it is only to endure without any energetic action, the danger is to overrate his power, or to forget the power of God. This latter condition, i.e. patient endurance, is far more characteristic of Christian life than the former and more prominent one. God truly has His servants whom He places in the front rank to bear the shock of the enemy's onsets, and the brunt of the battle. But endurance, quiet patience under contempt and suffering, is more or less the common lot of all. The saint who may be used for the display of faith's energy is not thereby exempted from the common lot of suffering and endurance.

It not infrequently happens that the endurance of faith is tried immediately after the most wonderful deeds wrought through the power of God. The public act of faith may be brilliant and may excite the wonder of men; but God looks into the heart for the strength of faith, a place which the eye of man cannot reach. Perhaps no more remarkable instance of the collapse of faith than is given in David at this time. He had just won a grand moral victory over Saul; he heaped coals of fire upon his head. David's trust in God raises him above the hatred of the king, David is superior to his opportunity and the king humbles himself in his presence. What an impressive scene is before the whole army! Suddenly aroused from their slumbers, they hear David talking to the king. Why not rush to take him? Nay; the power that held them in deep sleep when David entered the camp holds them in check while David and his attendant standing on the hilltop challenge the general and taunt him with carelessness. Saul at the head of three thousand men owns himself conquered. Who is the hero here? Yet not by his own power: "through faith he wrought righteousness." Jehovah was on the side of David. Was there one in Saul's army that bowed in heart to the Jehovah of hosts?

Yet immediately after this the victor sinks into despondency and forgets God. He says in his heart, "I shall surely one day perish by the hand of Saul." The heart is the birthplace of unbelief; but also the place where God creates true faith; "if thou shalt believe in thine heart." He gives way to dishonouring fear; then in forgetfulness of God he looks about for a place of safety; and a sorrowful choice he makes! In his judgment the best; there was nothing better than to flee to the Philistines! The heart that distrusts God naturally turns to the world and inevitably makes the worst choice. Mark it well, dear reader, the evil began secretly in his heart, and ended in taking the position of an open enemy. When his heart first yielded to fear, there was no thought of fighting against Israel; but see the result! Is not the heart deceitful and desperately wicked? The chosen king is ready to fight against his own people. What solemn teaching is here for us! The antitypes of Saul and of the Philistines encompass us on all sides; to whom shall we flee for security? Let us jealously watch the issues of our own hearts.

David's victory and succeeding failure stand side by side with those of Elijah, who in the power of God and in faith so mightily triumphed over the prophets of Baal; and immediately after fled from a woman who threatened his life on account of that deed wherein he had so gloriously vindicated the name of Jehovah; and in his despondency he prayed for death. Not so great a sin as rushing into the arms of an enemy, but an equal want of faith. For David in effect says that the Philistine king is a better protector than God. Is not this the true character of his act, and therefore a great sin? Not so heinous in man's eye as Uriah's matter but more dishonouring to God. The latter crime was falling through sudden temptation, bat the fleeing to Achish was with deliberation. For after a seeming calculation of the best means to escape from Saul, he looks apparently at both sides of the question and comes to the conclusion that the best thing was to go to Achish the Philistine. Is this mere history? Is it not practical teaching for us in this day?

In fleeing to Achish, David is no type of Christ; our thoughts turn to the Perfect One, but to see the contrast between Him and the man honoured to be the type. All through his life he was pre-eminently a vessel of grace but an earthen vessel, and the quality of the vessel appears. As a type he is carried through scenes according to the purpose of God, but as a man, a saint, his faith must be tested. Wonderful combination of foreshadowings of Christ and the walk of faith! But here, in this matter, it is failure, the last and the greatest in his life of exile. There was on earth but one perfect MAN; but He was not a mere earthen vessel, only made in men's likeness. He was a sinless humanity, not merely that He did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth, but His human nature was intrinsically holy. He was incapable of sin. God sent Gabriel to testify to Mary concerning the "holy thing" that it should be called the Son of God. God's delight in the sinless Man He declared at His baptism and repeated on the mount of transfiguration, when even the brightest of Old Testament lights vanish in presence of His supremacy and of the Father's infinite good pleasure in Him; and Jesus was left alone. There is nothing of which God is so jealous as the glory of the person of His Son.

The person of the Lord has ever been a mark for the attacks of Satan, and of man instigated by his malice. The Pharisees at last head the list of blasphemers; but there have been some since their day who, with the additional facts of death and resurrection, have dishonoured His person, not with Pharisaic blasphemy but with errors equally fatal. An early attack upon Him was the denial of His true humanity, the Gnostic philosophy, which well nigh swamped the early church, asserting that His body was simply an appearance, a phantom. Then there was no real death, nor real resurrection! Thus the apostle (1 Cor. xv.) is a false witness and we are yet in our sins! If the Lord's body was a mere shadow, and therefore intangible, the foundation of salvation is gone, and, what is of far greater moment, the righteousness of God is not declared. But compare Luke xxiv. 39, with 1 John i. "Handle me" says the risen Lord; "which we have looked upon and handled," says the glad disciple. This deadly and stupid heresy, even if it yet exist, is hidden away in the dark corners of Christendom; but the kindred blasphemy of denying His Godhead is shamelessly advanced in open day.

The reader may call this a digression. Granted. But is there not a cause? In the present day a peculiar form of dishonouring the Lord is found with some who call themselves Christians. They do not oppose the Deity of the Lord, nor His humanity, but say that as man He was born under the curse! that it was only by prayer, by a holy life, and by His baptism in the Jordan, that He emerged from that condition! It is now asserted that He was — at one period of His life — a leper! In a word, all these really deny His Godhead and humanity. These antichrists admit the holiness of His life in word and deed, but affirm that He had a nature capable of falling!! I venture to say that a man with a nature liable to fall, and notwithstanding perfectly holy in word and deed, is an impossibility. But supposing it were possible, Jesus son of Mary might be a man without an equal, but how could He be God? Jesus is God the Word, the Son: not only was the fulness of Godhead pleased to dwell in Him, but also that "holy thing" which was born of Mary should be called the Son of God. Manhood in Him was united to His divine person.

The apostle (Heb. x. 33) exhorts those who were the companions of suffering saints, he commends them; the sufferers and their companions formed one company. As we should now express it, they were in fellowship together. In like manner the companions of — in communion with — those who are tainted with this evil doctrine must share in their judgment. It is of no avail to repudiate the evil personally; the question is, Are you a companion of such P Brotherly love for godly brethren is the plea for such companionship. I deny real godliness and true divine love in any assembly where the truth of Christ's person is not the first, if not the only, ground of communion. If brotherly love (so called) is preferred to His honour, such brotherly love becomes sin. It is no less defiling to sit at the Lord's table in company with a fornicator, a drunkard, or a thief, than with a "companion" of such evil; it is even more a deadly affront to His person.

To return to David. His unfaithfulness finds imitators in those who shirk the fight of faith and seek shelter where there is no trial of faith. Our faithful God always breaks in upon the quiet of an unfaithful saint, so that the staff upon which he leaned pierces his hand. Saints have attempted friendship with the world as well as sought its protection; yet this in no way modifies the enmity of the carnal mind against God, or of the world against the people of God. David's presence did not prevent Achish from making war with Israel. It may have been an incentive. But saints that have fallen into this position have even joined with the world in persecuting those who have remained faithful. David was ready to do this thing. The exigencies of his position into which he was entrapped through his fear of Saul, and from which no worldly wisdom could deliver him, demand that he should follow Achish. Was David sincere in his pleading to follow the king? Why not? He had forgotten God; to forget Israel was small in comparison. Having committed the greater sin, he would without any conscience easily fall into the less. The one is the natural consequence of the other. He had neither the power nor the will to free himself. But God was watching over him, and used the natural jealousy and not unreasonable fears of the Philistine lords to deliver David from his evil position. There is no recorded instance where the overruling power of God is more seen, accomplishing His own will both in object and manner, yet not interfering with the responsibility of the saint, or with the apparent freedom of man. It was impossible that David should be present in the battle now imminent either with Achish or with Saul. With the former he would be fighting against his own people; if with the latter, the Philistines could not have had the victory, for God would not permit the enemy to triumph over His chosen one. And if the Philistines had been defeated, where would have been God's righteous judgment upon Saul? What of the divine testimony that Saul was rejected of God? Israel would have been confirmed in their choice of Saul, and David still an outcast. The overruling hand of God is manifest. The hour was now come for Saul to go into battle and perish, and Israel that followed him must share in his judgment. This is the result of man desiring a king and rejecting God. No other result could be righteously. The special question at this juncture was between God and the rebellious king, and so David was kept aloof. But David's will and the human motive which led him into seeking shelter in Gath — the apparent reason why he was away — was not according to the mind of God Who knows how to make the unfaithfulness of man subserve His purpose.

W hat a wonderful drama has passed before us in which Saul and David are the two principal actors: such hatred in the one, and dutiful submission in the other, as leads one to ask — What does it all mean? For there is more than human hatred, though it has its seat in a human heart; and a loyal submission is exhibited not found in any other mere man. God Himself was behind the scenes; and every movement of the actors was controlled and shaped to carry out His purpose. It is the religious world's hatred of a rejected Christ that we see in Saul (who was a religious man); in David a picture (though faint) of a greater Sufferer to appear in due time.

17. 1887 289.

In bringing these papers to a close let us take a glance at the establishment of the kingdom. And it can be but a glance, such as is afforded by the might of David and the splendour of Solomon, which are but shadows in comparison of the power and brightness of Messiah when He takes the kingdom. The fullest type necessarily falls short; He must be present before we can see His glory. Even as in the past, David may have felt the sorrow of being hunted by Saul and in the end driven to seek shelter among enemies, far more than any that were with him sharing his toils; but what were his sorrows compared to the sorrows of the Lord? And as His sorrows were deeper so will His glory be greater. But here we are met with the fact that when looking at David the type of the rejected Messiah, we had Messiah Himself before us in the Gospels, and so could read the type in the Antitype; for it is He Who throws light upon the type, not the type upon Him, and the contrasts stand out in sharper outline than the analogies. Indeed the closest analogy is never without proof that the image of the coming King was looked at through a defective medium; vet enough remained to His glory to call forth our praise. For it is Christ's life in the Gospels that throws a halo around the wanderings of David.

In looking still at David now on the throne as type of Messiah, whose kingdom is not yet established in the earth, we have not its glorious reality whereby to judge of the type under David's reign. All that we know of the future kingdom of Christ must be gathered from the prophetic word, the lamp which we must use to read of David the King. We must wait for the advent of the kingdom to see the application and the importance of many things in David's reign, and also in Solomon's; for, as typifying the kingdom, David and Solomon must be considered as one; and indeed they are so presented historically, for Solomon was on the throne and crowned before David died. For not as a mere historical fact is it recorded, but to give one complete picture of Christ's kingdom on the earth, in one unbroken reign, David's death not interfering with its unity.

Though many a detail may be dark as to its typical application, the great truth is clearly read, that all enemies shall be destroyed, and that Messiah will begin to reign before peace is brought in; — that there will be in fact a David, and a Solomon aspect of His reign.

In the history, the kingdom of David immediately succeeds the death of Saul, which involved the ruin of Israel. A greater ruin has now befallen Israel, and the kingdom of Christ is not yet established. There is nothing between Saul and David that points to the lapse of nearly nineteen centuries during which Israel remains ruined and scattered beyond the wit of man to say where. In this interval, unnoticed in type or prophecy, the hidden purpose of God is revealed, and the exhaustless wonders of grace made known in the church. The church was revealed only by its presence when the Holy Ghost was given at the day of Pentecost. Even when the risen Lord ascended from the mount of Olives, it was the kingdom that filled the mind of the disciples, and to the kingdom the answer of the two white-apparelled men alone refers. Not the least allusion do they make either to the calling or to the rapture of the church. Prophecy overlooks this long parenthesis, and therefore in the typical presentation of Christ as rejected, and then reigning in power, the one follows the other without a gap. The church of God is no part of the course of the ages which carries the idea of government either direct from God, as when He ruled in Israel, or when they were dispersed and government entrusted to the Gentile, where the intervention of God among men was by no means so marked as when Israel was publicly His people. Both Israel and the Gentile are now thrust aside — both having failed — to make room for the church; the times of the Gentiles still run on, but modified through the calling of the church. When the church is gone, God will resume the government of the world, in spite of the dragon and his slaves, and by judgment will prepare the earth for the advent and reign of His Son, to Whom Jehovah has said, "Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool." Then He comes. Meanwhile He is waiting. The sufferings and the glory are in the prophetic word joined together. Grace to the lost, and going beyond all previous revelation has placed an interval between the sufferings and the kingdom glory, and has formed a sphere outside the limits of prophecy and above its range. "They are not of the world," said the Lord. This is true of us dispensationally, it ought to be equally true of us morally. We do not belong to the ages of the world, but are a separate people.

Nor is there, in the history we are looking at, any foreshadowing of the judgments of which the prophetic word is full, and which will take place at the close of this present age after the church is caught up; that is, before His appearing. While these judgments are being poured out upon the earth, Christ is still hidden until He appears for the destruction of antichrist, "the king." There is nothing analogous to Christ's sitting at the right hand of Jehovah in the history of David, who with one step rises from the place of rejection to the throne. When Saul is removed, David immediately is presented to the nation; unless Saul be considered as a type of "the King," for then Christ begins to act in power. When He appears, it is not by one great victory that peace is brought to the earth. He rules in the midst of enemies till they are all subdued, and this is the characteristic of David's reign. As it is said, "Jehovah shall roar out of Zion." After "the king" is destroyed, there will yet remain nations to be subdued, and a rearrangement of them according to God. For the landmarks and divisions, which the pride of man and his lust of power have made, will be annulled, and the original divisions, as God divided the nations, will again appear (see Gen. x.). And by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood (ver. 32). The world is marked by families, and nations, and races, and in this day each is asserting itself according to its power; but the final settlement will only be when Christ reigns.

The first effect of Christ taking His power will not, be peace. He will in fury tread down His enemies. This is the preliminary or David aspect of war, not the Solomon display of glory which is properly the millennium. It is not according to His purpose by one stupendous act to put down all authority and power — which of course He could do if He pleased — but during a certain limited period, after the sudden and instantaneous judgment of the beast and of the false prophet, and a little later of the Assyrian, to use Israel as His instrument in breaking to pieces the opposing Gentile power. But Messiah will Himself personally appear in the judgment of these three at least. The brightness of His presence, and the breath of His nostrils, slay the wicked, but these are cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev. xix. 20). He will also personally meet the king of the north, the Assyrian, whose doom overtakes him in the same terrible manner as it fell upon the western beast and upon antichrist. The Assyrian falls not by the sword of a mighty man, nor by the sword of a mean man, but by the voice of Jehovah shall he be beaten down. That is, his will not be the destruction which falls upon his armies whose bones Israel will be seven months in burying, but he shall be cast alive into Tophet. To an Israelite no more appropriate word could be used, or so significant of his end. Tophet is the place where the Israelites burned alive their children to the god Moloch; the word is closely associated with, and carries the idea of being burnt alive (2 Kings xxiii. 10). Tophet was prepared for him and also for "the king." "The breath of Jehovah like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it" (see Isa. xxx. 27-33; also Ezek. xxxviii., Ezek. xxxix.; Zech. xiv. 1 3).

Messiah rules in Zion before His kingdom is established over the whole earth, not as sitting upon His throne, but His power will be manifested, and will proceed from Zion as from a central point. "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron" (Ps. ii.). "Jehovah shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies" (Ps. cx.). His enemies shall be broken to pieces as a potter's vessel, but His people, "thy people," shall be a willing people. See also Ps. cxviii. 6-16, which so clearly expresses the condition of the inhabitants of Jerusalem when the hosts of the king of the north are besieging the city. It is the introduction to the reign of peace by the noise of war, by the sword and the spear, not by the soft and persuasive voice of the gospel. The rebellious Jew with the Gentile share in that destruction. "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke xix. 27).

This period answers in general to David's reign who was a man of war from his youth, and on that account was commanded to leave the building of the temple to his son. It will be when all Israel are gathered and all nations subdued, that Ezekiel's temple will be built, and the healing waters flow. When the heathen know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, and after they have borne their shame and are dwelling safely in their land, and Jehovah's word is given that He will no more hide His face from them, for that He has poured out His Spirit upon the house of Israel (Ezek. xxxix. 23-29), then comes the description of the temple, in which Jehovah will dwell, Whose 1 presence will be its glory. When Judah comes back in unbelief, they will build a temple, but the abomination of desolation will stand in it. Of the temple of Ezekiel, yea, of the whole city, its very name from that day shall be, "Jehovah is there."

David reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty three in Jerusalem, together forty years: — a number always used to express the sufficiency and completeness of that of which it is spoken. And Messiah's rule in the midst of enemies will be till all are put down. But how to divide the era of judgment, from the first seal to the last mighty act of vengeance upon the Assyrian, is not revealed. To diligent faith God will give intelligence; but any attempt to arrange them so as to make the events of David's reign, and the course of judgment in the future dovetail into each other, will inevitably result in mistakes. The light of Christ in His lowly path shines upon the previous life of David; the light of Christ's exaltation in the earth is not yet come. We have as yet as regards the kingdom only the lamp of prophecy. which though only a lamp, as compared with the Day-star, distinctly foretells a time when Christ will rule out of Zion before the millennium begins. When that time comes, Christ in glory will rise upon the world. The Day-star risen in our hearts now reveals our heavenly position in the coming kingdom and glory. But neither David nor Solomon points to the place grace has prepared for us.

It was the Philistine, Israel's most persistent and formidable enemy, who felt more than any other the weight of David's arm. Again and again were they smitten, and it was over them that David's mighty men won their renown. Only among them were the giants found. But all, great and small, pay homage and tribute to David, and to Solomon, for David's reign is blended with that of Solomon. The "David" character is not quite gone when Solomon begins to reign. David yet lives till after the last struggle of the enemy, as seen in the attempt of Adonijah to possess the kingdom, and with him are found Joab. the chief of the army, and Abiathar the priest, up to that moment head of the priesthood. But he is now thrust aside, according to the word spoken to Samuel long before, yet historically owing to his own act and deed; so marvellously does God blend man's responsibility with His own counsels. Zadok is called to anoint Solomon.

Adonijah said, "I will be king." Did he not know that Solomon was the chosen of Jehovah? (1 Chron. xxviii. 4-6). Here is wilful rebellion, and, considering him typically, he is an antagonist of Christ. It is said of "the king" that he shall do according to his will. Does Adonijah in any measure present "the king" to our eye? We discern one or two of the same features in each, yet scarcely sufficient, taken with other circumstances, to say that Adonijah is a type of "the king." The similarity is that both do their own will, and that neither is an external enemy: they are both in Jerusalem. But there is this difficulty, that "the king" as Antichrist is destroyed immediately at the appearing. The conspiracy of Adonijah, Joab, and Abiathar is at the close of David's reign just before his death, i.e., before Solomon, the man of rest reigns alone, and, as to time coincides rather with the judgment of the king of the north, who has the same mark of will upon him. It may be that the session of judgment closes with his being cast into Tophet. For at the time that Jehovah lays His rod upon him "in battles of shaking," there will be with Israel "tabrets and harps." The inhabitants of the unwalled villages where they dwelt in peace, at that same time, "shall have a song as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept" (Isa. xxx. 29, etc.).

The Assyrian, looked at through his type, Antiochus Epiphanes, who is the king of the north in his day, does "according to his will" (Dan. xi. 16). Was the Holy Spirit looking at the future Assyrian through Adonijah? At most it is but a faint shadow, for self-will is the common mark of all that oppose Christ. Adonijah is spared for a brief moment till a more subtle attempt is made against the authority of Solomon, which brings judgment, and Adonijah is slain.

In these three men we see, in Adonijah the authority of the world, in Joab the executive power, in Abiathar the religious power, all combined against Christ. They are the representatives of the three great moral forces of the world. In the midst of their revelry the shouting of the people is heard; sudden fear seizes them, and destruction soon overtakes them. So it will be at the end.

The next prominent event we notice is the building and dedication of the temple. The glory of Jehovah fills it. It is a picture of the millennium. Solomon's prayer looks onward to it, but takes up also the intervening time. He, as it were, counts upon the coming glory, and pleads for mercy in view of it; he sees the scattering of rebellious Israel. His prayer is a divine forecast of their history, couched withal in the language of supplication. Grace will restore the nation to the rule and glory of Christ. And even as it is grace, so it will not be limited to Israel, but the glory will be displayed to the world. The queen of Sheba — as representative of the nations — comes to learn the wisdom and see the glory of Solomon. And thus it will be when Christ reigns, not only King of Israel, but also King of kings and Lord of lords.

Moses said, "Show me Thy glory." To us as to him, our faces are covered with His hand till the glory passes by; then we as he, shall see the back parts. When the glory of the kingdom shines over the whole earth, we shall be able to trace as we cannot now the lines of purpose and glory, the responsibilities of man and the dispensational dealings of God with him, all converging upon Christ. God has been pleased to foreshadow the coming glory for Israel and blessing for the world. We adore though seeing dimly. The church of God has not to search amid types for her peculiar glory. It is summed up in this — with Christ; and like Christ; and for ever. R. Beacon.