The Books of the Kings.

F. W. Grant.

Division 3. (1 Sam. 16 — 2 Sam. 9.)

David, the king after God's heart.

Of this glorious King David is but a type: an interesting and beautiful picture, but with many flaws and shortcomings even as that. We shall have to see even in the ease of David, the higher kingdom at issue with the lower, and having to vindicate itself in a decisive way from misrepresentation by its representative on earth. David is not set aside as Saul is, for he bows in truth of heart to the chastening hand upon him. He "hears the rod, and who has appointed it." (Micah 6:9.) He despises not the chastening of the Lord, nor faints when he is rebuked of Him. Nowhere do we find a deeper penitence, a lowlier self-confession, than in those psalms in which he pours out his soul to God. Still he is a penitent; and as such cannot represent aright the object of the Father's full delight. The shadow he is; but how far from the "very image"!

He is the man after God's own heart just because he is thus subject to Him. He is by no means perfect, but he is not a rebel. He has true faith in God, a heart that pants after Him; and that, finding Him, makes its boast in Him, and is glad. He is thus a true son of Judah, a worshiper, indeed the sweet psalmist of Israel, by whom the Spirit of Jehovah spake, and His word was in his tongue (2 Sam. 23:1-2). And as the joy of the Lord is strength, so does he find strength. Israel flourishes into such a kingdom as never before nor after do they attain. Its boundaries are lengthened out until the promise to Abraham seems nearly fulfilled; but this is not really so: from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt and the Red Sea David reigns over subject kings, but the people are far from possessing it as their own inheritance. Still it is the pledge and foreshadow of what shall be far more glorious, when "He shall come whose right it is," and whose reign shall be to the ends of the earth and for everlasting.

Subdivision 1. (1 Sam. 16 — 31.)

The obedience of the destined king.

For the king after God's heart suffering must precede glory. He must obey before he can rule; and, like his Antitype, learn obedience by the things that he suffers. But the need and manner of learning are as different as the persons are different. Here we must look beyond David to learn what David's history means.

In Christ there could be no need of the discipline of suffering. Trial did not perfect Him in obedience, but showed Him perfect. Yet "perfected through suffering" He was, but as the "Captain of salvation," the "Author and finisher of faith," the One who goes before on and initiates the path upon which He victoriously leads His followers.* For this in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, "tempted in all things, like as we are, sin apart." (Heb. 4:15, Gk.) How wondrous, how inspiring, such an example! God Himself become man to lead our feet in obedience on the path His own have trodden! In the peculiar sufferings of the cross He has gone beyond us, where none could follow; in all else we are called to enter into the "fellowship of His sufferings," and that as the way to share with Him, through His grace, the crown also: it is "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. 2:12.)

{*Arkegos is the word for "Captain" and "Author" both. — (Heb. 2:10; Heb. 12:2.)}

The sufferings of David take up many chapters of the record here, — sufferings which exalt him in our thoughts much more than his after glories. We need, as knowing the deeper reality of which they speak, to search into them with special earnestness, and prayerfulness of spirit, and with the precious assurance that it is of Christ that the spirit of prophecy speaks through him: expecting ourselves, therefore, to find shining through the type the true David, God's "Beloved." The veil for us has been here, as elsewhere, really taken away: may there be not a remnant even of darkening veil over our hearts!

1. The first thing that we are called to see in David is his unique sufficiency for the hour of Israel's need. In the valley of Elah, even Jonathan, the hero of Michmash, has no help. All Israel are alike trembling and helpless in the presence of the Philistine champion, and David becomes indeed the captain of their salvation. The meaning of this we shall look at presently. Before it we are called to see him as the elect of God, qualified of the Spirit of God for the work before him. For it is never man simply that can accomplish anything: the creature was not meant to live apart from the Creator; man apart is man fallen, and in the ruin of that fall; his glory is to be nigh God, with God, and thus Christ is the only full and adequate thought of him as in the mind of God from the beginning; not an after-thought, but that to which creation from the beginning pointed.

(1) If we have David before us, we shall not even mourn for Saul. This is what is contained in Jehovah's reproof of Samuel. It is not, of course, that he was wrong in manifesting such sorrow as the Lord Himself had over Jerusalem. It can never be aught but fellowship with Him, to weep the Redeemer's tears over human obduracy and its inevitable results. But put a Saul at his best outwardly, — and his best was but outward, — who could weep to see him displaced by a David on the throne of Israel? And much more when, as to man in general, we would lament for the crown of creation fallen from his head, — how can we do this when we see Christ assume it?

Samuel is bidden then to fill his horn with oil and go to Bethlehem, and anoint there one of the sons of Jesse to be king. The horn is the familiar type of power, as oil is of the Spirit: it is from Him who has power that the anointing comes, from Him who will make good all that it implies, and whose king must be not simply naturally but spiritually qualified, — with whom power will be, therefore, power with God, that is, spiritual power. Bethlehem we know well as the "house of bread"; and its connection with Him who is the "living bread" makes very plain its meaning. How plainly, also, for Israel was David to be the minister of sustenance for faith, as well as for God's people at all times! Christ's power for us has been manifested in more precise ministry. From the Father's house, the true "house of bread," He came, to open the stores of it, and meet earth's famine with the bounty of God. Thus Jesse the Bethlehemite witnesses in his name that "Jehovah exists." Man has sunk down low enough; hope in him rightfully there is none: the more completely that is cut off; the more surely we come to the Omnipotent and self-sufficing God, ever living, and out of whom all that is lost may be restored.

Samuel fears this errand; for Saul's character is but too well known. He is told, therefore, to take a heifer and go and sacrifice, and call Jesse to the sacrifice. Nor are we to look at this as merely a protecting veil thrown mercifully around the weakness of His servant. We have already seen such a sacrificial feast spread in connection with Saul's anointing, and know it as the sign of peace and communion between God and man. This is where Saul had failed so utterly. For him, too, all had been prepared, and he was an invited guest; but into the reality of this he had never entered. David therefore was to be now the guest, and to make up for Saul's deficiency. And the true King, when He comes, is more than David; for He is not only partaker of but spreads the feast.

Samuel goes, therefore, to Bethlehem, but the elders tremble at his coming. Things are out of course in Israel, and an uneasy conscience finds in the approach of one who walks with God a cause of distress. But Samuel quiets this, and calls them to the sacrifice, for which also he sanctifies Jesse and his sons.

They seem alone to have been present at the sacrificial meal that follows, when David is anointed. As the prophet sees the stately and striking form of Eliab, the eldest son, he imagines for the moment that this must be the one intended of the Lord; but Jehovah rebukes the thought. "Man looketh on the eyes," — the deepest well of thought and feeling to him, — "but Jehovah looketh on the heart." Abinadab next comes before him, and then Shammah, and so seven of Jesse's sons, but all to be rejected; and there is only one remaining, away with the sheep. When he is brought, at once the voice of the Lord is heard by the prophet, Arise, anoint him"; and David is anointed in the presence of all his brethren.

Can we gain anything from this, save that the Lord sees deeper than man, and that he chooses often for His instruments those little among men? That is true, and also important, for we are prone to forget it: but is that all that we are to learn from these details given? If not, shall we be over-bold in seeking to find meanings somewhat deeper than the surface? For here is a great type surely, and a question raised, which, if we think a little, we shall find occupies men today: Who is God's coming King of men? And what principle does He stand for or represent? Or what is the message that He brings with Him when He comes? If it is said, perhaps, It is a principle, and not a person, that men are expecting, even so it will be found that principles also wait for introduction by a person, who identifies himself with these, and is identified with them; and that men think this a valid and important subject of inquiry still. It should not be strange, then, if God have a Person in His mind who is to bring in the reign of truth and righteousness and peace which still men look for, though it be so long delayed; and that He is identified with principles of infinite importance, of which God's heart is full, — so full that it has been overflowing to communicate them, before there were ears open even to receive the report, or the time had come in which it could be fairly uttered.

Saul is yet upon the scene, and potent in his way too, we see, but doomed to be set aside. The man of the people has failed utterly under the test of God. His principle has been independence of God, reason such as he deems it unimpeded by revelation, the pursuit of his own ends by his own means, since God plainly cannot be trusted to secure these. Alas, all this is easily understood and confidently acted on all the world over, and will be, surely, (for at least there is no sign of change,) as long as human nature is what it is, or God does not come in to change by divine power the course of things.

Kings have failed, so that it is the glory of the present age to have either superseded or taken in hand to fetter them. Aristocracy fails, for it is only a diluted and more moderate kingship, many-headed and less easily made responsible in proportion as its power is less direct. And democracy also fails, both because the more complete it is the less really is it what it assumes to be, the more multitudinous the less available as power, the more heterogeneous, All forms of government that man has tried or that are available to him, are but the endeavor to balance contradictory self-interests, and to restrain the spirit of the wild beast ever seeking to be loose. And this is the scriptural picture: the vision of the powers of the earth which the prophet sees, and representing them until the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven, is of four wild beasts (Dan. 7). "Man being in honor, and understanding not, is like the beasts that perish." (Ps. 49:20.)

What, then, is the remedy? Nothing, plainly, but the Son of man from heaven. Laws, the best and the worst, fail to execute themselves, and thy sons of men have no hope in them, so long as heaven is still and intervenes not. The Son of man from heaven is the only answer to the long unanswered question. "All judgment committed unto Him, because He is the Son of man" — perfectly intelligent and sympathetic as to man; but come to earth out of the open doors of heaven, in perfect sympathy up there, and so bringing heaven and earth into sympathetic union.

And why has the remedy been so long delayed? It was offered almost two millennia since, and was rejected! offered with amplest demonstration of its reality; rejected with the practical unanimity of all sorts and conditions of men: heaven's gift, earth's King, hung up in the face of heaven in utter scorn and face to face rejection! "He saved others," they shouted, "let Him save Himself! He trusted in God: let Him deliver Him!" And so the world has had its free field for experiments in political economy ever since. They are nearly ended now. The Son of man, thank God, is coming back again, and it will not be left any more to the world's arbitrament, whether they will have Him.

David's history shows us both these things, "the sufferings of Christ and the glories that shall follow." True history, it takes its place in the books of the former prophets," and is prophetical, as indeed in some sense all true history is. But there is less of this than we are willing to admit, available to our inspection: in that day when the books shall be open we shall find the true.

The Christ? but who is the Christ? Saul, the man of the people, for faith is passed away. Which of this long family of Jesse is worthy to succeed? Eliab is the first-born, and has a beautiful name and a stately presence. Eliab means "God" — or, "my God, is Father," and we have had the name before in the captain of Zebulon's host in the wilderness, and in very different connection as the father of that Mahan and Abiram who were conspirators with Korah against Moses. "My God is Father" is a glorious reality, which may be on the other hand most terribly abused. As Creator He is the "Father of spirits," and men are in general in that sense "His offspring." Undoubtedly also He would have all men know Him in such endeared relationship. Yet if we take our stand on the ground of creation we ignore the fall; and such was the sin of the sons of Eliab in the wilderness. Granting there be a Christ, is He to be, can He be, Head of the old creation, restorer of the old relationship within the old limits? Notice, again, that this Eliab is the first-born, David at the other end, the eighth: but this is against Eliab, though his goodly presence may appeal even to a prophet. He comes under the law of Genesis, and exemplifies the rule, "first, that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual." (1 Cor. 15:46.) But there is no natural Christ, nor therefore of the old creation; the eighth speaks of the new, and Eliab must give place to David.

Abinadab therefore also is foredoomed; although as the second son, he speaks suggestively of help or of salvation. His name too is good, and in accord with this, "my father is a liberal giver." And why, man argues, should not God, who is good and the Father of men, freely, of His mere good pleasure, remit sin? Why must the Christ be a David, an eighth son, owning in Himself the ruin of man, and descending to the depth of his condemnation to redeem him? But it cannot be: for sin is the dark and fundamental opposite of God, and He cannot dwell with it. To ignore is not to remove it, but to go on with it, and Abinadab can therefore be no sufficient Saviour.

Shammah is the third son of Jesse, but his name is variously interpreted. It is also differently given in Chronicles (1 Chron. 2:13) as Shimeah, or Shimma. This last word is near akin to Shimeon (Simeon), and should have the same meaning, "hearing," or "hearkening," which is often equivalent to "obedient." But Shammah is from another root, and means "desolation." If there be no mistake in the text, — and in the next chapter it is given again as here, — this, under the number that speaks of holiness, would naturally imply that the alternative of what Eliab or Abinadab expresses must be desolating judgment; but most certainly the Christ-King could not represent such a thought as this.

No other names are given till the last is reached in David, the "beloved," the eighth, taken from the shepherd's place to fill the kingly one, — in God's thoughts still the Shepherd's. As eighth, he shows us Christ as Head of new creation, as we have seen: God's holiness thus expressed in the link with a new life received from Him, itself the condemnation of the old. But the King is no less the One in whom the Divine Love is shown out toward men. The "Beloved" must be indeed the King after God's own heart, and in Him of whom the type speaks here the higher and lower kingdoms come entirely together.

David is anointed, and the Spirit of Jehovah comes upon him from henceforth. He is the king designate of God, although the road to the kingdom may be yet a long one, and lead deeply down into the valley of humiliation.

(2) But the Spirit of the Lord departs from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubles him. Evil as well as good has its commission from God, — not its existence, but its liberty to act, and the limits of its action. So we see in Job in early times, and in Ahab's case later; and comfort it is indeed to know this. It is thus the wrath of man is made to praise Him, and the remainder of it He restrains. Nothing can escape from the divine government by the fact or avowal of its being evil. How should it? Thus alone can we be at peace, assured that no waves can rise higher than the footstool of His throne. The work of the evil spirit with Saul was the execution of penalty, and had it led to self-judgment would have proved mercy also. The relief granted, with its known source, was surely that goodness of God which leadeth to repentance. The character of it shows that it was the tempestuous working of Saul's own spirit that gave the evil one his opportunity, — that brought Saul within the limit ordained him of God. David's harp does not act directly upon. Satan, but upon Saul. By its strange power of softening and subduing, though but temporarily, the savage temper of the rejected king, the power that assails him is driven back and shut off; for the time he is set free.

The harp of David is the sign of nature even in its lowest and inanimate forms responsive and harmonious in the hand of man. It lies with him, the highest and intelligent creature of God, to bring out and express these harmonies, to make the silence vocal. If he take not his God-given place, the capacity of nature is not known, its depths are unsounded, God's design and glory in it are obscured and misconstrued. What will be its awakening when the earth is put into the hands of the Second, the ideal Man? How will our David make all nature His harp of many strings, and lead in the anthem of praise from all creation!

But even now it is in His hand, obedient to Him alone, and so harmonious; and it is this, however little understood and realized, that alone checks and restrains the spirit of disorder and anarchy to which at times the powers ordained of God seem given up. Here, too, it acts by the power of that sweet mysterious charm of our David's melody over themselves — strangers as they may be to Him personally. The Sauls do not become Davids, but they are under the influence of David; and the mere reflection of the glory that shall at last cast out the adversary of men prevails to baffle and turn him back. How vivid is the picture here, and how completely the history justifies itself as prophecy according to, though far beyond, the Jewish conception of these books as the former prophets."

Saul and David will nevertheless yet separate, each to his final destiny: Saul to the fatal field of Gilboa, David to the thus emptied throne, which he will raise to its highest glory.

(3) We now come to the time of David's manifestation as the deliverer of Israel, the one who alone can meet their need in the day of distress. As a history it is a simple but glorious lesson of faith, and of what it can achieve with no help but that of God; as a type it is a deep and instructive parable of the wondrous salvation which Christ has wrought for His people. It is such an one as by no means carries its meaning upon its face. There are difficulties in it which seem always to have hindered the satisfactory exposition of what has been generally felt must be in it by those who believe at all in any rightful allegorization of these histories. There is a mingling together of different lines of truth which easily becomes entanglement if we do not discern with care. And the remedy for this will be found, not in simply picking out what seems consistent with the meaning we have given it, and dismissing the rest as belonging to the necessary faultiness of such allegoric method, a kind of reasoning which must be the reproach and ruin of the method itself, if it is to be accepted, — but on the contrary, in a fair and full induction of all the facts. While we may not be able to see meaning everywhere, we must not turn away from unwelcome difficulties or accept what is really contradictory to the evidence as a whole.

Difficulties are plain when we look at what is the back-ground of a picture of Christ's salvation. We find a Philistine war; the adversary met by David vaunting himself a Philistine, if perhaps in fact he be something more; but indeed his Anakite descent (Joshua 11:22) does not emerge at all in the chapter before us. If the Philistines then be what we have represented them to be, and what so much scripture combines to assure us that they are, — the ritualistic and successional world-church, — how can it be a champion of this sort that Christ is seen here to meet and slay, and from which He delivers His people? The relation of David to Saul, and much else, if explicable, have yet at least to be similarly explained, before we have the elements of a proper exposition that can rightly challenge acceptance as to what is in the mind of God before us here. One thing is certain, if there be any truth whatever in the interpretation of this whole history as far as we have now arrived, then it is not against a blank wall that we have suddenly come: there is spiritual meaning here as elsewhere; and this belief will surely be justified as the result of the examination upon which we are entering.

(a) The Philistines are the enemies of Saul throughout his reign, and he perishes at last in conflict with them. At this we shall be called to look another time; but that ecclesiasticism as we have seen it in them is ever hostile to the "powers that be," as represented in Saul, is evident. Always open war there is not, but it is always threatening, if not existent for the aim of the world-church is power on earth, and if it has an intoxicating cup for its kings, and can have wanton dalliance, even thus would it cast them down and prevail against them. "Her ways are changeable," says the wise man, "that thou shouldst not know them;" but ever one purpose abides through all.

At the time we have reached, the Philistines are at open war with Israel, have invaded Judah, and are gathered together at Socoh in its territory, camping between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim, "the boundary of blood." The names here may, though not beyond question as to their meaning, give us more than a glimmer of light. Socoh we have taken elsewhere (p. 103 n.) to mean, as in Lam. 2:6, "his tabernacle," and this is named as a principal point at which they aim, while their camp is between it and Azekah, the "fence" by which He would guard it.

Now this guard is by the maintenance of the truth (as we have seen in the place referred to) that there are "two gates," "two ways," and correspondingly two ends: Christ the gate and the way to life eternal, — no other way than Christ; but then, alas! a wide gate and a broad way trodden by the many, and by which there will as surely be reached another end than this. Such is the guard which God has appointed to His sanctuary, the holy conditions which the grace of the gospel affirms, not sets aside. But Philistinism, that is, ecclesiasticism, does set them aside. It has a gate and a way which are not Christ, but which assume His name; which are broader than the true, yet narrower; and by which they penetrate between God's "tabernacle," which they claim for themselves, and the guard which He has set about it. Sacraments are made to give the "life," which He alone can give, and to sustain it. People are born of God by "water," the "Spirit" being taken for granted, and made subject to the will of man — the officiating priest. Bread and wine by an equal magic become in his hands the very flesh and blood of Christ. Here, in this Babel of unrealities which pass for realities, where the depth of the mystery is only measured by its irrationality, where faith in a sensual superstition becomes a debasing credulity, — here is indeed the entrenched camp of Philistinism, between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim, the "boundary of blood:" for so thorough is the opposition between the grace of Christ and this legal ritualism that to cross the border-line is a question of life or death: "in her," as the divine record is of Babylon, "was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth." (Rev. 18:24.)

Saul and the army of Israel are encamped in the valley of Elah, or "the terebinth," named like the oak from its strength, — if it be not rather the oak itself. Spiritually, the "valley" is indeed the place to find the power that is manifest in life. But it is one thing to be in the position, another to have realized the blessing of it, and this, under their failed head, the Israelites have not done. In the presence of the enemy they have no strength.

A formidable champion now makes his appearance on the side of the Philistines, no doubt one of the old Anakite race, some individuals of which we are expressly told, survived at Gath, the place from which Goliath comes. Spiritually apprehended, we shall find him a giant indeed, and needing, not the might of man, but the power of God to overcome. He is the champion of the Philistines, and must therefore represent them in what is prominent in the principles for which they stand; but he is more than merely a Philistine also: a darker shadow as of vapor from the pit is cast over the picture here.

The derivation of Goliath from galah has the consent of lexicographers; yet corresponding to the several meanings of the verb, there have been suggested several interpretations of the name, it being hard, as far as legitimacy goes, to decide between them. In such perplexity we are entitled to take that which brings light with it rather than what conveys no meaning. That which fits the lock will prove itself as ever to be the key of the lock, to those, at least, who are clear that there is a key somewhere.

Goliath means, then, we believe, "banishment, exile;" to which the city to which he belongs adds intensity of significance. Gath means the "wine-press;" and we have before connected it with what seems its only explanation here, the pregnant saying of the Apocalypse, "He treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God." "Banishment from God in His wrath," we may take as the true thought conveyed by the threatening figure of Goliath of Gath.

Now the essence of Christianity lies in this, that as the fruit of accomplished redemption we are brought nigh to God. This is what the apostle contrasts with the powerlessness of the law of Moses, for which that was set aside: "There is therefore the disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof (for the law made nothing perfect), and the bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh to God." (Heb. 7:18-19, Gk.) As he goes on to show (Heb. 9, 10), the perfecting of the conscience so as to be able to stand in the presence of a holy God was thus what Judaism was wholly unable to effect. Of this the veil before the holiest bore constant witness. The work by which alone the conscience could be set at rest, was not yet done. But it is now done: "By one offering hath [Christ] perfected forever them that are sanctified." Hence there is rest and nearness. Only unbelief can bring in distance between the soul and. God, for we are in Christ, "accepted in the Beloved" unchangeably.

But the knowledge of this is the destruction of Philistinism. The essential character of the false sacramental system is the revival of Judaism, the putting back under its shadows and into distance from God. Thus the church becomes the mediator between the unreconciled soul and God; the sacrifice and the priesthood, though with a juggle of Christian terms which are good for nothing but to conjure with, come back into the old place, but with a deadly falsehood now, such as in Judaism was not and could not be. The very essence of that was that it was predictive and preparatory: the old covenant was to give place to the new; there were "good things to come" that had not come: but this bastard Judaism claims itself to be that which was to come, connects itself with the precious realities of grace, only to degrade, contradict and displace them. It speaks of Christ, of His work, of His grace, ever to substitute its perversions for the truth, and in the name of the Lord rivet its chains upon the free. Here the Philistine leader becomes apparent. Goliath of Gath represents just the denial of reconciliation and nearness to God, which is so manifest in the modern Philistinism, with its Casluhite (p. 74) prate of forgiveness and grace, which is only the devil's wile to take all meaning out of such blessed words. The essence of Romanism and of all Romanizing systems lies in this, that there is no known and effectual reconciliation. You need the Church, and all the priestly train on earth, — you need the host of saints and angels up in heaven, as intercessors to bring you nigh; and with all this labor, as they quote from the funeral book of the Old Testament for their purpose, "no man knoweth whether he is worthy of favor or hatred." (Ecc. 9:1, Douay Version.) The council of Trent condemned the assurance of salvation as the vain confidence of the heretics." If you do not drop out of their hands into hell, you will certainly go to purgatory, and there pay to God the uttermost farthing for your sins.

"Exile from God because of His wrath:" this is indeed the champion of the Philistines. Heaven there is, but afar off, and with a dread uncertainty of ever reaching it. But how can the fear of this throw its shadow over the souls of the Israel of God? Alas! the type before us answers that sufficiently. Unbelief, the slighting of the word of God, the lack of any deep self-judgment, the mixture of the Church and the world: these are prominent and concurrent causes. Mid all the light that people vaunt today the shadows of superstition gather and their hosts stalk abroad, with the giant of Oath still champion of the host. Plain it is that it is the guilty conscience, ignorant of the power of the blood of Christ, that is the strength of all such systems. It is this that builds up priestly authority, and maintains the efficacy of sacramental "mysteries." Peace with God known, accepted consciously in the soul, the terror of wrath is gone, the giant of superstition slain, the arm of Philistia is broken: and thus we are led directly to the apprehension of the conqueror here, who is David, the "Beloved."

The height of the giant may be noted, six cubits and a span, though it is only the number which is plain as that of the full development of evil, and (we may add) unrest. He is in armor of brass, so often connected with the unyielding character of judgment; his heart is shut in with scales of brass: we are too little practised in divine symbolism to go safely further in the interpretation here. He proclaims himself emphatically "the Philistine," as he truly is; and defies any one in the host of Israel to contend with him. And Saul and all the host shrink back in terror.

(b) The history returns to David, and the memory is refreshed as to who he is. All this we are to keep in mind. and carry with us. The three eldest of his brothers follow Saul; but David mind, returned from Saul to his accustomed and significant occupation as shepherd of the sheep. God's king is in training, and not to be hastily detached from this.

Forty days the Philistine presents himself, morning and evening. The testing of ability to encounter him is to be fully made.

But now David, like Joseph of old — another type of royalty in Christ — is sent upon a mission. He is to seek out his brethren with food for their necessities, and see how they fare. Nor does our king yet disdain such service. He finds them in the ranks, going forth to the battle for which they have so little heart or competence, and sees the Philistine come forth, and hears his challenge. He is intensely and indignantly interested, and no wonder, and again and again questions the people there, "What shall be done to the man that smiteth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel?" And again and again they tell him what the king will do.

If this is still to be applied typically, what is the meaning of it? What are we to say indeed of all this introduction of David into the reign of Saul and into the midst of such a conflict as has been already indicated between Israel and the Philistines? For all this has seemed, and with consistency hitherto, to speak of things that are or have been taking place in our own times and dispensation, and how could we introduce the Lord personally, as David would seem to represent Him, into scenes from which He is necessarily absent?

There is here a difficulty indeed, but not an insuperable one. Of course it is true that it would be insuperable, if we had to conceive of our Lord as being here in the body when we know that He is in heaven: this would be entirely inconsistent; yet it is said in the closing verses of the Gospel of Mark just after we have been told distinctly of His ascent into heaven and being seated on the right hand of God, — "And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Thus still also, we are sure, the Lord works on; and this is no figure of speech, nor even a synonym for the Spirit's work in men: there is a difference which it is well to be clear about, and which will make what we have here also clear.

Ministry is always under the Lord: "there are differences of administrations (ministries, marg.), yet but one Lord;" and this the apostle says just after he had said, "there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:4-5.) The two things are widely different: the power is of the Spirit; rule, superintendence, belong to the Lord.

This title, Lord, is moreover, if we may say so, His David, His royal, title; for He is never called king in relation to the Church, but to Israel or the nations,* while in fact the authority which He claims and exercises "Lord" is fully royal. Thus we may rightly speak of His actings here, while He sits upon the Father's throne above; and these will show Him of course in the character of His rule, and make us realize the joy of being subject to Him. Such views of Him we may expect to realize in that which is before us.

{* Rev. 15:3, should read "King of nations."}

As acting upon earth, it will be natural also, to find Him identified with and represented by the servants who serve Him, and even in their sufferings too. While we must carefully remember the limitations which types according to their very nature have, and take heed not to strain the application beyond these. But as to all this we must speak of it in detail as the individual types come before us, and furnish the occasion.

But it is plain therefore that the visit of David to his brethren at this time is not to be interpreted like that of Joseph, of the Lord's assuming flesh and coming into the world. We must rather take it as applying to what men coldly call a providential visitation. If there took place for instance at the Reformation such a deliverance as we find here from the giant of the Philistines, — if at that time the revival of a gospel which gave assurance and peace to souls delivered men from the distance and estrangement from God which Romanism maintains, and by which it effects its conquests, — then we may rightly consider this to be such a gracious visitation. The true David, the son of Jesse, (of the living and unchanging God,) surely then visited His brethren with the bread of Bethlehem, the Father's house of bread. Then was the question raised which received in result such unsatisfactory answer, "what shall be done to the man that smiteth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel?"

The more this is examined, the closer will be found the application. Was not the answer too much in those days the assurance of what the king would do for Israel's deliverer? The failure of the Reformation — blessed work of God as there truly was in it — was it not largely in this that Saul, the secular power, and his promises were trusted in, and the princes of the earth sought to as the nursing fathers of the church? But what will they do, what have they done, for the Christ who delivered them? Alas, they sought not spiritual deliverance but temporal, though the means that could alone deliver them were in fact spiritual. The Davids were the divinely raised up champions of the truth, who descended solitary into the valley while the Sauls, yea, and Israel too, cowered in their places of shelter and looked on, to see the victory accomplished for them. In reality this victory was but one, and of One, One Christ acting in His poor followers, whom the Eliabs might insult for pride, and as leaving the few sheep to be exposed in the wilderness, while the work was being done. Yet there was a cause; and they had but to wait to see the vain seeming words become mighty deeds, the giant dead, and the Philistine host in flight!

(c) The words of David are reported to Saul, and though half believing only, he grasps at them. Incredulously he gazes at the stripling whose strength, such as he sees it, is little enough to be measured with that of the Philistine warrior; but David is not dismayed. He has had already his experiences of Jehovah's deliverances, and his conflict in behalf of the sheep of the flock: so the Lord trains in private those whom He brings forth at last for public use; "not a novice" is His rule for leaders; and David, young as he might be, was none. There was with him the shepherd's heart which had made him venture his life, not before the eyes of many, nor for a great result, but for a single lamb only. How could he now shrink when the issue was so vast, and the people of God were looking vainly for a deliverer?

His measure of the situation is the measure of faith. Here we find nothing of the gigantic stature of his antagonist, nor of his brazen armor, nor of his practiced soldiership: this has nothing to do with the matter; he is an uncircumcised Philistine, and has defied the embattled hosts of the living God. A very partial induction, it might be said; but for him it was ample. Faith has but to make one inquiry, Where is God in this matter? and having found this, nothing whatever on the opposite side can weigh against this.

Even Saul has to own so plain an argument. He assents, and dismisses him with a pious wish, Go, and Jehovah be with thee! That, indeed, is the whole matter: Israel is not with him, nor Saul, nor anything that flesh values, or the world has confidence in; happy is he who in the face of all this can say, "The Lord is with me! is it not enough?"

(d) But Saul shows that he does not realize this, and must at least clothe David with his own armor, that the battle may be upon more equal terms. And indeed, though not as he meant it, this would have been the case. Saul's armor was Philistine enough; and David clothed in it would have been novice enough. But he only puts it on to put it off again. He will not use what he has no acquaintance with. So he goes forth, a shepherd, not a warrior, not as one with whom war is a profession, though he may fight when the flock is in peril: with his staff and sling, and five smooth stones only, out of the brook.

The means we use will largely tell the spirit we are of. In themselves of small importance, our making much of them will in fact make them much, though in a different sense from that which we imagine. Paul came not among the Corinthians "with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring the testimony of God." And in this there was not mere human weakness, but the distinct purpose that their "faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." All supplements of spiritual power necessarily carnalize the effect produced; and even where God is working, the result will show itself; perhaps not till after many days. Meanwhile, as with stung fruit, the ripening may seem quicker, while in fact the proper ripeness never is attained.

David had tested his means before the battle. This let us remember, but apply it rightly too. For the word of God is that which must test everything for us, if our experience even is to be of any value. Little should we count it, comparatively, when we have unfailing wisdom of Him who sees the end from the beginning, to whom all things are naked and opened. How we should rejoice, indeed, in the unspeakable blessing of His word — His mind made known to us! As to the weapons of David, we shall see what they mean directly; but we may notice that the five stones already speak in the number of man in relationship with God, which accomplished, as even the person of Christ bears witness for eternity, the issue of the conflict before us is not doubtful.

(e) The combatants now approach to the encounter, and the spirit of each is manifest. With David there is confident assurance, but it is in Jehovah, in whose name he acts, and who is with him, meaning to show Himself as the living God to all the earth, and to make Israel know that He saves neither by sword nor spear, but the issue of the battle is in His hand alone. So, indeed, has God wrought, and for such a purpose, in those great crises of human history in which His hand has been stretched out to break the power of the enemy and deliver men out of his grasp. But above all, when the deliverance has been from spiritual oppression and darkness, and the result of it the bringing of souls into the joy and peace of the gospel, how has God declared His being and name, and how clearly has victory been the result not of human effort or carnal means, but His handiwork alone!

(f) But we must now consider more particularly the means of the giant's overthrow. This smooth stone from the brook, what is it? may we expect to find a definite meaning in it? It has evidently a most important place in the history: ought it not to have as much in the interpretation, if this is to be consistent, so as to have upon it the stamp of truth?

A smooth stone from the brook is one which has been fashioned by the stream of running (which in Scripture is the same as living) water; and this last we know as constantly a figure of the Spirit of God. Here should be a beginning of understanding for us.

Then a stone shaped by the Spirit of God would naturally make us think of the "living stones" of which Peter speaks, expanding for us the significance of his own name; stones built up into the spiritual house which is built upon the foundation of living stone, which is Christ Jesus. As stones, they are true and divine material for the house of God in contrast with Babel's bricks of human manufacture (Gen. 11), and are types of permanence and solidity. God's living stones will abide in their God-given place forever, a sanctuary of praise that will never be taken down or cease to manifest His glory eternally.

If, then, we simply follow Scripture in interpreting Scripture, how well may this smooth stone from the brook in our David's hand destroy the dread shadow of wrath and alienation from God which the giant of Gath expresses! The stone speaks of divine work and a divine position, of settled nearness to God and indwelling glory! What a salvation indeed is this, and what a triumph over all the power of the enemy! The giant falls, and is slain with his own sword; for by death Christ has destroyed him that had the power of death (Heb. 2:14): here the work of the cross finds its place in this grand type; what victory can be accomplished without it? and how plain that every victory of this kind is really His, who alone could handle such a weapon!

At once the Philistines flee, and Israel has only to pursue a defeated foe. As has been said, the whole power of ecclesiasticism is broken for those who have seen the giant fallen. The apprehension of the true Church, and of our individual place in it, in abiding nearness to and joy in God, of necessity overthrows the would-be mediation of the false church with all its hosts of empty intercessors. The imposing array becomes at once but a routed rabble, who proclaim in their very creed their ignorance of God and of His Christ. Ominous now are the names of the places where the Philistine wounded fall, — Shaaraim, "two gates! "* Gath, the "wine-press" of wrath; Ekron, "rooting out." Not a name here but has its tale to tell; the picture is complete even in its minutest features. And how much would the people of God learn of His mind, if they would but set themselves in faith to understand these histories as prophetic scriptures" (Rom. 16:26. Greek.) given by Him who sees the end from the beginning, for our instruction and admonition, to whom all the ages are appointed to minister, but who alas, so little heed the wondrous grace of God!

{*See page 103, notes.}

In all this part we can see, whether Christ personally he before us or not, how it is He Himself governs all. If He be pleased to identify Himself with human instruments, yet they are only this, — the force, the power, is in Christ alone. Only so far as they hide themselves in Him can they fill their place or do their work at all. No wonder therefore if, just in the crises of the history, as here in the victory over Goliath, the Sun break through all veils, and the direct glory of the Lord shine on us. We think of the way of the Cross as the true valley of Elah, of him that had the power of death in the Philistine giant, of the resurrection as that which, enabling God to be with us, is the foundation of the Church itself, and the defeat of the foe, putting the sword of death into the Champion's hand for death's destruction. If we pursue this further we soon find the veil-cloud closing in again: yet here is the hiding of its power; and the connection with after events of human history only manifests this power as henceforth the ruling factor in the history of man. It is His own voice saying, as of old, "And behold, I am ever with you," and the cloud is but His chariot, — the Christ once humbled is now seen as throned.

2. Between the true king thus manifested and the one rejected of God there cannot be, for a moment, any true fellowship. The nearer they are brought together the more must the essential opposition between them be manifest. On the side of Saul it ripens into enmity which soon breaks through all disguise, and David is obliged to flee from the man to whom he has rendered such important assistance, a wanderer and an outlaw. It is only one form of that spirit which has been in the world since the day of Cain of which the cross was the full, ripe fruit; and which, under whatever partial disguises in professedly Christian lands, exists today the same as ever. Saul may sacrifice to Jehovah, and fill the role of an Israelitish king; but a true Israelite, a "prince with God," he cannot be. Christian governments today there are not, though they make their bow to Christianity and bring their offering: the true King and His representatives can never be in heart welcomed by them, though they may appreciate certain advantages received, and rejoice in some deliverances accomplished for them. These things we shall be called to consider in the fruitful history that lies before us.

(1) At first there is naturally a period of favor and acceptance. There has been undoubtedly a great deliverance, and there is on every side the joy of it. David is in honor with Saul himself. Such a time was realized when the gospel gained its great victories in Reformation times. The papal yoke was broken from the neck of kings and governments; and it seemed as if they must joyfully bow their necks to Christ's yoke. Nations accepted evangelical creeds, and kings became protectors of the Church. It was not a sign for good, in reality; and yet it was quite natural to accept it as such. In fact, the Churches, in their zeal against popery and ill-considered enthusiasm over the favor of kings, assumed really the position with which the Philistine had reproached Israel, of being "servants to Saul." Nor does Romanism fail still to fling the taunt in the face of Protestantism.

From the beginning, however, Saul shows how little David has been to him. Before the battle in the valley of Elah he had, as we know, been already debtor to him. His harp had broken the power of the evil one again and again, and set him free; and Saul, it was even said, had "loved him greatly." But there is nothing, perhaps, of more various quality than love; and nothing that more takes its color from the subject of it. What need the apostle feels to define for Christians what true love is! We "love" those who please our tastes, — perhaps gratify our mere selfishness; and this love can turn into thorough enmity as soon as self has to be yielded up to it in any wise. True love, on the other hand, "seeketh not her own": it is the very spirit of self-sacrifice; of such love Saul was not capable.

It is not intimated that he has forgotten David: he asks whose son he is. He had known that also, but it had slipped away from him, because he had valued him for his services merely, never had that personal interest in him which makes all belonging to one an interest. In such a case, how easy to forget!

If we think of the spiritual significance, Jesse's name is full of meaning. The "living God" is indeed the One whom the princes of the earth willingly forget, and the relationship of Christ to Him fades quickly out of remembrance. Hence Christianity becomes for them, at the best, a lifeless orthodoxy; and the captain of the host knows nothing aright of the infinitely greater Captain of salvation."

But the soul of Jonathan is at once knit to the soul of David. Here is a harmony of soul with soul, which of necessity brings such together; and for David Jonathan strips himself, — a type of true and devoted love. Saul may give David an honorable place, — advancing, of course, his own interests thereby; but Jonathan abases self to exalt him. "He must increase but I must decrease," declares in the words of the Baptist the law which is written in the heart, according to the terms of the New Testament.

{*1 Sam. 18:10, Erdmann and others translate "raved." The word is the identical one for "prophesying," not necessarily as prediction of future events, but as speaking by inspiration, whether from God, or, as here, from an evil spirit.}

Typically, the ordination by God of the secular power, which Jonathan represents, has, as we know, respect to Christ: in its very failure bearing witness of Him who must needs to come to fill aright the throne on earth; stripping itself, as it were, to invest Him with royal garments. With Him is its covenant; and it perishes to make way for Him.

Meanwhile our David consents still to the servant's place; and in that place serves wonderfully, even to the blessing and glory of the kings of the earth; doing battle for them, also in behalf of the people dear to Him, with whom He is ever "accepted," sometimes also in the sight of Saul's servants, but only as a "man of war."

(2) Saul's favor could not last long. His jealousy is awakened by the songs of the women, who exalt David in his deeds above himself. It was only the truth artlessly spoken, which is not because of that more agreeable to a jealous mind. What can he have more, except the kingdom? he argues. The anger of his soul exposes him once more to the attacks of the evil spirit, which for a while seem to have ceased, and now David's harp has lost its power: Saul casts the javelin that was in his hand to smite him to the wall, and twice David escapes out of his presence. Then fear comes upon Saul: he realizes that Jehovah is with David, and not with himself, and he gives him an inferior place away from him; but thus he is brought still more before the people, and into favor and acceptance with them: and Saul fears the more.

All this may be difficult to interpret with exactness. The general thought it is not hard to see, — the jealousy which in fact the secular power has manifested of, the spiritual, to which it nevertheless owes a great deliverance. It is not within our aim to enter into the history, for instance, of the Reformation churches, which would prove this. Escaped from ecclesiastical control, the states which owed this to the gospel of Christ have speedily enough exhibited their jealousy of Christ's word, and even in moments of insanity launched the javelin against those who, first of all, would obey Him. The annals of dissent from nationalism and subservience to the state are full of evidence of this, which all who care may find. After which has come uneasy toleration, and perhaps distant patronage, designed to promote state-interests, but at bottom leaving still the breach unhealed. Alas, to heal this, the world must cease to be the world, as Scripture characterizes it, by its passions and its lusts away from God.

(3) The next section has much greater difficulties. The first of these is: are we, or not, to see in David's marriage to a daughter of Saul a lesson of failure? Is the type a type of that? That Saul meant it for evil is plainly stated, though the Lord did not suffer what he hoped to come to pass; but the after-history shows but little good. She is said to have "loved" David, and we find her shielding him shortly after from Saul; but her justification of herself in that matter is not calculated to raise her in one's estimation. Her words might well leave Saul to conceive that there would be no obstacle found on her part to her union with another man; nor does anything that we hear of her lead us to imagine it. She is restored by Abner to David after years of dwelling with Phaltiel, only to be seen again mocking the king of Israel for his self-abasement before the ark, and to be heard of as under penalty for this for the rest of her life. On David's part we do not realize special failure, it is true; but neither do we find God's blessing on him in it: the history, with one exception, is one of evil and not of good. This being so, we naturally connect it, even as a type, with evil, and not with good.

And this again would prevent us seeing in it a type of the Lord Himself, though it must be assuredly of that or those linked with Him and representing Him in the time of His absence now; and here, alas, even abundant failure is readily conceivable.

Saul's promise had been given before the victory to make a conqueror of the giant his son-in-law; but that seemed to be forgotten. He renews it only in his enmity against David, to bring about his death at the hands of the Philistines. Even so, his offer of Merab again falls through, and she is given to Adriel the Meholathite, a chapter in history with a terrible ending.

Merab, we know, means "increase," and speaks not of what is spiritual, but of temporal prosperity, which is indeed much of the strength of the Sauls, the kings of the earth, wherever found. But this could not be united with our David, or with those standing for Him in the day of His rejection. Yet Adriel, to whom she is given, has a name which sounds well, signifying "the flock of God"; yet here we should expect as a type a woman and not a man. Christ is the Man; the Church espoused to Him the woman: even "Babylon the great" is that. If then the flock of God be represented here (and the meaning of the name is precise), there must be significance in this also: the woman stands for dependence, the man for independence; and independent indeed must that be which can receive its Merab from the kings of the earth, when she is taken also from the true David to be bestowed upon it.

To this we can add that Adriel is a Meholathite; and meholah signifies a "circling dance." So that all seems to agree in conveying the thought of a church which, without being Philistine, has become separate in interest from and out of fellowship with a rejected Christ; and such as a Saul can afford to honor. Adriel is under no obligation to fight the Lord's battles, to obtain the king's daughter.

But Saul has another daughter, and for her he can yet make his bargain with David. There is much difficulty, however, as to what Michal stands for, or even the meaning of her name. Lexicographers in general give it that of "brook," from 2 Sam. 17:20. But that is the only occurrence, and the meaning is only gathered from the context. According to its apparent derivation it might mean "what holds," and then the word "water" following be needful to explain the application. A word, michla, near akin, means "sheepfold," and such a significance for Michal would seem more appropriate to the type than any: for many a David has been seduced by such an offer of protection for the sheep of Christ, which many a Saul has made and sought to fulfill. But a fold of this kind would be but a snare, and its connection with David loose enough in result. The ambiguity of Michal's name, which might be, interrogatively, "who can hold?" would thus have its appropriateness also.

Nor need this contradict the force or application of the word as given before, there vaguer and more general, here specific. The names of Scripture, as we have seen elsewhere, have often a fullness and sometimes an ambiguity of meaning that adds to their force. Here to "hold" and to "measure" are meanings near akin. To "hold" God's sheep in the sense intended is in fact to "measure" them. Yet all this as to the interpretation of Michal is only put forth as suggestion; the difficulty of reading it consistently throughout is great, and this makes against it: verisimilitude is the only law of verification for a type.

That this offer necessitates another encounter with the Philistines is, however, quite congruous with this meaning, and scarcely needs to be explained. During all these wars, moreover, David must be ever the great conqueror. The gospel and those who are identified with it are alone able effectually to deal with modern Philistinism; and in this way, in a wider circle than that of true disciples David's name is "much set by."

(4) All this fails as a means of conciliation; and victories over the Philistines only inflame the king's anger. He is soon openly plotting David's death; though this is for the time stopped by the intercession of Jonathan, the true friend of both. Saul swears by Jehovah, the most solemn oath possible, that David shall not die; and again they are brought together. But a new victory over the Philistines arouses Saul once more, and the old scenes are repeated. David flees again from the murderous hand of Saul, and only escapes by the strategy of Michal, who deceives Saul's messengers with an image in the bed. But David is now a wanderer, and a new phase of his history is that which is for long to occupy us.

3. Cast out by man, David is the more cast upon God, who appears for him, and identifies Himself with him more and more, as Saul also ripens into more open defiance of God. By the slaughter of the priests and the escape of Abiathar, the means of consulting the divine oracle come into David's hands, of which he avails himself at Keilah and elsewhere. This time is one in which, as we know, many of his psalms were conceived and uttered, the fruit of exercise and manifold experiences, both of himself and of the goodness of God toward him; a time of truest sanctification and blessing therefore, the spiritual education of the King that is to be.* Here, typically, we shall assuredly find, with outshinings of the glory of Christ Himself, much of the spiritual history of those who have stood most truly for Him, in the day of His rejection: not a dispensational view probably, or the picture of any special period, but of what has been realized in the lives of those in all periods of Christianity faithful to the word of the Lord. And here, no doubt, the lessons will be best learned by those who have most the path to tread.

{*We shall not, however, attempt here to fit the psalms to the history. This needs an examination of the psalms themselves, which could not be given in this place. We must reserve it till, the Lord willing, we come to these.}

(1) At the first step upon it the power which is over Saul is plainly evidenced. David flees, naturally enough, in the first place to Samuel, by whom he had been anointed, and who stood forth before all men's eyes in those days as, by his nearness to God, apart from all other men. Samuel, if any, had power to stand against Saul himself, and that he would do it there could be no question. Few characters in all Scripture equal Samuel's for that consistent walk with God, and ability to act for Him, which beget confidence on the part of others. David therefore makes known to Samuel all that Saul has done; and Samuel comes with him to dwell at Naioth,* the collected "dwellings" of the prophets, who gathered around Samuel. The word is a plural, and signifies both dwellings "and "pastures," suiting well therefore that thought of a prophetic "school" with which tradition ekes out the scanty notices of Scripture. Here we might imagine David's language to be what he generalizes in the psalm as to all those that trust in God: "Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man; Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues." (Ps. 22:20.) Yet hence he is driven, to realize a better "hiding-place" in God Himself. (Ps. 32:7.) To his retreat Saul pursues him: after sending three times in vain his messengers, he follows them himself. But upon all alike the Spirit of God comes, subjecting them perforce to itself, so that they prophesy; and upon Saul before he has even reached the place, and with effect deeper and more lasting, — reviving the saying which had earlier gone forth about him, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"

{*Or, as in the Kethib (the "written" text), Nevaioth.}

And how must Saul's mind also have gone back to those earlier days, before yet the Spirit had been grieved away from him, and when all the possibilities of the divine call to the throne of Israel were opening before him! What tender recollections to touch the heart with, and to bring, if it might be, this wanderer to himself! Then, how vain to contend with power such as this! Who ever hardened himself against God and prospered? On the other hand, what an assurance of One ready still to receive, — who would, even by force if it were possible, put Saul among the prophets! Yet against all this, as we know, Saul did harden himself, and became necessarily more evil in proportion to the grace resisted, according to the constant and inevitable law of cause and effect.

For David himself what an assurance of the eternal arms, though invisible, that were around him! Yet he goes forth, for deeper experiences of God's living care, in the rough scenes beyond, than he could find even in that sheltered retreat, and in that atmosphere thrilling with His voice. Yet here we see for a moment, in a vivid picture, how brightly the spiritual life might manifest itself in Israel in a time such as this, and how near God drew even then to His people that sought Him. Is it too much to say,with the apostle's words in view (1 Cor. 14), that now, when Moses' desire that "all the Lord's people were prophets" has found its practicability of accomplishment in the fulfillment of its other part, — "that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them," — there should be in every Christian assembly a display of divine power as great as this, and a glory of the divine presence fuller and nearer far? Oh that it were indeed so! Here we find that even then there were many more prophets than those whose voices have come down to us. Now that "ye may all prophesy" is limited only by the unbelief that cannot understand this, or the coldness of heart that has no response to it. Alas for the privileges unenjoyed that will one day rise up against us! Rather let us take now the reproach, and find in the grace of our God the available remedy.

The typical meaning is not so hard to understand, as the application may seem slight and trivial. But the secular power has, in fact, in its relation to the divine King, such different phases. It can prophesy falsely under evil inspiration, or truly under that which is of God: it can favor for the moment the true King and those identified with Him, or bitterly persecute them. All this is perfectly plain, — so plain we need not dwell upon it. It can even, under the spiritual impulse, strip itself of its royal robes, and prostrate itself as the feeble creature it is, in the dust before God. But its general course is little affected by this: the world abides still the world: it may be Protestant, — not Romanist; Israelite, — not Philistine; but still it is the world, and the man in honor in it is not the man after God's heart, but the people's, — away from God.

(2) A more sorrowful scene still is that which follows. The breach with Saul is realized to be no temporary one, and its effect is found in the separation of those who are brethren. The long account which fills a chapter of our Bibles shows how the Spirit of God would emphasize this. The fact is a very familiar one indeed: the sorrow of it every heart taught of God must realize.

Jonathan and David part! But what then does Jonathan stand for in this connection? Clearly if in the first place he represent, as we believe, that ordination of God by which the "powers that be" become the objects of recognition on the part of Christians, Jonathan would represent here those who make this recognition govern them in their position ecclesiastically. They love David, but they cling to Saul. They interpret God's sanction of the civil power so as to make it in some sense a spiritual power as well. They use Jewish analogies to illustrate Christian relationships, and make a theocracy out of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom. The state-church Protestantism developed many Jonathans, whose hearts and consciences were in opposition to one another; and where the state church survives such will still be found.

Jonathan is forced to realize for himself the enmity of Saul against David, — not a momentary paroxysm of madness, but a malignant spirit, which would once more sacrifice Jonathan himself for thwarting its stubborn pride. He has to acquiesce in David's departure, for the arrow does not fall within the limit of safety to him. So they part: Jonathan to place and honor, and then the fatal conflict at Gilboa; David, through present suffering and rejection, to a throne. The appointed path for us also is found here: "if we suffer we shall also reign with Him."

(3) The next incident in David's life is noticed in each of the synoptic gospels, as used by the Lord to illustrate and enforce His affirmation that "the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:5.) Here David is lord of the show-bread, which, though holy according to the law, is, under the circumstances, common; and which he not only takes, but gives to those that are with him.* Everything was in ruin in Israel. Since the captivity of the ark in the Philistines' land, it had never returned to the sanctuary, which had been itself shifted from place to place, till now it was at Nob, not even a priestly city according to the original designation of these by lot in Joshua's time, and from which it was soon to be again violently dislodged. The absence of the ark involved that of the mercy-seat or "propitiatory" which covered it, and this again complete inability to carry out the ordinance of the day of atonement, all-important as this was for Israel's acceptance with God. Nor does there seem to have been any realization of the greatness of their loss: "we inquired not at it" — the ark — says David himself, "in the days of Saul." (1 Chron. 13:3.) Yet it was the throne of the Lord, where was His dwelling-place between the cherubim.

{*In the history these are not spoken of except by David himself and where he is bent upon misleading the high priest; but it does not therefore follow that this was part of the deceit, and the Lord's assurance is warrant enough for every Christian.}

God had indeed raised up Samuel as an extraordinary link between the people and Himself. But Samuel too had been finally rejected by the people, as we have seen. Nor had Saul, the people's choice, though permitted to them by God, ever stood even in Samuel's place. He in turn having been rejected, David had become the anointed of the Lord; and now David was fleeing from the face of Saul, an outcast and a wanderer. In this state of things,what virtue could remain for them in the old institutions? Upon David alone everything now depended, and thus we can understand his words, enigma as they are still to most interpreters, "it" — the show-bread — "is in a manner common; yea, even when it is sanctified that day in the vessel."* David says "in a manner common," because after all God had not done with these institutions, which soon were to be revivified, and endure for the appointed time. They were "common," as subject to his needs, just as, according to the Lord's own comparison, the Sabbath ordinance was of no force to set aside the higher obligation of the temple services. (Matt. 12:5.)

{*This has been also very variously rendered by translators and commentators in most strained and awkward fashion. "It is a hurried, excited sentence," says the American editor of Lange, "almost utterly obscure." Rather, it has been obscured by lack of intelligence on the part of the interpreter.}

The priest may only partially have understood David: we, however, can understand him without difficulty. But we can go far beyond even what David knew, and see in all these things shadows of things that were to come. We can see in David rejected the type of a greater, who as such has abrogated Jewish and legal ordinances in order to give His people that communion with Himself beyond these, of which the "bread of presence" speaks. But we must look at this more closely.

It is striking indeed that, while the show-bread is spoken of and commanded in the book of Exodus, we have to wait till nearly the end of Leviticus before it is particularly described. Where we should naturally expect to find it, it is omitted; and the place in which it is actually found is in that fifth part of the book, in which, as the Deuteronomy part, the ways of God are set before us. It comes, in fact, immediately after the typical account of those "set times" in Israel, which represent those dispensational "ways," that, while they include Israel, go far beyond His purposes toward her. (Lev. 23.)

But not only so, the institution itself, — most strangely, as it would seem, for an Israelitish ordinance, — is found in that chapter immediately following this, in which, in contrast with Israel's rejection (seen in the punishment of the blasphemer), God's maintenance of light and communion with Himself in Christianity is shown. (Lev. 24, notes.) And the latter of these is what the show-bread represents! How plainly it is what our own rejected David may claim by special right!

When we come to look at the details, how fitly do they unite with such a thought! For we have seen how this "bread of presence" speaks of Christ for us on high, the true "corn of the land" upon which His people feed, and in whom they are brought to God and accepted of Him. "It is presence-bread, with the incense of His acceptability upon it, and the twelve loaves making us to know His representation of His people, their identification with Him before God." But this is special Christian position, as well as communion. How justly again may our David distribute such bread as this among His own!

Thus the Lord vindicates the title of His followers, who follow Him in His poverty and rejection, to that which is indeed ennoblement and enrichment passing thought. Here we find the food with which faith, obedient to His call, is recruited and sustained; and it is received from the priest's hand, who is Ahimelech, "the king's brother." In Christ the King and Priest are thus in close relationship, and such a ministry of blessing as we have been thinking of must of course come from the great High Priest. His mediatorial work is that from which of necessity all this comes.

Now we have noticed the presence of the enemy, the Edomite, whose name, if names have meaning, seems at first sight a strange enough one in such a connection. It is Doeg, "the fearful"; but are not our fears the greatest enemies that can be to our David and His followers when being Himself rejected, to follow Him means to share His rejection? Who is not conscious of it? Nor need we wonder to find him chief among such shepherds as a Saul might have. His presence, "detained before Jehovah," not of his own free will we may be sure, will be found to have its disastrous effects on the future near to be. Meanwhile we can trace a more than superficial connection with what follows here, where David, in answer to his request for spear or sword, has put again into his hand Goliath's sword, with which he had slain the giant. The death which has annulled death, and which abides in perpetual memory with God, what a defense is that for the people of God, in all the attacks of the enemy! What a weapon against fear itself! Thus they are both fed and furnished.

In all this nothing has been said of David's deception, fraught with such evil consequences as we know it was to him who at this time succored him. The man whose life yields us, more perhaps than any other, the most fruitful types of the Lord Jesus Christ, shows himself thus how far removed from the perfection which he shadowed. But who is not? Upon such things Scripture itself in general makes no comment. Such is man! "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of"?

(4) And this is manifest in the next act of David: with the sword of the Philistine champion in his hand, he flees to the Philistines, and to Gath, the city of the giant, from the face of Saul.

The experience of weakness is one with which God would have us thoroughly well acquainted. It is the healthful condition of a creature, necessary to him as such, and no distress but the opposite, in proportion as we know God as the One in whom "we live and move and have our being." Then we can be still and let Him show His might, and under the shadow of His wings find refuge. Sin has made such experience more than ever necessary for us, by the very fact that it has made distress of weakness, which could never be were the breach between us and God fully healed. Faith implies this healing; but we must know ourselves little indeed, if we know not how weak faith is. Every fresh need demonstrates it, and thus the manifold experiences are ordained to us, which, whatever shame they may cause us by the way, are to end in glorifying Him in all things, and thus in truest blessing for ourselves.

David is indeed now brought low, into just the place of glorious revelations of the living God, or painful revelations of the flesh in man. He finds for himself the latter, just by taking counsel of his own wisdom and his fears. We do not know by what strange or plausible arguments he succeeded in persuading himself that refuge was to be found in Gath, among the enemies of Israel, against whom he had gained all his victories and his fame. The human heart is so subtle an advocate that it can make its way through the plainest and most contradictory array of facts to its conclusion; but it cannot bring the event to harmonize with this. David thus finds at Gath his own history against him, and the glorious achievements of God by him his bill of impeachment in the court of Achish. What else could he expect? Could he even desire that they should accept him as an apostate from those convictions that had nerved his arm and strengthened his heart in those days but a short time past? or suppose that, this pressure over, he would not return to be the same enemy of the Philistines that he had been before? Yet what an account to give, that he must be a debtor to Philis tine compassion for that refuge which the God of Israel had failed to be to him? How inconsistent and miserable is unbelief! — only consistent in tending to gravitate to a continually lower depth. Is there possibly a place in which God is not sufficient? Thence it is easy to reach the question, Where is He then sufficient? Faith, to justify itself at all, must take and keep the highest level, — an omniscient, omnipresent, all-sufficient, ever available God; and then how does the nothingness of man only give occasion to the display of the power and glory of God!

But in a Philistine refuge to maintain faith at this level is not possible: there is inevitable, therefore, the collapse which follows. The mention of his own great deeds makes him sore afraid before Achish, king of Gath; and to save himself he sinks yet lower, acting the madman in the presence of them all, and escaping under cover of what in the East was considered in some sense a divine possession. Thus a real shame must be made to retrieve from a false shame, and a sham folly rescue from the consequences of the real one. Openly the Lord does not interfere: He cannot honor unbelief by doing so: yet to shame it is to give real help. Still there is no victory over the Philistine here: the victory is rather on his side.

(5) But David has escaped, and that every way: we find him next back again in Israel; and, though still a fugitive, yet with God, and gathering strength. At Adullam a company begin to gather round him, at first apparently as poor in character as bankrupt in resources; yet out of these are developed the mighty men of whose exploits by and by we shall hear much, and who encircle David when he rises to the throne. Disciplined by danger and strife and adversity, they go in and out with one who has the power of winning men to himself, and are won, and modeled upon the pattern of their great leader. What is represented here is simple enough for those who realize Christ to be still rejected by the world; to others it will not be. Scripture still, however, asserts, whether the days be changed or not, that "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him"; and again, that we are "joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 8:17.)

Thus, though Christ is gone from the earth, there is still possible, still necessary, a fellowship with Him in His sufferings, — a fellowship of those whose hearts have been won by Him in such sort as to make them practically associates with Him in a life not of the world, and with which the world therefore has no sympathy. It may be true that only exceptionally they are found now "in dens and caves of the earth," and that the time is past when "witness" and "martyr" were but the same word, as implying the same thing. Satan changes his tactics without ceasing to be Satan; and the world may adopt the Christian dress without ceasing to be the world. Still, under whatever exterior, the essential opposition remains.

Adullam we have already taken to mean "a witness indeed," and appropriate enough is such a meaning here. A witness that cave was to the state of things in Israel: the anointed king with such a poor little handful of followers round him, and these brought to him by their necessities. Yet here was the path with God, though of even the people of God but few indeed were there. How plain that majorities decide nothing in the things of God, — and that we must guard ourselves, at all costs, from being carried away with them! The faith that cannot walk independent of man has little indeed to evidence itself to be faith. And yet how sadly does the tendency to go in droves manifests itself among the people of God. Conscience thus loses its place as what is before God alone, and the whole character of life is lowered.

Once more David's faith seems to waver now. His family has fled to him; and lives more precious to him than his own are in his hand. How often does this dependence of others upon us test more the simplicity of faith than anything simply affecting ourselves! The thought of Moab as a refuge for his father and mother would be most natural indeed to a descendant of Ruth; but her history, nevertheless, had a widely different lesson for him. Strikingly similar, in effect, are those two names — Elimelech, "my God is king," and Jesse, "Jehovah exists." Elimelech and Jesse, fugitives in Moab, how contradictory to the import of their names! And the Moabitess, who left her country to come into poverty and reproach in Bethlehem, would she have counseled a return to Moab? No; for the word is — David's own word, when he had learned the lesson — "Dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." (Ps. 37:3, Heb.) The land was Israel's inheritance, God's gift, of which nothing therefore could deprive the faith that laid hold of it. Of this we have warning directly: for when he had safely deposited his father and mother with the Moabite king, how natural, when rest allures, and the cords of a new relationship are felt, for David to make himself also a "hold" there! But the prophet's voice — a new prophet, whose name speaks of militant energy, Gad, like the patriarch's — drives him forth again: "Abide not in the hold: depart, and get thee into the land of Judah."*

{*Which shows that the "hold" was not at Adullam, which was in Judah.}

How readily we seek escape from trial! And indeed we do well not to seek trial, or brave it. Being what we are, the right prayer is naturally for us, "Lead us not into temptation." Distrust of self is right, and a proper spirit to face trial itself with. Then if after all, He appoints this to us, we go into it clinging fast to Him, and we are safe and blessed: for "my brethren," says James, "count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations: knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience; but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2-4.) How wonderful a reward! — and how simple a way, apparently, when we know in Whose hands we are! But, ah, the many hands in which we seem to be, — the Sauls', the Doegs', the people of whom we have deserved quite other things! How hard to accept these cruel and remorseless hands as the tender hands of God! There lies the victory of faith for us; there is the inlet of rest and assurance into the soul. This is our true inheritance also, from which we may not be driven, and must not wander, our "land of Judah," which is "praise."

"And David departed, and came to the forest of Hareth:" Hareth means "cutting," as of engravers' work. It occurs but once in the Old Testament, and that with reference to the handwriting of God upon the tables of the covenant (Ex. 32:16): a precious link of connection, surely; for thus was it that God was graving His law, His holy will for him, upon David's heart. Slowly it might be, and painfully; for so the different material of the tables of the new covenant implies; but the work done will be the greater and more glorious.

(6) Saul in the meanwhile pursues the path to ruin; and by the massacre at Nob cuts off with a violent hand all that yet links him with God and the sanctuary. No doubt he believed in the treason of Ahimelech, for he was in no mood for due consideration or the weighing of evidence. He is possessed with enmity against David, and the uneasy sense that he is striving with the inevitable. Caution and reserve are gone. He freely imputes to others, even to those of his own tribe with whom he has surrounded himself, only the self-interest which alone he can appreciate. Of necessity he is not sure of them, and can only hope to keep them as long as he can make the better offer.

Of course he does not lack those who for their own gain will act as ears and hands for him, and nurse his suspicions into more assurance. He hears of David's movements; he learns of his son's covenant with him; he finds, through Doeg, how David has been succored at Nob. What a curse to one in Saul's condition the ready sympathy with which it meets, — the many arms outstretched to pull down over the precipice one blindly seeking it! Such is the shadow that dogs the powerful, — the retribution that the world has for the sinner. With Saul now the kingdoms whose history is here before us are drifting far apart: until the end we have only to say to him as he crosses the path of David.

The massacre at Nob throws the priesthood with Abiathar upon the side of David. With him, therefore, prophet, priest, and anointed king are found together; as yet, however, rejected of the people. Divine resources are his, though the path of obedience is that of trial still; and that we are to find in a new series of trials.

4. We have thus seen David furnished for the path: he has followers to about the number of 600 now, by whom we shall soon find him doing service in Israel, and God is openly with him, according to His manner of showing this in the days we are looking back to. Yet he is not, on that account, spared the trial by which he is exercised and fitted to be the true Shepherd-King of Israel when the fullness of time is come. These experiences come now more fully before us, which, while putting before us Him who was in all things tempted like as we are, apart from sin, speak necessarily, therefore, also of those who tread the wilderness-path after, yet with, Himself. The history of David here is, of course, largely that of His followers also.

(1) First of all, we see the power that is his from God; but power only to be used against the enemies of Israel, and not against Israel themselves. The Philistines fight against Keilah, and rob the threshing-floors. The sanctuary "refuge," which we have taken Keilah to figure (p. 107, n. ), will naturally be an object of attack by those whose whole power depends upon keeping the people of God out of their place of acceptance and blessing in Christ in heavenly places. No way so effectual, either, as that of robbing the threshing-floors! For the provision of bread being cut off, the word of God and He who is the true Word, being no longer ministered, this would of necessity starve them out even of such a vantage-ground. Saul, too, could not be expected to work any deliverance here: we do not find him even attempting it. A secularized religion scarcely favors more such blessedness than the ritualistic one would do. Thus David is evidently the whole resource of Keilah. By the Lord's guidance, therefore, and with His assurance of success, he quiets the fears of his men, and leads them against the foe; and Keilah is delivered, — a glorious and important victory.

Saul soon hears that David has come to Keilah: nothing is heard or accounted of the essential service he has rendered there; for, in fact, Saul is quite ready to sacrifice Keilah itself, if only in this way he can gratify his hatred against David. David is the representative of that higher kingdom which Saul must obey or fall before it, and disobedience has become with him now a frenzy of despair, in which he maintains a hopeless fight with forces that are known to be beyond him utterly, though he will not own or act as if they were so. How solemn, how tremendous, is such a struggle of the creature with the Creator,where the creature puts forth all its power of self-deception to prevent for a little time the collapse that is inevitable, and which will only be in this way more utter and irretrievable when it comes!

David, on the other hand, is more than ever completely intelligent as to the Lord's will, and in subjection to it; and for him the end is not doubtful, nor one that he must disguise from himself. The power that works through him is as much master of Saul as of the Philistine enemy; but it is power held back by long-suffering mercy. The shepherd-rod is the type as much of service as of authority; and the shepherd-ruler is the incarnation of self-sacrifice, as Saul is of self-seeking. The people are not yet ready for the kingdom that shall be, and the men of Keilah will, under pressure, deliver up their saviour. David and his men evacuate the city, therefore, to take up again their wandering life, going whither they may; and Saul is still, as it may seem, the master. But master he cannot be who is not, before all things, master of himself; nor he master of himself who has not God his master. God is the harmony of all things: in the first revolt against Him are unloosed the forces of intestine strife, the issue of which is dissolution.

(2) David has escaped his enemy once more, and is now at Ziph; not escaped from the trial which is needful, and which is, under God's hand, carefully controlled for blessing, — a blessing which, in the Psalms, he acknowledges many times with a full heart. Ziph means, according to what we have before seen, "refining." (See pp. 97, 113, n.) We shall find it in this place also answering to its name. The precious metals — the gold and the silver of this world — need such processes to display their character; and all the elect of God — save One, the chief Elect — need and undergo this process. In David we have to recognize, as often said, not simply the One who never needed purification, but also those who are identified with Him by His grace, and who, on their way to share with Him His kingdom and glory, share with Him too the sufferings that lead on to this. Thus the apostle, after giving us the precious examples of those who have "obtained a good report through faith," and bidding us in like manner "run with patience the race set before us," puts before us the absolutely perfect example, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith." He does not say or mean "of our faith," but that He it is who has led in and perfected in His own Person the whole course of faith: "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God."

He goes on to inspirit us with His example: "for consider Him who endured such great contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds; ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."

With Him who was perfect, this sin against which He strove was something external to Himself, the very contradiction of sinners to the Holy One, the necessary contradiction of natures utterly opposed. But for those who but feebly follow Him in this path, and thus partake also of His sufferings, even the very opposition and persecution of men are overruled for a purpose which there could not be with Him; and so the apostle goes on: "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." (Heb. 12.)

David thus could not represent the Lord in the "place of refining," for in Him there was no mixture, no dross to be purged away; but there are those identified with Him on earth, witnesses for Him, and thus sharers of His sufferings, and who, even as this, do need their Ziph, and find it; aye, even, the foremost that have stood for and represented Him, and with whom He has stood. So that Ziph has its place in this picture.

In regard to its numerical position also, let us notice that "refining" is a process of separation, of division, for which the number stands; and so the conflict between good and evil tends to necessary separation of one from the other. Men and things come to show themselves according to their affinities: as here, a Jonathan for, a Saul against; and by reason of use we have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil. This discernment is the result of the light, the judgment that takes place in the presence of God, who is Light.

Accordingly, the story of Ziph divides into two parts, what is evidently for, what is apparently against. In reality, all is for, both the one and the other. But we begin with what is evidently so when, while Saul is seeking for his life, Jonathan comes into the wood where David is hidden, and strengthens his hand in God. How blessed is thus the meeting of faith with faith, and how great the confirmation which we can bring each other! This is mentioned first also, the strength of it being needed for the encounter soon to come. And this is part, too, of the process of refinement, the encouragement in God without which we could not so abide the separation and strife. A tender hand is laid upon this poor human material, to hold it steadfastly in the place of necessary testing.

The Ziphites are recreant Judeans; but they, too, do the work they are permitted. From the hill of Hachilah to the wilderness of Maon Saul pursues the object of his hatred, just being on the point, as it would seem, of getting him into his hand, when the Philistines become God's hands to fence David around, and Saul turns from his prey at the "rock of divisions," to go against the national enemy. Plainly not David's "subtle dealing" has saved him, but a divine intervention; and this is of the greatest importance, not only for Saul, but for David himself. He has been brought to an end of all his own wisdom and power, to find himself held fast in the hand of God, and covered by the hand that holds him. And this realization of the nothingness of man and of the greatness of God, with the joy of knowing that this God is for us, what is it — stated, indeed, in its mere elements but that which every refining process is designed to bring us to?

(3) We next find David at Engedi, once more pursued by Saul, but who now falls into the hands of the one he persecutes, only to experience, however, from him the mercy he had never shown, and to be shamed into a confession of his sin, which for the time ends the pursuit.

Engedi means "the spring of the young goat," the force of the latter word being really "leaper." The spiritual thought has been already indicated (p. 117, n.); and there should be such agreement between the name and the history before us as we have been able to trace in similar cases. Engedi reminds us of how the wilderness and the hill of difficulty become, in the wisdom of God, schools of training and begetters of strength. The tread and leap of the wild goat are the very symbols of strength gained by practice and ready surmounting of difficulties; and the name is interpreted and emphasized for us where it is said that "Saul went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats (climbers)." They were in the same circumstances with the same results. Trial and hardship were forming character, as we know, and mighty men were being produced, masters of themselves and of their circumstances, by the exigencies they were called to face from day to day.

This is, in fact, what we find as to David here. The unexpected visit of Saul to the cave, putting him so completely into his power, the murmured suggestion of his followers that here now was his God-given opportunity, the moment calling for the briefest possible decision, — all needed the alertness and self-command of habitual exercise, such as befitted the divinely appointed ruler of Israel. And David displays remarkably these qualities. You see the evident effect of continual waiting upon God, in the abhorrence of the thought of injuring Jehovah's anointed, the tender conscience which smites him for even cutting off Saul's skirt; while yet his heart throbs in the impassioned appeal which for a moment melts down all Saul's pride and enmity, and might seem to have found beneath it a true and quite other man than the Spirit-forsaken, spirit-haunted despot of the past sad years.

And in all this David shows us also the source of this spiritual power which he manifests, or in the language of the symbols here, the "spring" at which the "leaper" has renewed his strength. One sees manifest in his utterance the supreme assurance that he has, that all things are absolutely subject to Him to whom he has committed himself entirely, who will in His own time and way act for him, and whose acts he will not anticipate. "Jehovah shall be judge, and judge between me and thee; and He shall see, and plead my cause, and do me justice from thy hand. My hand shall not be upon thee." This seems but the lesson of Ziph learned, — a simple but a great one indeed; and the two sections are thus naturally connected.

Saul is more than touched; he is broken down, — seems, indeed, won: owns everything, realizes the mercy that has spared his life, declares his own conviction that David should be king, — engages him, even with an oath, not to cut off his seed after he is gone: alas, in a short time has forgotten all this, and is as if it had never been! How terrible is that process of self-hardening in a human soul, wherein "all things work together for" ruin and destruction, as they do for "good to them that love God"!

Spite of Saul's confession, David can no more trust him, nor can Saul even expect him to do so: he abides still in the wilderness.

(4) David has gained a great victory: he has conquered Saul; he has done much more, — he has conquered himself also. Nay, he has shown the habitual self-mastery of one walking before God indeed. Alas, the next time we are called to contemplate him, it is as an example of thorough failure, and that in the very way in which he has just proved himself so strong and competent.

Saul was not only unmistakably his enemy, — he was a most powerful one; and David had suffered at his hand the loss of most things that men count dear. Nor had his will and power to inflict evil come to an end,when just now he had been so magnanimously spared, and dismissed in peace. Nabal, with whom he has now to do, is proud and niggard and insolent. But he cannot be considered in the same sense an enemy; and if he were, he is comparatively a contemptible one. David has no cause whatever to fear him, nor does he for a moment suppose he has. With such an one how easy to show the magnanimity that, in Saul's case, cost so much to show! Yet it is precisely here that David fails entirely. He is not merely not magnanimous; he is terribly severe and unjust. Denied that to which he might have a moral but no legal claim, and his well-meant advances answered with insult, he blazes out into a passion of wrath which would involve with Nabal every male of his house in indiscriminate slaughter! Can this be the same man that we have been just admiring for his noble control and self-forgetfulness? Can this be the shepherd-king of Israel, the ruler in the fear of God, the man who himself has felt the unrighteousness of men, the man disciplined in the school of suffering? It is the same, and not the same. It is David, no longer under the control of the presence of God: and at once all that is sweet and gracious, all that is of God, all the fruit of His training, all the good of having been under His yoke, seems suddenly to have passed away. Is there, then, a Saul existing even beneath a David, ready to show itself as soon as the guard upon it is removed, unchanged from what it was before faith came? Yes, it is even so; and our best remedy is to be conscious of it, that we may realize our utter dependence at all times upon God. Not as sinners, but as saints it is that we are called to "have no confidence in the flesh." Prayer is a constant necessity to us; and, waiting upon the Lord, our strength shall be renewed. What a lesson have we here in David! No ephod was needed or used when the four hundred started on their dread errand to Carmel! But the message he had not sought came to him from the faithful grace of God through the lips of a woman.

Yet everything now depended upon David: Samuel had just passed away, and at Ramah the watch of the prophet was kept no more. If our interpretation of Ramah has been In anywise correct, then the end of the long watch there must be as significant, typically, as the death of Samuel was, in fact, for the nation of Israel at the time. Samuel is Christ as Prophet, before the true King has come to His rights on earth; and thus, with his gatherings of prophets round himself, would correspond to David as the rejected King, with his gathering also of those who maintained his kingship: both in entire subjection to the will of God which ordained a time of patience and long-suffering. Both, therefore, look on to the present Christian times, as we have seen, when Christ, though not personally on earth, watches here with the company of His prophets, and is in the midst of those who confess Him Lord. Ramah, then, being gone, should imply the end of the present night-watch, which would imply also a related and yet far different change at hand for the confessors of Christ's Lordship. His reign is now at hand, which they are to share with him; and the facts of the history answer to this.

David arises, therefore, and goes down to the wilderness of Paran, which has before been interpreted to mean "adornment." (Num. 10:12, n.) As to application, however, everything is different here from there; and in the line of things now before us we should naturally think of how "the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." (Isa. 35:1.) But this is only nearing, and not accomplished.

A very difficult part of the history is now before us, if we are still to find, as we ought ever to find, a spiritual meaning underlying the literal, and if this is to be traced also in consistent relation to the whole connection here. But such a meaning assuredly there is, and therefore we may go forward with confidence in the promise to him that seeks. The need of this consistency is as much a help as it is a safeguard to interpretation; and it were better to acknowledge entire failure than to wrest from its proper force the blessed word of truth.

We are now introduced to a man of Israel, who lives in Maon, and whose possessions are in Carmel, but who is Nabal, "a fool," and is smitten for his folly. We shall find these places together in a portion of Judah which we have already taken as memorializing for us Israel's blessedness, — Maon, "dwelling-place," the habitation of God, and Carmel, "vineyard," His place of fruit. But yet the man, though of the house of Caleb, has fallen away wholly from the character of Caleb. He is, as already said, Nabal, the word used where it is written, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Indeed this is what in Scripture "folly" mostly connects or is identified with, just as, for Scripture also, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

{*1 Sam. 25:22. One might imagine an interpolation here, and the Septuagint omits "the enemies of"; the Vulgate and Chaldee versions, however, agree with the Hebrew, and indirectly the Syriac and Arabic. See Lange's Commentary.}

In contrast with this apostate Israelite is his wife Abigail, the "father (or source) of joy," as most would render it; but this, for its application, must look forward.

Nabal is shearing his sheep in Carmel, and indulging himself after his manner, when David sends ten messengers to salute him, and to seek from him an acknowledgment of the care which had been taken of his shepherds in the wilderness. Nabal answers, reviling David as a runaway servant, and his company as people of whom he knows nothing; and flatly refuses. David's men return to convey the message and the insult to their master.

If we take all the surroundings here, the death of Samuel and the altered position of David, the character and connections of Nabal, we seem naturally to find in him a picture of Israel in its apostate condition in the last days. The demand of David's messengers would then speak of the last divine testimony to them, which finds them in ignorance and rejection of Christ and of His claims, but which calls out from them, however, a remnant figured in Abigail, who, by their faith avert judgment from the nation, though divine judgment comes indeed on the apostate part. The remnant, severed thus from their old relation, are united to Christ as King of Israel.

That Abigail pictures the Christian Church is a view which has most of these points against it, while it seems to involve a dislocation of the period at which it is presented. Abigail has, in fact, much that reminds us of Ruth, widowed also by the judgment of God, and united to her deliverer, — while, of course, there are in either case features entirely different.

That there are no difficulties in this view one could not affirm, but they are found to the full as much in any application to the Christian Church, and are precisely the same difficulties. The principal one seems to be the failure so manifest in David on this occasion, and out of which Abigail is herself the means of his deliverance. This, in any view of this kind must, of course, be left out of all significance in relation to the type, as simple failure of the human representative. Such things we have elsewhere, though scarcely one, perhaps, where the failure comes into such prominence. And David must, of course, in this case stand for Christ personally, — could not represent any who might be identified with His claims on earth, — so that the incompatibility cannot in this way be accounted for.

The failure seems manifest in David, even to the end: the double marriage at the close cannot impress one favorably as to him, though here the type would not be affected by it. Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess, may, indeed, in this way, as in the case of other double types, confirm the significance. For here, again, we have the name of a city finding place with Maon and Carmel in the same section of Judah's territory, and one which has a manifest relation to Israel's restoration. Thus, when she is united to the Lord in the coming day, Ahinoam, the "kin of pleasure," may be a not unsuited name, while Jezreel reminds us of the promise then to be fulfilled, "I will sow her to me in the earth." To the Christian Church the latter could hardly apply.

The faith of Abigail recognizes in David, the king in Israel, his personal blamelessness, his zeal for Jehovah. She foresees his actual reign and the establishment of his house, with the destruction of all that would oppose itself. She prays to be remembered of him in that day. Nothing seems to indicate more than Jewish hopes.

The numerical division seems to be also in accordance with this, the number (4) being on the one hand that of testing and failure, while it is also that of the earth, and thus of the earthly people, Israel. Whatever the moral lessons, therefore, the typical application seems, after all, clear.

5. If the double marriage of David shadow the union of Israel with the Lord, then we have reached in it beyond the time of trial, and David's sufferings would seem as if they should now end. But this they do not, although we do not find him in the same distress again. Still Saul once more pursues him, though now only to fall more openly into his hand, and to be braved and shamed in the very midst Of his people. We have, in fact, reached an end, and begin a new section with the twenty-sixth chapter, from which to the end of the thirty-first we have put before us, according to the Deuteronomic character of a fifth part, the results in divine government, this open shame and self-condemnation of Saul, with the corresponding justification of the man he persecutes, being but the first of these. The sojourn of David in the Philistines' land, parallel with the full apostasy and judgment of Saul at the hand of the Philistines, claims, even as history, a new section for itself; and to this his last pursuit of David is clearly the preface. Even in his words to Saul he already speaks of being driven out from the inheritance of Jehovah among the worshipers of other gods, as it is immediately afterwards that his resolution to escape into the Philistines' land is definitely announced; and this is the end of Saul's pursuit of him.

The section as a whole is clearly retributive, and illustrative of the divine ways in government. Even Saul's lapse into witchcraft is of this nature, and the end is so, beyond question. David, too, finds his discipline from God, though the end with him is tender mercy. As a direct type of Christ he does not appear in it, while even in his failure he may but too well typify those witnesses for Him upon earth with whom He identifies Himself ever, as in His words to a later Benjamite, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?"

(1) David is hiding himself in the hill of Hachilah ("obscurity"?), and the Ziphites once more carry the news to the king. The sight of the messengers, with the memories connected, should have been enough to hinder Saul's pursuit, but it does not; and this time, therefore, he is made to proclaim openly his own shame and David's righteousness. The man he seeks seeks him in turn, and in the very midst of his camp has once again his life at his disposal; only again to spare it, however, while yet stripping him of his spear, the emblem of his sovereignty, and carrying off the pitcher of water at his head. What a realization for Saul of the vanity of the conflict in which he is engaged! — and what an anticipation of the time when the secrets of the heart, developed in and moulding the life, shall be exhibited in the light, — a light in which already he found himself thus revealed! One more attempt of divine mercy this to bring into subjection this human heart, but which, even while owning the folly which has possessed it, proves itself absolutely unreceptive of it, and thus unrepentant. Saul thus draws one step nearer to his doom, — when, indeed, unsceptred, and without water for his thirst, he must meet and give account to God! Alas, how can this be so forgotten?

For David, his righteousness is brought forth in the light, and proclaimed by his persistent enemy and accuser, in the ears of all the people. Fuller justification he could not get, with the spear and cruse also for a double witness on the other side. And God has wrought this, by means of the very persistency of the persecutor himself. How ought every fear to be now at rest when again He has manifested Himself after this manner!

(2) Again, however, after a signal triumph, and a wonderful display of God's goodness to him, the faith of David collapses, and he sees nothing before him but one day perishing at the hand of Saul. He forms a resolution, therefore, in which certainly he is guided by no wisdom from God, and leaves the inheritance of the Lord for the land of their heathen enemy. He goes not even to Moab, but to Gath, the city of the giant he had overcome by faith, and where, also, he had once before, through unbelief; failed so pitiably: but from the higher height the deeper depth; and, once having given way to unbelief, one false step necessitates another, one lie another to confirm it; cruelty has to be added to deceit, many lives having to pay forfeit for the preservation of his own. How dastardly a thing is unbelief!

Details here may be difficult enough, while the moral lesson is unmistakable; and it is this which, in all this part, seems most to be emphasized. We may however, how a child of God away from God may be a very zealous destroyer of evils that are unquestionably such, — all the while remaining as far as ever away; nay, increased zeal against what is external to us often accompanies a state in which self-judgment is proportionately deficient.

David's plea for himself we have already heard. He simply puts the blame of where he is upon others: "they have driven me out," he says; and he has no consciousness of aught but truth in saying it. Yet while it was true that they had fully the responsibility of this, it is not true that a saint of God, walking with God, can be "driven" to anything. To be led of God and to be driven of men are two different, contrasted, and, in this case, incompatible things. It was but a dishonor done to the Lord's care and love to imagine the possibility of falling into Saul's hand, and perishing without coming to the kingdom, when the divine anointing, was upon his head. Saul himself, in his moments of sanity, knew better. The fruits of this lapse of faith did not fail to declare sufficiently its character; and mark it out, not as the sin of others, but his own.

Ziklag, "the pressure of the wave," (p. 137, n.), becomes thus suitably his residence. Circumstances have, indeed, been too much for him: he, is not now an overcomer. Let him pursue but a little farther the road on which he has entered, and he shall be captain of the body-guard to a Philistine king forever!

(3) Meanwhile Saul, in terror of the gathering Philistines, and forsaken of God, sinks to the lowest, and consults one of those dealers with familiar spirits whom he had sought in time past to cut off out of the land. Disguised and under cover of the night, he steals with two others to the dwelling of the witch at Endor. Nor does he hesitate to swear by Jehovah Himself to protect her in the violation of Jehovah's law. He bids her bring up to him Samuel; and to the woman's own consternation Samuel in reality appears. This was beyond her art, and shows her plainly a higher power overmastering it: the "keys of hades" were in no witch's hand; and while he appears alone to her, to her discomfiture, he speaks directly to Saul while he hides his face from him; and in brief judicial words announces his doom at hand. To-morrow would the Lord give Israel into the hand of the Philistines, and he and his three sons would be with him (in death). The kingdom torn from him would pass over to David, according to what had long since been pronounced,when he had openly disobeyed the divine word as to Amalek.

That the judgment of Amalek — that is, of the lusts of the flesh (Ex. 17 n.) — is the test which that must abide which stands for true and divine government on earth, is so clear that there is no need to dwell very much upon it. Here "the powers that be" fail, and have failed from the beginning, although they are still a great mercy, and upheld of God as such. That with them also, as with Saul, much has come in upon the heels of this, there can be no right question either. The form and the extent of that opposition to Christ which has been manifested by them have varied with various times and various places, and will be judged of differently, according to individual standpoints, also. We have found such differences in the history of Saul himself, the precise application of which will be naturally correspondingly difficult. At the end Scripture distinctly shows that the kings of the earth will turn from God in a more direct and outward way, and seek to seducing spirits; Saul's conduct here being only a hint, as it were, of the dread reality. This it would lead us too far to enter upon here: to those who are acquainted with the prophecies of the last days, however, it will be plain that Saul's history will be in this respect more than re-enacted in that of the Gentile powers. That it is according to the principles of divine government that, turning away from God, men should fall of necessity into the power of Satan, is again plain, — plain as is the revival of demonism in many forms in our own days, and in that of necromancy especially, along with a decline of faith in the word of God too marked for any but the willingly blind to doubt. All this should make the close of Saul's reign and life here exceedingly solemn for us.

(4) In the next chapter David, also, is seen once more in terrible failure. Actually starting out to accompany his leader to the war, the Philistine lords with keener instincts than the unsuspecting Achish, refuse point-blank such doubtful auxiliaries. Naturally enough they cannot believe that David is going to turn his back upon his whole history, nor doubt that he will take advantage of his opportunity to reconcile himself to his master with the heads of his allies. God has thus, in His mercy, opened to David a way of escape from the snare in which he has entangled himself; and with what fervent satisfaction might we expect to find him accepting it. How full of praise and thankfulness will he be for such a deliverance! Yet, alas, he is here nothing but a hypocrite. Israel are only the "enemies of my lord the king," against whom it is his right and privilege to fight: and he dares to appeal to his unspotted conduct while with Achish, knowing the absolute insincerity of it all! But such is the saint away from God, and so easy it is to become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin"! Should not our constant cry be, "Search me, O Lord, and try me!"?

(5) Thus man is fully shown for what he is. David, no more than Saul, can claim anything on the ground of personal righteousness: grace can be alone his confidence, as with any child of man. Thus as to all Israel the new throne established in Zion is a throne of grace, though it be true that grace has not the dimensions which attach to it with us: in this way it is but a type; and, indeed, a faint one.

But if grace is to be shown, it must be according to holiness; there could be none apart from this. And so the government of God must act now in chastening; David must be searched out thoroughly, and made to realize his condition. Accordingly, there is an irruption from the south: some of that very tribe upon which God had pronounced judgment, a judgment which Saul had been deposed for not rightly executing, make a raid upon Israelites and Philistines alike, burn Ziklag while deprived of its defenders, and carry away everything in it. When we know what Amalek means, we can easily understand, the soul having wandered from God, this irruption of Amalek: and even in this way to such the outbreak of the lusts of the flesh may be used of Him to startle and convict the conscience; and so for recovery in the end. Absent in the Philistine camp, and while parading his mock zeal against the people of God, David little knew that the hand of the destroyer was upon his most cherished possessions, that the Amalekites had already stripped him bare, and all that were with him. He and they return to find but the blackened remnants of their city, and wives, children, and all that belonged to them, swept away. More than this, he has to prove that when not walking with God, the tie between man and man also is loosened: his own devoted followers, stung with the misery into which his late course had brought them, murmur about inflicting on him death by stoning, — the judgment of an Achan, — and he is, indeed, "in a great strait."

But then it is, that out of its heavy stupor David's soul awakes. Faith proves its power amid the wreck of nature. The very fact that the judgment is so manifestly of the Lord brings him back into the glorious Presence from which he has wandered, and it is — blessed be God — the old sweet familiar Presence. The surge of bitter distress has landed him in the haven of rest. The shadow has proved but the shadow of His wings; and David, humbled, and so purified, has become once more the master of his circumstances because of himself: "David encouraged himself in Jehovah his God."

Immediately Abiathar and the ephod are his resource: "and David inquired of Jehovah, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop?" Nature had, of course, decided this already; but the man of faith will not move at the bidding of nature. Faith questions when all seems plain; as it finds a plain road, also, amid all perplexities. "Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them?" He recognizes now the judgment of God: he must humbly ask of the depths of the divine compassion, Is it irrevocable? And how prompt and tender is the answer: "Pursue! for thou shalt surely overtake, and without fail recover." Then at once he is a man of activity again, the energetic and courageous leader of men: by the time they have reached the brook Besor, one third of his little army are prostrate with the speed they make. They are but four hundred now, with the stamp of weakness upon them, therefore; and themselves, we may be sure, weary and way-worn; but the battle is to be Jehovah's.

Now there is cast in the way an Egyptian, spent with hunger and thirst, whom they restore to life, and comfort with the assurance that he shall not be put back in bondage to the Amalekite, his master. A natural man brought anew to life at the brook of "good news" (Besor), and freed from the lusts of the flesh, which he has served, — this is the very one to guide the hand of judgment which falls now on the Amalekites. All is recovered out of their hand, as the divine oracle had promised; and with this they fall heirs to an immense booty besides: for in the goodness of God a mere recovery seems impossible. He brings us back to Himself with more than we had lost, — fruitful experiences and knowledge of God's ways in government and in grace. All this is the law of restitution, according to God, — of the trespass-offering which Christ makes good to us.

So David and his four hundred return to the brook Besor. There those who were too exhausted to go over the brook had remained with the baggage. They come forth with joy to greet their victorious comrades; but here, untouched by the mercy they had experienced, there were those who refused to recognize their right to share the spoil. But the sense of grace is too strong to permit this.

(6) In contrast with David's recovery and victory Saul perishes in Mount Gilboa, and Israel suffers a sore defeat. The Philistines take possession of the neighboring cities, and all is in complete collapse in the land. Three of the sons of Saul perish with him. There is now no anointed of the Lord but David. Typically it is the end of rule on earth as owned of God, and that in immediate anticipation of the true King, whose reign follows. Ishbosheth has no title, but is in distinct rebellion against the will of God, for all Israel knows that David is the true anointed: and thus will "man's day" end upon earth, in open revolt "against the Lord, and against His Christ." (Ps. 2:2.)

That Philistinism has sought persistently the subjection of the powers of the earth is familiar history. That it will accomplish their final ruin is not, perhaps, plainly prophesied. Yet the view of the woman Babylon, which is given us in Rev. 17, shows her riding upon the "beast" of civil empire, as the eleventh verse seems clearly to show, in its last form. But this last form (under the eighth head) is that in which it becomes openly apostate, and "goes into perdition"; and the woman's supremacy over it then, though not preserved to the end, (for it finally throws off the woman and destroys her, ver. 16,) would seem at least quite consistent with the view of its having brought the former character of rule to an end, or helped essentially to do so. But I leave this now for the consideration of those who have understanding in the word of prophecy: at another time it may demand a fuller notice.

The lesson in divine government here is obvious. The body, in its ghastly dishonor, fastened to the wall of Bethshan, — quiet, indeed, at the "house of quiet," — his armor in the house of their female deity, these things are the heathen satire upon such an end. Amid all this the prompt action of the men of Jabesh-Gilead is like the resurrection of a good deed from the mass of corruption. They save, however, but the bones for burial: the rest can only be given to the fire. Thus the hope of man in man comes to its end with Saul, — the "asked for," the people's choice. All now depends on David; but here, also, how poor a dependence, except as God is pleased to work with and through this feeble instrument. The crown brought to Ziklag (the Philistine guerdon for feigned unfaithfulness to the crown itself) speaks more loudly than the defeat at Gilboa, of human instability and untrustworthiness. Even so the light of a brighter dawn could shine through David, — a glory far beyond his own. For all these things happened unto them for types."

Subdivision 2. (2 Sam. 1 — 4.)

The growth of David's Kingdom.

We have closed thus the story of David prior to his reception of the throne to which he was destined. We are now to see him in a new character, in which he becomes plainly the type of the One true King that is to be, — King not over Israel only, but to the ends of the earth. Here it will be no great wonder, however, if, while the general truth is clear, the details should be to us often obscure, if only from their very brightness. David is not, indeed, as we soon find, by any means a perfect reflection of the glory of Christ as King. We could not rightly expect him to be. Often he seems to show us, as in designed contrast, just those blots and disfigurements which would suggest the interpretation to be by opposite application to the Lord of glory. Yet all this brings additional difficulty into it, if in the end it may tend, perhaps, as one may readily conceive, to fullness of vision. Assuredly we have, in any case, what the Spirit of God designs for our instruction, with the fullest command Of the material, we may be sure, which will fill out the picture. It is our privilege to inquire what the wisdom of God has given us in it, with the certainty that it is perfect wisdom.

At the outset there seems a very serious difficulty, which, however, lessens as we take it to Scripture for a solution. All our views of Christ's coming kingdom must, of course, be derived entirely from Scripture. We are not prophets, but simply interpreters of prophecy; and our partial understanding of this is apt to lead us into what we find afterwards to be in contradiction with other statements which we had known, yet overlooked. So, no doubt, it is here. Christ coming in the clouds of heaven, to set up His kingdom and glory over the earth, — with this we naturally associate the thought of rapid, almost instantaneous, action, all enemies at once put down by divine power exerted throughout all the world, all nations summoned at once before the bar of His judgment-seat: and to this last the separation of sheep and goats, as given in our Lord's Own prophecy of His coming (Matt. 25), seems to give strong confirmation. But in this case the history presented here would be quite unintelligible. With the setting aside of Saul, David by no means comes to an uncontested throne, nor is the opposition even in Israel at once put down. For seven years and a half he reigns at Hebron over Judah only. Another king of the house of Saul carries off the allegiance of the other tribes, until first his supporter Abner, and then himself, are cut off by the hand of violence. After this there are long wars with surrounding nations, making the reign of David an emphatic contrast to that of Solomon, who is himself the type of the "Prince of peace." All this, at first, seems entirely against all correspondence between the history and the prophecy.

But the cloud lifts measurably as we gaze upon it. It will be necessary, however, to take up in some detail the consideration of this subject, — all-important to the interpretation of the book in which we now are, and try to realize what Scripture teaches.

And first, let us remember that, with all the strength of the divine hand, God's dealings have been hitherto characterized by a patience which seems to us often extreme slowness. In the cherubic figures of the book of Revelation, which picture the features of the divine government over the earth, the slow ox succeeds the impetuous lion; and the order here and throughout seems to be corrective of the conceptions we might entertain from that which was earlier in the series. Power that cannot be turned aside (Prow. 30:30) is what is indicated in the lion; and this is the first necessity for any true thought of government at all; but we should go far wrong if we supposed that this was the characteristic method in God's governmental dealings, to leap at once to the end with one resistless spring. Thus, as I have said, the patient ox succeeds the lion. While the lion, moreover, would naturally suggest power hostile in character, the ox is the very type of the minister to man (1 Cor. 9:8-10). Following this, again, "the face of a man" assures us that this apparent slowness is not unintelligent, but the contrary: it is God seeking to manifest Himself to us, as in humanity He has done, that we might have knowledge of His ways. It need not then surprise us if when the Lord acts even in such crises of judgment as when He appears in the clouds of heaven to judge the world, there should be nevertheless an entirely different procedure from what we might imagine.

Again, let us remember, that prophecy, as it is foreseen, so it is foreshortened, history. The element of time is, perhaps, most of all what is absent from it, — except, of course, as to order of succession. The seventy weeks of Daniel are a conspicuous example of this, the seventieth being separated from the rest by a long gap of time, into which comes the whole present dispensation. In the passage which the Lord quotes in the synagogue of Nazareth (Isa. 61:2), from the proclamation of "the acceptable year of the Lord," with which he closes what was in that day fulfilled, the prophecy goes on without a break to "the day of vengeance of our God," — not even yet come. And similarly the events of the New Testament dispensation were hidden from the prophets of the Old Testament (Matt. 13:35).

That when the Lord comes again in the clouds of heaven it will be in visible glory, so that "every eye shall see him," is pressed too far when it is taken to mean that He will then be visible to all the world. This the Lord Himself, by Isaiah, assures us: for after He has said that "the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire," and "it shall come that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory"; yet the prophecy goes on immediately to add, "And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, … to the isles afar off that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles." (Isa. 66:15-19.) Thus we find that "every eye shall see Him" only intimates (what in connection with any other event it would be taken to intimate) a visible personal appearing of Christ, and not that the whole world will at that time see Him.

And again, though He come in visible glory to set up His kingdom upon earth, we are not anywhere told, that I am aware, how far He may continue or continue to be seen upon the earth during His reign here. It is certain that over the land of Israel there is to be a "prince," the laws for whose guidance are carefully given by Ezekiel (Ezek. 44 – 48); and that the glory appears in the temple in the same manner as of old (Ezek. 43:1-9).

To come nearer to what is before us here, while there are judgments that are executed by the Lord personally when He comes (Isa. 63:1-6; Zech. 14; Rev. 19:15, 21), yet we read of Israel also in action, and of human wars in which they take possession of the lands destined for them (Jer. 51:20-24; Obad. 18-21; Micah 5:7-9). After which, as it would appear, Gog with his great confederacy can still come up, not knowing with whom they are contending, and think to find the restored nation an easy prey (Ezek. 38, 39).

All this is very different from what our own thoughts would be of a kingdom such as is prophesied of in the hands of Him who has the "rod of iron." Yet Scripture alone can be trusted to give us right thoughts in a matter like this, and we need do no more than point out the texts which decide very plainly what the truth is. They certainly enable us better to understand the typical application of this part of David's reign, whether or not we may apprehend the details. To these we must now turn, believing that the promise given shall be fulfilled to us, "To him that knocketh it shall be opened."

In this first subdivision, then, we find David in possession only of part of a divided kingdom. We trace the growth of his power, spite of enemies and hindrances, until by the death of Ishbosheth the way is prepared for him to the throne of all Israel. During all this time (seven years and a half) his throne is in Hebron, that place of many and cherished memories, linked forever with the faith of his pilgrim fathers, from Abraham to Jacob. "Communion," with all that it implies, must be the power of a kingdom; and it is not without meaning that here the tribes come up, Judah first and then united Israel, to make David king. Even the divine kingdom can only have its rightful character when God dwells among the praises (and necessarily united hearts) of His people. Here, also, we see why it is in. Judah that David begins his reign. The spiritual meaning certainly holds here; and, indeed, is very easy to be traced. Literal as the history is, of course, this in no way hinders the deeper thought, in which we see how all through it God moulds the very facts of history that they may speak to attentive hearts. Jacob's prophecy as to Judah here begins to be fulfilled.

(1) But, before even Judah, God acts: for the people's choice this time must follow His. David is in the first place the divinely appointed king, although yet only the figure of the true: the Anointed, as we know, long since, he is now owned of God, the crown put into his hand by one of a strange and hostile race, who seeks but his own personal ends, to find judgment alone his recompense. For the king, to whom all here points, is that One of whom it is written that He is "first of all … king of righteousness [Melchizedek], and after that king of Salem, that is, king of peace" (Heb. 7:1): who is David and Solomon, therefore, both in one.

The order is most important: the effect cannot come before the cause, "and the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever." (Isa. 32:17.) But righteousness will not be established upon the earth except by power: "let favor be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord." Thus, judgment alone will answer; and "when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." (Isa. 26:9-10.) Thus we are to read David's wars, then; and thus the judgment of the Amalekite in this first chapter.

Personal profit does not seduce David into any overlooking of the crime of lifting up the hand against the Lord's anointed. Nor, on the other hand, does personal injury received prevent his recognition of all that was noble and good in the fallen king, and of the way in which God had used him for blessing to His people. The reference to the book of Jashar (of the "upright") seems in striking harmony with this, though we may be unable to explain it in any proper manner. The pathos of the lament speaks to the heart as from the heart.

(2) We now come to the divided condition of the kingdom, the anticipation of that into which it lapsed again in the second generation after David. In a world like this, that which is of God is sure to awaken opposition. As to Saul, though some might despise him, there was no thought of division. As regards David, every one must have known long since God's choice of him, and that Saul's house had been set aside with Saul himself. Yet Abner is able to make the feeble Ishbosheth king over the rest of the kingdom, gradually recovering itself out of the hands of the Philistines. Two years he reigns over the whole of Israel, while David remains for all the time (seven years and a half) king over Judah only. In the last two years it must have been that Abner found himself at last strong enough to attempt the conquest of Judah also.

(a) At the outset we have seen where David's strength lay. We still find him clinging to God, and guided by divine wisdom. He is assured of being Jehovah's anointed king. Saul is now dead, and his army defeated. The crown has come, in a way little to be expected, into his hand. Yet he will not be guided by providences, but must have the plain word of God to direct him, not merely whether he shall go up to Judah, but to what part. He is bidden to go to Hebron; and there he goes, allowing his men to scatter into the towns around, and there he quietly waits for whatever God has next. Good it is, this ability to wait on God on the part of a spirit so brave and energetic, in the very hour when circumstances invite to action. He is not left, however, to long patience now: the men of Judah, without waiting for the co-operation of the other tribes, assemble at Hebron and anoint him king.

That this was obedience to the divine will by which David had been long set apart to this position, saves them from the imputation of independence, with which otherwise it might have been justly charged. The Lord was the Supreme king over Israel; and therefore, when His mind was clearly known, obedience was that which alone would make for any proper unity. The course of Abner and the other tribes was mere rebellion.

Anointed long before by Samuel, this fresh anointing by the people had yet its rightful place. God's will as to this awaits the glad concurrence of human hearts to make the reign of His king truly what He would have it. For this reason, also, David makes no movement to extend his dominion over the rest of Israel. Love can be satisfied only with love. Thus also he acknowledges sympathetically the act of the men of Jabesh in their respect and gratitude toward Saul, and informs them of Judah having made him king, but goes no further: does not even hint at the higher and wider title he possesses.

{*2 Sam. 2:9. Probably, with the Chaldee version, we should read "Asherites," a mere change of a vowel-point; though the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Arabic, read "Geshurites."}

(b.) Abner has no such scruple, and mks no counsel of God: as the "father of light," his wisdom is from himself, — inspired, of course, by that ready prompter, self-interest, or what appears to be this. As prince of the host that had been Saul's, he had opportunity also, and in Ishbosheth one who represented such shadow of title as could be derived from Saul. Ishbosheth means "man of shame," a name that might easily be supposed to be derived from his history, rather than to be his original one. We know from Chronicles (1 Chr. 8:33) that, in fact, his original one was Esh-baal; and we have a similar change in the case of Jonathan's son Meribbaal, changed into Mephibosheth (1 Chr. 9:34; 2 Sam. 9:6), and even in that of Jerubbaal, changed into Jerubbesheth (2 Sam. 11:21). In Hosea 9:10 Baal himself is called "that shame," and it cannot be reasonably questioned that the sense of this shameful character of idolatry led to these substitutions. That there was any idolatrous meaning in the names connected with Saul's family it would be impossible to prove, the word baal being itself so variously applied. We have elsewhere seen it as of old even a title of God, which at last He is forced, because of its misuse, to disclaim (p. 194, n.).

Typically, however, the case is otherwise. When we consider the rivalry to David in its typical significance, Ishbosheth might seem a figure of Antichrist, and these idolatrous connections would then have their full force. Israel is yet to accept such a king, we know, at the time of the end, who will be consumed by the breath of the Lord's mouth, and destroyed with the brightness of His coming. Yet in Ishbosheth himself, and in his history also, there are many difficulties in the way of such a view. The weak son of Saul is but a tool in the hands of Abner, who is all through the real heart and soul of the opposition to David. He it is, we find, who "took Ishbosheth, and brought him over to Mahanaim, and made him king." Mahanaim was the place of Jacob's vision of angels, where "God's host" and his own represented, as we know, "two camps." (Gen. 32:2, n.) This ends in his own camp being divided into two, as Abner had in fact now divided Israel; where the camps were, moreover, hostile to one another. So had reliance on human strength wrought in all the intermediate history: for God will not be content to be a mere force among other forces; and the half-way dependence on Him, which is more than half independence, works quickly, alas, into real hostility. Abner and Ishbosheth were thus now very openly at issue with God,who had manifested very plainly His purpose in David, as Abner owns (ch. 3:9). Spite of this, Ishbosheth's kingdom grows from its beginning in Gilead, spreading to Asher, to Jezreel, and on, till there is a united Israel in opposition to the one tribe of Judah that cleaves to David. So readily does the leaven of rebellion spread! — so sure is there ordained to that which is of God a time of patience and of apparent failure. In each day of God there is an evening first and then a morning; for God is a God of resurrection.

David's reign of seven years and six months in Hebron is just about the length of that interval of time, — the last week of Daniel's seventy, — which intervenes between the removal of the Church to be with Christ, and His appearing openly as Son of man to take the kingdom. It is scarcely the place here to argue that such a period there is, — the broken off "end of the [Jewish] age" (Matt. 24), and earth's harvest-time, the crisis of the conflict between good and evil, the time of preparation for millennial blessing: every way, therefore, of such prophetic importance that we cannot wonder to find prophecy in fact full of it, as it is. It is the time in which arises the Antichrist, the culmination of the "many antichrists" that have preceded him (1 John 2:18-22). This would harmonize with such a meaning, therefore, in Ishbosheth. During this time Christ has actually begun His reign, but not at Jerusalem, and Hebron and Judah might represent an acknowledgment of Him as the King by a remnant of Israel, before the time in which the nation at large shall acknowledge Him.

During this time conflict also will go on between the servants of the true King and of the false: Mahanaim will indeed characterize the rival kingdom. The place of strife, Gibeon, seems also significant. If Gibeon, "the pit of suffering for iniquity" (Joshua 18:25, n.), remind us of the Cross, the Cross has been ever the battlefield — Helkath-hazzurim, "the place of sharp swords," between faith and unbelief, the place of victory in the end for David. For it is the Lamb slain, who is the lion of Judah; and as the Lamb He has title over the world. (Rev. 5:6-7.) Abner, the false pretension to self-competency of knowledge is easily seen as the leader on the one side; but Joab, on David's, is not such an one as we look for here, or, at least, so we should think at first sight. Who and what, then, is this Joab?

Joab is usually taken to be a contracted form of Jehoab, "Jehovah is Father." It is difficult to separate the man, such as we see him in the history, — crafty, self-seeking, unscrupulous, the murderer of men more righteous than himself, from any typical significance of history, so as to imagine any congruity in such a name. Yet God can overrule men and things so as to work out His good by that which is evil, — the evil being in the minds of others, the good in His. And we find shortly, in the history that follows, Amnon, "faithful," Absalom, "father of peace," Adonijah, "my Lord is Jah," acting in most distinct and undoubted contradiction to their names. Thus Joab would not stand alone in this. On the other hand, as the commander of all David's forces, there could not, it would seem, be a more suited name than "Jehovah is Father." Was it not Christ's mission on earth to declare the Father's name? Do not His people rally joyfully, triumphantly, under the inspiration of that revelation, Jehovah is the Father"? And so will it be in that day also, when in the place in which it was said to Israel, "Ye are not my people, there they shall be called the sons of the living God." (Hosea 1:10.)

With this meaning, also, it is in striking correspondence that Joab is the son of Zeruiah, and that this last word means "balmy"; or rather, one would say, "the balm of Jah." The exact substance to which the word was applied in Scripture is still disputed, but its use as a sovereign remedy for wounds, itself being obtained by a wound in the tree from which then the precious sap flowed out, is not disputed. Nor can we fail to find here once more the image of the Cross. That for us, or for any, Jehovah is Father, is, as we own adoringly, the fruit of the Cross, — of which how constant are the memorials in these precious types

Thus the captains on either side seem plain, and they meet with their respective hosts at the pool of Gibeon, — literally, and strikingly once more, the "blessing" of Gibeon, the "living water" issuing from the Cross, with regard to which the combatants still find themselves on opposite sides. In the conflict following they fall of both parties: but with what different significance we must interpret this! Christ's servants have fallen, many; but death has not harmed them: on their adversaries the shadow of death is other and deeper, for they have rejected the Lord of life.

Three sons of Zeruiah are in the battlefield. The second is Abishai, whose name means "father (or source) of gift." This, under the number of service, may speak of the Cross as the inspiring cause of gift offered to God, the homage of a life which has been redeemed by it. While Asahel, the third son, plainly means "God has made" or "done," — emphasizing God as the worker, as the Cross surely does.

Abner is beaten and driven off, though Asahel perishes at his hand in the pursuit, — a thing which, however much an act of self-defense, has bitter consequences in the near future. Of all this I can say nothing, however.

(3) The war goes on, but we have no further incidents of it; only that David's house waxes continually stronger as that of Saul grows weaker. After the manner of an eastern king, we see that David strengthens himself by marriages which the law found no ability to forbid, and in which the self-indulgence of his nature manifests itself. The great sin of his life was thus already preparing, which was to darken with its shadows so much his later days.

But this does not affect the typical meaning, as has just now been insisted. The moral lesson is fully enforced and inheres in the letter of the history, quite apart from the prophetic teaching which the Spirit of God has inwoven into it. At times this last seems to give way indeed to the first, to make prominent the moral: the sin and failure are seen to belong simply to the individual, and to unfit him to be, for the moment, in any way suitable to represent any divine thought save that of God's holy judgment; while again sometimes the Spirit seems to refuse to be turned aside from His higher purpose, and the glory of the light streams through, as incapable of corruption or contamination by the evil to and beyond the end of which it looks.

David's sons in Hebron are six, by as many mothers; and as the son represents the father, so they seem to represent the various characters of Christ in His kingly government and the principles of which they are the manifestation, or which occasion their display. We have learnt, too, the guard that numerical symbolism gives, as well as the help yielded by it to interpretation. The narrower the limits we have here, the more certainly shall we find our way. The divine marks cannot be too numerous.

Amnon is David's first-born; and his name, "constant," or "faithful," is simply enough applicable in this manner, and in harmony with the first place he takes. He is the son of Ahinoam, the "kin of pleasure," — not exactly "pleasure," for that might seem at least to be in opposition to the underlying principle of constancy which is indicated in the expression, "he that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not." One may suppose that "congruity," what is according to its own nature, is that of which this "constancy" is born, and that this is what is looked for, yea, of prime necessity, in that which "God soweth," or Jezreel. Israel was once, as Isaiah tells us (Isa. 5:2), planted as "the choicest vine," but proved wholly untrue to that beginning. When the Lord looked for it to bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes. Thus there was no seed yet to sow upon the earth (Hosea 2:23); but He shall have it: Israel in the latter days shall be true to its new beginning; and shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." (Isa. 27:6.)

Constancy is Christ's, for He is the unchangeable, Himself Jehovah; and such, through all their own unfaithfulness, will Israel prove Him in the days that are at hand.

The second son is Chileab, and the number expressive of service is well filled here with a name that seems to mean "the instrument of the Father." He is the son of Abigail, "father (or cause) of exultation," as Israel will be to Christ, when redeemed and brought out from former relationship, here therefore most suitably and pointedly referred to: "Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite," — the impious dresser of God's vine. Put together, these names have the very obvious meaning, that the salvation of His own is that which has made Christ the instrument of the Father's will. This salvation, for its complete realization, requires Him on the throne. He is the true Malchishua, whom no Gilboa can overthrow, — the Saviour-King."

The third son is Absalom, the "father of peace." Here the number may prepare us to expect what is a more inward realization of blessing, and the fruit of the Spirit's work. He is the son of Maachah, "bruising": for He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him" (Isa. 53:5); how surely does the question of peace find for its answer the work of the Cross!

But Talmai the king of Geshur: what can he represent? Let us remember only that it is Maachah alone, the "bruising," that has to do with him, and we need not wonder at the Anakite name (Joshua 15:14). Talmai, "my furrows," has been already read thus as "our own doings"; and these have indeed been that from whence Christ's "bruising" sprang. Thus, though we may not be able to interpret the "king of Geshur" aright, the meaning as a whole is obvious.

The next three sons are more briefly characterized. The fourth, Adonijah, means "my Lord is Jah," and he is the son of Haggith, "festive," one who keeps Jehovah's feast. This, under the number of experience and practical walk, shows us how the taste of Jehovah's grace brings us into subjection to Him as Lord over us; and this is how the Lord's rule is endeared to His own. How precious must it have been to faith in Israel in those days of old, when Jehovah gathered His people, three times in the year, around Himself! Jehovah's feasts were times of gathering thus to and around Himself. Now, much more plainly, He is cultivating intimacy with us;and the more we respond and enter into this, the more will His rule be established over us. The nearer we are to Him, the greater He is to us: must it not be so? The indecent familiarity with God which some regard as intimacy is but an unholy mockery of it. Adonijah is still the son of Haggith.

The fifth son shows his number in his name, Shephatiah, "Jah judges." He is the son of Abital, "father (or source) of cover," or "protection." The thought is simplicity itself; and this is what true judgment is appointed for, — what, when judgment shall return to righteousness, it will be found to give, the protection (alas, that it should be needed), of man from man. When Jehovah judges in the earth openly and manifestly, as He will do, how will the earth rest and be secure? Oh, to see the time!

{*2 Sam. 3:7. The name Ishbosheth is absent from nearly all the Hebrew copies, but is found in all the versions, except the Chaldee, and is evidently required.

2 Sam. 3:12. Literally, "in his place."}

Finally the sixth son gives us the effect of all this in blessing, — Ithream, "the abundance of the people," for "in the multitude of the people is the king's honor." (Prov. 14:28.) But this "abundance" implies more than "multitude." Ithream, too, is the "son of Eglah," "heifer," the double type of labor and of fruitfulness; and therefore Eglah is in some special sense denominated "David's wife"! Yes, our David has indeed linked himself in an especial way with service, — service in which all fruit is found! Blessed be His name, He has; and a goodly house is this our David has, when the spiritual interpretation is allowed to flash the luster out of an otherwise dull string of names. This, then, is David's house.

(4) The history turns now to show us the commencing collapse of Ishbosheth's kingdom. There was but, as we know, one pillar upon which it rested, Abner; and we can gather from elsewhere that the spirit of defection was at work in Israel. Abner now himself heads the defection, and there is no strength nor will to resist on the part of the people. But Abner's motive is no worthy one, and it is not by such means as this that David is to attain the throne of Israel. The hand that prevents it may be more unscrupulous than his own; and the deed done by which it is stopped is treachery and murder. Still, over all this was a righteousness higher than its human instruments. David is feeble, and the sons of Zeruiah strong: every way there seems but contrast with the throne which David's merely typically presents, but is not; and the type seems to lapse here in order to emphasize the more the contrast. Whether that be really so or not, — whether it is only ignorance that says so, — we shall surely sometime understand; but it does seem the method of this book to present these alternate glimpses of the glory to come, and of the mere sorrowful history of "man's day," sorrowful even at its best. We shall but too soon come to darker scenes in which David himself will be found the near kinsman that he is to Joab, and the day of the true Anointed be seen to be far off yet.

(5) The death of Ishbosheth quickly follows that of Abner; and it in some respects resembles his. Commentators have suggested that, in this case also, the blood-vengeance which Joab and his brother had professedly taken for their brother Asahel, was probably at least once more the pretext. Baanah and Rechab, the slayers of Ishbosheth, were Beerothites, and belonged therefore to one of those Canaanite cities originally leagued with Gibeon, and with it having made peace with Israel by fraud. These Saul had sought to slay, in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah (2 Sam. 21:1-2), and had in fact slain some. Whether Beeroth had suffered at this time we know not; but we learn in this place that for some cause "the Beerothites had fled to Gittaim," and were still sojourning there. It is quite natural to put these things together; and if so, to understand that there might be special enmity on the brothers' part to Saul's house on this account. But if so, the history gives no plain proof of such connection; though, if it were so, Joab's unpunished deed might have encouraged theirs. But they are mistaken, and fleeing to David with the head of the unhappy king, find summary judgment at his hands.

This is, at best, but history. Have we any sign in it of deeper meaning? In connection with Ishbosheth as a possible type of Antichrist, the circumstances of his death are among the things of which I have spoken as difficulties in accepting this. Antichrist is destroyed only at the coming of the Lord, and with the "beast" or head of the Gentile empire, is cast alive into the lake of fire. Yet here the names have apparent significance which (as realizing their constant value elsewhere) cannot but make one pause and question.

Beeroth we have already had among the cities of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), and taken it as significant of the "wells" of salvation out of which the redeemed "with joy draw water." Rimmon, "the pomegranate" is a figure of the fruitful and many-seeded word of God (compare p. 138, n.). Baanah, "in answer," son of Rimmon, would speak naturally of something sent in response to prayer, thus the fruit of the word which had awakened faith; while Rechab, "rider," is used to designate that "upper millstone" which is several times found in connection with destructive judgment from the Lord's hand (Judges 9:53, Matt. 18:6, Rev. 18:21). If, therefore, we take these two together we have judgment inflicted in answer to prayer and according to the Word, which is itself pictured as the sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of the mouth of the white-horsed Rider, with which He smites the nations (Rev. 19:15). Nay, according to the Hebrew also, as we have seen, "millstone" and "Rider" a one!

If moreover, we remember the Lord's parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18), we shall realize very clearly how the final judgment of the earth, which includes Antichrist and his followers, comes "in answer" to the prayer of God's elect, the groans of suffering saints which have gone up to Him so long from a world whose "prince" is Satan and not the One who made it. Certainly in all this there is a congruity, a fitting together of things, which one cannot hastily dismiss because of apparent incongruity elsewhere. Let it be but a flash of light which expires again in darkness, still even a flash of light may be a true revelation. At least it is well for the reverent student of Scripture to have before him what materials can be given for the founding of judgment; and so we must leave it.

It may be well, also, to remark that Ishbosheth's evident weakness of character is no conclusive proof that he could not be such a type as has been suggested. The wisest, strongest, most self-assertive of creatures, what is he before God his Maker? And this is often insisted on in the types themselves, as we have seen. The moral character of a typical person, also, has often apparently little or nothing to do with the place he fills in this way. Joab, and some noted ones among the sons of David are proofs near at hand of the truth of this.

Subdivision 3. (2 Sam. 5 — 9.)

David in the fullness of power and glory.

What follows in the next subdivision, though most certainly a picture of a glorious day to come, is yet but a gleam of light also, and no more. What earthly history could furnish any more stable one of the reign of the divine-human King? If past or present could furnish more than this, it would not be the unique wonder and glory that it is. Ah, no! We may be sure that the clouds will soon return after the sun. And so it is. The man after God's own heart falls from his proud position, all the lower for the height from which he falls. Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah, become but the living contradiction of what their names express. And so all mere human glory passes, to leave only the harp of prophecy to take up the broken notes of songs that have been and weave them into a harmonious anthem of a joy that yet shall be.

But let us seek to possess ourselves of what is here, remembering that even typically it is only half the story of that glorious reign, which we must go on to the books of Kings and Solomon to find completed. Here we have the establishment of the kingdom, there its after-character; here Melchizedek in the significance of his name as "king of righteousness," there the "king of Salem, that is, king of peace"; here, therefore, the man of war, though far from being merely that. But as "judgment shall return to righteousness," so, conversely, righteousness shall return to judgment. The kingdom will be a display of power such as the world has never witnessed; the king, the "lion of the tribe of Judah"; the sceptre, a "rod of iron." And this indicates, indeed, the "regeneration" of the earth (Matt. 19:28), when righteousness shall reign; but not the "new" state, in which righteousness shall "dwell." (2 Peter 3:13.) The millennium is the last of earthly dispensations, not the fixed eternal blessedness beyond. The millennium has an end; and that which has its end and passes away shows by that fact its imperfection. Still the hand that rules lacks no element of perfection; and the end of the millennium is the subduing of all things to God in such sort that the separate kingdom having attained its purpose, all things can be delivered up into the hands of God the Father, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28.)

Section 1.

There are three sections here: the first showing us the throne of David set up, in accord with and subjection to the divine throne (2 Sam. 5, 6); the second, its establishment and growth under his hand (2 Sam. 7 — 8:14); the third, its internal administration and character (2 Sam. 8:15 — 9.).

(1, a.) To pursue now the story here. What Abner was not permitted to accomplish is now done by the united voice of the people. All the tribes now, as that of Judah before, assemble at Hebron to make David king. They own at last what he had been to them even in Saul's reign, and Jehovah's promise concerning him, so that their acknowledgment of David is a return of heart to Jehovah also. He makes a covenant with them before Jehovah, — it would have spoiled the type to say that they made a covenant with him, — and they anointed him king over them. Thus it will be when they own Christ their King in days to come.

David is thirty years old when he begins to reign, the time in His days on earth when Christ was anointed and thus came to His title, — "Christ" and "Anointed" being the same thing. It was the recognized time for entering on Levite and priestly service. This 30 is 10 x 3, the number of responsibility multiplied by that of divine manifestation. This is indeed what, whether as King or Priest, He assumes as His task, and nothing less could have accomplished anything for man. Forty years David reigns: for, as we know, the millennial reign he represents is not the eternal state, and is, therefore, as dispensational, a time of testing for man still. As to the other numbers I have no knowledge of their meaning.

(b.) The taking of Zion follows immediately after the anointing; and Zion becomes the city of David, permanently associated with his name. Not only so, it is named in Scripture as the place of the divine choice and abode. David, as we find presently, brought the ark to Zion; and in Psalm 132, in answer to the prayer, "Arise, Jehovah, unto thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength," the divine answer is, "Jehovah has chosen Zion: He hath desired it for his habitation; this is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it." The royal throne and the divine throne are thus in the same place, although they may also be distinguished as by Micah, for whom Zion and the mountain of the house have their separate designation. (Micah 3:12.)

The name Zion is generally given as "sunny"; but it may just as well signify "fixed." Either sense may be quite appropriate; while the last connects more plainly with what the voice of the Lord has declared regarding it. In contrast with Ephraimitic Shiloh, and consequent upon the failure of the nation and the priesthood there, Zion with David himself are emphatically marked out as objects of Jehovah's choice, in the seventy-eighth psalm: grace manifests itself thus amid the ruin, to the people of God.

But again the Jebusite, the "treader-down," has been at work, and the Lord used the term to express the condition of Israel's city during the times of Gentile supremacy: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24.) Thus the Jebusite period has come back, and will last until the true David shall come in power. But what is that which has maintained Jebusite dominion over the place of Israel's and Jehovah's throne? But one answer is possible here: it is sin which alone can have done so, the sins of God's people themselves. And so inveterate has sin proved in their case, that the Jebusite may seem justified in his taunt, "Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither," as much as to say, "David shall not come in hither." Here is, indeed, the real question. Blind has Israel been as to all God's dealings with them: lame, for any walking in paths to which the voice of God for so many generations has been calling them! Well might it seem as if their doom were settled now, and their hope gone. Yet the very name of Zion is a perpetual reminder of promise that abides and which will be fulfilled yet in David's victory. God has said of Zion, "Here will I dwell, for I have desired it": it is the "fixed" place of His abode.

The smiter of the Jebusite must smite, therefore, the blind and the lame, and reach the watercourse, the stream of living water. Let us note, however, that in the text the order of the two latter is inverted: the watercourse is the way of reaching the blind and the lame, as spiritually it surely is. It is remarkable that it has been found quite recently that by the watercourse (by its subterranean channel) the place of the citadel can yet be, though with difficulty, reached. Thus nature bears testimony with Scripture still. David, therefore, takes the stronghold and dwells in it, and builds it up anew. And he goes on and becomes great, for the God of hosts is with him: the higher kingdom and the lower are now united.

Following this we have the first brief notice of Hiram, in which we find a Gentile power greeting and sending aid to the king of Israel. "The daughter of Tyre is" here "with a gift." But this is to find more prominence and significance in the day of Solomon.

(c.) There are still more marriages contracted by David, and sons and daughters born to him in Jerusalem. Eleven are named, but without mention of their mothers. There are but two of whom we find anything recorded afterwards, and only one in the present history. None the less must there be purpose in their enumeration here.

Of these eleven sons, judging by their numerical significance, there are two series, 4 and 7; and this is confirmed by 1 Chr. 3, where we find that the first four were all sons of Bathshua or Bathsheba: the latter means "daughter of the oath"; the former "daughter of salvation." But the two are one, as Zacharias' song declares: "the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered from the fear of our enemies, might serve Him without fear." Notice that, with one exception, the names of mother and children are practically here: —
1. Shammua, "heard," or "obeyed": — "might serve Him."
3. Nathan, "he has given": — "that He would grant unto us."
4. Solomon, "peaceful": — "that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear."

One name only remains unaccounted for in the song, and that the history accounts for fully. It is the second name, Shobab, "turning back," which the cry of the Psalms acknowledges as God's work: "Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts; cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved." (Ps. 80:19.) Altogether it is clear, therefore, that these four names express, as Bathsheba's sons should do, the fruits of the "covenant of promise": and this is also what a first series, as such, might express. They show us Christ as "Minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers" (Rom. 15:8), and that in the full character of One who has now "the government upon His shoulder." (Isa. 9:6.) All this is in perfect keeping.

The remaining seven sons seem to give the testimony borne by that salvation which the people experience; and this is a great point: we are thus "in the ages to come" to show forth the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:7.) This reflex influence of His work is thus a ministry of grace to the whole universe; and the number of perfection, 7, is exactly the number to express this. We may be sure, however, that we shall be able but poorly to give even the outlines here.

The first son now is Ibhar, "election ," or "He chooses." The fountain of all blessing is in God Himself, in His will alone. This is evidently the fundamental necessity, if He is to be glorified at all. What is merely casual, or what is otherwise produced, we cannot trace to Him, cannot glorify Him for: this needs no argument.

The second son is Elishua, "my God is salvation": the method as well as the will is from Him. It is the blessedness of the gospel that God is thus exalted in it.

The third son, Nepheg, "sprout," shows the activity of life, and therefore of the Spirit of life. Thus the subjective work in the soul is also His, — the internal work is a salvation, as well as the sin-bearing work of the cross.

The fourth son, Japhia, is "lustrous, shining," the creature clothed with the glory of the light, the reflection of that which has shone upon it. Christ Himself is the pledge and assurance of this, and by occupation with Him it is that it is produced. In it we are still in the weakness of creaturehood, receptive merely: the experience on our part is of what He is. And what a testimony to His grace that He can thus stoop, in the delight of His love, to glorify the objects of His choice!

The next three names all speak directly of God: first —

Elishama, "God heareth": the creature, thus laid hold of by His love, is for Himself; and, having heard His creative voice, is privileged to respond and be heard again. Thus the joy of such intercourse begins, no more to end, and —

Eliada, "God knoweth," carries it on to full communion. For such "knowing" is approbation, as when the "Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; and hearing with such knowledge implies the victory found over the evil that has brought in distance between the soul and Him, as it does also the nearness bred of likeness. And of such victory the last name seems now to remind us —

Eliphelet, "my God is escape," or complete deliverance. How the complete end gained will emphasize that escape! All words are utterly feeble here.

(2) We have next David's conflict with the Philistines, Israel's constant enemies from the times of the judges, and who had given Saul his final overthrow. David, on the other hand, gains two great victories, each of which has surely its lesson for us. In each case they "spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim," the giants with whom we find them so much associated, and who give a monstrous, satanic character to them. When man looms large, even heathenism imagines its God-defying Titans, if these are not rather the distorted traditions of true history. David, in meeting them, clings to God and to His word, and Jehovah breaks forth upon them like a water-burst. In truth that is the way in which the power of error is to be met. When the heavens are opened and pour down their spiritual floods, then the hosts of superstition and formalism are defeated, the blocked channels are cleared, and the barriers reared by ecclesiasticism swept away.

David names the place Baal-perazim, the "place of breaches," or "burstings forth"; and he and his men take away the images of the Philistines, thus returning upon them the captivity of the ark in Samuel's day. But the dumb idols can be treated as the useless lumber that they are, and can make no reprisals.

The second battle is still in the valley of Rephaim; but David is now commanded to make a circuit round the Philistines, and come upon them over against the baca-trees (trees of "weeping"), and the sound of marching in the tops of the trees would show him when to attack, Jehovah having gone out before him. The baca-trees are said to be so called from exuding a tear-like sap wherever a leaf is torn from them. Can these weeping trees be a symbol of how the life of Christ is manifested as to the present state of things in sorrowing, not rejoicing? — this thus revealing the Lord as against the world-church, which suffers not with Him, but reigns?

These two battles would show us, then, the twofold controversy between Christ and the modern Philistinism which is against His Spirit in its dry form and externalism, and against His sympathies in its contentment with a world that crucified Him. Thus it cannot come into blessing, but must be swept away. David smites his enemies, therefore, from Geba to Gezer, as judgment from the Lord will come upon that which exalts itself and is in independence of Him. (See p. 66, n.)

(3) And now we have the ark established in its place in connection with the throne in Zion; not, indeed, its full place, — the temple could not yet be built, nor by David: the reason of which we shall find in the next chapter. But the ark is the throne of the Lord; and it must be shown that the throne upon earth is in accord with and in subjection to the higher throne. Thus David becomes but a servant in the presence of the ark.

Yet servant as he really desires to be, he makes a great mistake,which involves serious consequences. It is strange, indeed, that, in a matter such as he had now before him, David should neither inquire of God, nor think of the directions given in the law as to the carriage of that with which it was known that God had been pleased so intimately to connect the manifestation of His presence. It is stranger still, and reveals sadly the state of things in Israel, that of all those set apart to the service of the sanctuary, there was no priest or Levite to inform a well-intentioned king regarding the prescribed way of acting. Terribly had the Philistines suffered for dishonor done the ark. Terribly had the men of Beth-shemesh suffered. Yet the Philistines' own expedient — confessedly only that — for ascertaining in the best way they knew whether it was Jehovah's hand that had smitten them, is what David adopts in bringing the ark to Zion! True it was that He had allowed the Philistines to get their lesson in this way; and this, there can be little doubt, encouraged the adoption of it: but there could be no justification of such imitation. God had spoken: there was the most shameful ignorance or carelessness as to it; and this just where, in the most solemn manner, they were professing to put themselves under His yoke! How could He. in this great object-lesson before the eyes of the whole nation, allow this to be as a precedent for the future, and make light of His own dishonor?

They go beyond the Philistines even, as such imitators generally do. The Philistines had assumed, at least, that if Jehovah were God, the cattle would act obediently to Him without their guidance, and even in contradiction to their own natural instincts. But the Israelites, having committed the ark to the ox-cart, must have Uzzah and Ahio to guide the oxen. They had not faith in their own contrivance, and are already committed to the perilous work of trusting to their own management of difficulties that may arise. Alas, had they not learnt more in all the years that the ark had been in the house of Abinadab? And what, then, does this argue as to them?

Yet all for a while goes well. There are rejoicings and abundant demonstrations of loyalty on the part of the people, till at the prepared threshing-floor the oxen stumble, and Uzzah puts forth his hand and takes hold upon the ark to steady it. Uzzah means strength": he had not measured himself before God, nor learnt the source of strength. The act revealed what the ark was to him, the habit of a soul ignorant of God and of itself, while most self-conscious. He is smitten; and the "prepared" threshing-floor becomes Perez-uzzah, the "breaking of strength."

It is strange that in the service of the sanctuary one like David should be so more than dull; yet similar things abound with us today. The fact of good intention, of a thing, too, right in the main being before the soul, oft hinders even the need being felt of seeking the mind of the Lord or of testing everything by the word of God. If the thing sought be in itself good, why scrutinize methods so severely? How little do we understand the irreverence that lurks under the appearance of honest devotedness, where man's wisdom is assumed competent to think for Him, or man's strength competent to work His will! How often thus we have our Uzzahs smitten, just when we imagine our service must be accepted of Him!

Then comes the reaction upon this vain confidence: "David was afraid of Jehovah that day, and said, How shall the ark of Jehovah come to me?" So we pass from one extreme to the other; and in proportion to the buoyancy of our first confidence is apt to be the depth of our despair. The consciousness of haying sought to do the Lord's will in that which has turned out so unhappily shrouds His dealings with us in gloom and mystery. Where we expected to find the signs of gracious acceptance and approval, on the other hand we have been smitten by Him. And how shall we stand before a God like this?

Yet the matter is simple, as we have seen. How could He accept the complete setting aside of His word, the adoption of Philistine methods and worse, where He had plainly intimated His will? — and this done in the most public way, and by the whole body of His people? "If thou shalt take forth the precious from the vile," is the principle that applies here. The desire to serve Him is ever precious to Him, and yet there may be that in the service which He can only testify against. Oh that the church of God would listen to this voice today, amid the innumerable self-imagined plans whereby it is sought to serve God, but whereby His word is improved upon and supplemented until it is lost and set aside, and His name dishonored in the very offering we bring to Him.

But can we define more closely the special form of evil that is presented here? What does the ark of God upon the ox-cart speak of precisely? The ark was the throne of God in Israel: He dwelt, or had His seat, between the cherubim; there the glory rested, and thence the voice of the Lord gave forth its utterances. The dictates of this throne were addressed to men, to a redeemed people, separated from the apostasies of the nations round to know and serve Him alone, as alone worthy to be served, His service not slavery but the most ennobling freedom. As His people they had been brought out of darkness into light, out of debasing impurity into "holiness of truth," the reproach of Egypt rolled away from them. Hence the only suited carriage for the ark was upon the shoulders of the Levites, the willing yoke-bearers of His glorious chariot of salvation. Redeemed men, subject to Himself alone, are still those who occupy a place of which that in Israel was but a type, a shadow. To these He has in His precious grace committed Himself, that their willing hearts may bear Him through the world. To them He still says, "Take my yoke upon you: my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

The ox-cart was a human invention, in place of this. It was dead machinery instead of living service. At least there was no intelligence, no moral principle, no spiritual consecration in it. The beast might and did, according to this idea, need a director; and this was proved in the most unhappy way in Uzzah: the man was more out of his place than the beast was; and the bolt of divine judgment fell on him. Directors and machinery are common enough today, whereby the work of the Spirit is assumed by those who heedlessly intrude into His place; and men, alas, oftentimes are compelled to become machines, their consciences subjected to other heads than Christ, their work made task-work, often the "burden" anything but "light." Let honest hearts apply this, as they surely may.

The ox is indeed the type of the laborer in the Word, as the apostle assures us (1 Cor. 9:8-10); but the ox treading out the corn is a totally different thing from bearing the ark of the Lord. The substitution of beast for man is what is here in question; and thus the beast must be taken as beast, — as implying what, if man come into it, speaks of degradation for him. This is perfectly clear. And yet the very threshing-floor to which the apostle and the law in Deuteronomy refer is that which would appear to be the occasion of the catastrophe. The blind animal instincts cause the oxen to swerve aside. The leader, seeing no more than the machine, supposes all to be in danger; and now the judgment falls.

Thus for the present the ark is not brought to Zion, but carried aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. The names here are so remarkable, both in themselves and in their connection, that one cannot but believe them to be designed to attract our notice and furnish a spiritual lesson. Obed-edom, as we see by the reference to the blessing on him elsewhere (1 Chr. 26:4-5), was a Korahite Levite, and thus his house was not unsuited for the reception of the ark. Yet his name means "servant of Edom" (typically of the flesh), and his place of former residence or birth, most probably the latter, is Gath, the "winepress," — type, as we know, of divine wrath.* That we were indeed "by nature children of wrath" is no strange thing to be told of any of God's Levites; and the apostle adds (Eph. 2:3), "fulfilling the desires of the flesh," — we were Obed-edoms. Thus also we are now Korahites, saved as the children of Korah were in the wilderness, from their father's penalty.

{* Gath-rimmon has been suggested, as being a Kohathite city of the tribe of Dan; but why should he not have been born in Gath, the Philistine city? This, while surely possible, would be much more likely to mark him as an individual.}

How beautiful it is to see that while David asks, in fear, "How shall the ark of Jehovah come to me?" the house of an Obed-edom can receive it,with nothing but blessing "Jehovah blessed Obed-edom and all his house." How His grace rebukes our unbelieving fears with blessing! And once again David is encouraged to bring up the ark to the city of David; but there are now those that bear the ark: God's word kept, everything prospers.

Burnt-offerings and peace-offerings are the due accompaniment, for without that which these signify there could be no dwelling of God with man. David himself, girded with a linen ephod, dances before the ark. He is now the link between Israel and God, and in glad subjection to the higher kingdom. At the end he blesses the people, therefore, in the name of Jehovah of hosts, and distributes to them all portions. We see the shadow of the Melchizedek king, the opposite of Saul and his independence, whom we find reproduced in the pride of his daughter. But Michal is therefore without children to the day of her death. The spirit of independence is, of necessity, barren: that of service is the truly royal spirit, as surely as "the less is blessed of the better."

Section 2.

The next section shows us the establishment and growth of David's kingdom: on the divine side, the promise of perpetuity to his line, — an absolute promise, in view of all human instability and failure; on the human side, its extension by the putting down of enemies on every side. The first is not that chronologically merely, but in importance, and the foundation of all the rest.

(1) David is on his throne and in peace; he has rest from all his enemies round about. He dwells in his house of cedar, and thinks it an unseemly thing that Jehovah's ark should dwell within curtains. We see once more how a man's heart may be right with God, and his thoughts wrong. He discloses his mind to Nathan the prophet, and Nathan at first approves his purpose: "Go, do all that is in thy heart; for Jehovah is with thee." But the word of God is something very different from the best thoughts of the best people; and Nathan has presently a very different word put into his lips by the Lord. Here too the Lord shows David that his thoughts are wrong, spite of all the piety of them, by this conclusive fact, that they had not been formed upon any previous intimation of His will. Can a man think for God? Can we anticipate His mind? It is impossible: all that the most fervent spirit can rightly do is reverently to follow it. Hence David must be wrong, and every one else, who would add one jot or tittle to the perfect word of God. How easy, in this way, to decide at once concerning multitudes of thoughts that fill men's minds today! And yet how little is such a principle accepted, even with the children of God! "Add not to His words, lest He reprove thee," is as important as "do not diminish": and, indeed, to do the former we must do the latter. Is Scripture able to furnish the man of God "thoroughly" and "to all good works"? As surely as this is true, so surely must we refuse whatever even man's piety may put forth, if the word of God is not the source of it.

Thus Jehovah says: "Shalt thou build me a house to dwell in? for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, but have been walking in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all places wherein I have walked among all the children of Israel, spake I a word with any of the rulers of Israel whom I commanded to tend my people Israel, saying, Why build ye me not a house of cedar?"

How fruitful a principle, if we would consider it! And not having its application, as so much else, to the cold and indifferent, for they are not the people who come forward of themselves to build a house to the Lord; but to the earnest and zealous-hearted.

But this does not mean that the earnestness and zeal are not acceptable to God: they surely are. He goes on therefore here, while refusing the offer of David, to give Himself to David an assurance that what he had thought to do for Him, Himself would do for David: "also Jehovah telleth thee that He will make thee a house." A son shall be raised up to him, in whom the kingdom shall be established, and who shall fulfill the desire now in David's heart; and his line shall be continued, and his throne established forever.

Solomon is first in view in this promise, as we know; but Christ the only One in whom it can be properly fulfilled, even to the building of a house for the Lord. The son near at hand is but the shadow of the greater One afar off; and the house made with hands only a brief anticipation of the glorious House against which the gates of hades never shall prevail. Thus we see how the instability of the mere human seed cannot avail to alter the word which has gone out of Jehovah's lips. Chastening with the rod of men would as surely come as the need for chastening on their part; but the house and the kingdom abide forever, as sure as the pledged word that never fails can make it.

{*2 Sam. 7:23. In the Hebrew text, "for you," — a difference of one letter from "for them".}

The declaration is so plain that there is little to be said about it in such interpretative notes as we are giving here. It is plain that we have such a full declaration of divine grace in a promise which, ministered through David, is the only hope of the world as well, that man's self-righteousness so ready to manifest itself even in a saint, is abashed and humbled. David, from a would-be worker, is brought to sit before God in rest and adoration. Even his prayer is only now, "Do, Lord, what Thou hast said Thou wilt do!" He can suggest nothing, add nothing, to dim the glory of this abundant grace.

(2) We are now shown the extension of David's power over the nations round. However great, it is but the faint and passing image of what will be, when the King of glory comes. Still it is a type, and must be read as that; or what great interest is there for us in the list of these powers subdued? Nor is this to set aside the letter, which is only certified to us the more as we see the divine wisdom which has guarded and guided the historian. This verification of the outward fact by the manifestation of the inner spirit which gives it vitality and organic place in connection with the whole revelation of God, has been sadly lost sight of through the abuse and contempt of allegorization: that is, of the prophetic character of divine history.

The first conquest is that of the Philistines: "David took the bridle of the metropolis out of the hand of the Philistines." This cannot mean that he took away their dominion over Israel, which was certainly already at an end. It must speak, one would say therefore, of their internal self-government, one city having a controlling power over the rest. The loss of this would deprive them of their internal unity, of such coherence as would make them formidable. It is striking to find in Chronicles (1 Chron. 18:1) that this metropolis was Gath, whose champion David had long before defeated. And what could have the place among the Philistine cities that Gath, the "wine-press" of wrath would have? Let Goliath be slain, their arms are defeated; let Gath be taken, their strength is prostrate.

The second conquest is that of Moab: "and he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, making them lie down on the ground: and he measured two lines to put to death, and one full line to keep alive; and the Moabites became David's servants, bringing gifts." It is certain that mere profession (which Moab represents) will not come to an end at the appearing of Christ: "Strangers shall feign to me; as soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places." So says, prophesying of Another, this very David (2 Sam. 22:45-46); and here there is a line to put to death and to keep alive; but the exposition of this naturally comes elsewhere.

We have now, in the third place, the conquest of Syria, by which the empire of David is extended as far as the Euphrates. And indeed it seems to have been with him a deliberate purpose to take possession of the country as far as the limit of the promise to Abraham (Gen. 15). This seems the real meaning of what even the Revised Version gives as "went to recover his dominion at the River," but which most certainly says nothing of the kind. It is literally "to extend his hand to the River." I have merely substituted "power" for "hand," as plainly its force. With this meaning it becomes clear that the expression would rather apply to David than to Hadadezer, as with the other it must read the reverse way. David had no dominion to recover at the River, while, on the other hand, the Syrian king's territory was at least close by; and while Hadadezer's extension of his territory northward to the Euphrates would hardly have brought him into conflict with David, whose kingdom was to the south, it is quite easy to see that David, coming north to the River, would find the kingdom of Zobah in his way.

The occasion of the attack seems given later as arising out of the Ammonite war. Here we have but a general summary of conquest, hardly chronological. Whatever its historical significance, a spiritual one we have the amplest reason to expect. This career of subjugation and spoil, one can see indeed how another witness would be given in it, such as Egypt, the wilderness, and Joshua's victories, had given before, to the power of one true God over the multitudinous and degrading deities of the heathen. A rude hand was needed to break these barriers to the reception of the truth, of which Israel was the divinely ordained depository; and the judgments inflicted by their means was a mercy, after all, which every thinking mind must recognize as that.

Typically we have already traced, to some extent, what Aram or Syria represents (p. 198-200, n.). It is man, whom God has exalted in Christ, in His own gracious and wonderful way, but who, on the other hand, by self-exaltation debases himself to his own ruin. This last is what we are made to see in the historical Aram. The world is indeed ever illustrating it in different ways: "man's day" is a day of human aggrandizement with that of which he has robbed God, and of self-exaltation by that with which God's mercy has enriched him. And therefore the day of the Lord must be "upon all that is proud and haughty, and upon all that is lifted up, … and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." (Isa. 2:12, 17.)

Aram, the "high," seems even specifically to point out the various qualities of self-exaltation. Aram-naharaim, or Mesopotamia (Aram of the two rivers), like another Egypt, shows us, as already pointed out, that which is bred of the constant stream of mercies by which man is sustained, their continual flow unknown as from those far-off heavens from which they come: so that they can even say, at last, "My river is mine own, and I have made it."

Aram-Rehob or beth-Rehob, near akin to this, speaks of "enlargement," growth of resources, influence, power; —

Aram-Zobah, of establishment, "stability"; —

Aram-Dammesek, Syria of Damascus, if we may accept Gesenius as to it, of "activity"; —

Aram-Maachab, of "bruising," oppression, the tyranny of power.

There is no need to dwell upon these here. It is easy to understand that the world in this form must be brought down in the day of Christ, and be .compelled to yield what it has falsely claimed as its own. Its riches must be dedicated to the Lord; its glory pass to Him who is the "King of glory."

Hadad-ezer (in other places Hadarezer) is a worthy king of Zobah. The variation slight as it is in Hebrew (the lack of a mere shoulder to a "d" makes it "r,"), I cannot but believe to be designed. Hadar means "glory, honor," and is the more common form; but Hadad is "shouting, noise": vox et praeterea nihil, — sound, and nothing else. This kind of satire is often found in the changes in Hebrew names. Hadarezer means "glory is help," the first word being perhaps the name of their sun-deity, while certainly there has been always abundant idolatry of this kind among men. He is the son of Rehob, "enlargement," and has a plentiful following, and gold shields upon his servants; but his gold is this time no defense: it is sanctified to the Lord, with much brass from his towns Betah, "security," and Berothai, "my hewings."

Nor can the Syrians of Damascus help: in Damascus itself David puts garrisons. How differently will the world's "activity" manifest itself in the day that our David does this!

Toi, king of Hamath, however, has been in conflict with Hadadezer, and has evidently suffered at his hand. Toi means "wanderer," the very opposite of the stability of Zobah; Hamath is generally taken to mean "enclosure, fortress." Joram, his son's name, I cannot take as the mere equivalent of Jehoram: it signifies "caused to be exalted." The consciousness of instability and wandering prepares the soul for the apprehension of the grace that exalts, and makes the enclosure of sheltering strength most needful to it. Thus the names combine easily, and we need not wonder to find Toi, the "wanderer," seeking David. All the gifts and spoil of the world are consecrated to Jehovah by him: for the kingdom of Christ subdues all to God at last, "that God may be all in all."

{*2 Sam. 8:13. In the Hebrew copies here, "Aram," (Syria,) a difference only of the shoulder of a "d," which if lost would make it "r." Syria was not near the valley of salt, which is at the south end of the Dead Sea. The Septuagint reads, "Edom," and 1 Chron. 18:12, and Ps. 60, title, evidently speak of the same event.}

Edom comes last for judgment, which, from our knowledge of its spiritual significance, is not difficult to understand. Edom, the old "Adam" nature in man, is the evil hardest and last of all to be subdued. In the barren valley of salt Edom is finally subjugated and garrisoned throughout; and the Edomites become David's servants. As at the beginning we all were Edomites that now know Christ, there need be no difficulty about this. This is the end of the general sketch of the extension of the kingdom. "And God preserved David whithersoever he went."

Section 3.

We come now to look at the kingdom internally; and we have first the administration of righteousness, and the order established for that; and then, at more length, its salvation-character, — of which Mephibosheth is a beautiful illustration.

(1) United Israel is under his hand, and to all his people judgment and justice are dispensed. This is, above all, the character that David represents to us, as we have seen. Alas, that he fails signally at times in this, we know too; but it is the general character of his reign, and that which he stands for typically; the lessons of his failure we shall find in full elsewhere. Here, for the type's sake, all this is excluded.

As to detail here, we have but the names of those put in charge in their various departments; and if we have not skill to read the names, or refuse this "allegorizing," these will be barren enough, nay, would lead us sometimes in an opposite direction. We already know, and shall more fully as we read on, how different might be the actions of the men from the beauty of their names. But the history is at this point purposely idealized, for it is Christ who is before the mind of the Spirit; and thus His inspired mouthpiece is kept from the intrusion of what would spoil the picture.

Take, for instance, the very first name here in proof; a name of chief importance, if its position counts for anything: what is Joab, the son of Zeruiah, according to his acting in the history? Yet the thought represented by his name is exactly according to its foremost place in this catalogue. Joab means "Jehovah is Father," and as the son of Zeruiah, "balm of Jah," speaks, as we have seen, of the cross as the procuring cause of such relationship being enjoyed. It is striking that here is one of those double meanings which often confirm and throw light upon each other; for Zeruiah may also mean "straitened" or "distressed of Jah": and so in both ways the Cross is indicated.

Joab is over the host: for all the wars of the kingdom of Christ are governed by this one aim, to bring in the Father's kingdom. The prayer that He taught His disciples was "Father, thy kingdom come!" The iron sceptre having done its work, He will "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Thus that which He bids them pray for He Himself accomplishes. For this He puts down all rule and all authority and power. "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject to Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:24-28.) Joab is surely, then, without possibility of contradiction, "over the host."

Secondly: "Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder." The office here intended is not certain, hut the word is literally "remembrancer," which might be equivalent to or include that of historian; but would seem, first of all, to be that of king's referee and counselor. Jehoshaphat means "Jehovah has judged," and answers admirably to his office: Jehovah's judgment thus being the rule for guidance at all times. But Jehoshaphat is himself the son of Ahilud, which means "the brother," or "kin of the one born," a blessed and wonderful thought; in this connection how tender an one! that as man is even naturally the "offspring of God," so He is in that sense akin to the feeble creature He has made. His judgments are, indeed, the fruit of this kinship: He remembers this link of His own establishment in all His dealings with them. How should His judgments be thus endeared to us!

Thirdly: we have the priesthood, twofold, embracing the lines of Eleazar and Ithamar both (see p. 298, n.), and Eleazar's given the first place in Zadok, a fact which shows the ideal picture that is given us here: for Zadok really only acquired the first place in the beginning of Solomon's reign, after Abiathar had joined the conspiracy of Adonijah. Yet for the type Zadok had to come first, — who, as the "righteous," reminds us from this side of the Melchizedek character of priesthood in Christ. As heir of Eleazar's line, he is also the true representative of the risen Priest; while a descendant of Ithamar would have been entirely out of place here.

Zadok is the son of Ahitub, "brother of goodness," as the Lord's priesthood as the righteous One is yet the fruit of his human kinship with us assumed in love.

In the line of Ithamar, where we expect to find "Abiathar the son of Ahimelech," we find instead "Ahimelech the son of Abiathar," and this is supported by 1 Chron. 24:6, where the same inversion obtains. Fausset suggests that father and son had both names, which Mark 2:26 may in part confirm. Ahimelech means "brother of the king," Abiathar, "father of excellence."

In the fourth place, the scribe's name is Seraiah, "Jah rules."

In the fifth we find Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the Cherethites and Pelethites, or, probably, as Gesenius says, "executioners and couriers." Here again divine names are prominent: Benaiah, "Jah has built"; Jehoiada, "Jehovah knows." Do they show us that the execution of judgment is controlled by His purpose to build up and bless, this building up being the fruit of His own perfect knowledge? All these names, it is evident, speak as with one consent of righteous, wise, and beneficent government; and when it is added that "David's sons were chief rulers" — cohanim, the same word as for "priests," but here applied to the representation of another in civil affairs, as the priest in sacred (see vol. 1. p. 227, n.) — we have only to turn back to the meanings of these sons' names (2 Sam. 3:1-5; 2 Sam. 5:13-16, n.) to find a host of witnesses to the character of the kingdom represented here. As has been said, the history is carefully idealized that the type may not be marred. When we come to the details of actual history, things will be seen far otherwise; but the Spirit will not be hindered from presenting to us this view of a perfect kingdom, which Christ alone will actually consummate. That to which Scripture uniformly looks on is the glory of Christ.

(2) But Christ's kingdom is not simply a reign of righteousness; it is emphatically for salvation. As in the grand picture of Psalm 72: "He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. … He shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy." This salvation side of the kingdom must now be represented in the picture, or it would not be an adequate representation at all. What worthy idea of God but must take in His grace? And so it is, accordingly: we have one of those touching exhibitions of what David himself calls "the kindness of God," with which all Scripture is full. May it wake up our hearts to praise!

"And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"

How had the house of Saul collapsed, when it was necessary even for David to ask such a question! But a few years since, Saul was the king of Israel, able to speak of his power to give fields and vineyards to his followers, and to make them captains of hundreds and of thousands. Now his own place knows him no more; and the one who sits on his throne, and desires to do kindness to his house, does not know where to find a member of it!

Saul had been the enemy and bitter persecutor of David, and this desire is the expression of grace indeed, although, as he says, there is one for whose sake he acts, and to whom he had pledged himself in covenant. But this covenant itself was the fruit of love alone. Jonathan had made no great sacrifice for David, — had not shared his fortunes, nor procured for him any mitigation of his sufferings. But David is faithful to his oath and to his love: he could not have been in any wise the figure even of our David, had he not been so.

His question elicits a reply from a certain Ziba, a servant of Saul's house: "Jonathan has yet a a son who is lame of his feet." And in answer to further inquiry, he learns that he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lodebar. Thus Mephibosheth is introduced to us.

Mephibosheth, in perfect harmony with what we hear from him on this occasion, means "shame out of the mouth." He is the picture of one convicted and self-condemned, impotent and corrupt, as his own figure is, "a dead dog." His impotence is still further emphasized in his lameness, — lame of both feet. In his infirm and solitary condition, he is a perfect contrast with the servant Ziba, with his fifteen sons and twenty servants, but who is still himself, as is the legalist ever, a servant only; and with that curious ambiguity about his name, which Scripture uses so often and so forcefully; for this may mean "planted," or as two words, "drought comes": and this is the legal contingency.

Mephibosheth is of the house of the failed Saul, and yet the son of Jonathan, whose name, "Jehovah has given," reminds us of the unrepenting call and gifts of God, who calls still the "weak things of the world," yea, the base, the despised, and "things that are not," so that he "out of whose mouth" is the confession of his "shame" is still the Mephibosheth, the heir of the covenant of grace.

He is found in the house of Machir, "one who recollects," (and so comes really to himself) the son of Ammiel, of "the people of God," in Lodebar, where "the word is his"* — applies itself, and comes home to him. Brought into David's presence, he hears the word of restoring grace that enriches him, and bows his heart in gratitude. His place is henceforth to be at the king's table, as one of his sons. This is the communion to which God brings us as His people; while the mere servant remains the servant. How beautiful in its simplicity is the repetition at the close of this story, "Mephibosheth dwelt at Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and he was lame in both his feet."

Thus are saved the poor and needy; thus David shows the "kindness of God"; of which, however, all these things are but the faintest shadows. Yet they remind us of that by which, in the ages to come, He shall "show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."

{*2 Sam. 9:4. Lo-debar is given in the lexicons as "no pasture," and might translate the word in 2 Sam. 17:27, but not here, if we allow the ordinary reading, where twice over the "lo" means "to him" or "his." The spiritual meaning seems to agree with this.}