David in Suffering and in Victory

1 Samuel 30.

1916 73 In Luke 24:26-27, the risen Saviour said to His disciples, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself." Do not these words afford us a warrant to expect the Holy Spirit to give us, in those sacred pages, glimpses of Him Whom, through grace, our souls love, "for he first loved us."? The view obtained of Him is often more by way of contrast than of type, as we may see in the subject of our paper.

The circumstances which led to David's obtaining possession of Ziklag are not to his credit. David had shone in 1 Samuel 26, in his sparing Saul's life, "for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD'S anointed, and be guiltless?" he said (ver. 9). And "Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David; thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail" (ver. 25) — the enemy himself being made to bear witness of what Jehovah would do by David whom He had used to deliver Israel from the hand of Goliath, and who had also anointed him to be king in the room of Saul. It was, therefore, a giving way to sad unbelief when David said in his heart, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul" (1 Sam. 27:1) and so went to Achish, king of Gath, to request a place in some town in the country to dwell therein. Then "Achish gave him Ziklag that day; wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day." The full year and four months spent by David in the Philistines' land reveal no such lustre as attached to the time he and his followers had spent in the wilderness. Psalm 99:8 says, "Thou answeredst them, O LORD Our God: Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though Thou tookest vengeance of their inventions," and this in principle holds good today. Compare 1 Cor. 11:31-32, "But if we discerned ourselves we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (R.V.).

So in the case before us, "It came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire." Amalek was the determined foe of Israel (and represents the power of Satan over the flesh), meeting them when they came out of Egypt, and smiting the hindmost, all that were feeble, when they were faint and weary. And "thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven, thou shalt not forget" (Deut. 25:17-19). Better still, however, when "Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword" (Ex. 17) "the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua for I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven."

Now the Amalekites had taken captive the women that were in Ziklag, "but our captivity by nature was far worse, as dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past ye walked according, to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2), some walking perhaps grossly "fulfilling the desires of the flesh," others morally "of the mind," but all "by nature children of wrath." The apostle even speaks of himself as once "carnal, sold under sin" (Rom. 7.

No wonder was it, in view of all that had taken place, that "David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep." And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, the people to whom he had been so kind. For when he was in the cave of Adullam, "every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them." And to Abiathar he had been able, notwithstanding all his wanderings, to say, "Abide thou with me, fear not, for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life; but with me thou shalt be in safeguard" (1 Sam. 22).

But how David's distress pales in view of David's greater Son and Lord, as given us in Matt. 26, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death"! — Jesus the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, who hid not His face from shame and spitting, and never before had asked for exemption from any sorrow, now making request, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me "nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt," and the second time, "O my Father, if this may not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done," and again a third time, "saying the same words." We adore, but do not wonder at the words, for the Holy One was to be made sin for us, was to bear our judgment, and in that awful hour to know His abandonment by God!

David could seek God only by the ephod — what a contrast! and this he did having encouraged himself "in the LORD his God." In return David got more than he asked for, told to "pursue," he was assured that he should certainly overtake them and "without fail recover all." This result he had not definitely solicited, though doubtless he hoped for it. If he was thus answered, there was One "who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him out of (R.V.) death, and was heard in that he feared (or, because of his piety) "though he was a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect (or, having been perfected) he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:7-9). David's lack of obedience brought him into his sorrow; on the other hand, our Lord's perfect obedience spared Him not unutterable anguish and grief. David was used of God to accomplish a temporary deliverance; the Lord accords an eternal salvation to all who own His adorable person and work. How right it is that He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied! Blessed be His name.

The death of the Lord Jesus may be viewed in varied ways. "By the grace of God he tasted death for everything (or one)" (Heb. 2:9). "Having made peace through the blood of his cross by him to reconcile all things unto himself" (or itself — the Fulness) "whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven" (Col. 1:20). As the living bread which came down from heaven, He said, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51); and again, "He died for all" (2 Cor. 5:15). Yet whilst there is this world-wide aspect, there is, nevertheless, what is special and peculiar. Caiaphas prophesied "that Jesus should die for the nation" (John 11:51), and further we know that "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:25).

But to revert to David in the scene before us. There were his two wives to be rescued, and in God's gracious counsels an Egyptian (type of a worldling) to be blessed. The names of his wives are suggestive. Ahinoam ("the beauty of the brother") — may be taken to represent Israel, and Abigail ("joy of the father"), the bride of the Lamb. Jehovah shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again (Zech. 2:12). "For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 54:5). How fittingly Abigail pictures the one, now being gathered out to Christ's name in the hour of His rejection here, is exquisitely set forth in David sending his servants to take her to him to wife. "And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord." This was true humility, and quite consistent with the implicit obedience she yielded to David's word, acting in a way suited to one who was to be his wife, for she "hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her, and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife" (1 Sam. 25:41-42).

On his journey after the foe, 200 abode behind, being so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor (meaning "good news"). It is not given to all in the behalf of Christ, as to the Philippian saints, "not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake," but it is written for all in Rom. 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." This way in which David's servants dealt with the Egyptian is worthy of note; they "brought him to David." So of Andrew, in a later day, it is recorded that he brought his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1). David's servants further "gave him bread and he did eat; and they made him drink water." So again, Jesus said unto the multitudes that followed Him from Tiberias to Capernaum, "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). Further, David's servants gave to this young man of Egypt, "a piece of a cake of figs, and two cluster of raisins; and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him, for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights." Truly God's grace provides both healing and nourishment, and it appeals to us in our need, "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." "Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." David now probes the young man and said unto him, "To whom belongest thou, and whence art thou?" and receives as answer, "I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick." Such indeed are the rewards of Satan's service. Take Gehazi and Judas as examples. But further comes out the raid that had been made on Judah, and the burning of Ziklag with fire. Now, all is out, and David is prepared to trust the one who had been his open and avowed enemy. He who speaks of the heaven as His throne and the earth as His footstool, and Who charges His angels with folly, says "To this man will I look even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2). Oh, the blessing of being a repentant sinner "For "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

But the Egyptian was not so ready to trust David, and needed his assurances. And are not divine assurances: given to the Lord's sheep? Hear these words of Jesus, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man (or, devil, we can safely say) pluck them out of my hand. My Father who gave them me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28-29). The man is now in the train of the victorious David, who comes upon his enemies in their pleasures, and so it will be with the world when the Lord comes in judgment of His enemies. For "when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upOn them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5). David gains a spoil for himself now which he shares with his friend. Our Lord in John 17 says, "I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (vers. 4, 5). Then, in verse 22, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one." Some of David's followers begrudged that they who had remained behind should partake of the spoil, but David peremptorily ruled it otherwise, saying, "Who will hearken unto you in this matter? "So Paul, when speaking of the end of his course, and saying, "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day," adds, for the comfort of those who have not gone through such manifold tribulations, "and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). May we not then be ashamed before Him at His coming! W.N.T.