The House in Failure, and the Resource of Faith.

It is not without purpose, certainly "for our admonition," that God has brought together, in 2 Sam. 23, David's lamentation over his house in failure; reference to the everlasting covenant made by God with himself, which secured blessing to his house, notwithstanding that failure; and the glowing record of the zeal and faithfulness of his mighty men. Such purpose is discernible to those who feel with the Lord Jesus in these days concerning the disorganization of God's house (Heb. 3), in so far as sin could effect this directly, through self-will and neglect, and indirectly in the governmental dealings of a holy God. (1 Cor. 11:18-19; 3:1-5; compare also Rev. 2:5.) To such it is needless to do more than suggest how far David, though so precious a type of the Lord Himself, is also an example for the individual Christian.

Every reader will notice the striking phraseology of the first verse, by which evidently God would connect David with his blessed Antitype. David himself is involuntarily turned to Christ, as Him alone who could justly fulfil the obligations of one constituted a ruler over men. Being thus led on to a contemplation of the millennial reign, and its presentation in most exquisite picture, it is natural he should perceive only contrast in that upon which the immediate establishment of the kingdom's glory hung - his house. Nevertheless he has a resource, an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, from the gracious hand of God Himself; and this is all his salvation, and all his desire. This meantime while he looked forward to the moment when the wicked shall be "thrust away" by One adequately armed for the occasion. The species of consolation afforded him may be gathered from Psalm 89, where he sings "of the mercies of the Lord," and where the Lord also speaks to us of "the sure mercies of David." And how deeply engraved on David's soul was a sense of the Lord's goodness in giving him this covenant! It was His gracious response to David's exemplary zeal in seeking "a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob." (Compare 2 Sam. 7 and Psalm 132.)

It is in keeping with God's ways that He should, at this point of David's history, present to us a detailed review of his mighty men and their achievements. Considering his house, there is only ground for lamentation; nevertheless, grace secures to him a prospect worthy in every way of God,; and his faith being occupied thus with what Christ would be - "for a glorious throne to His Father's house," God displays to us what David has been as reflected in those his faith had gathered round him.

Saul had been anointed to deliver Israel; but showed at the outset how short-sighted is man's choice. Though furnished with adequate power (1 Sam. 10:7), and enjoined to "do as occasion served" on reaching "the hill of God," he did not expel the Philistine garrison which occupied it, perhaps did not perceive the incongruity of their being there. It was fruitless that he there also met the company of prophets, in accordance with Samuel's word, except indeed in so far as it brought glory to himself; for he could become a vessel for God to speak through him, though. heeding not the word of God to him. He was helpless in the presence of Goliath afterwards; then became a prey to envy, and persecutor of the man after God's own heart; and finally dies, forsaken of God, at the hand of those he might have overcome.

Not so David. He begins with victory worthy of Him for whom he wrought, reminding one of former days at Jericho; and finally delivers the land and the people of the Lord from all enemies. Meantime were gathered around him those who saw in him God's chosen and anointed king, and who inspired, so to speak, by his own faith and zeal, wrought with him and stood by him in adversity, where his worth, and their attachment to him, were mutually proved. They are seen "holding strongly with him," to make him king over all Israel on the death of Saul; and in the portion before us, on the very threshold of Solomon's reign of glory, we again find them placed alongside their beloved leader by God Himself. Typically, we may say, he was the captain of their salvation, perfected through sufferings, the leader and completer of faith, anointed with oil of gladness above his fellows, who bare the privilege here apparently of being numbered with him, "thirty-seven in all." (last verse.)

It is easy to see Christ in all this; and coming to the New Testament, we find a divine development of what has occupied us presented in the fullest and most sustaining way. And who may without presumption undertake to speak of this Man after God's "own heart" indeed? It is well we have Scripture at every step. The Father loves to speak of Him to us; and though it be presumption to allow our little thoughts concerning Him to appear, it is our highest privilege and joy to gather up His concerning the object of His delight. We hear Him say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." "Because He has set His love upon me, therefore will I deliver Him; I will set Him on high, because He hath known my name." Oh, to sit lowly before Him, and learn of Him from the only One who knows Him fully! What self-emptiness there must be for communion with God! Self-occupation in any form hinders it; e.g. Mark 9:31-34. Man must be utterly displaced. This we see well in the case of the leper. (Lev. 14) Poor thing! "unclean" and "afar off," needing a sacrifice though amenable to gracious dealing, made clean before God's eye by acceptable blood-sprinkling; qualified for companionship of the redeemed by one washing with water; and for one's own place in the company by a second washing - all most important and; as we well know, necessary. Nor is this all. Death must be brought home to his heart - learned in connection with what he had done, every faculty of the first man being thus brought under the power of death, and a new power given, oil upon the blood. Then what he is is also apprehended as dealt with in the sin-offering and burnt-offering. But this withal yields a sweet savour to God, and the soul rendered thus sensible of richest acceptance enters upon communion in the truest sense. (See also Lev. 7:1-18.) The Lord empty us of self in every form, and fill our souls with His thoughts of JESUS; for IN HIM we are all that God can look for, and IN HIM we have all that heart can desire.

Entered upon a harassing scene, we see Him set for God, and for God alone. He had one object - the glory of His Father; one hope too - the right hand, with its "pleasures for evermore," though the path to it lay through death. (Ps. 16; Heb. 12:2.) For Jehovah's sake bearing reproach, "a stranger to His brethren, and an alien to His mother's children," the zeal of His house eating Him up. Thus set for God, the world ranged itself in opposition to Him, withal so gracious - the heathen raging, the people meditating, the kings set, and the rulers taking counsel against Him. What a picture! Well might He exclaim, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee!"

And what of His house, of whom it was written, "I will dwell in them and walk in them"? He "looked for comforters, but found none." In view of His sufferings, when He might have reckoned upon their sympathy, they were heartlessly quarrelling over their prospects in the kingdom. Here indeed was a sorrow, and one the Lord felt; for He gives utterance to His thoughts in the words of warning: All ye shall be offended because of me this night;" and so it was. "They all forsook Him and fled." They were looking for the kingdom, but there was little in them to maintain its glory. Nevertheless it was the Father's good pleasure to give it them (Luke 12); the Son appointed it unto them (Luke 22), and the Holy Ghost bears witness to the gift as theirs and ours (Heb. 12); yea, more. Divine grace, in the complacency of infinite inalienable love, can strew blessings for "His own" along the whole pathway from even the fireside in Herod's judgment-hall to the seat beside Himself in heavenly glory; can rejoice that, having given them the Father's words, "they have received them" without questioning the degree, and can glory that "they have kept thy word" without questioning the manner.

As the heart passes, not without precious exercise, from one extreme to the other - from what man, alas! is, to what through mercy we know God to be - one may ask the secret and foundation of it all. Blessed be God, we have both in these few words: "The blood of the everlasting covenant."

Condescending, though terrible, was the covenant of God with Israel at Sinai. Mercy shines in that delivered to them still later through the Mediator. Gracious was God in vouchsafing an everlasting covenant in favour of His house to David His servant; and still more gracious that which He will make with the house of Israel after, those days, in the blessings of which we share. In His promise to Abraham's seed (Christ), God could leave room for the introduction of Gentiles into blessing on the ground of faith. But we must go to Eph. 1:3 - 6, etc., to learn the circumstances, height and extent of blessing involved in the everlasting covenant, as well as to John 17 for its precious and sweetest application. In view of immediate failure that heavenly prayer was uttered on earth by divine lips in behalf of unworthy objects. When first love had waned, and allowed sin had effaced Pentecostal beauty (compare Jer. 2:2-3), John 17 was written, as a servant of the Lord has well remarked, that it might be the stay and comfort, as indeed it has been, of His beloved ones, till the moment when confusion will for us have ever ceased. Sweet it will be to surround Him then, holding "strongly with Him," as those who have in any little measure shared His rejection! J. K.