Devotedness in Warfare and Worship.

In a former paper the circumstances were considered under which the mighty men and their achievements are presented in 2 Sam. 23 David himself was sustained by the everlasting covenant, made with him in grace, as in acknowledgment of his zeal in seeking a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob; and for his house, though saddened by its then condition, Christ is prophetically seen as He who should be to it "for a glorious throne, upon whom "they should hang all the glory of His Father's house." (Isa. 22:22-24.) Being thus occupied, God took occasion to set out for us the deeds of the mighty men in full array - they themselves the fruit of David's faithfulness and zeal for God in a lapsed age. And, finally, we considered how remarkably all the circumstances correspond with those of which the blessed Antitype of David forms the centre. Great indeed was the confusion amidst which God's chosen king moved in Saul's day; and proportionately grand was the faith of the few devoted ones who followed him through it all. Greater far was the confusion when the Son of David, David's Lord, walked as the Man of Sorrows here, rejected by His own, unto whom He came in love and blessing. But even this is eclipsed by the notorious evil of a profession, which uses His name only to dishonour it; a "house of God" on earth, blessed with heavenly privileges, yet ripening for judgment. There remains, thank God, the inalienable love which planned the everlasting covenant, the basis of all the "Great Shepherd's" care for those He now speaks of as "His own" (Heb. 13:20; Eph. 5:25-27); and, through the dealings of that love and care, are there not a few enjoying part with Him, who, sharing gladly His rejection here, shall shine to His glory by-and-by on the threshold of and throughout millennial and eternal scenes, and who are distinguished by their zeal against the enemies of God and His people - bound together, moreover, by a faithfulness and attachment to their beloved Leader, which He alone can truly know and justly appreciate?

In considering this portion of Scripture it is well to see that the classification of the mighty men, though taking shape according to the post each held in the army, is pointedly connected with former actions; primarily dependent, in fact, upon the zeal each displayed against the enemies of David. And so particularly is all recorded by the divine pen, that one must be prepared to glean moral instruction from the arrangement, as well as from the other facts. The actions are significant in view of New Testament truth, and no less so is the arrangement.

We are reminded that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty" in their efficacy when used in the Spirit, whose sword is the word of God placed in our hands as part of the whole armour. (Eph. 6) The Lord Himself could say, "By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer;" and the brethren in Rev. 12 are also represented as having overcome the same arch-enemy "by the word of their testimony," linked blessedly with the blood of the Lamb, who came "not by water only, but by water and blood." Moreover, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." And not alone is this our effectual weapon against the enemies without and around, but the word of God, "sharper than any two-edged sword, pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joints and marrow," etc., casting down the fabrications of vain man's philosophy, ` and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, leading captive every thought into the obedience of Christ.' Here is the divine means of sanctification, as we read, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." It is the basis too; for the Word - Christ Himself - received into the heart in living energy, as life, mortifies what is of the first man, as in a future day the sharp sword with the two edges will do its "strange work" in judgment. (Rev. 2:12-16, 19, etc.) The Word is the instrument of grace now, judging everything that hinders communion. It will be the instrument of government then, crushing "all rule, and all authority and power," which has long opposed the righteous claims of God in His own world. In David's day, carnal weapons effected this in a manner becoming the circumstances of his reign as God's chosen king, and thus foreshadowed the dealings of a future day, just as their use typified the efficacy of the Word, in, through, and by us now against the enemies of God and His people.

The application of 2 Sam. 23 becomes thus easy and natural. One cannot fail to be struck with the detailed manner in which God reviews the achievements of at least the first six mighties, indicating how He regards His people's successes in a conflict of far more important character in these days. Stern opposition to and overcoming enemies characterized the chief of David's mighty men; and he whose zeal shone brightest in this respect stands first - Adino the Eznite. Thus does God in type declare His estimate of that sanctification, that separation of heart to Himself, in which one finds all within and around, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," ranged in opposition to Him, feels it with Him, and in faith judges it all.

In the next case we have a particular aspect of warfare exhibited, and war fare it is too, be it remarked. Eleazar's hand cleaves to his sword. He becomes identified with it, so to speak. It was thus with our Lord. He walked in the truth, and was "the Truth." He lived by the Word, and was "the Word." And so is it with His people, in measure according to the faithfulness of their testimony. (Compare Rev. 12:11, 3:8, 12; Jer. 15:16.)

The vigilance of Shammah in defending the piece of ground full of lentiles, recalls the anxiety of the apostle of the Gentiles that the truth of the gospel should remain with them, and his zeal in defending it. (Gal. 2:5.) It recalls the warning of Jude also to believers, "earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints," a needful warning even in that needful day; for the enemy was already in the field. And is there not, moreover, a voice for us in this, that that of which "the piece of ground" yielded so abundant a crop, viz., lentiles, is the same of which fainting Esau partook; whereupon he revived, "rose up, and went his way "? (Gen. 25:30.)

We have here then the divine order in spiritual warfare typically indicated: first, conflict accompanying a walk in holiness; secondly, the struggle in maintaining true testimony; thirdly, contention for the faith once delivered to the saints, which, being all obligatory, are the essential elements of true Christian walk.

We next meet with something superadded, so to speak, what is voluntary, or, more truly perhaps, what springs from hearts overflowing with affection and esteem for their object, the will being completely subject. Thus the second three mighties, unasked, risked their lives to procure a comfort for their beloved chief - a drink of water. They knew what would yield him a pleasure (he had longed for a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem), and they counted no personal sacrifice too great in obtaining it, laying themselves open to the charge of rashness doubtless from many who had neither the same love nor the same faith. We see in Mary, so often referred to, a beautiful example of zeal in a similar service, outstripping those who evidently would have been content with merely the fulfilment of what is obligatory, and found fault with her for going beyond the bounds of ordinary service. It is certainly only devotedness in a service so essentially spiritual, that can at all adequately fulfil what is obligatory; yet true devotedness is not confined in its service of love to the narrow bounds by which man of any standing might circumscribe it, seeing nothing but the worth of its object, and moreover seeing in the blessed Object it is our joy to refer to illimitable worth. It delights to submit first. Mary sat at Jesus' feet as a learner in Luke 10; servant-like, she waited on Him, "sat still in the house" (in John 11) until called to enjoy happy, though silent, communion on the way to the grave, where she saw the display of His power. Then devotedness finds its peculiar occasion for perhaps the sweetest service. (John 12) Ruth's "Entreat me not to leave thee," expressing what she had learned in this line of service, would have been uttered in ill grace had she not fulfilled her obligations as daughter-in-law to Naomi, even as did Orpah, whose devotedness carried her no further than a fulfilment of them.

Worship is of this type of service. We offer it to God. (Compare Lev. 1-3 with 4, 5.) And it is remarkable that not until the soul is established inside the veil in Heb. 10, and placed outside the camp with a rejected Christ on earth (Heb. 13), is the invitation given to "offer unto God the sacrifice of praise." Just as in 1 Peter 2, we as living stones are supposed to have come to the "living Stone, disallowed indeed of men," before offering up "acceptable spiritual sacrifices." Subjection to what is obligatory has the first place with God. How much otherwise is it with men! What effort is abroad to express devotedness by methods of service originating in uninstructed hearts, and carried on in the energy of an unbroken will, which is glaringly heedless of what is plainly obligatory. We see in Saul an example of a man who would substitute one class of service for the other. Rather than obey the voice of the Lord, his insubject heart imagined to bring greater delight to God by sparing Agag and the best of the sheep for sacrifice. How different the offering Paul speaks of in Phil. 2:17! He was ready to be offered, poured forth upon the sacrifice of their faith; but then he could also say, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content:" he was completely subject. And the devotedness which carried him through all is expressed in chap. 3:7-14.

In 2 Tim. 4:6 we also find him saying, and in an order too, it will be noticed, perfectly agreeing with what we have been seeing in type from 2 Sam. 23 above, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course (of testimony), I have kept the faith." This indeed is an unblemished background for the beautiful expression, "I am ready to be offered." It may be further remarked, that of the three remaining references to warfare in the two epistles to Timothy, a striking correspondence may be noticed between the immediate context in each instance and the characteristic circumstance in the struggle maintained severally by Adino, Eleazar, and Shammah.

And returning to the "three of the thirty chief" (2 Sam. 23), it confirms this whole line of truth to see how that, previous to the record of their special zeal for David, which has already been alluded to, their faithfulness to him as God's chosen king is noticed. They shrank not from the companionship of such as were gathered to him in Adullam since he was their gathering centre. A drink of water from such, under the circumstances in which it was obtained and presented, was precious indeed to a soul like David's - too precious for him, and he poured it out before the Lord. How much this tends to throw into relief the supreme dignity of our adored Leader! Is aught too precious for presentation to Him? And does He look for nought similar to this from us? Though seated in glory, He is the same gracious One who said, in immediate view of His death, "Do this in remembrance of me," the same who invited His poor disciples to watch with Him when "exceeding sorrowful even unto death." He "looked for comforters, but (alas!) found none." He had none to risk life in a desire to yield Him what He longed for. Ever misunderstood, in His "thirst they gave Him vinegar to drink." Previously He had to say, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and now I am straitened till it be accomplished "; and it was so still. But it is now accomplished; the circumstances of "His own" are altered, and their condition. One spirit with Him, judged flesh need no longer be permitted to overpower with sleep those privileged with the contemplation of His sufferings, nor deter them from fellowship in those sufferings. Flow blessed to enjoy His approving look as those faithful to Him, not only calling Him Lord, but doing the thing that He says - doing it in that overflowing devotedness of heart and life which never fails to perceive occasions of service beyond the range of what even fellow-believers may deem alone obligatory! J. K.