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ing the desire of the people for a king, in giving them Saul, and then removing him, according to the word of . the Prophet: “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath ” — the important truth, that perpetuation of blessing rests alone with God, is sufficiently apparent. So that even when God himself “ raised up unto them David to be their king, to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfil all my will,” the highest honour which God put upon David was to be a type of his own seed, in whom alone blessing can possibly be perpetuated—“ Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” It is in this order that the Holy Ghost himself leads our thoughts by the apostle (Acts xiii.), abruptly turning from David to David's seed: “ Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” But David served his own generation, and in doing so did that which he sought to do in another way, even serve posterity. This is an important principle, that in serving our own generation, doing our appointed service in God's
and in His time, we do really secure the very thing which we attempt to secure by providing for the future by means of our own devising. In trying to act for posterity we retrograde, and oppose a barrier to others carrying on the work which God may have assigned to us to commence. In this manner it would seem that the Reformation was hindered; the reformers were anxious to secure that precious truth which God, through them, had revived. In doing this they hindered their own progress, and got off the ground of faith. They succeeded in establishing that which they allowed to be imperfect and incomplete; and by this Establish' ment have hindered to this day the progress of others, because their established imperfection has become the standard to their posterity. Most blessedly did David serve his generation, when the Lord took him as he said, “ From the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: and I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great
name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.” It was the time of David's “ trouble,” but it was also the time of his real greatness, and of his most important service to his generation: David then magnified the Lord, and the Lord magnified David in the sight of all Israel. Walking before the Lord, David could afford to appear vile in the eyes of Michal, and of all who despised him. No two things are morally more opposite, than the Lord making an individual great, and the same person whom the Lord has magnified acting the great man himself. Here truly is found the need of “hind's feet" to tread on our high places. The Lord magnified Moses by his promise, “ Certainly I will be with thee." " And the man Moses became very great in the land of Egypt, and in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.” The Lord would not allow any insult to be put on his chosen servant, but promptly resented it. Once only did this chosen servant magnify himself, and it is written for our instruction: " And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? Ånd Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice..... And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
David had most blessedly served his generation, “when the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies." At this time, "when the king sat in his
“ house,” the thought came into his heart that it was not suitable for the ark of the Lord to dwell in curtains, whilst he was dwelling in a house of cedar. David knew well the value of the presence of the Lord, and he sought to secure it in a way which seemed right in his own eyes, and which commended itself also to the judgment of Nathan the prophet. But “who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him.” The man after God's own heart, and an inspired prophet, are
alike destitute of true counsel when not walking by faith under the immediate guidance of the Spirit of Truth. The thought of David was a pious thought, it was the expression of that desire of the renewed heart for rest, without conflict, in the immediate presence of God. “ Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart, notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house." Zeal without knowledge, and piety apart from actual dependence on God, have proved alike dangerous to the truth of God: it has pleased God to shew that He of his own grace delights to “provide some better thing for us,” than we should choose for ourselves. Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, out of a true heart, said, “ It is good for us to be here"; but what better thoughts had the Lord for Peter, that, instead of being under the shelter of the glory, as he then stood, he should be actually in the glory with Jesus, where he had seen Moses and Elias. Had David been allowed to act under the impulse of his own heart, and to build the house which his son built, what a loser had David been: every quickened soul is almost unconsciously drawn to David, and as unconsciously little interested in Solomon. David " in his troubles" finds truer sympathy in our hearts than Solomon in “all his glory.”
Had David, according to his desire, acted for another generation, instead of serving God in his own, we are all able to see what he would have lost. Nathan now instructed in the mind of the Lord, is sent to David with the message of the Lord. The first great truth announced is, that
. the will, even of the saint, is not to take the lead in the things of God; if permitted, the result would be “ willworship,” one of the most fearful evils in the Church of God. It is our part to “prove what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God.” So long as God is pleased to “walk in a tent, and in a tabernacle,” it is not for any one to build him a house. Solomon, according to the promise of God to David, his father, did build a house for the Lord; the house was filled with the glory of the Lord, and called by his name; but in due course it becomes the subject of prophetic they may
denunciation (Jer. vii. 11-14): its history, with brief gleams of relief, is the history of Israel's abomination, till at last the Lord himself suddenly comes to His temple and finds it a den of thieves, and utterly repudiates it; it is no longer a house which he could own as his, “Behold your house is left unto
desolate.” The next thing announced by Nathan was the determinate counsel of the Lord, in His own time and way, to give settled rest to his people Israel, according to and far beyond their heart's desire: “ Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that
dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more.” This is the happy theme of many a prophecy, the cheering close to many a heavy burden, * Jehovah-shammah ” (Ezek. xlviii. 35. Jer. iii. 16-18. Obad. 21. Luke i. 32, 33).
But the most blessed part of the announcement still remains to be noticed: “ Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house." David would have been content to have built a house for the Lord, but the Lord's thoughts were higher, even for the Lord to build a house for David. This was the word of recovery to David's soul. It brought him before the Lord. He reviews all the gracious dealings of the Lord with him, and becomes suitably impressed with a sense of his own insignificance, "Who am I, O Lord
I God?" Such was not the thought in David's mind when he sat in his own house, he then looked from himself, but now from the Lord to himself. It is this which ever checks the thought of the consequence of our own service, as well as the attempt of doing that which the Lord has not called us to do: "By the grace of God I am what I am; I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. It is equally a sin to run without being sent, and not to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty when he calls. The Lord can do without us, but we cannot do without him: if he be pleased to use us, sufficient is the honour of being the servants of such a master, but we only really serve him as we do the work of our own generation; the moment we cease to serve by faith, we regard the sphere of service as our own, forgetting that the husbandry and building on which we are occupied is not ours, but belongs to Him whom we serve. Needful is it also in contemplating any service, to retrace the way
the Lord has led us hitherto." But all is "small” now in David's estimation compared with the promise of the Lord of making him a house: David's work of making a house for the Lord is now superseded by the happier thought of God making him a house. If we would happily and healthfully serve our generation, it must be by giving to the Lord his due preeminence in service as well as in every thing else: “I am among you as he that serveth”; and he still serves at the right hand of God, making intercession for us.
“ And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God, but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come.
And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” The manner of man is to rejoice in the work of his hands: he seeks to achieve something great to make himself a name. His work will often survive him; but in process of time it falls to decay, to add to the monuments of the vanity of man by the very means he seeks to secure his greatness. But what God does he does “ for ever.” David served his generation and fell asleep, but the promise of God to David, when he was disappointing his desire to build a house for the Lord, became the sustainment of faith throughout Israel's dreary history, and will be again, when faith shall be revived in Israel.' The multitude looked to the temple; faith in the godly remnant regarded the promise to David. God brought judgment on Israel for their confidence in the house, but he showed mercy for David's sake. David's disappointment has, in the result, proved to be his service to his
posterity. Is the house of David threatened with extermination by the confederacy of Israel and Syria in the days of king Ahaz: "It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass." God had made David a house, and this confederacy shall only tend to prove its stability: “Hear ye now, O house of David, is it a small thing for you