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it better than his servants do, although more guilty than they. He acts becomingly, according to spiritual intelligence. There was confidence in God and intimacy with Him; and therefore David can lay open the tenderest part of his heart to God, the part in which God had wounded him; but when the will of God is manifest, he submits entirely. We see here the evident work of the Spirit. It is the same Spirit who wrought in Jesus at Gethsemane, although both the occasion and the extent of the suffering were far otherwise important. The sin of David had been extremely great; but we can plainly see in him the precious work of the Spirit. Confounded by the simple faithfulness of Uriah, he cannot escape the hand of God! David is pardoned, for he confesses his sin; but, as to his government, God showed Himself to be inflexible, and while sparing the kingfor he deserved death — He announces to him that the sword shall never depart out of his house. We have seen a similar case in Jacob's unfaithfulness. David's punishment also answers to his sins (compare ver. 10 and 12 with the history of Absalom). As to David's affections, the chastisement was in the death of his child, a chastisement which he deeply felt; and the public government of God was manifested in that which was done, according to His word, before all Israel and before
It is possible that the children of Ammon deserved severe judgment, and that this period was the time of their judgment; they were the insolent enemies of the king whom God had set up, and who had given proof of his kind feeling towards them. But as to his personal condition, I know not whether David would have treated his enemies in this manner when he was walking in the narrow path of faith. As a type, this judgment brings to mind the righteous judgment of the Messiah, and the dreadful consequences of having despised and insulted Him even in His glory. We learn from it also, that when a people are ripe for judgment, God will bring it upon them, even although others may seek to act in grace.
When David had shown that he had forgotten God,
and had failed in His entire dependence upon Him, the evils in his house soon broke out. He had added to the number of his wives. The root of bitterness buds and brings forth bitter fruits. Although, in the main, David's heart was upright before God, and deeply acknowledged Him, yet, when once out of that path of humble dependence which is produced by faith and the sense of God's presence, he embittered the remainder of his days, through following his own will in the midst of his blessings. There is sin in his house, wrath on account of the sinvacillation, through partiality for Absalom. Joab appears on the scene, as is the case every time that these matters of intrigue and wickedness recur in the history. This is all that need be said of the sorrowful story of Amnon and Absalom.
David's partiality for Absalom had yet other and more painful results, and heavy chastisements. It is painful to see the
conqueror of Goliath driven from his home and his throne by his beloved son, and that under God's hand. For if God had not allowed it, who could have driven God's elect from the royal seat in which the Lord had placed him? The sword was in his house—the Word of God, sharper than a two-edged sword. How just is the Lord! But whom He loves He chastens. Accordingly, whilst all this is a manifestation of the righteous rule of God, it is to David an occasion of deep heart-exercise, and of a more real and more intimate knowledge of God; for his heart was truly and eternally bound to God, so that all his sorrows bore fruit, although they were occasioned by his faults. In this respect also, although the cause of his grief was so widely different from that of the Lord's grief, he becomes the type of Christ in suffering, and the vessel of the expression of His sympathy for His people. This is even so much more the case, because, with a faithful heart, and in a certain sense, with perfect integrity towards God, the king's faults and transgressions gave rise to those confessions and to that humiliation which the Spirit of Christ will produce in the remnant of Israel; so that on the one hand, he speaks of his integrity, while on the other he confesses his faults. Now this is what Christ causes His people to say, and what He says
for them. Nevertheless, we must remember it is not David himself, as a godly man, who speaks in the Psalms; it is by the inspiration of the Spirit he utters them; and it is a very precious thing for us that, in circumstances where faith might fail and the heart be discouraged, the Word supplies us with language suitable to faith, and to faith in one who has perhaps been unfaithful; a precious testimony that, even in this condition, God does not cast us off, and that Christ sympathises with us, since He furnishes us with expressions and sentiments adapted to such a condition. The Psalms supply this, and in especial suitability to the remnant of Israel in the last days. They are characterised by integrity of heart and confession of sin. The Spirit of Christ gives the sentiments and assures of His sympathy. Ps. xvi. gives us very strikingly this position of Christ. His goodness extends not to God. He calls the Lord, His Lord; but of the saints on earth He says, “ in whom is all my delight." By His baptism, which was the expression of this, He connected Himself, not with Israel, but with the first movement of the Spirit, responding in the remnant to the condemnation of the people as such. This is the principle of the Psalms—the upright and faithful man in the midst of the perverse nation. The book opens with this distinction, drawn by God; it next presents us with the King in Zion, according to the decree of God, rejected by the nation and hated by the heathen, who oppress the people. All this developes itself through a variety of circumstances, and all the relationships of the remnant are there depicted, as well as all affections of the heart. All connected with it is gone over by the hand and the pen of God, and according to the Spirit and the sympathies of Christ.
Chapter xx. ends this part of David's history, and his history in general. He is re-established on his throne, and has overcome the efforts of his enemies, and the rebellion of his own people. The order of his court and officers is restored in peace. Sundry details are added by the Spirit of God.
And, first of all, the government of God who forgets nothing, and with whom everything has its result, is recalled to David and to his people by means of the Gibeonites. It is no longer necessary for the establishment of God's economy that David should pursue the house of Saul. There is a righteous judgment, a moral principle of God, which is above all economies. Saul, in his formal and fleshly zeal, although it was for God, had not acted in the fear of God. It is this which especially distinguishes a godly zeal from a zeal for the outward interests of His kingdom. Saul forgets the oath which Israel made to the Gibeonites. God remembers it, and does not despise the poor Gibeonites. David also recognizes its obligation; after having inquired of the Lord on account of the thrice repeated chastening upon Israel, he submits to the demand of the Gibeonites. The whole house of Saul perishes, except the little remnant attached to David. With respect to the latter, the circumstances of Rizpah's touching and faithful affection, awaken in David's heart the remembrance of brighter moments in poor Saul's career, and he pays the last honours to his memory. After this, God was entreated for the land.
If with a sling and a stone faith can overthrow its enemies, the flesh is at fault before their attacks. David, when king, as we have clearly seen, gave himself up more to his lusts and to his own will, than David suffering. Nevertheless, it is beautiful to see, that where faith has acted amid the people's ruin, it has stirred up many other instruments, who—animated and encouraged by its success—act fearlessly with the same power as that which wrought the first deliverance. It is well, however, to observe, that to conquer valiant foes when all Israel was flushed with success, and strengthened the hands of the mighty men, is a very different thing from the faith which reckons upon God, when strength and success are on the enemy's side, and the people are fleeing before him. The latter was David's case with Goliath. The former that of the men who slew the other giants.
The songs that follow contain instruction of deep interest. David comes forth from his sufferings and his affliction, with a song of triumph and of praise. He had learnt what God was, in his sufferings. He celebrates all that God had been for him, all that he had found Him to be in his necessities and dangers, the effect of God's power on his behalf, and the glorious and blessed result of this power. All this is given in a song, the expressions of which will only be fully accomplished in Christ Himself. In chap. xxii. he celebrates his prosperity. But, what a difference! He declares, it is true, what Christ will be when He reigns; and he does so in language of most attractive beauty, a beauty which ravishes the mind and transports it into the reign of Christ, that blessed world to come of which we speak. But then this sorrowful thought presents itself—“ my house is not so with God."
In the first of these two songs there is something more, of profound interest. David speaks as a prophet; and, as he had done in so many other instances, he personifies the Lord Jesus, the Lord Jesus in connection with Israel. This song then sets before us the sufferings of Christ, as the representative of Israel, and often speaking of the nation as though it were Himself, (sufferings which obtained also other deliverance of far surpassing excellence) as the cause of the deliverance out of Egypt and of all Israel's blessings, until the establishment of Messiah's glory in the age to come. He surrounds the agony of Christ with the whole history of Israel in salvation and in blessing, from Pithom and Raamses unto the destruction of the violent man at the end of days, and the submission of the nations to Messiah's sceptre; and He gives a voice to their distress in Egypt. În chapter xxiii. the covenant was “all his salvation and all his desire,” although at that time “ He made it not to grow." Judgment must be executed, ere the full blessing he expected could be brought in; and these thorns of iniquity must be “utterly burned in the same place.” This will take place at the coming of Christ.
If God honors and glorifies David, He does not forget those whom the energy of David's faith had brought around him. The Holy Ghost enumerates the mighty men of David, and recounts their deeds of valour and devotedness—deeds which obtain a name and a place for them when God writeth up the people (Psa. lxxxvii). Joab is not among them.
Chapter xxiv. Ieads us into a subject which requires