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particular notice. The wrath of God is kindled again against Israel. It is not in the mind of the Spirit to inform us on what occasion this took place; but to lay open God's dealings both in government and grace. In the preceding chapter, God" writeth up" the mighty men who prefigure the companions of the true David in glory. Here it is His grace in staying his anger and bringing in His blessing.
God punishes the pride and rebellion of Israel, by leaving them to the consequences of the impulse of David's natural heart. Joab's habitual cleverness and good sense made him perceive its folly. When it is the flesh in another, it is easily discerned. Joab felt that it was not worth while to despise God when nothing was to be gained by it; for, in this way, the flesh fears God. But the thing was of the Lord, and Satan gains his point. What, in truth, can man's good sense avail, in opposition to the will of God in chastening, and Satan's malice? It is an awful thing to be given up to his power. Nine months of sin on David's part and of patience on God's part, shows us the fatal influence of the enemy; but the sin accomplished only awakens David's conscience. The enjoyment of the fruit of our sin undeceives us. It is the pursuit of it which allures our hearts.
When he has succeeded in inducing the children of God to commit the evil to which he tempted them, Satan cares no longer to conceal from them its emptiness and folly. Happily, where there is life, conscience resumes its power in such a case. Nevertheless, chastening must follow sin which has been carried out in spite of so much long-suffering. But God, who reaches His servant's conscience, brings into play the sincere affections of His heart, in order to bring about His own sovereign purpose.
David exhibits that never-failing token of a heart that knows the Lord, i.e. confidence in God above all, and at whatever cost. "Let me fall into the hand of the Lord.” Sweet and precious thought of what the Lord is unto His people, and well He knows how to fill the heart with the certainty that He deserves its confidence! Even while chastening, God is more loving, more faithful, more worthy of confidence than any other. The plague breaks out; but, in the midst of judgment the Lord remembers mercy, and commands the destroying angel, when he had reached Jerusalem, to stay his hand. It is Jerusalem, the city of His affections, that attracts His attention. God chooses it for the place where His altar shall be built, and His grace shown forth ; His appointed mercy-seat. It is there that His wrath, justly kindled against Israel, ceases; and sin gives occasion to the establishment of the place, and of the work, in which He and His people shall meet, according to that grace which has put away the sin. This will characterise the cross of Christ—this will stay the plague in Israel, and introduce the reign of the true Prince of Peace. David stands in the breach to deliver his people, and at his own cost (verse 17), and according to the counsels of God, he offers the sacrifice of appease
The Thoughts on the First Book of Chronicles will contain a fuller examination into this latter part of David's history.
That I may live and keep Thy Word;
Hide not Thy commandments from me; Grievously my soul breaks
For the longing it hath for Thy judgments at all times; Going astray from Thy commandments
The proud are cursed and rebuked by Thee;
For I have kept Thy testimonies;
But Thy servant did meditate in Thy statutes;
Are Thy testimonies.
THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. THE substance and verification of all blessing from God is to be found, now, and will be found hereafter in the sustainment of those offices by the Lord Jesus Christ, in which man has either failed, or has stood merely as the type, or shadow of “ Him who was to come."
The brightness of both earth's and heaven's hope stands in this, that in the counsels of God, all power in heaven and in earth shall be administratively, in the hands of the once humbled Son of Man; and that, in fact as well as of right, He shall apply that divine power for the creature's highest good and the Creator's glory, in the wide sphere of heaven and earth.
Many and precious will be the fruits of that dispensation; precious to the church, to Israel, and to the world. For then will come the time of Satan's casting down from his seat of power-of Israel's regathering in peace and joy-of the deliverance of creation from its bondage of corruption and its groans, and above all, the manifestation of Christ in glory, and His church's exaltation and companionship with Him in His throne.
Connected with this bright scene of happiness and glory, is the subject of this paper. For, whatever may be the intermediate importance of the Melchizedek Priesthood of Christ, it looks on for its full display to the time when “ the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Thus is the record of Scripture which first presents this subject to our minds:—“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all" (Gen. xiv. vers. 17--20).
In his Melchizedek character the Lord Jesus Christ
stands not so much “ the high priest of our profession” as in Hebrews (as he does “ the priest of THE MOST High God); and that under the asserted power of him whose special title to praise and glory, as well as dominion, is, that he is “ Possessor of heaven and earth.”
Most interesting is it thus to see in this earliest type of Christ's official glory, as God's royal priest, the most perfect presentation of that character in which he will finally stand, and fill heaven and earth with blessing and praise. In this we have an example, which is common in Scripture, as the expression of the Divine counsels, of that which is first in the order of revelation being the last in the order of accomplishment. This is manifest even in the first promise of mercy to man; in the terms of which are indicated the last exertion of Christ's power:-" He shall bruise thine head.” For every part of Scripture is the word of Him who "sees the end from the beginning;"
6 and who cannot rest short of the full accomplishment of His
purpose and counsel. The priesthood of Aaron historically may come in, after its exhibition in the hands of Melchizedek, and so shadow forth an essential part of the work of Christ, previously to the display of his royal priestly glory; still, overpassing the entire of these heaven-appointed types, the Spirit of God, by David, reverts to the brief expression of this glory, before us, saying “ The Lord hath sworn and will not repent,” Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec (Psalm cx).
It is but a brief expression; but we find that after all has been accomplished, in the intermediate period, connected with sacrifice and intercession, of which the elaborated types and service of the tabernacle and Levitical priesthood are the expression; necessary indeed, most necessary, as the grounds of the sustainment before God of an erring and imperfect people—all reverts to the original and simple type in which is presented more prominently the exercise of this priesthood according to the dignity of him who bears it, also to the glory of him who confers it, as well as according to the purposed blessing of that double sphere to which its exercise extends.
In speaking of this bright and blessed aspect of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, so fraught with blessing from heaven's eternal stores of blessing, and introducing a scene so in contrast with the corruption and misery of the present, and therefore so knit-up with the longing of our hearts for the reign of righteousness; it may be well to advert, by way of illustration, to the general subject of priesthood as it is presented in the Scriptures.
All are familiar with the exhibition of the Levitical priesthood, and with the use that is made of these types in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as illustrating the present . position and ministrations of Christ for His
But there were priests before the giving of the law, and before the setting apart of the tribe of Levi.
What may be characterised as the priesthood of worship, is the first that is presented in the order of God's revelations; as illustrated in the example of Abel. - The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." .“ By faith Abel offered unto God a excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Faith, not formal constitution, made him a priest, and directed him in the choice of his offering; and gained for him acceptance with God.
Subsequently, this priesthood is seen in the heads of the patriarchal families, as Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: not to mention “ Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, [who] took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God.”
Sacrifice, or the worship of the altar, was connected with all these instances; and sweet was the savour of "their burnt offerings, though the formal title of priest was not assumed by any.
Melchizedeck is the first historical person in Scripture bearing the title of priest; and in this king and priest is presented the true and perfected glory of the priesthood of Christ. Now he stands for his people in the “holiest," in intercessional grace; but then he will be presented in glory on earth; "and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and
he shall be a priest upon his throne."
The Levitical priesthood it will be the less necessary, at this point, to speak of, as it is so interwoven with