“And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem. ” Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.”-1 KINGS I. 11, 12.
“CHRIST in you, the hope of glory” (Col. i. 27), said the apostle, when speaking of the governing and saving power of the Lord in the soul. And again, ” God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. vi. 16).
The kingdom of earthly Israel was the sketch and portraiture of Israel in the soul and in the Church. Only when the Lord Jesus becomes King of kings and Lord of lords in us, can the kingdom of the soul, the little universe within, be brought into true order, real harmony, and interior peace.
This government of the Lord, however, is different at different stages of the regenerate life. It is at first the discipline of the outer man, the government of obedience, directed almost entirely to our words and actions. This is like the government of Saul. In due time our religion becomes deeper, and enters into more interior states. It is much engaged in the search for intelligence and truth. It has many conflicts, and it struggles hard for self-conquest. There are hard struggles within for purity of thought and feeling, of which the world takes no note, but which are inexpressibly real and terrible to one who desires to realize the kingdom of God. This is like the government of David. The spirit is striving against the flesh. The love of mind is increasing, and the love of the world decreasing. It is the spiritual state of man. The celestial state follows. The clashings of thought are over.
The aim is only to be good, to seek peace and pursue it. In this state there is but little relish for argument ; but a great concern for love, for charity, for justice, for duty, and for rest in God. A yearning for content, for quiet, and for perfection, distinguishes this stage of the Christian life. This is represented by the government of Solomon, the peaceful king, whose name signifies peace. David’s reign was a very warlike one, yet it was a very necessary one. It prepared the way for that of Solomon.
The human mind, when deep thought has been awakened, and somewhat of Divine light has penetrated, discovers a host of views, sentiments, and prejudices in itself, which need to be corrected. This entails trial, sometimes severe distress of soul.- “Think not that I am come to send peace upon earth: I carne not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. X. 34) the Lord Jesus said; and so He ever says to the regenerating man. He who makes no change, makes no improvement.
The period of spiritual conflict was represented by the reign of David, which it is said in the text continued forty years. Forty is used in the Word when a full state of temptation is intended to be represented. The rain that caused the flood is said to have descended forty days and forty nights. The Israelites were in the wilderness forty years. Our Lord was in the desert tempted of the devil forty days. So David’s reign lasted forty years, to represent the many and varied conflicts of mind and heart, before the kingdom within is thoroughly brought under the steady government of Divine Truth. David’s reign was divided into two epochs. He reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty and three years in Jerusalem.
The seven years reign in Hebron, the name of which signifies Friendship, represented the spiritual man as to Love to the brethren, without which we have no real inner spiritual life. It is charity within, and in act, which really gives heavenly life to the Christian. ” Above all things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. iii. 14). “By this we know that we have passed from death to life, BECAUSE WE LOVE THE BRETHREN” (1 John iii. 14). “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John xiii. 35). To come into a state of charity, of real love for the good of others, is spiritually to reign in Hebron; and to do this for seven years means to have this state of heart completed, perfected, and made thoroughly our own. The number seven indicates the sacredness and completeness of charity. The thirty and three years reign in Jerusalem represented the advance and completion of heavenly truth in the mind. The name Jerusalem means the sight of peace: the number three representing completeness as to truth; and eleven times three, or thirty-three, indicates completeness, nearly to the celestial state; twelve representing that which is full and complete in all respects.
That David’s warlike reign would represent that part of the Christian life which is a warfare, will be easily admitted. He knows as yet but little, of himself or of true religion, who does not know that besides the conversion of a person at first by repentance to the side of religion, which takes place when he ceases to live a thoughtless, an indifferent, or an openly sinful life, there must be a conversion in thought, sentiments, and principle in the mind itself, before the soul is fitted for heaven. With a profession of religion, so far as to avoid sins which are not respectable, to observe the requirements of public worship, to read good books, and to contribute to the cause of spreading the doctrines of religion, we may often be pained to observe pride, vanity, self-seeking, covetousness, haughtiness, or impatience of temper, an unwillingness to make any effort for the good of others, a determination to do as far as possible what is just to our own honour, a concentration of the whole mind upon self, as if it was not a divine declaration which asserts, “Ye must be born again.”
Yet, to fight against these inner evils, to struggle for victory over spiritual wickednesses, is what is represented to us by the whole life of David in its spiritual sense, and in its application to the individual Christian. In its grandest application, David’s life and character represented the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer from the powers of darkness. For although His outward life had little appearance of violent strife until its close, yet the Gospels contain sufficient indications of terrible struggles in the spiritual world against the powers of darkness, during His whole career, to warrant the strong language of the Psalms and the Prophets, and to show how the earthly David in his wars could be the type of the Divine David in His awful combats with, and victories over, the world’s spiritual foes:
“Temptation’s thorny path He trod,
In form a man, in soul a God;
And trod the path alone.
In vain the direst fiends assailed:
His mighty arm of power prevailed,
And hell was overthrown.”
The redemption of the world, and the necessity of Jehovah Himself coming into the world to be our Redeemer, are little understood, unless we are aware how closely the spiritual world is connected with ours, and how the two worlds act and react upon one another.
When the Church is corrupt, and a dispensation has become dark with falsity and ignorance, souls flock by death into the inner world and cannot enter heaven. As the evening state of mankind becomes darker, the number of dark souls in the world of spirits increases greatly, and a stupefying atmosphere presses upon human minds receiving influences from the spirit-world, indisposing them to search for truth, to examine, to discuss, to think, to progress. “Darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.” Century after century passes on, and mankind live in a fog ever denser: they grope for the wall like the blind, the night of thought deepens, the captivity of soul becomes more rigid; and although there are never wanting a few pious and noble souls who cry out against the wickedness of the age, and the blindness and the supineness of the teachers, yet one after another the lights go out, and darkness and error are over all.
” Then error reigns, and earth complains.”
There is however, no help in man, At the fulness of time, the Lord Himself descends into the world of spirits as the Redeemer, and judges and clears that world. He pours from Himself an influx of glowing love and wisdom, which like a stream of fire opens all minds, called in Scripture opening the books. The simple good welcome and hail it as glorious truth, for which they have been waiting. The evil hate it, and resist it, but in vain. They are compelled to fly before it. The masses of those who love darkness rather than light oppose it, but are overthrown as David overthrew the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and all the foes of Israel. Redemption is effected, and a new Church and a new era are begun. Daniel describes the operation of a judgment in the world of spirits when he says, “I beheld till the thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garments were white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool. His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued, and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Dan. Vii. 9, 10).
The real nature of REDEMPTION may now again be clearly understood, and it may be thoroughly seen why Jehovah alone could be our Redeemer. No power but that of the Omnipotent could subdue the banded hosts of the evil in the world of mind, set free the myriad souls which superstition had bound as blind followers of the blind, and pour new beams of light and love into the world. The Lord as a man of war, as Jehovah mighty in battle, is the Divine David.
Very numerous indeed are the declarations of the prophets which speak of the Lord the Redeemer waging a tremendous warfare. Thus the prophet Isaiah, in the words which immediately precede the announcement of the Lord’s coming, in the well-known declaration, ” Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,” foretells the struggle that would take place in the following terms: “For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood: BUT THIS SHALL BE WITH BURNING AND FUEL OF FIRE” (Isa. ix. 5). No such awful combat took place in the outer world: it must therefore have had its fulfilment in the inner world, the world of spirits.
Again we read, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. . . . And all flesh shall know that I, Jehovah, am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isa. xlix. 24-26). Here it is evident that multitudes are represented in such bondage, that their freedom could not be won for them by anyone but the Eternal Himself.
Similar passages are so numerous, that we must leave many unmentioned; but two more will give us very marked testimony on the important subject of the Great Redeemer and His work. “And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore. His arm brought salvation; and His righteousness, it sustained Him ” (Isa. lix. 16). Again,” I have trodden the, winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment: for the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come ” (Isa. lxiii. 3, 4).
That the Lord Jesus accomplished the clearance of the world of spirits, by the warfare and judgment so strikingly foretold, is certainly taught in the Gospels.” He that cometh after me,” declared John the Baptist, “is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize with the Holy Spirit, and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. iii. 11, 12). Again,” I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy : and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke x. 18, 19). Again, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John xii. 31). All these intimations show most convincingly, that while the Lord’s life before men was quiet as a gentle, peaceful teacher, a loving friend, a patient sufferer, in the world of spirits He was overthrowing myriads of evil ones; and when He finished the work of redemption by His cross, “having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them” (Col. ii. 15). “By death He destroyed him that had the power of death, even the devil” (Heb. ii. 14).
Redemption, then, was the overthrow of the powers of darkness in the spirit-world, and the deliverance of good spirits and men from their infernal bondage; and David was the type of the Redeemer when engaged in this spiritual warfare. His carrying out this great work to its full accomplishment—enduring every temptation, and overcoming all foes—was represented by David’s reigning forty years. His deliverance and preservation of all who were in goodness was represented by the reigning in Hebron seven years; and His delivering such from error, and giving them abundance of Divine Truths, is meant by His taking Jerusalem and reigning there thirty and three years. David’s dying and being succeeded by Solomon was a type of the Lord’s suffering humanity, when His redeeming work was completed, being succeeded by His Glorified Humanity, the Divine Solomon.
David being old, and getting no heat from being covered with clothes, represents the Lord rising in the mind and in the Church; His warrior character dying away, and His Glorified Humanity becoming the object of adoration. Clothes represent doctrines, and these without love impart no heat.
The remarkable circumstance of Abishag the Shunammite, a fair young virgin, being brought, to keep warmth in the king, represents the interesting law of Divine Mercy, which provides that, before a new order of things is established, an intermediate between the old and the new is permitted for a time. After the redemption of mankind was completed, and before the Christian Church was established, with the glorified Saviour as the Divine Solomon, the Prince of Peace reigning over it, there was an intermediate band consisting of the pious and pure-minded amongst the Jews, who kept up the warmth of the Lord, that is, kept the sense of the Divine Love alive in the earth. The remnant of the truly pious in one Church is the nucleus of another. They are not properly the Lord’s bride, and never will be. They are not the Lamb’s wife, but they serve until the Lamb’s wife has grown and is ready.
They are beautiful in character and affection, they cherish and minister to the king; but in a short time their office is over, and the true Church appears. The Christian Jews were good and pious, but their mission was soon completed. They gave place to more perfect Christians, and passed away. We have taken thus a view of the passage as it represents the Lord. His victorious redemption of mankind, and the finishing of His conquests and character as the Redeemer, the warlike King. Let us resume the consideration of the subject as it applies to the work of regeneration in us. The Lord must be a David in us, and do the work of David, before He can become a Solomon.
Has David done his. work in us? Has the power of Divine Truth in us smitten the Philistines? Have we overcome the persuasion, that when we know and believe the true faith it is enough? Do we think, because we are in the Church, as the Philistines were in Canaan, that we have done all that is needful, though we are bitter and quarrelsome as the Philistines were?
We must destroy this destructive error, as David slew Goliath. We must become loving and good, gentle as well as true. We must overcome envy and pride, ostentation and vanity, be pure in word, and just in deed. The only way to heaven is to become heavenly. The Lord forgives every soul which comes in sincerity to Him. But if the penitent do not proceed to root out resolutely the evil within, “the last state of that man will be worse than the first.”
It is dishonour to our Lord, to think He cannot overcome in us our evil principles and evil tempers. But the way He overcomes, is by giving us power to overcome. We must have faith in Him. Our Goliath is strong, so long as we fear and are unbelieving. When we are faithful and firm, our foe falls. To him that overcometh, the Lord gives light, love, and peace in ever-increasing fulness.
We should be encouraged by the thought that our conflict with sin is the one grand struggle in which we are certain to conquer, if we are faithful; we cannot fail if we are true. The first thing, the indispensable thing, is, that we enter into a spirit of charity, of good-will to all. Love is life. We must pray, and press, and importune the Lord, until we receive from Him the life of heavenly love, and make it our own, dwell in it, reign in it, until it becomes our abiding nature, our new heart. This is to reign in Hebron seven years. Divine Truth will then open to us the perception that our intellectual part is not yet in thorough harmony with heaven. We imagine that in many things we must think as the world thinks, and carry out the world’s maxims. And many a blind fancy, and many a lame proceeding, are tolerated in our Jebus; for these we can conquer if we try. Our thoughts are views of all the relations of life: the whole man ought to belong to the Lord Jesus, and to carry out His laws. “The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.” When we set ourselves to achieve this victory, we shall be successful. Jebus will be turned into Jerusalem.. The hollow maxims of worldliness, blind and lame as they are in a thousand ways, will be exchanged for the principles of true religion and of solid peace. The mind as well as the heart will fully accord with the Divine Wisdom.
Then Solomon will begin to sit on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom will be established greatly. In other words, the rule of the Lord Jesus will not now be the struggle against opposing evils and errors, but the development and establishment of goodness and truth. The new heart will abound in heavenly feelings, states, and impulses, We shall often glow with desires to do something more for the Lord, something better. We shall find grand openings of heavenly Wisdom expanding themselves before us. “Our righteousness will become like a river, and our peace like the waves of the sea. “The Prince of Peace will rule over us; and of His government and peace there shall be no end.
Author: Jonathan Bayley— The Divine Wisdom of the Word of God (1892)