5 The City of David

<< 2 Samuel 5: The City of David >>

“And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land; which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David. “And David said on that day, whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and, the lame shall not come into the house.”–2 SAM. V. 6. 7. 8.

AS soon as the conviction that there is a correspondence between the world of matter and the world of mind has been fully established In the soul, the universe around has acquired a new value, and the Word of the Lord a new and living glory. Every object is instructive as a symbol as well as a fact. The incidents of human life are tokens and illustrations of the workings of the world within us, and teem with wisdom. The changes of everyday life, the movements of the seasons all the events which form history, reflect before the eyes of mankind important truths associated with our mental progress, and flash light from time to time over heart and home.

The historical parts of the Word are divinely arranged as illustrations of this grand principle. Of all of them we may truly say with the apostle, “Which things are an allegory” (Gal. iv. 24): and of none more clearly than of the striking circumstances related in our text: the taking of Jebus and transforming it into. the city of David. David had been king at Hebron, the chief city of the tribe of Judah, and the ancient capital of Canaan, for seven years and six months (ver.x), He had reigned over the noblest of the tribes peacefully and happily, but the remainder of the land still rejected his sway. The Jesubites were so strongly posted, so firmly entrenched and fortified, that they treated with disdain the idea of David’s being able to take possession of their city: they posted blind and lame men as defenders, and defied him to remove them. For seven years and a half David was not strong enough to make the attempt, but at length the time came when he could safely undertake the arduous work, and obtain the triumph reported in the words before us.

The partial conquest of Canaan represented the partial regeneration of the soul. Hebron was the ancient capital of the country; it had been the seat and centre of a former religion, and its name signified “amity” or “friendship.” It was the type of that brotherly love or charity which is the very essence of religion. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” For a person to become spiritually-minded, and of the Lord’s church at all, he must open his heart to this spirit of charity. And thus David comes to reign at Hebron. An inner state of spiritual life is developed and held sacred as a holy thing within. Sacred sentiments are experienced and enjoyed, delight in worship is felt again and again; we feel an assurance that we have the Lord’s blessing, and really love the divine will and the things of heaven. This state of heart becomes matured and perfected, and thus attains to the condition signified by seven years, and capable of making further advancement, signified by the half-year or six months.

When internal religion gets a footing in the soul, the gladdened heart hails it, welcomes it, and rejoices in it. For a while it looks but little beyond this great attainment: it knows there are conditions of family or business or social position that are not exactly what they ought to be, but these are little thought of. They are regarded as things which cannot be set right, and must be endured. They are our stronghold of the Jebusites, and we say David cannot come in hither. With some the stronghold of the Jebusites will be the fiery faults of temper, which are supposed to have been born with them, and must remain with them to their grave. With some it is a particular position in life which entails habits which religion cannot approve, and which they do not see their way to alter. By some a trade is pursued or a calling exercised which conscience condemns, but which is too lucrative to be set aside; on which they seem almost exclusively to depend, and without which, their future seems to be doubtful. These and many other phases of life, where change entails difficulties which seem to the anxious Christian to be insurmountable, are strongholds which it is thought cannot be overcome, and of which we say, “David cannot come in hither.”

The Jebusites were so satisfied of the strength of their fortress, that they exhibited and paraded their weakness so far as to shew that many of their defenders were blind and lame. In ordinary cases, commanders rather make a show of strength greater than they possess, to deter and dishearten their assaillants by the appearance of great numbers or great ability in the defenders. The Jebusite troops were many of them blind and many lame, but David was challenged to get at them, and overcome them if he could. And it is said, these blind and lame were hated of David’s soul.

David represented the spirit of the Lord Jesus in us, disclosing our evils of various kinds, and resolutely inducing us to overcome them. That David was a type of the Lord Jesus is very evident from the prophets, from the gospels, and from the teaching of the apostles. In Ezekiel, for instance, we read, “I will set up one shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even my servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God; and my servant David a prince among them ” (Ezek, xxxiv. 23, 24). Those who regard the Lord Jesus as the One Grand Shepherd of His whole spiritual flock, will have no difficulty in accepting Him. as represented here under the type of David. His Humanity is David, His interior Divinity is Jehovah, who would still be their God.

The words, “They pierced my hands and my feet;” again,” They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots;” and the cry of bitter suffering on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” are taken from the twenty-second Psalm. It is difficult to see how they could be applied to David himself, but to the Lord Jesus they are expressly applied in the Gospel, and in Him they were manifestly fulfilled. The apostle Peter quotes other Psalms, and especially a great portion of the sixteenth. After citing, among others, the words, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” he says expressly, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up CHRIST to sit upon his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of CHRIST, that his soul was not left in hades, neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts ii. 27, 29-31). There is, then, abundant evidence that David was the type of our Lord as the Redeemer from the

powers of darkness. He conquered the evil dominion as a whole, the serpent’s head, in the days of His sojourn in the world, and he has now the keys of Hell and of death (Rev. i. 18). He conquers sin in us, when he enables us to see, to fight against, and to overcome our various evils, and step by step to work out our salvation, ” I give you power, He said to His disciples, and He says the same to everyone of us, “to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke x. 18).

David, therefore, represents the Divine David, the spirit of the Lord Jesus when He has been born in us, and has acquired strength and settlement in our affections as our Lord, the King of our Israel, the source of purity, holiness, and blessing. For a considerable time after we have chosen the Lord Jesus for our inward king, there is a state of peace and quiet vouchsafed to us; we have much of interior consolation and heartfelt joy. A time comes however, when some great department of our lives has divine light thrown over it, and we see it in many respects contrary to the Divine Will, and to the spirit of heaven. The King and His men, the Lord Jesus and His angels, draw near to us and having an increase of light, and a fuller enjoyment of the atmosphere of heaven, the opposite states of falsity and evil are revealed to us.

We perceive the blind and the lame, which we have but slightly observed before, and we see how opposite they have been, and are, to the spirit of the Lord. The blind are those who are in false principles; the lame those who are more or less in evil and hence walk imperfectly in the way of truth. We are all blind in so far as we do not appreciate divine truth in its beauty, worth, and practical character.

“O blind to truth, and God’s whole scheme below,
Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe.”

Some, however, are blind from ignorance and want of reflection not from an obstinate preference to wickedness. Others love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. The blind and the lame in our text occur in that order to indicate probably that the imperfections of those who can be regenerated, and who can be transferred from the side of evil into the kingdom of the Lord, arise from insufficiency of light. They do not see fully, and in its true character, the wrong in which they are. They are blind, and therefore lame. Let their eyes “be opened to a clear perception of the nefarious character of what they do, and they are astonished at themselves, and rise to a higher life. Many pursue trades which are injurious to the community; many carry on, in the businesses in which they are engaged, practices which are vicious and unjust, but which they justify because they are commonly done. Many enter upon the most solemn relations of life from external considerations alone: they readily contract marriage with the worthless, if only there be outward attractions or plenty of money, and thus lame their progress and their peace in this world, and seriously imperil their everlasting state. Some have habits of petty deception, of fashionable untruths, or of small hypocrisies to their children, and are only shocked at length when they find unhappily that small insincerities lead to large miseries, All these things are hated of David’s soul, or in other words, are abominable in the sight of the Lord, because they are contrary to His purity and to His kingdom. “All His works are done in truth.” ” Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne.” “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works.”

Our faults are said to be hated of David’s soul, when we discern their hateful character. We abhor them, and we abhor ourselves for the weaknesses by which we have suffered these evils so long to infest our souls. We say with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” And when we recognise the baneful character of principles in which we have lived because they were the practice of our class, but which now manifest themselves to us in their true unworthy nature, we look up to the Lord and add, “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee, and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” The inhabitants of the land said, “Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither:” thinking David, cannot come in hither.

How often do we say we cannot do this or that: the secret cause being that WE WILL NOT. Our self-will desires not to be disturbed, or not to be disturbed now, and suggests that though certain practices are bad, though they are blind and lame, yet they cannot be altered or amended. What blindness can be greater than such an infatuation!-Not alter a state of things which we discern and admit to be wrong ? why not? How can wrong be right? How can wrong lead to right? The Lord and His Providence are on the side of justice and virtue; and They will make the crooked straight, and the rough places plain, for those who love and who seek the good and the true. You must, you think, go on with a course that you condemn a little further. “Not yet, not yet. Wait a little longer.” Oh throwaway the flimsy pretext! That which you see to be wrong has already done mischief enough, and too much. Cast it away, ere it be too late. If slavery had been abolished in America fifty years ago, what blood and treasure, what sighs and tears, would have been saved! When we fully see an evil, the time to alter it has come. Spare it not. Hew it down as Samuel did Agag, rather than spare it as Saul did, to lose crowd, kingdom, and life. But you think, perhaps, as the Jebusites said, “David cannot come in hither.” The Lord cannot do this thing. Was ever anything so childish? The Lord, the Conqueror of all hell, cannot conquer this small matter in you! The Lord, the Sustainer of all worlds, cannot sustain you! Rather take up the language of the apostle, and say, ” I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.” Depend upon it, the Lord has all power in heaven and on earth. Be faithful to Him, and fear nothing. Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass: and He shall bring. forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day. But let us remark the reply of David, and gather the divine wisdom it is intended to convey.

Allow me, however, to direct your notice to the italics which compose a more than usually large portion of ver. 8, and which indicate that the translators felt considerable difficulty in the rendering. The meaning of the original is not that he who got up to the gutter should be chief and captain, but that every one should get up by the gutter, and get into the place at the back of the defenders, and thus obtain full possession. The gutter was no doubt a secret sluice, down which the drainage of the fortress descended. By discovering this covered and neglected passage, we may easily conceive how the defences might be turned, and the guards surprised and defeated. And when we suppose that some evil course of ours cannot be rectified is it not that there is some impure and secret influence within us, that is at the bottom of the difficulty? We declare such and such things cannot be done. Why not ? Because we idolize our money, and we think we should gain less, or we have some secret self-indulgence that lies in the background, and is like a gutter down which the impure influences of our hearts, as secret defiled streams, flow forth. The Lord, the Divine David, says, “let everyone get up to the gutter.” Explore in this thing your hidden desire, and see if it will bear the light. Oh “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” But the Lord looks upon the heart. Do you look upon it also, and do not spare what is selfish and impure. Lay bare the secret sins of your soul, and dare to look upon yourself as ere long you will be seen in the light of eternity. Wrestle with the principalities and powers within, which are opposed to the Lord. Thus smite your Jebusites, and the blind and the lame. Remember in this respect the words of the Lord, “I am not come to send peace upon earth, but a sword.” Fight the good fight of faith, until you have overcome again and again, and you will be able often to say, while rejoicing in many a victory, “Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: my goodness, and my fortress; my high tower and my deliverer: my shield; and He in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me” (Ps. cxliv. 1, 2).

The last portion of the text announces a proverb which arose in Israel from the circumstance of the blind and the lame having been derisively set up to insult and oppose David. “Wherefore they said, the blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” When we consider heaven as represented by David’s house, after he had got possession of Jebus, and turned it into the Zion of the Holy One of Israel, we shall not fail to perceive the spiritual meaning of the divine words before us. Blindness is a grievous loss. The glorious lights and beauties of the universe all shut out. The lovely hues of flowers, the expressive changes of the human face, all unperceived and the magnificent panorama of the skies displayed around us in vain. One inestimable sense paralyzed, and grandeurs unutterable, all shut out. Such is the lot of the blind. But pitiable as bodily blindness is, mental blindness is worse. Life in the dark is to be deprived of the consolations of heavenly wisdom. The bright gleams of divine truth pass by the soul that will not open its eyes. We can easily imagine that the condition of a blind person would be greatly aggravated if he laboured under the delusion that he was seeing all the while, and persisted in describing and acting upon everything wrongly. Yet with many of the mentally blind, this is actually the case. Wrong they call right, sweet they call bitter, darkness they call light, mystery they say is better than clearness. They stumble and hurt themselves again and again, but again go blundering on, until at last they fall finally, and are only of use as spectacles of warning. They were blind, but they obstinately said “we see,” therefore their sin remained (John ix. 41). Yet it is an eternal truth the blind do not come into the house. The Lord is light. Truth is light. Heaven is the land of light. They who love light, though they are dim at present, can be cured of their blindness, and will rejoice as the blind man in the Gospel did when he said, “One thing I know ; whereas I was blind, now I see” (John ix. 25).

Let us never forget we have to receive the truth before we enter heaven. The blind man does not come into that house. And we can receive the truth best now, The mind is less hardened and more susceptible of truth now, than it will be if we continue wilfully in darkness when the light is pressing to enter. The Lord urges, “Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears” (Isa. xliii. 8). Do not refuse His invitation. He has promised:-” I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not: I will lead them in paths they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isa. xlii. 16). Nor do the lame come into the house. We must put away our faults, or we do not enter heaven. We must walk uprightly. We must cease to do evil and learn to do well sincerely, or our faith is vain, and our knowledge vain. Repentance improves our walk. The Lord Jesus will give us strength, if we wait upon Him, not only to walk, but to run. We shall not only do His will, but do it with a delighted mind. When He comes into the soul, “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isa. xxxv. 6).

Once more, let me say, “the lame and the blind do not come into the house.” Let us press, then, to the light, let us seek for the Saviour’s strength, and we shall lovingly keep His commandments, for they are not grievous” (I John v. 3). “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee.” Never, oh never forget, “THE BLIND AND THE LAME DO NOT COME INTO THE LORD’S HOUSE.”

Author: Jonathan Bayley— The Divine Wisdom of the Word of God (1892)