"The last words of David."

1881 244 We may contemplate the close of David's life under two aspects — one historic, the other moral and typical.
The first is found in 1 Kings ii. 9, the last word uttered by the aged king being, "But his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood." "Blood" is the word on the lips of the dying warrior, "a man of war from his youth," as Philistine enemies and Amalekite foes could testify. Memories of holy righteous victories, mingled with those of sin, shame, and sorrow, crowd together, as we think of Elah's valley and Ziklag's sorrow, of righteous judgment on the messenger of Saul's downfall, and the sons of Rimmon, the Beerothite. And would that the picture could end here! But Uriah's cruel death, and Nathan's "Thou art the man," cast their sad and sombre shade over all, as we hear the judgment pronounced on the king's enemies.

How refreshing, then, to turn to the other scene, where the Spirit of God introduces us to "the man after God's own heart," in quite a different atmosphere, and with other surroundings. As we listen to the holy breathings of the prophet in 2 Samuel xxiii., we learn that "no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation," for every word he utters carries us beyond the history and the facts narrated, and the scene becomes a "gate of heaven" to our souls, as we view "great David's greater Son."

Let us look for a moment in detail at the lovely way in which every word tells us of another and greater than he — yea, of One that eclipses" Solomon in all his glory." "David, the son of Jesse, said."

How this leads our heart to the manger at Bethlehem, the home at Nazareth, to Him who was a carpenter, and the Son of a carpenter! The lowly Man of Luke comes before us vividly, as He tells of "the son of David, the son of Jesse," unknown amongst those robed in purple and fine linen — of whom, when it was asked at kingly courts, "Where is he?" the answer was returned, as of David in 1 Samuel xvii., "O king, I cannot tell;" and so he has to answer for himself, "I am the son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite" — a small, despised house, and he the least in the house.

Such was David, such was Jesus — lowly in heart, a companion of the poor of the flock. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Marvellous, precious, and ineffable grace! Jehovah's Fellow stooping to the lowest place, condescending to the meanest estate. How this draws out the renewed affections, as the soul contemplates the travel-stained feet, the weary frame, the furrowed cheek of God's Well-beloved, "hunted as a partridge upon the mountains."

But now in spirit are we carried on from the evangelist Luke to the historian Luke, as, in the opening chapter of the Acts, he presents the lowly Son of Jesse as "the man raised up on high."

In lowliness He had humbled Himself, taken a servant's form, had gone down into death, obedient to the Father's will; and now, when the lowest point is reached in holy descent, "He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father." And His ascent was indeed glorious and exalted, for "he was set far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." The sceptre of majesty is in His hand, enthroned in the excellent glory, at the right hand of the Majesty on high. It is no longer the despised "Nazarene" that Peter has to announce: "God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified both Lord and Christ."
"Worthy the Lamb that's gone on high
To be exalted thus."

This once despised but now exalted One is likewise "the Anointed of the God of Jacob," the centre and the sum of all God's purposes for Israel and for the Gentiles — as indeed of the heavenly counsels also. David was speaking of the things "touching the king," truly "inditing a good matter." He had been anointed with Samuel's "horn of oil;" but the Anointed of the God of Jacob passed in vision before David's soul, and he too, with Abraham, looked on to the day of glory, and saw Him who was at once David's "Son" and David's "Lord" — to Him who was "the Prince of the kings of the earth" — to "the Lord who sitteth King for ever" — to Him "who holdeth the key of David" — to Him who should ask and "have the heathen for a possession" — to Him "who was set as King on the holy hill of Zion."

The next note of the dying patriarch directs us to another glory connected with the One who was thus to manifest God's ways in rule, and we have "the sweet psalmist of Israel."

David had said and sung sweet and holy melodies, but never such music as that which sounded through the lips of Jesus, as He "piped" in the midst of Israel melodies of grace, compassion and love. Alas! alas! Israel's heart was fat, and their ears dull, and "the voice of the charmer" was unheeded. Cold, listless, careless, defiant were they, as they heard the voice of Him who "spake as man never yet spake;" hearing, they heard not, and so the voice becomes hushed in the midst of the nation, and instead of the "garment of praise," the sweet singer has to wrap himself in the "robe of heaviness," and, thus robed, sits to weep that touching lament over the rebellious city, "O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not." He turns sadly away from the city of solemnities, "the joy of the whole earth," leaving it desolate indeed. O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! no longer sheltered by the shadow of those eternal wings. And soon that voice of compassion is hushed in death upon Calvary's mount, but only to awake again in the morning of resurrection glory, when, having burst the bonds of the tomb, and taking His place in the midst of His "brethren" — those "He is not ashamed" to own as such, the voice is again heard, not now to win a rebellious and perverse nation, but "in the midst of the church" He sings praises to God; and we who are the favoured ones in that heavenly choir answering, as Miriam did Moses, and giving back to Him all the glory of His "glorious triumph." But1 this is a note altogether heavenly; and so the Spirit of God tells us that after this wondrous melody there is yet another to rise from "the great congregation" (Isa. xxii. 25), and Israel shall praise Him in the great congregation in millennial days yet to come, when holy adoration and "a pure offering" shall proclaim His worth.

Yet again is He brought before us as the instrument of divine communications: "The Spirit of the Lord spake by him, and his word was in his tongue." So we read in Acts i. 2 that Jesus, through the Holy Ghost, had given commandment unto the apostles whom He had chosen. And indeed He was ever, while on earth, the humble, dependent Man, led of the Spirit in every word, act, and deed, so that all He did was by the direct power of the Holy Ghost; but not only does "the Spirit of God" speak "by him," but Israel's God and Israel's Rock speaks to Him, and the eye of faith is directed to the moral qualities essential in the One who was to reign over all, and of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

Let us, however, notice in passing that God is present as "Israel's Rock." The nation failed, miserably failed; and wrath has come upon them to the uttermost; but "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance;" and so Israel will find, in a day yet to come, rest and refreshment in that One who is "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

The qualities requisite in the one who is to rule for God's glory and man's benefit, are righteousness, obedience, and dependence — alone found in that blessed One, who came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."

Saul wielded the power for himself. David and Solomon, in the palmy days of their unparalleled glories, in the list of Israel's kings, had to hide their heads in shame, and own, in the words of the humbled king, "My house is not so with God;" and so we have to turn from "his house" to Him who "had neither beginning of days nor end of life," a kingly Priest after Melchisedec's order, as David proceeds to describe the verdant beauty of the kingdom under the reign of Him who is alone worthy; and exquisitely indeed is the picture drawn. "He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even as a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain." Unsullied light will shine upon this now dry and arid scene, and "the wilderness blossom as the rose," when "a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment, and a man shall be a
(Refuge) — "hiding-place from the wind;"
(Protection) — "a covert from the tempest;"
(Refreshment) — "as rivers of waters in a dry place;"
and
(Rest) — " as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

Thus refuge, protection, refreshment, and rest will be found in Him who "shall come down like rain upon the mown grass," as showers that water the earth. "In his day shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace as long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth; his name shall be continued as long as the sun, and men shall be blessed in him; all nations shall call him blessed." (Ps. lxxii.) Truly we can add, in the presence of the prospect so resplendent with moral and physical glory, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things; and blessed be his glorious name for ever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, amen. The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended."

All now is praise and adoration as David entered into the blessedness of that reign; and, as the vision filled his soul, he could devoutly and fervently say, "This is all my salvation, and all my desire." We may well ask ourselves, Have we the same spirit of earnest desire that animated his soul, and captivated his inmost affection? And if the vision tarry, have we patience to wait for it, "though he make it not to grow"? Are we found in "the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," in company with the beloved John in Patmos's isle, content to let opposition, violence, and oppression take their course, until He come forth whom Jehovah "has made strong for himself"? Then shall Belial's sons feel the weight of His righteous judgment, for by "the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming" shall He "clear out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity." "The thorns cast away" tell of righteous indignation on those who "know not God, and [those that] obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," when the mighty Conqueror shall descend, with His glittering sword and glorious apparel, "the day of vengeance in his heart." And with Him shall be "the armies which are in heaven" — ten thousand of His saints associated with Him, "for this honour have all his saints."

Here let me ask, is there not significance in the fact, that the names, the valour, the victories of David's associates in the day of rejection, find a connecting link with the holy breathings of our prophet? Does it not tell us that the kingdom will be the theatre for the display of recognition of those who, knowing the Beloved whom earth rejected, seek to walk in heavenly association with Him now during the time when the sons of Belial are in power? Does it not point us to the time when "the Lord, the righteous Judge," shall award the crowns of "life" (Rev. ii. 10; James i. 12), "glory" (1 Peter 5:4), and "righteousness" (2 Tim. iv. 8), when He shall pronounce the "Well done!" and "every man shall have praise of God," who, suffering now, shall reign by-and-by — co-heirs, co-glorified?

If so, beloved, does it not behove us to be "diligent, that we may be found in peace; looking for that blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ," when the "Son of Jesse," and "the man raised up on high," "the sweet psalmist of Israel," "the anointed of the God of Jacob," will — .
"Give these bodies vile
A fashion like His own:
He'll bid the whole creation smile,
And hush its groan."

How blessed to be able to say,
"Thus far by grace preserv'd,
Each moment speeds us on:
The crown and kingdom are reserv'd
Where Christ is gone.

When cloudless morning shines,
We shall His glory share;
In pleasant places are the lines,
The home, how fair!"

H. N.