The Life of David, Vol. I.
by A. W. Pink
1 Samuel 16 and 17
In our last chapter we called attention to the time in which David’s lot was cast. The spirituality of Israel had indeed fallen to a low ebb. The law of God was no longer heeded, for "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). The terrible failure of the priesthood stands out clearly in the character of Eli’s sons (1 Sam. 2:22). The nation as a whole had rejected Jehovah that He should not reign over them (1 Sam. 8:7). The one then on the throne was such a worthless reprobate that it was written, "The Lord repented that He had made Saul king over Israel" (1 Sam. 15:36). The utter contempt which the people paid to the sacred tabernacle appears in the dreadful fact that it was suffered to languish in "the fields of the wood" (Ps. 132:6). Well, then, might our patriarch cry out, "Help Lord, for the godly man ceaseth" (Ps. 12:1).
But though the righteous government of God caused Israel to be sorely chastised for their sins, He did not completely abandon them. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Amid the prevailing darkness, almighty power sustained, here and there, a light unto Himself. The heart of one feeble woman laid hold of Jehovah’s strength: "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He hath set the world upon them: He will keep the feet of His saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness: for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them: The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength unto His King, and exalt the horn of His Anointed" (1 Sam. 2:8-10). That was the language of true faith, and faith is something which God never disappoints. Most probably Hannah lived not to see the realization of her Spirit-inspired expectations, but in "due season" they were realized.
How encouraging and comforting ought the above to be to the little remnant of God’s heritage in this "cloudy and dark day"! To outward sight, there is now much, very much, to distract and dishearten. Truly "men’s hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26). But, blessed be His name, "the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind" (Nahum 1:3). Faith looks beyond this scene of sin and strife, and beholds the Most High upon His throne, working "all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). Faith lays hold of the Divine promises which declare, "at eveningtide it shall be light" (Zech. 14:7); and "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him" (Isa. 59: 19). In the meantime God’s grace is sufficient for the feeblest who really trusts Him.
Samuel was given by God in response to the prayers of Hannah, and who can doubt that David also was the answer to the earnest supplications of those who sought Jehovah’s glory. And the Lord’s ear has not grown heavy that it can no longer hear; yet the actions of present-day professing Christians say they believe that it has! If the diligence which is now paid to the ransacking of daily newspapers in search for sensational items which are regarded as "signs of the times," and if the time that is now given to Bible conferences was devoted to confession of sin and crying unto God to raise up a man after His own heart, whom He would use to bring back His wayward people into the paths of righteousness, it would be spent to much greater profit. Conditions are not nearly so desperate today as they were at the close of the "dark ages," nor even as bad as they were when God raised up Whitefield. To your knees, my brethren: God’s arm is not shortened that it cannot save.
Now not only was the raising up of David a signal demonstration of divine grace working in the midst of a people who deserved naught but untempered judgment, but, as pointed out before, it marked an important stage in the unfolding of God’s counsels, and a further and blessed adumbration of what had been settled upon in the everlasting covenant. This has not been sufficiently emphasized by recent writers, who, in their zeal to stress the law element of the Mosaic economy, have only too often overlooked the grace element which was exercised throughout. No "new dispensation" was inaugurated in the days of David, but a most significant advance was made in the divine foreshadowings of that kingdom over which the Messiah now rules. The Mediator is not only the arch Prophet and High Priest, but He is also the King of kings, and this it is which was now to be specifically typified. The throne, as well as the altar, belongs to Christ!
From the days of Abraham, and onwards for a thousand years, the providential dealings of God had mainly respected that people from whom the Christ was to proceed. But now attention is focused on that particular person from whence He was to spring. It pleased God at this time to single out the specific man of whom Christ was to come, namely, David. "David being the ancestor and great type of Christ, his being solemnly anointed to be king over his people, that the kingdom of His church might be continued in his family forever, may in some respects be looked on as an anointing of Christ Himself. Christ was as it were anointed in him; and therefore Christ’s anointing and David’s anointing are spoken of under one in Scripture: ‘I have found David My servant; with My holy oil have I anointed him’ (Ps. 89:20). And David’s throne and Christ’s are spoken of as one: ‘And the Lord shall give Him the throne of His father David’ (Luke 1:32). ‘David—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 on his throne’ (Acts 2:30)" (Jonathan Edwards).
The typical character of David’s person presents a most precious line of study. His very name signifies "the Beloved." His being an inhabitant of Bethlehem was ordained to point to that place where the Darling of God’s heart was to be born. His "beautiful countenance" (1 Sam. 16:13) spoke of Him who is "fairer than the children of men." His occupation as a shepherd set forth the peculiar relation of Christ to God’s elect and intimated the nature of His redemptive work. His faithful discharge of the pastoral office forecast the love and fidelity of the great Shepherd. His lowly occupation before he ascended the throne prefigured the Savior’s humiliation prior to His glorious exaltation. His victory over Goliath symbolized the triumph of Christ over the great enemy of God and His people. His perfecting of Israel’s worship and instituting of a new ecclesiastical establishment anticipated Christ as the Head and Law-Giver of His Church.
But it is in the anointing of David that we reach the most notable feature of our type. The very name or title "Christ" means "the Anointed" One, and David was the first of Israel’s kings who thus foreshadowed Him. True, Saul also was anointed, but he furnished a solemn contrast, being a dark foreboding of the antichrist. At an earlier period, Aaron had been anointed unto the sacerdotal office (Lev. 8:12); and, at a later date, we read of Elisha the prophet being anointed (1 Kings 19:16). Thus the threefold character of the Mediator’s office as Prophet, Priest and Potentate, was fully typed out centuries before He was openly manifested here on earth.
It is a remarkable fact that David was anointed three times. First, privately at Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:13). Second, by the men of Judah (2 Sam. 2:4). Third, by the elders of Israel (2 Sam. 5:3). So also was that august One whom he foreshadowed. This will appear the more evident if we quote the following: "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in (or "from") the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" (1 Sam. 16:13). Concerning our Lord, His humanity was miraculously conceived and sanctified by the Spirit and endowed with all graces in the Virgin’s womb (Luke 1:35). Second, He was publicly "anointed with the Spirit" (Acts 10:38) at His baptism, and thus equipped for His ministry (see Isa. 61:1). Third, at His ascension He was "anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows" (Ps. 45:6, 7). It was to this that the anointing of David more especially pointed.
It is striking to observe that God anointed David after Saul, to reign in his room. He took away the crown from him who was higher in stature than any of his people, and gave it to one who resided in Bethlehem, which was "little among the thousands of Judah" (Micah 5:2). In this way was God pleased to prefigure the fact that He who, when on earth, was "despised and rejected of men," should take the kingdom from the great ones of the earth. At a later date, this was more expressly revealed, for in the Divine interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream Daniel declared, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the Stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it break in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter" (Dan. 2:44, 45).
It was the mediatorial reign of Christ which David foreshadowed, and of which he prophesied: "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of Thy kingdom is a right scepter" (Ps. 45:6). That "throne" is His mediatorial throne, and that "scepter" is the symbol of authority over His mediatorial kingdom. Those metaphors are here applied to Christ as setting forth His kingly office, together with His dignity and dominion, for the throne whereon He sits is "the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Heb. 8:1). "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore, God, thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Ps. 45:7). This is in contrast from the days when He was "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." It denotes His triumph and exaltation. It was at His ascension that He was "crowned with glory and honour."
Just as the priestly office and work of Christ were foreshadowed by Melchizedek and Aaron, so the kingship and kingdom of the Mediator were typed out by both David and Solomon. It would lead us too far afield to enlarge upon this, but the interested reader will do well to ponder such scriptures as 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; 33:14-17; Acts 13:34; Revelation 3:7; 5:5. And let us not be robbed of the preciousness of these passages by the attempts of some who would have us believe they belong only to the future. In many instances their insistence upon literalizing many portions of Holy Writ has resulted in the carnalizing of them, and the missing of their true and spiritual import. Let the reader beware of any system of interpretation which takes away from the Christian any portion of God’s Word: all Scripture is "profitable for doctrine" (2 Tim. 3: 16).
Between the first and the third anointings of David, or between Samuel’s consecrating of him to the kingly office and his actually ascending the throne, there was a period of severe trials and testings, during which our patriarch passed through much suffering and humiliation. Here too we may discern the accuracy of our type. David’s Son and Lord trod a path of unspeakable woe between the time when the Holy Spirit first came upon Him and His exaltation at the right hand of the Majesty on high. It is indeed blessed to read through the first book of Samuel and take note of the series of wonderful providences by which God preserved David’s life until the death of Saul; but it is yet more precious to see in these so many adumbrations of what is recorded in such passages as Matthew 2:16; Luke 4:29; John 8:59; John 10:31, 39, etc.
Ere passing on, let us seek to make practical application unto ourselves of what has just been referred to above. God promised Abraham a son, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed (Gen. 12:3), yet he performed it not for thirty years (Gen. 21:2). God anointed David king over Israel, yet before the kingdom was actually given to him, his faith was severely tested, and he was called on to endure many sore buffetings. He was hated, persecuted, outlawed and hunted like a partridge on the mountains (1 Sam. 26:20, etc.). Yet was he enabled to say, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry" (Ps. 40:1). So the Christian has been begotten to a glorious inheritance, but "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). It is only "through faith and patience (we) inherit the promises" (Heb. 6: 12).
Another thing which God did at that time toward furthering the great work of redemption was to inspire David to show forth Christ and His salvation in divine songs. David was endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and is called "a prophet" (Acts 2:29, 30) so that here too he was a type of Christ. "This was a great advancement that God made in this building; and the light of the Gospel, which had been gradually growing from the fall, was exceedingly increased by it; for whereas before there was but here and there a prophecy given of Christ in a great many ages, now here Christ is spoken of by David abundantly, in multitudes of songs, speaking of His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension into heaven, His satisfaction, intercession; His prophetical, kingly, and priestly office; His glorious benefits in this life and that which is to come; His union with the church and the blessedness of the church in Him; the calling of the Gentiles. All these things concerning Christ and His redemption are abundantly spoken of in the book of Psalms" (Jonathan Edwards).
To quote again from this Spirit-taught man, "Now first it was that God proceeded to choose a particular city out of all the tribes of Israel to place His name there. There is several times mention made in the law of Moses of the children of Israel’s bringing their oblations to the place which God should choose, as Deuteronomy 12:5-7; but God had never proceeded to it till now. The tabernacle and ark were never pitched, but sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; but now God proceeded to choose Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was never thoroughly conquered or taken out of the hands of the Jebusites, till David’s time. It is said in Joshua 15:63, ‘As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out.’ But now David wholly subdued it, as we have an account in 2 Samuel 5. And now God proceeded to choose that city to place His name there, as appears by David’s bringing up the ark thither soon after; and therefore this is mentioned afterwards as the first time God proceeded to choose a city to place His name there: 2 Chronicles 6:5,6; 12:13.
"The city of Jerusalem is therefore called the holy city; and it was the greatest type of the church of Christ in all the Old Testament. It was redeemed by David, the captain of the hosts of Israel, out of the hands of the Jebusites to be God’s city, the holy place of His rest forever, where He would dwell; as Christ, the Captain of His people’s salvation redeemed His church out of the hands of devils, to be His holy and beloved city. And therefore how often does the Scripture, when speaking of Christ’s redemption of His church, call it by the names of Zion and Jerusalem! This was the city that God had appointed to be the place of the first gathering and erecting of the Christian Church after Christ’s resurrection, of that remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God on the apostles and primitive Christians, and the place whence the Gospel was to sound forth into all the world; the place of the first Christian Church, that was to be, as it were, the mother of all other churches in the world; agreeably to that prophecy, Isaiah 2:3, 4: ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem’" (Work of Redemption).