Job 8-10: Would that there were an arbiter between us?

Chapter 8

This chapter begins with Bildad the Shuhite challenging Job’s alleged false innocence – acting as the effective “judge” of Job, launching accusations against him time and time again.  Is not Bildad more a type of Satan than he is of Christ, for Satan is the chief accuser of those in Jesus (Revelation 12:10)?  The refrain from Bildad – “If your children have sinned against him”, “If you will seek God…”, “If you are pure and upright…” (v.4-6), which is better understood as your children have sinned, you have not sought God, and you are not pure and upright.  That is the only answer which Bildad can give – hardly the words of encouragement, and hardly the theology which Christ holds (John 9).  Here, Bildad appeals to nature for his arguments (v.11-15):

  • Papyrus grows with marsh (v.11)
  • Reeds flourish where there is water (v.11)
  • Trust is not as a spider’s web (v.14)
  • The righteous man’s house shall stand and endure (v.15)
  • The righteous man shall not be like a lush plant, entwined to a stone heap and destroyed from his place (v.16-18).

As Adam Clarke states:

” Verse 15… is all allusion to the spider. When he suspects his web, here called his house, to be frail or unsure, he leans upon it in different parts, propping himself on his hinder legs, and pulling with his fore claws, to see if all be safe. If he find any part of it injured, he immediately adds new cordage to that part, and attaches it strongly to the wall. When he finds all safe and strong, he retires into his hole at one corner, supposing himself to be in a state of complete security, when in a moment the brush or the besom sweeps away both himself, his house, and his confidence. This I have several times observed; and it is in this that the strength and point of the comparison consist. The wicked, whose hope is in his temporal possessions strengthens and keeps his house in repair; and thus leans on his earthly supports; in a moment, as in the case of the spider, his house is overwhelmed by the blast of God’s judgments, and himself probably buried in its ruins. This is a very fine and expressive metaphor, which not one of the commentators that I have seen has ever discovered.

…Verse 16… is another metaphor.  The wicked is represented as a luxuriant plant, in a good soil, with all the advantages of a good situation; well exposed to the sun; the roots intervolving themselves with stones, so as to render the tree more stable; but suddenly a blast comes, and the tree begins to die. The sudden fading of its leaves, that its root is become as rottenness, and its vegetable life destroyed. I have often observed sound and healthy trees, which were flourishing in all the pride of vegetative health, suddenly struck by some unknown and incomprehensible blast, begin to die away, and perish from the roots. I have seen also the prosperous wicked, in the inscrutable dispensations of the Divine providence, blasted, stripped, made bare, and despoiled, in the same way.”

Clarke’s observations point out the subtlety in Bildad’s accusation – for Bildad is stating not simply a black and white situation of God’s righteousness (i.e. evil will be destroyed and the sinners are easily identifiable).  Contrarily, it is the evil ones who appear as lush plants; who appear to have reliable households – both accusations specific to Job, who was teeming with (as Bildad alleges) children who only appeared to be godly, and a household which only appeared to be built on God’s precepts.  

Yet, the accuser once again looks at these elements outside of Christ, and presents the Christless man before God, emphasising (like Eliphaz) the need to be justified by one’s works.  It is in fact only the righteous man (Psalm 1-2) who is the living water (Jeremiah 17:13; John 7:38); it is onlyChrist’s house which shall stand and endure for all time (1 Peter 2:5).  As Adam Clarke continues to observe:

“Job’s friends must have been acquainted, at least, with the history of the ancient patriarchs; and most certainly they contained facts of an opposite nature. Righteous Abel was persecuted and murdered by his wicked brother, Cain. Abram was obliged to leave his own country on account of worshipping the true God; so all tradition has said. Jacob was persecuted by his brother Esau; Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers; Moses was obliged to flee from Egypt, and was variously tried and afflicted, even by his own brethren. Not to mention David, and almost all the prophets. All these were proofs that the best of men were frequently exposed to sore afflictions and heavy calamities; and it is not by the prosperity or adversity of men in this world, that we are to judge of the approbation or disapprobation of God towards them. In every case our Lord’s rule is infallible: By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Chapter 9

Bildad’s accusations are cut short and Job immediately responds with an opening – “How can a man be in the right before God?” – surely a rhetorical question.  Yet he is not necessarily saying that Bildad is wrong per se.  Rather, he is saying that Bildad is stating the obvious – no man is sinless!  Nor can any man state that he is “in the right” and argue that before God.  This is a God of love and goodness and justice.  As Clarke states, “He is supreme, and will give account of none of his matters. He is infinitely wise, and cannot mistake. He is infinitely kind, and can do nothing cruel. He is infinitely good, and can do nothing wrong. No one, therefore, should question either his motives or his operations” (c.f. Isaiah 45:9; 2 Corinthians 4:7). 

Job clearly understands the ambit of God’s righteousness – though a man may consider himself righteous, it is ultimately God who decides the man’s righteousness.  His rhetoric of how man can be right before God is in the vein of every statement regarding man’s standing before God in this chapter (c.f. Matthew 7:22).  What “laughter” which Bildad spoke of in chapter 8 is but false as Job prescribes – “If I forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer” (v.27), yet he would become “afraid of all [his] suffering, for [he knows God] will not hold [him] innocent.”  Job understands the gravity of falling on the wrong side of God’s justice, and reminds Bildad that there is no judge greater than the LORD – but Bildad and Eliphaz clearly are not of the same ilk.  As Job’s rhetoric continues in v.33, “Would that there were an arbiter between us” (as the ESV footnote provides, as the Hebrew could be translated this way)?  Such an arbiter would take the Father’s rod away from Job, and let not the dread of the Father terrify him.  Then Job would speak without fear of God; otherwise, if Job were to stand alone outside of Jesus, then he should accordingly be consumed with such fear (v.33-35).  Such is the Redeemer and Arbiter whom Job speaks of in Job 19:25.  However, until such Redeemer becomes the central tenet of his response, Job continues to plead to God for mercy in the following chapter.

Chapter 10

This chapter begins with “I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul” (v.1).  Such is the honesty of a man righteous in Jesus.  He knows it is the LORD who placed him in the current situation (v.3-7); he also knows that the LORD is not punishing Job because Job is not guilty (v.7).  Despite what appears to be a complaint, Job describes his theology of God clearly – He fashioned Job, made him, clothed him with skin and flesh and knit him together with bones and sinews, granted him life and steadfast love, and His care has preserved Job’s spirit (v.8-12).  Such is the great God whom Job describes – the same God who could destroy him, who could return him to dust, who would curdle him like cheese, who could decide not to acquit Job of his iniquity, who could hunt him like a lion, work wonders against him, renew His witnesses against him, increase His vexation against him, bring fresh troops (v.8-17).  

Thus, Job’s substance of complaint is that of a righteous man.  What is the purpose of being righteous and blameless if one were to receive such trials from the LORD?  A common question asked by Christians of all ages.  “Why did you bring me out from the womb?” as some have undoubtedly questioned the LORD.  Yet, Job is not done with his exposition, just as the Teacher’s main point is not driven until the final chapters of Ecclesiastes.


Job 8-10: Would that there were an arbiter between us?

2 Chronicles 4-6: Solomon’s understanding of the gospel

Chapter 4

See my commentary on the making of the temple from here onwards.

Let me re-emphasise the importance of distinguishing between Solomon delegating the work of building the temple and being described as actually, first-hand, building it.  As was the case in 2 Chronicles 3:1 – “Solomon began to build the house of the LORD…”, chapter 3:8 – “And he made the Most Holy Place…”, followed by chapter 4:1, “He made an altar of bronze…”, v.6 – “He also made ten basins…”, v.7-9 – “And he made ten golden lampstands as prescribed… He also made ten tables and placed them in the temple… He made the court of the priests…”.

Compare this immediately with Hiram’s contribution to the temple building – “Hiram also made the pots, the shovels, and the basins.  So Hiram finished the work that he did for King Solomon on the house of God” (consisting of the pillars, the latticework on the pillars, the stands, and the equipment – see v.12-16).  This is a firm reminder that the foundation of the temple, just as the foundation of the gospel, was not laid down by an Israelite – but by a person of mixed heritage, perhaps even a non-Israelite – such that Abraham himself was not even an Israelite, a time long before the nation Israel even existed.  However, apart from the materials and a skilled man (see chapter 2:13-16), Hiram’s fundamental contributions are not symbolic to the same extent as Solomon’s role in the temple building which the LORD has clearly reserved for this typological son, more fitting even than David.  Solomon’s contributions and the things he has built (the Holy Place; the temple furniture; priestly court) are of substance to the meaning of the temple, and Hiram’s service is but a setting up of the scene for Solomon and His LORD and Father to receive the first and last credit.

Chapter 5

Finally, the most important furniture of the temple, being the Ark of Covenant, in which are the two tablets of Moses (v.10) and brought to its resting place – symbolically, “Zion” (as opposed to its common name, Jerusalem) – the city of God (Hebrews 12:22) though often referred typologically as the city of David (c.f. 2 Samuel 5:7).  The movement of the Ark to the temple mount at Moriah upon the completion of the Temple, with cherubim spreading out their wings over the place of the ark (v.8) is thus foreshadowing of Christ’s second return and the Father finally coming to meet us face-to-face in New Creation at the end of Christ’s on-going work in the current end-times:

“The “Mercy Seat”, the gold used for the entire structure (made of wood) should also be considered as a throne – in 1 Samuel 4:4 the language used is that the ark of the covenant is enthroned between the cherubim.  No doubt, this ark also symbolised the throne of the Father in heaven – c.f. Daniel 7:9-10 and Revelation 4:1-3.  The former book speaks of the Ancient of Days, whose throne was flaming with fire, and wheels were all ablaze.  The latter letter speaks of the throne in heaven where a rainbow, resembling an emerald encircled the throne.  Although the throne was spoken of in two different manners, the lake of fire coming out from the throne is akin to the lake of fire referred to in Revelation 20:15.  However, the throne of the Father in heaven, if speaking of the covenant rainbow established after the global diluvian punishment, then the message spoken of is that of peace and eternity, rather than contention and eternal hell. Then there is Isaiah 37:16 who speaks of the LORD who dwells between the cherubim; and Ezekiel 1:4-5, 26-28 speaks of four living creatures and the throne of God…” (taken from here)

The whole picture is of the Father meeting us at Moriah from Zion, the city of God, founded on the Son’s sacrifice on the cross as witnessed by the laws and tablets of Moses (John 1:45; Acts 26:22, 28:23) as kept by the Ark of Covenant (c.f. chapter 6:11).  This is indeed the whole gospel – not just that of Christ on the cross, but what the event points towards, which is our fellowship with the Trinity in New Creation.  It is this reason that the Levitical singers praise Him – “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (v.13).  And what is “love” if not Christ the Person (as commonly misunderstood in 1 Corinthians 13!)?

Chapter 6

Hence the beauty that is chapter 6 – Solomon’s actual understanding of what the Temple represents.  This should very much characterise Israel as a nation and whether it fails or continues to act as the ordained national priesthood for other nations (Exodus 19:6) just as the Levites are to Israel.  The LORD would only dwell with us through the Temple, through the various symbolic messages communicated in the Temple furniture, all of which is a “multimedia representation” (stated by Paul Blackham, in his explanation of the tabernacle to a Bible study meeting in All Souls in 2007) of the gospel.  Solomon is writing in a format slightly similar to that of the Book of Proverbs, a question followed by an answer, a statement followed by a seemingly contradictory statement.  See v.5 where he recites that the LORD has brought His people out of Egypt but chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel, and chose no man as prince over Israel; yet He has also chosen Jerusalem (admittedly, not a name of any of the tribes of Israel) and has also chosen a man, David, as prince over Israel (1 Samuel 13:14; and now Solomon – 1 Chronicles 29:22) as described in v.6.

This if followed by a re-statement that the LORD shows steadfast love to His servants who walk before Him with all their heart (v.14), and that Israel will not be without a man on the throne is only the LORD’s sons would pay close attention to their way (v.16).  As revealed by 1 and 2 Kings, such “sons”, princes and kings have failed miserably and have led Israel into captivity, and only the Anointed, Elected and Chosen Son and Prince of the Father could truly walk before the Father and cling onto His bosom tightly (John 1:18).  Almost as if it were a response to this, Solomon declares – “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth?“.  The Hebrew seems to indicate a rhetorical question demanding a “No – God cannot dwell with man on earth surely!”, although Young’s Literal translation assists in rephrasing the sentence as “For is it true? — God dwelleth with man on the earth!“.  The latter translation in fact, even if not entirely accurate, is closer to Solomon’s understanding of the gospel and the workings of the temple, as revealed in the remainder of chapter 6:

v.19-21: Opening:  Solomon opens with pleading the LORD to have regard to the prayer of His servant (Solomon) and to Solomon’s plea, as well as the pleas of the Israelites (v.21) when they pray to the Temple (which is clearly a novel practice given the Temple is a new creation in itself!);

v.22-23: Sinning against neighbour:  the man with the false oath shall be punished, and the righteous vindicated, as exposed before the altar;

v.24-25: Israel’s defeat due to its sins:  turning once again to the LORD at the temple and His house, where He shall hear from heaven (note: not the house) and forgive the people’s sin;

v.26-27: No rain due to Israel’s sin:  will lead to forgiveness if they pray toward the Temple and acknowledge the LORD’s name and turning from their sin;

v.28-31: Famine in the land due to pestilence / blight / mildrew / locust / caterpillar:  whatever prayer / plea made by any man or by the Israelites, knowing their own afflications and sorrows, shall be granted the LORD’s protection;

v.32-33: Foreigners:  should they go to worship the LORD at the Temple, the LORD may fulfill his prayers to expedite the conversation of neighbouring nations;

v.34-35: Battling against enemies:  should Israelites go out to battle against their enemies, the LORD shall have their cause maintained by their prayer to the chosen city and Temple;

v.36-39: Sinning against the LORD: as an umbrella to all that above, if any man sins against the LORD, and the LORD is angry with such a person and gives him/her to the enemy as captive, v.37-39 – “yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, “We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly, if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name… maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you“.

The repeated refrain that the LORD hears from heaven His dwelling place is, on the one hand, Solomon’s understanding that the LORD could never see the Temple as His actual shelter; a fitting pretext to the entire chapter’s devotion to people praying towards the Temple for the LORD’s mercy.  In this sense, Solomon is stating time and time again that the Temple is but a shadow to the LORD’s true dwelling place, which is heaven.  Yet, at the same time, the LORD has chosen Jerusalem and David to be the respective city and prince where His Name is sealed – both being “mortal” city and man.  In the various scenarios outlined above, it is the final few verses which hit the heart of Solomon’s message – that the LORD’s steadfast love means no man shall ever fear of being apostate due to their own sin (a fitting interpretation of Hebrews 6), except the unforgiveable sin of continual rejection of Christ, the Person witnessed by Moses’ law in the Ark of Covenant.  Though heaven be the LORD’s dwelling place, His acts are clearly incarnate in His gracious dealings with men in spite of their sin, which could not be possibly dealt with save for the saving work symbolised in the Temple.  Solomon does not even mention the need to go through the offerings detailed in Leviticus, but pleads with the LORD that a proper Christological understanding of the Temple is sufficient for them to see that the object of faith for Old Testament Christians is Christ the Person, not Ark / Altar / Lamb the shadow.  It is only in this sense that the LORD’s “priests… be clothed with salvation… [and the] saints rejoice in [His] goodness” (c.f. language in Isaiah 61:11 – the garment of salvation as a gift from the LORD), undergirded by the LORD’s steadfast love for David as contingent upon him remaining face to face with His anointed one, predominantly Jesus Christ the Anointed One.

Solomon therefore clearly understood the gospel as we understand it today:

1.  The Father shall dwell with us upon the completion of the work of the Son;

2.  His true dwelling place was never in the shadow of old creation, such as the temple, but in his current heavenly dwelling;

3.  No man could have his sins pardoned except by praying to the LORD through the Temple, symbolising the work of Christ on the cross;

4.  God could not possibly forgive any such men without remembering first the steadfast love for David, and remaining face to face with the anointed one.  Or in the better words of Matthew Henry:

“We may plead, as Solomon does here, with an eye to Christ:–“We deserve that God should turn away our face, that he should reject us and our prayers; but we come in the name of the Lord Jesus, thy anointed, thy Messiah (so the word is), thy Christ, so the LXX. Him thou hearest always, and wilt never turn away his face. We have no righteousness of our own to plead, but, Lord, remember the mercies of David thy servant.” Christ is God’s servant (Isa. xlii. 1), and is called David, Hos. iii. 5. “Lord, remember his mercies, and accept us on the account of them. Remember his tender concern for his Father’s honour and man’s salvation, and what he did and suffered from that principle. Remember the promises of the everlasting covenant, which free grace has made to us in Christ, and which are called the sure mercies of David,” Isa. lv. 3 and Acts xiii. 34. This must be all our desire and all our hope, all our prayer and all our plea; for it is all our salvation.”

2 Chronicles 4-6: Solomon’s understanding of the gospel

1 Kings 9: the House of the LORD (pt. 4)

1(A) As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD(B) and the king’s house and(C) all that Solomon desired to build, 2(D) the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

It is beautiful to see that the LORD’s two appearances to Solomon act as divine bookends to Solomon’s actions in between, marked with the very Wisdom which (and Whom!) Solomon received (back in 1 Kings 3:5; c.f. book of Proverbs, esp. Proverbs 8) and his fulfillment of the work which David had planned.  This Christophany undoubtedly confirms that Solomon now meets the visible LORD as confirmation of his status as typological anointed king of Israel who shall build the shadow of the everlasting throne, the shadow of the everlasting house.  Yet, more importantly, these Christophany-bookends highlights the typology of Solomon acting as the Christ who received the overflowing Spirit the Wisdom without measure (c.f. Augustine and Calvin’s commentary on John 3:34), as the Christ whose clean hands (1 Chronicles 22:8; Psalm 24:4) shall build the Father’s House; whose high-priestly prayer shall mediate on behalf of the spiritual Israelites who pray to the true Temple, Christ Himself (John 2:14-21).

3And the LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built,(E) by putting my name there forever.(F) My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 4And as for you, if you will(G) walk before me,(H) as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, 5(I) then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

Many may read the LORD’s blessing as one built on the condition of works-salvation – but look at how the LORD describes David’s life in v.4, the murderer and adulterer, whose shame and sin caused the death of thousands and tens of thousands until Christ stayed his hand at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24). Rather, this is a man with integrity of heart and uprightness, who has done according to all that the LORD had commanded?

Much like James’ mandate in his letter (James 2:14, 3:13) and similarly Paul’s focus on good works in Ephesians (Ephesians 2:10) and Romans 6:15-23, here we find that the LORD does not seem to describe works in the way other religions put it.  The 613 commandments, in which we find the famous 10 Words, in which we find all of their distillation is to the two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) ultimately stemming from the faith we have in Christ our object of faith whose intra-Trinitarian love overflows through us (1 John 4:7-21).  That is the faith which David walked in; that is the type of good works he did; that is the way of life he lived.  It is in that Christ-centered faith that Solomon is asked to walk in, that will establish David and Solomon’s royal throne over Israel forever, despite David and Solomon’s unfaithfulness as we have seen and shall later see.  Yet, the removal of the throne of Israel as a result of the Assyrian / Babylonian exile is not because they failed their covenant of works; rather, it is because Anointed Son – the Messiah and Lamb to come – no longer became the object of faith of the Israelite kings.

And even without having to go through various Scriptures to reach this point, v.3 by itself already speaks into the role of the House.  It is consecrated, and it is by the LORD’s name that people shall direct their prayer and plea.  It is not as if the faith of Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob have been dispensed with in favour of the Israelites’ worship through the House (Genesis 4:26; Exodus 6:3 NIV translation); rather, the Name of the One who saves has always been the object of faith from the creation of the world, underlining the typology of the Israelite nation and tradition.  The House by itself means nothing; the Name means everything (Exodus 23:21; Acts 3:16) for it is by His Name that his eyes and heart shall be there at all time.  Such intimacy none can declare and none can experience, except through Jesus Christ at the bosom & right hand of the Father (Exodus 15:6; John 1:18; Hebrews 10:12).

6(J) But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7(K) then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them,(L) and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight,(M) and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8And this house will become a heap of ruins.[a] Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say,(N) ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9Then they will say, ‘Because(O) they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.'”

Thus, following in the vein of the flow of what the LORD has been driving at since v.3, He firmly declares that David’s walk is in the one God, following the substance of the first commandment (check) (v.6).  This is indeed true of Israel who later turned to worship other Baalim (Hosea 2:13, which literally means lord / husband), other “husbands” and as a result the physical House of the LORD is no longer the mediating object for the Israelites today (despite efforts to return to the “Holy Land” to rebuild the temple a third time).  Yet, is it not true that the true new creation temple spoken of in Ezekiel and in Revelation (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 21) can only be secured by the LORD Himself, the Son of the Father whose name is in the House and the only one who shall have unwavering faith in the Father thus ensuring that Israel shall no longer be cut off (Romans 11:17-24), the new Jerusalem forever consecrated and Israel thus becoming a blessing among all peoples (Isaiah 2:3). Only Christ can effectuate such a reversal, yet the human kings are but shadows, especially so when they no longer return to Christ their Saviour as they continue to live lives of wickedness turning away from the one LORD (2 Kings 17:11).

10(P) At the end of(Q) twenty years, in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD and the king’s house, 11and Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, they did not please him. 13Therefore he said, “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” So they are called the land of(R) Cabul to this day. 14Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents[b] of gold.

It is often at this point in the narrative that we come to a strange interaction.  After building the two houses, Solomon of all gifts decides to give Hiram king of Tyre twenty cities in the land of Galilee.  Why Galilee?  This land has not been often mentioned in Scripture prior to 1 Kings 9 – what possible symbolism, wealth or blessing can Solomon give to Hiram in these twenty cities of Galilee?  Apparently none – observe Hiram’s reaction in v.13: “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?”, and thus labeled as the land of Cabul (meaning “worthless” or of small stature).

Yet, there is no reason to immediately jump to the conclusion that Hiram and Solomon were on terrible terms thereafter; after all, Hiram still called Solomon “brother”, a king of what would have been a pagan nation would not embrace Solomon as such (not to mention that in v.27-28 of this same chapter, Hiram still sends with Solomon’s fleet several servants and seamen to accompany Solomon in his quest for precious minerals and gold from Ophir) – the king who sent to the king 120 talents of gold (v.14), a sign of blessing and respect mirrored by the Queen of Sheba in the following chapter.  Indeed, Hiram’s reaction is not necessarily one of contempt; rather, it is one of surprise – what indeed will come out of these twenty insignificant cities?  Note John Calvin’s commentary on this Galilee, or otherwise known as “Galilee of the Gentiles” in Isaiah 9:1 –

By the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. He calls it the way of the sea, because Galilee was adjoining to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and on one side it was bounded by the course of the Jordan. It is called Galilee of the Gentiles, not only because it was contiguous to Tyre and Sidon, but because it contained a great multitude of Gentiles, who were mingled with the Jews; for from the time that Solomon granted this country to King Hiram, (1 Kings 9:11,) it could never be subdued in such a manner as not to have some part of it possessed by the Gentiles…”

It is indeed remarkable that Solomon decides to gift these cities of the Galilee of the Gentiles to Hiram – it is a prophetic of this unison between Solomon the King of Israel and Hiram the King of Tyre; Solomon the representative of the church of Christ, and Hiram he who represents the head of those who shall enjoin Solomon’s kingdom from outsiders to that of God’s family.  However, Solomon’s rejection here is a sign that the time has not yet come – for it is not until Acts 1:11 that the men of Galilee look up to Christ, not until such cities are restored under the banner of Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:2) that the healing of the Gentiles cannot come through Hiram, but must come through Solomon who shall be over Hiram.  And only Solomon, the builder of the two great houses, can build these Gentile houses from Cabul to Galilee, from nothing to becoming a circuit whereby the Christ’s activities are most prevalent throughout the period of His incarnation.  Matthew Henry similarly does not see this as necessarily denoting Hiram’s distaste towards Solomon, but rather that of God’s providence of the rebuilding of Cabul not by Hiram but by Solomon:

It should seem, these were not allotted to any of the tribes of Israel (for the border of Asher came up to them, Josh. xix. 27, which intimates that it did not include them), but continued in the hands of the natives till Solomon made himself master of them, and then made a present of them to Hiram. It becomes those that are great and good to be generous. Hiram came to see these cities, and did not like them (v. 12): They pleased him not. He called the country the land of Cabul, a Phoenician word (says Josephus) which signifies displeasing, v. 13. He therefore returned them to Solomon (as we find, 2 Chron. viii. 2), who repaired them, and then caused the children of Israel to inhabit them, which intimates that before they did not; but, when Solomon received back what he had given, no doubt he honourably gave Hiram an equivalent in something else. But what shall we think of this? Did Solomon act meanly in giving Hiram what was not worth his acceptance? Or was Hiram humoursome and hard to please? I am willing to believe it was neither the one nor the other. The country was truly valuable, and so were the cities in it, but not agreeable to Hiram’s genius. The Tyrians were merchants, trading men, that lived in fine houses, and became rich by navigation, but knew not how to value a country that was fit for corn and pasture (that was business that lay out of their way); and therefore Hiram desired Solomon to take them again, he knew not what to do with them, and, if he would please to gratify him, let it be in his own element, by becoming his partner in trade, as we find he did, v. 27. Hiram, who was used to the clean streets of Tyre, could by no means agree with the miry lanes in the land of Cabul, whereas the best lands have commonly the worst roads through them. See how the providence of God suits both the accommodation of this earth to the various dispositions of men and the dispositions of men to the various accommodations of the earth, and all for the good of mankind in general. Some take delight in husbandry, and wonder what pleasure sailors can take on a rough sea; others take as much delight in navigation, and wonder what pleasure husbandmen can take in a dirty country, like the land of Cabul. It is so in many other instances, in which we may observe the wisdom of him whose all souls are and all lands.

15And this is the account of(S) the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the LORD and his own house and(T) the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and(U) Hazor and(V) Megiddo and Gezer 16(Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and had killed(W) the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as dowry to(X) his daughter, Solomon’s wife; 17so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) and(Y) Lower Beth-horon 18and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah,[c] 19and all the store cities that Solomon had, and(Z) the cities for his chariots, and the cities for(AA) his horsemen, and whatever Solomon(AB) desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. 20All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the people of Israel— 21(AC) their descendants who were left after them in the land,(AD) whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction[d](AE) these Solomon drafted to be(AF) slaves, and so they are to this day. 22But(AG) of the people of Israel Solomon made no slaves. They were the soldiers, they were his officials, his commanders, his captains, his chariot commanders and his horsemen.

And so this naturally flows into v.15-22, that of Hiram’s rejection of these cities of Galilee and his continual material and manpower provision to Solomon as a sign of the Christ taking back what Satan had only temporarily held; the illusion of Satan’s power which is above all subdued by the Christ – for indeed, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).  Who indeed is the meek except for Christ Himself, for He shall inherit not only Israel but also Cabul and the men of Cabul which is where we should belong?  See here in these verses a fulfillment of that prophecy in Genesis 15:16 that Canaan shall no longer belong to such Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites; instead, the times of the exodus are long past and the Israelites are now the nation of blessing.  And like the house of the LORD which was contributed largely by the two Hirams, so also these landmark locations (Millo, Hazor, Megiddo; Gezer (symbolically restored by Pharaoh even though it was initially won by Joshua for the tribe of Ephraim: “This city Joshua had taken from the Canaanites, Josh. x. 33; xii. 12, and it was divided by lot to the tribe of Ephraim, and was intended to be one of the Levitical cities; but it appears that the Canaanites had retaken it, and kept possession till the days of Solomon, when his father-in-law, Pharaoh king of Egypt, retook it, and gave it to Solomon in dowry with his daughter.” – Adam Clarke; Lower Beth-horon; Baalath; Tamar) were built by the hands of Gentiles but in the direction of the typological son of God.  Such is the contribution of the wealth of Satan that we are the ones who inherit just as Abraham inherited the Abimelech’s wealth (Genesis 20:14-18), just as the wealth of the Philistinian camp is for us to plunder for it is no longer in the hands of the enemy but won for us by the true king David (1 Samuel 17:53).  Note Matthew Henry’s observance of Solomon’s employing of these non-Israelites:

Solomon employed those who remained of the conquered and devoted nations in all the slavish work, v. 20, 21. We may suppose that they renounced their idolatry and submitted to Solomon’s government, so that he could not, in honour, utterly destroy them, and they were so poor that he could not levy money on them; therefore he served himself of their labour. Herein he observed God’s law (Lev. xxv. 44, Thy bondmen shall be of the heathen), and fulfilled Noah’s curse upon Canaan, A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren, Gen. ix. 25. 2. He employed Israelites in the more creditable services (v. 22, 23): Of them he made no bondmen, for they were God’s freemen, but he made them soldiers and courtiers, and gave them offices, as he saw them qualified, among his chariots and horsemen, appointing some to support the service of the inferior labourers. Thus he preserved the dignity and liberty of Israel and honoured their relation to God as a kingdom of priests.

23These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work:(AH) 550(AI) who had charge of the people who carried on the work.

24But(AJ) Pharaoh’s daughter went up from the city of David to(AK) her own house that Solomon had built for her.(AL) Then he built(AM) the Millo.

25Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the LORD, making offerings with it[e] before the LORD. So he finished the house.

26King Solomon built a fleet of ships at(AN) Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27And Hiram sent(AO) with the fleet his servants, seamen who were familiar with the sea, together with the servants of Solomon. 28And they went to(AP) Ophir and brought from there gold, 420 talents, and they brought it to King Solomon.

This chapter therefore ends on two high notes – the tri-annual offering of burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built to the LORD (the new altar in the temple courtyard) in the three landmark celebrations of the feast of Passover, of Pentecost, and of Tabernacles (c.f. Exodus 23); and the obtaining of the gold from Ophir by Hiram’s servants and seamen with Solomon’s fleet from the base of the wood of man (Ezion-geber), near the shore of the Red Sea.  These are stark with symbolism, indicating the victory of Christ on the wood, bringing upon the golden blessing as shadowed by the parting of the Red Sea in the joining of the church of spiritual Israelites of both those born in Israel & born-again in Israel.

1 Kings 9: the House of the LORD (pt. 4)

1 Kings 8: the House of the LORD (pt. 3)

1(A) Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes,(B) the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem,(C) to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of(D) the city of David, which is Zion. 2And all the men of Israel assembled to King Solomon at(E) the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3And all the elders of Israel came, and(F) the priests took up the ark. 4And they brought up the ark of the LORD,(G) the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark,(H) sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 6(I) Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD(J) to its place in(K) the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 7For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 8(L) And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before(M) the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. 9There was nothing in the ark except(N) the two tablets of stone that Moses put there at Horeb, where(O) the LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10And when the priests came out of the Holy Place,(P) a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

After 2 chapters of describing the monumental significance of the Temple, the build-up inevitably leads to one very stark question – what is the LORD’s purpose for the Temple, and more importantly, where is the LORD in relation to the Temple?

This one question, uniting the LORD’s purpose and the LORD Himself to the Temple, is found firstly in Solomon’s worship of the LORD and the LORD’s response to Solomon’s worship.  We begin chapter 8 with Solomon assembling all the elders, heads and leaders to bring up the ark of covenant out of the city of David.  Of all the furniture in the Temple, the ark is the only item which is brought from the tabernacle to the Temple, whereas all the other items of the tabernacle are effectively replaced by the Temple.   It is important for us to see here that the ark is taken from the city of David, Zion, and brought to Jerusalem.  Although geographically different places, throughout the Word we learn that Zion and Jerusalem are identified as one and the same (soon thereafter Zion is the metonym for Israel and the Promised Land c.f. Psalm 147:12; Isaiah 2:3, 4:3-4, 24:23, Zechariah 8:3, 9:9 – though Jerusalem is the very name of the new city which we will inherit in new creation, c.f. Revelation 3:12; 21, whereas Zion is referred to as the Mount where the Lamb dwells (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1)).  It is significant for us to therefore recognize that the Temple is not built on Mount Zion, but rather is built on the very threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite where the LORD appeared to David and where the LORD will appear as prophesied by Abraham in Genesis 22 concerning Moriah in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1).

Furthermore, this inauguration of the Temple takes place in the month of Tishri (before the Babylonian captivity, called Ethanim here (v.2)), both names bearing the significance of “strength” and “beginning”, the Feast of Booths, Day of Atonement, creation and fall of Adam and Eve, the dove’s final mission to obtain the olive branch (Genesis 8), the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22); the provision of the second set of tablets  (on 10th Tishri) and finally the erecting of the tabernacle itself on the first day of this month (Exodus 40:2) tells us that the inauguration of the Temple bears the full weight of the events of this month.  The Temple is not only a “renewal” of the tabernacle (though no longer mobile, but steadily built into the ground of Moriah), but it is also the House of the LORD where both Feast and Atonement occurs, where the fall of Adam and Eve is undone, where new creation and firstfruit of the olive branch is truly witnessed (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), where the prophecy of Abraham is fulfilled, where the first set of Mosaic law shall be shattered and fulfilled in the second set’s focus on the eternal Promised Land:

“The 2 stone tablets on which the Ten Words rest, represent the dual witness to Christ Himself, the Rock, the basis of all the Law, who will be shattered for our sins that we may be spared, like the temple, His body will be renewed, made again. During that time Moses intercedes for the people and the glory of the Lord is revealed, all testifying to the works of oblation and intercession of Christ on the cross. Thus the 2nd giving of the Decalogue is differently quoted from the first: Deuteronomy 5:13-16 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The Sabbath is refocused on the new land, the new creation instead of on the first creation, and now things will go ‘well’ in that land.” – Dev Menon in “Law and Gospel” essay

Thus, taking us in an upward spiral through to the Temple’s establishment.

However, unlike Exodus 35:20-29 where the Israelites’ have collectively contributed to the materials of the tabernacle, there is nothing of that sort here.  Instead, it is the two Hirams and the hired workers who contribute the material; even David’s gold and treasures had to be stored (in 2 Chronicles 5:1) as Solomon did not exhaust them in the building of the Temple.  Contrarily, the tabernacle was finished with a very immediate entry of the glory of the LORD filling the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38), though here we witness in v.5 a grand sacrifice, the very first thing which comes to the mind of these many men in their worship of God.  In their free-will offering, they offer up lambs and sheep without blemish, such innocent creatures, providing the propitiatory image to us of the Temple.  Innocent blood is spilled as the first human act prior to the instatement of the ark in the Temple from Mount Zion, just as Christ’s blood was spilled prior to the Father and the Lamb’s entry into New Jerusalem from the Holy Hill of Zion.

Thus, v.6-8 sees the mediatory nature of the cherubim between us and the ark – as if acting as a barrier or a protection between us and the item which represents the holy Father (c.f. 2 Samuel 6:8, Uzzah’s death), His sent ones often acting on behalf of the Father to speak with us.  And in the extension of the poles into the Holy Place but not visible from the outside, so we also peer into the secrets of new creation as Christians standing in the Holy Catholic Church, represented by the Holy Place; yet only the Son who now stands in the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 8-9) is in the immediate and physical presence of the Father, compared to our present firstfruit yet dimness of the Father’s glory (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).

Finally, only once the ark has entered the Holy of Holies that the glory of the LORD, like a cloud, filled up the entire house (akin to Exodus 40, the establishment of the tabernacle).  Yet – it should be interesting to note the contrast between the author of Hebrews (chapter 9:4) and the author of 1 Kings.  It is specifically stated in v.9 that there is only the Mosaic tablets; yet what of the jar of manna and Aaron’s staff which the writer of Hebrews focuses on?  Some views on this matter:

But he says that the pot in which Moses had deposited the manna, and Aaron’s rod which had budded, were in the ark with the two tables; but this seems inconsistent with sacred history, which in 1 King s 8:9, relates that there was nothing in the ark but the two tables. But it is easy to reconcile these two passages: God had commanded the pot and Aaron’s rod to be laid up before the testimony; it is hence probable that they were deposited in the ark, together with the tables. But when the Temple was built, these things were arranged in a different order, and certain history relates it as a thing new that the ark had nothing else but the two tables.  – John Calvin

Though it may be due to the actual perspective and angle on viewing the items in and around the ark as John Calvin suggests (and depending on the time difference between what the writer of Hebrews understood to be in the ark and what was initially the case in 1 Kings 8), Matthew Henry visits the more spiritual reasoning behind these items:

This typified Christ, his perfect obedience to the law and his fulfilling of all righteousness for us. Now here we are told both what was in this ark and what was over it. [1.] What was in it. First, The golden pot that had manna, which, when preserved by the Israelites in their own houses, contrary to the command of God, presently putrefied; but now, being by God’s appointment deposited here in this house, was kept from putrefaction, always pure and sweet; and this to teach us that it is only in Christ that our persons, our graces, our performances are kept pure. It was also a type of the bread of life we have in Christ, the true ambrosia that gives immortality. This was also a memorial of God’s miraculously feeding his people in the wilderness, that they might never forget such signal favour, nor distrust God for the time to come. Secondly, Aaron’s rod that budded, and thereby showed that God had chosen him of the tribe of Levi to minister before him of all the tribes of Israel, and so an end was put to the murmuring of the people, and to their attempt to invade the priest’s office, Num. xvii. This was that rod of God with which Moses and Aaron wrought such wonders; and this was a type of Christ, who is styled the man, the branch (Zech. vi. 12), by whom God has wrought wonders for the spiritual deliverance, defence, and supply of his people, and for the destruction of their enemies. It was a type of divine justice, by which Christ the Rock was smitten, and from whom the cool refreshing waters of life flow into our souls. Thirdly, The tables of the covenant, in which the moral law was written, signifying the regard God has to the preservation of his holy law, and the care we all ought to have that we keep the law of God–that this we can only do in and through Christ, by strength from him nor can our obedience by accepted but through him. [2.] What was over the ark ( 5): Over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat. First, The mercy-seat, which was the covering of the ark; it was called the propitiatory, and it was of pure gold, as long and as broad as the ark in which the tables of the law were laid. It was an eminent type of Christ, and of his perfect righteousness, ever adequate to the dimensions of the law of God, and covering all our transgressions, interposing between the Shechinah, or symbol of God’s presence, and our sinful failures, and covering them. Secondly, The cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat, representing the holy angels of God, who take pleasure in looking into the great work of our redemption by Christ, and are ready to perform every good office, under the Redeemer, for those who are the heirs of salvation. The angels attended Christ at his birth, in his temptation, under his agonies, at his resurrection, and in his ascension, and will attend his second coming. God manifest in the flesh was seen, observed, visited, by the angels.  – Matthew Henry

Yet, what I find fascinating is that all three items, the branch of Aaron (Numbers 17), the manna (Exodus 16), and the two tablets (Exodus 32-34) renewed are all sources of Israel’s shame, rather than Israel’s pride.  Their rebellion against God in all three circumstances remind us of the Father’s judgment; and rightly the three items represent three key events in Israel’s history, prior to their entry into the Promised Land and securing Moriah for Christ’s fulfillment, which prophesy the stripping down of Israel to her knees in anticipation of the Messiah who is the firstfruit, the bread of life, and the fulfillment of the New Covenant.  It is unimportant at what stage the Hebrews writer saw the three items in the Temple, whether it is in the construction of the Temple in 1 Kings 8, or whether some period further on – the key unshakeable understanding here is the sin of Israel cast within and under the very mercy seat of the ark of covenant, highlighting the Father’s mercy towards Israel, but not without the blood of sacrifice first.

Hence v.10-11 remind us that the cloud of the LORD is used as a veil and a protective covering (Psalm 105:38), just like the pillar of fire by night.  Yet, both rain of clouds and fire of the pillar are emblems of the first Noahic judgment and the coming global judgment of the world.  It is in this joint imagery of Temple establishment and impressive but bloody sacrificial offering of the innocent; mercy seat and Israel’s shame; and finally the cloud of the LORD (c.f. 2 Samuel 22:12; Psalm 18:11; compared against the pillar of fire) that we see a grander picture of the seemingly paradoxical ways of the LORD in uniting these dichotomies together under the name of Christ.

12(Q) Then Solomon said, “The LORD[a] has said that he would dwell(R) in thick darkness. 13(S) I have indeed built you an exalted house,(T) a place for you to dwell in forever.” 14Then the king turned around and(U) blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 15And he said,(V) “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled(W) what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, 16(X) ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house,(Y) that my name might be there.(Z) But I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 17(AA) Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 18But the LORD said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19(AB) Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20Now the LORD has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel,(AC) as the LORD promised, and I have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21And there I have provided a place for the ark,(AD) in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

It is also interesting to witness Solomon’s thinking here – does he really believe that the LORD who dwells in such dread-inducing, awesome but fearful thick darkness (Isaiah 8:22; 60:2; Zephaniah 1:15) will truly dwell in this man-made house?  Of course not (see v.27).  It is entirely the mercy of the LORD’s and the outward pouring love between the Father and the Son (John 17) that the Father comes to dwell with us after the Son’s first humiliation.  Yet in the day that the Father dwells with us, He shall no longer be the very same darkness which plagued the land in Christ’s death (Acts 2:20); rather, He shall be the everlasting light (Revelation 22:5).  Even the very Hebrew phrasing of v.20 here, “Now the LORD has fulfilled his promise that he made” is better fitted if we were faithful to the verb quwm (יקם) which suggests that the LORD is arising / accomplishing this very promise that he made, but it is not necessarily already complete or fulfilled as the ESV indicates.

22Then Solomon(AE) stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and(AF) spread out his hands toward heaven, 23and said, “O LORD, God of Israel,(AG) there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath,(AH) keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him.(AI) You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. 25Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying,(AJ) ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26(AK) Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father.

What we then see is a picture of humility, the bookends of this doctrinal prayer and plea beginning in v.22 and ending in v.54, the transition from Solomon standing before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, with hands widespread toward heaven, to kneeling with hands outstretched toward heaven.  Here is the mark of the man who begs for the LORD’s acceptance of the Temple – a man who seeks the LORD’s mercy and His Presence to grace the Temple, for the Temple is nothing without His Presence.  Like Moses whose arms and hands were spread during battle (Exodus 17:9-13), so also Solomon’s plea is one of weakness in the shape of Christ on the cross, arms widespread and entirely vulnerable to the Father’s will (and man’s abuse):

“For it was not without design that the prophet Moses, when Hur and Aaron upheld his hands, remained in this form until evening. For indeed the Lord remained upon the tree almost until evening, and they buried Him at eventide; then on the third day He rose again. This was declared by David thus: ‘With my voice I cried to the Lord, and He heard me out of His holy hill. I laid me down, and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustained me.’ (Psalm 3:4-5) And Isaiah likewise mentions concerning Him the manner in which He would die, thus: ‘I have spread out My hands unto a people disobedient, and gainsaying, that walk in a way which is not good.’(Isa. lxv. 2; comp. also Rom. x. 21.) And that He would rise again, Isaiah himself said: ‘His burial has been taken away from the midst, and I will give the rich for His death.’ (Isa. liii. 9.) And again, in other words, David in the twenty-first (That is, Ps. xxii. 16–18.) Psalm thus refers to the suffering and to the cross in a parable of mystery: ‘They pierced my hands and my feet; they counted all my bones. They considered and gazed on me; they parted my garments among themselves, and cast lots upon my vesture.’ For when they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands248 and feet; and those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each casting lots for what he chose to have, and receiving according to the decision of the lot. And this very Psalm you maintain does not refer to Christ; for you are in all respects blind, and do not understand that no one in your nation who has been called King or Christ has ever had his hands or feet pierced while alive, or has died in this mysterious fashion—to wit, by the cross—save this Jesus alone.” – Justin Martyr in “Dialogue with Trypho”, Chapter XCVII.—Other predictions of the cross of Christ.

Solomon rightly states that there is only one LORD in heaven and on earth who keeps covenants – all other “gods” are lifeless, and dead, non-responsive and unable to fulfill promises, testament to Elijah’s battle with the false prophets (1 Kings 18:36-39).  Such is the LORD who fulfills promises, the LORD of David (v.25-26), the second king of Israel who never saw the Temple built, just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked forward to the day of the Messiah’s work on the cross, seeing it by the Spirit but long after they have fallen asleep (John 8:56).  What is Solomon’s mentality when the LORD promised David these things?  On what basis did David “pay close attention to his way” when walking before the LORD as an example to the later kings?  Surely this murderer of Uriah, adulterer with Bathsheba, passive contributor to the abuse of Tamar, among several other chronicled sins of his life marks him as perhaps even worse than Saul whose greatest sin seems to have been the unfounded persecution of David?

Yet, it is not David’s own righteousness which Solomon understands.  It is the LORD’s righteousness which David inherits; for David did not cease his pursuit of the LORD in spite of his life marred with sin.  David need only walk with the LORD, walking in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham (Romans 4:12), walking according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16, 25), walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), walking in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (Ephesians 5:2), walking in Christ (Colossians 2:6), in the light (1 John 1:7).  David had walked in Christ, experienced the mercy of Christ the Angel at the field of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:16), the second LORD of David’s worship (Psalm 110), the Son who should not be denied (Psalm 2) – this is the way in which David walked.  So, too, will we be fellow heirs of the Father’s kingdom if we walk in Christ.

27“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold,(AL) heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 28Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, 29(AM) that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said,(AN) ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 30And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

And what we find in v.27-30 is also very profound.  Despite the Pharisees take on the Temple, Solomon, the builder of the Temple himself acknowledged that the man-made Temple cannot possibly contain God!  “But will God indeed dwell on earth?”, Solomon proclaimed (v.27)!  Yet, note his please in v.28-30 – this is a plea of mercy, a place of worship, a place where His name, Christ, will be there (Acts 19:17).  So also this dwelling is prophesied in Ezekiel 37:27, finally fulfilled in new creation (Revelation 21:3) where the LORD’s true dwelling place is with man and not simply to remain in third heaven.  So also, the LORD is man’s dwelling place (Psalm 91:9), the beauty of this mutual indwelling phrased by Paul in Ephesians 2:19-21, where the whole structure of the church is joined together, growing into a holy temple of the LORD; and in Him, we are built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.  Thus, in these times of end days we are growing into that eschatological Temple, the new creation dwelling where both God and man shall dwell forever.  And His Name shall be there – Christ shall be there, through Whom we experience the Spirit and the Father in fullness.

Upon noting Solomon and the saints’ Christological take of the true meaning of “God’s dwelling”, the portion of the plea and prayer in v.31-53 outlines Solomon’s thinking based on his theology of God’s merciful dwelling in relation to this symbolic house:

Summary Verses
“swears oath before your altar in this house… hear in heaven… and act and judge and condemn and vindicate and reward” 31-32
“turn to your name, pray and plead with you in this house… hear in heaven… and forgive and bring them to the land that you gave” 33-34
“pray toward this place… hear in heaven… and forgive, and teach, and grant rain upon your land which you have given to your people as an inheritance” 35-36
“plea…stretching out his hands toward this house… hear in heaven your dwelling place… and forgive, and act, and render, in the land that you gave 37-40
“pray towards this house… hear in heaven your dwelling place… and do so all may know your name” 41-43
“pray toward the city that you have chosen/house built for your name…” then  “hear in heaven…and maintain their cause” 44-45
“pray toward their land which you gave to their fathers, the city which you have chosen, the house that I have built…” 46-48
Then “hear in heaven your dwelling place… maintain their cause… forgive… grant them compassion… (they are your people, your heritage, from the midst of the iron furnace)… open your eyes, give your ears… you separated them when you brought out fathers out of Egypt” 49-53

A quick summary provides us with such important details which build upon each other – the first few statements which reveal that the Israelites are now to swear bear the altar of the house, turning to His name and praying in the house, praying toward the house, praying toward the city where the house is built, praying toward the land – all in the name of the Saviour of Israel during the great exodus.  As Solomon zooms out from the altar (v.31-32) to the land  (v.48), we begin to see that this house is symbolic of the salvation of Israel, of the elected church in the Elect Christ, so powerfully demonstrated by the Angel’s guidance out of Egypt through the pillar of cloud and fire.  For such salvation extends from personal and intimate, to the congregate (c.f. Joshua 7 – sin of Achan), and it is through this house as a medium that the LORD hears, even in the midst of the iron furnace of the refiner’s fire (Revelation 3:18).

One wonders – why must it be done through this Temple?  For Christ is the true Temple (John 2:19), in Whom we dwell and through Whom the mutual indwelling of the Trinity and us could be finally effectuated.  Yet, in the day of Christ, the Temple has lost its significance.  Rather than a house of invitation, it became a house of rejection; rather than a house of the priesthood of nation of nations, it became a house of isolation.  Solomon prayed over the house, that the LORD may mercifully use it as a typological medium between Him and man; yet Solomon, like the Christian saints before him, knew that the true medium, or better yet, Mediator, is the Anointed and Appointed Son and Lamb who will help build the new kingdom (2 Samuel 7) and take our sins away (Genesis 22) like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).

54(BN) Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had(BO) knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. 55And he stood and(BP) blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56“Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised.(BQ) Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. 57The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers.(BR) May he not leave us or forsake us, 58that he may(BS) incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. 59Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, 60that(BT) all the peoples of the earth may know that(BU) the LORD is God; there is no other. 61(BV) Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

And what confidence Solomon has, in the LORD whose promises have never failed (v.56) spoken by Moses his servant; the LORD who inclines our hearts to him (v.58), He who renews us to life beyond our own volition for we are but living corpses (Ezekiel 37).  This is the House of the LORD, the House through which (and as a type of the “through Whom”) all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God, [that] there is no other (v.60)!

62(BW) Then(BX) the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD. 63Solomon offered as peace offerings to the LORD 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. 64The same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, for there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat pieces of the peace offerings, because(BY) the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to receive the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat pieces of the peace offerings.

This chapter thus ends beautifully with v.62-66 – by the peace offering (or better described as the fellowship offering as per the NIV translation of Leviticus 3):

“Of course, we learn much about Jesus through the peace offering, and something about the worshipper as well.  The worshipper should give the best portions to the LORD in response to his initiating love for us; yet this “best portion” business stems from Christ offering the best of himself to the LORD.  It is the Christ who, as a male young and without blemish, in the prime of his life (~30 years old), who offered himself willingly and voluntarily to appease the wrath of Himself and of His Father against sin and sinner.  This offering is one that is given wholeheartedly, expressed through the message of giving the “best portion” of the sacrifice to the LORD…

Eating the offering and the Holy Communion

On the point about eating the offering, the person sacrificing the animal is shown to be allowed to invite brethren to enjoy the meat at the tabernacle in the presence of the Seen God in the Holy of Holies.  This is the reason why I think ‘fellowship’ offering is far better than relying on the ESV translation of ‘peace’ offering – because there is now an image of the smaller fellowships of Israel congregating outside the tabernacle, having their self-sacrificial meal with the LORD.

This message is quite profound.  Unlike the last two burnt and grain offerings; and the following two concerning sin and guilt offering, the voluntariness and the grounded nature of this offering points to the importance of this offering is a natural outshoot of our Christian lifestyle.  Do we want to enjoy our fellowship with God, or do we want to go to ‘heaven’ where God does not preside (i.e. the Islamic heaven)?  Do we want to eat with God, or do we want to make God our omnipotent genie?

The fellowship offering therefore points towards the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-9 – we will take part in consuming from the same table which the LORD eats; we will take part in consuming from the same food which the LORD partakes.

There is only one time that the fellowship offering is made compulsory, which is the Feast of Pentecost mentioned earlier in Exodus and later in Leviticus 23.  I have already spoken that the Feast is one which prophesies the coming of the Holy Spirit, and is a clear expression of the forward looking hope of New Creation – and there is no doubt that this fellowship offering speaks the same message of the Marriage Feast with the LORD which even Exodus 24, the manna, and the bread of presence merely point towards.

As application: the fellowship offering as we know it should be a time of spiritual intimacy and further bonding within the family (Deuteronomy 12:7):

7And(A) there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and(B) you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

and Jude 12:

12These are hidden reefs[a](A) at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear,(B) shepherds feeding themselves;(C) waterless clouds,(D) swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead,(E) uprooted…

May we try and understand the utter importance of the Holy Communion and that though it is a physical manifestation of the spiritual truth, our LORD isn’t only Spirit, but he is also MAN – and he will come down to eat with us in New Jerusalem in physical form, just as we partake the meal with him in our physical bodies.” – from my commentary on Leviticus 3.

This is but the description of the fulsome peace/fellowship offering; not to mention the consecration of the area in the court, beyond that of the altar, for more burnt and grain offering!  So beautiful is the typology of the Temple and Solomon’s understanding of the Temple’s symbolic use that he does not stick to hard religion and understands that all ground can be holy, for the purpose of heart-felt sacrifice which no man-made altar could contain; such is the overflowing mutual love which Christ had hoped from His church (John 17:26), and now we see one of the rarer occasions where this is fulfilled in the Old Testament.  And to emphasise this as as an offering of fellowship rather than merely that of peace, note v.65 onwards:

65So Solomon held(BZ) the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, from(CA) Lebo-hamath to(CB) the Brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days.[c] 66On the eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king and went to their homes joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had shown to David his servant and to Israel his people.

Can one imagine how glorious this image is, that of the holy golden Temple and House of the LORD taking the central typological stage where the church of Christ stands in relation to this House – a great assembly (להָקָ qel), the Hebrew word for the Greek equivalent of church in the NT (a great ekklesia,εκκλησια μεγαλη” c.f. LXX translation of 1 Kings 8:65), a full seven on seven days of worship (c.f. LXX which has two weeks, as opposed to one week, of celebration) of the feast of tabernacles, and rejoicing looking to the eighth day of true renewal after the seventh day of Sabbath:

“The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first2061 of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.” – Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho”, Chapter XLI.—The oblation of fine flour was a figure of the Eucharist.

In the words of Matthew Henry whereby “Solomon was herein a type of Christ, the great intercessor for all over whom he rules”, both him and Adam Clarke agree in the LXX interpretation of these final verses, that there is a feast lasting fourteen days (v.65) of the feast of tabernacles after the feast of dedication.  What beauty it is to see this joyful feast in relation to the Temple’s replacement of the tabernacle, both after the model of God’s design, both typifying Christ’s work from the Holy Place entering the Holy of Holies, as we await His glorious return from before the veil and the doors separating between us and the Father, finally and truly ripping this veil apart where we will see the Father face-to-face, and have true fellowship with the Trinity.

1 Kings 8: the House of the LORD (pt. 3)

2 Samuel 24: Costly grace

2 Samuel 24:  Costly grace

As if the end of chapter 23 does not already indicate and maximize the sin of David as the shadow-king of Israel by referring to Uriah as among one of David’s thirty mighty men (murdered by David’s lustful adultery and scheming), once again David’s weakness is the subject of chapter 24.

2Sa 24:1-25  Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”  (2)  So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army, who was with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.”  (3)  But Joab said to the king, “May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?”  (4)  But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel.  (5)  They crossed the Jordan and began from Aroer, and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, toward Gad and on to Jazer.  (6)  Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went around to Sidon,  (7)  and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba.  (8)  So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.  (9)  And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

v.4 – “presence of the King”; began from Aroer to Gad to Jazer to Gilead to Kadesh (land of Hittites) to Dan to Sidon to Tyre to Hivites / Canaanites to Negeb of Judah at Beersheba.  Why, again, is the “anger of the LORD kindled against Israel” (v.1) (chapter 21:15-20)?  There is no explanation in the narrative, but it is apparent that Israel has succumbed to disobeying the LORD.  Let us turn to 1 Chronicles which explains how this has happened:

1Ch 21:1-7  Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel… (5)  And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword.  (6)  But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.  (7)  But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel.

Note how Satan is the one who stood against Israel; but it is the LORD’s anger which was kindled against the visible church.  Neither narrative explains exactly what had caused Satan to be permitted to stand against Israel (c.f. Job 1-2) but one thing is clear.  This chapter is a fitting end to the two books of Samuel: while Samuel began with the unexpected election of this young priest over the House of Eli, we move quickly to the unexpected election of the young shepherd David over the House of Saul, and now we move once again to the House of Araunah the Jebusite (v.16) over the House of David.  In each instance, we see how God has narrowed down the elected offspring through whom the Christ would come; from the form of priesthood and kingship firstly rejected and then typologically portrayed by its replaced shadow, as a witness to the true fulfillment of the priesthood and kingship by the Angelic Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5-7).

Under this overarching and underlining agenda of the 2 books, it is important that Satan stood against Israel, and that God permitted Satan to do so.  Though it is not explicitly explained as to why Satan stood against Israel, what is displayed is the act of sin which David commits by numbering the visible church as incited by Satan.  In this act of listening to the enemy, David has identified himself as a type of Christ and not the promised King Himself.  It is therefore important to see man’s struggle with Satan since the books of Genesis to 2 Samuel, for no man has struggled successfully against Satan and crushed him definitively.  Even David and his mighty men only defeated Satan’s children, be it the great Egyptian, the remnant of the Rephaim, the Goliath, amongst other fear-inducing enemies – but The Enemy could only be bound (Matthew 12:29) by The One Chosen to crush him truly at his head (Genesis 3:15).  The victories of David are but shadows of Christ’s victory against the Satan; but they are at most shadows.  David is not the Christ Himself, for David must also rely on Christ as His Second LORD and Mediator (Psalm 2; 110 ; c.f. his Christ-centered in chapter 22).

Even Joab, the man who was not mentioned among the David’s mighty men, this schemer and murderer found David’s decree abhorrent (v.6).  For how can David puff up his pride in counting the visible church when the LORD has left a true holy remnant in Christ?  Such is the reason why Levi and Benjamin are not counted amongst the census – according to the Hebrew of these two tribes’ names, the Levites who are joined to the priesthood are not to be joined to this unholy census, just as the Benjaminites, the children of the right hand should not be equally included.  Yet, it is the Benjaminites and the Levites who are among those who receive the most ominous prophecies of Jacob in Genesis 49.  Where do they actually stand?  Are they really the joy of Christ’s childbirth, or are they truly riddled with warfare and ravenous wolves?  It is perhaps likely that focus on the lack of inclusion of these two tribes is to highlight the seeming confusion of the silver lining between the unseen and seen Church – very much the subject of this chapter.

It is then clear in v.10 that David’s heart struck him (or, more viciously, killed him – nakah נכה) after he had numbered the people – that the Holy Spirit grieved (Isaiah 63:10 / Ephesians 4:30), and quite right that he accepted how he had sinned greatly and pursued the LORD to take away David’s iniquity.  David did not, nor through a priest, sacrifice an innocent animal according to the Levitical laws for his sin.  He knew very well that these animals could not take away people’s sins (Psalm 51; Hebrews 9:23) – only the LORD could take away the iniquity (Mark 2:7).

(10)  But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”  (11)  And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,  (12)  “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.'”  (13)  So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.”  (14)  Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”

So in verses 10-14 we see the LORD presenting three choices to David – all of whom will be done to David by the LORD Himself: three years of famine, three months of persecution, or three days of pestilence (v.13).  Though in the first two options we see the LORD withholding his provision (be that provision of natural resources in the famine; or his protection from external or internal strife), it is only in the third option that the LORD is directly and positively inflicting pestilence on Israel.  David would rather “ fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but… not fall into the hand of man”.

How interesting it is that David still sees the LORD’s mercy in the midst of these three options which will afflict the nation as a result of David’s failed mediation as the righteous king of Israel.  David saw ahead that the LORD’s mercy in the three days; but he did not see any comparative benefits from the other two choices which will result in a combination of the LORD’s and men’s wrath.  Only in the third choice will we see sin personalized as between the church and the LORD (Psalm 51:4), the breaking of the covenant affecting first and foremost that God-man relationship.

(15)  So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men.  (16)  And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  (17)  Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”  (18)  And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

What is interesting is that the LORD’s pestilence has spread from “Dan to Beersheba”, the same geographic spread of people from David’s census in v.2; and it is akin to the pestilence elsewhere in Scripture, be it in the days of Noah by the global flood (Genesis 7); in the days of Abraham by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24); in the days of Moses by the ten plagues (Exodus 8-12); and this is but another way of sifting the spiritual Israelite from the visible Israelite, the symbolic sweep over the same people who had been counted part of David’s church in the earlier verses of this chapter.

Yet, we must not forget the imagery of what is shown here – and this is the very crux of the consolidated message and thrust of the two books of Samuel.  The Angel of the LORD by the threshing floor (quote) of Jerusalem – this place is symbolic not only because it is the Hebrew for the “city of peace”, but that commentators have recognized this place as Moriah, the place where the Christ would be crucified and where Abraham had foresaw that the LORD would provide a lamb for the burnt offering (Genesis 22; 2 Chronicles 3:1):

“This place is supposed to be Mount Moriah: on which, according to the rabbins, Cain and Abel offered their sacrifices; where Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac, and where the temple of Solomon was afterwards built.” – Adam Clarke

(19)  So David went up at Gad’s word, as the LORD commanded.  (20)  And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground.  (21)  And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people.”  (22)  Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood.  (23)  All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.”  (24)  But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.  (25)  And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

And thus the chapter ends not on David’s victory; not on Israel’s faithfulness; but rather quite an opposite note.  The plague, caused by David, and inflicted upon Israel (upon whom the perfect rounded number of 70,000 were taken away from the visible church), could only be propitiated by the burnt offerings and peace offerings given on Moriah on the third day of the pestilence.  What a grand gospel picture that has been underlying 1 and 2 Samuel’s message!  It isn’t men who inflicted our Christ on the cross; it isn’t Satan who induces the wrath and punishment on David for he is but a tool of the Father in tempting David to sin; it is, in actuality, the Father in heaven who inflicts this wrath on the Son!

It is on this second altar, far away from the legitimized altar of the tabernacle but instead is placed on the exact location of Christ’s crucifixion, that we see the light of the world – the Son of God – break into the dim pestilence and wrath of the Father which would have otherwise continued to wipe out the visible church.  Yet, the Father had planned for the Angel to have mercy upon arriving at Jebus (the ancient Jerusalem) for this is where election is displayed for the world to see – the alpha and omega of election in Jesus Christ to be risen on the third day on the cross at Moriah.

The brazen altar which Moses made was at Gibeon (1Ch_21:29), and there all the sacrifices of Israel were offered; but David was so terrified at the sight of the sword of the angel that he could not go thither, 1Ch_21:30. The business required haste, when the plague was begun. Aaron must go quickly, nay, he must run, to make atonement, Num_16:46, Num_16:47. And the case here was no less urgent; so that David had not time to go to Gibeon: nor durst he leave the angel with his sword drawn over Jerusalem, lest the fatal stroke should be given before he came back. And therefore God, in tenderness to him, bade him build an altar in that place, dispensing with his own law concerning one altar because of the present distress, and accepting the sacrifices offered on this new altar, which was not set up in opposition to that, but in concurrence with it. The symbols of unity were not so much insisted on as unity itself. Nay, when the present distress was over (as it should seem), David, as long as he lived, sacrificed there, though the altar at Gibeon was still kept up; for God had owned the sacrifices that were here offered and had testified his acceptance of them, 1Ch_21:28. On those administrations in which we have experienced the tokens of God’s presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth, it is good to continue our attendance. “Here God had graciously met me, and therefore I will still expect to meet with him.” – Matthew Henry

And standing by this cross is not easy.  It is not cheap.  It is in fact very expensive – Luke 14:27.

Cheap grace is not the king of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin.  Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has.  It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods.  It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.  Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “Cost of Discipleship”

2 Samuel 24: Costly grace

2 Samuel 23: The Three and the Church

From David’s prophetic song of Christ in 2 Samuel 22, we move to David’s last words, which once again can point only away from himself. V.5 in particular – “he has made with me an everlasting covenant”: is this covenant broken when the house of David has been scattered and dispersed?  No – we are indeed grafted in the house of David by Christ Himself.  For David’s last words, by the Spirit of the LORD, proclaims the Son of God as the Man who secures one’s eternality in the everlasting House of Israel.  To His children, He is the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth (v.4) – yet to those standing outside of Christ, these worthless men are subject of a consuming fire (v.7 – Genesis 19:24; Daniel 3:27; compare Genesis 2:5 and Genesis 7:4).

2Sa 23:1-39  Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:  (2)  “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.  (3)  The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,  (4)  he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.  (5)  “For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?  (6)  But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand;  (7)  but the man who touches them arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they are utterly consumed with fire.”

What is interesting to note is that honorific verses following David’s praise of the LORD is key to understanding David’s theology when he describes the good works of the saints; the righteousness of the saints; the cleanness of the saints.  The praise song of David in the previous chapter recognizes that it is the LORD who rebukes the waters; it is the LORD who forgives men of sins; it is the LORD who lights the dark path which David would have otherwise trodden.  Similarly, it is the LORD who has made with David an everlasting covenant – ordered in all things and secure (v.5).  Such assurance of faith is not the same as one who is relying on his “clean” hands for salvation; rather, it is salvation which came first, then came these mighty men.

Note in particular verses 3 and 4 which is currently translated in the ESV as:

3The God of Israel has spoken;

the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
4he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

Adam Clarke notes that v.3 should be far more theocentric – “He that ruleth over men must be just” (מושל באדם צדיק  moshel baadam tsaddik), or “He that ruleth in man is the just one”; or, “The just one is the ruler among men”.  It is clear that from Clarke’s rendition of the Hebrew, we cannot escape that this “ruler” is not speaking of any men; it isn’t speaking as if David should aspire to be the alpha and omega of the meaning behind this “ruler”.  Rather, this ruler is the just one.  Clarke goes on to say regarding the latter half of v.3, “It is by God’s fear that Jesus Christ rules the hearts of all his followers; and he who has not the fear of God before his eyes, can never be a Christian”, explicitly referring to this “ruler” whom David refers to as Christ Jesus.  If so, the verses following make more sense – this Ruler, the Light of the world, shall be “like the morning light” (c.f. Genesis 1, “Let there be light” – light is not created on day 1, but is the first Word proclaimed by the Father).  Clarke also continues in the same vein of thinking: “As the Messiah seems to be the whole subject of these last words of David, he is probably the person intended. One of Dr. Kennicott’s MSS. Supplies the word יהוה  Yehovah; and he therefore translates, As the light of the morning ariseth Jehovah… He shall be the Sun of righteousness, bringing salvation in his rays, and shining – illuminating the children of men, with increasing splendor, as long as the sun and moon endure.”

Yet, it is important to recognize that not all of these mighty men were cut from the same cloth as we turn back to them from v.8 onwards.  We begin with the three:

(8)  These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.  (9)  And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew.  (10)  He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the LORD brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.  (11)  And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines.  (12)  But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory.  (13)  And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.  (14)  David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem.  (15)  And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!”  (16)  Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD  (17)  and said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

Note how David, upon the willing sacrifice of these three loyal men (c.f. event of v.13 was recorded in 2 Samuel 5:17), poured out what David had considered to be their blood (v.17) to the LORD (v.16) – and such is the definitive picture of the Christ, poured out and anointed (the Hebrew for “poured” in v.16 is nasak, נָסַךְ, which could mean both “poured out” and used in the context of the anointing of a king) before the LORD to fulfill that true thirst of David (Matthew 26:28; John 4:10-11; Revelation 7:17), the water which came from the house of bread the birthplace of the incarnate Son of God.  These three are akin to the missional Trinity, working as one family of different roles and Persons to fulfil the salvific work glorified through the Son; the wise Tehchemonite, the aided Eleazar, son of love and rest, and Shammah born of desolation, inflicting judgment and wrath.  Is this not the united truth of the Triune Elohim, the wisdom of the Spirit leading us to the beloved and aided Son of the love and Sabbath rest to come from the Father who inflicts both his overflowing love and wrath through His God-man Elect One.

(18)  Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against three hundred men and killed them and won a name beside the three.  (19)  He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.  (20)  And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.  (21)  And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  (22)  These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men.  (23)  He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.  (24)  Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,  (25)  Shammah of Harod, Elika of Harod,  (26)  Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa,  (27)  Abiezer of Anathoth, Mebunnai the Hushathite,  (28)  Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah,  (29)  Heleb the son of Baanah of Netophah, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin,  (30)  Benaiah of Pirathon, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,  (31)  Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Bahurim,  (32)  Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,  (33)  Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,  (34)  Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam the son of Ahithophel of Gilo,  (35)  Hezro of Carmel, Paarai the Arbite,  (36)  Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,  (37)  Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah,  (38)  Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite,  (39)  Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all.

And it is from v.18 to 39 that we see the church formation – from David the pastor, to the three elders / deacons (Numbers 11; Titus 1; 1 Timothy 3), to the church.  Here we see the hierarchy of the early ancient church which had begun in Moses’ time, which truly stems from the Trinitarian creator Elohim who had commanded Adam to populate the earth with His children (though it seems the mandate came after the fall in His promise of the Son as Messiah – Genesis 3:15-16), rather than children of darkness.  It is in the names of these 37 (including David), that we are brought to recognize the might of these heroes of David’s league – from Abishai (father of gift) who as chief of the thirty won his name in walking victoriously before the three hundred men, to Benaiah, the man whom Yahweh has built up and struck down the heroes of Moab ( ית תרין רברבי מואב  yath terein rabrebey Moab, “The two princes of Moab.” – according to Adam Clarke’s translation) (v.18-20); he who also struck down a lion and approached the man of appearance, the powerful seemingly supernatural (as the Hebrew would describe it) man of Egypt with his seemingly feeble staff, only to turn on the enemy with his own weapon (Habbakuk 3:14).

And these are but the great deeds (c.f. v.20) of two of the thirty, let alone the God-made (Asahel) to He has saved (Helez); from milk and full richness / fatness (Heleb) to whom God is salvation (Eliphelet); but also from my God rejects (Elika) to shady (Zalmon); from desolation and astonishment (Shammah) to scabby (Gareb).  We do not merely have men of renown, but also men of disrepute; men of Israel, but also men who have newly joined Israel (e.g. Ittai); and in this thirty we see the great mixed multitude of the church brought out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38), of the prophecy fulfilled (Genesis 9) and the Gentiles and Israelites fulfilling the commission of the Trinity in the same tent (Isaiah 54:2).  Note especially Matthew Henry’s words in closing of this chapter:

“The surnames here given them are taken, as it should seem, from the places of their birth or habitation, as many surnames with us originally were. From all parts of the nation, the most wise and valiant were picked up to serve the king. Several of those who are named we find captains of the twelve courses which David appointed, one for each month in the year, 1 Chr. 27. Those that did worthily were preferred according to their merits. One of them was the son of Ahithophel (2Sa_23:34), the son famous in the camp as the father at the council-board. But to find Uriah the Hittite bringing up the rear of these worthies, as it revives the remembrance of David’s sin, so it aggravates it, that a man who deserved so well of his king and country should be so ill treated. Joab is not mentioned among all these, either, (1.) to be mentioned; the first, of the first three sat chief among the captains, but Joab was over them as general. Or, (2.) Because he was so bad that he did not deserve to be mentioned; for though he was confessedly a great soldier, and one that had so much religion in him as to dedicate of his spoils to the house of God (1Ch_26:28), yet he lost as much honour by slaying two of David’s friends as ever he got by slaying his enemies.

Christ, the Son of David, has his worthies too, who like David’s, are influenced by his example, fight his battles against the spiritual enemies of his kingdom, and in his strength are more than conquerors. Christ’s apostles were his immediate attendants, did and suffered great things for him, and at length came to reign with him. They are mentioned with honour in the New Testament, as these in the Old, especially, Rev_21:14. Nay, all the good soldiers of Jesus Christ have their names better preserved than even these worthies have; for they are written in heaven. This honour have all his saints.”

It is also important for us not to forget the refrain in v.19 and v.23 – “but he did not attain to the three”.  There is something special about the three which is fundamentally different from the thirty.  Though they had enjoyed the equal fellowship of David the King, they were not of a compromised quality like the son of Zeruiah – let alone that Joab has not even been mentioned amongst these great men (1 Kings 2:5); but the key difference lies in them pouring out their life for David as if pouring out their blood before the LORD.  In the three, we see a picture of the Trinity working through the Son in achieving that great picture of redemption in the pouring out of the water.  This is not a duty which the sons of Zeruiah can do.

Finally, what a sting it is that Uriah should be mentioned at the end of the thirty, as if to highlight once again that David is but one of these men and not the true centre of the three, nor the true king of the great thirty or of the chosen nation Israel.  He is no different and is redeemed from his humble youth and anointed king despite being the grand schemer, murderer and adulterer who had been promised to be given an eternal kingdom through his offspring (2 Samuel 7), just as Adam had (Genesis 3:15) the moment he subverted Christ’s headship and replaced it with the serpent’s.

2 Samuel 23: The Three and the Church