BOOK 2: PSALM 59 OF 72 – Wronged but Righteous

We live in a world where the good Samaritans have been uprooted by the sniggering Pharisees.  How often does one hear that they’ve been wronged; that they are innocent, and their persecutors did not receive their just deserts; that they have worked hard, accumulated tears, sweat, and blood, but receive an imbalance of appreciation or reward.

Whilst 1 Samuel 19-20 shows us the narrative of Saul’s persecution of David, Psalm 59 helps us peer into David’s heart.  For there, we find the turmoil of the king-in-the-making, of the man after God’s own heart.  What we expect is a man who exudes continual confidence; whose gravitas precedes before him; who destroyed Goliath with his wit and not his brawn.  Instead, we find a man incredibly insecure; a man who pines for justice as he has been unjustly dealt with; a man who is not confident to take matters into his own hand, but rather to leave it in His.

Saul has left himself open to a harmful spirit from the Lord.  If not for Jonathan’s reminders, he would have pursued his passions to destroy David.  David describes him, and his men, as dogs howling and prowling about the city, bellowing with their mouths, lying in wait for David’s life, to stir up strife against him.  The enemies whom David faced are born of the same deceiver whom Jesus destroyed; and the enemies we face today are constantly deceived by the spirits of this world, than by the Holy Spirit Who breathes life through us.

That is why David can proclaim that the Lord is his Strength; that God is his fortress; that He will let David look in triumph on his enemies.  How can a howling, growling dog, a prowling lion, a hungry beast who wanders about for food, even scar the high towers of God’s temple?  We triumph because He is much larger than we perceive Him to be; and yet our sights are often on the dogs and lions than the unshakeable and unbreakable Rock we stand on.

David prays that his enemies are consumed by their own wrath; and indeed, that is what God allows, for those who do not stand under the cross; they are, as John said, already condemned: John 3:16-18.

 

Do we not need to restore our perspectives to this, daily?  Are not our eyes and our sight so easily manipulated by the circumstances that surround us?  This psalm is a firm reminder that, even a faithful shepherd like David is easily discouraged, describing to Jonathan that he is but one step away from death: 1 Samuel 20:3.  Yet, turning around, David realises that he need not fear death at all, because Jesus has conquered death.  David can now find strength – even strength in the face of death – that he can sing in the day of his distress.

These are not easy words for David to preach.  He was not a man who merely philosophised the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, and that he should somehow force himself to appreciate that God is his refuge.  No – he is a man who, like Jacob, wrestled with Jesus to be blessed.  David, too, is struggling here with the LORD; and by the end of this psalm, he is blessed and remembers that this Strength and towering fortress is built on the foundation of God’s steadfast love.

That is why Jesus’ work on the cross is so important; not just a generic concept of the emotion and passion that we call ‘love’ today.  Jesus’ work on the cross is a combination of His painful sacrifice, in the face of howling, growling, hungry dogs and lions; and His overcoming of these enemies is what allowed men like David; and men like us, to even have a basis to proclaim victory in the face of death; victory in the face of being wronged.

It is in the cross that we find comfort from the Lord who experienced the same discomfort; it is in the cross that we find true justice, from the Lord who had been unjustly treated; it is in the cross that we find true value, from the Lord who gives us our value.  When we set our sights on the cross, and not on the prowling lions, that we begin to realise that the balance of this world is corrupt.  That the scales are uneven.  But the cross evens the scales; the cross restores the corrupt balance.

 

 

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BOOK 2: PSALM 59 OF 72 – Wronged but Righteous

2 Samuel 19: Love your enemies

David, the man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Jeremiah 3:15; Hebrews 10:22– similar phrase used with regards to Samuel in 1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Samuel 16:7, using the same Hebrew phrase lebab לֵבָב, also indicates our heart as defining our standing before God, that this new heart is the same as that clean heart of Christ referred to in Psalm 24:4), weeps for his son who was crucified on the oak and murdered by Joab despite his personal plea for mercy.  Is it right for Joab to bark at his king?  This bloodthirsty and vengeful soldier can be hugely contrasted to the latter half of this chapter.  Where Joab screams for victory, David ushers it in peacefully.  Where Joab stabbed the three branches (shebet שֵׁבֶט standing for rod, staff, or branch) into the centre (literally into the heart, leb לֵב, of Absalom – contrasting the death of Absalom’s heart and the life of David’s heart) of Absalom’s being as he hung between heaven and earth (chapter 18v.9), David chose to pardon his enemies (2 Samuel 19:12).  Though Joab secured a bloody victory for Israel, it is David’s mercy which is the true source of unity in the kingdom.  Where Joab fought and won by might and by worldly means (chapter 18v.12), David wept and embraced his enemies (v.6).  Joab, along with Abishai, these sons of Zeruiah are but implied as adversaries to David (v.22) – and not contributors to the everlasting kingdom prophecied in 2 Samuel 7.   

Yet, what is also significant, is the lethargic response to the king’s victory.  This is because of v.10 – “Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle”. The man whom they anointed over them, the man which the LORD did not choose to be king, is now dead.  Why are they not returning as a bride to the bridegroom?  This is the immediate accusation which David brings to his people.  Yet, unlike Joab, he does not command obedience by brute force.  Instead, David identifies with them in flesh and blood as one body with them (v.13 – c.f. Romans 12:5) – such unity only found in the marital relationship of Adam and Eve, man and woman (Ephesians 5:22-33). 

This marriage call immediately beckons the likes of Shimei and the men of Judah and Benjamin; Ziba and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, both coming from places like the Bahurim, rushing down to the Jordan and crossing the ford to bring over the king’s household and to do his pleasure (v.16-17).  What a beautiful picture of the LORD who loves and is loved in return!  Is this not the picture of the parable of the rebellious son (Luke 15:11) yearning for forgiveness (v.19)?  Is this not a prophetic picture of Isaiah 2:1-4 (the law going out of Zion and all the nations flowing up to the mountain of the LORD), of the fellowship of the bride returning to the true bridegroom rather than the false imposter Absalom who is nailed to the oak, a picture of the crushed serpent (Numbers 21)?  Shimei has sinned (v.20), and yet David as a type of Christ forgives man of his sins (v.23) though he deserved death.  Such an oath, such forgiveness, can only be given by the LORD God Himself whom David is representing like The Angelic Mediator.   

Not only do we receive a picture of the rebellious, but also a picture of the meek and humble – of Mephibosheth who has, until now, been portrayed by Ziba as a deserter of the kingdom trying to reclaim it for the lineage of Saul (2 Samuel 16).  Instead, what we see in v.24-30 is that David is referred to as like a sent one of God (v.27 – angel), Mephibosheth understanding clearly that Saul, like Absalom, is but a king anointed and chosen by men (2 Samuel 15) doomed to death (v.28).  It is upon this that Mephibosheth is granted a share of Ziba’s land (though it is rightfully Mephibosheth’s: 2 Samuel 9:9-11), yet the beauty of Mephibosheth’s repentance is the gripping of this angel of God himself (contrary to the elder son in the parable of the two sons in Luke 15 who had worked for his inheritance of the land and not for the Father’s embrace); is the embrace of serving his lord the king who mediates on his behalf to restore this cursed man from the house of Saul.   

Besides the facets of Shimei and Mephibosheth’s stories, we also read about Chimham who inherits the blessing of Barzillai.  “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you, and all that you desire of me I will do for you” (v.38).  Unlike Shimei and Mephibosheth, Barzillai need not apologise for sins committed.  Instead, David extends his mercy through Barzillai to Chimham, now David’s new servant to enjoy the pleasant, the food, the drink, the voice of singing men and singing women (v.35).  With the threefold story of these three men, this brings chapter 19 to a close – though opening with Joab’s plea for David to love his kinsmen and not only his enemies, what we see instead is David’s act of mercy shaming the wrathful and vengeful sons of Zeruiah.  What we see instead is David embracing those who do not deserve such a great reward (v.36b), rather than embracing those who achieved victory by murdering David’s son despite his plea for mercy (2 Samuel 18:5).   

What is interesting is the internal strife of Judah and Israel; the lofty latter party who had been first persecuting David under Absalom’s name (2 Samuel 15:13) now wishes to be the first in receiving David with open arms.  Yet, in their discussions Judah had already taken action as David had swayed the heart of all the men of Judah as one man (v.14); yet the chapter is silent on Israel’s response.  Like the parable of the labourers (Matthew 20), who is last shall be first, and who is first shall be last.  Much like Jesus’ ministry in Israel causing jealousy amongst his disciples (Luke 22:24-27), so also David’s actions emulate what Christ shall do in his incarnate ministry.

2 Samuel 19: Love your enemies

2 Samuel 10: Nahash and Jonathan

It would seem out of place to turn back to David’s military victories after a reprieve from that line of narration in chapter 9 by David’s mercy on Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake, yet the purpose of chapter 10 is not merely to line out David’s victories in the same way as it was laid out in chapter 8.  Rather, its focus is on the comparison between Jonathan as mediator for Mephibosheth as a type of Christ’s mediation, and then Nahash’s (the serpent) mediation on behalf of Hanun.

At the outset, it is clear that the background is extremely similar – the house of Saul seen conflicting with the house of David is exalted in the form of Mephibosheth sitting at the king’s table.  Now begs the question: will the house of Nahash, the house of the Ammonites, also be exalted to fellowship with Israel’s king?  V.2 of chapter 10 echoes v.2 of chapter 9 – the call of the Father upon the Gentiles after the call of the Father upon the Israelites – “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me”.  First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).

Yet, unlike the response within Israel where Mephibosheth humbly called himself a dead dog, what is Hanun’s response?  V.3-5 shows that not only is Hanun a lord who is surrounded by princes, a large contrast to Mephibosheth’s dire state of lameness (especially compared to Ziba’s household of wealth), but that he would be so arrogant and heed the advice of evil men (Psalm 1:1, 2:2) and mock David’s servants (v.4).

As akin to chapter 8v.5, the Ammonites and the Syrians rise up against Israel despite their previous defeat (c.f. Hosea 8:9-11) and it is clear that the initiation of the offense is from the side of the Ammonites, with the Israelites drawing up in self-defence by the ordering in v.6-8.  Not to mention that unlike the movement of our Trinitarian God Who moves as one united family on a mission of redemption, the hired Syrians are scattered and ‘by themselves in the open country’ – a mark of the sinful man in the wilderness (Micah 4:10).  Note the contrast between the wicked council of the Ammonites and the Syrians compared with Joab and Abishai’s unity – the former being united for the purpose of money and the latter united under the banner of the LORD– Joab is truly his brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9)(v.11-12).  The mutual aid is the true spirit of the Triune family.

Yet what is so laughable is that the Ammonites and Syrians completely fled (c.f. Revelation 6:16) before Abishai and Joab – as if either the Ammonites or Syrians were too much for them to handle (v.11), instead at the very sight of these two Christian brothers they fled and only then did they gather together (v.15), along with the support of Hadadezer’s Syrian army beyond the Euphrates.  Upon the defeat of Shobach (expansion) at Helam (fortress), the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head, we are brought to re-experience the death of the mediator of the Philistinian army in 1 Samuel 17.  So, the death of Shobach and the death of the seed of Nahash the serpent bring us to see the death of the expansion of the Satan’s kingdom; the fear of the Syrians to save the Ammonites (v.19 – c.f. 2 Chronicles 24:24) anymore is the beginning of the fall of the wicked counsel (Psalm 1:1, 2:2).

This is the image of the failure to heed the call of the Father.  Though Nahash may have dealt loyally with David just as Jonathan had done so, this blessing could have been imputed to the house of the Ammonites.  Yet, the end of chapter 10 spelled out a disastrous future, and the story of Nahash is used as a narrative for the macro understanding of Nahash as the false mediator and Jonathan as the true mediator; though Hadadezer and his subjects made peace with Israel and became subject to them (v.19), this type of submission is far from the type of exaltation which Mephibosheth received – and thus this contrast of the lame man fellowshipping with David is more poignant in the face of the proud and resourceful Ammonite and Syrian kings.  Hanun as the seed and result of the line of Nahash is directly contrasted to Mephibosheth, the direct seed of Jonathan.  As such, though we are all predestined to be in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1), for those who reject the call of the Father to follow His Son, they have ignored the call and the mediation is thus not received.  Thus, instead of the mediation of Triune love depicted in chapter 9, they receive the mediation of the Father’s wrath as a mirror to the measuring line – that either the line measures the bounds of new Jerusalem, or it is a line which measures the extent of the LORD’s wrath upon the rebellious nations (2 Kings 21:13).  Glen on “God without a Mediator” blog post –

In terms of Scripture – 2 Thes 1:9 “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (KJV)  There’s a translation issue about the preposition (‘apo’).  Should it be translated ‘from’ or ‘away from’?  I favour ‘from’ – ie implying that Christ is present in judgement.  This goes with Revelation 14:10 where the damned are tormented in the presence of the Lamb.  See also Rev 1:18 where Jesus is presented as the Jailor of death and hades, and Rev 6:16-17 where it’s the wrath of the Father together with the Lamb.  Jesus expressly says in John 5:22 that the Father has entrusted all judgement to Him.

What does this mean?  It means that hell is being in the presence of God who continues to mediate His judgement through the Son.  There is no such thing as ‘God without a mediator’.”

2 Samuel 10: Nahash and Jonathan

2 Samuel 9: The call of the Father

The story of the restoration of Mephibosheth is the fulfilment of the covenant which David had made with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3).  This is a reflection of the covenant made between God and us through Jesus Christ before creation (John 17:24).  Mephibosheth had been mentioned in (2 Samuel 4:4) and in that chapter alone we would have surmised that the house of Saul has been entirely cut off.  Yet this is far from true – in the same way that we are lame in our feet (v.13; c.f. Genesis 3) because of the fall, that our movement is stunted (Romans 10:15), yet it is purely by the grace of David’s call that we are given an opportunity to respond and to eat at the king’s table in Jerusalem (v.13).

So the crux of this chapter lies not primarily in the happy reunion of the House of Saul and the House of David; rather, the primary focus should be the first verse: “Is there anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  It is here that the role of David switches to that of the Father in heaven, and Jonathan being the type of Christ – for it is Jonathan, and not David, who initiated the covenant of love (1 Samuel 18:3).  It is Jonathan’s love with David, this brotherly love, that plays a twofold witness of that of John the Baptist paving the path for the Messiah (Luke 3), and that of Jesus and the Father in each others’ arms.  Is this not the same call which the Father makes to the entire world?  “Is there anyone left in the fallen house, the house which was once filled with glory but have been left to its godless devices?  Is there anyone left that I may show him kindness for my son Jesus Christ’s sake?” (Romans 10:8)

The establishment of Mephibosheth’s blessing is therefore entirely vicarious; his salvation is imputed; and his ascension to the king’s table is entirely a reason extra nos.  It is also important for us not to overlook how the narrator of 2 Samuel chose to end this chapter with an emphasis on his physical disability.  Mephibosheth is nothing like the glory of Saul’s household (1 Samuel 31:2 – all of Saul’s sons at war) and is instead the true rendition of the value of Saul’s work.  Saul is the alpha-male, he is the man chosen by men (1 Samuel 12:13); yet before David, what is left of Saul’s line is Mephibosheth – resident of the house of Machir (sold) the son of Ammiel (my kinsman is God) at Lo-debar (pastureless)(v.5).  Even Mephibosheth is less wealthy than Saul’s servant Ziba (statue) whose wealth is deliberately described as far more luxurious (v.10-11) in comparison to the remnant of Saul’s offspring, as summarised by Mephibosheth in three words – “a dead dog” (v.8).  Yet, this is the remnant of Jonathan’s house, this lame man sold in the embrace of God’s kinsman, yet unlike Ziba – is not surrounded with servants and pastures of his own.

Yet, is it not the dead dog who shall inherit Ziba’s service, who shall never go hungry again and so much so that he should fellowship with the king himself?  (Matthew 15:27)  Is this not the true picture of the gospel, that we are all Mephibosheths and that the Father will arrange, on our Christ’s behalf, for us to dine with him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12) where we have absolutely nothing to offer except our stench, our lameness, our weakness?  And this is the true gospel – that the Son has exchanged his righteousness for our sinfulness, he who had no sin to be filled with the sin of mankind (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Now, we are lame in both of our feet – but our true Jonathan has already entered into a loving covenant on our behalf.  Will we respond to the call of the Father – “is there still anyone left of the house of Adam, that I may show him kindness for Jesus’ sake” (v.2, my rendition)?

2 Samuel 9: The call of the Father

1 Samuel 22: The persecuted God

We are thrusted into chapter 22 where we see David in a cave rightly called the justice of the people – the cave of Abdullam.  It is here that all those rejected outside the house of Saul are brought together: from David’s family which David was restrained from fellowshipping with (1 Samuel 18:2), to all those in distress, in debt, in bitterness (v.2).  David was the captain over all four hundred of them, the same people who likely rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 10:27).

And this is placed directly against the raving jealousy of Saul.  Though David had the sword of Goliath, David was a man of gentle compassion who attracted the meek and the humble; his council of four hundred rejected men in a cave is compared to Saul who is in the open land, under a tree, and holding a spear awaiting war.  Yet, is this not the picture of the rebellion in Eden?  That David is thrown outside the garden and yet is rejoicing with the church of Christ in the cave of the justice of the people as they hold, by the Spirit, to the tree of life; and Saul who stands by the tree of good and evil, ready to murder.  “All of you have conspired against me” he accuses (v.8); “No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse”.  Yet, O Saul, did not you receive the blessings of David’s mediation upon the death of the enemy’s mediator Goliath?  You are already within the covenant of David!  Yet, your soul is not knit to his like Ahimelech, Samuel, or Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1).  All that Saul could do is point his finger at the man to blame – who is causing the fall of Israel?  Is it you, or is it you?  (Genesis 3:12).

Yet, the retort is astounding – there is no need to conspire, when the David is a son of light and should shine brightly in the face of irony that Saul is the great deceiver and true conspirer: “…who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house?” (v.14)  Indeed, who is as great as the Christ, in the face of the hypocrisy of the house of Israel?  And yet, the apparent sin of Ahimelech is falsely imputed to him; where the innocent shall perish and the wicked shall laugh (Jeremiah 12:1).  What has driven Saul to this madness?  What lack of logic?  “Kill the priests of the LORD because their hand also is with David and did not disclose it to me” (v.17); did they conspire to overthrow Saul?  Is David a rapist like Barabbas, or a tax collector like Matthew?  Even the Saul of the New Testament recognized his murderous sin, but the Saul of this chapter is blinded by his raging sin.  Even his servants would not dare strike the priests of the LORD (v.17), that this sin is amplified by the aid of a non-Israelite – an Edomite, from the enemies of Israel (Genesis 25:30; Deuteronomy 23:7).  This fruitful city of priests near Jerusalem, the city of peace, is thus destroyed by Saul’s sword.  It is not Goliath’s sword which destroyed the fruit of Israel for it is a sign of Christ’s victory over sin, of David’s victory over the enemy’s head, of the crucified bronze serpent (John 3; Numbers 21:8) lifted high just as Christ was exalted.  No – it is Saul, the false king of Israel, the one who wanted to sit on the throne like the Satan who tried to usurp the throne of the Anointed Witness:  he is the one who is the first murderer and deceiver in this chapter.

And like Christ, could we blame Him to have occasioned the death of many martyrs – the countless saints who have died for His cause?  What crime did He commit?  The crime of compassion, of feeding his men, of hiding in a cave whilst being persecuted for sins he did not commit, of gathering those whom the king should have sheltered and served?  Doeg had clearly witnessed that David did not conspire with Ahimelech, as David had kept the covenant with Jonathan close to his heart, and ensuring none other shall receive the brunt of Saul’s wrath (1 Samuel 20:10); yet Doeg deceived and Saul was deceived by the Edomite, furthermore exemplifying the hardness of his heart by the succumbing to the evil spirit.  David committed no sin worthy of focus in these chapters, for Saul is the true antithesis here.  He felt no remorse for the death of the mediators of Israel.  Yet, David’s pain is apparent (v.22-23), and he takes Abiathar under his protection, the last seed of the house of righteous men – men whose brothers are good (Ahitub), whose brothers are kings (Ahimelech).  Instead of hiding in the stronghold of Moab, his grandmother’s house, the prophet Gad in the Spirit advised David to be in Judah.  Is Judah any more of a stronghold?  No – but Gad’s purpose is not to put David in a place of safekeeping (c.f. “Do not remain in the stronghold” v.5).  For David is already in safekeeping, outside of Moab; his purpose is to be in Judah, the lion of Judah who was the safekeeping for Abiathar.  So we hide in Christ, who will provide us protection and whom we shall die for in the face of blatant persecution (2 Corinthians 1), that we may suffer, endure, build character, and have hope in the Anointed Son of God alone (Romans 5:19).

1 Samuel 22: The persecuted God

1 Samuel 20: Who is your father?

The covenant made between Jonathan and David in chapter 18 culminates into the climactic tension in which the covenantal relationship is challenged.  Is Jonathan to break the covenant which he made with David upon responding to David’s melodic words of humility and service (1 Samuel 17)?  Or shall he find his refuge in his father Saul, who is now persecuting the mediator and saviour of Israel by whom the LORD wrought victory and salvation which even Saul rejoiced in?

There are several themes explored in this chapter – but the predominant one is that of fatherhood and covenant relationship.  The fatherhood of Saul in which there is an implicit covenant relationship between him and Jonathan as father and son; and the typological fatherhood between David and Jonathan as that of Christ and us as his co-heirs (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7) and children (1 John 2-4), a covenant relationship established between the two as their souls are knit as one – as we are one with Christ and as Christ is one with his Father as well (John 17).

This chapter, therefore, explores thoroughly Jonathan’s object of faith.  Is it his father, the representative of the idolatrous, rebellious physical Israel who would rather emulate the culture of pagan kings who fight with swords?  Or to fall in love with the true David who bruised the head of the Goliath, provided salvation for Israel even when Israel rejected him?

v.1-10 is an exploration of how David challenges Jonathan – is Jonathan hiding the truth from David?  Does David command Jonathan’s honesty, and is Jonathan standing before David with a clear conscience?  Is Jonathan a type of Judas, to betray David, or is he the Baptist, preparing the path for the Saviour?  Jonathan’s words of obedience are reminiscent of the words of Jesus’ disciples:  “Whatever you say, I will do for you” (v.4).  This is an interesting display of affection as even Jonathan’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 14), too, has the same allegiance for him; and yet Jonathan, like the Baptist, did not consider himself worthy enough in comparison to David (John 1:27).  Yet, Saul hides the secrets of his heart from Jonathan, only to have a taste of his own medicine as he witnesses the covenant made between David and Jonathan as a disclosed secret which he could have partaken in if he had only truly accepted David as the new king.  Such are the mysteries of our LORD revealed fully in Christ Jesus (John 18:20; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9, 3, 5:32; Colossians 1:26-27), these mysteries being near synonymous to the Eastern Orthodox usage of the term for sacrament, similar to Augustine’s words: “The sacraments (mysteries) of the Jews were different in their signs, but equal in the thing signified; different in visible appearance, but equal in spiritual power” – and such is the fullness of the mystery revealed when David and Jonathan’s love is at its highest!

Thus, we come to the plan of David to hide in the field till the third day at the evening after the new moon (v.5), to test the heart of Saul.  This too is a period of testing for Jonathan.  While David is gone, who will tell him if Jonathan’s father answers him roughly (v.10)?  This entire scenario is filled with allusion to Christ on the cross (Acts 8:1; Romans 8:35).  And the declaration of Jonathan is nothing short of covenant imagery which cannot be disconnected from Christ:  “May the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father.  If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth” (v.15), followed by “And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David’s enemies” (v.16).  Can we dare say that this is exclusively about David the son of Jesse, or have we begun to see that the House of David is the same as the House of Joseph; the covenant with Abraham the same as the covenant between the Father and the Son that all may be blessed through these types?  May the LORD take vengeance on the enemies of Christ!  It is only at Christ’s feet that His love is not extinguished but rather, his steadfast love is shown as we stand in His household!  This cannot possibly apply to the physical house of Abraham and David, for both have died; both are but men; and both are sinners who must utter the same covenant declaration as Jonathan did towards the true One Whom they are but types of.  Such is the love of a disciple to Christ that we are to love him with our heart, mind, and soul, to love Him as we love ourselves (v.17).

And so the rest of the chapter is a historical parable of the testing of Jonathan’s faith.  Will he waver whilst Saul accuses David of being ‘unclean’ for the three days (v.26)?  Will we waver as we wonder whether or not our allegiance to him is true when he was dead for three days and revealed once more on the third day?

1 Samuel 20: Who is your father?

1 Samuel 14: Salt and Light of the World

In 1 Samuel 14 we begin to see the struggle within Israel – the struggle for Jonathan, or the struggle for Saul.  Jonathan is the one with true faith in Christ – it is by the Son that Jonathan and his armor-bearer succeeds – “Do all that is in your heart.  Do as you wish.  Behold, I am with you heart and soul” (v.7).  Is this not the phrase of the faithful Caleb alongside Joshua?  Can anyone in the OT succeed in anything except by this Christocentric faith (Hebrews 11)?  Do we not see two men who are victorious by faith, rather than by their own might or by mere vengeance (v.6, 24)?  Jonathan commands far more trust from the people who follow him with heart and soul; yet Saul commands legalistic obedience – the repeated response to his mandates being “do whatever seems good to you” (v.36, 40).  Saul, the one who cannot bring the Israelites out of the hidden tombs and crags, who is attempting to uphold the law which points to Christ (v.33-35) – but failing entirely.  Is it not against the purpose of the law if he does not lead the people in faith (Romans 3:31).  If his obedience was Christ-focused, he would have retrieved the ark (v.18 perhaps means the ephod as in the ESV footnote, rather than ‘ark’) to perform these sacrifices; if he knew which God he was meant to be worshipping, he would not deprive them of food (v.28-29) – like David who fed his men the bread of presence (Matthew 12:3-4).  Like Jonathan who proclaims that Saul is leading Israel to harm (v.29) and instead encourages his men to break the idolatrous and Godless, self-serving oath so that none would die and instead feed on the honey of new creation.  How can the Israelites be pulled out of the hidden crags and let alone remain in blindness (c.f. Matthew 6:22)?  Jonathan in contrast leads them to be the salt and light of the world that is not hidden (Matthew 5:13-15), full of wisdom and knowledge with livened souls in Spirit and in Christ.

It is this Christless Saul who keeps the Israelites blind and hidden;  he is the one who has never built an altar to the LORD before (v.35), and builds one on condition of military victory rather than praise or thanksgiving (c.f. Genesis 8:20; 12:7).  The “relationship” therefore is purely restricted to requests for victory (v.41) – whereas, the true victory was achieved by Jonathan as indicated by the LORD’s right hand (v.23).

And this omen, this seed of discord, was implanted as early as chapter 9 when Saul failed and did not persist to find his lost and hidden sheep.  Saul’s purpose is to protect his people, is to bring them out of the tombs and into a victorious chant; yet, it is by Jonathan that these things are achieved, that “…likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle” (v.22).  The false king did not yoke himself with the Israelites; he added to their weary and to their burden (c.f. Matthew 11:30), these faint Israelites (v.28, 31) who fed on the raw animals with blood flowing inside them – a result of their faintness, their hunger, their burden, caused solely by the disobedient captain Saul.  Like how he blames Samuel in chapter 13, so also he blames the men: “You have dealt treacherously”.  What an adamic retort to his selfish Pharisaic oath which caused such treason!    That Jonathan shall receive the same punishment as the John (the Baptist) of the gospels, to be bound by an oath made with the devil: an oath which will cause the death of innocent lives but for the pride and pleasure of the oath-maker (c.f. Matthew 14).  Though it is Saul’s right to put his son to death upon the breaking of the oath, so also it is the Father’s and the Son’s mutual right to place eternal divine punishment upon our spirit and flesh this very day: yet, by the Trinity’s good pleasure we have the Son propitiating the Father’s wrath by taking our place on the cross.  Such is the Christocentric mercy that Saul lacks: his merciless, faithless adherence to the law is repudiated by the men’s acceptance of Jonathan’s work of salvation.  ” “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die” (v.45).  So also our Christ is our ransom, but not on our account of righteousness – but on the account that Jonathan is truly living by faith and does not deserve death; but Saul is the war-like animal fitting to be part of the ravenous wolves of the Benjamin-tribe.  Did Saul not live by Jonathan’s understanding of Christ?  “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” (v.6)  And indeed did Jonathan and his armor-bearer, two mere men, partake in Christ’s work of salvation – indeed, did the mere baskets of bread and fish multiply to feed thousands and thousands; so also one small mustard seed becoming a great tree (Matthew 13:31-32) as an analogy to the humiliation of Christian men as a shadow of Christ’s pre-incarnate and incarnate, sinless humility.  This is the Trinitarian economy.  Yet, the numbering of Saul’s growing army, just like the numbering of David’s (1 Chronicles 21:1), is a pretext to the nation without Sabbath, a nation without rest, a warring nation growing in as much pomposity as ego to match the increasing faithlessness of the physical church of Israel, manifested in the tragic first king.

1 Samuel 14: Salt and Light of the World