BOOK 3: PSALM 76 OF 89 – HUMBLE YOURSELF OR BE HUMBLED

This Psalm is written to be accompanied with stringed instruments, and specifically described as a ‘song’.  In other parts of Scripture, stringed instruments are often used in the context of revival, of worship in new creation: Isaiah 38:20; Habakkuk 3:19.

In particular, there is something unique about this Psalm, different from those preceding it.  Whilst the previous Psalms speak of the persecuted seeking refuge, and the destruction of the wicked, this Psalm shares a different message altogether.

At vv 1-3, Asaph powerfully commences the Psalm by referring to the known God whose name is great in Israel, having established an abode and dwelling place in Salem and Zion.

It is interesting that Asaph refers to God’s dwelling place as Salem, since such reference is rarely used in Scripture and only in two other books: see Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7.  Interestingly, it is King Melchizedek, one of the most mysterious figures of the Old Testament, who hails from Salem.  Otherwise it is a region without history in the Bible.

The meaning of the name for this mysterious region is “peace“.  Which is why it is telling that the capital of the promised land Israel, is Jerusalem, strictly meaning the city of peace.

Then there is the more commonly used new creation name of the promised land – Zion, frequently referred to as the city of David.

This sets the context of the Psalm.  Asaph is deliberately referring to a time when God’s victory is secured.  It is not going to be established in Salem, his dwelling place is not going to be in Zion, but it has been and is in Salem and in Zion.  It is the city of Jesus, the man who came to deliver the message of eternal peace and a renewed creation for the men and women of God to dwell in.

It is also in that place (v.3 refers to the action taking place ‘there‘ i.e. in Salem/Zion) that He broke the flashing arrows, shield, sword and weapons of war.  In new creation, the vocabulary of war is utterly removed.  The lion and lamb shall lie together: Isaiah 11:6.

As Spurgeon says:

“Without leaving his tranquil abode, he sent forth his word and snapped the arrows of his enemies before they could shoot them. The idea is sublime, and marks the ease, completeness, and rapidity of the divine action. The shield, and the sword, and the battle. Every weapon, offensive and defensive, the Lord dashed in pieces; death bearing bolts and life preserving armour were alike of no avail when the Breaker sent forth his word of power. In the spiritual conflicts of this and every age, the like will be seen; no weapon that is formed against the church shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against her in judgment, she shall condemn. Selah. It is meet that we should dwell on so soul stirring a theme, and give the Lord our grateful adoration,—hence a pause is inserted.”

The subsequent verses develop this theme further.  God’s glory and majesty (v4) is compared with the men of war who are stouthearted and rely on their hands and strength (v5).  One rebuke and the storms lay still (Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24); so also one rebuke the powerful rider and horse shall lay stunned (v6).

The warriors of this Psalm are almost described as synonymous as those who do not fear God.  V.7 makes that assumption – i.e. that God is to be feared, and yet there there those who try to stand before Him when they should be kneeling in humility.

If one rebuke can stun nature, what about when He utters judgment?  Asaph describes the earth as fearing and standing still.  Can we imagine what that looks like?  When we are riddled with natural disasters, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, to name the least; the image of ‘Mother Nature’ humbling herself before God in judgment is but another way of telling us — if even powerful forces know when to take heed to God’s judgment, how much more ought we be humble?  For only the humble of the earth shall be saved (v.9).  If creation waits eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-24), then ought we not humble ourselves and eagerly await for peace and revelation of those who are saved, to come after the Last Day?

Then comes the interesting verse – surely the wrath of man shall praise you.  Why would man’s sinful wrath turn into praise?  Only by God’s hand: Genesis 50:20; only He can turn a curse into a blessing, a weapon into worship.  Spurgeon says:

It shall not only be overcome but rendered subservient to thy glory. Man with his breath of threatening is but blowing the trumpet of the Lord’s eternal fame. Furious winds often drive vessels the more swiftly into port. The devil blows the fire and melts the iron, and then the Lord fashions it for his own purposes. Let men and devils rage as they may, they cannot do otherwise than subserve the divine purposes. The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. Malice is tethered and cannot break its bounds. The fire which cannot be utilised shall be damped. Some read it “thou shalt gird, “as if the Lord girded on the wrath of man as a sword to be used for his own designs, and certainly men of the world are often a sword in the hand of God, to scourge others. The verse clearly teaches that even the most rampant evil is under the control of the Lord, and will in the end be overruled for his praise.

In the present age, we have simply forgotten about ‘fearing’ God.  The non-Christians are nauseous at the idea of a God who judges and destroys; the Christians are quick to clarify that we believe in a God who loves unconditionally.  Neither are correct.  God loves conditionally – the one condition being Jesus’ work on the cross, the ultimate act of self-humility.

Outside of that love, he does judge and destroy.  Inside that love, we are freed from our shackles and we are freed from the wars of this world.  Outside of that love, we are required to be warriors, equipping ourselves with the shield, the sword and weapons of this world in order to survive.  Inside of that love, we rid ourselves of those tools as we are equipped instead with the spiritual armour to fight spiritual battles (Ephesians 6) and advance His kingdom of peace, telling the story of Salem.  Outside of that love, we label ourselves as princes, princesses, kings and queens of our own kingdoms, and we give gifts to ourselves; inside of that love, we are labelled by Him as His co-heirs of the eternal kingdom and we freely give gifts to others – and bring gifts to Him (v.12).

Where exactly do we stand before Him?  Are we humbling ourselves, kneeling before the king, and through that we are exalted into a realm of peace today and inherit his kingdom (Matthew 5:5)?  Or are we clinging onto our sword, by which we shall be rebuked into servility or submission; or otherwise live a life that only leads to death (Matthew 26:52)?

 

 

 

BOOK 3: PSALM 76 OF 89 – HUMBLE YOURSELF OR BE HUMBLED

1 Kings 2: Peace established

1(A) When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2(B) “I am about to go the way of all the earth.(C) Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses,(D) that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4that the LORD may(E) establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying,(F) ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way,(G) to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul,(H) you shall not lack[a] a man on the throne of Israel.’

We must not underplay the significance of the handover from David to Solomon, for it is in these very chapters that we see the handover of the typological government of David to the Christocracy of New Creation.  Note the language which opens this chapter in v.2-4, and its parallel to Joshua’s language to Israel upon the conquering of the lands of Canaan (Joshua 22).  These shadows time and time again remind us that the time of the law, as is often associated to Moses (v.3, Luke 2:22, 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 13:39, 15:5), is underlined by the gospel truth of salvation by Christ in the name of Joshua / Yeshua (from Hoshea, salvation, to Joshua / Yeshua, Jehovah is salvation – Numbers 13:16) – and finally passed on from the shadow to the nation Israel.  This is just as we are brought to see that the transition from Moses to Joshua is that of the church under the Israelite law to the church with the gospel boldly proclaimed, and from Joshua to the Israelites as that of David passing the baton to Solomon who represents the new kingdom under an age of rest (Joshua 21:43-45).

The reality of the situation is that v.4 seems conditional – but note the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7 (the promise-centric nature of chapter 7, under the refrain “I will”, is repeated 9 times in v.9-27), not to mention the eventual demise of Israel as a nation scattered in Assyria and Babylon, and how Christ remained on the throne of Israel despite the royal lineage being effectively marred by four hundred years of silence (Amos 8:11). For this verse, though concerning the king, applies not solely in relation to the king but to the nation; and thus the line of David is not defined by the “visible kings” in the royal lineage, but in the remnant (Romans 9:27, 11:5) and engrafted branches to the vine, to the Christ.

5“Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah(I) did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel,(J) Abner the son of Ner,(K) and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging[b] in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war[c] on the belt around his[d] waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6Act therefore(L) according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7But deal loyally with the sons of(M) Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be(N) among those who eat at your table,(O) for with such loyalty[e] they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8And there is also with you(P) Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day(Q) when I went to Mahanaim.(R) But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9Now therefore do not hold him guiltless,(S) for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall(T) bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”

It is therefore important, in reading David’s final words to Solomon, to understand what is meant in the context of David’s messianic interpretation of the throne.  David knew that the house of the LORD could not be built by David’s bloody hands (1 Chronicles 22:8); he also knew that Solomon is not necessarily the Anointed One promised in 2 Samuel 7 (1 Chronicles 22 shows that Solomon will be able to establish the shadow of what is spoken of in 2 Samuel 7); but in handing over the kingdom to Solomon (from David the beloved to Solomon the peaceful) we can now see that the old age of corruption within the church is weeded out in the new age of the golden new creation under the new headship of David’s son (Revelation 21 – streets of gold; Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17 – gathering of the wheat, and burning of the chaff).  That is why Joab and Shimei were not dealt with in David’s lifetime – since David was (eventually) made aware of their treachery as noted in these verses.  This weeding out specifies this son of Zeruiah who murdered the commander of both Israel and Judah, and Shimei this son of Benjamin from Bahurim who cursed David for his worthlessness (2 Samuel 16:5-8).  Note how Matthew Henry views the curse on the sinner spanning ages if undealt with: “His crime is remembered: He cursed me with a grievous curse; the more grievous because he insulted him when he was in misery and poured vinegar into his wounds. The Jews say that one thing which made this a grievous curse was that, besides all that is mentioned (2 Sam. xvi.), Shimei upbraided him with his descent from Ruth the Moabitess… His pardon is not forgotten. David owned he had sworn to him that he would not himself put him to death, because he seasonably submitted, and cried Peccavi—I have sinned, and he was not willing, especially at that juncture, to use the sword of public justice for the avenging of wrongs done to himself. But… His case, as it now stands, is left with Solomon, as one that knew what was fit to be done and would do as he found occasion. David intimates to him that his pardon was not designed to be perpetual, but only a reprieve for David’s life: “Hold him not guiltless; do not think him any true friend to thee or thy government, nor fit to be trusted. He has no less malice than he had then, though he has more sense to conceal it. He is still a debtor to the public justice for what he did then; and, though I promised him that I would not put him to death, I never promised that my successor should not. His turbulent spirit will soon give thee an occasion, which thou shouldst not fail to take, for the bringing of his hoary head to the grave with blood.” This proceeded not from personal revenge, but a prudent zeal for the honour of the government and the covenant God had made with his family, the contempt of which ought not to go unpunished. Even a hoary head, if a guilty and forfeited head, ought not to be any man’s protection from justice. The sinner, being a hundred years old, shall be accursed, Isa. lxv. 20.”

However, there is difference between the death of Shimei and the death of Joab; the former’s outright cursing at David’s house compared to Saul’s house is of no fake religiosity like that of Joab:

“I have two lessons I am anxious to teach at this time. The first is derived from the fact that Joab found no benefit of sanctuary even though he laid hold of the horns of the altar of God’s house, from which I gather this lesson—that outward ordinances will avail nothing. Before the living God, who is greater and wiser than Solomn, it will be of no avail to any man to lay hold upon the horns of the altar. But, secondly, there is an altar—a spiritual altar—whereof if a man do but lay hold upon the horns, and say, “Nay; but I will die here,” he shall never die; but he shall be safe against the sword of justice for ever; for the Lord has appointed an altar in the person of his own dear Son, Jesus Christ, where there shall be shelter for the very vilest of sinners if they do but come and lay hold thereon.” – Charles Spurgeon on 1 Kings 2

It is therefore a symbolic cleansing done by Solomon, that he should start his reign by first ensuring that there is no corrupted remnant left from the previous kingdom.  David did not actively cleanse, but Solomon the new king as the typological second coming of Christ represents the new creation kingdom, ridding Joab the murderer of Israel and Judah; the removal of Benjamin (Genesis 49:27; 1 Samuel 9), the old leaven under Saul’s kingdom typological of the visible but unbelieving church, both removals sandwiching the blessing to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite (2 Samuel 19 – Barzillai who had possibly died of old age).  What irony that men of righteousness are asleep in Christ and men of Satan have yet to have their gray heads brought down with blood to Sheol (v.9; Jeremiah 12:1).

10(U) Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in(V) the city of David. 11And the time that David reigned over Israel was(W) forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12(X) So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

And so, David “was buried in the city of David, not in the burying place of his father, as Saul was, but in his own city, which he was the founder of. There were set the thrones, and there the tombs, of the house of David. Now David, after he had served his own generation, by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption, Acts xiii. 36, and see Acts ii. 29. His epitaph may be taken from 2 Sam. xxiii. 1. Here lies David the son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, adding his own words (Ps. xvi. 9), My flesh also shall rest in hope.” – Matthew Henry

Indeed, David’s flesh now lies corrupted – but his flesh shall rest in hope that the one whose flesh is not corrupted shall stand between the race of Adam as the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).

13Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said,(Y) “Do you come peacefully?” He said, “Peacefully.” 14Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Speak.” 15He said, “You know that(Z) the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s,(AA) for it was his from the LORD. 16And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Speak.” 17And he said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me(AB) Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” 18Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”

From David’s command in the previous verse, now note how Adonijah rises up to unite Joab and Abiathar in their implied rebellion against Solomon (v.22).  It is interesting how David has foreseen Joab and Shimei’s resistance, but the matters of Abiathar and Adonijah relate specifically to the usurping of Solomon and not David’s throne.  It is now clear that Adonijah’s actions by the end of chapter 1 are empty – and his word in v.13 to Bathsheba is also empty.  What a deceitful tongue, that he should claim that “the kingdom was mine”; that “all Israel fully expected [him] to reign” (v.15), only to concede that Solomon is the rightful king because of the LORD’s appointment.  Two points here – the kingdom was never Adonijah’s, for David was still called the king when Adonijah made public his self-enthronement (1 Kings 1:9-10); secondly, only Abiathar, Joab, and some of his men (1 Kings 1:24-27) expected Adonijah to reign.  The trumpet blast and rejoicing of the appointment of Solomon as king seems to be a thing neglected in Adonijah’s twisting of the historical facts.  Like the serpent, what right therefore does he have to make requests which cannot be refused (v.16)?  What right therefore does he demand from Solomon (v.17) anything at all when he is under the very grace and mercy of the LORD by his apparently penitent actions by holding the horns of the altar (1 Kings 1:49-53)?  He has no such right!  Therefore, how preposterous that he should ask for the most beautiful woman who had been obedient to David, serving David, acting as David’s female companion though David did not know her (1 Kings 1:4), but that Abishag should symbolically overtake Solomon by uniting with the woman specifically appointed to serve David?

19So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king’s mother,(AC) and she sat on his right. 20Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21She said, “Let(AD) Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” 22King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask(AE) Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also,(AF) for he is my older brother, and on his side(AG) are Abiathar[f] the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” 23Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying,(AH) “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! 24Now therefore(AI) as the LORD lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house,(AJ) as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” 25So King Solomon sent(AK) Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.

It is significant to see that this request came from Bathsheba, who seems unaware of Adonijah’s pretenses, just as Eve was unaware of the serpent’s twisting of God’s word and history.  Yet, unlike Adam who had stood by and let the serpent speak, Solomon immediately responds in his role as the appointed king and as “a wise man” (v.9) and discerns clearly the motivations of Adonijah.  Unlike Adam who had caused the kingdom of the garden of Eden and the rest of creation to fall (Genesis 1:28-30), Solomon stood firm and followed the principle of David’s final words in leading a truly new creation kingdom, ruling by wisdom (c.f. 1 Kings 3).  It is thus fitting that the new commander Benaiah, one of the thirty of David in 2 Samuel 23, shall take the reins in establishing (v.24 – Hebrew for “setting up, preparing”) the kingdom of Solomon.

It is on this catalyst that Solomon immediately acts – and the remaining verses of this chapter are a testament of the work which David did not do but which Solomon has now been appointed to execute:

“Tamar’s father.  Israel’s king.  What would he do to protect his beautiful princess?  Verse 20:

When King David heard all this, he was furious.

Good.  He ought to have been.  But verse 20 should not stop there.  We should read about David’s righteous anger leading to action.  Here is the king.  Here is her dad.  He ought to have gone to his daughter and spoken words of comfort.  He ought to have done all he could to restore her dignity and her reputation.  He ought to have brought Amnon to account.  Tamar was right, such things should not happen in Israel.  So what is the king going to do about this?  David does nothing.  And the kingdom spirals down into greater and greater chaos.  Because David does nothing, Absalom takes matters into his own hands.  He kills the heir to the throne and then, as Absalom goes on the run he becomes a contender for the crown.  If David had only acted here in chapter 13, then the turbulence and blood-shed of the next 5 chapters would not have happened.  But David, the Almighty King, simply wrings his hands.  His daughter and his kingdom needed him to act but he does nothing.” – Glen Scrivener on 2 Samuel 13

Though David had neglected Tamar despite his fury, what of the death of Asahel by Abner; death of Abner by Joab and Abishai, and the death of Amasa (2 Samuel 2:23; 3:30; 20:10-12) – under David’s very nose are these corruptions occurring but under Solomon’s kingdom does true peace and safety reign.

First, the removal of the house of Eli as prophesied in 1 Samuel 3:10-14:

26And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to(AL) Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death,(AM) because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father,(AN) and because you shared in all my father’s affliction.” 27(AO) So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, thus fulfilling(AP) the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.

Though Abiathar’s life is spared, the house of Eli is now replaced by Zadok (v.35) though the true priesthood still remains with the house of Melchizedek as Zadok is but a shadow of that priestly lineage.

Then comes the removal of Joab in v.28-35, the murderer of the commanders of Israel and Judah , Abner and Amasa, respectively.  Note in particular v.30-33:

30So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.'” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” 31The king replied to him,(AT) “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him,(AU) and thus take away from me and from my father’s house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32The LORD will(AV) bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men(AW) more righteous and better than himself,(AX) Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and(AY) Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33(AZ) So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the LORD forevermore.””

It appears that David would otherwise have been held accountable for Joab’s sin, being the king of the nation he is vicariously liable for Joab’s treachery.  Is this not the Hebraic understanding of the king’s propitiation of God’s wrath on his people by standing as the responsible head and mediator of his people (corporate sin in Leviticus 4:13-21; Judges 9)?  Yet, Solomon establishes that David and himself did not approve of such heresy within the Israelite church, and that the LORD himself will be the true Person separating the wheat from the chaff, symbolically resolved in the very tent of God (Exodus 29:37 – whatever touches the altar shall become holy; yet the irony falls on Joab’s guilty status) as Joab, like Adonijah, hid in their overt religiosity and cultural identity as God’s people – but failed to be known and to know God Himself.  Where Joab’s blood shall go down with him to Sheol, so also our Christ stands on our behalf as the true offering at the altar when He was subject to the Father’s wrath because of his vicarious embodiment of our sins as the true King of Israel.  Joab shall not benefit from this propitiation of the Father’s wrath found in the Christ, the same demise of those who stand in the church and hold on to the altar and sacraments but do not stand under the true object of faith which these shadows point towards.

And so, the removal of Abiathar and Joab (father of abundance and Jehovah is his father), two Israelites who are so aptly named and poised to be great Christian saints reminds us of the hollow meaning of such names when they are instead replaced by the righteous Zadok and Benaiah (righteous and built up by Jehovah) respectively:

35(BA) The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put(BB) Zadok the priest(BC) in the place of Abiathar.

Finally, to fulfil David’s final words, Shimei is dealt with in the remaining verses 36-46 under the renewed government established by Solomon by the priesthood of Zadok and the army of Benaiah:

36Then the king sent and summoned(BD) Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. 37For on the day you go out and cross(BE) the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die.(BF) Your blood shall be on your own head.” 38And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.

Note the refrain: “Your blood shall be on your own head” (v.37), the subject earlier touched upon with regards to Joab’s blood being on his own head as well (1 Kings 2:9).  Like Adonijah, Abiathar and Joab, Shimei is subject to their own actions and their own sins causing their own demise.  Either the blood is on the head of David or Solomon, the chapter being rich of imagery of such propitiation of the Father’s wrath should a king stand as the mediator; or the blood is on the head of those who stand not under David nor Solomon.  Yet, in Shimei’s loose oath (v.42-43), we see a man who does not take the LORD’s commandment with seriousness; made an oath to keep Solomon at bay rather than realize the implications of such covenant made (2 Samuel 21:7).  Solomon’s reason therefore of removing Shimei is the same reason which David explained to Solomon – that this cursing towards David in 2 Samuel is but one of the several symptoms of Shimei’s hard heart, similarly portrayed here in his failure to keep this oath and indirectly cursing God’s commandment.  Like the LORD who commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of good and evil lest mankind dies, so also Shimei in his old adamic flesh and spirit ignores this command, though it is acknowledged that Solomon’s command is good (v.38).  It is thus fitting that should Shimei re-enact David’s expulsion from Israel that he himself is pronouncing his self-expulsion (2 Samuel 15:23), not to mention that the brook Kidron represents death, decay and rejection (1 Kings 15:13, 23:12; 1 Chronicles 15:16, 29:16, 30:14; Jeremiah 31:40)

So, the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon finally (v.46), this word “established” repeated throughout this chapter, reminding us of these bloody acts as preparation, as part of the erecting and fitting of Solomon’s kingdom of Salem (peace – Genesis 14:18; Psalms 76:2; Hebrews 7:1-2).

1 Kings 2: Peace established

1 Samuel 8: That’s My King

Who is the King?

“The law and the prophets and evangelists have declared that Christ was born of a virgin, and suffered on the cross; was raised also from the dead, and taken up to heaven; that He was glorified, and reigns for ever. He is Himself termed the Perfect Intellect, the Word of God. He is the First-begotten, after a transcendent manner, the Creator of man; All in all; Patriarch among the patriarchs; Law in the law; the Priest among priests; among kings Prime Leader; the Prophet among the prophets; the Angel among angels; the Man among men; Son in the Father; God in God; King to all eternity. He was sold with Joseph, and He guided Abraham; was bound along with Isaac, and wandered with Jacob; with Moses He was Leader, and, respecting the people, Legislator. He preached in the prophets; was incarnate of a virgin; born in Bethlehem; received by John, and baptized in Jordan; was tempted in the desert, and proved to be the Lord. He gathered the apostles together, and preached the kingdom of heaven; gave light to the blind, and raised the dead; was seen in the temple, but was not held by the people as worthy of credit; was arrested by the priests, conducted before Herod, and condemned in the presence of Pilate; He manifested Himself in the body, was suspended upon a beam of wood, and raised from the dead; shown to the apostles, and, having been carried up to heaven, sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and has been glorified by Him as the Resurrection of the dead. Moreover, He is the Salvation of the lost, the Light to those dwelling in darkness, and Redemption to those who have been born; the Shepherd of the saved, and the Bridegroom of the Church; the Charioteer of the cherubim, the Leader of the angelic host; God of God; Jesus Christ our Saviour.” (Irenaeus, Fragments 54)

Indeed, the Lamb is my King.  Yet, will my King be presented as one like the kings of the nations (v.20)?  Will he go out before us and fight our battles like the worthy knights, soldiers and infantrymen of yesteryear?

No – our King’s strength is in His weakness to His Father.  He is the One Sent by His Father, but He can do nothing by Himself (John 8:16, 8:29).  A bruised reed He shall not break (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20), for His strength is manifested entirely as that nursing lamb (chapter 7:9) led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).  He is our God who shall not be sculpted by human hands (c.f. Deuteronomy 27:6), for He is who He is (Exodus 3:14, John 8:58), who rules and mediates from His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22).

Yet, this King shall not come through Samuel’s line; much like the beheaded Baptist who paved the path for Jesus of Nazareth, so also Samuel’s descendants – whatever name they bear, be Jehovah their true Father or God – will not live in the covenant typifying the relationship of the true Father and the Son.  Samuel will continue to stand at the end of his circuit, at Mizpah the watchtower, watching for the one true king who destroys the world’s Spirit-less recognition of kingship (Matthew 17:12).  Only this role is fulfilled by the Davidic royal line superseding that of the priestly office – the line of Melchizedek, the King-Priest.  Unlike the household of Eli where the high priest led the Israelites astray, Samuel stays faithful to the LORD who still speaks to him despite his children’s perversion of justice; and it is clear that if it is not Samuel’s children who are to lead the Israelites, then it is either through God’s appointed King or the pitiful king who does not follow His ways, but the ways of the pagans.  Instead of obeying the Word of God, they obeyed the words of the surrounding nations.  What simple blasphemy and usurpation of the true throne, as is prophesied by the missing ark-throne which is left neglected until the one worthy of the throne, David, seeks to restore it in its rightful tabernacle.  What simple adultery as prophesied by the golden calf of Exodus 32, that the Israelites would dare imagine that these are the gods who took them out of Egypt!  Such is the idolatrous heart of man, that we seek to fill the throne with golden idols of our own creation, the truest expression of self-exaltation and self-worship.

All the while the true ark and throne is in Kiriath-jearim, the city of woods; the true David is shepherding his sheep peacefully in the pastures; the faithful High Priest is rejected, thus simultaneously rejecting Christ Himself who is the King of the parable:

Mat 25:31-46  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  (32)  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  (33)  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  (35)  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  (36)  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  (37)  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  (38)  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  (39)  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  (40)  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  (41)  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  (42)  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  (43)  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  (44)  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  (45)  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  (46)  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

It is thus clear that the King who does not sacrifice himself for his men (v.13-18) is not the King of Scripture.  The King of Scripture is Immanuel – God with us, the Word who became flesh so that we receive Him and receive the Father at once in the Spirit, lest we obey the voice of man and create our own gods by our own hands and words.  “Make them a king” – the LORD said; indeed, we make many things our kings daily, but the true King is not made.  He is to be revealed and received as our Bridegroom, Lover, Head and Redeemer, identifying us as the kingdom of priests, citizens of New Jerusalem, which no other nation however magnificent can even imitate in their perversion of true justice and in their false understanding of true cruciform and Trinitarian kingship of mutual reliance and divine community.

1 Samuel 8: That’s My King

1 Samuel 3: The Revelation of the Son

1 Samuel 1 and 2 have been building towards the bigger picture of Eli’s eviction from the House of God.  Eli’s rebuke of his sons were actions done out of religiosity; they were not done out of a conviction of loving Christ Jesus.  The LORD had already accused him of this sin in chapter 2v.29 where Eli has scorned God’s sacrifice, further elaborated in chapter 3v.13 – “And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them [my emphasis].”

And this contrast is visible – the youthful and innocent Samuel who had been worshipping and praising the LORD consistently in the previous two chapters is now the reception of God’s word.  v.1 explained that the word of the LORD was rare in those days, the word of the LORD coming traditionally true frequent vision (חזון chazon) – a word commonly associated with prophetic dream-like visions (Prov 29:18; Isaiah 1:1, 29:7; Jer 14:14, 23:15; Lam 2:9; Eze 7:29, 13:16; Daniel 8:1, 9:24, 10:14, 11:14; Hosea 12:10; Obadiah 1:1; Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 2:2-2:3).  Yet, what Samuel is to experience is beyond a prophetic vision.

It is upon the third time that Eli recognises how Samuel, who has been worshipping the LORD, has not yet received direct revelation from him.  Eli is the High Priest; yet even the LORD chose not to speak to him directly.  Instead, He chose to speak through Samuel as an intercessor to shame Eli.  In the same way that the Gentiles are used to shame the Israelites, so also Eli needed to accept that this is good in the LORD’s eyes (v.18).  Yet, Eli’s hard-heart has prevented him from serving the LORD effectively; in fact, his actions extend to that of blasphemy: failing to restrain his sons who had been prostituting themselves and even now, no more direct revelation from God.  In chapter two, a “man of God” came to Eli (v.27).  Who this man is not as relevant as the fact that the High Priest did not receive revelation; and now, it is through a Christophany, through Jesus Christ who came and stood before Samuel (chapter 3v.10).  v.7 should not throw us off by any means – the word for “know” in Hebrew encompasses a vaster meaning than that of simply to know a friend in the English language; rather, this “know” involves physical perception, involves sight.  This would be faithful to the previous chapters, where it would be more accurate to say that Samuel worshipped the LORD through his service in the tabernacle; through his reading of the Scriptures; but had not yet seen Christ, the visible LORD, and not yet receive direct revelation from him.  Yet, here, the LORD appeared before Samuel; and once again, He appeared at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD (v.21).

This brings me to the important words which Christ shared during his time as incarnate Jesus of Nazareth:

Mat 11:27  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

And so, the Father revealed Himself to Samuel by the word; not by mere vision though that is already infrequent, but an even greater and better glory of physical perception, of physical sight, of seeing the appearance of the LORD Christ Himself.  He who is the Visible, walking, standing, speaking Word.  Yet, all of this is not simply to see the awe of Samuel as the chosen prophet, because this truth has been indicated from chapter 1 onwards.  It is clear that, as Samuel continued to grow, he would hold an important role as a prophet and witness to David the typological Son; and only a prophet who would not let any of his words fall to the ground would be able to discern who the true coming King is – to discern between Saul and David.  It is at Shiloh, where Elkanah and Hannah (and not Peninnah, nor Hophni, nor Phinehas) praised Him exceedingly – and it is here that the LORD appears once again to confirm Samuel’s prophethood.  Yet, what is truly emphasised is the failure of the high priestly line through Eli.  Something which would tingle the two ears of everyone who hears (v.12-14):

“On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

This is almost a direct parallel to Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 19 (v.3, but the rest of the chapter retains the poignancy and pain of the subject matter):

“You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.”

Indeed – what will shake people to the core is the fact that the chosen priesthood, both Eli and Israel, seen as priesthood and light to the nations (Exodus 19:6), is rejected by the One who chose them.  However, the only chosen One, the only Elect One, the only Predestined One, is not any individual.  Rather – it is Christ himself (Isaiah 42:1), and only those who cling onto Christ will also be chosen like Him; those who cling onto Christ will also be righteous like Him, because His self-election, His righteousness, His mysteries are all revealed and given to us from the Father through the Son, who makes the Father known to us.  In this way, we shame those who call themselves Christians but have never received revelation, love, truth from the Father; for these are the people who say “Lord Lord” but He has never known them.  Instead, they worship a figment of their creation; they look upon a God who is not living, whom they continually spit upon for they do not surrender themselves to the Word by Whom we know the Father and know that He has become sin who knew no sin.  So Israel even made election a religiosity of itself; but we are truly elect in Him because of His Son, in the line of Melchizedek shaming the physical but spiritually uncircumcised line of Levi and Israel.

1 Samuel 3: The Revelation of the Son

1 Samuel 2: Melchizedek

The premise of the first chapter of Samuel is to lay up for us the true foundation of this faithful witness to the coming king.  What I find interesting is that the focus on Samuel is as if he was a type of Christ rather than a type of John the Baptist.  As revered a prophet as John was, he was still overshadowed by the Christ whom he wholeheartedly testified to. 

Having said that, it is even clearer in chapter 2 that Samuel is the “faithful priest” of v.35, akin to Deuteronomy 18:18 – the prophet which was raised up for the people; a priest who is raised up for God; a king who is a man after God’s own heart – these are three different but intricately intertwined offices which the Spirit-anointed Christ fulfilled through His obedience to the Father.  It is in this sense that Samuel is a type of Christ; not in the sense that he is a fore-running witness (like John the Baptist), which is a compelling typology.  In a different manner, Samuel is the prophesied priest who, like the young incarnate Christ, worshipped the LORD (chapter 1.v28), ministered to Him in the presence of Eli the priest (chapter 2v.11), grew in the presence of the LORD (v.21), continuing to grow both in stature and in favour with the LORD and with man (v.26) – verse 26 of chapter 2 especially echoing what is written in Luke 2:52.

What we therefore see is this priestly Samuel, not according to the priestly line of Eli, but according to the righteous line of the High Priest Melchizedek which Christ partook in.  The true meaning of this is found in the latter parts of chapter 2, where we see a direct contrast between Eli’s half-hearted rebuke of his sons and the LORD holding him responsible for the death of this specific Levitical line under Eli to be replaced by Samuel the outsider.  Samuel who is born of that seemingly drunken woman Hannah.  Samuel who is born of Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, scorned by Peninnah.  However, this transfer of power from Eli to Samuel is not immediate, but is poetically prophesied in the beginning of chapter 2, and this transfer of power is intentional in expressing the transfer of power from Israel to the outside world.

It is at the beginning of this chapter that we read of Hannah’s prayer, which bears much semblance to Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1.  All three – the prayer, the song, the prophecy – are sculpted almost in an identical manner.  The structure begins with praise – “My heart exults in the LORD” against “My soul magnifies the Lord”, and Zechariah’s “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel”.  Why and for what reason?  The reason of salvation – “because I rejoice in your salvation”, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”, and “for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David”, respectively.  It is perhaps of no coincidence that all three are sculpted in this way – for all three are driven by the Spirit.

These are not the only common ground amongst the three proclamations in response to child-birth:  to dwell on Zechariah’s point of the “horn of salvation”, the Hebrew for 1 Samuel 2:1, and 2:10 (where the words “strength” and “power” are used respectively) and in direct relation to the Anointed One who saves; the Horn of Salvation who is exalted by the Father (chapter 2:10).  Throughout Scripture, “horn” is seen as symbolic of redemption primarily related to the four horns of the altar of burnt offering of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:1-3), the horns being one piece with the altar (Exodus 38:2); blood being smeared onto horns of the altar before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting, on the altar of burnt offering, on the altar of fragrant incense (Leviticus 4); the filling of David’s horn with oil prior to the king’s anointing (1 Samuel 16:1-3); Adonijah clining to the horns of the altar for refuge (1 Kings 1:49-51); and the altar of Ezekiel 43:14-16, the four horns projecting upward from the hearth to the heavens (c.f. Ezekiel 43:19-21 for the blood smeared onto the altar horns).  It would seem reasonable from these verses to see that the horns on the altars represent the four corners of creation, representing refuge, redemption and renewal by the sacrificial blood of the lamb, looking upwards to the heavens as a sign of resurrection and ascension.  So, the symbolism of this “horn” of salvation should not be undermined – rather, it contributes to a robust understanding of Hannah and Zechariah’s theology of the gospel of the Anointed One.

This brings us to a somewhat robust theology of humiliation and glorification in other parts of their prayer, song and prophecy – the LORD who kills and bring to life, who brings down to Sheol and raises up as in Hannah’s prayer; the Lord who brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate, helping his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to… Abraham and to his offspring forever as in Mary’s song; and Zechariah who spoke of his son John being Spirit-led to give knowledge of salvation to his people to give light to the darkness, which is similar to Hannah’s petition for the “wicked [to] be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail”.  Thus, by what or by whom shall a man prevail?

By now, we should be convinced that they are not speaking merely of their own son; rather, all three saints are speaking of a prophecy which reigns long ago from a promise made to Abraham; that they are speaking of the hope found in this Horn of Salvation, the Anointed One exalted by the Father; that this Son shall be humiliated and risen as we are humiliated in Adamic flesh and risen in Christ’s resurrection and ascension.  Only through Christ can resurrection come after death, He who was made poor and thus made rich once more to retain the former glory which He had with the Father which the Three Divine Persons wish to share with us (c.f. John 17).  Jesus Christ is that sunrise who has visited Zechariah, Mary, Hannah and Elkanah (Luke 1:78).

Thus, this is Samuel – compared to Eli’s worthless sons (v.12-17) who abused the sacrifice just as the Corinthians abused the communion table (1 Corinthians 11).  Such contempt for the symbolic body of Christ is of direct offence to the actual body of Christ; indeed, that is why Eli’s sons did not know the LORD, because they failed to see the significance of the meat as prophetic of Christ.  This is a far cry from David feeding his men with the bread of presence (Matthew 12:2-4), for David did not treat it with the same type of contempt and knew fully of the Second LORD (Psalm 110; Matthew 22:42-44) Whom the bread represented.  The worthless priests, Hophni and Phinehas, did not even know this much, which suggests why even the symbolic meat was treated with such disrespect. 

Although Eli rebukes his sons in v.22-26, the words fall on deaf ears, just as the old Israel had fallen deaf to the word of the Father in heaven (perhaps explaining why the word of the LORD being rare in those days, c.f. chapter 3:1).  It may look like Eli is a cut above Hophni and Phinehas through his timely rebuke, but the LORD reveals his heart:  that though Eli’s household reigns from the line of Aaron, privileged to wear the ephod as a priest before the LORD, only Samuel consistently worshipped Him and grew both in stature and in favour with Him as he wore his little linen ephod (v.18).  Eli, however, did not grow in stature with God nor with man.  He wore that ephod with compromise – the LORD accused him of scorning his sacrifices and his offerings, and honoured his sons above the LORD by fattening himself on the choicest parts of every offering of His people (v.29). 

Samuel’s child-like innocence, such faith in Christ, is thus juxtaposed against Eli and his household who are preaching a false gospel before men by word and by deed (v.23 – the evil dealings reported from all the people).  What kind of priesthood is this?  Definitely not one which the LORD accepts – “far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed… behold the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house” (v.30-31).  Indeed, this prophecy was fulfilled in Samuel, but it was truly fulfilled in Christ Jesus, the eternal mediator between man and God.  Samuel thus did not come from the line of Aaron the same way Eli was (Hebrews 7:11), but he, like Christ, came from the line of Melchizedek, the high priest forever (Hebrews 5-7).  Yet, it is also the partaking of this line of Melchizedek which enables us to “go in and out before [His] anointed forever”.  Like Joseph who had gathered all blessings in Egypt, so also all the blessings once found in the house of Eli shall only be found in the house of Samuel – and even more fundamentally, in Bethlehem – the house of bread where Christ, the bread of life, was born.  Note however that it is by the priest that we can go before His anointed forever; and it is in Christ that the offices are all fulfilled – He was and is that High Priest who made the Father known to us, that we may “go in and out” before Him forever as we too are anointed by the Spirit to become part of the anointed Church Catholic.  Thus, in Him we die, in Him we are saved, in Him we are redeemed, for He is our intercessor, priest and king forever.

Thus, it is by this Faithful Priest, Anointed One, Horn of Salvation, that we receive more than a morsel of bread.  We shall be exalted, we shall be glorified, we shall ascend into His Trinitarian Communion to truly drink and feed on Him eternally.  We shall not scorn His sacrifice, but we shall love it – this sacrifice who lived the true life of a priest, prophet and king and Whom Samuel was a faint but compelling shadow of.  Eli was of the old empty order which the Israelites embraced; but Samuel was led entirely by Christ as to be a fitting type of Christ which the spiritual Church enjoined herself to, forerunning the greater type David who shall become the head of this church of Israel in the climax of Samuel’s writings.  

1 Samuel 2: Melchizedek

Judges 1-2: The Angel our Judge

Introduction

Judges is a shadow of what we see when there is no central judge for Israel, though ironic it is that the book should be called shophetim, the judges, the book of those who discern, the heads standing in between the legends of Moses, Joshua, Caleb until Saul.  It is symbolically represented by the cycle from apostasy to salvation; however, on the whole, it is a book very similar to Numbers – it is a book of constant heresy as a result of walking far away from the pillar of cloud and fire.  It is a recounting of the failure of the majority of judges, their corruption, the consequent oppression, the short periods of rest but long period of persecution, all occurring in an (overlapping) period of roughly 410 years, a number symbolic between Genesis to Exodus, between Malachi to Matthew.  The number 400 roughly representing the spiritual wilderness, as was the case when the Israelites were made slaves in Egypt; when the Israelites did not receive new revelation through the prophets until John the Baptist.  It is no surprise that this irony is not lost on these judges, a majority of which are anything but the true Judge.

It is helpful to see these patterns according to the tables set out by the ESV Study Bible:

Cycles of Good and Bad under the Judges (2:11–16:31)

Pattern

Outline

Othniel

Ehud

Deborah

Gideon

Jephthah

Samson

Apostasy 2:11–13 3:7 3:12a 4:1 6:1a 10:6 13:1a
Servitude 2:14–15 3:8 3:12b–14 4:2 6:1b–6a 10:7–9 13:16
Supplication and salvation 2:16–18 3:9–11 3:15–31 4:3–24 6:6b–8:28 11:1–33 13:24; 14:19; 15:14b–20

The Judges

Judge

Reference

Tribe

Oppressor

Period of Oppression

Period of Rest

Total Length of Time*

Othniel 3:7–11 Judah Mesopotamians 8 years (3:8) 40 years (3:11) 48 years
Ehud 3:12–30 Benjamin Moabites 18 years (3:14) 80 years (3:30) 98 years
Shamgar 3:31 Philistines
Deborah chs. 4–5 Ephraim Canaanites 20 years (4:3) 40 years (5:31) 60 years
Gideon chs. 6–8 Manasseh Midianites 7 years (6:1) 40 years (8:28) 47 years
Tola 10:1–2 Issachar 23 years (10:2) 23 years
Jair 10:3–5 Gilead-Manasseh 22 years (10:3) 22 years
Jephthah 10:6–12:7 Gilead-Manasseh Ammonites 24 years (10:8; 12:7) 24 years
Ibzan 12:8–10 Judah or Zebulun? 7 years (12:9) 7 years
Elon 12:11–12 Zebulun 10 years (12:11) 10 years
Abdon 12:13–15 Ephraim 8 years (12:14) 8 years
Samson chs. 13–16 Dan Philistines 40 years (13:1) 20 years (15:20; 16:31) 60 years

Judges 1-2:  The Angel our Judge

Judges 1

It is not surprising that we should see a large contrast between Judges 1 and Judges 21; the time before the judges when people would inquire of the LORD (Judges 1:1); and the time in the midst, the heat, the pinnacle of the period and dispensation of the judges when “there was no king in Israel [and] everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25), an infectious hereditary disease from the consumption of the fruit of the tree of good and evil.  Judges 1 and 2 takes into account two events, not chronologically recorded but these two events are important in shaping the faith of Israel and the lesson taught in the Word: the continuing conquest of Canaan riddled with continuous failures; and the death of Yeshua.  It is in the death of Yeshua, in the death of Moses, in the death of Aaron, in the death of Jacob, in the death of Isaac, in the death of Abraham – all these deaths that we understand a typology of Christ’s death on the cross.  The three days in between are the longest periods of wilderness which Jonah felt when he spent three days and nights in the belly of the sea creature; and so this period of wilderness have continued time and time again until the glory of the strong Kingdom of Israel established not until the false King Herod represented by Saul, but under the true King Jesus Christ, as typified by both David and Solomon as the two facets of Christ’s kingship – the warrior judge, and the peace-ruling king of wisdom.

However much the parallels there are between the Old and the New, the central object of faith has always been Christ, and not merely the type of Christ His shadow(s).  In the failures of the judges, and later on the failures of the kings, we see the height of the failure of these shadows and the placement of faith in these shadows.  It is in looking beyond the shadows that we understand who the true Judge, the true King, and the true God is.  And so Judges 1 begins with part-success and part-failure of Israel, to signify that though they may win battles temporarily, it is Christ who wins all battles and all wars.

1After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel(A) inquired of the LORD,(B) “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” 2The LORD said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.” 3And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites.(C) And I likewise will go with you into the territory allotted to you.” So Simeon went with him. 4Then Judah went up and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they defeated 10,000 of them at Bezek. 5They found Adoni-bezek at Bezek and fought against him and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6Adoni-bezek fled, but they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes. 7And Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off(D) used to pick up scraps under my table.(E) As I have done, so God has repaid me.” And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

So Judges begins with the fall of the lord of lightning, as literally translated from the name Adoni-Bezek, perhaps a parallel can be conceived between the fall of the lord of lightning and Satan who fell like lightning from the sky through the work of evangelism of Christ’s disciples (Luke 10:18), compared to the true lord of lightning Christ (Matthew 24:27; 28:3).

What we furthermore see is an eschatological retribution in the treatment of Adoni-Bezek.  It may be easy to read this and conclude that such karmic retribution does not occur in this life; and indeed, it does not – but rather than subsume ourselves in the riddles of Buddhist philosophies and the mystery of the samsaric cycle, what is more important is that we see these judgments and successes through Israel and experienced by Israel as indicative of the final judgment which Enoch prophesied (Jude 1:14-15).  It is in this sense that we understand how the LORD sees justice – it is a repayment of the sins we have committed (v.7).  Therefore, for us to see Christ’s death as anything less than in the terms of repayment, as our retribution, as the cost of our death is to ignore the event of Adoni-Bezek’s treatment, or even the death of the king of Ai in Joshua 8:29.  These are all pointing towards Christ’s death as a payment for our sins, exacting all that we deserve onto the God-man.  It is in this sense that we can provide a truly Christ-focused definition of the scientific and philosophic principle behind karma.

The success of Judah against Jerusalem and Canaan can also be seen as a brief summary of displacement theology, as we once again find that cities are renamed and populated by new people with new faith, just as Christ had promised that we would be the true inheritors of new heaven and earth (Exodus 32:13; Matthew 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9).  Here we see Judah, the tribe of Jesus of Nazareth, take over Jerusalem where Christ would be crucified – the work of renewal beginning with his incarnation in the land of Judah, his death in the land of Judah, his resurrection in the land of Judah – to take away the city of the four giants (Kiriath-Arba) and renew it as a mercy seat of association (Hebron) akin to that in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle; to take away the false city of peace and provide Jerusalem a salvific truth which lives up to the meaning of its name, where Christ truly brought peace through this city.  Indeed, we are to inherit the New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12), and there need not be a replacement, but a renewal and a displacement through the fire of judgment (v.8), refining Jerusalem and redeeming what had always been materially good but misused (Genesis 1:31) by stewards who live not by faith but merely by sight.

8(F) And the men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire. 9And afterward the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in(G) the hill country, in the Negeb, and in the lowland. 10(H) And Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron(I) (now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba), and they defeated(J) Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.

11From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. The name of Debir was formerly Kiriath-sepher. 12And Caleb said, “He who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter for a wife.” 13And Othniel the son of Kenaz,(K) Caleb’s younger brother, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter for a wife. 14When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 15She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

And so we continue with these events as chronicled in Joshua 15:13-19, making what was pagan, a city of the book into a holy sanctuary – presumably this city ‘of the book’ had a book which taught the people not to revere the true LORD, Yahweh, just as Christians have looked at the two tablets of the 10 Words as a curse rather than a blessing, rather than a testimony leading us to the holy sanctuary.  It is in Debir, this new city, that we see Caleb provide more than what his daughter had required, an example of how God would also provide us with such rich blessings in new creation, far more than the firstfruit of what we taste and more than what we ask for.

16And the descendants of the(L) Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah(M) from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near(N) Arad,(O) and they went and settled with the people. 17(P) And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath and devoted it to destruction. So the name of the city was called(Q) Hormah.[a] 18Judah also(R) captured Gaza with its territory, and Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. 19(S) And the LORD was with Judah, and he took possession of the(T) hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had(U) chariots of iron. 20(V) And Hebron was given to Caleb, as Moses had said. And he drove out from it(W) the three sons of Anak. 21But the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem,(X) so the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

Thus chapter 1 continues with the displacement of Israel, destroying what is not good and renaming and devoting what is good (as represented by the name “Hormah”, which means devoted/devotion), perhaps also implied through the Hebrew wordplay of the names Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, respectively revealing insight into the event of displacement as that completed by those truly strong by the LORD, as they discern and weigh what is good for His Name, and a destruction by the roots where there is anything which represents otherwise (Deuteronomy 9:3, 14).

Again, interlaced in the midst of this warfare do we see a humble people akin to Joshua and the Levites in living humbly, perhaps even in tents, in a land which is not rebuilt for its previous idolatry (Jericho, the city of palms).  In the words of Matthew Henry:

“The Kenites gained a settlement in the tribe of Judah, choosing it there rather than in any other tribe, because it was the strongest, and there they hoped to be safe and quiet, Jdg_1:16. These were the posterity of Jethro, who either went with Israel when Moses invited them (Num_10:29) or met them about the same place when they came up from their wanderings in the wilderness thirty-eight years after, and went with them then to Canaan, Moses having promised them that they should fare as Israel fared, Num_10:32. They had at first seated themselves in the city of palm-trees, that is, Jericho, a city which never was to be rebuilt, and therefore the fitter for those who dwelt in tents, and did not mind building. But afterwards they removed into the wilderness of Judah, either out of their affection to that place, because solitary and retired, or out of their affection to that tribe, which perhaps had been in a particular manner kind to them. Yet we find the tent of Jael, who was of that family, far north, in the lot of Naphtali, when Sisera took shelter there, Jdg_4:17. This respect Israel showed them, to let them fix where they pleased, being a quiet people, who, wherever they were, were content with a little. Those that molested none were molested by none. Blessed are the meek, for thus they shall inherit the earth.

Yet, there is some confusion in the translation of v.19 – why would obeying the LORD lead to a failure in conquering the iron chariots of Canaan?  Given the past conquest of Israel by the name of the LORD, in the form of the 10 plagues, of the parting of the Red Sea and river of Jordan, of the miracles witnessed time and time again, it should perhaps be explained that the verse was improperly rendered and/or something implied in between the verses lest we charge Yahweh with inconsistency in his potency to conquer his enemies:

were the iron chariots too strong for Omnipotence? The whole of this verse is improperly rendered. The first clause, The Lord was with Judah should terminate the 18th verse, and this gives the reason for the success of this tribe: The Lord was with Judah, and therefore he slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, etc., etc. Here then is a complete period: the remaining part of the verse either refers to a different time, or to the rebellion of Judah against the Lord, which caused him to withdraw his support. Therefore the Lord was with Judah, and these were the effects of his protection; but afterwards, when the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, etc., God was no longer with them, and their enemies were left to be pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their side, as God himself had said. This is the turn given to the verse by Jonathan ben Uzziel, the Chaldee paraphrast: “And the Word of Jehovah was in the support of the house of Judah, and they extirpated the inhabitants of the mountains; but afterwards, When They Sinned, they were not able to extirpate the inhabitants of the plain country, because they had chariots of iron.” They were now left to their own strength, and their adversaries prevailed against them.” – Adam Clarke

Taking into the account that verse numbers and labels as used in the English Bibles are not used for the Hebrew Bible, we can see how the beginning of v.19 could in fact be actually part of v.18, and thus everything from v.19 onwards is, according to Adam Clarke here, a representation of a different period when Judah sinned, which would complement well the failure of Benjamin to conquer the Jebusites, most likely again due to their failure to adhere to the LORD, a failure in part attributed also to Judah for they are geographically tied (Joshua 15:63) due to the location of Jerusalem in between Judah and Benjamin.  However, next to their failures is once again the success of Caleb in v.20 – his defeating of the three sons of Anak surely a more powerful testimony of his obedience to Christ than being defeated by the comparatively weak iron chariots.

22The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel,(Y) and the LORD was with them. 23And the house of Joseph scouted out Bethel. ((Z) Now the name of the city was formerly Luz.) 24And the spies saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him, “Please show us the way into the city,(AA) and we will deal kindly with you.” 25And he showed them the way into the city. And they struck the city with the edge of the sword, but they let the man and all his family go. 26And the man went to(AB) the land of the Hittites and built a city and called its name Luz. That is its name to this day.

“As Luz signifies an almond, almond or hazel tree, this place probably had its name from a number of such trees growing in that region…

…From Beth-El came the Baetylia, Bethyllia, Βαιτυλια, or animated stones, so celebrated in antiquity, and to which Divine honors were paid. The tradition of Jacob anointing this stone, and calling the place Beth-El, gave rise to all the superstitious accounts of the Baetylia or consecrated stones, which we find in Sanchoniathon and others. These became abused to idolatrous purposes, and hence God strongly prohibits them, Lev_26:1; and it is very likely that stones of this kind were the most ancient objects of idolatrous worship; these were afterwards formed into beautiful human figures, male and female, when the art of sculpture became tolerably perfected, and hence the origin of idolatry as far as it refers to the worshipping of images, for these, being consecrated by anointing, etc., were supposed immediately to become instinct with the power and energy of some divinity. Hence, then, the Baetylia or living stones of the ancient Phoenicians, etc. As oil is an emblem of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, so those who receive this anointing are considered as being alive unto God, and are expressly called by St. Peter living stones, 1Pe_2:4, 1Pe_2:5. May not the apostle have reference to those living stones or Baetyllia of antiquity, and thus correct the notion by showing that these rather represented the true worshippers of God, who were consecrated to his service and made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and that these alone could be properly called the living stone, out of which the true spiritual temple is composed?”

Once again, we learn here a new name given to reveal new insight into God’s plan of redemption through Israel.  Here we see that the house of Joseph went up against Bethel, the house of God, formerly called Luz, which signifies an almond/almond or hazel tree.  It here that we find a connection between the almond blossoms of the lampstand of the tabernacle (Exodus 37:19-20), a prophecy once more maintained in Jeremiah 1:11 – the almond tree being the first to flower and bring forth fruit, and thus Jacob’s anointing of this stone directly related to the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the living stones referred to in Clarke’s commentary through the anointing of the Rock, the Stone of Ages.

What is ironic is that in this particular conquest against Bethel, the spies of the house of Joseph let go a man and a family who led the Israelites to destroy this city.  However, this was not a man of faith; the response is not the same as Rahab.  In fact, the response was overwhelmingly different – where Rahab stated the glories of Israel by Yahweh and positively supported the cause of the Christians (Joshua 2), the man was motivated by his desire to maintain his family and the name of Luz.  This is a strong reminder for Christians to conquer with the view of salvation, rather than a mere conquering of land.  Though Joseph succeeded against Bethel, they failed in the greater purpose of sowing seeds of the gospel in the heart of the people who helped achieve the lesser purpose of victory in warfare.

Failure to Complete the Conquest

27(AC) Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 28When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.

Tribe/Person/Group Success Land displaced/compromised
Judah (v.3-19) Partial Defeated Canaanites and Perizzites (v.5); Bezek; Jerusalem; Negeb; Hebron (Kiriath-arba); Sheshai; Ahiman; Talmai; Debir (Kiriath-sepher); Hormah (Zephath); Gaza; Ashkelon; Ekron; but failed against the iron chariots
Simeon (v.3-19) Same as above Same as above
Caleb (v.20) Yes Hebron
Benjamin (v.21) No Jerusalem
House of Joseph (v.22) Partial Bethel (but resulting in the new city of Luz in the land of the Hittites)
Manasseh (v.27-28) No Beth-shean; Taanach; Dor; Ibleam; Megiddo
Ephraim (v.29) No Gezer
Zebulun (v.30) No Kitron; Nahalol
Asher (v.31-32) No Acco; sidon; Ahlab; Achzib; Helbah; Aphik; Rehob
Naphtali (v.33) No Beth-shemesh; Beth-anath
Dan (v.34) No Mt. Heres; Aijalon; Shaalbim; border of Amorites (from ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upwards)

From the table, we can see that v.28 is a good summary of the omen for the tribes extending to v.29-36 which display the extent of the compromise of the Israelites.  Instead of the two options of eradicating the enemies of Yahweh (representing the eschatological judgment of the Day of Resurrection), or subjecting them to immediate true faith in Jesus Christ, they have opted for a third option which betrays the majority of their failures – their sympathy for their enemy.  It is this reason that they forget a very important thing: that they succeed because it is the LORD’s doing, and they fail because it is the LORD’s permission.  The sympathy of these Israelites is not their decision to make, but even mercy must come from wise discernment of the LORD rather than their own volition (Deuteronomy 23) – and it is hardly faithful to Christ that they should make their enemies their slaves (of forced rather than willing labour) who will only lead them away from the true God and instead cultivate an attitude to worship false ones.

Judges 2

1Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to(AK) Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said,(AL) ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2(AM) and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land;(AN) you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3So now I say,(AO) I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become(AP) thorns in your sides,[b] and their gods shall be a snare to you.” 4As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5And they called the name of that place Bochim.[c] And they sacrificed there to the LORD.

The disobedience of Israel is reflected in the words of the Angel of the LORD, the sent one of the Father who is the visible of the invisible Him, rephrasing the prophecy made concerning Israel’s rebellion stated in Deuteronomy 31:16-18.  The earliest written and recorded presence of the pre-Messianic incarnation of Christ in Scripture was in Genesis 3:8, and thereafter several times not only as “Angel” but also as Commander of the LORD’s army (Joshua 5), as the mysterious man with whom Jacob struggled with (Genesis 32:24), known also as the Angel of His Presence (Isaiah 63:9), who David is but a type of (Zechariah 12:8).

“The preacher was an angel of the Lord (Jdg_2:1), not a prophet, not Phinehas, as the Jews conceit; gospel ministers are indeed called angels of the churches, but the Old Testament prophets are never called angels of the Lord; no doubt this was a messenger we from heaven. Such extraordinary messengers we sometimes find in this book employed in the raising up of the judges that delivered Israel, as Gideon and Samson; and now, to show how various are the good offices they do for God’s Israel, here is one sent to preach to them, to prevent their falling into sin and trouble. This extraordinary messenger was sent to command, if possible, the greater regard to the message, and to affect the minds of a people whom nothing seemed to affect but what was sensible. The learned bishop Patrick is clearly of opinion that this was not a created angel, but the Angel of the covenant, the same that appeared to Joshua as captain of the hosts of the Lord, who was God himself. Christ himself, says Dr. Lightfoot; who but God and Christ could say, I made you to go up out of Egypt? Joshua had lately admonished them to take heed of entangling themselves with the Canaanites, but they regarded not the words of a dying man; the same warning therefore is here brought them by the living God himself, the Son of God appearing as an angel. If they slight his servants, surely they will reverence his Son. This angel of the Lord is said to come up from Gilgal, perhaps not walking on the earth, but flying swiftly, as the angel Gabriel did to Daniel, in the open firmament of heaven; but, whether walking or flying, he seemed to come from Gilgal for a particular reason. Gilgal was long their headquarters after they came into Canaan, many signal favours they had there received from God, and there the covenant of circumcision was renewed (Mic_6:5), of all which it was designed they should be reminded by his coming from Gilgal. The remembrance of what we have received and heard will prepare us for a warning to hold fast, Rev_3:2, Rev_3:3.” – Matthew Henry

Despite the constant changing of names in chapter 1, indicating the Israelites’ intention to renew the cities, we have here a renewal of name in the opposite direction – from the place of sacrifice labeled as Shiloh, we see the area renamed as Bochim.  From the tranquility of Shiloh (a name referring to Christ (Genesis 49:10)) to the weeping of Bochim, pre-incarnate Christ is here giving us the true perspective as to how we should read the book of Judges.  Note how absent Joshua is in the duration of chapter 1 to 2, later leading up to the re-iteration of his death in chapter 2.  Instead, what takes the spotlight is the Angel and the incapability of Israel to obey His Word, as He had already prophesied by the end of Deuteronomy.

Now this is very different from the Angel of God, representing the Father, in saying that he will never break the covenant with us (Judges 2:1).  Why is that the case?  Why can’t God break his covenant with us?  It is important here that we understand this in a Trinitarian covenantal manner rather than see him as a uni-personal monotheistic God.  Before creation, He had already made a covenant with us through Christ in His love for creation, and gifted us to Christ (the repeated refrain “[the people] whom You [the Father] gave to me [Christ]” in John 17), manifested in the imagery of the bride given to the bridegroom Adam, the mystery of Christ and the church represented in this institution of marriage.  It is this Father and Son relationship by the power of the Spirit which reflects Israel’s relationship with the Father, for Israel is a shadow of Christ, and as such is the body of Christ and the Old Testament church.  The dispensation of ‘Israel’ displays to us important eschatological truths, and the failures of Israel represent the failings of a theoretically sinful Angel, one who cannot keep the covenant relationship with his father – and Satan fits that character profile.

However, on a second layer, we see Israel as a church of Christ and so because of Israel’s failure to hold onto Christ, they do not inherit the blessings of the Son’s unceasing eternal covenant with the Father by the Spirit.  As such we must stand in Christ and He impute to us his righteousness by clothing us with his royal robe (Isaiah 61).  In Eberhard Jungel’s assessment of Barth’s theology are these words precise in describing the inter-relatedness of our relationship with God which undoubtedly applies to Israel and Yahweh as well:

“The attitude and relation implicit in God’s primal decision can only be grounded in revelation, which, for Barth, means christologically.  Accordingly, Barth comprehends in the name Jesus Christ the God who elects, elect humanity, and God’s attitude and relation which determines God to be the one who elects and elect humanity.  ‘Jesus Christ is the decision of God in favour of this attitude or relation.  He is Himself the relation.’  In this relation, which is Jesus Christ, God and man are alongside each other.  For in this relation, which is Jesus Christ, God relates himself to the man Jesus.  And ‘the man and the people represented in Him are creatures and not God’.” – ‘God’s Being is in Becoming

The Death of Joshua

6When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. 7(AQ) And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. 8And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. 9And they buried him within the boundaries of(AR) his inheritance in Timnath-heres,(AS) in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 10And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.

As such, it makes sense for us to read about the death of Joshua after the Angel’s brief rebuke to the Israelites.  This is chronologically before the independence of the tribes and their subsequent failures for failing to hold onto Christ in Whom they participate in the covenant relationship with the Father.  V.10 is a summary of those generations after Joshua, those who did not witness these miracles; however, that is no excuse for the command in Deuteronomy 6 is that the subsequent generations are to hear about these truths from faithful Christian parenting.  This is evidently absent in the book of Judges for the majority did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).  Like the ‘gods’ (elohim, a label used in Genesis 1:1 but literally meaning ‘gods’ rather than an implication of the unity of the Trinity in Exodus 32:4), we see the reference to the baals, literally meaning “lords”.  And so v.6-15 is a summary of all that has happened since the time of the death of Joshua, the true explanation behind the initial failures of the tribes as chronicled in Judges 1 – because they served the Baals (v.11); because they went after other gods, among the gods of the peoples who were around them (v.12-13), and so v.15 explains the difference between the ensured success of Caleb, with that of the other tribes who had compromised success (c.f. Deuteoronomy 27:15-26).  Caleb, the example of the true Christian, against the other tribes who put their enemies to forced labour against God’s will.

11(AT) And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. 12(AU) And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt.(AV) They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and(AW) bowed down to them.(AX) And they provoked the LORD to anger. 13They abandoned the LORD(AY) and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. 14(AZ) So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he(BA) gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them.(BB) And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies,(BC) so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. 15Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned,(BD) and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.

The LORD Raises Up Judges

16(BE) Then the LORD raised up judges,(BF) who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17Yet they did not listen to their judges, for(BG) they whored after other gods and bowed down to them.(BH) They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the LORD, and they did not do so. 18Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them,(BI) the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge.(BJ) For the LORD was moved to pity by(BK) their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19But(BL) whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20(BM) So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people(BN) has transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, 21(BO) I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22in order(BP) to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.” 23So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.

From v.16-22 we receive another summary – that of the period of testing between the death of Joshua until the time of Saul, the first king of Israel.  V.18-19 are crucial verses determining whether Israel would fall or not, as the judges were merely examples of what we cannot do, but what Christ can do.  The analogy comes forth in the shape of king, but even ‘kingship’, ‘judgeship’, ‘prophethood’ is temporary – but eternal priesthood of Melchizedek before the dispensation of kings and judges, before the Mosaic administration of the legal covenant – Abraham, no, indeed Adam was already a priest and steward and inheritor of heaven and earth in Christ who is the true image and inheritor.  So that when Israel grew older and matured, the law has served its purpose of testing, and the gospel of Christ at full noon reveals the spiritual Israel through the shaming of the Israelites by the salvation of the Gentiles en masse, like that of the salvation of the Ninevites with Jonah representing the reluctant, introverted self-absorbed Israel.  The Israel which has continually failed its great commission as the priesthood and light to all nations.

What makes the analogy and imagery more potent compared to the lessons learnt in the book of Numbers is that many of these judges stood by the LORD; many of them were Spirit-filled; and yet many more of them became instruments for evil (Romans 6:13), and many were temporary mediators.  Their deaths as mentioned in this summary emphasise on the unlikelihood that they were sufficient in propitiating God’s wrath, and only Christ, the object of faith of the Old Testament saints, is the eternal mediator between man and God (1 Timothy 2:5).   Thus the words of the author of Hebrews:

Heb 13:8-15  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (9)  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.  (10)  We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.  (11)  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.  (12)  So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  (13)  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.  (14)  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.  (15)  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Hebrews 13 successfully conveys the temporal nature of this world; the temporal nature of the shadows; the temporal nature of the Mosaic administration of the legal covenant – and there is no reason why we should not emphasise also the temporal nature of the dispensation of the judges.  It is through the eternal High Priest that He continually offers up a sacrifice of praise to God, through his own blood, on our behalf, until the day he leaves the Holy of Holies for his second coming as true Judge and true King of the world.

Judges 1-2: The Angel our Judge

Genesis 12-14: Blueprint of the Future

Before moving on to Chapter 12, some interesting things to note.

Haran, one of Terah’s sons, is the father of Lot – yet he died in the presence of his father in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans.  Abram took a wife called Sarai, whereas Nahor, Terah’s other son, took Milcah, who is the daughter of Haran.

Another table isn’t so necessary now, but just to make things clear:

Terah bore –> Abram/Nahor/Haran (d. in Ur)

Haran bore –> Milcah/Iscah/Lot

Abram married Sarai

Nahor married Milcah, Haran’s daughter (i.e. his niece).

Therefore, we have a family of three generations – Terah, with his son Abram and his daughter-in-law Sarai, and Lot his grandson — all together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan.  They then settled in Haran, where Terah died.  Meanwhile, Nahor, Milcah and Iscah are unaccounted for.  But we will come back to Nahor and Milcah (Genesis 22), but Iscah we will not hear about againt throughout Scripture.

My question – why were they going to Canaan?  Another thing is of course the self-explanatory nature of Scripture.  It is assumed that we know that Ur of the Chaldeans, the kindred of Haran.  What we do know, briefly, is that history teaches Chaldea will become a Hellenistic part of Babylonia, in connection with Babylon, and within Scripture will they become enemies of God’s chosen people (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 22:25).  How odd, that Haran was a kinsmen of future Babylonians who would later hold Israel captive?

What I find most interesting is what Moses and the Israelites would have been thinking when they were listening to this story because they, also, are brought out of what they believed to be their ‘home’ land (Egypt) into the ‘foreign’ Promised Land (Canaan).  However, how odd things are — Abraham was already going to Canaan in the past.  Why the ‘repeat’ of history per se?  Surely the (physical) promised land of Canaan is the final dwelling place for the Israelites?  What happened between Abraham and Moses, the latter who is guiding the nation to Canaan AGAIN in the history of God’s chosen people?

I will hope to cover that in just a moment.  Meanwhile, onto Genesis 12.

1.  Significance of the locations

2.  The Angel of the Lord

3.  Pharaoh and Abimelech

4.  Abram and Lot separate

5.  Abram ‘saves’ Lot

6.  Melchizedek

7.  A mirror of the future – blueprint of the Old Testament

1.  Significance of the locations (Genesis 12 in general)

After the dispersion of the nations, God is now speaking of the fathers of the nations in which the Mosaic Israelites have been facing for a while.

(a)  Chaldea – the ‘home’ country from which Abraham hailed from (Gen 12:1-2: “Now the LORD (had) said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing”).  I’ve already spoken of Chaldea’s future in the above paragraphs.

(b)  Canaan – where Abraham eventually arrived (Gen 12v. 5-6) – whereupon in Gen 12v. 7 God makes a promise that to his offspring he will give this land.  I’m positive Moses is thrilled to hear this.

(c)  Bethel and Ai – the former being the place where Jacob gives an offering to the Father after struggling with Christ in Genesis 35:1 – “God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.  Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau”.  The latter, Ai, is where Israel would eventually be defeated.  Some geography is offered concerning Ai in Joshua 7:2 – “Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.”  And the men went up and spied out Ai.”

(d)  Negeb – which is in Canaan

2.  The Angel of the LORD (Genesis 12:1-9)

Is this is the first time God conversed with men?  Of course not… but which “God” are we speaking of?  Let’s do a quick recap of everything up to Genesis 12.  It would help to understand why and how it is that people can ‘see’ God, when no one has ever ‘seen’ Him.  Who is “Him”?

Genesis 1 & 2 – the Creator God, I would say, is the Father in Heaven, who speaks to Adam and the Woman.

Genesis 3:8 – the ‘sound’ (voice) of the LORD God walking in the garden.  We established that this ‘voice’ is Jesus.

Genesis 4:6 – who is speaking to Cain?  v. 16 – “the presence of the LORD”.  Philo, rather, translates this as the FACE of the Lord.  Who is the face?  Jesus Christ, the visible of the invisible (Colossians 1).

Genesis 6:13 – God said to Noah — which God?

Genesis 7:1 – then the LORD said to Noah — who?

Genesis 9:1 – God blessed Noah — why the constant exchange between ‘God’ and LORD?

Genesis 9:8, 12-17 – God said to Noah and to his sons – back to “God” again

Genesis 12:1 – the Lord said to Abram – back to LORD again

Genesis 12:7 – the Lord APPEARED to him — this is a first we hear of the LORD explicitly appearing to anyone.  Again, and unsurprisingly, Abram builds an altar.  Why?  Because his ancestor Noah (Gen 8:20) had also done so.  This is mentioned again in v.7b – “So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had APPEARED to him”.

Can we assume that everytime the LORD or God speaks to men, that it is necessarily Jesus?

3.  Pharaoh and Abimelech, and the future re-produced? (Genesis 12:10-20)

What happens here in Genesis 12:10-20 is repeated again in Genesis 20.  Is there any meaning behind Abraham insisting on saying that his wife is his sister?  Yes – it is to display Abraham’s absolute weakness as a person who has ‘faith’ in God.  In some sense, we should find solace in that, because the LORD had already proclaimed the promise to him back in Genesis 12:1-3.  Was it because of Abraham’s righteousness?  Of course not.  His ‘faith’ in God was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).  But even Abraham has weak faith!  All the better – faith is not a type of works in itself.  Even we are expected to fluctuate – yet, we are also called to persist by the work of the Spirit.  Let us heed God’s call when He indeed speaks to us, and not rely on cheap grace (Psalm 95:7-11).

Now what is most interesting is what happens in this chapter.  It is almost as if the future is somewhat shown here!  Firstly, God pulls out a Chaldean into Canaan almost immediately.  Then he backtracks Abraham to Bethel where Jacob will later give his offering after struggling with Christ.  Then he backtracks Abraham further to Egypt, in a time of famine (think Joseph!).  Then there are huge plagues (Exodus territory) because of Sarai (Chapter 12v.7) whereupon he leaves Egypt and goes to Negeb (we know Negeb is in Canaan – c.f. Numbers 33:40, and Abraham had already been trying to get there in Genesis 12:9).

When he reaches Negeb, he journeys even further BACK to Bethel, to the altar between Bethel and Ai and calls upon the name of the LORD there.  This is kind of like saying Abraham, this is the land in which you will own, but not yet.  Not yet.

Let’s sum up so far:

(a)  He comes from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan

–(b)  He built an altar near Shechem, to the oak of Moreh

—(c)  He pitches a tent on the east of Bethel between Bethel (on the west) and Ai (on the east)

—-(d)  He goes toward the Negeb (but not reaching there yet)

—–(e)  He went to Egypt to sojourn during the famine

—–(e)  He leaves Egypt because of his silly mistake

—-(d)  He returns to Negeb

—(c)  He goes back to Bethel to the place where he pitched the tent

–(b)  Then to the place where he built the altar at the first

(a)  He calls upon the name of the LORD (Chapter 13v.4) – yet now, Lot leaves Abram because of strife between Abram’s herdsmen of his livestock, and Lot’s herdsmen of his own livestock.  Instead, Lot sees the Jordan Valley, well watered like the GARDEN of the LORD, and like EGYPT, in the direction of Zoar.  We will later see Lot turning on his word, fearing to live in Zoar again (Genesis 19:30).

4.  Abram and Lot separate (Genesis 13:1-18 )

How weird it is that Lot desires the very things which God later takes away from him.  The Garden of the LORD, which has been taken away from Adam and Eve.  Egypt, which has been ‘taken away’ from the Israelites and from the Pharoah.  Zoar, which later Lot desires never to live there again.  Again, note — Lot journeys EAST, according to his own will and what caught the desire of his eye (Genesis 3:6 – a repeat of Eve’s sin).  Not only that, but Lot, being a clan member of Haran and Shem, could have taken part of this gift of Canaan (Genesis 9:26-27).  He was even so wise enough, after hearing God pronounce the blessing on Abram in Chapter 12:1-2, as to go ‘with him’ (Chapter 12:4).  Rather, now, he desires to establish his own livelihood.  However, we see that Lot still lives in a ‘tent’, but among cities as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12).  Even God himself says it clearly – “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD”.  Sodom, unsurprisingly, is where the Canaanites, the ‘cursed’ race, dwells.  Lot is a perfect example of a Christian who, having tasted the goodness of partaking in the church in his time of weakness, decides to leave the chosen remnant because he has ‘found better pastures’ as it were.  So he chose the ‘obvious’ worldly choice – a land which mock-represents the Garden of Eden.  Of course, it is nothing like it.

The irony then, in Chapter 13:14 for the LORD to announce to Abram almost immediately “after Lot had separated from him”, that from the place where Abram is, “northward/southward/eastward/westward”, all that he sees – will be given to his offspring forever.  An amazing claim from an amazing God.  The offspring will be so much as the ‘dust’ of the earth – just as God repeats that the offspring will be as much as the ‘stars’ in the sky (Genesis 15:5).  Again, a hint of Christological natural theology from God himself, for we are physical creatures needing physical things to help our understanding of the invisible God – the only physical thing which only represents God in the Highest being Jesus Christ himself.

5.  Abram ‘saves’ Lot (Genesis 14:1-16)

What is immediately noticeable is the number of locations referred to here – let’s class them into groups.

Group A

Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, Goiim, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Bela/Zoar – all of which joined forces.

Group B

Chedorlaomer (king of Elam) was the leader of Group A, which Group A eventually rebelled against after serving Chedorlaomer for 12 years, and rebelled in the 13th year.

Group C

Rephaim (in Ashteroth-karnaim), Zuzim in Ham, Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, Horites )in Seir as far as El-paran), Amalekites in Kadesh/En-mishpat, Amorites in Hazazon-tamar

Group D

Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Bela/Zoar

Group E

Elam, Goiim, Shinar, Ellasar

Now let’s clarify.  We are introduced to Group A — then introduced to the leader of Group A which is Group B (the one king of Elam).  However, Group B defeats group C when the rest of A rebels against B.  Then, from v.8-12 in chapter 14, group D offshoots from group A, and fights against group E.  Thus, the final battle of 5 kings against four, is between Group D and Group E – at the Valley of Siddim where there are ‘bitumen pits’.  It appears that Sodom and Gomorrah lost, many falling into the bitumen pits, while (it is assumed) the fewer number of kings, Group E, was victorious.  Not much is mentioned of Admah, Zeboiim, or Bela.

Then we see an Amorite called Mamre, from the line of Canaan – who is an ALLY of Abram. Let’s now make an extra group.

Group F

Mamre, Eshcol, Aner, Abram, 318 men

He fought as far as Dan, dividing his forces against them by night and defeated them.  We are speaking of Group F – all 322 men – who defeated Group E, among whom is the king Chedorlaomer, the ex-leader of Group A.  Here we have what seems like true covenant hope, between Jews and Gentiles – Abraham the Hebrew with 3 Gentiles/Canaanites.  This, compared with the next verses in Chapter 14 shows the difference between a ‘treaty’ and true brotherhood between two different races/nations.

6.  Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24)

What we have in the rest of chapter 14 is a juxtaposition of the treaty from a pagan and warring nation (Sodom) and the blessing, rather than mere ‘treaty’, from the king of Salem – a place that surely does not exist.  Hebrews 7:1 refers to him as the king of Salem, aka the king of peace.  Psalm 76:1-3 has this to say:

1In Judah God is(C) known;
his name is great in Israel.
2His(D) abode has been established in(E) Salem,
his(F) dwelling place in Zion.
3There he(G) broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.
Selah

Indeed, these are SELAH moments!  How can there be two places where God dwells, Zion and Salem?  Are they pointing to the same places, or are they symbolic of the true new creation kingdom to come?  Paul Blackham calls him the ‘king of rightousness’, rather than merely ‘peace’ (the name, Melchizedek, itself connotes this interpretation).  He is a priest of the God Most High.  How odd it is, that there is a priestly line when the Levitical line has not even been established yet?  This Melchizedek, who even blesses Abraham, is superior to Abraham the father of the chosen nation (Hebrews 7:4-10)!  Not only that, but the descendants in the LOINS of Abraham have been blessed and has given tithes to Melchizedek!  We see Melchizedek elsewhere in Scripture.

Psalm 110:

1(A) The LORD(Father) says to my Lord(Jesus):
(B) “Sit at my right hand,
(C) until I make your enemies your(D) footstool.”

2The LORD(Father) sends forth(E) from Zion
(F) your mighty scepter.
(G) Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3(H) Your people will(I) offer themselves freely
on the day of your(J) power,[a]
in(K) holy garments;[b]
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.[c]
4(L) The LORD(Father) has(M) sworn
and will(N) not change his mind,
(O)You are(P) a priest(Q) forever
after the order of(R) Melchizedek
.”

5The Lord(Jesus) is at your(S) right hand;
he will(T) shatter kings on(U) the day of his wrath.
6He will(V) execute judgment among the nations,
(W) filling them with corpses;
he will(X) shatter chiefs[d]
over the wide earth.
7He will(Y) drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

If Psalm 110 hasn’t already sealed the deal, with the intra-Trinitarian conversation between the two Lords, the LORD saying to David’s Lord that the latter Lord will be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, here is a little extra topping for those who must rely on the New Testament to understand the truths which the OT saints held:

Hebrews 7:15-28:

15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is witnessed of him,

(M) “You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

18For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside(N) because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for(O) the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand,(P) a better hope is introduced, through which(Q) we draw near to God.

20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

(R) “The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.'”

22This makes Jesus the guarantor of(S) a better covenant.

23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues(T) forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[b](U) those who draw near to God(V) through him, since he always lives(W) to make intercession for them.

26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest,(X) holy, innocent, unstained,(Y) separated from sinners, and(Z) exalted above the heavens. 27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily,(AA) first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this(AB) once for all when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints men(AC) in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made(AD) perfect forever.

Just to clarify – does this mean that Melchizedek is some ‘randomer’ who just slipped in and out of the New Testament like that?  Or is Melchizedek a ‘blueprint’ of the greater King to come?  Melchizedek who has no human ancestor or descendant?  I think something is at play here.  We are not looking at merely a real king of Salem who is a type of Christ.  Everything about him is mysterious – his genealogy, his kingdom, the place in which he rules — all of it has a divine ring to it.  He is not a type.  He IS Christ himself, in the various forms of the Sent One which he partook before he incarnated as THE Messiah, in fulfillment and progress of his actions as the Angel prior to the events in Nazareth.  Now I understand it says you are a priest forever ‘after’ the order of Melchizedek, but this does not necessarily negate the divinity of the person ‘masquerading’ as Melchizedek; rather, Jesus now fulfills the personage of the High Priest, just as he fulfills the personage of the Angel (again himself) who struggled with Jacob, just as he fulfills the personage of the Angel who fought with Joshua, just as he fulfills the personage of the Angel who guided Israel to Canaan.  Can we, therefore, say that Jesus is ‘after the order’ of Melchizedek, and the Angel of the Lord?  Surely, we can.  Does this mean they are different people?  Surely, we cannot, unless we propose that Melchizedek and the Angel are again, only TYPES of Christ.  I don’t know why you want to say that though, unless you want to heretically assume there are more than Three Persons claiming divinity.

7.  Mirror of the future – the blueprint of the Old Testament

What I find extremely odd is – why take Abraham to all those places?  Why the famine?  Why go through all these familiar locations?  Why did Lot go to Sodom, and why did Abraham save him from Sodom?  Why did Lot RETURN to Sodom?  Why the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

With the (tens of) thousands of biblical archaeologists, Old Testament scholars who look on the actual, physical events, I still however believe in a God who is the Most High, the Creator of Heaven and Earth – and no doubt we have twice seen him provide a blueprint for the Garden of Eden, and the Ark, and no doubt later for the Tabernacle.  I think we can say the same about him about the plan he has for the events in this world.

What kind of plan am I saying?  What we see in these chapters, is a blue print of the rest of the events in the Old Testament.

Let’s work through this together:

(a)  Abraham aiming to reach Negeb = to receive the promises of Genesis 12/15 (reconfirmation of covenant with Adam).  I think this is literally speaking of the period of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob until Joseph. (Genesis 12:9)

(b)  Abraham entering and leaving Egypt, on account of the famine, sojourning there but leaving because of plagues = Covers the events of Joseph to the great Exodus (Genesis 12:10-20)

(c)  Finally reaching Negeb in Canaan = Israelites reaching Canaan (finally!) (Genesis 13:1-18 )

(d)  Separation of the brothers = Israel and Judah, though they are technically still ‘one nation’. (Genesis 13:8-13).. though it is noted that Abraham is Lot’s uncle, not his brother

(e)  5 kings against 4 = Judah involved unnecessarily in battles with pagans (book of kings/judges) (Genesis 14:1-16)

(f)   Abraham goes to the aid of Lot = Israel and Judah will help each other throughout these wars, though the numbers for both is small and weak compared with other nations.  But they will not be living together as ‘one nation’ but separated into two kingdoms.  Perhaps something here to reflect the friendship between Abraham and Mamre, as it is with Joshua and Rahab? (Genesis 14:13-16)

(g)  Appearance of Melchizedek = many times will Israel/Judah be offered an opportunity to ‘truce’ with other nations, but the LORD will always be the best truce and the Angel will keep reminding them of their true peace found in God the Highest.  (Genesis 14:17-24)

(h)  Isaac’s birth promised = prophecy of the coming Son re-confirmed (Genesis 17:15-19)

(i)   Lot and Sodom, the destruction of Sodom, Abraham intercedes by remininding God of the covenant, and The Angel of the Lord helps = Judah held captive in Babylon (due to continual spiritual compromises of the nation Israel) – resulting in the destruction of Babylon, Daniel interceding by remembering the covenant and the promises, and The Angel of the Lord helps (in the furnace) (Genesis 19)

(j)   Isaac’s birth = The Son incarnate (synoptic gospels begin here) (Genesis 21)

What say you?  I think this is a close-to-accurate portrayal of the future events prior to the true witness of Isaac’s birth (and of course Isaac’s sacrifice, which mirrors that of God sacrificing his firstborn Son on the cross).  I think some more things can be said about Ishmael’s birth, about Abraham saving Lot (twice), about the introduction of the sacrament of circumcision.

Now, why this blueprint?  No doubt, I am positive this is one of the methods through which the major and minor prophets achieved their Spirit-inspired prophecies concerning the future events of their kingdom to come.  God has warned them, through this story of Abraham.  Yet, they will still fall into their sins – Israel will make treaty with pagan nations; the nation will continue to be the spiritual prostitute and God knows that history will continually repeat itself, just as every Christian will continue to be a spiritually compromising prostitute.  But Christ will marry us nonetheless.  He will remind us, through the Angel, through Melchizedek, of the blessing we have already received.  The gift of true peace, the gift of true righteousness, the salvation by the Angel.  We need only remember the victory won.

Genesis 12-14: Blueprint of the Future