BOOK 3: PSALM 74 OF 89 – THE DEFENDER OF THE FAITH

74 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
    the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!

Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.[b]
And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
    and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment[c] and destroy them!

 

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12 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters[d] on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.

18 Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs,
    and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.

20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

 

Psalm 74, like many of the psalms, begin with the despair of the psalmist.  This is a cry of a holy man against the world.  He is distraught by how God’s sanctuary is profaned; he is troubled by the fact that God’s signs are replaced with worldly signs; that God’s prophet is replaced by a worldly seer.  If we think that the Maskil of Asaph (simply meaning an instructive psalm by Asaph) sounds like it is a product of its time, stop and consider this: we are in a world which treats not God’s sanctuary with the same level of respect as the Temple or tabernacle had received.

As Spurgeon says:

“Alas, poor Israel! No Urim and Thummim blazed on the High Priest’s bosom, and no Shechaniah shone from between the cherubim. The smoke of sacrifice and cloud of incense no more arose from the holy hill; solemn feasts were suspended, and even circumcision, the covenant sign, was forbidden by the tyrant. We, too, as believers, know what it is to lose our evidences and grope in darkness; and too often do our churches also miss the tokens of the Redeemer’s presence, and their lamps remain untrimmed. Sad complaint of a people under a cloud! There is no more any prophet. Prophecy was suspended. No inspiring psalm or consoling promise fell from bard or seer. It is ill with the people of God when the voice of the preacher of the gospel fails, and a famine of the word of life falls on the people. God sent ministers are as needful to the saints as their daily bread, and it is a great sorrow when a congregation is destitute of a faithful pastor. It is to be feared, that with all the ministers now existing, there is yet a dearth of men whose hearts and tongues are touched with the celestial fire. Neither is there any among us that knoweth how long. If someone could foretell an end, the evil might be borne with a degree of patience, but when none can see a termination, or foretell an escape, the misery has a hopeless appearance, and is overwhelming. Blessed be God, he has not left his church in these days to be so deplorably destitute of cheering words; let us pray that he never may. Contempt of the word is very common, and may well provoke the Lord to withdraw it from us; may his long suffering endure the strain, and his mercy afford us still the word of life.”

The enemy strikes at the heart of our faith, because the enemy knows that the sanctuary is our place of refuge, our place of worship.  It is not different today: the debates that take place within the church, even amongst believers, demonstrate that the enemy’s plans are still very much in operation.  We profane his House when we do not even preach His Word faithfully; we fall to the evil one’s temptations when we cater to the desires and concerns of man, rather than faithfully bear witness to God’s plans this day.  On a daily basis, the church is being torn down – brick by brick; not physically, but spiritually.  Every day, our beliefs are being eroded by the worldly agenda; and Jesus becomes that much more distant and less real to us.  “Thus sayeth the LORD” is slowly, but surely, being replaced by “Thus sayeth the man” – the man whom the world respects, the philosopher who frequently denounces His Lordship, the teacher whose musings distract us from the truth, the scientist who forces on us evidence which purportedly support the theories which, apparently, contradict His Word.

 

However, at all times, Asaph does not lose sight of God’s absolute sovereignty.  The enemy creates this chaos only because God has allowed it.  The chapter opens not with a ‘woe-to-me’ expression in response to the enemy’s acts; rather, the chapter opens with O God, why do you cast us off forever?  Why do You, with a capital Y – indeed, it is the LORD who is doing the casting off, rather than the evil one.  Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep, against the congregation whom He has purchased of old (v2)?

Asaph recognizes that both blessing, and judgment, comes from the same God.  He is no Marcionist; he believes that God’s capacity, ability, and discernment in judging is tied to his act of loving; there is no schizophrenia, or dichotomy, between the God of the Old or New Testaments.  Jesus is as much the sacrificial lamb, as He is the one who returns to judge the world (see John 5:22-30, 9:39; 2 Corinthians 5:10;  Revelation 19:11).

This theme, and understanding, of sovereignty stretches through to the remainder of the chapter.  Starting from v12, Asaph pleads the creation argument; this God who has the power to allow evil to roam (a mystery which only He can unveil to us), is the same God who has been working salvation in the midst of the earth, from of old (v.12).  He divides (v.13), he crushes (v.14), he splits (v.15), he dries (v.15), he established (v.16), he fixed (v.17) – this is a God whose actions are never-ending.

Do we react to our troubles in the same way?  Do we resort to our own actions to defend our faith, defend our church, use a worldly form of apologetics and philosophy to ‘explain away’ Christianity to those who poke at our beliefs?  Or do we understand that we are dealing in the realm of spiritual warfare, waging a war that only spiritual tools can address (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)?

Ultimately, we must put our own faith, our sanctification, our livelihood, our very salvation in the hands of God.  We plead the covenant that He made with those whom he purchased (vv.2, 20), the covenant of blood sealed by Christ on the cross; for if He is for us, who can be against us?  In the words of Spurgeon:

“What a mighty plea is redemption. O God, canst thou see the blood mark on thine own sheep, and yet allow grievous wolves to devour them? The church is no new purchase of the Lord; from before the world’s foundation the chosen were regarded as redeemed by the Lamb slain; shall ancient love die out, and the eternal purpose become frustrate? The Lord would have his people remember the paschal Lamb, the bloodstained lintel, and the overthrow of Egypt; and will he forget all this himself? Let us put him in remembrance, let us plead together. Can he desert his blood bought and forsake his redeemed? Can election fail and eternal love cease to glow? Impossible. The woes of Calvary, and the covenant of which they are the seal, are the security of the saints.”

 

If only those who recognize and paint the blood of the lamb on their door are saved, then what will happen to the scoffers who remain so until their dying breath?  Time will tell, but the enemy who has been destroying our sanctuaries will, himself, not experience any sanctuary himself.   There is but only one defender of the faith, He who is sovereign above all, and has the authority to determine where we are born and where we go.

 

BOOK 3: PSALM 74 OF 89 – THE DEFENDER OF THE FAITH

Nehemiah 7-9: Clear Understanding

Nehemiah 7

Upon the building of the wall, Hanani (God is gracious) and Hananiah (God has given) are appointed to take charge over Jerusalem, “for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many” – an indication that such restoration of the wall is to be maintained in the hands of one who is a Christ-follower.  This is accompanied by the need for the gates of Jerusalem to be open when the sun is hot (c.f. Exodus 17:12; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 1:16), a reminder that the Son is the one who allows the gates to be open for people to enter New Jerusalem (John 14:6; Revelation 3:12).  However, as of now, the city though wide and large – the people within it were few and no houses had been rebuilt (v.4).  A shame that there are not enough labourers sent out into His harvest (Matthew 9:38).

From v.6-73, the genealogy largely matches that which was stated in Ezra 2 – bringing us into the context of Ezra and remembering that Nehemiah’s actions are meaningless without the restoration of the Mosaic law through Ezra.  V.73 is a exact repeat of Ezra 2:70, except the new addition that “when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns” – reminder of Leviticus 23, where the month of Tishri includes the keeping of the the Day of Atonement and Feast of Booths.

Nehemiah 8

The gathering of people “as one man” has been few and far in between, matching the language in Ezra 3:1 here (and the last time this happened was in 2 Samuel 19:14).  Their congregation around the Water Gate supplements the symbology of this gate, that the water of life, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, should be the true food which these gates of Jerusalem are protecting.  This chapter therefore reinstates the importance of Ezra’s reforms as the undergirding element of Nehemiah’s rebuilding – in the presence of men and women and those who could understand (v.3).  This is different from the strict keeping of the great Jerusalem feasts by men alone (Deuteronomy 16:16-17) – instead, now the crowd is to all who could understand.  “And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (v.3).  Ezra opened the Book of the Law in the sight of all the people and blessed the LORD (v.5-6), with several others (including both Levites and non-Levites) helping the people to understand the Law (v.7).  The Law of God was read “clearly”, and they “gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading”.  This type of detail is so far removed from what is the norm in the Mosaic books through to Ezra, where the keeping of the law was often not explained to come hand in hand with “clear understanding” – the theme of this chapter.  In many ways, this clear understanding and the inclusion of all who could understand (i.e. including women) is a shadow of the freedom in Christ (Galatians 3:28) only upon the circumcision of the heart, represented through Ezra (the priest and scribe) and Nehemiah’s (the governor) joint reformation of the Ancient Church.  Their spiritual emancipation and release from understanding the Law was transformed from weeping to joy – an eschatological picture of our weeping turning into joy in New Creation (Revelation 21:4).

It is interesting that instead of describing the keeping of Yom Kippur, v.13-14 immediately begins with the keeping of the Feast of Booths, as a restoration of a practice not done since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun (v.17), keeping to what the law had stated in Leviticus 23:34-39 / Deuteronomy 16:13-15.  In fact, this follows naturally from the hearing of the law earlier in this chapter – for the themes have been one of release, one of understanding, one of rejoicing that the LORD has taken away our grievances, as symbolised most starkly in the festival of Feast of Booths.  As Leviticus 23:35 states, “On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.  For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord.”  Deuteronomy 16:14 states, “You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow who are within your towns.”

Nehemiah 9

It is only upon such grateful thanksgiving that they then assemble with fasting and in sackcloth, confessing their sins and iniquities of their fathers (v.1-2), finding confidence first in the Word, then in confession, then in worship (v.3).  It is from v.6 onwards that we see a history of redemption, from Genesis up till now, His promises fulfilled through Abraham’s faithfulness (v.6-8), through the great exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (v.9-15) – and despite the stiffneckedness of the Israelites, He still remained faithful and gracious (v.16-21), sustaining them in the wilderness and instructing them by giving them the Holy Spirit.  Such goodness which came to them was completely by His hand (v.22-25).

Yet, the Israelites continued to be disobedient and ignored His law (v.26-31) – and here, His mercies are repeated (3 times “in your great mercies” repeated in these few verses) throughout the age of the judges and the kings from the time of Moses to the time of Zedekiah, the last king of Israel before the Babylonian exile.  By His prophets, by His saviors, by His warnings, by His Spirit (v.30) – all rejected and blasphemed (c.f. Leviticus 24:16; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).  Hence, their current state of slavery is one not caused by God – but (notably) it is the Levites who recognise that their kings, their princes, their priests and their fathers have not kept their law or paid attention to His commandments and His warnings.  Because of all this, the Levites (v.38) make a firm covenant in writing, with the names of Israel’s princes, Levites and priests.

Nehemiah 7-9: Clear Understanding

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

Chapter 4

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

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

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

Chapter 5

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

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

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

Chapter 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Chronicles 16-19: Our Servant

Chapter 16 begins with David’s song of thanks to the LORD, an ode which bears the following elements:

1.  Calling upon the LORD’s name (v.8, 10, 29, 35)

2.  Make known his deeds of salvation (v.8, 9, 12, 21-24, 35)

3.  Remember His covenant (v.15-18, 35)

4.  Ascribing to Him glory in our rejoicing (v. 10, 24, 27-35).

Note especially the last part of David’s song of thanksgiving which combines the four elements together:

Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.  Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” (v.35-36)

After this act of worship, the blessing and glory of the LORD does not stay there in one place; rather, He continues to be with them in their households (v.43; c.f. John 17):

“The meaning of glory is offered most fully in John 17—where Jesus spoke aloud to the Father before going to his death.  Jesus received glory from the Father, and he reciprocated that glory to the Father.  As the linkage of glory to sacrificial death in the analogy of the planted-wheat of John 12 made clear, glory was displayed in the Son’s willingness to die for all who would believe

Glory is what Jesus shared with the Father and the Spirit even before there was a creation (17:5).  And what was the eternal motive for this whole exchange?  Love!  The Son’s real mission on earth wasn’t to gain glory but to give access to that eternal Father-Son-Spirit glory which the Father had given him “because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (17:24).  So it is that God is not a glory-monger but a glory-sharer.  And when the Spirit coaches us to glorify God—as in 1 Corinthians 10:31—it must be understood in light of 1 Corinthians 13, “the greatest of these is love” so that we love him, and out of that love our own celebration of his goodness—our own giving of glory—is poured out.” – Ron Frost on “Glorifying Glory

Chapter 17 is commonly associated with Solomon, as David looks to continue thanking the LORD by creating a house for the ark of the covenant.  However much David is like the Son, he is not the Son Whom the LORD has anointed (c.f. Isaiah 42:1).  The words, too, do not apply specifically to Solomon; although Solomon eventually built the temple to house the ark of the covenant, his throne did not reign forever either.  Chapter 17 therefore should only truly and firstly apply to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whose Name shall indeed reign forever unlike Solomon whose kingdom has vanished for thousands of years already.  Let us now turn to the Father’s prophecy of His Son in (v.8-15):

V.8 – the Father will make for David a “name”;

v.9 – the Father will appoint a place for His people Israel and “be disturbed no more”.  This was clearly not fulfilled in the days of Solomon; and the indication here is that the place is not Canaan, for Canaan was already given to Israel at this stage (despite the intermittent invasions by neighbouring pagan nations);

v.10-11 – the LORD will build a house (not Solomon); and He will establish the kingdom of one of David’s offspring.

v.12-14 – the offspring (Jesus) will build a house for the Father (John 14:2; preparing a place for us), and He will establish the Son’s throne forever.  He will not take his steadfast love from His Son, as He had done so with Saul – and the Son’s throne shall be established forever (Hebrews 1:8 Revelation 22:3).  He will be to him a Father as he will be to him a Son (v.13; quoted in Hebrews 1:5).

Much of these truths are reflected also in Psalm 1-2 and in the book of Hebrews, as prophesied by the vision of Nathan.  David thus went into the tent and sat before the LORD (note, not before the ark!) and again re-counted his thankfulness to the LORD – such recognition of his need to be humble before the One who saves!  There is indeed none like the LORD (v.20), and none like Israel – the one united nation to have been chosen to be redeemed (v.21; note the Hebrew word “echad” used to describe Israel; it is not so much that Israel was the only people chosen to be redeemed, but rather, the only nation as a whole chosen to be redeemed.  This explains the ready salvation of the Gentiles in the Old Testament, such as in Exodus 12:38, although not to the same extent or focus on these nations compared to Israel, the chosen priesthood – c.f. Exodus 19:6).  David thus speaks of Christ as the Servant (v.23) through Whom the Father’s Name shall be established forever (v.24), though at the same time referring to himself as the servant before the LORD, looking forward to the work of the incarnate Servant (Isaiah 42:1).  As Matthew Henry comments:

“That which is there expressed by way of question (Is this the manner of men, O Lord God?) is here an acknowledgment: “Thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree. Thou hast made me a great man, and then treated me accordingly.” God, by the covenant-relations into which he admits believers, the titles he gives them, the favours he bestows on them, and the preparations he has made for them, regards them according to the estate of men of high degree, though they are mean and vile. Having himself distinguished them, he treats them as persons of distinction, according to the quality he has been pleased to put upon them. Some give these words here another reading: “Thou hast looked upon me in the form of a man who art in the highest, the Lord God; or, Thou hast made me to see according to the form of a man the majesty of the Lord God.” And so it points at the Messiah; for, as Abraham, so David, saw his day and was glad, saw it by faith, saw it in fashion as a man, the Word made flesh, and yet saw his glory as that of the only-begotten of the Father. And this was that which God spoke concerning his house for a great while to come, the foresight of which affected him more than any thing. And let it not be thought strange that David should speak so plainly of the two natures of Christ who in spirit called him Lord, though he knew he was to be his Son (Ps. cx. 1), and foresaw him lower than the angels for a little while, but afterwards crowned with glory and honour, Heb. ii. 6, 7.”

Immediately thereafter, chapters 18 and 19 once again covers the victories of David after his dialogue and worship of God, just as chapter 14 had done after the narrative in chapter 13.  It seems to be the narrator’s intention to portray the need for the king of Israel to seek the face and Name of the true King of kings before any victory can be achieved, just as Christ sought the Father’s warm embrace (c.f. Matthew 26) before being nailed on the cross to achieve the Victory of victories.

1 Chronicles 16-19: Our Servant

2 Samuel 5: David as King of Kings

From the tragedy of the death of Abner and Ish-bosheth we are immediately greeted with a congratulatory in chapter 5: the wedding of Israel to her true head Jesus Christ.  “Behold, we are your bone and flesh” is but an echo of Genesis 2:23, as a woman is to her man.  V.2 in particular refers to the replacement of the head of Israel in the appointment of David over Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14; and so, as David had promised to Abner that Israel is to be united to Judah, the covenant first began with the house of Jonathan.  This is why the ray of hope is not in Saul’s immediate descendants who were murdered (c.f. chapter 4) or killed in battle; rather, this ray of hope is in Jonathan’s house, for it is Jonathan who covenanted with David first (1 Samuel 18:3).  This covenant is thus kept, as a reminder that even when Israel is rejected, the LORD is faithful to the covenant promise and a remnant is preserved for this remnant stands firmly in Christ Jesus the only Elect One (c.f. Romans 9-11).  His reign lasts for forty years (v.5), the same length of the period of peace for most judges (Judges 3:11, 5:31, 8:28) after their victories.  Yet, this is but a foreshadow of Christ’s period on earth (as the short seven years as ‘king’ of Judah) and the far longer period of time as the king of the whole of Israel.  David is but a type of Christ, and his symbolic reign of forty years as king shows that even his reign is short-lived.  Even he is not the everlasting LORD and Messiah in whom the Israelites find the Promised Offspring long foretold in Genesis 3:15.  Simply put, v.4 confirms that David and his story are but shadows and types of the true Messiah who has yet to come (c.f. Isaiah 9:7).

The overcoming of the Jebusites as his first role confirming himself as king (v.6-10) is extremely significant.  In the words of Matthew Henry:

“If Salem, the place of which Melchizedec was king, was Jerusalem (as seems probable from Psa_76:2), it was famous in Abraham’s time. Joshua, in his time, found it the chief city of the south part of Canaan, Jos_10:1-3. It fell to Benjamin’s lot (Jos_18:28), but joined close to Judah’s, Jos_15:8. The children of Judah had taken it (Jdg_1:8), but the children of Benjamin suffered the Jebusites to dwell among them (Jdg_1:21), and they grew so upon them that it became a city of Jebusites, Jdg_19:11. Now the very first exploit David did, after he was anointed king over all Israel, was to gain Jerusalem out of the hand of the Jebusites, which, because it belonged to Benjamin, he could not well attempt till that tribe, which long adhered to Saul’s house (1Ch_12:29), submitted to him.”

The winning over of the Jebusites is the first confirmation of David’s enthronement – the winning over of a tribe which had long adhered to Saul’s house; and it is utterly important that these idolatrous Jebusites are entirely rooted out so that the promised new city will indeed be set apart for the LORD (Jeremiah 37:9-10).

However, the key verse is v.6; why would the Jebusites think that the ‘lame and the blind’ will ward off David?  This is furthermore curious when all that David had been doing was spend time with ‘worthless’ men.  Even the LORD in Jeremiah 31:8-10 expressed that through the true David, the lame and blind would be called into New Jerusalem.  It is indicative therefore that the Jebusites may not have been referring to actual lame and blind men, as if David was some sort of arrogant fool who would not even touch the lame or the blind.  Rather, the Hebrew descriptions imply an analogous application, which could be applied to idols which are in God’s eyes lame and blind:

“The Jebusites’ defiance of David and his forces. They said, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither, 2Sa_5:6. They sent David this provoking message, because, as it is said afterwards, on another occasion, they could not believe that ever an enemy would enter into the gates of Jerusalem, Lam_4:12. They confided either, 1. In the protection of their gods, which David, in contempt, had called the blind and the lame, for they have eyes and see not, feet and walk not. “But,” say they, “these are the guardians of our city, and except thou take these away (which thou canst never do) thou canst not come in hither.” Some think they were constellated images of brass set up in the recess of the fort, and entrusted with the custody of the place. They called their idols their Mauzzim, or strong-holds (Dan_11:38) and as such relied on them. The name of the Lord is our strong tower, and his arm is strong, his eyes are piercing. Or, 2. In the strength of their fortifications, which they thought were made so impregnable by nature or art, or both, that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them against the most powerful assailant. The strong-hold of Zion they especially depended on, as that which could not be forced. Probably they set blind and lame people, invalids or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance upon the walls, in scorn of David and his men, judging them an equal match for him. Though there remain but wounded men among them, yet they should serve to beat back the besiegers. Compare Jer_37:10. Note, The enemies of God’s people are often very confident of their own strength and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh.”

This is therefore the most likely reason for the new proverb in v.8, that “the blind and the lame shall not come into the house”.  This proverb bears so much weight and that it indicates a two-fold meaning: that no idol shall enter the house of David (Isaiah 42:18); and that the true David shall overcome the lame and the weak, redeeming them into the house of God and granting them true and everlasting rest (c.f. lame and blind walking and seeing: Acts 3; Matthew 9:27).

Furthermore, the joining of the rich nation of Tyre (Psalm 45:12) with Israel, and the cedar trees rooted in living waters (Numbers 24:6) are but shadows of the fruit we shall receive in true Canaan under Christ as the Head.  It is therefore in the overcoming of the lame and the blind, the overcoming of the idolatrous Jebusites, then coupled with the gifts from a foreign non-Israelite nation that David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, exalted not for David’s sake but for the sake of the church.  So also the ascension of Christ was done for our exaltation (v.12), secured in the defeat of old pagan Jerusalem and the joining of heart-circumcised Israelites and foreigners (represented by Tyre) under the banner of His Name.

And so we move onto v.13-16 which emphasizes once more that any one of these descendants are to be the line through which Jesus will reign; and despite the names given to all of these, almost all of which are inspired by Eli, by God Himself, Solomon is the only son of the eleven born in Jerusalem who will bring about the golden era of Israel.  All the others will only be mentioned sparsely in the rest of the Bible, especially in 1 Chronicles 14, but Solomon the peaceful and perfect one as his name indicates, will be the one who builds God’s temple.

The consolidation of David’s kingship comes with it the enemy symbolic of David’s initial election as mediator and saviour of Israel so recognized – this enemy is the Philistine.  It is important to see the chiastic framework of David’s life – that the Philistines as enemies in the Promised Land should be destroyed through the death of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, and once again destroyed by David.  This two-fold destruction affirming that David was never a servant of Gath (1 Samuel 27), but that he was and always is the Head and anointed One of Israel  We must not overlook that over Baal-perazim, where the LORD bursted through for the first time (v.20-21), the Philistines have left their idols and yet they escaped alive.  Only upon the second attempt, standing symbolically at the Valley of the remnants of the Giants (Joshua 11:22), does the LORD shift tactic.  Instead of facing them head-on, the LORD advises David to come against them opposite the balsam trees by their rear.

Why this change in strategy?  Why the focus on the balsam trees?  This narration impacts us the same way we are taught about the dispensation of the Old and the New Testaments – that in the Old, the effect of the Mediator is but to cripple the Philistines and to rob them temporarily of their idols which they can always rebuild with their own hands (Judges 8:27); yet the fulfillment of all prophecies, the fulfillment of the hope of the race of adam in the New Covenant means that this crippling has condemned Satan to eternal death, that He has bound the strong man in the house.  “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (v.24) – this is a committed cleansing in the midst of trees with red-wine like berries which upon crushing is akin to the crushing of the vine at the winepress (Isaiah 63).  So Satan stands in the Valley of the Giants, only to be surprised by Jesus’ resurrection from the death of the cross, this surprise from the rear leading to the tearing down of the old temple, of old creation, and leading to new creation and an everlasting temple.

2 Samuel 5: David as King of Kings

Book of Ruth

The book of Judges ended on a low note, and the book of Ruth does not open optimistically either.  Yet, what we find throughout the book is a tale of redemption in Jesus Christ; although this is the first book where it seems that God is silent, it is in fact entirely underpinned by the gospel story of redemption from famine.  It is fittingly quiet on the LORD’s direct communion with Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, yet it is drenched with symbolism, places, names and types which explains to the reader God’s dedication of the recapitulation of the body of Christ through the ordained salvation method of through His Anointed Son.

It is a book which many mistake to have been included purely to chronicle the events of the following books which speak of the kingship of Saul and David; yet if we were to simply look at Ruth as a story of a ‘humble and meek’ woman who was used by God to display the glory of Christ coming through humility, coming through a despised Moabite, then the message will be sorely saturated and much of what the Spirit wishes to communicate to the Spirit-filled reader will be lost.  Both Antiochene and Alexandrian interpretations of this book are still subject to Christ’s words in John 5:39, that all Scripture testifies to him in several layers beyond that of mere prophecy or chronology.

Ruth 1:  Israel in Slavery

Ruth thus begins with a famine during the time of the judges, and this pattern of fullness-famine-fullness is explored several times throughout the previous books:  the leadership of Joseph and the blessings given to Israel in Egypt, leading to the widespread enslavement of the Israelites, culminating in the great Exodus to Canaan; the giving of Abraham’s wife to a king in both Genesis 12 and 20, a type of captivity over Abraham’s wife, the bride and the church, only for the wife to be returned to her lord, her husband, with greater blessings than what they have begun with; and the grander scheme of Eden, where Adam and Eve were but spiritual infants in the garden of Eden:

“Thus the enkrateia tradition could hold the state of Adam before the formation of Eve, or the supposed virginal condition of the protoplasts, to be the ideal after which to aspire, even seeing its perfection as entirely derivative of a pre-sexuality or a-sexuality.  Here is the danger in misinterpreting Irenaeus as a restorationst, for Irenaeus saw the innocence of Eden as a state of immaturity, the growth from which would necessarily include marriage, the basis of the blessing of increase [referencing Against All Heresies Book III and Genesis 1:27-8]” – Michael Reeves in his unpublished doctorate thesis “The Glory of God – The Christological Anthropology of Irenaeus of Lyons and Karl Barth”

This theology of maturation, not to be confused with a type of Darwinist theology, takes us to realise that Naomi has to experience her death, her own baptism in Christ, so that she can also experience the resurrection – restoration to Eden – and ascension, going beyond Eden, so that we mature beyond the template of Eden which is only a shadow and type of New Creation.  So this should teach us of the handing over of power to Satan in the fall but only for him to be crushed by Christ who takes the maturing church, including Adam and Eve, to the greater New Jerusalem.

Famine to Glory

This is reflected in the geographical movement of Elimelech and his family, including his wife Naomi, his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, and their respective Moabite wives (Elimelech’s daughters-in-law) Orpah and Ruth.  V.1-5 begins with Elimelech leaving Bethlehem with his Israelite family because of a famine, and his sons finding Moabite wives in Moab, a direct correlation to the period of the latter chapters of Genesis where Jacob and his eleven sons found themselves in foreign land – Egypt, because of a great famine.  Yet, upon receiving news that the LORD had “visited his people and given them food” they return to Judah where there is the house of bread, Bethlehem.

Note how the centrality of Old Testament evangelism is honed in on Israel as light to the nations; Israel is his people, by default implying at this time that Moab is not.  Thus, the movement of Elimelech’s family from Bethlehem to Moab and back to Judah is meant to be a parallel to Abraham’s movement from Canaan to Egypt and back to Canaan (Genesis 12-13).  So also Naomi’s name is changed similarly, from Sweetness to Bitterness, from having two sons and a husband taken from her (v.5) to the Almighty dealing bitterly with her (v.20), though three chapters later she will receive even greater blessings than when she had as Naomi, a glory greater than Eden.  “I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (v.21)  These are the words of a half gospel; of Christ who died and did not resurrect, of Israel in slavery and there being no exodus – but Christ is indeed alive, and Israel is indeed saved.

The Offspring in Bethlehem

Throughout this entire episode, we should not assume that Elimelech is a sinner; contrarily, we receive only a neutral narrative which explains that he, alongside his two Israelite sons, had died in foreign land.  It is in this context that we can see the similarities between Elimelech, Jacob and Israel in the wilderness.  All three parties have died prior to entering Canaan; all three knew that the Israelites were the chosen people, that restoration would come firstly to Israel and bless the nations surrounding her.  And yet, what is so important about the story of Elimelech, who is named “my God is king”, is that he is like those Israelites of the previous generations who called Yahweh his king.  Any one of the Israelites could be the direct forefather of Jesus Christ, the one offspring in Galatians 3:16-19, and yet it would seem that Elimelech’s line is finished in v.5.  Naomi is thus only left with her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Naomi.

What is important to realise is that Elimelech’s line is of course restored through Boaz and Ruth’s marriage; this effectively gives the inheritance back into the line of Mahlon, Elimelech’s son, the sick one – whose name is revived only through Israel, God’s chosen people especially in Bethlehem.

If read independently, this is also an allusion to Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, for The Offspring was born not in Moab, not in Egypt, not in the wilderness, but in the House of Bread for He is our Bread of life (John 6:48).  However, if read in context of the book of Ruth being sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel, we can see how the message becomes more poignant; the continual refrain of rest and slavery in Judges with the book ending on slavery means that the immediate rest should come not in Saul, nor David, nor Solomon, but in the offspring of Elimelech who died outside of Israel like Jacob, whose name perpetuated not in Moab but in Israel, though he was buried in Moab (c.f. Genesis 49:29-30; 50:5).

Therefore, where we see Orpah leave upon Naomi’s pleading in v.11-14, we can also see how Elimelech’s line is essentially stopped there.  Scripture does not mention again what happens to Orpah or Elimelech’s line through Orpah, but it appears that she heeded Naomi’s advice to find a new husband in Moab (v.8).  Orpah went to find a husband, witnessing the LORD allegedly abandoning Naomi, and even if she were to find a husband, no longer would her line of descendants proclaim like Elimelech that “God is King”.  This is the importance of seeing the difference Orpah’s progeny and Ruth’s; the former submitted to silence as if it is not important anymore, but Ruth’s being the highlight for the progeny extended through Israel and not in Moab.

Orpah shall find her husband by the blessing of her gods (v.15) who haven’t abandoned her like Yahweh has allegedly done with Naomi; Orpah shall be connected to the other husbands, to the other Baalim.  Yet, Ruth will go where Naomi will go, lodge where Naomi will lodge, Naomi’s people being Ruth’s people – the first picture of the Gentiles taking shelter under the Israelite wings, of Japheth joining the tent of Shem (v.15-18, Genesis 9:27).  This therefore appropriately occurs during the barley harvest (v.22), a time akin to the Pentecost the festival of harvest when the Spirit was given to the Gentiles, the church of Israel becoming once again a world-wide church which the church prior to Moses typified, and here prophesied as through the joining of Ruth to Naomi, of Ruth to Boaz, of Elimelech’s line restored and glorified with the addition of this Gentile – of Israel’s glory shared with the Gentiles together.

Ruth 2:  Incarnation

Boaz the Redeemer

The story does not beat around the bush, and immediately takes us from the desolation and wilderness of chapter 1 to fulfilling the true meaning of this barley harvest in chapter 2.  This is found in Boaz, incidentally a name used for one of Solomon’s brazen pillars in the temple porch (2 Chronicles 3:15).   He is indeed a pillar of faith, a cornerstone of Christian history, a type of Christ-the-Redeemer and the Israelite husband to his soon-to-be wife, a Gentile, Ruth.

Yet, whilst the focus of the chapter is on Boaz, we first see the eagerness of the Gentile, of the despised Moabite which may still be fresh in the minds of the Israelites since the conflict of Ehud and Eglon in Judges 3-4.  V.2-3 of chapter 2 in particular points us to the same principle of the Gentile who approached Christ (Matthew 15:27) as we see Ruth gleaning the Israelite field, the field which belongs to Boaz the type of Christ.  In this field bought by Christ (Matthew 13:44-46), the field being the world, the great pearl is the church and Ruth is this great pearl in Boaz’ eyes which he would have to sacrifice his own estate for (c.f. chapter 4v.6).

Immediately, we are taken to Boaz’ proclamation – “the LORD be with you” (Yahweh imachem, LORD with you) – and indeed, Boaz is with Ruth, as Christ is with the Gentile and Israelite church in this field, the world.  This man from Bethlehem is proclaiming and typifying the truth of Immanuel, God with us, and the narrative of v.8-18 taking us deep inside the mind of Christ as if He is directly speaking through Boaz.  This is a breath-taking speech, a type of wedding proposal:

8Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10Then(G) she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should(H) take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11But Boaz answered her,(I) “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12(J) The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13Then she said,(K) “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

14And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until(L) she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah[b] of barley. 18And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over(M) after being satisfied.

Christ is our LORD who takes notice of the foreigner (v.10; Acts 26:23; Romans 3:29, 11:11-25); who knows by the Spirit of the troubles of Ruth (v.11; c.f. Luke 10 parable of the Samaritan); who provides refuge under the banner of the “God of Israel” and not the Baalim of Moab as Orpah has run after; who eats with his bride (Exodus 24; Matthew 26:26) and has communion with her by the bread and the wine (v.14) – continually reminding His angels and His Church (v.15; c.f. Deuteronomy 4:26; 1 Samuel 12:5; Job 16:19; Hebrews 12:1) and Israelites to welcome her into the House of God.

Ruth in the Race of Faith

V.20 is thus a turning point for Naomi, a type of exodus for her as she begins to understand that she no longer has to call herself Mara as the LORD has not forsaken the living or the dead.  It is interesting how in the same verse, Naomi does not mention the closest redeemer who Boaz knew about (according to the kinsman-redeemer mandate of Leviticus ??), but her consistent focus on Boaz tells us that his actions typify Christ more than that of the closest redeemer who does not even glorify Christ through his duty of redeemer.  Yet, v.21-23 remains the current commandment concerning Ruth’s status in this field as she is protected from being assaulted by staying until the end of the harvest by the encouragement and upholding of her Israelite sisters; just as Hebrews 3 (?) taught us that we are to keep running in this race of faith by the Spirit and Christ the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), protected from the attack of Satan (1 Corinthians 10:13) as we stand inside the field of Boaz as Christ’s precious pearl (Matthew 13:46).

Ruth 3:  From Death to Ascension

Many people tend to look at the third chapter of Ruth and frown upon Ruth taking initiative for her action like that of a prostitute.  However, this is to read too much of an assumption into Ruth’s actions, for we need to remember that Boaz is the one who offered protection to Ruth; he is the first who extended compassion to this despised Moabite, like Christ who loved us before we loved him (Romans 5:10).

Upon this, Ruth is but hoping to prepare herself as a viable bride for Boaz to marry, and the entire preparation process is akin to the process of the Shulamite bride of the Song of Songs (Song of Songs 4) both analogies pointing to the washing and anointing of the church presented holy and blameless before her bridegroom on the great Wedding Day.

Christ and the Church

This is especially interesting given that Ruth is led by her mother-in-law (v.1-6), a Christian and an Israelite, giving godly advice to Ruth.  This is by no means a whoring of Ruth; contrarily, it is a deep theology of man and wife, of Christ and the Church.  It is in the sleeping of Adam that the church, Eve, was born – which is but a typifying of Christ who had to sleep in the earth and rise again for the global Church to be truly born:

“…Adam was put to sleep. We remember that it is said of believers that
they fall asleep, rather than that they die. Why? Because whenever
death is mentioned sin is there in the background. In Genesis 3 sin
entered into the world and death through sin, but Adam’s sleep
preceded that. So the type of the Lord Jesus here is not like other
types in the Old Testament. In relation to sin and atonement there is
a lamb or a bullock slain ; but here Adam was not slain, but only put
to sleep to awake again. Thus he prefigures a death that is not on
account of sin, but that has in view increase in resurrection. Then
too we must note that Eve was not created as a separate entity by a
separate creation, parallel to that of Adam. Adam slept, and Eve was
created out of Adam. That is God’s method with the Church. God’s
‘second Man’ has awakened from His’sleep’and His Church is created in
Him and of Him, to draw her life from Him and to display that
resurrection life.

God has a Son who is known to be the only begotten, and God is seeking
that the only begotten Son should have brethren. From the position of
only begotten He will become the first begotten, and instead of the
Son alone God will have many sons. One grain of wheat has died and
many grains will spring up. The first grain was once the only grain ;
now it is changed to be the first grain of many. The Lord Jesus laid
down His life, and that life emerged in many lives. These are the
Biblical figures we have used hitherto in our study to express this
truth. Now, in the figure just considered, the singular takes the
place of the plural. The outcome of the Cross is a single person: a
Bride for the Son. Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for
it…
” – Watchman Nee, “The Normal Christian Life” Chapter 11

Ruth thus approached Boaz deep in the night and uncovering and laying by his feet as a sign of submission to Boaz her potential Head (Genesis 49:10; Exodus 3:5 – the taking off of the sandals as a sign of submission; Exodus 4:25; Joshua 3:13; Psalm 8:6, 58:10; Hebrews 2:8), with Ruth in particular seeing Boaz as akin to how Moses saw Christ (Exodus 19:4; Psalm 36:7) by her language – “I am Ruth, your servant.  Spread your wings [corners of a garment in the ESV footnote] over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”  This call for salvation is typical of the church yearning for God (c.f. Job 19:25; Psalm 57:1, 61:4).  The ESV footnote which looks at wings as alternatively the “corners of a garment” only calls me back to Isaiah 61 where Christ clothes us with the garment of righteousness, and Ruth understands that the decision of salvation and redemption comes through Boaz alone and not by her own efforts.  V.10 is as if Christ himself is blessing Ruth and condemning Orpah, that Ruth would go for a godly man rather than a husband of other gods; that Ruth would cling onto Christ as the end of chapter 2 intimated through her perseverance in the harvest, rather than be distracted by the lust of her eyes.

V.13 thus is a beckoning for the Church to remain, and that in the morning Christ would redeem us.  We are thus still in the night, wandering in the wilderness already saved from Moab, from Egypt, from slavery – and moving towards Canaan, towards Bethlehem of Judah, towards New Creation .  Yet, it is still spiritual night, and though Christ arrived as light had entered darkness (John 1), Christ’s return is the great Resurrection Day as Boaz proclaims that the Redeemer will redeem Ruth in the morning.  Yet, it is not the treacherous false kinsman-redeemer (chapter 4v.6) which Satan masquerades as, but Christ who is the only one entitled to be one with the Church as Adam and Eve and Boaz and Ruth.

However, these things are yet to be given, and just as God gave us the Holy Spirit as a deposit of this truth to come, so also Boaz grants Ruth this deposit through the symbolism of barley during this period of harvest (v.15) typical of the Pentecost.  The mother-in-law may ask Ruth to learn how the matter turns out, but we know that with the barley harvest in our heart, with the Spirit testifying to Christ and He the Father, the morning will come with the arrival of the true Kinsman-Redeemer.  Christ and His Father are working to this day (v.18, John 5:17), and will not have the long Sabbath Rest until the matter is settled once and for all (2 Peter 3:9).

Ruth 4:  His return on the Wedding Day

So twelve men gather before the gate of the city, and one of them the closest kinsman-redeemer; yet, instead of redeeming his kinsman, he looked only to the property of Naomi.  He would rather have her parcel of land (v.3) without responsibility, literally a free gift.  With this kinsman-redeemer, he has no intention of perpetuating the name of Elimelech and like Satan who is equally condemned to the pit, he has no power in perpetuating the name of Elimelech let alone the desire to help anyone perpetuate their name.  Yet, it is under Boaz the type of Christ that we all have new names which will perpetuate in New Creation (c.f. Revelation 2:17), rather than under the false pretence of this unnamed kinsman-redeemer who has failed to understand the spirit of the Levitical (?) law.

Cloud of Witnesses

This is where we see the self-sacrificial and costly nature of salvation – that Christ would endanger his own inheritance and his estate by conjoining Himself to the Church, so that Christ and Church would have such a union so that we are essentially standing with Him in the communion of the Holy Trinity:

Being born of the Spirit describes a work of the Spirit in the Christian, which Goodwin sees as analogous to the conception of the human nature of Christ.  This new birth is not the ‘begetting’ of a nature that is the very same as the nature of the Spirit Himself, that is, it is not a communication of the Godhead to us making us “God of God”.  Just as the two natures of Christ are not confused or mixed, so the Spirit does not become the new nature.  Neither is this new nature a spark of the divine life put within, because we are only creatures and can only ever be creatures”. – Paul Blackham in his unpublished doctoral thesis “The Pneumatology of Thomas Goodwin”

It is Christ who took on our flesh, and was emptied so that we are made full (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21); that He would be Mara so that we can be restored beyond Naomi.

The physical emblem of this is stored in the explanation behind “the custom in former times” (v.7) which concerns redeeming and exchanging, much like the great exchange of our sins with His righteousness in Luther’s terms:

“In this is displayed the delightful sight, not only of communion, but of a prosperous warfare, of victory, salvation, and redemption. For, since Christ is God and man, and is such a Person as neither has sinned, nor dies, nor is condemned, nay, cannot sin, die, or be condemned, and since His righteousness, life, and salvation are invincible, eternal, and almighty,–when I say, such a Person, by the wedding-ring of faith, takes a share in the sins, death, and hell of His wife, nay, makes them His own, and deals with them no otherwise than as if they were His, and as if He Himself had sinned; and when He suffers, dies, and descends to hell, that He may overcome all things, and since sin, death, and hell cannot swallow Him up, they must needs be swallowed up by Him in stupendous conflict. For His righteousness rises above the sins of all men; His life is more powerful than all death; His salvation is more unconquerable than all hell.

Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its Husband Christ. Thus He presents to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word; that is, by faith in the word of life, righteousness, and salvation. Thus He betrothes her unto Himself “in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies” (Hosea ii. 19, 20).

Who then can value highly enough these royal nuptials? Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of this grace? Christ, that rich and pious Husband, takes as a wife a needy and impious harlot, redeeming her from all her evils and supplying her with all His good things. It is impossible now that her sins should destroy her, since they have been laid upon Christ and swallowed up in Him, and since she has in her Husband Christ a righteousness which she may claim as her own, and which she can set up with confidence against all her sins, against death and hell, saying, “If I have sinned, my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned; all mine is His, and all His is mine,” as it is written, “My beloved is mine, and I am His” (Cant. ii. 16). This is what Paul says: “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” victory over sin and death, as he says, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. xv. 56, 57).” – Martin Luther’s “The Freedom of the Christian”

Thus the sandal of the redeemer is given to Boaz (v.9-11), so that all may be placed under the footstool of Christ (Luke 20:43):

9Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to(H) Chilion and to Mahlon. 10Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife,(I) to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”

Such is the nature of Christ’s proclamation of His marriage to us; He announces it to the clouds of witnesses, be they angels, the Spirit, the creatures, the groaning earth or even those being held in the pit (1 Peter 3:19) – these are the witnesses awaiting the revelation of the glory of the sons of God (Deuteronomy 4:26; 1 Samuel 12:5; Job 16:19; Romans 8:19-23; Hebrews 12:1) that the line of Spiritual Israel has perpetuated into New Jerusalem, that the name of the dead – be that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon or even you – will be preserved eternally in the New Kingdom, so that none of our inheritance is cut off as long as we are grafted into Christ and allow us to stand righteous at the gate of the new heaven and earth (Revelation 22:14).

Thus, just as Justin Martyr saw Leah and Rachel as respectively the Old Church of Israel and the New Global Church with Japheth in the tents of Shem (Genesis 9:27), so also the elders saw Ruth as akin to Rachel and Leah in the typifying of the building up the house of Israel (v.11-12) into an international Church, for it is indeed through Ruth’s story that we see a restoration of God’s people not to the idyllic template of Eden, but to the real glory of Christ Who is greater than Eden, and transcends the barriers of the nations.

The spiritual insight of the House of Perez (v.12) in fact draws several parallels between Genesis 38 and the story of Ruth (taken from http://the48files.blogspot.com/2008/04/judah-and-tamar-retold.html and my commentary on Genesis 38):

Gen 38

Ruth

Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite

Elimelech moved away from his people to Moab

Judah and his son marry a Canaanite

Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabites

Judah’s two sons die

Elimelech and his two sons die

Judah and Onan act unfaithfully as kinsman-redeemer

Boaz acts faithfully as kinsman-redeemer, the un-named redeemer of Ruth 4 does not act faithfully

Tamar faithfully seeks to continue the line

Ruth faithfully seeks to continue the line

Tamar offers herself as a prostitute to Judah

Ruth seeks to seduce Boaz in a way which could almost be considered entrapment

Judah dishonourable and seduced by Tamar

Boaz is honourable in his conduct to Ruth

Tamar is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of Boaz, David and Jesus

Ruth is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of David and Jesus

Like Tamar, Ruth is an outsider who was brought within the House of Israel – and in fact they are huge contributors to the line of David down to Christ, fulfilling the prophecy of Japheth and Shem – a picture of the Gentiles and Israelites joining together against the spiritual Canaanites which include many of the physical church of Israel.

Restorer of Life in the House of Perez

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife, and Boaz did this upon his return in the morning, that on the first meeting he gave her the deposit of the barley, and that on his second return he is waiting to be married to her – so our Christ who gave us the Spirit in His incarnation would return to enable us the full intimacy of marital union.

Such is the new glory given to Naomi, that Obed the grandfather of David is greater to her than “seven sons” – exceeding the period of joy that she had with her family in Edenic times and she is restored beyond Mara, beyond Naomi.  Like a model of Genesis 3, the Seed is to come, the Seed who is the redeemer whose name shall be renowned in Israel!  The focus of this blessing and prophecy is thus on Obed – “He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to HIM” [my emphasis, v.15].  The immediate comment that David is borne of Obed shows us that Christ, in the line of David, is actually the true meaning of this restorer and nourisher of life, the redeemer whose name shall be renowned in true Israel.

Naomi is one of the few remnants left of Israel in the wilderness, just like Joshua and Caleb, and their names are upheld through their progeny as those two leaders nursed Israel into the great chosen nation.  Indeed, a son is born to Naomi, not Mara – and this is such a direct contrast to the bitterness by the end of the book of Judges, that it is so fitting for us to see the familial love entirely restored from Obed to Ruth, from Ruth to Naomi (v.15), from Ruth to Boaz, from Boaz to Ruth – this flow of love stemming from the fountain of the Trinity passing on to all who had experienced such pain of being once outcast and now restored to greater wonders.  Ruth the Moabite is no longer distinguishable as a daughter-in-law, as she is considered truly the family of the Israelites (Ruth 2:2, 2:8, 2:22; 3:1, 3:10, 3:11, 3:16, 3:18), the inheritance of Israel given to her just as Christ has used Israel to give it to all of us today.  The narrative’s focus is that she is indeed the daughter-in-law, but Ruth is according to Naomi’s choice of words truly her daughter, and Orpah truly standing outside of this Church of Christ.

The Book of Ruth therefore ends by taking us back to the house of Perez, reminding us of the glory given to Tamar of the offspring coming by her line down through Ruth (Galatians 3:16-19).  Here we see this important house recorded:  Perez who breached the family of Israel as being of mixed heritage, initially enclosed in Hezron but leading to exaltation through Ram, being one of the prince’s people through Amminadab, with Nahshon the enchanter being the brother-in-law of Aaron by his sister Elisheba (Exodus 6:23), and Salmon who – like Judah and Boaz – married women of non-Israelite blood (Rahab, c.f. Matthew 1:5), leading to the swiftness of Boaz to the salvation of Ruth resulting in the service of Obed, finally ascending to the wealth of Jesse the Bethlehemite (1 Samuel 16:1, 18; 17:58) which were cared for by David, the well-beloved Son of Man as one of the greatest types of Christ.

From this genealogy at the end of the book, we are given the context of the prophecy concerning the restorer of life in chapter 4:12, 4:15 – culminating in King David.  Obed was merely the passage to this restorer, as was Perez; and as the next book tells of the story of the true king David toppling the faithless king Saul, it is in the narrative of 1 and 2 Samuel that we find one of the longest drawn out typologies of Christ in the Old Testament, He who became our close Kinsman in order to complete the work of the Redeemer.

Book of Ruth