2 Samuel 16: Wisdom and Folly

When we read chapter 16, we see the fall of David even further, the focus now being on the house of Saul cursing David – from Ziba the servant of Saul, deceiving David that Mephibosheth the son of Saul had slandered the root of Jesse (v.1-4), to Shimei who is a loyal man of the family of Saul (v.5), stoning David and his mighty men as mentioned in chapter 15.  Yet, note his ironic words:

(8) The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

And these words sum up the purpose of the LORD in portraying David as the rejected king – finally fulfilling what he had always been.  The one rejected when Saul was elected (by men); the one rejected when no one else stood up for Israel.  His enthronement is almost as speedy as his dethronement (from 2 Samuel 5 to 2 Samuel 14), almost as if to confirm that he is but a shadow of the One whose kingdom is eternal (2 Samuel 7:11 – the LORD speaking through Nathan of the Father and the Son working together for David’s house; v.12 shows that the sonship of the eternal Anointed and Chosen Son of God is confirmed through His ascension, though already confirmed preceding the creation of the world in John 17).  What we finally find here, is a consolidation of all that rejection onto the man David – although he was the anointed one chosen by the LORD (1 Samuel 16).  It is here that we must stop and perceive that this is the Father’s plan, for the Chosen and Anointed Son to be rejected in his life, and in his exile, though this rejection is but to last until chapter 19 upon David’s return and an entire reversal of the events of chapter 16.  His election therefore culminates in his death as rejected sinner; so our election in Christ culminates in our baptism into His death, but also resurrection into His life (Colossians 2:12).  Note also David’s response, which is very different from his response to Nabal whom was interceded by Abigail his wife and mediator between her foolish husband and David (1 Samuel 25:13-30).

(10) But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” (11) And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. (12) It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.”

Yet, in the midst of such rejection, we see the firstfruit of the LORD’s restoration to also happen through David and his friendships.  Note how Hushai the Archite has been three times referred to as David’s friend in v.16-17, so much that even Absalom calls him as such.  It is here that we must carefully read Hushai’s words in v.18 to Absalom – “

“No, for whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain…”

Although Hushai goes on in v.19 to say that he shall serve Absalom, there is a twang of irony in v.18 in contrast to Absalom’s arrogance in chapter 15.  Where in the beginning of the previous chapter, Absalom had dreamed of being a just king and judge of Israel, here Hushai is mocking Absalom by sarcastically referring him as the one “whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen”; however, Hushai does not deny his friendship with David, though this friendship is the very reason why he believes David is the one whom the LORD has primarily chosen.  Hushai, like Ittai, and soon enough like Ziba, Mephibosheth and Shimei, are all ones who may utter these predictive words of Hushai.  “His I will be, and with him I will remain” (v.18b).

Mark this comparison with Absalom’s lack of friendship with a man like Hushai, let alone with the loyalty of the Israelites.  Note also the string of different tribes coming to David, though exiled, compared with Absalom who commanded only the loyalty of the fickle Israelites – though the chosen race, they have forsaken their elect purpose of looking to the Promised Seed.  Therefore, it surprises us not that Absalom relies on the counsel of the brother of folly, Ahithophel.  It is by the counsel of folly (Proverbs 9:13) that Absalom went in to his father’s concubines, the concubines who were to keep the house of David (2 Samuel 15:16).  This house of Christ is utterly raped from the inside out, to see the graphic extent of the Father’s rejection of Christ – all stemming from the words of folly, misinterpreted as the word of God.  By God’s grace, the death of Christ in his exile is not to remain forever, but that he should resurrect on the third day just as David is to be restored in the pattern of Christ’s re-birth.

2 Samuel 16: Wisdom and Folly

2 Samuel 1: Lamentations

The second book of Samuel, ironically titled as Samuel has long passed away (1 Samuel 25), chronicles David’s reign as king of Israel.  This theme immediately takes effect as it highlights the main message of the end of the first book – the death of Saul.  And so, “after the death of Saul” (v.1), and on the third day (v.2) David finds out about the death of Saul and his house (v.4).  Note that the death of Saul’s household is a type of the Father’s rejection of Jesus on the cross as planned from the foundation of the earth, so that the lamb is slain for the remission of the sins of those who stand in the lamb (Revelation 13:8).  Yet, note further that David though rejected not only by the Israelites but also by the Philistinian lords, was described in v.1 as having “returned from striking down the Amalekites”.  The defeat of Israel in 1 Samuel 31 is juxtaposed to David’s single-handed victory over the Amalekites in 2 Samuel 1 (though also reported in 1 Samuel 30).  He is the self-elected Son of God who continually fights for Israel, especially in his rejection from mankind that both worthy and unworthy alike spit on him.  What we learn, however, is that these Israelites always knew that David was the true man who could defeat 10,000’s (1 Samuel 18:7) as implied in the young man’s decision to pay homage to David (v.1), though this young man is himself an Amalekite.

Secondly, this chapter opens with this lie conjured by the young Amalekite man, in face of the Amalekite-destroyer David, the type of the Elect One of Israel.  We are told in chapter 31 that Saul and his armor-bearer both committed suicide by falling upon their own swords; yet, this Amalekite would dare presume to have defeated Saul and his household unwittingly to his own peril.  If this Amalekite knew who David was, did he not learn that David was the newly anointed king and that Saul was himself is the anointed one of Israel?  David’s query is laced with incredulity as opposed to sympathy:  “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?”  No man dare take the title-role of ‘killing the LORD’s anointed’ except for Satan, the first deceiver (John 8:44).  Even David, who had so consistently refrained from destroying Saul (1 Samuel 24:6), is because he recognises that the LORD is faithful to Israel; that He is faithful to the role of the ‘king’ – except that Saul may not be the true king.  Rather, David is the true king elected by God, and yet this does not negate the anointing of Saul as evidenced by the preservation of his and his sons’ bones at the end of chapter 31. It is therefore in the death of this Amalekite man, coupled with the opening verse of chapter 1 which states that David had just returned from defeating the Amalekites, that a ray of hope shimmers in spite of the total devastating tragedy of 1 Samuel 31.  Here, we see the Amalekites recounted as being destroyed by David and his men (1 Samuel 30), followed quickly by David destroying the young man who presumed himself to be the new mock-king of Israel by lying about wearing the accessories of the king, and the crown of being the head of Israel (v.10).  In effect, we see David’s preliminary destruction of the new Philistinian head of Israel, symbolised by this young Amalekite man.

It is here that we find the first song of David composed to mourn the anointed one – Saul, alongside his household.  For the reader, this poses an interesting question.  Why, if David was the ‘elect one’ of God from 1 Samuel onwards, should David still honour Saul as the anointed man?  The answer was already laid out in 1 Samuel 31:13 – “they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days”.  Israel is elected to be a son of God, yet this election could not possibly find meaning or identity outside of Christ, as espoused in the less Christocentric versions of Augustinian / Calvinistic interpretations of election.  Rather, Israel’s election as God’s son – symbolised by the anointing of Saul as the first king – can only find true meaning in the “Elect One” Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ as the elect witnesses the Father’s election of Jesus; and our standing in the Elect One witnesses this very same truth.  Without this witnessing, there is absolutely no meaning behind Saul’s anointing, which means that Israel’s election was for a defunct, non-Christocentric purpose.  It is not a shadow, nor it is a sign, towards anything – if we were to hold true to the traditional Calvinistic understanding of election.

Yet, David – though firmly aware of his anointing as the true king of Israel – still understands that the house of Saul is to be redeemed by his self-election as in the times of the defeat of Goliath.  This mourning is therefore not only fitting as David confidently understands that Saul is not rejected from the kingdom of Israel, though he is rejected from being the king of Israel.  As such, this song is a fitting requiem to bid old Israel farewell as David comes in to step in the shoes of Saul and bring typological prosperity to God’s elect nation.  However, on another layer of understanding, this poetic song from v.19 to 27 is also a two-fold lament: firstly, for the fall of those whose salvation relies on their physical might; whose salvation relies on work-salvation.  Yet, the more potent and significant interpretation of this lament is the second one – that this is a lamentation over the death of Jesus Christ, over the rejection of Jesus Christ on the cross as he bore our sins there on the tree.  In this lament, we find both the lament for Saul as a lament for the rejection of Israel just as Jeremiah had done in the book of Lamentations, as well as the lament for Jonathan as a lament for the death of a type of Christ.   Therefore,  David did not write the song for Israel as a whole – but for Saul, the anointed one, and Jonathan, the one whom initiated and maintained a covenant of love with David asking that the house of Saul may be redeemed through David’s subsequent reign as king of Israel (1 Samuel 24:20-22).  Is this not the same as the redemption of Israel through Jesus Christ’s resurrection and ascension?

It is for these reasons that, in both the death of Jesus and rejection of Israel, these words of lament are entirely appropriate:  “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! (v.19)”, the glory being that of Israel’s glory being rejected in the temporary Philistinian captivity, as well as the death of the glory found in Jonathan, typifying Jesus Christ.  “…let there be no dew or rain upon you [mountains of Gilboa], nor fields of offerings [or firstfruits as according to the ESV translation footnote, for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil” (v.21), indicating that reprobation was brought forth in the removal of the anointing.  “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel” (v.24), reminding men of the temporary victories and glories of Israel under the leadership of Saul, and similarly under the kingship of David and Solomon, as shadows of glory found in the typology of kings who represent Jesus Christ.  “Jonathan lies slain on your high places… your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women” (v.26), returning to the sacrifice of the ‘glory’ of Israel made on high places (v.19) indicating once more that Jonathan is but a symbol pointing forward to Jesus Christ.

Yet, in the midst of the lamenting for the rejection of Israel; in the midst of the lamenting for the type of Christ lying slain on high places, the glory of Israel also rejected; David remembers the love that Jonathan had for David.  This is the love that our Christ has for us too – and yet, only upon the death of Jonathan and the death of Israel can David rise as the king of Judah (as we unsurprisingly read about in chapter 2 of 2 Samuel), can the new type of Christ resurrect from ashes and ascend from being the ostracised son of God to being the son of God sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  V.27 consolidates this point firmly: “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”  Indeed – the weapons of war as symbolised in the period of Israel, in the entire Old Testament complete with a list of civil and inter-nation conflicts; the weapons of war as characterising the life of Saul but very different from the hymnal life of David as indicated by the books of Psalms and his skill on the harp.  Under Saul, the conflict continued and the struggles were apparent; yet under David, the conflicts are mostly resolved as Israel shall begin to live according to its calling of election by being firmly rooted in the elect king.

2 Samuel 1: Lamentations

1 Samuel 31: Judas and Jesus, all rejected and elected in His Name

Chapter 31 ends the first book of Samuel on a solemn but necessary note.  It is prophesied in chapter 28, as reiterated by Samuel, that Saul and his house will fall.  His house is representative of the old order of Israel – encasing both the likes of Saul and Jonathan – and yet the head of this house must be replaced by Jesus Christ as typefied by David.  Immediately, in the second verse of this chapter the first person who dies is not Saul who relied on a false mediator to raise up Samuel.  Rather, it is Jonathan.  From here on, we see a shadow of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity: why is Jonathan removed?  And the same question applies for all the Josiahs; all the Solomons; all the Davids; all the judges – and their eventual demise, to be replaced by those who are not part of the elect nation Israel.

Yet, this is the final picture of 1 Samuel 31 – the removal of old Israel in favour of the election of David, the servant of Gath; David, the youngest son of Jesse; David, the shepherd boy who plays on the harp (1 Samuel 18:10) in contrast to the warrior-king Saul; David, the prince of mixed Moabite-Israelite blood.  In this short chapter, we see Israel taken captive temporarily under the apparent headship and victory of the Philistinians.  What we see therefore is, in Barth’s words, a ‘dark proto-type of Judas Iscariot’ found in Saul.  This is the Saul, a type of Judas, who persecuted the true LORD revealed as a shadow in David – the destruction of this head leading to the death of his armour-bearer.  Yet, is not David the armour-bearer of Saul?  (1 Samuel 16:21)  Without David standing by his side, fighting on his behalf, we see the rejection of Israel in tandem with the election of David.  Without David the armor-bearer, Saul’s suicidal act is not positively prevented but merely passively rejected.  V.6 is the summary of the prophecy fulfilled:  “thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together”.  The Philistines are to fully take over this promised land – that all the men of Israel must flee upon witnessing the death of Saul and his heirs.  That the men of Israel must scatter upon the cutting of the head of Saul, in anticipation of the usurpation of Israel by the Philistines who came and lived in them (v.7).

However, this chapter is not merely one of punishment.  It is a chapter displaying God’s wrath on the rejected Israel; it is a chapter displaying God’s wrath on Jesus Christ who bore our sins on the cross.  In Jesus, we find both the Elect Man and the Rejected Man.  In Jesus, we find the true meaning and dichotomy between purified supralapsarian election, and that of reprobation who do not stand “in Christ”.  Yet, the Yahweh of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the Yahweh of Israel – means that Israel as a nation exists because of its national election as a son of God (Isaiah 49:15; Jeremiah 31:9).  God’s faithfulness to Israel, in itself being a shadow of the Father’s faithfulness to the Son, means that this temporary rejection of Israel is to depict the temporary rejection of Jesus for three days and three nights.  This is why this chapter is a portrayal of necessary evil, that the fall must occur so that we may become new creation beings under the banner of Christ no longer made of perishable dust (1 Corinthians 15).  Instead of the head of Saul, his armor, and the bodies of him and his sons remaining fastened in the temple of idol Ashtaroth and the wall of Beth-shan (ironically entitled the house of ease), it is the valiant inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead (dry rocky region) who took away the fallen men’s bones to bury them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh (v.13).  These actions are not indicative of the eternal rejection or removal of Saul; rather, Saul’s bones, along with the bones of his sons, are recovered and planted safely in the promised land.  And this is the faithfulness of God to Israel – that the rejection is but temporary, for even Saul’s household will find return and comfort under David the new king.  This rejection, just like the Babylonian and Assyrian captivity, will eventually culminate in the return of Israel, the election of Israel being fully revealed in the invisible church, the spiritual Israelites.  Just as David’s inevitable leadership is consistently revealed throughout 1 Samuel (especially highlighted in his mediation in chapter 17 against Goliath), the fulfilment of his election as king of Israel has yet to take place.  It has yet to be fulfilled – and the revelation of Christ as King of the world is not a ‘hidden secret’.  It is in Christ that we find all these secrets and mysteries of election fully revealed; and so it is in understanding the anointing of David do we find the reason for the rejection of Israel which did not stand under the mediation of David, and the eventual blessings of Israel to the neighbouring nations under the two-fold leadership of David and Solomon.

1 Samuel 31: Judas and Jesus, all rejected and elected in His Name

1 Samuel 30: The rejected Redeemer

Once again, the redemption of those who were taken from Ziklag happened on the third day (v.1), where David by the indication of the priest Abiathar and ephod (v.7) received command from the LORD to pursue the Amalekite band.  David in his distress, in his weeping, is immediately seen as the weak and humble king-to-be – in contrast to Saul who has not wept nor has he truly inquired of the LORD except through a false mediator who attempted to raise Samuel from the dead.  This is the Saul who has caused his men hunger.  The Saul who has led people to war without inquiry from Samuel.  The Saul whose kingdom was torn from him as the Father elects Christ to be the only true anointed One, He who weeps for His people (Isaiah 63:10) and would not move until the Father commands Him to move.  So here, David equally is not first and foremost portrayed as a man of valour; and time and time again, he is portrayed as a man of vulnerability, a man who is not immediately chosen by Israel to be the redeemer between the nation and Goliath – a mere shepherd boy and the youngest of his family without the same weight or stature as Saul.  And even in the midst of worthless men speaking of stoning him, David’s faith was continually strengthened in the LORD his God.  Is this not like us?  No – I’m not speaking as if we are like David.  Rather, David’s worthless men are like us.

Are we not the missionaries who, upon disaster, weep and are greatly distressed only to turn on Christ and abuse Him for leading us thus far?  Are we not the mobile church who, after deciding to follow Him as our leader, are led into regions of discomfort where we feel that what we endure is too much to manage?  The Spirit at no stage indicates that our lesson is to learn to have the faith of David.  Rather, the Spirit is telling us that David is our Christ, in whom we receive the blessings of resurrection and ascension after our deaths for it is His life of faithfulness which has brought all his brethren into the book of life, not our lives of faithfulness.  If not for David strengthening himself in the LORD His God, the true king would have died by stoning and the captives of Ziklag would have forever remained slaves of the Amalekites.  Yet, our Christ did not give up and once again elected Himself to be the redeemer despite being rejected not only by Israel, not only by the Philistines, but now rejected also by the mobile church of worthless men.  David is truly at the bottom of the social rung, of the pit of life, and yet the glory of Christ did shine at its finest peak when he hung on the cross like a worthless worm (Psalm 22:6).

And in the midst of the pursuit of the persecutors, we meet an Egyptian slave to an Amalekite.  It is here that we see how far Egypt has fallen into other nations’ hands as the nation has not been mentioned since Exodus (at least referred to over one hundred times as a proverb of a nation fallen by the hand of God since the book of Exodus) – and here, for the first time since the travels in the wilderness and Israel’s arrival at Canaan do we meet an Egyptian man.  Yet, he is not a prince, nor a master; he is a slave to one of Israel’s enemies.  Here, David treats the man hospitably (Deuteronomy 23:7) before asking him about his allegiance (v.12) as it appears that the Egyptian had been wandering in the open country, abandoned and without food for three days and three nights.  Is this not what our LORD does for us as he revives us on the third day with true spiritual bread and the waters of the Holy Spirit?  Us, who were God’s enemies?  Us, who appeared to be the kings of our own world?  Us, who in actuality was nothing but slaves and thrown to rot in the wilderness by the allegiances which we make outside of Christ?  Yet, David’s love for the man is God’s love for us, His enemies, so that we may no longer betray our true Saviour just as David is this Egyptian’s saviour in the wilderness.  For our sickness can only be healed by the true Physician (Luke 5:31), yet our false gods quickly abandon us as they have no true power of healing.  Though this man may still call the Amalekite his master (v.15), it is clear that the Egyptian is very much willing to side with David and above all a God-fearing man.

Here, from v.16 onwards, we see another prophetic glimpse of Christ’s victory over Satan through the body of the church.  Though two hundred stayed at the brook Besor (v.10), four hundred went on to defeat the Amalekites and reclaim all that was lost.  This is but a shadow of the judgment day as some Amalekites have fled, just as some of the Nephilim remained even after the flood (Numbers 13:33, as Anakim), but the important message of chapter 30 is the reclamation of what was lost, and even more (as the Amalekites did not only pilfer and burn down Ziklag, but also the great spoil from the land of the Philistines (v.16)).  It is under the headship of David that “nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken.  David brought back” (v.19).  How this would make the greatest sense in the context of our LORD Jesus Christ who was crucified by worthless men, revived the Gentiles on the third day by feeding us with spiritual bread and water and go on to defeat the enemies of God leading us once again to victory though we are the same people whom he should destroy as well.  Indeed, these possessions are all given to us his mobile church, yet it is the flock and herds and livestock which are David’s spoil (v.20), for we the flock are His spoil and not anything which us worthless men can own.

In spite of David’s victory, much of the men who went out to fight against the Amalekites were still labeled as “wicked and worthless fellows” (v.22) – and though we, the still-wicked and still-worthless fellows worshipping under the banner of Christ are judgmental of those who had not gone out to reclaim the spoil which the church rightly owns, David speaks the truth behind one of the parables used in the gospels (Matthew 20).  The spoils are not determined by the exact nature of our works – for it is God’s economy that he who fights and he who stays by the baggage are equally blessed: the economy of God’s mercy.  Just as the small Israelite church had been preserved in the Old Testament (Romans 11), and just as the work of the cross had been prophesied and not yet fulfilled in the time before the incarnation, are these people who stood by the brook Besor denied the blessings of the cross because they have yet to progress into global missions as a theocratic nation?  Furthermore, this abundant overflow of blessing is given not only to the fighting men and the tired men but also to the elders of Judah as a gift although David has long been an outcast of Israel – once again displaying David’s love for his enemies as a sign of David’s near-future enthronement as the king of Judah.  Though David and his men had not been accepted in both lands claimed by Israel and the surrounding nations, His love for us is to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) as he inevitably ascends to become a shadow of the Lion of Judah (Hosea 5:14).

1 Samuel 30: The rejected Redeemer

1 Samuel 29: Israel was never rejected

The name “Gath” indicates winepress; and it is at this winepress that David is truly fighting on behalf of Israel.  In chapter 29, we see David urging Achish to take him to the military campaigns so that he may “know what [his] servant can do”.  What, indeed, can David do at the winepress?  Isaiah 63:

1 Who is this who comes from Edom,

in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,

he who is splendid in his apparel,

marching in the greatness of his strength?

It is I, speaking in righteousness,

mighty to save.

2 Why is your apparel red,

and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

3 I have trodden the winepress alone,

and from the peoples no one was with me;

I trod them in my anger

and trampled them in my wrath;

their lifeblood spattered on my garments,

and stained all my apparel.

4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,

and my year of redemption had come.

5 I looked, but there was no one to help;

I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;

so my own arm brought me salvation,

and my wrath upheld me.

6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger;

I made them drunk in my wrath,

and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.

7 I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,

the praises of the LORD,

according to all that the LORD has granted us,

and the great goodness to the house of Israel

that he has granted them according to his compassion,

according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

8 For he said, Surely they are my people,

children who will not deal falsely.

And he became their Savior.

9 In all their affliction he was afflicted,

and the angel of his presence saved them;

in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;

he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

Indeed, David is the LORD who tread the winepress alone.  Whilst he fought against the enemies of God akin to the Christ who was persecuted by His own people, so also Achish would have been led to his own demise if David was to stay with the group.  We can see that his reputation precedes him – “how can this fellow reconcile himself to his lord?  Behold it not be with the heads of the men here?”  Truly, this is the same David whom Achish had once considered a madman despite his grand repute of defeating 10,000 over Saul’s 1000.  Yet, even the great Achish had to admit that David is as blameless as an angel of God (v.9), pronouncing David’s likeness to Christ the true Angel.

And throughout this chapter, we see God’s hand of providence guiding David back to Israel in the great exchange between the proverbial resurrection of David in exactly the same momentum as Saul and his children’s death by the hands of the Philistines.  So that David is not forced to engage with his own men, God had guided David to the throne of Israel as the Redeemer of His chosen nation despite the death of the king and his family (Jonathan, who would have become the next king in line).  Instead of Jonathan, the typological John the Baptist, stepping in to fill the regal role, we have David the Son of Man essentially assimilated back into Israel and accepted as the king of Judah in the second chapter of 2 Samuel.  The question which the Philistinian lords asked now has an apparent answer:  it is indeed true that the only way Jesus is to reconcile Himself to LORD the Father is by cutting off the heads of the men here, the men of Gath and Philistine who stand under the headship of Satan.  David’s plan is to cut off the head of Achish and all those surrounding Gath, their lifeblood splattered on all their garments.  What blindness this Achish is to see David as beautiful as a sent one of God, and yet they continued up to Jezreel (where God will, ironically, sow such wrath upon the Philistines not through Saul but through David) as David returned to Ziklag.

It is important that we see David returning to Israel before the defeat of the Philistines, for our Christ will not forever don the robes of beggars or sit humbly on the carpenter’s chair.  His glory is not fully displayed in his humility alone – but in the full package of his humiliation and ascension, the Father sending His Son and restoring His Son to His right hand.  In His ascension to the throne of Judah, so also the worthless men ascend to become full of worth; and as the king of Judah, the Satan can not dare call Jesus his servant as if the Christ would bow down to the fallen angel (Matthew 4).

Yet, the picture of redemption is not augmented until chapter 30.  Where chapter 29 highlighted, in the eyes of the Philistinian lords, the omen that is David – in chapter 30, we see David once again pursuing the Amalekites as he had done in chapter 27.  The Son of Man who, in his exile, was still pursuing the enemies of Israel as the house of Saul is coming to an end; just as the house of Samuel had superceded the house of Eli and his children.  Thus, chapters 27 to 31 are collectively one turning point which builds on the theme of the recapitulation of the kingdom of Christ from shadow to flesh, from dust to new creation body, from Israel to spiritual Israel, from king of Israel to the King of the world, from Eli to Samuel, from Saul to David, from Israel to Christ the Head of Israel.   Yet, the old must pass in order for the new to come (Matthew 9:17).

1 Samuel 29: Israel was never rejected

1 Samuel 27: Blessing on both houses

Despite the continual grace experienced by Saul, he still seeks David’s blood as implied by his refusal to go out to him.  As such, David chooses to hide in the bosom of the rejected, that he is not only surrounded by six hundred worthless men but that he is now in the presence of the fathers of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4).

Yet, this is reminiscent of our LORD and Saviour who is rejected, but whom the Father still elects to stand on our behalf.  David did not forget his identity as a Hebrew, nor did he forget his mission – to destroy the enemies of Israel.  Despite receiving even Ziklag, he has redeemed it for the kings of Judah (v.6).  Despite fellowshipping with the prostitutes and murderers (Acts 4:11, 7:35; Hebrews 11), he is destroying the idols which surround them (v.10-11) in their midst.  Although he is aligned with the man of terror of the winepress, the son of oppression, so also our Christ was given up over to oppression, over to being both the man on the winepress and himself to become the wine being pressed – all on the cross (Romans 8:32).  He is the LORD who unites both Jacob and Esau, he who married Ahinoam (“the pleasant brother”), he who was given Ziklag at furthest southern tribe of Judah, placed between the core of Israel and Edom (the descendant of Esau).

This is the utter stench (v.12) who is still the Elected and Anointed One fighting on behalf of Israel, the worm (Psalm 22:6) who dwells in the enemies’ grounds to defeat the rivals of old, from Geshurites to Amalekites (v.8).  These are the very same people whom Saul failed to destroy (c.f. chapter 28; and 1 Samuel 24), yet David completely demolished.  The rejected but God-elected Saviour carried out the LORD’s wrath against Amalek (chapter 28:18), whereas the accepted but God-rejected shadow provided the false gospel of mercy where mercy is no longer nor appropriately provided.

1 Samuel 27: Blessing on both houses

1 Samuel 19: Israel, rejected and elected

So the persecution of Christ begins to be fully drawn in chapter 19 of 1 Samuel.  The typology of Christ’s reproach is fully realized in these few chapters as we come to understand David’s character and in turn understand why our LORD had evaded the enemy and the crowd so often (Matthew 12:14-16, 14:13; John 6:15) – because the time is not yet right for David to be crowned as king, while Saul was still king.  It is not until the opportune moment that Christ is crowned with thorns as the true king of Israel that Satan’s head is simultaneously bruised; so here we see the raving Satan attacking Christ just as the Jews and the Gentiles had done:  “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.  For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel.  You saw it, and rejoiced.  Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” (v.4-5).  What beautiful words of an advocate, of a preacher, of a witness!  So often we are the ones who crucified the Christ while we were still sinners (Romans 5:10), and these are the words of accusation against us.  We are the ones who deserve to be crucified!

So Saul carelessly swore – “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death” – and the irony of the truth in those words; to put David to death is to put the typological LORD to death – and thus, Saul’s words ring true.  If the LORD has died, so also David; but because the LORD is living, that is why Saul’s plans to evict David from his presence ever more backfires as Saul is slowly evicting himself from the LORD’s presence.  The consistency of David’s service to the LORD which benefits Saul leads to the return of the harmful spirit.  David had killed the Philistine, and Saul had once rejoiced in this salvific victory won on behalf of Israel and Saul had not eyed David with jealousy.  Yet, the seed of sin is planted in Saul’s heart; and though Michal had aided David in his escape, the imagery of her bedding the idol is to mark her lack of love for the One in whom David’s faith lies.  It is hinted in her false words – would David threaten her with death (v.17 c.f. 2 Samuel 6:16)?

Thus in the midst of David’s escape, he does not find refuge in his father (though Saul had restrained him from doing so throughout David’s service – 1 Samuel 18:2) – rather, he finds his refuge in the prophet knowing that Samuel is the one who anointed David as true king of Israel.  It is here that three times the messengers of Saul were sent; three times they prophesied.  Even Saul was counted among those who were raptured by the rushing of the Spirit – acknowledging that they were persecuting the Son of God (1 Peter 3:18-20).  This is a direct contrast to Saul’s self-reliance, whereas David looked to the greater intercessor Samuel, the first type of Christ introduced in this book.  The Spirit had created a buffer, just as He did when He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites but the waters of punishment came crashing down over the pursuers; so here, we see the history re-enacted, the evil and jealous messengers and Saul pursuing the church of Christ, with Samuel as the Messenger of God.

Yet, this is the picture of our Saviour in this world; and so also, a picture of what we are to be until new creation. (Matthew 5:5 – always on the run, but only because He was!)  And so the final picture is that of the truth revealed to Saul as he lies prostrate, naked, and his embarrassment entirely revealed.  Similarly, heavens shall reveal the iniquity of this world, entirely resurrecting all and proclaiming to all the victory of Christ (c.f. book of Revelations; Job 20:27; Psalm 98:2; Isaiah 40:5; Hosea 7:1; 1 Corinthians 14:22; 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 19:10), though not all still stand under the banner of Christ accepting Him as His Mediator.  Their nakedness is revealed and this is the great question for the nation Israel:  Is Saul also among the prophets?  Such is the question we ask of physical Israel, though we know that the true king is David.  Israel was never replaced; she was always called to be the elect of God (Isaiah 41), and yet being ‘elected’ is not the same as living according to that calling.  Such Spirit-led nakedness is recorded throughout Scripture (Genesis 2:25; Exodus 28:41; Job 26:5-6; Isaiah 47:3; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 3:18, 16:15), both a nakedness which is shameful for unbelievers and a nakedness which leads to unity in the tearing of the tabernacle curtain (John 17).  In the words of Matthew Henry, “he is rejected of God, actuated by an evil spirit, and yet among the prophets”.  Is this not the same story of Israel, the physical nation rejected and the spiritual Israel elected and that Saul, possessed by an evil spirit, is still under the grace of the Spirit and himself here represents the contradiction of the rejected and elected nation?

1 Samuel 19: Israel, rejected and elected