2 Samuel 13: The Zealous Church and the False Head

The theme of chaos and reversal does not cease in chapter 12 – and the reality of this theme is broken loose as we see significant consequence of David’s adultery; where he forced himself upon a married woman in chapter 11, the parallel occurs in chapter 13 where his son, a single man and potential heir to the throne forces himself upon a virgin.  The irony should not be lost on those hearing this passage that the Father’s sin is re-committed by Amnon – just to show the fullness what it means when the covenantal relationship between the Father and the Son; and between the Son and the church, is not displayed.

The theme of covenant-breaking is carried forward even in the names and gender roles themselves.  Ammon, he who is “faithful”, is instead anything but.  This incestuous relationship would not have a future (Leviticus 18) – and yet, just as there is no future for Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, just as Ammon the ‘faithful’ would instead pursue a relationship outside of God’s ordination, we have the crafty man Jonadab.  It would be a mistake to assume that this ‘craftiness’ is the same craftiness, or cunningness,  of the serpent in Genesis 3 – yet that is exactly the purpose of this chapter – to present the absolute reversal and irony of God’s goodness.  It is the faithful Ammon, led by crafty (or more literally, wise, rather than cunning) Jonadab that the impossible is committed.  That instead of Ammon loving his sister, to serve his sister, he would instead wish to do anything to her.  The verb connotes an action towards an inanimate object, or an action which is not filled with service, nor love:

Amnon.  The heir to the throne of Israel.  He is the firstborn son of David about whom there must have been high hopes.  His name means faithful.  Here is a faithful ruler.  And he is a lover, v1.  In fact he is literally love-sick for Tamar.  Amnon is depressed, he’s losing weight, (v4) he’s become haggard with desire for Tamar.

But look at what lies behind these feelings.  See the last half of v2.  It does not  read: “It seemed impossible for Amnon to do anything for her.”  That would be love.  Love in the Bible means service, it means sacrifice – putting yourself out for the other.  But Amnon’s love was a love that wanted to do something ‘to’ Tamar.” – Glen Scrivener in his sermon on 2 Samuel 13

And so, just like the scheming of chapter 11, we see the elaborate plan in the raping of Tamar.

What ensues is a picture which is shocking – a picture which displays the true suffering of this world.  Where is God in all this suffering?  Where is God when Tamar is literally torn apart in her flesh by her very own brother?  This picture is not pretty – and look at v.7-10: a picture of true service, a picture of a wife, a picture of a woman, a picture of a weaker vessel, a picture of the willing worshipper.  Yet, this is the picture of those who are serving a beast; this is the picture of those zealous and religious people of this world, taking dought, kneading it, making and baking cakes before the sight of the man.  Yet, does she know what her brother is about to do?  No – she serves him out of love; yet he returns her love with hatred (v.15).

Note that Tamar pleads with Ammon attempting to arouse his sense of sin in his heart – by calling him her brother; by saying that nothing like this has been done in Israel before; by calling him an ‘outrageous fool’ (v.11-13).  And when none of this worked, she desperately asked Ammon to speak with the king (v.13), just before Ammon had failed to listen – a blind, deaf and heartless man – and therefore raped Tamar in spite of her service for him, in spite of her pleadings and truly wise reasoning.  In the entire chapter, she has been the voice of Spiritual reason – and yet she is silenced.  The church is silenced; the church’s service is ignored.  This is not love – this is hatred.

This is why we immediately see the picture of the ravaged virgin; the picture which God had from the foundation of creation had prevented from happening by the sacrifice of the lamb (Revelation 13:8).  In this picture of Tamar’s suffering, sin has become very real.  Yet, is this not the picture of the church, her robe torn apart, and her innocence ravaged from the inside out that she should have ashes on her head instead of the Logos, the arche, the true head of creation as her Head?  And this is the picture of those who have been ravaged by Ammon; this is the picture of the false gods raping their worshippers despite these obedient servants’ zeal.  This is the picture of the reversal of redemption – and this is the reality of Satan’s work in a man’s heart.  Rape.

In the midst of such raping; in the midst of such suffering, we should not forget that without the cross, such chaos and reversal of redemption would result in a purely nihilistic world.  Yet, what the Spirit tells us here in chapter 13 is that the cross of Christ has even removed the shame of being violated. That the cross of Christ has removed the shame of being raped; instead, Jesus took on the sexual intrusion.  Where Tamar walked around in teary shame in the streets of the city (v.18-19), instead we have Christ being removed from His Father’s bosom on the cross (Matthew 27:46).  Instead, we have Christ our Mediator, our Head, being bruised by the serpent.  Christ was even raped on our behalf, so we would escape this shame.

Chapter 13, however, is a picture of what happens when the Wisdom of God is silenced:

Pro 1:20-33  Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;  (21)  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:  (22)  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?  (23)  If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.  (24)  Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,  (25)  because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,  (26)  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you,  (27)  when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  (28)  Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.  (29)  Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,  (30)  would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof,  (31)  therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.  (32)  For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;  (33)  but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

So Tamar cries aloud in the streets and no-one hears, just as the Spirit of God cried aloud in the streets to enjoin people to the harmony under Christ the Head.  Her robe of different colours is instead torn; her robe of righteousness trampled upon.  And so, we see David angry; but he does nothing.  Absalom is angry, but he silenced Tamar.  Ammon was lustful, and he was indifferent to Tamar’s call.  Jonadab relied on his own wisdom, but he did not rely on the Wisdom of God, the Holy Spirit.  We are thus left with a picture of Tamar, ravaged and living in desolation.  There is no happy ending for her until the embraces of new creation when all chaos and reversal is turned back on its Head.

Just as the words of those surrounding Tamar were words of folly, so Absalom falls into a similar category.  “Strike Amnon”, “Do not fear; have I not commanded you?  Be courageous and valiant”.  What irony!  Absalom is assuming a position of courage and valour, and yet he would rather his servants do the execution of Amnon; rather than protect his sister and provide her with love as a true brother would, he merely housed her.  Absalom is not the antithesis of Amnon; Absalom is of the same breed as Amnon – where Absalom positively offended Tamar, Absalom negatively was indifferent to Tamar.  Instead, he was bloodthirsty – and spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad (v.22), to await the day of revenge rather than provide justice by the Word (Romans 12:20).  Absalom, just as he would do so in chapter 14 onwards, would assume the position of God and enact revenge as if he was the Judge, to assume the position of the throne when David was still king.  All the king’s sons arose – and what did they do?  They fled.  As if to lessen the guilt of Absalom, Jonadab’s words of ‘wisdom’ are but a re-interpretation of the event.  “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king’s son, for Amnon alone is dead… determined [by Absalom] from the day he violated his sister Tamar”.  As if this redeems the situation!  Instead, the first report is accurate: for Absalom’s threat is not merely to Amnon alone – but his sword shall be the dividing factor of David’s kingdom until chapter 18.  His threat is aimed at David’s throne – and that is why David is in fact intricately involved in chapter 13 though he is barely mentioned.

This is because of Nathan’s prophecy in chapter 12:10.  This prophecy states that all that is to happen after David’s adultery is directly a result of David’s sin.  Amnon’s death; Absalom’s rebellion; the silencing and raping of Tamar – all stemming from David’s moment of pleasure and moment of stepping out of covenantal relationship with Christ.  Yet, this is but a shadow of the true picture of what it would be like if Christ stepped outside of His Trinitarian relationship.  Rape.  Silence.  Revenge.  Death.  Injustice.  The tearing of the kingdom of God.  This is the implication if the Son was forever removed from the Father; and yet, in the Son’s resurrection, in the Return of the Son on the Day of Resurrection, the suffering shall be ended by the One who already suffered and removed the sting of death, removed the sting of being raped, and replaced on our head the glory of the Father so that we would not have to cover our head in shame (v.19; c.f. 1 Corinthians 11).

Advertisements
2 Samuel 13: The Zealous Church and the False Head

2 Samuel 12: David as the two doves

Just as the truth of the fall and the history of mankind are recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis, the story of David’s fall is emblematic of the same truth in the form of actual adultery as well as spiritual adultery.  Chapter 11 saw the opening scene of David’s ‘first’ recorded sin in his biography, and chapter 12 continues in the same vein as we see the effect of sin not just in any man, but in the head of the anointed nation just as Adam was head of the race of man.  It is by looking at Adam and David that we learn to understand sin in light of Christ’s obedience to His Father, and the implications when the head has succumbed to the body, a reversal of the mystery of man and wife in Ephesians 5:22-33.

So Nathan is sent by the LORD to share the parable of the rich man who had very many flocks and herds, but would rather sacrifice a poor man’s ewe to provide for the travelling man, for the guest (v.1-4).  The message here is not simply that of exploiting the poor man’s lamb; it is both the exploitation of the poor man’s only possession, as well as the fact that they are both from the same certain city (v.1).  To the Israelite’s theocratic thinking (c.f. refuge cities in Numbers 35, jubilee in Leviticus 25), it is an offence to civilian equity to even see the rich man steal from the poor man, let alone the fact that this rich man and the poor man are one before the LORD (Galatians 3:28).  It is not as if the rich man is the lord of the poor man; it is not as if the rich man is even the king of the rich man.  The crux of the message therefore lies in the overlaying of these nuances.

What surprise it is for us to see that David would justify himself as the judge of the entire situation!  Was he not the poor man once, who was persecuted throughout a portion of his life (1 Samuel 20)?  What irony that he still speaks on behalf of the poor man when he has in fact switched places and has become the rich man who has committed theft and murder of the poor man’s daughter (v.3)!

And who is the poor man instead?  Uriah, the obedient servant who is poor in comparison to the rich king David.  Look at the LORD’s proclamation of David’s wealth provided by the LORD in v.7-9 – David was delivered consistently; he was anointed as king over Israel; he was given Saul’s house, given Saul’s wives, given the house of Israel and Judah – as if this were insufficient, the LORD continues, “I would add to you as much more”! (v.8) Do these words not echo the same words spoken to man (Matthew 6:30), to Adam?  Adam was given the kingdom of heaven and earth to rule over it!  He was made in the image of God!  He was taken from the dust outside of the Garden (Genesis 2:7) and was gracefully given all the riches of the house of Eden, all the trees, all the fruit, all kingship over the creatures and even his counter-part, the wo-man.  What would drive him to desire the one thing, the fruit of the tree of good and evil?

Yet, this is the mystery of sin – the shock and awe of understanding that sin is not something natural to us.  It should not be natural to us – because we are given all these riches, the entire kingdom of God for us to inherit.  This is the important paradigm shift we need to receive, that the world is not our oyster, because it pales so significantly to the riches provided through Christ Jesus.  Do you feel the temptation to undress a woman adulterously in your mind?  Do you feel the tug of materialistic pleasures when you walk by High Street?  Do you feel the desire to speak half-truths so to present the gospel in a ‘likeable’ and ‘acceptable’, or perhaps even ‘sensible and reasonable’ manner?  Then you have stolen the ewe from the poor man.  You are the man! (v.7) – You are Adam, who would exchange the poverty of this world for the riches which you already have.  You would rather take a poor man’s possession rather than recognise the new creation which we inherit.  What of the loyal wife, the church?  What of the golden streets of new Jerusalem?  What of the unadulterated, unsaturated purity of the gospel which is beyond sensibility, beyond mere acceptance of the world’s standards but by far the most outrageous truth this world can ever truly be shocked and awed by?  All wasted on a poor man’s ewe.

This is why the LORD reacts so angrily to David’s sin, because of the Christological implications behind the two-fold subtlety of the parable.  It is but a micro-perspective of the macro and grander cosmic temptation of Satan to the Christ (Matthew 4).  As if Satan could offer Christ anything!  Would Christ exchange the relationship between Himself and His Father for another man’s daughter, another man’s family?  Would the Triune God exchange the glory and wealth of the Triune community to thieve another relationship?

On another Christological level, the poor man’s treatment of the lamb must not be ignored for that is another important detail to the LORD’s parable through Nathan.  This poor man’s treated the lamb as everything which he had, feeding it well and loving it well (v.3), that this lamb is to even lie in the man’s bosom.  Such beautiful love is this, that we see the Father’s love for the Son portrayed (John 1:18) in this parental relationship, the Father’s love for the Lamb.

So the Christological message of the parable is twofold – the exchange of the wealth of the Triune relationship for the false kingdom of Satan which, compared to the riches of Adam, is but a poor man’s possession.  Secondly, that this raping of the poor man’s relationship with his daughter is a raping of the Father’s relationship with the Son.  Therefore, the primary thrust of the parable is supported by these two Christological meanings, that David should choose to leave the bosom of the Father to steal Bathsheba from Uriah, and that in doing so he has by equivalence destroyed the relationship between the Father and the Son portrayed between poor man and the ewe.

If not for these implications, then the LORD’s infliction of death upon David’s first son would not make sense.  For David to remove the daughter from the poor man’s embrace as equivalent to the Son leaving the Father eternally, the implication is simply death (Colossians 1:17).  If the Son were not to intercede on our behalf, if the Son were to walk His own path and become His own God just as Satan (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28) and Adam (Genesis 3:22) had done, then not only will we never resurrect.  We will simply return to the very chaos which David has unfolded (a return to the chaos of the abyss in Genesis 1, c.f. Jeremiah 4:23) – the implosion of the ordered universe upheld by the Logos into disordered fragments of watery nothingness.  Instead of peace, the sword shall come (v.9-10).

It is therefore important to see what unfolds from v.10-22.  The narrator opts to call Bathsheba Uriah’s wife, even though at the end of chapter 11 David had already taken Bathsheba to be his wife, thus emphasising the message of adultery and the broken intra-Trinitarian relationship implied by David’s selfish actions.  The death of the child on the seventh day, the day indicative of God’s rest (v.18) is again a mock-ironic message for David as he had fasted before the LORD for the first six days.  Even in this follow up to the LORD’s curse on David in v.11-14, the theme of reversal continues: the exchange of light for darkness, of kingdom of righteousness for the kingdom of poverty, of the ordered Triune relationship torn apart to be subsumed by chaos and darkness.  In this reversal, we also see David’s fasting and then David’s feasting, a reverse of Christ’s disciples’ feasting followed by fasting (Matthew 9:15).  In this reversal, we also see David’s son’s death on the seventh day symbolic of the final Sabbath rest; whereas, we are to anticipate the Son’s return on this important seventh day.  This is why David ceased to fast after his son’s death: for David will go to his son but his son will not return to him; whereas the disciples in the New Testament would fast after Christ’s departure for we shall not go to the Son, as He will return to us.

Thus, it is only after such a chaotic beginning of David’s first murder and adultery all within chapter 11 do we begin to say a ray of hope – found in Jedidiah (the only time referred to in Scripture as the beloved one akin to Christ: Matthew 3:17), found in Solomon, he who shall bring peace.  Only upon the death of David’s son conceived and marred with sin, will Solomon be born; where David’s first son by the adulterous Bathsheba dies, David’s second son by Bathsheba is glorified.  David’s first son followed the route of the first Adam, the first man’s story entirely typified by chapters 11 and 12; and the second Adam’s story is to be shadowed by Solomon, the type of He who was spoken of in 2 Samuel 7.

In the death of David’s first son and in the birth of his second son, the pattern of David causing death and the LORD bringing life; of David causing chaos and the LORD bringing order; of David’s first son born out of an act of adultery and the birth of Solomon through loyal wedlock, a parallel can also be found in Leviticus 14 (c.f. one bird sacrificed as the other bird is freed; in Christ we see both the sacrificed and the freed bird; in Christ we see the rejected and elected LORD):

“At any rate as they are systematised in Leviticus 14 and 16 it is obvious that the following form is common to both.  Two creatures which are exactly alike in species and value are dealt with in completely different ways.  The selection of the one for this and of the other for that treatment, seems to be a matter for the priest in Leviticus 14:15f, while lots are cast in Leviticus 16:8.  In both cases it is obvious that the selection is inscrutable, and that it is really made by God Himself.  It is also obvious with what special purpose and meaning these two acts accompany the history of Israel, and to which special moment of this history they refer as sign and testimony of the divine intention.  We obviously face the special aspect of this history according to which it is the history of the divisive divine election of this and of that man.  What these choices mean, or what it is to which the whole history of Israel points as a history of such choices, is attested by these particular rites, the witness being given a fixed and permanent form by the detailed legal regulations.

The actual treatment of the two creatures makes this even clearer.  Both Leviticus 14 and 16 say that one creature is to be used, and that the other is not to be used – or only used to the extent that it is, so to speak, solemnly and necessarily not used.  One creature is slain, that is, and the other is allowed to go free.  It is too soon to ask what is really meant by using and not using, by slaying and releasing.  It is also too soon to ask who is meant by the creature which suffers the first fate, and who by that which suffers the second.  But if we study the transaction as such in its general nature, we can hardly fail to recall the Genesis stories of Abel and Cain, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel and so on.  The ceremonies are obviously a comment on the history of Israel as a history of the differing choices, and its character as witness is fixed in the legal instruction which relate to these actions…

… It is this redemptive endurance of death as such, ordained and accomplished by God in His love for him, which is brought before his eyes in the slaughtering of the different animals on the Day of Atonement, and therefore in the slaying of the first goat, and then in the blood-sprinkling of the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle, in the sanctification of the sanctuary by the slaying of the first goat, by the total outpouring of its life as accomplished in the shedding of its blood.  Man is chosen for the Lord, and not for Azazel, not for the wilderness…

The fact that man is of himself unfitted for the service of God, and his blood valueless, is revealed in the treatment of the second animal.  His life cannot make good that which is evil by any judgment which follows him, or even by his death.  IT is not, indeed, a joyful release into freedom which is the lot of this man, but a flight into the realm of Azazel, the demon of the wilderness; his surrender to an utterly distressful non-existence, to a life which is as such no life…

Yet we must observe that the second goat is also ‘placed before the Lord’, that the treatment meted out to him and the tragic record of his unusability also form an integral part of the sign and testimony set up on the Day of Atonement.  Cain is just as indispensable as Abel, and Ishmael as Isaac.  For the grace which makes an elect man of the first can be seen only from the second, because the first, the elect, must see in the second, the non-elect, as in a mirror, that from which he was taken, and who and what the God is who was delivered from it.  It is only as one who properly belongs to that place that God has transferred him from it.  Because election is grace, the unused belonged to the used, the sacrificed goat to the goat driven into the wilderness, the non-elect to the elect…

…The ceremony described in Leviticus 14 obviously runs in exactly the opposite direction… The treatment of the first bird speaks of this necessary presupposition of his purification.  The bird is slain, its blood is shed and then made ready for what follows, as in the case of the first goat in Leviticus 16.  But this time everything really depends on what follows… The healed leper is sprinkled seven times with this blood, while simultaneously the second bird is allowed to fly away ‘into the open field’… to freedom… The purpose, and the only purpose, in the death of the one bird, the separation and reservation of the one man, is that the other may live.  But how comforting it is for all who are separated and reserved that, according to Leviticus 14, it is to the second bird, which has no part in the accomplishment of the decisive action, and which is unusable in the sense of Leviticus 16, that the benefit of the sacrifice of the first and usable bird accrues.  That which was done to the first turns to the advantage of the second… The recipient of the fruit of election is obviously for the non-elect.  How can we fail to see that Cain and Ishmael and Esau are now given yet another right than that which is remotely visible in Leviticus 16?  They are witnesses to the resurrection reflected in Leviticus 14.  The promise addressed to the men on the right hand is manifestly fulfilled in those on the left.” – Karl Barth on the doctrine of election in “Church Dogmatics”

Yet, in spite of the birth of Solomon, this is but a faint shadow of the future glory to come through David’s son and remnant of his house furthermore prophecied in the immediate placement of Solomon’s birth to David being crowned with the golden crown of the Ammonite king (v.30), a picture of the subversion of Satan’s ‘kingdom’ and the reality of it inevitably being subsumed under the headship of Christ even in the midst of David’s sin.  The victory is immanent – even in the sin of David, for it will come through Solomon.

However, this is but just a shadow.  In Joab’s taking of the city and attempting to name it after his own name as opposed to David initiating the victory (v.26-31), we continue to see the king of Israel becoming more and more passive, from the restoration of his daughter Tamar, the delayed restoration of his son Absalom, to the eventual restoration of the kingdom Israel, all woven into the tragic latter years of David’s life.  The coming chapters are therefore a continuation of the significant implications if the Son of God, King of Israel, were to really submit to sexual adultery rather than pure loyalty to his one wife and church by His obedient life to his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection and ascension.   Yet, by God’s grace in His will of Jesus Christ, even if David were to be become the figure of the slain goat and dove just like David’s first son, there will always be the typology of the free dove found in Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, even in David’s contrast to Saul, and now Solomon’s contrast to David.  Therefore, in Solomon we soon find the shadow of the Son who is to build the eternal temple, who will give freedom and riches to all nations, in direct contrast to the proverb which David has become from 2 Samuel 11 onwards. 

2 Samuel 12: David as the two doves

2 Samuel 7: The law for Adam

This chapter then brings us, after the joyous return of the ark of the covenant, to the LORD’s explanation of all these things.  In the words of God we hear that what we have witnessed thus far from the building of the tabernacle onwards to be everything but shadows (v.6), for the tabernacle is but a temporary dwelling place.  The true ‘house’ to be built could not possibly be one built by human hands (v.7).  v.12-13 immediately tells us who this person is.  “He shall come from your body” (v.12), “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever”, (v.14) “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son… when he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, (v.15) but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul… (v.16) Your throne shall be established forever.”

Although it is true that Solomon is the one who builds the temple of God (see 1 Chronicles), it is important that we note the internal contradiction of the LORD’s words if He was to elect Solomon over David.  The LORD’s fundamental reason for not dwelling in a house is because it is built not by judges, not even by the first anointed king of Israel, but by The Appointed One.  It is easy to then assume that this ‘offspring’ is the immediate son of David.  Yet, v.12 is to precede v.16 – this ‘man’s’ kingdom must be established forever before David’s throne can inherit that same blessing.  Solomon may accord blessing to David’s name as his son, but Solomon’s kingdom – like any human’s – was of a limited capacity.  With these internal issues regarding v.6-16, it would be difficult to suggest that this prophetic utterance is primarily about Solomon, when it is more suitably applicable to Jesus our Christ.  Adam Clarke in particular looks at the Hebrew of v.14 which may otherwise be misleading in understanding the Christological focus of this chapter:

“…the Hebrew words do not properly signify what they are now made to speak. It is certain that the principal word, בהעותו  behaavotho, is not the active infinitive of kal, which would be בעותו, but העות from עיה is in niphal, as הגלות from גלה. It is also certain that a verb, which in the active voice signifies to commit iniquity, may, in the passive signify to suffer for iniquity; and hence it is that nouns from such verbs sometimes signify iniquity, sometimes punishment. See Lowth’s Isaiah, p, 187, with many other authorities which shall be produced hereafter. The way being thus made clear, we are now prepared for abolishing our translation, if he commit iniquity; and also for adopting the true one, even in his suffering for iniquity. The Messiah, who is thus the person possibly here spoken of, will be made still more manifest from the whole verse thus translated: I will be his father, and he shall be my son: Even in His Suffering for Iniquity, I shall chasten him with the rod of men, (with the rod due to men), and with the stripes (due to) the children of Adam. And this construction is well supported by Isa_53:4, Isa_53:5 : He hath carried Our Sorrows, (i.e., the sorrows due to us, and which we must otherwise have suffered), he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. See note, p. 479, in Hallet, on Heb_11:26. Thus, then, God declares himself the Father of the Son here meant; (see also Heb_1:5); and promises that, even amidst the sufferings of this Son, (as they would be for the sins of others, not for his own), his mercy should still attend him: nor should his favor be ever removed from this king, as it had been from Saul. And thus (as it follows) thine house (O David) and thy kingdom shall, in Messiah, be established for ever before Me: (before God): thy throne shall be established for ever. Thus the angel, delivering his message to the virgin mother, Luk_1:32, Luk_1:33, speaks as if he was quoting from this very prophecy: The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob For Ever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end. In 2Sa_7:16, לפניך  lephaneycha, is rendered as לפני  lephanai, on the authority of three Hebrew MSS., with the Greek and Syriac versions; and, indeed, nothing could be established for ever in the presence of David, but in the presence of God only.”

What amazement!  The Son is here clearly preached, to exist (as opposed to the emphasis on the future tense in this verse) in relationship with his Father (v.14).  “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” should instead be likely to be read as “I exist (hayah היה) to him as a father, and he exists to me as a son”.  So I continue in a similar vein to Adam Clarke’s observations:
Having thus shown that the words fairly admit here the promise made to David, that from his seed should arise Messiah, the everlasting King; it may be necessary to add that, if the Messiah be the person here meant, as suffering innocently for the sins of others, Solomon cannot be; nor can this be a prophecy admitting such double sense, or be applied properly to two such opposite characters. Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Himself, or of Some Other man? This was a question properly put by the Ethiopian treasurer, (Act_8:34), who never dreamed that such a description as he was reading could relate to different persons; and Philip shows him that the person was Jesus only. So here it may be asked, Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Solomon, or of Christ? It must be answered, Of Christ: one reason is, because the description does not agree to Solomon; and therefore Solomon being necessarily excluded in a single sense, must also be excluded in a double. Lastly, if it would be universally held absurd to consider the promise of Messiah made to Abraham as relating to any other person besides Messiah; why is there not an equal absurdity in giving a double sense to the promise of Messiah thus made to David?

This message about the prophecy of the Son of God as opposed to the mere son of David, Solomon, is further consolidated in David’s response.  Not to only highlight the fact that Israel is such a special nation (v.23) as to be redeemed in the Elect One, there is an indication that Israel is the only nation which the LORD has redeemed for Himself (v.23-24) – a strong reason why Paul uses continually the imagery of Israel as the universal and global church in the spiritual sense, that even Gentiles can be called as children of Abraham and partake in the same olive tree which naturally bears the branches of physically born Israelites (Romans 9-11).  David here, therefore, understands that it is not purely his own house that is being blessed.  He understands that the importance of his own righteousness and salvation could only be established by the foundation of “his” eternal household.  “And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken” (v.25).  Thus, this promise of the Appointed One, the words about the eternal household, about servanthood – none of these are to do with David.  None of these are to do with Solomon.  They are to do with the Christ in whom David places his trust.  The Hebrew of v.19 shows that the LORD is not interested in establishing a kingdom, as if He has not shown enough of that through the temporary nature of the types of Christ, be that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, the judges, David, or even Solomon.  The progressive revelation is that these men, though exalted by God, was never meant to be the heads of the kingdoms – rather, as v.19 shows – “You have spoken also of your servant’s [Jesus’] house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind“.

David knows that this fulfillment will not be immediate; but not only that, this is instruction for the race of adam, for mankind – it is a blessing which has been explicitly voiced in Genesis 3:15 – a blessing for Adam and all those who are born after him, and in the words of Adam Clarke thus we see that David’s conscious faith as a Christ-follower shines as an example to all the Israelites who oftentimes had faith in David rather than His Christ:
“From David’s address to God, after receiving the message by Nathan, it is plain that David understood the Son promised to be The Messiah: in whom his house was to be established for ever. But the words which seem most expressive of this are in this verse now rendered very unintelligibly: And is this the manner of man? Whereas the words וזאת תורת האדם  vezoth torath haadam literally signify, and this is (or must be) the law of the man, or of the Adam; i.e., this promise must relate to the law or ordinance made by God to Adam, concerning the seed of the woman; the man, or the second Adam; as the Messiah is expressly called by St. Paul, 1Co_15:45, 1Co_15:47. This meaning will be yet more evident from the parallel place, 1Ch_17:17, where the words of David are now miserably rendered thus: And thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree; whereas the words וראיתני כתור האדם המעלה  ureithani kethor haadam hammaalah literally signify, and thou hast regarded me according to the order of the Adam that Is Future, or The Man that Is from Above: (for the word המעלה  hammaalah very remarkably signifies hereafter as to time, and from above as to place): and thus St. Paul, including both senses – The Second Man Is the Lord from Heaven – and Adam is the figure of him that was to come, or the future, Rom_5:14. – See the Preface of the late learned Mr. Peters on Job, referred to and confirmed as to this interesting point in a note subjoined to my Sermon on A Virgin Shall Conceive, etc., P. 46-52, 8 vo. 1765. A part of that note here follows: ‘The speech of David (2Sa_7:18-29) is such as one might naturally expect from a person overwhelmed with the greatness of the promised blessing: for it is abrupt, full of wonder, and fraught with repetitions. And now what can David say unto thee? What, indeed! For thou, Lord God knowest thy servant – thou knowest the hearts of all men, and seest how full my own heart is. For thy word’s sake – for the sake of former prophecies, and according to thine own heart – from the mere motive of thy wisdom and goodness, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. I now perceive the reason of those miraculous providences which have attended me from my youth up; taken from following the sheep, and conducted through all difficulties to be ruler of thy people; and shall I distrust the promise now made me? Thy words be true. If the preceding remarks on this whole passage be just and well grounded, then may we see clearly the chief foundation of what St. Peter tells us (Act_2:30) concerning David: that being a prophet, and Knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, etc.’” – Adam Clarke

2 Samuel 7: The law for Adam

2 Samuel 6: Naked before the Father

In a short number of chapters (since 1 Samuel 22:2), David has accumulated thirty thousand chosen men of Israel from the curiously named lords of Judah, Baale-judah, to finally retrieve the ark of covenant on which the LORD of hosts, the Father and First Person of the Trinity sits enthroned (v.2).  Here we must remember that the ark has been neglected during the reign of Saul, since 1 Samuel 7.

Yet, in the midst of merry worship (v.5-8) is a horrifying scene of Uzzah’s death.  In spite of the new cart (v.3) which carried the ark, the stumbling of the oxen meant that the foundation of the cart was unstable.  Yet, Uzzah’s sin did not merely manifest upon the touching of the ark as traditionally interpreted as God’s holy wrath burning against the sinful unprotected flesh, not robed by the garments of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).  Rather, as Matthew Henry meticulously noted,

“Uzzah thereupon laid hold of it, to save it from falling, we have reason to think with a very good intention, to preserve the reputation of the ark and to prevent a bad omen. Yet this was his crime. Uzzah was a Levite, but priests only might touch the ark. The law was express concerning the Kohathites, that, though they were to carry the ark by the staves [my emphasis added], yet they must not touch any holy thing, lest they die, Num_4:15. Uzzah’s long familiarity with the ark, and the constant attendance he had given to it, might occasion his presumption, but would not excuse it.”

The key thing here is that the staves where not used; the staves/poles (Exodus 25:14) which were appointed by God to be the method which by which the Levites were to carry the ark.  What presumption it is therefore to carry God on a new cart, as if there could be a man-made foundation which could only stumble?  Instead, the key focus here is that the household of Uzzah is the cause of this new cart, which relied on the movement of a mere animal.  Is this not the key reversal at the dreadful fall of man in Genesis 3, that the God and man relationship is inverted where we have worshipped the brute, the animal-serpent over God?  This is why God is so angry, that we should presume to be able to touch the Father in heaven and that this was brought about because we have placed an oxen as the foundation before the ark itself.  And this is the same lesson learnt by the men who bore the ark of the LORD (v.13) instead of carrying it on a cart which relies on the stability of an animal rather than the stability of priestly men as types of Christ carrying the ark as an analogy to preaching in the Name of His Father.  No oxen dares to bear that role, and no man who by man’s strength (as Uzzah is so aptly named) could arrange for the Father to arrive by the way of an animal when the First Person has ordained the arrival to come by way of the true Levite, the true King David, the true Priest-King.

And so this provocation of anger (v.8) in David’s heart is not that of David being furious against God; the Hebrew charah (חרה) suggests the possibility that it is a vexation against oneself, and a general fear that God cannot be with us.  What a ridiculous notion, that the King of Israel should fear the ark, and yet a little servant such as Obed-Edom, the servant of Edom (Esau) should receive the ark so pleasurably and be blessed by God (v.11-12)!

Yet, these things shall be no meaning until we take these verses into the wider context of chapter 6, and further into the wider context of God’s grand plan of salvation. Where in chapter 5 we witness Baal-perazim, where the LORD burst through the Philistines, here we see Perez-Uzzah, a bursting forth upon Uzzah.  This parallel is brought to recognition when we see the fall of Israel in the second book of Kings despite God protecting Israel in her early days.  And similarly, just as God had burst forth upon the Philistines, so He bursted forth onto Uzzah who represented the foolish Levite who disobeyed the mandate of tabernacle management and denied Christ His due glory.  Is not Uzzah, the strong man, a representative of those in physical Israel who perceive themselves as strong?  Perceive themselves are arrogant enough to carry the weight of the ark?  Perceive themselves as clever enough to provide a new cart which balanced on the idolatrous oxen (Exodus 32)?

Instead, the presence of the Father goes to Obed-Edom, the “servant of Edom”, the rejected brother of Jacob.  This Gittite, he who belongs to Gath, is the definitive mark of the Gentile; and so we see here the New Testament period shadowed in the ark going to Obed-Edom.  Salvation is first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles – and so we see the Jews rejecting the ark, even the king rejecting the ark, and instead the Father blesses the Gentiles.  This jealousy (Romans 10-11) would then lead to the ark being brought back to Israel whereupon the second iteration of bringing the ark to the city of David is successful, upon the blood of ox and a fattened animal. Although it is not indicative of whether it is the same ox which caused the stumbling (v.6), this is symbolic of the death of the animal and the birth of new life after six steps before the throne of the Father (1 Kings 10:9, the calf head being at the head of the throne) – and so the ark’s re-entry into Israel by way of the Gentiles is the mark of the new covenant, by the death of the enemy in Christ Jesus:

So in summary, from the Old Testament, we learn that the Law is in essence the Old Covenant, although it is under-girded and talks extensively about the New. Its primary purpose is to show the Person and Works of the Anointed One, the Prophet, Priest and King, and how He is the Righteous One, He is just, He is holy, He is God’s beloved, He will inherent the land. From this Israel and the world become aware that they are not God’s chosen Messiah, they made aware that only Him, Joshua will enter the promised land. They are not made sinful by the law, but they become aware through the law that they are sinful already, because of Adam, because of the flesh. They are told that refuge, and blessings await within the Messiah, who is God, and are pleaded with time and time again to love Him, to trust Him, to obey Him, to put their faith in Him. The world is also told that those who do trust Him, they will dwell in peace with God forever, under the eternal covenant, in the eternal land. Moses in Deuteronomy pleads with stiff-necked people to obey the commandment (singular), which is to love the Lord their God, to trust in Him – that is the whole commandment, just like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did.” – Dev Menon in his “Law and Gospel” essay

And so David danced before the LORD as the King-Priest in his linen ephod (c.f. Exodus 28 – the ephod to be worn by the priest), the joy of the typological Son dancing before the Father as the Kingdom of Israel is truly restored in Triunity.

Yet, in the face of this joy is the immediate contrast of Michal’s despising of David (v.16).  What she despised was not merely David’s etiquette; what she despised was His God – what she despised was the whole picture of salvation, of familial blessings brought through the partaking of the Trinitarian love (v.14-20), such awesome distribution that no human secular government communist, capital or other could ever provide.  Her words of spite, “How the king of Israel honoured himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself” (v.20) is therefore not merely a strong opinion against David’s ‘inappropriateness’, for David immediately appeals to the one explanation.  “It was before the LORD” (v.21).  Should there be any other explanation?  When one is naked before the LORD as in the days before the fall (c.f. Genesis 2), but that this recapitulation is of greater glory than that experienced in the Garden of Eden, should Michal despise such a fundamental truth rooted in the very history of the race of adam?  “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death (v.23)”.  The Promised One shall not be born through her, not through a woman who wholeheartedly despised the reunion caused by the ark of the covenant; Saul’s line thus continues to diminish one by one.

2 Samuel 6: Naked before the Father

1 Samuel 6: Who can stand before the Father?

The Old Testament is rife with examples of foreign nations speaking of Israel as light to the nations.  Does any nation have the privilege of Israel being the receivers of the Torah?  Does any nation have a God who is defined by salvation, the Hebrew action and noun by which His Son is named in His incarnation (Yeshua; c.f. Daniel 3:29)?  And here this truth is highlighted amongst the Philistines, who look back on the Exodus and Passover with fear.  “Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharoah hardened their hearts?  After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?” (v.6).

Yet this is half the gospel – the gospel is the punishment of the Father towards the Son, and the love of the Father towards the Son (Isaiah 53:5; John 17).  What they saw was the death of the firstborn, and they only saw Yahweh as a mere God of Israel (v.5).  Their purpose was to provide golden images of creatures to save themselves (Exodus 20:23), just as the Israelites had created the golden image of the calf as the gods (Exodus 32:1) of their salvation.  They did not see the God of Rahab, she who preached the God of heavens and the earth; the God who saved, chose and loved, Israel and gave them Canaan (Joshua 2) the land of Promise, the nation which was given the law to display their transgressions after they were saved from Egypt (Galatians 3).  Their guilt offering is not a covenant enacted and purified by blood (v.3, v.8; c.f. Hebrews 9:20-22), but a guilt offering provided of golden idols.  What blasphemy it is to place images of pestilence next to the Ark of the Covenant which is also laden with gold!  This is why the Philistines, even having the Ark of the Covenant within their midst for seven months, is the subject of wrath – just as the beauties of His creation in the heavens and earth are poetry proclaiming Christ in the eyes of Israel (Psalm 19), but is exclaiming His wrath to all those standing outside of Christ (Romans 1:18-32).  Just as we are destined to walk into the Holy of Holies in Christ, yet the Philistines will forever stand their distance and refuse to join to Israel even after witnessing the joy of the Israelites when the throne of God is in their midst (v.16).  Instead of joining under the tent of the House of the Sun (Beth-shemesh; Malachi 4:2), they return to the House of eradication (Ekron).  Though they know it is not a coincidence (v.9), yet they fail to trust in the object of the true blood-guilt offering of the milk cow on which there has never come a yoke.

And so the Israelites carefully retrieved the ark by the hand of the Levites, the priests who are ordained and anointed to be privileged with this duty; and by the Stone of the House of the Sun in the field of Joshua, the chief typological Saviour between Moses and Samuel, these burnt offerings were truly given to the LORD in rejoicing (v.13) rather than in trembling fear.  These Philistines returned to Ekron, only to await their true eradication by the hands of the King of Israel, for even in the time of Joshua the five lords of the five cities (Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, Ekron) were already the subject of wrath awaiting to be devoted to destruction (Joshua 13:3).  This true destruction is symbolized in the return of the Ark after seven months, intimating the seventy years after the Babylonian captivity whereupon the LORD will send the staggering cup for these nations to drink where the Philistines, amongst others, are to drink the cup which Christ has drunk (John 18:11):

Jer 25:12-27  Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.  (13)  I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations.  (14)  For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”  (15)  Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.  (16)  They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.”  (17)  So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it:  (18)  Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day;  (19)  Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people,  (20)  and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod);  (21)  Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon;  (22)  all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea;  (23)  Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair;  (24)  all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert;  (25)  all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media;  (26)  all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.  (27)  “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’

Therefore, it is this same cup in which we are crucified in Him; it is this same cup in which the world is condemned through His mediation of creation (Colossians 1).  Yet our sacramental communion provides also the bread of life upon Whom we feed, and until then, the wrath of the Father will continue to impartially display His wrath upon all those standing outside of Christ (v.19).  Indeed, “who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God?  And to whom shall he go up away from us?” which is an echo of Job’s question (Job 33:23).  The answer has always been Christ Jesus, the commander of the LORD’s army; but it is seen for now through the actions of David, the typological mediator who worships the LORD at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110) – he is the only one, not Saul, nor Samuel, to take the Ark back from Kiriath-jearim to the city of David in Jerusalem, the city of Peace.

1 Samuel 6: Who can stand before the Father?

1 Samuel 5: The Seen Father

Have you ever considered what it would be like for the Father to be seen?  Have you ever wanted to stand before God in awe?

Christ has the answer – that he has physically manifested the glory before us in redeemed and renewed adamic flesh:

Joh 17:5-10  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.  (6)  “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  (7)  Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.  (8)  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.  (9)  I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  (10)  All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

This is how we partake in that divine glory – to stand in Christ so that we are crucified, resurrected and ascended – in the throne room with Him right now – by the Spirit (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:11-15).  Though this is the rejoicing through standing in Christ, there is also the flip side of the coin, for those who are already condemned and are awaiting their second death (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21.8).  This second death reality is catalysed for many throughout the Old Testament through their presence before the ark of the covenant, the entirely purified and sacred relic of the tabernacle.  Who could offer anything more than what is ordained (Numbers 3:4)?  Who can even touch the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-9)?  Yet who can eat of the bread of presence (1 Samuel 21:6), which is placed in the Holy Place but not the Holy of Holies where the ark resides?  No one has seen God (1 John 4:12), but he who does not keep on sinning has seen Him and known Him (1 John 3:6).  When John wrote his first epistle, he did not aim to contradict himself; the same way that Samuel has seen Christ in the tabernacle so also David ate the bread of presence which was not considered profanity (Luke 6:3-5).  For Christ, the Son, is our Bread of Life; the Spirit is the light of the lamp in the Holy Place; and the Father is behind the tabernacle curtain which only the Son and the Spirit can pass.  That is the fear which should strike in our hearts – there is no way we can stand, nor partake in the Father’s glory, except by the intercession of the Anointed Christ.  If Eli is not our head, then it is the true High Priest Christ who takes our headship, whom Samuel is but a type of; where Samuel’s words came to all Israel (chapter 4:1), Christ’s words are truly what Samuel have been speaking (John 17:8).

Is it thus so surprising that Dagon is amputated from its fallen glory?  He is unliving and he is a wicked perversion of the image of God, uniting fish and man in one body (v.4).  Indeed, though we are mindless fish  (Habakkuk 1:14), we are saved from that perversion so that we are restored to the true image in Christ.  Either we are led by Samuel, or we are led by Eli; either we are led by Christ, or we are Dagon in his true form – a fish without man-like arms nor head: not a man-fish; and neither are we a sick perversion of saint-sinner, but we are truly fully a saint in the eyes of the Father for we are co-heirs with the Son because we have inherited the Son’s kingdom alongside Him (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  The priests of Dagon, these idolaters, do not tread over the threshold (v.5) as a mark of awe, not knowing what sort of God has struck them; and this superstitious behaviour is equally condemned of the Israelites when they have inherited their Philistinian traditions (Zephaniah 1:9).  This threshold is between His glory or man-made glory; between mutual sight and knowledge before the Father in the Son by the Spirit, or blindness, death, pestilence, sickness before Dagon.  The Father has ravaged (Ashdod) the Philistines at the winepress (Ekron; Isaiah 63:2) to eradicate (Ekron) those who were not part of the body of Christ.

No-one has seen God, yet those who do his will have seen Him in His Son who shares in His full glory.  Yet, this light is too bright for the unbelievers to bear; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend nor overcome (using the KJV and ESV translation) it.  Only the glorified High Priest can stand before the Father in the throne room: none other.  Yet, he pulled us up in Him and with Him as our prayers are coveted in the midst of the Trinity (Exodus 30, where the altar of incense is in the midst of the Three Persons; Revelation 8:4).  Like the deathly panic and terrible cry of the Passover night (Exodus 11:6, 12:30), those who were saved from the plague were protected in the Lamb’s blood at the door threshold, safe in the house of the LORD.  Yet, those who stood outside were in the raging waters of the flood of Noah; in the open danger of the wilderness; in the condemnation of the glorious Father.  We simply cannot even stand before Him; but Christ is our living righteousness external to us, yet the Spirit has bound us to His Person, so that we either remain like Dagon – a lifeless, mindless fish trying to be a god.  Dagon and Eli share the same end, the former revealed for what he really is by the light revealing darkness (c.f. Galatians 3:19), by the ark next to the man-made idol; and Eli also revealed for his failed headship for not restraining his two sons, his seed.  Where Dagon is left with a stump, the Hebrew does not even use that word specifically in v.4; it is more accurate to say that all that is left is Dagon itself; both his hands (v.4) and head were never part of it and thus Dagon does not deserve even a picture of perversion of the image of God for Dagon is, really, just a creature of the sea.  Eli, similarly, has both his hands/arms and head amputated – his strength in both sons, as if they were his right and left arms, and his headship over Israel as judge and as High Priest eradicated for it is truly Ichabod: that the glory hasn’t left Israel, but has left the household of Eli just as the glory has left the household of Dagon (v.5) that even the priests are too scared to be in his presence lest they be also struck by the true living God.  Eli is thus reduced to a mere creature, a subject of Yahweh’s punishment, revealed for what he really is in the face of the Spirit-filled Samuel.

And to the grace of the Trinity, we are like Christ so that we can embrace the Person Whom the ark represents, the Holy Unseen Father who rarely speaks directly from heaven except to give the law (Exodus 19) and to confirm that He has Sent the Seen LORD, His Son (Luke 3:22).  To this end, the Spirit amputates and destroys all the idols in our hearts, so that we are presented before Him as holy and blameless when His Son gifts us His righteousness, and what is left is a renewed physical body after going through the refiner’s fire, and we can finally embrace the Father face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

1 Samuel 5: The Seen Father

Joshua 3-4: From death to Life

Jos 3:1-17 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. (2) At the end of three days the officers went through the camp (3) and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. (4) Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” (5) Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” (6) And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. (7) The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.

The focus of Joshua 3 is twofold: primarily on the ark of the covenant, representative of the Holy Father (the table of the bread of Presence representing Christ; and the golden lampstand representing the Holy Spirit – see Exodus 25 commentary); and Yeshua. We are taken immediately back to the theme of the three days (they waited until the three days were over before they approached the valley of Jordan (v.2)) and meanwhile kept their distance from the ark, understanding the reality (rather than mere symbology) of its holiness as the only item to be hidden behind the veil of the tabernacle (c.f. Uzzah’s death in 2 Samuel 6). Yet, the focus of the ark of the covenant is immediately related to the exaltation of Joshua in v.6-7 – which teaches us the nature of how Christ is at the bosom of the Father. The exaltation of the Father simultaneously exalts the Son (John 8:54; Hebrews 5:5); the exaltation of the Son also directly exalts the Father (John 12:28 – the glory of the Father comes through the obedience and work of Christ; John 13:31-32). The intermingling of honour to both the ark, the LORD and Yeshua is to show how God testifies to His multi-Personality, a strong indication of the unity in the Trinity.

(8) And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'” (9) And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.” (10) And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. (11) Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. (12) Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. (13) And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

Thus v.10-13 continues to focus on the ark of the covenant of the LORD of all the earth, not merely the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He had been commonly referred to throughout the Pentateuch. This fits naturally into the book of Joshua which is about conquering neighbouring nations in two ways: eschatological destruction of the non-Christians for remaining in the sin of Adam, or the eventual persuasion to submission of those who match the faith of Rahab as in Joshua 2.

More importantly is how the theme of water and land is explored in these verses: how the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD touching the bottom of the valley immediately leads to the river being cut off from its flow; the LORD had expressed this distinction of the water and dry land in His comparison of day two of creation (in which the events were not declared as “good”) as opposed to day three where new life is enabled when the water subsides. Again, this truth is fleshed out in the Noahic flood; and once more in the Passover. By now, the Israelites have been steeped in their knowledge of the symbolism of them passing over the dry valley of Jordan – it is a declaration of victory, of salvation, from the waters of punishment representative of sin and shame (Jude 1:13).

Of more curiosity is the naming of the city of Adam beside Zarethan (“their distress”) in v.14-17, the river completely cut off from flowing down toward the Sea of Arabah (“wilderness/desert”), the sea of salt. The verb used in the verse, karath כּרת , is the same word used for the cutting of a covenant (c.f. 1 Kings 8:9 literal Hebrew translation is “the LORD karath a covenant with the children of Israel”), and its peculiar use here is not without its Christological significance. In these two chapters (later on in chapter 4 as well) which steep themselves in the theme and imagery of Genesis 1, of Exodus (concerning the ark), of Leviticus (the priests with the ark), of Numbers (sea of Arabah), of Deuteronomy (the repetition of the law – as is the repetition of these themes in these opening chapters of Joshua) – we can only read this verse as the LORD keeping the waters of punishment at Adam, the first man, keeping the waters of shame at the point of the initial distress of mankind. The Sea of Arabah, the sea of salt, no longer has water feeding it thus essentially leaving it as dry land and no more salt invading this area as the salt in water represents punishment (Ezekiel 47:9). The symbolic entrance of Israel into Canaan through this passage has them allegorically walking away from Adam, from their initial distress, towards a clean land of freshness and no salt, walking past the wilderness under the banner of Yeshua and the ark representing the Father, by the power of the Spirit who split the sea (as He did in Exodus 14) in the early sunrise of the day. This is achieved by the cutting off of the waters; the same cutting of the covenant which has achieved so much for the glory of the Trinity and New Creation.

(14) So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, (15) and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), (16) the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. (17) Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Jos 4:1-24 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, (2) “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, (3) and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.'” (4) Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. (5) And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, (6) that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ (7) then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

As if the collation of imagery of the 5 books of Moses is not prevalent enough in chapter 3, chapter 4 immediately opens with the 12 men chosen from each tribe (v.2) contrasted with the 12 stones (v.3) as a sign (v.6) to the children of the following generations of this forevermore memorial. There is a chiastic structure to this chapter which we should not ignore:

  • Joshua 4:1-9 – The 12 stones and the memorial to future generations
    • Joshua 4:10-13 – Priests and People
      • Joshua 4:14 – exaltation of Joshua
    • Joshua 4:15-19 – Priests and People
  • Joshua 4:20-24 – The 12 stones and the memorial to future generations

Because of this chiastic structure, the focus is on the exaltation of Joshua, built upon the foundation of the priests and the Israelites, furthermore founded on the cornerstone of what the 12 stones represent. This forevermore memorial stands for the same truth of Christianity from day one of creation until today – the 12 tribes of Israel the same as the 12 apostles of the four gospels; the ark of the covenant going before the priests when they crossed the valley, representing the High Priest Melchizedek walking with us, treading the ground for both the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles – the government of the eschatological church built upon the layers and histories of Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Israel, to the rest of the world.

(8) And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the LORD told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. (9) And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. (10) For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people passed over in haste. (11) And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the LORD and the priests passed over before the people. (12) The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. (13) About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. (14) On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

When we therefore reach the centrifugal force of the chapter, hinging on v.14, we see the importance of the name of the LORD in Yeshua (Exodus 23:21). Yeshua is seen as the one who sets up the stones and our foundation to this day (v.9); he is the one who gives meaning to the memorial as symbolic of the red sea (Exodus 14:21). Yet, what did Joshua, the type, actually do himself? Did He actually have the inherent power to create the miracle which amazed the Israelites (many of whom did not actually witness the Passover besides Joshua and Caleb, because the rest of the previous generation of Israelites have already died in the wilderness) so much that they had to pass through in haste?

The irony of the focus on v.14 is that the Israelites did not obey Moses; many died because of their rebellion, even though they experienced the exodus through the Red Sea in Exodus 14. However, the role and the truth of which Moses and Joshua were merely shadows of was the real object of faith; they stood in awe of Moses and Joshua not because the LORD wanted to create a heart of idolatry in them, as if He endorsed men to worship other men! Rather, he endorsed what these men represented: Moses and Joshua were imperfect leaders, but under the banner of Christ even these shadows of Christ invoked enough faith to bring the Israelites to Canaan. However, most of the Israelites involved in the rebellions had only the Spirit of God with them; but many did not have the Spirit of God in them (a point which Christ re-iterated in John) like Moses and Joshua. They witnessed the amazing truths, but they did not have circumcised hearts; they looked on at times in awe, but did not live their lives persistently in awe.

(15) And the LORD said to Joshua, (16) “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” (17) So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” (18) And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before. (19) The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. (20) And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. (21) And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ (22) then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ (23) For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, (24) so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

So the end of chapter 4 repeats the beginning of chapter 4 – the Red Sea for the Israelites is a time of significance. Many have only heard through stories, through the word passed down, through their immediate ancestors of splitting of the Red Sea. However, what they see now is a confirmation of what they had heard but have not seen first-hand; just as we experience the same thing on Resurrection Day when we witness things our spiritual forefathers have spoken of but have never seen in our lives so far.

In conclusion, chapter 3-4 covers several grounds of the ark of the covenant; the theme of water and dried land; the victory of the 12 tribes manifested furthermore in the government of the 12 apostles leading to the foundation of the Christian government, built upon the 12 stones, all types of the One Stone and Rock of Ages); the rejection of Adam and the wilderness, and the covenantal cutting off of the waters of punishment – all of these point towards the simultaneous exaltation of Son and Father: Yeshua and the Father who sits on the throne of the mercy seat.

Joshua 3-4: From death to Life