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David, part 1

Preliminary to the Reign Of David


SAUL'S reign is ended. David's reign has not yet actually commenced. Although David had long been the anointed king of Israel, his reign is commonly considered not to have begun till he came to Hebron, and was anointed king over the house of Judah. The monarchy in Israel had not yet become hereditary; and the saying that the king never dies, had not become a maxim of state. The intervening period between Saul's death and David's assuming the reins of government would be called an interregnum. But as our object does not require constitutional accuracy or formal precision, it will be no serious violation of historic propriety to follow up the end of the reign of Saul with the beginning of the reign of David. This will better suit the spiritual requirements of the history. The Divine government knows no interruption. It may pass through a succession of forms and degrees; but all these are connected with each other either by continuity or contiguity. The government of truth Divine is not separate, although it is distinct, from that of Divine truth. As successive states of the Divine government in the human mind, during the progress of the regenerate life, the higher is evolved from the lower by the orderly process of development, which is the progressive advancement of a being from his lowest to his highest condition of existence. What is evolved must exist in embryo in that from which it is produced. Divine truth exists in embryo in truth Divine, and Divine good in Divine truth. It is as a seed sown in the earth, which "first puts forth the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear" (Mark 4:28). It is not to be supposed that this seed is in man by nature. The human mind consists indeed of three degrees, answering to the three heavens, the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial. These exist in embryo in every human being; and they are successively opened and perfected in those who are regenerated to the highest attainable state. The opening and perfecting of the first or natural degree is described by the reign of Saul; the second or spiritual by the reign of David; the third or celestial by the reign of Solomon. But these degrees are opened and perfected by means of the seeds of truth that are sown in the mind. For these seeds, descending as they do from the Lord through all the heavens, have in themselves, besides the Divine truth, all the degrees of truth that exist in heaven; and it is by the opening and perfecting of these in the mind that the mind itself is opened and perfected. The blade, the ear, and the corn are thus successively produced.

What is true of the regenerate man is true in a supereminent sense and measure of the Lord Himself, as a man born into the world, but a man immeasurably transcending all other men, in being the Son of a Divine Father though of a human mother. As the son of Mary, He possessed the external coverings of the three degrees of the human mind, and these in Him, as in us, were finite; but as the Son of God, He possessed indeed the three degrees of mind answering to the three heavens, but in Him these degrees were not merely such as they are in the minds of angels and men, but such as they are in the Divine mind itself, and therefore infinite. In the Lord's paternal humanity, which was within and above His natural humanity, there was, from His birth, an infinite capacity, or a capacity for the infinite; and as these degrees were opened and perfected, according to the order of human development, the Lord's humanity became actually, as from birth it had been potentially, Divine. The Lord's glorification, like man's regeneration, commenced at His birth. The first of glorification, like the first of regeneration, consisted in acquiring and laying up, in the tender receptacles in the interiors of the mind, the remains of goodness and truth, and thus in forming the rudiments of the states which were to be developed and perfected by actual glorification. This is the descending series: first the celestial, then the spiritual, and lastly the natural. This descending series of Divine operations, both in relation to the Lord and to man, is described, in the internal series, in the history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The ascending series, or the development of these rudimentary states, is described in the history of Saul, David, and Solomon.

The first of these ascending states, described by the history of Saul, we have now considered, both with reference to the glorification of the Lord and the regeneration of man. Imperfectly explained the subject has necessarily been, especially as it relates to the Lord's glorification. If, at best, we can have but a general and obscure knowledge of the regeneration of man, how much more is this true of the glorification of the Lord. And yet it is highly necessary for the Christian to know something of that Divine work by which the Lord provided for the salvation of the human race. Next to the knowledge of the Lord as the only God, the knowledge of His work in the flesh is the most precious that the Scriptures reveal. It is justly maintained by Christians that the Atonement is the corner-stone of the Christian Church. The glorification of the Lord's humanity is the Atonement. It was this which effected the reconciliation of man to God, or of the human nature to the Divine, in the person of the Lord as the Saviour. And it is by the transforming power of the Divine humanity that men are reconciled to God, and, being reconciled, can be saved by His life. "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom 5:10). The life, spiritual and eternal, which dwells in all fullness in the Lord's reconciled and glorified humanity, is that from which men have spiritual and eternal life; and that life transforms them into images of the Lord Himself. This great and blessed truth is destined to transform the whole Christian system as it now is. It sweeps away the entire scheme of substituted punishment and imputed righteousness, which forms the very essence of modern Christianity. But it is not a system of destruction and negation. It gives much more than it takes away. It gives gold for brass, and silver for iron (Isa 60:17). For merely natural it gives spiritual views of the justice and mercy of God. Instead of the Lord suffering in our stead, to satisfy the demands of Divine justice, it shows the Lord suffering for our sake, to satisfy the yearnings of Divine love. It presents the Incarnation in a light of marvelous clearness and transcendent beauty. It shows that God assumed human nature for the purpose of making it perfect through suffering; and having made it perfect, that He can now make men perfect, by conducting them through a life, the image of that which He himself lived upon earth. This is not the doctrine of those who teach that the Lord's work on earth consisted in showing men a perfect example. Men no doubt needed a perfect example; but they needed still more the will and the power to follow that example. These were what the glorification of humanity provided for them. The glorified humanity of the Lord is an ever-present power to prompt men to will and enable them to do of the Lord's good pleasure. It contains all the merit and righteousness which the Lord acquired by His Divine-human life upon earth. Indeed the Lord's humanity not only contains but is merit and righteousness. By living according to the commandments a man has the law inscribed on his heart; by living according to the commandments, or rather by living the commandments themselves, the Lord became the law itself. But this is true in a wider sense than is generally understood. In its largest sense the law means the whole Word; and this the Lord fulfilled, both in the letter and the spirit, in its utmost extent and in all its degrees. Thus did He become the Word in ultimates, as, from eternity, He had been in first principles. This is the Word of which Moses prophetically and spiritually says, "The Word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it" (Deut 30:14); and of which the Lord Himself said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end" (Matt 28:20).

In the history of David's reign we have, in the internal sense, the history of a more advanced stage of the Lord's glorification and of man's regeneration than we possess in the history of the reign of Saul. It describes, as we have said, the process by which the Lord made His humanity Divine truth, David representing the Lord as Divine truth, or, the Divine-spiritual principle in the Lord's humanity. In the secondary sense David represents the spiritual man; and the history of his reign describes that stage of the regenerate life during which man is made spiritual, or during which the spiritual degree of the mind is perfected. We do not say opened, for the opening of the spiritual mind must be understood to have been represented by the circumstance of David having been anointed king during the reign, and long before the death, of Saul. There are three different states of the natural mind in relation to the spiritual, which may be supposed to succeed each other with those who pass from death to life. There is a state of the natural mind when the spiritual mind is shut, a state of the natural mind when the spiritual is not open and yet not shut, and a state of the natural mind when the spiritual mind is open.

We shall not attempt to follow the history of David, as describing in series the progress of the regenerate life which his reign represents; but we hope to draw from it some spiritual instruction and practical lessons that may direct and guide us in our progress through the regenerate life, as the only way to the kingdom of our Divine Sovereign.

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