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David, part 8

David takes the Stronghold of Zion.

2 Samuel 5:6-10.

As the capital of the kingdom is now to be transferred from Hebron to Jerusalem, a few remarks on this may be offered. Hebron was nearer to the borders of Canaan than Jerusalem; and represented a more exterior part of that region of heaven which was given to the spiritual; and also the Church in a less interior state. The removal of the kingdom from Hebron to Jerusalem represented therefore the exaltation of the spiritual in the other life, and of the Lord's love and truth in the mind, by which their dominion becomes more perfect and extensive.

In the first as in the second seat of David's kingdom there is a duality, which is expressive of that distinction which was represented by Jerusalem and Zion. It is sometimes spoken of as Kirjath-Arba, which is Hebron. And Kirjath-Arba and Hebron, like Jerusalem and Zion, signify the two principles of truth and good which unitedly enter into the kingdom and government of the Lord, whether they are grounded essentially in love to Him, or in love to the neighbour. We sometimes indeed speak of the government of truth and the government of good, as expressive of the two kingdoms of the Lord; but we do not mean truth or good separate, but united. That principle which is most active gives its character to the mind. In some minds truth is more active than good, in others good is more active than truth. Yet in every regenerate mind, truth acts from good, or good by truth. And this constitutes the difference between the spiritual and celestial man, church, and heaven.

Jerusalem and Zion, like Arba, which is Hebron, were in the possession of the native inhabitants of Canaan when the children of Israel entered to take their inheritance. Hebron, we have seen, was in possession of the sons of Anak; and in the distribution of the land it was given to Caleb, in fulfillment of a promise which had been given him by Moses forty-five years before, that he should receive all the land on which his feet had trodden, when he went with others to spy Canaan, because he had wholly followed the Lord his God. Caleb and Joshua were the only two of those who left Egypt that entered the Holy Land, the only two who saw the beginning and the end of that eventful history that commenced with the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and ended with their settlement in Canaan. And these two men represented those two principles—goodness and truth—which, amidst all the changes which the mind and life experience, continue to exist, and finally prevail. These enter into and are present in all states, and form them into one, by connecting the first with the last, the beginning with the end. They therefore represent also the new will and the new understanding, which are acquired during the progress of the regenerate life.

David may be considered the Joshua of the regal period of the Israelitish history; and to him was reserved the more arduous work of wresting Jerusalem and Zion from the hands of the Jebusites.

Some difficulty has been experienced in regard to the circumstance of the blind and the lame being intrusted with the defence of the stronghold of Zion, and of David offering a reward, or making it a matter of peculiar merit and importance, to smite the lame and the blind. Although the literal sense of the Word is written for the sake of the spiritual sense, and in some instances is made to yield to it, yet there is no wisdom in creating difficulties where none exist, and the simplest will generally be found the truest and most satisfactory way of explaining such difficulties as the Scriptures, like human writings, sometimes present. The most reasonable view of the matter appears to be, that the place was so strongly fortified, as well as so greatly favoured by nature, that the Jebusites in derision intrusted its defence to the lame and blind, and taunted David with his inability to wrest it even from their feeble hands. There is no reason to suppose that when the Jebusites perceived the nature of the enemy they had to contend with, they left the fate of their city in the hands of those they had derisively placed upon its walls. They no doubt brought their whole strength to bear upon their besiegers, and found its utmost efforts unavailing.

But whatever view may be taken of the precise meaning of the singular circumstance of the inhabitants of Jerusalem affecting to intrust the defence of their city to the most helpless members of their community, the internal spiritual sense remains the same: the fact itself is sufficient for our guidance.

The lame and the blind are the evils and falsities of our own hearts and understandings. In Scripture, where diseases of the body signify diseases of the mind, lameness, which implies partial or entire inability to walk or to work, signifies a debilitated or perverse state of the will, which prevents one from living a useful life; and blindness, because the eyes correspond to the understanding, signifies ignorance or error —which is either unintentional or wilful mental blindness.

If we consider this subject as relating to the work of human regeneration, Zion and Jerusalem, in the hands of the Jebusites, will be seen to represent the will and understanding not yet delivered from the power of evil desires and false persuasions. In David we see a type, in the highest sense, of the Lord as the Deliverer and Saviour, by whose omnipotent arm the enemies of the heart and mind are overcome, and who establishes His kingdom where that of Satan once had been. Hut whether we speak of the Lord or of His Divine love and truth it is the same: for the Lord is Love itself and Truth itself; and He is present in His love and truth in the minds of men, but cannot be present, as a saving power, out of or without them. Whether therefore we speak of the Lord and His power, or of His truth and its power, within us, it is the same; and in this sense and way we may consider the Lord's representative, David, in the present circumstances. The truth of the Lord has now, we may consider, laid siege to the highest thoughts and affections of the mind, the most powerful stronghold of the evils and falsities of our hereditary nature; and in the particulars of the Divine record we may find some instructive lessons as to the nature and results of the contest. The lame and the blind are represented as the great obstacles to the reduction and possession of the city by David; and the king himself regards them as such, since he exhorts the people to get up to the gutter and smite them.

The Jebusites, as one of the seven nations who were devoted to destruction, represented one of the primary or essential evils and falsities with which no league can be made. They were like the seven devils of the New Testament which must be cast out to effect perfect purification, and like the seven spirits more wicked than himself with which the evil spirit that has gone out of a man returns, and by which the last state of that man becomes worse than his first. We are not indeed to understand that the number of such destructive evils is seven; the number seven is employed to denote the quality rather than the quantity of evils that are essentially destructive of the spiritual life, and which are therefore themselves to be cast out or destroyed. For the number seven, in its favourable sense, is expressive of what is holy, and in its opposite sense, of what is profane. Whatever is evil and false may indeed be said to be profane, and therefore the seven nations and seven evil spirits comprehend all evils and falsities. Yet there are evils and false principles which are not essentially so in relation to those who are in them, when they are the fruit of ignorance, or the indirect but unintentional results of an imperfect or erroneous faith. Such evils are not essentially profane, nor absolutely destructive of spiritual life; and these were represented by the remote nations whom the children of Israel were permitted to spare and make tributaries. The Jebusites, under their more favourable representative character, signify a false principle in which there is something of truth; and for this reason they were long permitted to remain in Jerusalem, and were never entirely expelled. In one respect the presence of some redeeming quality in that which is nevertheless essentially wrong is the means of its preservation, since evil does not appear so evil when it can present a good side, nor does falsity appear so false when it can show something of truth. The magicians of Egypt were able to deceive by simulating the miracles of Moses, so long as these miracles represented states in which there was a mixture of evil and good, as of truth and falsity; but as soon as Moses came to perform wonders which represented states of evil and falsity alone, the power of the magicians ceased. Those who are well disposed cannot be deceived and led by mere evil and falsity, but they can be seduced by those which can put on some appearance of goodness and truth.

But the Jebusites intrusted the defence of the city to their lame and blind, because these were unable to offer any serious resistance. They must therefore have represented something less essentially opposed to the Israelites than the men of war who might have been opposed to David and his men, and who stood behind them ready to put forth their power if the necessities of the case should require it. The Lord said to the Jews, "If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains." Blindness, when it signifies ignorance, is not sinful; lameness, when it signifies the want, but not the abuse of power, is not criminal. But when these are assumed, or when, as in the present instance, the blind and the lame are put forward in derision or for deception, then is the criminality greater than where there is no confession of sin, no show of humility or of impotence. The lame and the blind are therefore spoken of as being hated of David's soul, as well as pointed out for destruction. Yet it is to be observed that not these alone are mentioned as the objects of his hate and hostility. For David says, "Whosoever gets up to the gutter, and smites the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated," evidently combining them in his mind, as the enemies against whom his hatred and power were to be directed. It is added, indeed, as if these feeble opponents were the special objects of his dislike, that the Israelites therefore said, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house." But there is some obscurity about this passage, that leaves room to doubt whether it lends any countenance to this idea. In the margin of our Bibles it is rendered differently, so as to put this expression into the mouth of the lame and blind themselves: "Because they had said, even the lame and the blind, He shall not come into the house." There is something unaccountable in the idea of the Israelites declaring, for this is not spoken by David alone, that the lame and blind should not come into the house, unless we suppose this to have been a decree made at a future period. For then there was no house of the Lord in Jerusalem. The tabernacle was not set up there till several years afterwards; nor is there any reason to suppose that any of the Jebusites would be permitted to come into the house of the Lord.

After David had taken the stronghold of Zion, he dwelt in the fort and called it the city of David, and built round about from Millo and inward. This stronghold of error had become the city of truth; and had acquired a "new name" expressive of its new quality. And what was possessed needed to be defended. The building round about from Millo and inward was no doubt the beginning at least of those magnificent edifices, both for defence and enjoyment, which afterwards called forth the Psalmist's praises of this "joy of the whole earth." "Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark you well her bulwarks, consider her palaces" (Ps 48:12, 13). The attainment of a state of holiness, and the preservation of that state when attained, are objects that should be combined in our religious life.

David had now entered on a new career, attended, as all spiritual progress is, with hindrances and trials, which are but the permitted means of calling forth mental energy, and increasing humility and trust. "David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him." Those who go on in the way of truth and grow in the love of goodness have the God of love and truth with them, nay, in them; for it is He that enables them both to will and to do of His good pleasure. The Lord of hosts is with them in their spiritual conflicts. The armies that He leads forth for the aid of the faithful, are His angelic hosts and the truths of His Word. These ever act together. They are the instruments by which the Lord opposes the hosts oi the enemy. These opposing hosts are in our own hearts and minds. There is the conflict, there is the victory, which cannot fail to be obtained when the Lord God of hosts is with us.

One result of David's success and greatness was that Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to him with materials and workmen, and they built David a house. Hiram, who afterwards did so much to aid Solomon in the building of the temple, represented those who possess the knowledge of goodness and truth, and who thus supply the means and intelligence for building up in the mind a habitation for the Lord. David's house was such a habitation, not, indeed, like the temple, which was a type, not only of the regenerate mind, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, both of the Divine humanity of the Lord, as the temple of His Divinity; his house was a type of the mind when the Lord's truth finds in it a fixed abode. "David [therefore] perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for His people Israel's sake." This stage in David's progress represents the establishment of spiritual truth as a governing principle in the regenerate mind. The spiritual state is not yet perfected; but the spiritual principle has obtained so firm a hold on the affections, that it gives the mind a joyful sense of stability and therefore of power.

Distinct though not apart from this spiritual view of the subject, David expresses an enlightened view of the purpose for which kings reign. The Lord had exalted David's kingdom for His people Israel's sake. This is the principle of the Divine government. The Lord governs for His people's sake. He desires that His kingdom should be exalted in the hearts of men, that He may rule them for their own good. He has no view to His own glory separate from their happiness.

Another result of the prosperous condition of David's kingdom is one that, naturally considered, is not so pleasing to reflect upon. "David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David." Spiritually, these additions mean an increase of the affections of truth and goodness, and the sons and daughters born are the virtues that are produced by them. The names of the wives are not given; but the names of the sons born to David in Jerusalem are mentioned. As natural births mean spiritual births, the sons of David, like the sons of Jacob, have a representative character, and their names have a spiritual meaning. The order of their birth is also descriptive of the order in which the qualities they represent come into existence. It would perhaps be difficult accurately to explain the nature and order of the spiritual births which these sons of David represent. And yet the Divine record affords the means of forming some conception of what is involved in these successive births. Hebrew names have a meaning, although we cannot always be certain what their exact meaning is. And as, in Scripture, names are significative as well as persons and things, they serve as the means of interpretation. Let us see whether the signification of the names given to the eleven sons of David born in Jerusalem does not suggest some idea of a series of qualities that enrich the mind in the progress of the regenerate life. Shammuah, signifies hearing; Shobab, brought back (from enemies); Nathan, given (by God); Solomon, peaceable; Ibhar, whom He (God) elects; Elishua, God the rich; Nepheg, shoot, bud; Japhia, illustrious; Elishama, my God will hear, or hearken; Eliada, whom God knows, i.e. acknowledges and cares for; Eliphalet, God of salvation. The series begins with hearing and ends with salvation. But there is a connection of the whole, which we may attempt to trace.

The first son is named from hearing; and hearing is faith in the will, as seeing is faith in the understanding. Faith in the will, or obedience to the truth, delivers the Christian disciple from the power of his enemies, which are the evils of his own heart. So far as evil is removed, the Lord gives good, or, what is the same, charity. And when good is united to truth, or charity to faith, the Christian comes into a peaceable state, or receives of the Lord's peace. Then is he numbered with the elect; for the elect are those whom the Lord has chosen, because they have chosen Him as their teacher and guide. When the disciple has chosen the good part, he becomes rich in God, being enriched with the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; with the fear of the Lord: that is wisdom. A new state of development now begins. When the life of love flows into the mind from the Lord, as heat from the sun into a tree, it causes it to bud, and to put forth shoots. Next the buds unfold themselves in a garb of foliage, and the tree puts forth its blossoms as the promised wealth of harvest; and this is the spiritual state of being illustrious, for blossoms signify intelligence, and fruit the works of righteousness. These two states are not the beginning of the new life; for the regenerate man must, like a tree, have attained some degree of maturity before he can have the power of reproduction. But what connection is there between this last state and that which is expressed by God hearing? A blessed and fruitful state of the Church is described by Hosea in these words: "It shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, says the Lord, I will hear the heavens and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her to me in the earth" (Hos 2:21-23). The Lord hears us when all things of the mind from the highest to the lowest correspond, each answering to the other, and all in a state of agreement with Him. There are two different acts of hearing. We hear the Lord when we receive His truth into our will; He hears us when our will is in agreement with His truth. The first is reception, the second is reciprocation. When the Lord hears us, He knows us, and we also know Him. "I know My sheep, and am known of Mine. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." Then truly may the Christian say, God my salvation!

There is some similarity between these eleven sons of David and the last eleven sons of Jacob.

The name of the first of these sons of David has the same signification as that of the second son of Jacob, and he has the same spiritual meaning. Reuben was Jacob's first-born, and he was named from seeing; Simeon was his second son, and he was named from hearing. The understanding sees truth, the will hears it. Now regeneration does not begin actually till truth enters the will, that is, till Simeon is born. David's sons born in Hebron were six in number, and the number six has relation to truth, and to states of truth. His sons born in Hebron may be considered, relatively to those born in Jerusalem, as Reuben was to the other sons of Jacob. It is deserving of remark that, like Reuben, some of David's first sons misconducted themselves. Amnon ravished his sister Tamar, Absalom rebelled against his father David, and Adonijah rebelled against his brother Solomon. All three died a violent death, as the result directly or remotely of their crimes. Reuben and Absalom committed the same sin: each went up to his father's couch.

So far we may consider the sons of David and the sons of Jacob to have a relative signification. As natural signify spiritual births, the same general fact is represented by them all, differing according to the state of mind and stage of the new life in each case.

David's prosperity did not secure him against trial. Regeneration is to a considerable extent a succession of states of alternate trial and triumph, of tribulation and repose. "When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David." So formidable was this array that David again betook himself to the hold. The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim, or of the giants. But David, encouraged by the Lord his God, went up against them, and defeated them. A second invasion by the same foes was followed by the same result; and David "smote the Philistines from Geba until you come to Gazer." Having already considered several of Israel's conflicts with the Philistines, we can the more readily leave these without particular explanation. Not that they are unimportant; but they can be more easily understood from those which have been already explained. Other events, and of a different character, claim their share of our attention.

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