MAY 16.1 SAMUEL 26.
"Love your enemies, do good to
them that hate you."Luke 6:27 .
OUTLAWED and hunted by King Saul, young David had a varying career. He was soon joined by a class of unfortunates, justly or unjustly ostracized from society. Some of them doubtless were criminals; some were debtors, liable to imprisonment, who fled to preserve liberty, etc. At all events young David soon found himself at the head of a company of about four hundred men, more or less armed, more or less desperate.
It was a great training for him in preparation for his kingdom work later on. It gave him an inside view of the conditions of the ne'er-do-wells of society. Himself and his little army doubtless subsisted upon foragings, collecting a toll in the nature of a tax from the farmers. In offset to this toll, or tax, David doubtless defended them from the marauders who frequently came, not only from the Philistines, but also across the Jordan from Moab. Evidently up to that time no adequate police protection had been provided by King Saul's government. Instead of guarding the interests of his subjects properly, the king was mad with jealousy against his faithful servant David, and from time to time instituted pursuits of him, much after the manner of hunting expeditions for wild beasts in the forest.
Amongst those who came to David were three of his nephews, sons of his sister. These afterward became very prominently identified with King David in all his work. One was Joab, who became the captain of the host, or general. Abishai and Asahel were the two others, men of ability, who afterward became renowned in the kingdom.
For a time David and his company had the cave of Adullam as a stronghold. It is greatly to his credit that he refused to plunge his nation into civil war, as he would have been abundantly able to do. Evidently the majority of the people would have sided with him from the first, and his victory over King Saul might have been easily accomplished. And how easily he might have deluded himself into thinking that such would be God's will! He remembered that the Lord, through the Prophet Samuel, had anointed him to be the king; but he remembered also that it was not for him to take possession, but to abide God's time, when Divine Power would overthrow Saul's kingdom and give the control to himself as Saul's successor as king.
How blessed it would be if all of God's people would thus remember to wait upon the Lord! "Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until that Day when I rise up to the prey." The Lord's times and seasons are best for us, and any attempt on our part to push ourselves in advance of the Lord's will would be sure to react unfavorably. It was because David was thus full of faith in God and possessed of the spirit of obedience to Him that he was called a man after God's own heartnot that he was perfectnot that he always did the Lord's will, but that the Lord's will was his real heart's desire; and whenever through weakness of the flesh he took a different course, he was prompt to repent on seeing the mistake, to implore Divine forgiveness and to change his course.
Joseph Parker, commenting, says, "There is no straining of the meaning in discovering in all this picture a type of the position of Jesus Christ in the world. He was despised and rejected of men; He had not where to lay His head; and the people who immediately surrounded Him were characterized by unaccountable expectations, personal inferiority, social degradation, and also by needs of every description; surely it was no valiant or brilliant host that gathered around the Son of God whilst He tenanted this Adullam cave which we call the earth."
While sojourning with his followers at the cave of Adullam, David, in a fit of home-sickness, referred to the fine well-water of his Bethlehem home, intimating how much he would relish it if he could have it here. Thereupon three of his faithful followers, one of them his nephew, undertook the perilous journey, unknown to David. It was perilous for two reasons: first, they were outlaws from King Saul; second, Bethlehem was in the hands of the Philistines at the time; but notwithstanding these difficulties these brave men manifested their love and loyalty to their leader, and brought a water-skin from the favored well.
When they arrived and presented it to David, he showed a wonderful loyalty of heart. Not only did he appreciate the great devotion that they had shown, the risk that they had run and the water that they had brought, but he declared it was too precious and gotten at too great a cost to be lightly used. He poured it forth upon the earth in oblation, a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord for the blessings they were enjoying and for the comfort and support of such loyal associates. Surely the greatness of David and his devotion to the Lord and his faith were well manifested again in this transaction! It marks him as more than an average mana noble man.
By this time David and some of his followers were at a place called Nob, where Ahimelech the priest showed him kindness. King Saul, learning of this through a spy, slaughtered all the priests of that place and all of their lineage, eighty-five persons. This brought to David one of the sons of Ahimelech with the priestly ephod. One of the prophets had also joined David. All of this helped [R5672 : page 123] to make David's position the more secure, and to convince Saul all the more that God's favor was departed from him. Nevertheless Saul continued to fight against God and His Divine Program.
Under these circumstances David's forces gradually increased to the number of six hundred, increasing his experience also and preparing him the better for his coming work. As Bishop Wilberforce remarks, "A mighty training lay in that wild outlaw life for the knowledge and government of men. Nothing but the completest personal supremacy could hold such unruly elements under any species of command; and David, the unwilling head of such a following, learned in mastering them the secret of governing men and of knitting together their discordant hearts into an harmonious unity."
Every now and then King Saul would become feverish for the destruction of David. On one of these occasions, David and his company were occupying a cave amongst the bleak rocks on the west side of the Dead Sea, when King Saul, with probably a good-sized company, pursuing David, entered the same cave for rest and refreshmentfor how long we know not. Kitto tells us that some of these caves are quite large enough to shelter fifteen hundred men. Another writer remarks, "A traveler indeed tells us that in one of them, which lies some twenty miles from En-gedi, no fewer than thirty thousand people once hid themselves. These caverns are dark as midnight. One can see outward clearly, but to see four paces inward is impossible."
David and his associates were further back in the cave; and when Saul and his company entered it to rest, the desire of David's band was that Saul at least should be killed, and that thus the trying experiences of them all might be ended and that a just recompense should be made for the evils the king had done and was doing. But David would not consent. Instead, however, he cut a piece from King Saul's robe as a demonstration that the king had been fully within his grasp, and that he could have killed Saul had he chosenas a demonstration, too, of his loyalty to the king.
Then, when the king and his company had gone a certain distance so that there was no danger, David and his associates showed themselves and protested that the king was not appreciative of the loyalty of his subjects, and that he was seeking their lives when they would not take his. Saul's better nature was aroused; and he wept, saying, "Thou art more righteous than I." And for the time, the hunting of the outlaw David was abandoned with the promise that he would never do so again. Nevertheless, our lesson tells of another similar experience a little later on.
On this occasion David, with his nephew alone, went into Saul's camp and took away from beside his head his spear and his royal water-bottle. Departing with these, they from a distance on an opposite hill, a ravine between, could safely speak to Saul and his host and be heard. David pointed out to the king that he not only was more vigilant than Saul's soldiers, but that he was more loyal to the king's interests and that if a messenger were sent he would return both the spear and the bottle; that he wished no harm, but merely brought these away to further convince the king of his absolute loyalty; and that to pursue him as an enemy was a mistake.
Such an intrusion into the camp of a king today would be impossible because of modern methods of setting guards, pickets, etc., but not so in olden times, nor to any great extent in eastern countries today. We recall that Gideon and his band similarly invaded a camp. We recall Abraham's pursuit of the five kings, and his finding them enwrapped in slumber without proper picketing. A traveler of large experience in the East says, "The Arabs sleep heavily, especially when fatigued. Often when traveling my muleteers and servants have agreed to watch together in places thought to be dangerous; but in every instance I soon found them to be fast asleep, and generally their slumbers were so profound that I could not only walk among them without their waking, but might have taken the very covering from them."
David's explanation of his unwillingness to take the life of his enemy was that Saul was God's anointed, and that to have made an assault upon him would have been to attack the Almighty's arrangements. This David could not conscientiously do. "Touch not Mine anointed, and do My ministers no harm."
It is well that we of today should have in mind this principle. We are not to think of the kings of today as being the Lord's anointed, however. They are their own anointed. Their kingdoms are kingdoms of this world. On the contrary, Israel was God's special kingdom, which He had accepted under a special covenant arrangement. By Divine authority King Saul had been anointed with special anointing oil, which typified the Holy Spirit. David's anointing with the same oil was not to give him a right to interfere with the Lord's anointing previously accomplished in Saul, but to give him the assurance that he was to be the successor of Saul, not by his removing Saul, but by the Lord's giving the possession in His own time and way.
Although the coins of all the kingdoms of earth represent that their rulers reign and govern as representatives of Messiah's Kingdom, we know that this is a mistake. Messiah's Kingdom has not yet been established. We are still praying, "Thy Kingdom come."
When God removed His typical kingdom from the earth, the Message to the last king, Zedekiah, was, "This shall not be the same. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more until He comes whose right it is and I will give it unto Him." Thus was intimated an interregnum, as far as Divine rulership in the world was concerned, from Zedekiah's time until Messiah's Millennial Kingdom. Meantime, however, God did give the Gentiles an opportunity to show what kind of kingdom they would be able to establish in the world. From the days of Zedekiah, 606 B.C., to the present time, we have had four distinct kinds of government, and the fourth one modified in a deceptive manner. These kingdoms were (1) Babylonia, (2) Medo-Persia, (3) Greece, and (4) Rome. The present governments of Europe are the Roman Empire under a new gloss, or pretense. Their laws, methods and ambitions are the same as those of the Romans exactly; but deceiving and being deceived, they style themselves Christian kingdoms; and by common consent the whole world is accustomed to speaking of these as Christendomthat is, Christ's Kingdom.
The Bible pictures this; and in the symbolic image which represented all these governments, the feet were of iron the same as the legs, but were smeared with miry clay to make them look like stone feetstone being the symbol of God's Kingdom. So these kingdoms of Europe today at war and manifesting anything but a Christian spiritmanifesting anger, malice, envy, hatred and strife, which the Apostle says are "works of the flesh and the Devil"these are the kingdoms which are claiming to be Messiah's [R5673 : page 124] Kingdom, and are represented in the feet of the image, colored like the Stone Kingdom, which is shortly to fill the whole earth.Daniel 2:31-45.
Messiah's Kingdom is pictured as "a stone cut out of the mountain without hands," without human power; and it, in the days of these kings, represented by the toes of the image, is to smite the image and grind it to powder; and the stone is to become the great Mountain, or Kingdom, of the Lord in all the earth. This smiting, we believe, is near at hand, the present war of Europe being intended of the Lord to weaken the nations and to prepare them for the next stage of trouble, the great earthquake, which in symbol signifies revolution.
Following the revolution quickly, is to come the great symbolic fire which is to destroy the present order of things entirely. This fire represents anarchy, the overthrow of all rule and authority. Thus God is allowing man to prove to himself that his best attainments are but imitations and ultimately lead to disaster. The lesson learned, all mankind will be ready for Messiah's Kingdom, which will then be ushered in and be "the desire of all nations."Haggai 2:7.