2 Samuel 23

How different is the character of 2 Samuel 23! “These be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds (the anticipation of the day of Jehovah Himself); as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.”
Thus we find two things—the bright expectation of the kingdom, with the solemn sense that the time was not yet come. No man felt it more than king David. The fact that God put into his mouth the anticipations of the Messiah—that he himself knew that he in a striking manner (the most so of any man up to that day) was made the progenitor and type of the Messiah—this very fact made his own shortcomings, errors, and sins more poignantly felt. Well he knew that those failures of himself were darkly shadowed out, and retributively brought to mind, in the grief and shame and dishonor of his house. Thus we find a double current in the heart of David—his faith bright and undimmed in the joy that was coming with the true king who would surely sit upon his throne; but meanwhile his was the softened spirit, the broken and the contrite heart, of a man that knew what moral humiliation means as regarded himself and all his house. What in David could be more lovely in itself, or more suited to the actual state of things, than these two facts, both made true in his soul? And should it not be the very same thing with us now? Is it not important to see that the sense of our failure, as well as of what we are, is never meant to interfere with the brightness of our confidence in the Lord? Conscience must be exercised unhinderedly; and so must faith also. Grace provides for both in the believer's heart. It is excellent thus to look onward, the eye filled with the glory of the Lord Jesus, and the heart resting on His grace. But there should also be the unsparing judgment of ourselves in the light, and consequently due and suited confession. Where this is, there will be the lowliness that becomes men who have no standing-place but in grace. God forbid that this should be wanting in any Christian. It is bard to preserve the balance of truth; but at least it is well to desire it. Let us beware of having the appearance of one-sidedness. To be cast down with the constant sense of shame because of what we are, to hang our heads as bulrushes, is a poor testimony to the love of Christ, and to the victory God gives us through Him. But it is a worse state where the recognition of His grace is misused to enfeeble conscience and destroy sensibility as to sin, above all as to our own sins.
It is well that we should know that the path of faith is far removed from either of these two things. For we are entitled to enjoy the brightness of what Christ is and has done for us; but there is also the unfailing and never-to-be-forgotten sense of what it cost Him so to suffer for us.
David then anticipated the two things as perhaps no Old Testament saint as far as I am aware up to that day had ever done. It is evident too that, as he began with a very simple confidence in the Lord, so he went through a most heart-breaking process in his experience.
The kingdom is before him here. He sees clearly the judgment of the wicked. “The sons of Belial,” as he says, “shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: but the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.” This will never be till Jesus execute the judgment.
Then follow the names of his mighty men, and certainly there is one act among them that may well read a lesson of the gravest kind to us. I do not allude now to the brave men that broke through the army of the Philistines, and brought to David of the water of Bethlehem that he longed for. I speak of the grace which, when it was brought, refused to touch it, of the faith that could look on that water, much as he had longed for it, as the blood of those mighty men that had risked their lives. Oh for more of this self-renouncing power of faith!
On the great deeds of these heroic men we need not dwell now, save to make this simple remark: God looks for another kind of might now. It is not so much the worth of doing that He values as the lot of suffering, what one of our own poets has called in prose “the irresistible might of weakness.” We may well covet this in the name of the Lord Jesus—that power which is most of all shown in being nothing that Christ may be magnified, in accepting whatever of scorn, shame, loss or persecution, the Lord sees meet for us to bear, because we take our side unqualifiedly with Him and with His truth in a day when not merely the world, or man in general, but even Christendom is departed from Him. And there is no trial so great as this, because in it we see those that the Lord loves taking part against His name with those that hate Him.
To appear even to blame the children of God ought to be a pain to us. To differ from, and by differing to condemn, in word or deed, those we esteem better than ourselves, must lead to searching of our own heart, but not to question the unerring Word of God—rather to confirmation of faith; but not the less ought the testimony He gives us to be taken up and borne unflinchingly, only let us be sure that it is the will of the Lord. There is nothing that gives such firmness both to do and to suffer as the certainty of what the will of the Lord is. May we learn it! This was what these brave men felt and proved. This assurance nerved their arm with might; this by grace gave them victory. It was not their strength, nay, it was their faith, and there are no victories so precious in the eyes of God. But, beloved brethren, I believe that we have and that all the children of God have as bright an opportunity, yea a brighter still. For have not you now the path marked out for you in the world? Oh, may your faith win victory! But remember the only victories that God now registers as precious in His eyes are those won under the shadow and in the power of the cross of. Christ—those that most take their stamp from His death. This is our one sign: with this let us conquer in faith. We shall reign with Christ by and by; let us be content to suffer with and for Him now: what can the world do if we suffer? To it an evident token of perdition, to us of salvation.