Archive

Posts Tagged ‘1 Samuel’

Various Scripture Thoughts for Today

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment

God’s Divine Providence, Fore-ordination, and Omniscience, as Shown in 1 Samuel 23

From S. Lewis Johnson’s “Lessons from the Life of David,” I’m now in 1 Samuel 23, a chapter that shows God’s amazing providence in the ways that He delivers David from Saul.  The incident at Keilah, where David inquires of the Lord if the men of Keilah will give him over to Saul, shows both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, with no contradiction in these two seemingly incompatible ideas.  But an appeal exclusively to God’s sovereignty, in the case of Keilah, would have left David and his men passively waiting around for Saul to show up and to be handed over to Saul by the Keilahites.  After all, God said they would hand him over to Saul, so leave it to fate.  But no, David understands the message from God and decides that it’s time to get out of Keilah.

This incident from David’s life also shows God’s divine foreordination and omniscience.  Our God not only knows everything that will come to pass, from beginning to end, past to future — He even knows the things that could happen given certain contingencies, and He knows what the men of Keilah will do given a set of circumstances.

In my daily Bible reading, I’m a few weeks away from 1 Samuel, back in Joshua 15 — a very tedious chapter filled with lists of land descriptions and names of the many cities and villages given to the tribe of Judah.  Yet amongst the many obscure names listed there are a few familiar names, including Ziklag, and Keilah.  I probably would have missed the reference to Keilah but for the SLJ bible study in 1 Samuel 23 today.

Another verse to add, from today’s readings, to go with the above theme of God’s providence and sovereign control:
Proverbs 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

God’s Faithfulness and Promises
From some of my other recent readings, some great verses that show God’s faithfulness and His great promises:

(From list 7) — Isaiah 61:11:   For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

The first part of that verse reminds me of Genesis 8:11 (list 2):  God’s mercy in bringing forth the new world after the flood.  The dove found the olive leaf, a sign of new plant life, that God was already causing the earth to bring forth its sprouts.  Isaiah 61-62 also tell us that, as surely as we can observe plant life, so we can count on God to fulfill what He has promised, that He will “cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations” at His second coming.  God’s promise to restore Israel to the land, and to give them great blessings and prominence among the nations, is just as sure as what we can observe in how the earth and gardens bring forth the plants.

Typology (from S. Lewis Johnson teachings)

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

S. Lewis Johnson frequently taught on the subject of typology, and now after studying through several of his series I have a much clearer understanding of what typology is and is not.  I’m currently listening to two series, one a study through Old Testament narrative chapters (Lessons from the Life of David), the other a doctrinal study of “The Divine Purpose.”  In previous Old Testament series I encountered SLJ’s usage of typology as early as Genesis and again in the “Typology in  Leviticus” study.  The subject comes up rather frequently, such that this week included treatment of typology in both the David series, and in the doctrinal study (currently in the section about dispensational theology and the hermeneutic).

Typology is really just another word for “illustration” or “example,” and has specific characteristics, including historicity and pattern, with correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events.  The type is found in the Old Testament, a historical reality, as distinguished from allegory, of which John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progess” is a classic example.  According to S. Lewis Johnson, types are not restricted to only those which are explicitly pointed out in the New Testament (I have heard that claim before), but still must follow the pattern established by the definition.

The Bible does not contain any true allegories — and here SLJ has discussed the case of Galatians 4:24.   Some translations use the word “allegorically” (such as the ESV), but the more accurate translation should be “typologically”  (or “figuratively” as in the NIV).  In any case, the reference in Galatians 4 is to an event (Genesis 21) that actually happened, unlike the story and characters of Pilgrim’s Progress.

What I find especially helpful in Johnson’s teaching, are his many actual expositions of a text, in which he gives a point-by-point typology, showing in a particular case all of the features of a “type.”  During the Genesis series he gave such an example from the life of Joseph, showing the correspondences between Joseph and what he did for his brothers, and what Jesus has done and will yet do.  In the “Lessons from the life of David” he points out similar correspondences between David in the wilderness and Jesus Christ during the present age.

Typology: David the True King, but Not Yet Reigning

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Through all my sources of reading and listening, I sometimes forget where I first heard a particular idea: was it something in a Spurgeon sermon I read? Or was it something I heard from S. Lewis Johnson?  Yet a general trend has emerged, that new information builds on what I already know, and then is reinforced when I hear the same idea again from other sources, to aid in remembering, understanding and expressing the concept.

As one example: the typological understanding of David in 1 Samuel, as the king anointed but not yet on the throne, as illustrative of our Lord Jesus who has accomplished the work of redemption, yet like David is not yet reigning on His throne.  Not long ago I first came across this in my reading from J.C. Ryle:

The Lord Jesus during the present dispensation is like David between the time of His anointing and Saul’s death. He has the promise of the kingdom, but He has not yet received the crown and throne (1 Sam. 22:1, 2).

He is followed by a few, and those often neither great nor wise, but they are a faithful people. He is persecuted by His enemies, and oft times driven into the wilderness, and yet His party is never quite destroyed. But He has none of the visible signs of the kingdom at present: no earthly glory, majesty, greatness, obedience. The vast majority of mankind see no beauty in Him: they will not have this man to reign over them. His people are not honored for their Master’s sake: they walk the earth like princes in disguise. His kingdom is not yet come: His will is not yet done on earth excepting by a little flock. It is not the day of His power. The Lord Jesus is biding His time.

This week I listened to S. Lewis Johnson’s “Lessons from the Life of David” series, covering this same chapter, 1 Samuel 22, that J.C. Ryle references.  Here, SLJ  expands on this very issue, with a point-by-point comparison between the life of David at this time (1 Samuel 22) and our Lord Jesus during this present Church age:

1.  Saul, the rejected king, is on the throne.  Satan, the rejected king as a result of his original sin, is still on the throne and very active.

The true king has been anointed and accomplished His work, but He is not yet on the throne.

2.  David, the typical true king, has been divinely called and has been victorious over Goliath.  And so the Lord Jesus has been divinely called by the angel and then has been victorious in his incarnation and in his saving work on Calvary’s Cross, and just as David took Goliath’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, so the Lord Jesus in the words of one of the great expositors, “Has the Giant’s head in his hand and he has carried it to the right hand of the throne of God in token of his ultimate victory.

3.  David, the true king, is persecuted by Saul, the rejected king.  Our Lord Jesus came into our society, was persecuted.  He came to his own, his own received him not.

4.  David, the true king, gathered followers to himself.  He gathered, as our author said, “Those who were in distress, those who were in debt, those who were discontented.”  And so, likewise, in the present day, the Lord Jesus is gathering followers. … So in Saul’s day, David was gathering out followers who formed the people of God.

5.  David’s followers owe their life to him just as the followers of the Lord, Jesus Christ, owe their spiritual life to him.  He is the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep.  He is the one who gives unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.

6.  David’s follower’s descriptions reflect us.  Those in distress came to him.  “Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden,” Jesus said, “Those who are in distress, those who are in debt, and oh, how much we owe and those who are discontented, embittered of soul,” the Hebrew text says it.  The unsaved, incidentally, are always discontented.  If you look back on your life, if you have a day when you came to know the Lord Jesus as your savior, you’ll know as you look at your life, that your life in the past could be characterized, among other things, as discontented.

7.  David’s followers were trained by association with a rejected king.  David’s followers, as you know if you read the Bible, became what Scripture called his mighty men, his mighty men by association with David, his mighty men, they were those who were poor, they were in debt, they were discontented, they were oppressed, but by association with him, his mighty men.  True believing Christians, by association with our Lord, Jesus Christ, become his mighty men.  They’re called “The Sons of the Kingdom.”  And that’s something that God gives to those who associate with him.  Sons of the Kingdom, redeemed by him and, ultimately, even if we fail miserably in this life, ultimately, we shall rule and reign with him, as the Book of Revelation says, upon the earth.

A Hermeneutics Example: Approaches to the Story of David and Abigail

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

The more I listen to good Bible teaching, the more I appreciate it — and the more I recognize the difference between good and bad Bible teaching.  I also now observe that a preacher who is inclined to allegorize and spiritualize in some areas (such as creation and end times) will exhibit the same tendencies even with narrative historical texts, such as from the life of David.  One such example is 1 Samuel 25, the story of David and Abigail.

The allegorizing hermeneutic looks at this story and just brushes over the surface of the actual story, reading the text along with a few comments about obvious things, like how foolish Nabal was to insult someone who has several hundred men “in your back 40” and that’s like spitting into the wind — and then expanding on one part of the story, Abigail’s petition to David, and portraying it as a wonderful picture of intercession, Abigail’s interceding for her foolish husband and that as a picture of Jesus’s intercession for us, and so on.  It sounds great if you just skim the surface and don’t really think about it, but it doesn’t satisfy the true spiritual hunger to really know God’s word and what it says — and doesn’t do proper justice to the many things that actually are in this text.  One obvious problem with that approach is that the man she was interceding on behalf of (Nabal) was judged by God and struck dead.  If God had instead changed Nabal’s heart for the better and spared his life, perhaps — but again, the text simply does not bear out the spiritualizer’s imagination.

Contrast that approach with the treatment in a good expository lesson through 1 Samuel 25 — from S. Lewis Johnson’s “Life of David” 8-part series.  (He again covered this text several years later in his expanded 40-part “Lessons from the Life of David” series, in a similar manner.)  Johnson looks at the text in three parts, and examines each of the characters:  David, Nabal, and Abigail.  The story has a lot to say about practical Christian living, and SLJ references several Proverbs as well as the parable of the rich man in Luke 12.

Regarding David, SLJ again notes David’s declension in moving away from the stronghold, and that David really didn’t need to go and beg for provisions from Nabal — again a lack of trust.  David’s request was still a reasonable one, though, and in keeping with the culture and the festive occasion of sheep shearing, a traditional time of sharing your abundance with the poor.  David and his men were certainly among the poor, and Nabal had at least that obligation to the poor.  Nabal’s real error, though, for which he was judged, was his failure to recognize God’s anointed — and that can be compared to the wicked sinner who fails to recognize David’s “greater Son” Jesus, and the eternal consequences.

David responds to the insult with rashness and the intent to commit great harm (and this part reminds me of the rash, wicked act of Simeon and Levi in Genesis 34).   Proverbs 26:4, “do not answer a fool according to his folly,” is shown here in David’s mistake.

Abigail is the surprising one in the story, for she shows great knowledge concerning the Davidic promises, in her certainty that David will become king.  The important lesson here is:  “let the coming glory that you are to have regulate your present actions.”  In S. Lewis Johnson’s words:

Abigail’s argument is something like this: David we know you’re going to be king over Israel and when you’re king some day you’ll have grief over the fact that before you became king you lost your temper and you got your men together with your swords in hand and you went down and slew Nabal and all the rest of the men who were associated with him.  So she argues something like this: let the coming glory that you are to have regulate your present actions.

Now, that’s an interesting argument because it’s the same kind of argument that we have in the New Testament, because we are told in the New Testament that we have died with Christ, we have been buried with him, we’ve been raised up together with him, we’ve been made to sit together with him in heavenly places, and in the light of the fact that we have been made to sit together with him in the heavenly places we are to live as heavenly children in this earth in this present season.  It’s the old argument of the Christian life, based on the position that we enjoy in Christ and because we are righteous, we should be righteous in our daily lives.  Because we have this great standing with the Lord, our present state should be comparable to it, so she argues from the basis of his future that he should not do what he intends to do.  So it is a beautiful lesson that the present is to be regulated by the future.  Not simply by the fact that in the future we’re going to be judged, such as we have in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 10 (we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ), but rather you should live in the light of what you are going to be.  In our case we are positionally righteous, we are positionally sanctified and therefore we should live lives characterized by growing experience of sanctification; because we are holy in the sight of the Lord now, we should live in a holy way.

Another proverb tell us, “As an earring of gold an ornament of fine gold so is a wise reprove upon an obedient ear.”  David is a great man and shows himself able to take the reproof.

The last section of the chapter is the “retribution and requital,” where God takes vengeance upon Nabal the next morning.  Here the parable in Luke 12 is especially apt, as well as the truth that “vengeance is mine, I will repay thus saith the Lord.”  SLJ suggests that Jesus may well have been thinking of Nabal when He told the story in Luke 12.  Certainly Nabal fits the bill, the perfect description of the rich man who stores up his treasures in bigger and bigger barns but is not generous toward God, not realizing that “this very night” his life will be required of him.

Various Devotional Thoughts

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Several different devotional thoughts and teachings have helped encourage me in my daily Christian walk.

Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs has a good article in his study through Colossians, about being thankful — a good reminder every day.

Today’s “Morning and Evening” devotional from Spurgeon has a great “evening” edition, from the text of Exodus 17:2 and the prayer of Moses.  As usual, Spurgeon is spot on with his observations, such as this one:

It is far easier to fight with sin in public than to pray against it in private. It has been observed that while Joshua never grew weary in the fighting, Moses did grow weary in the praying; the more spiritual an exercise, the more difficult it is for flesh and blood to maintain it.

The more I continue daily reading and study through God’s word, the more I realize my need for it every day.  A related thought: yesterday’s grace and yesterday’s prayers and thoughts are not sufficient, but continual reminders are needed; even then, sometimes my soul is still dull and sluggish to respond to the things of God.  Thank God for His immutability, His unchanging nature — even though we are often “foolish and slow of heart” (Luke 24: 25), our God is infinitely patient and will never forsake us.  Often I recall the words of the man who exclaimed to Jesus, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”

One important teaching impressed upon me these last few months has been that, as S. Lewis Johnson put it, our salvation gives us many things, but one thing it does not do is “guarantee that we shall never stumble in the Christian life or that we shall not have periods of declension.”   This point especially comes out in lessons through the lives of the Old Testament saints in Genesis, and in the topical series through the lives of Gideon, Samson, and David.  My frequent failures and up-and-down feelings toward God used to plague me to despair, to the point of doubting my salvation — in the face of several years of that tone of teaching at the local church, with its emphasis on the ever forward-moving improvement and sanctification in the believer’s life, without the proper balance of the reality as illustrated in both Old and New Testament saints.  Such teaching — from a weak preacher who describes the narratives of David’s failures as though they were not declensions but what David had to do and thus it was okay for David, and portrays David as actually a better, less sinful man than the rest of us (because of his special chosen status before God and as a type of Christ) — just didn’t address the truth that David and others in the Bible did blunder, and did so quite often.  As S. Lewis Johnson also pointed out in reference to David as a type of Christ, David is not a type of Christ in his sin, in his humanness.  David is a type of Christ (only) in his official activity — “officially he is a type of Christ because he is a king, and thus he represents the Messianic king who is to come.”   We can learn from David’s personal example, but that is different from teaching that David, being a type of Christ, was somehow better and less prone to sin than the rest of us.

This morning my MP3 teaching came from the message  “Declension of David,”  in which we see the steps David takes in his walk away from the Lord (1 Samuel 21), starting with fear — then to deception, lying about need of haste, needing a sword, a flight to Achish king of the Philistines, then to the feigning of madness and being driven away from a pagan king.  But then Psalms 34 and 56, written at the time of these events, shows us the way out of that declension (Psalm 34) and how to maintain a right walk before God (Psalm 56).

S. Lewis Johnson Teachings

March 31, 2010 1 comment

Here is a brief excerpt from the first message in S. Lewis Johnson’s “Life of David” series, an 8-part series he taught in the late 1970s.  He did this series at the same time as the Genesis series, which he makes reference to.  He had recently preached through the section on Esau and Jacob, as here he likens Saul to Esau, the more likeable guy that we could relate to  — in contrast to Jacob and David.  Johnson also makes reference to the Dallas Cowboys’ Roger Staubach.

It’s possible that a man like Abraham excelled David in faith because when we think of Abraham we think of the great exemplar of faith.  He was the great man of faith, and he is the one who is used as the illustration of faith in the New Testament.  Probably Elijah excelled him in forcefulness because Elijah was the prophet of fire, and no doubt some could make a good case for Moses excelling him in communion with the Lord.  But when you look at David as a versatile man, it’s probably doubtful that any of these men excelled David in versatility for he was a man who had numerous talents and gifts given him by God.  He was a man of faith.  He was a forceful man.  He was a warrior.  He also was a man who spent a great deal of time in fellowship and communion with the Lord.  And so he’s a well rounded man of God.

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Acts series, Acts 21, on the matter of Paul’s attitude towards the Mosaic law:

To put it in the words of one of the finest New Testament commentators, “A truly emancipated spirit, such as Paul’s is not in bondage to its own emancipation.”  We are free to put ourselves under law, for a particular reason, Paul says.  But that doesn’t mean that we are not free.  We are free.  We are free to be under the law.  We are free from the law, or we are free for the exercise of the law upon occasion.

But, now, when it comes to the gospel that’s a different matter.  If, for example, our action of being under law compromises the principle of grace, then the apostle will not submit to a legal requirement.  And the finest illustration of this is the passage in Galatians chapter 2, and Titus’ circumcision.  Timothy is desired to be circumcised, in order that they might have ministry and freedom of it.  But in Titus’ case, where the issue was circumcision as a means of salvation, listen to what Paul says about that.

Galatians 2, verse 1, “Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them, which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.  But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:  And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”