Psalm 16
1 Peter 1:1-9
1 Samuel 30:1-6, 18-25
DJB The question has been weighing with me, dear brethren, as to how the Christian – and, indeed, the Christian company – is to be preserved. And I suggested these Scriptures – which bear, I think, upon us individually and, to some extent, together – to set on an enquiry as to how we may be preserved.
When I say ‘preserved,’ I actually mean being preserved at the most practical level of keeping our faith and our walk, in the state of the world as it now is. I am sure it was always a difficult world, but there are difficulties which are very obvious at the present time. Satan is making a definite assault on a number of things. Some of the things that are most obviously affected relate to the family and family life. I did not have in mind to go into any detail as to that, but rather that we should be alerted, freshly if necessary, to the fact that Satan is active, and that the saints, each of us, as well as the saints when together, need to be preserved.
It does not, of course, manifest itself only in its moral aspects. There is a great tide of what is secular and unbelieving, and that, too, can affect the saints if we are not careful. And we may also be in danger of simply being disheartened.
So we need to be encouraged, but not just in a vague, general way, that everything will come right in the end: we need, rather, to be quite specific that the saints do need to be preserved and that Scripture points to ways in which they can be.
I suggested reading in Psalm 16, first of all, because that presents to us the great example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, we are quite used to the thought of taking up an Old Testament Scripture and applying it. And that is right, and New Testament Scripture commends it. But Psalm 16 actually goes beyond what may be applied to the Lord Jesus. When Peter took up this Scripture for a preaching very early in the Acts of the Apostles, he said, “David says as to Him” (Acts 2:25). David, in this psalm, was given the prophetic word as to the Lord Jesus Himself. But I need hardly say that the Lord Jesus did not have to be preserved from sinning. He was tempted, it says, in all things in like manner as we are, but Scripture carefully adds, “Sin apart” (Heb 4:15). Nonetheless, He was found here in a world that was not congenial. The hymn that we have just sung (150) reminds us not only how the world is, but how it was when the Lord was here.
And so, we see in this psalm the spirit of Christ as He approached the burden of going through the world as it was then, and, indeed, as it is now. And I think, if we have once seen how the Lord took up the experience of passing through this world, we might well seek to learn from Him and, in our measure, seek to go through the world as He did. So the psalm may be used of the Spirit of God at this time to enlighten us freshly as to how the Lord Jesus found His way through the world, and how we might seek to do so ourselves.
And the very first words of the psalm are, “Preserve me, O God: for I trust in Thee.” We shall find an echo of that if we come to the First Epistle of Peter, which tells us that we are “kept guarded by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet 1:5). Faith, for us, sometimes means trusting in a God Who, we may feel, is far from us. That might be how we sometimes feel. But the Lord Himself, of course, had a very close and intimate link with God, but He still said, “I trust in Thee.”
I thought we might just seek help together as we move into and through this psalm. That was the burden of my spirit.
MJC I think it is a necessary consideration. Verse 3 is very interesting. The Father could say when the Lord was here, “In Whom I have found My delight” (Matt 3:17; 17:5). But now we have an extension, “The saints that are on the earth.” Is it a comfort to us to realise that not only is the Father’s delight in Christ, but His chief interest on earth is the saints?
DJB Yes. The Father’s word from heaven confirmed, “In Thee I have found My delight” (Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). The Lord Jesus Himself, of course, prophetically in verse 2, takes the lowly ground. We remember the one who appealed to Him, “Good Teacher, having done what, shall I inherit eternal life?” He said, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, God” (Luke 18:18, 19). Though we would say, with assurance, that the Lord was good, He pointed to God as the Source and Being of all goodness. But it is encouraging that God has His eye upon His saints. He had His eye upon those who were here when the Lord was here, when the Lord identified Himself with them in baptism. But it sets the scene for the psalm that God’s supremacy, God’s glory, His goodness, is claimed firmly as being the security for everything. From there the psalm can move into the circumstances of life.
MJC And that is really where we come in, as needing preservation, is it not?
DJB Yes, it is, because we feel tempted and there is, of course, the sin that so easily entangles us (Heb 12:1), so we need to be particularly guarded and preserved. But we have the Lord as the great Model of faith and dependence. We are, of course, enjoined to keep ourselves, but we shall soon find that we are not equal for that by ourselves, and thus the believer has to look to God, as the Lord Jesus did, to preserve him or her.
PKL Is it significant that the Lord, when the Spirit had come upon Him, was led into the wilderness to be tempted? Speaking reverently, He had the help of the Spirit with Him. We need the Spirit, do we not?
DJB We certainly do. Apart from that time in the Temple at the age of 12 (Luke 2:42 50), the Lord did not embark upon public service, I think, until He had passed through those temptations, and the Spirit was with Him in them, and He gave a right and godly scriptural answer to every temptation that was put His way.
PKL Could you just say what you see those temptations as being, for the Lord? And do we have the same? The one thing the Lord was not tempted by is the indwelling sin that comes out of us: as you said, “Sin apart.” We are tempted by sin that comes out of us, evil thoughts, and so on. The Lord did not have that. But He did have these other temptations.
DJB Matthew 4 would be one place to look – not the only place, of course. Each of the three Gospels puts matters a little bit differently. The first temptation that was put in the way of the Lord, in a sense, was unique to Him. “If Thou be Son of God …” (v3). He was being tempted to come out of the place of dependence and acceptance of the will of God, and to use His own glory to ease His own circumstances. And that He would not do. But He answers according to Scripture, and we can learn from that as well: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which goes out through God’s mouth.” One great, prime lesson for the other temptations. Next time it is, “If Thou be Son of God cast Thyself down,” tempting Him with what, we might say, would be an abuse of His power. And then the most tempting of all, of course, the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. I suppose, in a sense, these are temptations that are unique to the Lord – in the sense that they raised issues that affected Him in His Person. The devil sought to get Him to step out of the conditions of dependence in which He was. Our lesson, I suppose, is to recognise our need of dependence. We sometimes become independent in much smaller ways than were put before the Lord. But they are temptations, nonetheless. We need to be preserved in dependence.
BED Was it special to the Lord? He could say, “Get away behind Me” (Matt 16:23; Mark 8:33), and He says here, “Get thee away, Satan” (Matt 4:10). Was the Lord unique in saying that? We cannot say that, can we?
DJB Well, the question would be whether we have power for it, I suppose. We are told to resist the devil, and we would do well to begin there (James 4:7). He assails us, and we have to put into practice resisting him. It does say, comfortingly, “And he will flee from you.”
DO I was thinking about what you said, that we depend upon God; for us as Christians it is a great relief, or a great help, to think that we have Someone Whom we can depend upon, and to ask Him to preserve us, or “preserve me,” as David prays here in this psalm.
DJB Yes. There are some psalms where the psalmist feels that God is perhaps far away, but the Lord did not see God as far away. There was one time, of course, as we know, when He was forsaken of God, and that was for a very definite reason. But, characteristically, as He went through the world, He was near to God and drew light and help and assurance from Him. I think those middle verses are encouraging ones – He found pleasure in the will of God, “Jehovah is the Portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot.” He said, “I have food to eat which ye do not know” (John 4:32). We know the Lord as a Man of sorrows, but He also found His satisfaction and pleasure in the will of God.
TRP David’s dependence was founded, was it not, on his personal knowledge of God that he had learned in God’s presence? The Lord stands out as unique in His relationship with His God and Father.
DJB Yes, He is unique. When the Scripture speaks of Him as “the only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18), we can see how unique that was – and, in a sense, is – to Him. But, as we read these Scriptures, we seek to take encouragement for our own path through the world, as seeing where the Lord found His assurance and found also His satisfaction.
MJC Does it help us, too, to see that the Lord has preserved us until this moment? I was thinking of what we had recently – Eben-ezer, “Hitherto Jehovah has helped us” (1 Sam 7:12). And I think the verse we have just quoted, verse 5, bears on that, “Thou maintainest my lot.” Now, if we see that we have been maintained and kept and preserved to this moment, then we can have faith and trust that God will see us through.
DJB Yes, and many have reached this point in history – Church history, and soul history – by difficult roads, and it is a good thing if we can say that our confidence in God, rather than being shaken, has been confirmed by the way that He has mercifully brought us, do you think?
MJC Yes, we can cite examples from the history of the Church. Luther said, ‘I can do no more.’ He cast his burden on God, and God saw him through.
SML You mentioned that one of the features of Christ was His delight in the will of God. We do not always find that we are like that. How is that developed with us?
DJB Well, there are some aspects of the will of God that I am sure we can take pleasure in, and readily do. The salvation that He has granted to us, in all aspects, is a matter of thanksgiving. But then there are the tests that come in our way. We may try to avoid them; we may resent and resist them. I think it is a good thing to trace things to God first of all. There is a well-known Scripture, and a well-known tract based upon it with the title, “This thing is from Me” (1 Kings 12:24; 2 Chr 11:4). It is good to recognise that. I have also thought, though, that the apostle, in 2 Corinthians 12, clearly had an experience with God many years before, the detail of which he does not tell us. But then he recognises that something came into his circumstances – and we are not told what it was – “There was given to me a thorn for the flesh,” and he even goes so far as to say, “A messenger of Satan” (v7), which is very severe. But he traces it to being what God allowed in order to teach him something: “That I might not be exalted.” Three times he sought to be free of it, and, without putting ourselves in the place of the apostle, I expect many of us have asked a few times for some burden to be taken away. He says the Lord had an answer, “My grace suffices thee; for My power is perfected in weakness” (v9). I think, if we take that home to ourselves as a lesson, we might be ready to join with the apostle in saying, “Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell upon me.” What do you think?
SML Yes, I think that is a very helpful way of bringing it out, because if we begin from that as accepting things from God, we can see that God has a purpose in it, and His love is behind it. It may not look like it, we may not feel like it, we may even be angry with God at times, but we know that God does everything towards us – “the saints that are on the earth, and to the excellent” (v3). He rejoices over them and He rejoices in us – unbelievably, but He does! And that does help us to see that what God allows is something that we can certainly be restful in, and look for some kind of profit from, as Paul did.
DJB Yes. And some of the prophets are an encouragement to us in this, because they had problems with the ways of God, both with His people and with them personally. You read Habakkuk and you see that he did not find it easy to understand why things were the way they were, nor did Jeremiah – perhaps none of them did. They spoke to God very freely and honestly about it. The disciples of the Lord were equally honest in bringing their burdens to Him. Do you think we are wise to do the same?
SML Yes, I am sure.
MJC The apostle Paul says elsewhere, “That ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).
DJB Yes, is that how you have always found it to be?
MJC No, but it is nevertheless true. The problem is me, is it not? We have to learn to accept God’s will, because often it conflicts with our own.
DJB Well, it does. It is a good thing then to recognise that God is supreme; that is what the opening words imply, “Preserve me, O God.” The Lord called upon the One Who was supreme in the universe to preserve Him. We might well do the same.
JMW Do you think the expression in verse 8 would be an encouragement to us? It says, “I have set Jehovah continually before me.” You were saying that we might get shaken and disturbed, but that kind of objective in a Person is real and secure and stable, and would steady us in the midst of all adversity.
DJB Yes, when Peter takes up this psalm (Acts 2:25), he begins his quotation from there, showing that the Lord’s way through death began with this assurance: “I have set Jehovah continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” And from there he moves into the scene of resurrection. Now, that, of course, was unique to the Lord. He is the only One, so far, to be raised from the dead. He is the First-fruits (1 Cor 15:20, 23). We look to the Lord of resurrection as giving us hope. And so, as you get older, the prospect gets brighter, not dimmer. Would you say that?
JMW Yes, I would; and also, there is a sense of definiteness in that verse, “I have set Jehovah continually,” or always, “before me.” We must have an Object in our lives, or else we shall just be wishy-washy.
DO We speak also about ‘priorities’ in our life – do you think that is important?
JMW I do.
TRP Is that why, when God, in His grace, gave His commandments, the first commandment was, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thine understanding” (Mark 12:30)?
DJB Yes. We have rightly learned, of course, that none of us is equal for keeping the law of God as it is set out in the commandments. But it is always worth remembering that “the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom 7:12). It did set out, and does set out, what is best for man. To love God, and then our neighbour as ourself – that is the divine standard.
PJC It is very striking that the Lord, Who trusted in God probably more than anyone else, still felt it necessary to say, “Preserve Me.” I just feel it should make us even more anxious about that matter, to request of God, and of the Lord, that He may preserve us. I just feel it is a word to me today.
DJB Well, I feel it for myself. I am sure the brethren who have contemplated the Lord and His glory and His humanity – anyone who does so – will have cause to reflect on the fact that He was God manifest in flesh, but that He took the place of dependence and did not depart from it. That shows itself time and again as we read the Gospels. There is a mystery as to the Person of Christ, but His dependence comes through unmistakably. And He has left us a model that we should follow in His steps (1 Pet 2:21).
Maybe we should look at 1 Peter. I thought this chapter well illustrated what it means to be preserved of God. Peter is writing to scattered saints. That would seem to be scattered Jewish saints primarily, although everyone that received the letter will have profited from it. So, they are scattered, but he traces something back before time. The first thing he says is, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Well, that should give us all great stability, to know where things began: long before we were in this scene, long before we heard the gospel, there were God’s sovereign thoughts that have taken us up. Then the next words, of course, bring to mind how things actually worked out in our souls, “by sanctification of the Spirit.” And then, “Unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” I do not know, perhaps the brethren can help as to why those two features are brought together. But Peter sets these saints on the right road. He invokes a blessing from God Himself. He speaks of the mercy of God; God having begotten us again to a living hope. Peter encourages us to live in hope. And he says we have got a firm ground for that, “through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead.” He says we have got an inheritance. He uses three words that might seem just to repeat one another, but the Spirit of God moved Peter to give them each heavy weight: incorruptible, undefiled, unfading. It is reserved in the heavens – we have not fully received it yet. But we are kept guarded by the power of God. And we might be tempted to stop there, but Peter adds two more, necessary words: “Through faith,” which, I think I said, gives us a link with Psalm 16. We need faith to take up the promises of God. But Peter is writing to those in circumstances that we can understand. I think, if they were here, they would understand our circumstances, that they can be testing ones.
PKL As to the two features you referred to in the first two verses, what do the obedience and sprinkling refer to? Whose obedience is that? Is it our obedience to the gospel?
DJB I thought it began with the obedience of Christ Himself, with the same feature to be taken up by the saints in their own walk, as affected by the Spirit of Christ Himself. What do you say about that?
DWB Yes, I thought both these features related to the confirmation and divine calling. We are set apart by the Spirit. That is what the Christian is. And then, the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood are what come before us in view of holy service. It is regarding the tabernacle, is it not?
DJB Yes. So obedience is first seen perfectly in Christ Himself, and then we are to take that up as learning from Him.
DWB Yes, that character.
TRP The shedding of His blood was the fruit of His obedience, was it?
DJB Yes, it was. And the believer can take both unto him- or herself. All the saints need to do so.
MJC Do you have some thought as to the “sprinkling of the blood” (v2)? I understand it links back with the Day of Atonement, and also with the tabernacle and the priest being prepared for service.
DJB Well, I wondered which particular reference Peter had in mind, whether he had them all in mind. We can go back, you see, as far as Exodus 24. “And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant” (v8). Perhaps that would be the first reference, but then there would be others as well. You had a thought about this?
DWB No, not particularly, but I think that is right. It has the idea of the saints being drawn out of the world to have their part in service.
DJB As being directly affected by the blood. In the blood, there is what is for God, and then there is what is for the saints that they might be acceptable to God. It just seems to set things in order at the beginning of this passage, where there are the temptations and the drawing away and the burdens of the way; Peter says, ‘Rest on solid ground.’
DO Do you think that this sprinkling of the blood is also to preserve us from the world and the wrath of God?
DJB Yes, that is what our brother was just conveying, I think – that as we recognise that the blood has shielded us from judgment, it also draws us out of the world. In a slightly different way it takes us back to the Passover. We are sheltered by the blood of Christ, by His death. It is brought home to us each personally through the sprinkling of His blood. Do you have any more thoughts about it?
MJC The general thought really is, “Almost all things are purified with blood” (Heb 9:22).
DJB And there is always that underlying truth, “And without blood-shedding there is no remission” (ibid). That casts its light upon the offerings, too.
MJC So the priests, and the tabernacle, were therefore to be cleansed and dedicated to God. So it speaks to us that we are to be totally committed to God and to His will.
DJB Yes. These saints were scattered, and they might feel that they were rather overlooked in God’s ways, and they might even become rather independent. Peter says that is not to be so, this letter is for them all. The truths that he brings forward are for all the saints, and they are then kept guarded by the power of God through faith.
MSB You spoke of our needing to be preserved from the world and other things, but could you say more as to what we are to be preserved for?
DJB Well, first of all, we are preserved for God’s service now. We need to be available to God, and to seek light from God as to how He would be served either personally or as we come together. And then, of course, we are to be preserved for another world. Through the goodness of God that preservation is actually secure, because it does not rest on me at all, it rests on the work of Christ. If a good work has been begun in us, it will be completed unto the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6). But along the way we may lose ground, and not have so much to bring with us into that eternal day as we might otherwise have had. I think it is important that we should be formed, and I just thought the beginning of verse 8 was important: “Whom, having not seen, ye love.” I think faith and love go well together. What do you think?
MSB Yes, the enemy is always trying to divert us by various things that he brings in to us individually and collectively. I was just thinking of what Paul said to Timothy, “Give heed to thyself and to the teaching; continue in them; for, doing this, thou shalt save both thyself and those that hear thee” (1 Tim 4:16).
DJB So, it is important not to lose ground. The ministry of the word, I trust, is to help us in that. But we are to keep ourselves, but always recognising that we need faith to be kept and preserved.
KHW What is the salvation that is referred to in verse 5? It seems to be connected with faith.
DJB I thought that was full and final salvation. We are saved now – saved from wrath, saved for glory. But Scripture does say, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom 13:11), which just illustrates that final salvation has not yet come about. We are here in a scene of trial and testing, even temptation, and there is something which is yet to come. The apostle also speaks of that in Romans 8: he says that we are “awaiting adoption, that is the redemption of our body” (v23). It will be full and final then. We can be assured of it, and the Spirit, Who is the Earnest of our inheritance, would give us that assurance. But we have not reached the final purpose of God yet.
TRP We are to keep ourselves, but as we look back in our histories, our hearts are just bowed, because we see that it is God Who preserved us. The honour and glory belong to God, not to me in what I have done, do they?
DJB No; in fact, I am on very shaky ground if I attribute anything to myself. I am on the safest ground if I attribute all the shortcomings and sins to myself, and all the work of salvation to God, because that is how it really is.
MJC Jacob came to that, did he not? “The God that shepherded me all my life long to this day” (Gen 48:15). And he could say as to himself, “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life” (Gen 47:9). That is his side, is it not?
DJB And all of that makes him the more concerned for the next generation. Now, the last thing I want to do is to pin things on young people; I know that we do not get the best out of them if we do. But it is right to be concerned for the next generation, if we are left here. We take up the Scriptures, I trust, having in measure proved them for ourselves, and desiring that others should do so as well.
MJC I think that is a very good exercise, because if I appreciate the inheritance as being incorruptible, undefiled and unfading, it will be an encouragement to the younger ones.
DJB I think so. It is an old saying that example is better than precept. Precept is what I ought to be; example is, ‘What am I?’ It is very happy, though, that Peter spoke to these saints with assurance. He does not say they ought to be exulting, he says, “Ye exult.” It must mean that a good testimony had reached him from them that, despite all the difficulties, they were persevering “with joy unspeakable and filled with the glory.”
MJC It is a test to us on Lord’s Day morning as we come together and enter into the purposes of God. Are we filled with the glory, and are our hearts exulting?
DJB Hymn number 4 provides an exercising opening for such a meeting, does it not?
Have you got something for us?
DEG I just was thinking about obedience. I was noticing the note, particularly, in verse 2: the sprinkling of the blood is linked with the obedience of the Lord. Really, our obedience is our preservation, is it not?
DJB Yes, we are always safe in looking to the Lord for our great Example. There are steps He took which we could never take, and will never be called upon to take, but, with all that said, He is our Model.
TJK I was going to ask if you could say something about the end of verse 7, “Praise and glory and honour in the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
DJB Well, that is when the time comes for the Lord to be admired in all those that have believed (2 Thess 1:10). And, well, there is what is due to the saints that He will be pleased to give them then, but I think it is always good to remember those who cast their crowns down (Rev 4:10) that the Lord might have the glory, because He is the One to Whom it can safely be given and to Whom it is entirely due.
I would like to allow a few minutes for the First Book of Samuel. My reason for reading these verses, dear brethren, is that this is one of the great crises in David’s life, and had its – no doubt, formative – effect with him, and with those who learnt from being with him. And he actually uses the word in verse 23, “Jehovah … Who has preserved us.” So I thought it might be a practical illustration for us of what being preserved actually means. Now, maybe a word about the history of David is not out of place. David had come to the notice of Saul, and Saul had become very conscious that, as Saul saw it, David was a threat. He did not realise, of course, because of his state, how submissive and obedient David desired to be to the anointed king. But David is harassed and persecuted and, sadly, he does get himself into a false position. In the previous chapter he is in danger of siding with the Philistines against the people of God, and in the ways of God he is preserved from doing so only by the intervention of the Philistines themselves. All of this is in Scripture, and it is very humbling.
Chapter 30 shows the grievous consequences that follow from David’s unfaithfulness. In saying that, I would want to recognise that his circumstances had been testing in a way that perhaps few of ours have been. But it is a fact that he had got into a very sad and false position. And a third party appears on the scene – the Amalekites. Now, we know from much earlier Scriptures that God has an issue with the Amalekites, because their hand is on the throne of Jah – they were a very presumptuous people (Exod 17:16). But here is this critical moment. The Amalekites have destroyed the city of Ziklag, and the women, including David’s wives, have been taken captive. Every one that is left is reduced and brought very, very low. David is actually in danger himself, a solemn fact: “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him.” Well, there is a lot of detail in this chapter, and we could not read it all. But the end of verse 6 is very compressed, and says all that needs to be said: “David strengthened himself in Jehovah his God.” I think we might just do well, first of all, to take heed to that.
MJC How did David strengthen himself at this critical moment?
DJB Well, verse 6 in itself does not say so, but I would think that turning to God in prayer, repentance maybe, and dependence, played its part. The next few verses, of course, open it up. I think the brethren know the chapter – we certainly could not have read it all. But he spoke to the priest who had been with him in his trials. And he sought the ephod: I am not sure that I am equal to interpreting that. But the next thing he did was to enquire of Jehovah. I do not think he would have enquired very much of Jehovah when he was casting his lot in with the Philistines. But here is the line of recovery, in that he asked God what to do, and God answered him. And more than that, as the chapter develops, God puts help in his way. This Egyptian appears in verse 11 – David could not have expected to come across him, but God put it in David’s way. What do you think about strengthening ourselves?
MJC Well, I suppose the first thing to realise is that we might have no strength in ourselves. And that is not a bad thing, to come to an end of ourselves, and realise that we need strength from God. And then, I think what you say is important, that he turns to the priest. We really need to recognise what is priestly, and I do not mean so much in others necessarily, but that we need to consider for God and enquire of God. Is that right?
DJB I think so. Maybe our first question sometimes has to be, ‘Why am I in the predicament that I am? And what has God to teach me in it? And how can I then do God’s will?’
PKL That, in fact, is the turning point of the chapter, is it not? Because after that, David is successful: he brings everything back, and then he is able to deal with another internal rebellion when they do not want to share the spoils they have won. He has regained his moral power and authority over his men. That moment when he strengthened himself in God was really the turning point.
DJB I thought that, and from then on, through many trials, the way is upward until he is finally acknowledged as king. The next chapter, sadly, brings about the end of Saul. Saul’s is another story, a very sad one. David was preserved from ever needing to lay hands on Saul. That was just left in God’s hand; God had His own ways with Saul. But there is a turning point, I think, at the end of verse 6 (in ch 30) – when David strengthens himself in Jehovah his God, things begin to go right.
DWB Romans 8.
DJB Well yes, but just say why.
DWB Well, that is where the turning point is in the Epistle, is it not? The apostle finds strength in God. This chapter is really the Epistle to the Romans, is it not?
DJB Yes, I know there has been ministry about that over the years: Ziklag has a likeness to the Epistle to the Romans. It is, “We being still without strength” (Rom 5:6). Everything looked hopeless, God brought in a remedy, and David resumes, from this point on, what God really had in mind for him from the outset. He has gone down, but now he is on the up grade.
DWB “David recovered all” (v18). That is beautiful! It is really the recovery of man, is it not?
DJB I thought those were two key phrases well worth remembering: “David strengthened himself in Jehovah his God,” and “David recovered all.” You do not have to despair – God “is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).
GKB The Lord said, “When I was with them I kept them in Thy name” (John 17:12), and He commended them to the Father in His absence. But then at the same time He gives us the Spirit, and I was thinking of the way Mr Darby’s note refers to a ‘solicitor,’ or someone who manages your affairs when things are getting difficult (John 14:16).
DJB Well, in the Spirit we have a resource which David did not have. He had, certainly, a strong personal link with God, but in grace, God the Spirit is with believers today, if we make way for Him, depend on Him, and – I do not have to say – do not grieve Him.
TRP Do we get an example of one who strengthened himself in God in Hezekiah? He received that letter from Rab-shakeh, he went in to Jehovah, and he spread it out before Him, and what he says is worth reading, is it not (2 Kings 19:8 19)?
DJB It is indeed. You have to spread it all out before the Lord, and seek to get His estimate of it.
SML One of the things David would have learned about God in this is just how faithful He is. David, as you have reminded us, had got into a bit of a mess in his circumstances, but as soon as he begins to turn to God and to pray, he finds that God is for him just as much as He ever was. It is a wonderful thing when we find that, is it not?
DJB I think so; I trust that we would just take that note of encouragement away from this time, that there can be a turning point – there needs to be – but God is for us.
But then, just in these last verses – well, you see, there are these wicked men and men of Belial (v22). We do not want to dwell upon them, but we wonder what kind of company David had kept when he was with the Philistines. They are the kind of people who talk in the manner recorded here. But it became an opportunity for David to show the kindness of God. He comes to these two hundred men. It does not say they were too lazy or too cowardly – they were too exhausted, they had not been able for this conflict. Those who thought they had done rather well wanted to ration things out, to keep the best for themselves: every one could have the minimum that was due to them. David says, ‘Oh, no – the victory is for all!’ And that, actually, brethren, I think, is where we do stand and where we need to stand. “Others have laboured, and ye have entered into their labours” (John 4:38). If there is anything that is profitable for the saints, won at cost by others, we all still get the benefit of it.
PKL What do you think we could take this spoil to represent? You have applied it to the fruit of those who have laboured. We might just go through a personal time of difficulty – how do we share the spoil? Would we share it in an occasion like this?
DJB Well, I trust so. First of all, as our brother has reminded us, the spoil is God’s, and it is the souls of those who have been redeemed – that is the great recovery of man for God. But then, as crises come and go, as I suppose they always will, there would be the question of what I have gained from that, in my knowledge of God, and learning more about the will of God, and in my submission to that will, and dependence; all of that becomes something which the saints can profit from.
MJC Do you think it comes out, among other things, when we come together: “Whenever ye come together, each of you has …” (1 Cor 14:26). Now, what I may have passed through in experience with God, whether it be problems or testings or otherwise, maybe the fruit of it would come out in my spirit and in what I have to share with others.
DJB Yes. It is not exactly that we linger over the trials of the way, because the Lord’s Day is a time of privilege. But knowledge of God is meant to be formative with us, to increase us in love for God, and likeness to our Lord Jesus Christ. I have often thought of the man with the basket of first-fruits in Deuteronomy 26. What he brings is the fruit of the land, but he begins by remembering where he came from (vv5 8). Paul says that to the Ephesians in chapter 2, “Wherefore remember …” (v11). And that is not how Ephesians 2 ends: it ends with “a habitation of God in the Spirit.”
JMW Would the word to the Thessalonians confirm that? He says, “Now the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly: and your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:23). It is remarkable that the three elements are caught up together there – spirit, soul and body “be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
DJB And they were saints who had not been on the road very long at all. It seems to have been very soon after Paul’s time there that he wrote that letter, and he looked right on to the end of the road: spirit, soul and body “be preserved blameless.” Well, we might say, ‘We shall not need these bodies then.’ But Paul takes up the whole man, the whole of the saints.

2 February 2013