Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag.
And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David.
I. THE LEADER, WHOM WE REGARD AS A TYPE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, was David, the son of Jesse; and in tracing out some points of analogy we begin by noticing —
1. That, like David, our Lord was anointed of God to be the leader of His people. It is an honour to follow one who has the highest sanction of heaven in taking the command and exercising the authority that pertains to him.
2. Jesus was like David, too, in that He was personally fit to be a leader. David, alike by his character and his deeds of prowess, had become the foremost man of his times. So our blessed Lord, as to His person, is just such a King as one might desire to obey; and, as for His achievements, O tell what His arm hath done — what spoils from death His right hand won! Let His fame be spread over all the earth! He stood in the gap when there was none to help. He vanquished the foe who threatened our destruction.
3. But our Lord, though anointed of God and meriting the distinction which He gained, was, nevertheless, like David, rejected of men. So the seed of the serpent hates the seed of the woman. But notwithstanding the pains and penalties they incurred in those dark days, the really good and pious people in Israel rallied to the standard of David. I know it is said that those who were in debt and discontented came to David. That is quite true; and when it typifies the abject condition of those poor sinners who come to Christ for refuge; but many of those Israelites were reduced in circumstances and brought into debt through the bad government of Saul. There was with David, Abiathar the high priest. With David likewise there was Gad the prophet. Does not the like thing happen among those who ally themselves with the Son of David at this day? Although He whom we worship is despised and rejected of men, yet unto you who believe He is precious. We need not be ashamed to side with Jesus, for we shall be in good company.
4. Despised as David was among men, yet, being anointed of God, his cause in the end was successful. He did come to the throne: and so it is with our Lord Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding all the opposition that still rages against His cause, it must prosper and prevail.
II. Having thus drawn your attention to the Leader, whom David the son of Jesse prefigured, let me turn now to speak a little of THOSE WHO GATHERED ROUND HIM AND ENLISTED IN HIS SERVICE. The recruits who came to David were eleven in number. The first characteristic we read about them is that they were separated. "Of the Gadites, there separated themselves unto David" eleven persons.
1. They were separated. Observe that. They separated themselves. They seem to have been captains of the militia of their tribe. The very least among them was over a hundred, and the greatest over a thousand. But they separated themselves from their commands over their tribes — separated themselves from their brethren and their kinsfolk. I daresay many of their friends said to them, "Why, what fools you are! You must be mad to espouse the cause of a fellow like David!" and then they would call David ell manner of foul, opprobrious names. In these times it is most important that every one who is a Christian should understand that he must separate himself from the world. Ye cannot serve Christ and the world too. You cannot be of the world and of Christ's Church. It is in his intercourse with the world that the Christian shows the morel forces of his character. There it comes out because it cannot be hid. If his trade has become used to tricks and stratagems which will not bear the light, he cannot conform to them; he will shrink from them with abhorrence: he must keep a clean conscience.
2. But observe that these people separated themselves unto David. You may separate yourself and not separate yourself unto Christ; and if not, you only change from one form of worldly-mindedness to another. We ere not to separate ourselves unto self-righteousness, or unto affectation, or unto a sect, but unto Christ. These people got away from their friends that they might get to David. We are to get away from the world that we may get closer to Christ.
3. And then, as you read that they separated themselves unto David in the wilderness, let me entreat you to ask yourselves it you are ready to take part with a rejected, crucified Christ. Tens of thousands would separate themselves to David if he were in Hebron on the throne of Israel. If the truth should lead us down into the hovel, where we could only associate with the very lowest of the low, if they were the Lord's people, they should be our delight.
4. Note, next, about these men that they were men of might. It is said of them that they were men of might, whose faces were like faces of lions, and they were as swift as the roes upon the mountains. All that came to David were not like that. David had some women and children to protect, but he was glad to receive others that were men of might. Now there came to Jesus, the greater David in His day, the weak ones of the flock, and He never rejected them. He was glad to receive even the feeblest; but there did come to our Lord and Master eleven men who, by His grace, were like these Gadites. Truly, I may say of His apostles, after our Divine Lord had filled them with His Spirit, that they had faces like lions and feet like hinds' feet, so swift were they for service and so strong for combat. The grace of God can make us brave as lions, so that wherever we are we can hold our own, or rather can hold our Lord's truth, and never blush nor be ashamed to speak a good word for Him at all times.
5. But it is worth noticing that they were men of war, inured to discipline — men fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler. Now there are some men of might who do not seem to be good men of war, because they cannot keep rank. What exploits they may do they must needs do alone, for they cannot march with the army. There are some brethren I know who are most excellent people as individuals, but they seem never to be meant to march in the ranks; they must every one of them lead, they cannot be second to anybody; neither can they be under any discipline or rule.
6. These Gadites likewise furnish us with a noble example of strong resolution. When the eleven men determined to join David they were living the other side of a deep river, which at that season of the year had overflowed its banks, so that it was extremely deep and broad. But they were not to be kept from joining David, when he wanted them, by the river. They swam through the river that they might come to David. Do you stand back and shrink from avowing your attachment to the standard of God's anointed because it would involve loss of reputation, displeasure of friends, the frowns of your associates in the world, or the heartbreaks of anguish of those you tenderly love? Know, then, that our Lord is worthy of all the troubles you incur, and all the risks you run; and be assured that the peace which a soul enjoys that once joins Christ in the hold, and abides with Him in the wilderness, well repays a man for all that he has to part with in getting to his Lord and Master. Now, it would appear that after they had got across the river they were attacked, but we are told that they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east and toward the west. O ye that love the Lord and Master, I beseech you in this evil day, this day of blasphemy and rebuke, stand not back: be not craven.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.
I. HERE IS A VERY COMMENDABLE EXAMPLE. Many of these men of Judah and Benjamin went to join themselves to David.
1. Because they bad heard that he was the Lord's anointed If Jesus be God's anointed, let Him be your beloved.
2. Because of his personal excellences.
3. Because he was so misrepresented and abused by his enemies.
4. Because they believed that he had a great future before him.
II. A. CAUTIOUS INQUIRY. See what David said to them.
1. He set before them the right way; He said, "If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you." Here are three questions —(1) Do you come to Christ and accept Him?(2) Do you come with a desire to maintain peace among your Christian brethren?(3) Do you come with the intent of helping the Lord Jesus Christ to spread abroad His truth?
2. He set before them the wrong way: "But if ye be come to betray me to my enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it."Some betray the Lord Christ to His enemies —
1. By giving up the doctrines of the gospel.
2. By their inconsistent lives.
3. By apostasy.
III. A CORDIAL ENLISTMENT. "Thine are we, David, and on thy side," etc.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(R. Maguire, M. A.)
II. III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
Until it was a great host.
1. In the accumulation of property.
2. As to the formation of habits.
3. As to increase in intellectual force.
4. As to advancing power in the spiritual life.Lessons:
1. Be careful of the day. Day by day, because he day by day had been the man he was, they gathered to David. Especially towards the accumulation of any sort of power do not lose time in youth.
2. Have courage. Front towards such right accumulation of power, and this great law of its accumulation is steadily working for you.
3. This great law works as steadily the other way; e.g., King Saul, fronting and choosing wrong, was losing righteous power day by day, until at last he came to the sad wreck he made.
(Wayland Hoyt, D. D.)
Men that had understanding of the times.Esther 1:13; Matthew 16:3; Luke 19:44). Next to our Bibles and our own hearts our Lord would have us study our own times.
I. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US A BOLD AND UNFLINCHING MAINTENANCE OF THE ENTIRE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY, AND THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE. Our lot is cast in an age of abounding unbelief, but when sceptics have said all they can, there are three broad facts which they have never explained away.
1. Jesus Christ Himself. How is it that there never has been one like Him, neither before nor after, since the beginning of historical times?
2. The Bible itself. How is it that this book stands entirely alone, for high views of God, true views of man, solemnity of thought, grandeur of doctrine, and purity of morality?
3. The effect which Christianity has produced on the world.
II. THE TIMES REQUIRE AT OUR HANDS DISTINCT AND DECIDED VIEWS OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing.
III. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US AN AWAKENED AND LIVELIER SENSE OF THE UNSCRIPTURAL AND SOUL-RUINING CHARACTER OF ROMANISM.
IV. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US A HIGHER STANDARD OF PERSONAL HOLINESS, AND AN INCREASED ATTENTION TO PRACTICAL RELIGION IN DAILY LIFE.
V. THE TIMES REQUIRE OF US MORE REGULAR AND STEADY PERSEVERANCE IN THE OLD WAYS OF GETTING GOOD FOR OUR SOULS.
1. Private prayer.
2. Private Bible-reading.
3. Private meditation and communion with Christ.Conclusion: Consider what the times require in reference —
1. To your own souls.
2. To the souls of others.
3. To the Church.
I. TO STATE SOME OF THE CHARACTERISTICS BY WHICH THE PRESENT TIMES APPEAR TO BE PROMINENTLY DISTINGUISHED.
1. Flagrant indulgence of iniquity on the part of ungodly men.
2. A heavy and extended pressure of national distress and perplexity.
3. A wide diffusion of the influence of knowledge and of freedom.
4. Extraordinary and delightful facilities for the dissemination of the gospel of Christ.
5. An awakened and an increasing concern among the people of the Saviour as to the progress and final triumphs of His cause.
II. THE DUTIES WHICH THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PRESENT TIMES IMPOSE UPON PROFESSING CHRISTIANS.
1. Distinctly and always to recognise the providence of God.
2. To compare all that is apparent with the predictions of Divine truth.
3. To cultivate uncompromising decision in the exemplification of personal religion.
4. Diligently to labour in all the spheres of exertion by which they may advance the gospel of Christ.
5. To engage in fervent and continued prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I. THERE SHOULD RE A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF OUR OWN TIMES. Our own times are —
1. Times of much evil from strong drink.
2. Times of much good.(1) A spirit of investigation has gone abroad and done splendid service. We are much indebted to physiologists, moral philosophers, political economists, and statisticians, for the light they have thrown on this subject.(2) Our times are times of agitation for the application of remedial measures.(3) There has also been a great reformation resulting from all this.
3. Times of much hopefulness.
II. A right understanding of our own times OUGHT TO LEAD TO PROPER ACTION. They understood the times, to know what Israel ought to do. Right action must —
1. Be directed by intelligence.
2. Be inspired by Christian philanthropy.
3. Be embodied in practical forms.
4. Be animated by a self-denying enthusiasm.
III. IN ORDER THAT THIS RIGHT ACTION MAY FULLY ACCOMPLISH ITS ENDS THERE ARE CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS.
1. Individualisation. God invites us one by one, saying to each of us, "Do the work I give thee to do."
2. Organisation. Combination multiplies force. In the moral world, one and one make a good deal more than two; they often make four, and three and three often make thirty.
(Dawson Burns, D. D.)
e Church: — The peculiar tribute which is thus paid to the tribe of Issachar — a tribute which distinguishes them most honourably from all the other classes of their countrymen, will appear the more remarkable when we took at the smallness of their number and the comparative seclusion in which they lived. In point of numerical strength they were by far the least considerable of all the tribes of Israel. While the rest could muster their hundreds of thousands, the children of Issachar, though "all their brethren were at their commandment," could only furnish a body of two hundred men. But their lack of numbers was more than counterbalanced by their pre-eminent zeal, sagacity, and discipline — qualities which rendered them the ablest advisers in the council, as well as the best soldiers in the camp. But how, it may be asked, did they come to acquire this superior wisdom and intelligence? Were they more favourably circumstanced for obtaining information, and for observing the signs and duties of the times, than the general body of their fellow-subjects? Had they access to the private circles of the capital, or to the secret conferences of the court? On the contrary, they lived remote from cities — buried amid the tranquil retreats of the rural provinces, away from the sordid cares and the sickening crowds and the unquiet rumours of the metropolis, breathing the air of freshness and of freedom among their native mountains. From their peaceful solitudes they looked forth with a calm and dispassionate eye on the various movements that took place; and having leisure to reflect on the nature o! these movements, to compare them with the past transactions of their history, and to test them by the principles of the Divine Word, they were in a better condition for forming a sound judgment regarding them than those who might have an opportunity of seeing them through a closer, but, for that very reason, a more contracted and clouded medium. In this matter the children of Issachar have left an example which is well worthy of our thoughtful regard. We are required, by the authority of our Lord Himself, "to mark the signs of the times" — to keep a wide and wakeful eye on the revolving events of Providence, with the view of discovering their bearing on the position and prospects of the Church. It is, no doubt, generally supposed that religious men are very incompetent judges of public affairs. Like the tribe spoken of in the text, they are, as a distinctive party, the smallest in the state; and like them, too, they live in comparative seclusion from the cabals and contentions of the world; and it is, therefore, presumed that they can have but little acquaintance with the movements which are going on around them. Let it be admitted that they are not, as a body, so conversant with the details of public transactions as those who are directly engaged about them, yet still we hesitate not to say that they may be, and that they generally are, even better fitted than these for apprehending the great moral principles which such transactions carry in their bosom, and the manner in which they are likely to affect the welfare of the community. We need not remind you that religious men are accustomed to view questions of this kind in a very different light from the men of the world. The latter look upon them as they stand related to the opinions and interests of their fellow-creatures. It is in this respect that religious men — men of enlarged and enlightened piety — have the advantage of mere worldly politicians. They form their estimate of passing events not as they influence the temporary interests either of one party or another, nor as they are reflected through the fluctuating medium of public opinion. They judge of them by a far higher and more comprehensive standard. They view them in connection with the great chain of Providence. They compare them with the fixed purposes of the Divine administration, and with the unalterable rules of the Divine Word; and, by examining therein the light of these clear and all-controlling principles, they are enabled to group in the disjointed and fragmentary measures of public men under distinct moral classifications, to analyse the impulses and the agencies from whence they proceed; and, by means of these testing and discriminating processes, they are led to an "understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do." It is important to mark the connection between the two separate members of the passage before us. It is stated, regarding the Children of Issachar, that they had "understanding of the times." They comprehended the circumstances in which their country was placed; they marked the spirit which prevailed among the people. It was not from any motives of mere curiosity that they studied the movements of the day, nor was it with the view of descanting upon them in private meetings or in popular assemblies; far less was it their object to busy themselves with public matters for personal ends or for party purposes. The welfare of their country was the subject of their concern and the source of their inquiries. For the same reason it is incumbent upon us, not merely as subjects of the State, but as office-bearers and members of the Church of Christ, to study the phenomena of the age in which we live — to watch the moral forces that are operating upon the mass of society, swaying the tide of public opinion, and influencing the measures of public men.
I. The grand capital characteristic feature of these times consists in THE GENERAL PREVALENCE OF NATIONAL INDIFFERENTISM OR NEGATIVE INFIDELITY. — a general want of faith on all subjects, whether moral, political, or religious.
II. THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH REQUIRES —
1. That she should maintain a clear and decided testimony on behalf of the great fundamental principles of Divine truth.
2. A determined effort to resuscitate the sinking power of principle, and also a vigorous and combined movement to repel the creeping invasions — the subtle but forceful and successful encroachments of error.
(Walter M'Gilvray.)Understanding the times: — Some of the chapters of this book look as though they were so many of the newspapers of the period, that had been preserved; and there would be no history like that of a collection of newspapers, supposing there had been such things, successively issued, day by day, by different parties, affording a general view of events and transactions. We have here a very minute account of the political, military, and religious position of things at this time. We find different persons resorting to David, in larger or lesser numbers, and welcomed as they came. And among the rest there came a number of persons peculiar and distinct in character from all others. Instead of being told of their physical strength and vigour, their prowess and skill in using swords and spears, their incomparableness in war, we are told that they were "men who had understanding of the times, and knew what Israel ought to do" — men of political intelligence and sagacity, who could look about and see into things, who could interpret the prediction written upon a circumstance, who could tell what was the line marked out by such and such an event. They were not antiquarian men, who could tell you of the past; nor dreaming, poetical, prophetic men, talking about the future; but men who understood their own times — men who felt the great realities that were stirring about them. It was a great matter to have this understanding; for the consequence of having it was, they deduced "what Israel ought to do" — the movements that should be made, the things that the nation should determine upon. The accession of these men to David was, perhaps, of greater value than that of the thousands of fighting men; for wisdom and valour strengthen more than weapons of war. The wise man is strong. And these men, as a consequence of their understanding, ruled; "their brethren were at their commandment"; they had influence; other men and other minds recognised them as regal men, for, after all, I suppose, in the long run, it will always come to that — those that ought to rule, because they can do it, ultimately will do it. It is a blessed thing for a people, and for the world, when those who rule understand things, and really know what ought to be done, and every other body is at their command; for after all, the world wants guiding and ruling, and it is willing to be guided when it has confidence in the wisdom of those who are doing it, and knows it is being governed well. Well, we live in very stirring times; it is a great blessing to the world — though the world does not think of it or believe it — that God has an Israel in the world; an Israel mighty with God in prayer. And this Israel that is in the world ought always to remember that it is in the world; that it has not got to heaven yet. It belongs to earth, and to the movements of nations, political convulsions, and all things that are going on around it. The Israel of God has relations to them all, and is to look at them through that blessed atmosphere — the light of God's truth, and God's love — in which it lives. Let us, then, endeavour to understand our times, that we may know "what Israel ought to do."
I. RELIGIOUS MEN NATURALLY LOOK —
1. At the religious movements.
2. At the national and political movements of the times.
II. WHAT ISRAEL OUGHT TO DO.
1. It is the privilege of the Church to be making intercession and prayer, that God may guide and superintend the movements of politicians and the masses of men.
2. They should observe the bearings upon the Church of all the movements of peoples and countries.
3. They should remember that all times, of all sorts are hastening us on to eternity. Let us not forget that while it is very proper for us to have certain relations to the times that are passing over us, the great business of all times is, to save our souls, to be at peace with God through Christ, and be prepared for the everlasting glory of heaven.
I. THAT OUR CONDUCT MUST OFTEN RE AFFECTED BY TIMES AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF WHATEVER NATURE.
II. HOW FAR IT MAY BE PROPERLY AFFECTED BY THEM IN THE CONCERNS OF RELIGION.
1. That we may attend to times, etc., is certain (example of Christ and apostles).
2. But how far is not easy to determine.
III. WHAT THERE IS IN THE TIMES, etc., OF THE PRESENT DAY TO AFFECT OUR CONDUCT. Application:
1. Guard against yielding to any corrupt bias.
2. The future judgment will be according to motives.
3. Seek for wisdom that is profitable to direct.
(C. Simeon, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Fifty thousand which could keep rank.I. OUR GREAT WANT IS MORE MEN WHO CAN KEEP RANK.
II. TO KEEP RANK IMPLIES PRACTICE — DISCIPLINE.
III. TO KEEP RANK IN ACTUAL CONFLICT REQUIRES OLD-FASHIONED VALOUR. The great trouble in the Church to-day is the cowards. They do splendidly on parade-day, but put them out in the great battle of life and they soon break rank. We confront the enemy, we open the battle against fraud, and lo! we find on our side a great many people that do not try to pay their debts. We open the battle against intemperance, and we find on our side a great many men who make hard speeches. Oh! for fifty thousand armed men, heroic men, self-denying men, who can go forth in the strength of the Lord God Almighty to do battle, able to keep rank! Men like Paul, who could say, "None of these things move me. Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify of the gospel of the grace of God." Men like John Bunyan, who, after lying years in a loathsome prison, said, "I am determined, God being my helper and shield, to stay here until the moss grows over my eyebrows, rather than surrender my faith and my principles." Men like Thomas Chalmers, who, notwithstanding all the jeering in high places at his theory of reform and elevation of the poor, went right on to do his whole work, until Thomas Carlyle, then a boy, wrote of him: "What a glorious old man Thomas Chalmers is!"
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
All these men of war.I. THE CAUSE OF JOY.
1. United under one king.
2. A king chosen of God.
3. Universal loyalty to the chosen king.
II. THE MANIFESTATION OF JOY.
1. In unity of purpose.
2. In sincerity of feeling.
3. In social fellowship.
III. THE EXTENT OF THE JOY.
For there was Joy in IsraelZechariah 9:9; Isaiah 25:9).
I. THE CAUSE OF JOY OF ISRAEL, WITH RELATION TO THE KING MESSIAH, THE SON OF DAVID, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
1. This coming in the flesh is a matter of joy, as He then appeared King of Israel, and the Saviour thereof. Salvation is the source, the foundation of spiritual joy in Israel.
(1) (2) (3) (4) 2. The spiritual coming of Christ in the hearts of His people at conversion is another event that causes joy in Israel. 3. In the latter day, when Christ will be more manifest, and, like David, will be King over all the house of Israel, and over the whole world, then there will be joy and gladness. II. WHERE AND AMONG WHOM IS THIS JOY? Not only in Israel but in the whole world. Christ is not the God of the Jews only. III. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY. 1. It is spiritual. 2. It is the joy of our Lord. 3. It is the joy of faith. 4. It is a joy that the world knows nothing of. 6. It is unspeakable. 6. It is a joy to be continually exercised. 7. This joy will be at last full and complete. (J. Gill, D. D.)
(2) (3) (4) 2. The spiritual coming of Christ in the hearts of His people at conversion is another event that causes joy in Israel. 3. In the latter day, when Christ will be more manifest, and, like David, will be King over all the house of Israel, and over the whole world, then there will be joy and gladness. II. WHERE AND AMONG WHOM IS THIS JOY? Not only in Israel but in the whole world. Christ is not the God of the Jews only. III. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY. 1. It is spiritual. 2. It is the joy of our Lord. 3. It is the joy of faith. 4. It is a joy that the world knows nothing of. 6. It is unspeakable. 6. It is a joy to be continually exercised. 7. This joy will be at last full and complete. (J. Gill, D. D.)
(3) (4) 2. The spiritual coming of Christ in the hearts of His people at conversion is another event that causes joy in Israel. 3. In the latter day, when Christ will be more manifest, and, like David, will be King over all the house of Israel, and over the whole world, then there will be joy and gladness. II. WHERE AND AMONG WHOM IS THIS JOY? Not only in Israel but in the whole world. Christ is not the God of the Jews only. III. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY. 1. It is spiritual. 2. It is the joy of our Lord. 3. It is the joy of faith. 4. It is a joy that the world knows nothing of. 6. It is unspeakable. 6. It is a joy to be continually exercised. 7. This joy will be at last full and complete. (J. Gill, D. D.)
III. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY. 1. It is spiritual. 2. It is the joy of our Lord. 3. It is the joy of faith. 4. It is a joy that the world knows nothing of. 6. It is unspeakable. 6. It is a joy to be continually exercised. 7. This joy will be at last full and complete. (J. Gill, D. D.)
III. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY.
1. It is spiritual.
2. It is the joy of our Lord.
3. It is the joy of faith.
4. It is a joy that the world knows nothing of.
6. It is unspeakable.
6. It is a joy to be continually exercised.
7. This joy will be at last full and complete.
(J. Gill, D. D.)