You may think the study of the kings of the Bible to be of little interest, or even boring, but don’t miss out on the high value of lessons from this history.
In conjunction with this, I have committed to the reading of the HUGE volume known as “Works of Josephus,” who was not only a Jewish general and brillian battle-strategist, but well-known for his historical records of the battles of the kings of Israel. I had heard of this famous volume all my adult life, and somewhere along the way I had purchased a beautifully-bound volume of it—but never opened it up to READ it until I was 80 years old!
Don’t follow my example. Yet, “better late than never.” Typically, now I read only a couple pages a day. Taking small “bites” enables me to absorb more and bye-and-bye I will eventually get through it, the Lord allotting me the time, and allowing me.
I am finding it highly interesting in my “old age.” In my younger years I never had that much interest in “history.” But don’t rob yourself by depriving yourself of observing good lessons in history.
All such proves the drastic results of Israel rejecting a theocracy in order to have kings “as other nations.” We see the inhumanity of man against man—not just of the enemies of Israel, but even the inhuman treatment of Israelite kings against Israelite kings—brother against brother. How different might their history have been if they had not rejected their Creator King.—Glen Berry
Godly Lessons From The Kings, Parts 5 and 6
Though very willing to learn what our God has for us from the lives of Israel’s kings, yet we feel constrained to linger a little longer on the demand for a king made by Israel’s elders; and the reason we do is that so much of mankind seems to be dominated by the “incontinence”—the lack of restraint and self-control—which the blessed Holy Spirit prophesied would overtake the perilous last days. (2 Tim. 3:l-3) O what a fearful asserting of the will of a deeply depraved humanity against the Most High God is set before us in 2 Tim. 3, and what is most alarming is that we see this being fulfilled all around us.Blessed be God for the instruction of Holy Scripture!
We trust the reader has not been poisoned by the dispensational error which would have us believe that “The history of the Kings is from the Old Testament, and therefore not applicable to this Gospel dispensation.” so; 1 Cor. l0:ll tells us that, “all these things happened unto them for ensamples (types), AND THEY ARE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION.” , that same chapter warns us not to “Lust (desire, demand) evil things, as they also lusted.” (v.6) moral and spiritual principles involved in that history are timeless and unchanging. May the God of all grace deeply apply them to our hearts and consciences, and so save us from this lawless, God-defying generation.
Although we know that as the return of our glorious Redeemer draws near, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13), yet there has never been a time, since the rebellion of our first parents, when depraved self-will was not looking for an opportunity to assert itself against the Lord.
O Lord, gracious Inspirer of all Holy Scripture, we thank and praise Thee for so mercifully showing us, in that sacred Volume, ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT OURSELVES. O what deeply humbling truth it is! What vile monsters has sin made of us! O the holy wisdom of humbly acknowledging all that Thou hast revealed, and walking in fear, trembling and ceaseless prayer, lest we fall!
How must it appear to the ineffably good, kind, bountiful and glorious God, when our deceitful hearts are secretly seduced by the thought that GOD IS NOT ENOUGH; HE MUST BE SUPPLEMENTED BY SOME SECRETLY COVETED OBJECT. THE CREATOR MUST BE SUPPLEMENTED BY THE CREATURE? The fact that the coveted object may in itself be lawful in no way mitigates the highly criminal dishonor done to Lord by such covetous desiring. Garments, gold and silver are morally neutral, lawful things, but in the conquest of Jericho God had placed all Jericho’s goods under a curse—they were all to be consecrated to the Lord. (Joshua 6:l8-l9)
How deeply instructive it is, dear reader, that the power of depraved human desire could prevail against such a fearful Divine prohibition—and yet it did! We can’t help but believe that Achan, the man who violated this prohibition, was a basically good —perhaps even godly man. O the ability of depraved desire to overpower even a godly man!Said the poor, fallen soul, “…Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel … when I saw the spoils, I coveted them and took them….” (Joshua 7:20-21) Take careful note, dear Christian, of the terrible force of a desire that has grown into a imperious demand! It is beyond the ability of any man to resist.It will prevail and defy the command of God, even if, as in the case of Achan, an entire family is destroyed.
How great our folly, O Lord, that we give such careless attention to these recorded tragedies, and so quickly forget them! O, what hope would we have apart from Thy eternal decree to save us?
We reverently bow before the majesty and perfection of Holy Scripture which has set before us the root of the moral evil which has rendered this world a little Hell for about 6,000 years ; “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED: WHO CAN KNOW IT?” (Jer. 17:9)O the ocean of , regrets, tears, sorrows and irreversible tragedies that have resulted from the desires spawned by such hearts! O how utterly astonishing to think how often OUR OWN HEARTS, and those of others highly favored by precious redeeming grace, have produced desires that not only brought woes to us, but also opened the mouths of God’s enemies to blaspheme. “And the people spake against God and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? for there is no bread … AND OUR SOUL LOATHETH THIS LIGHT BREAD.” (Num. 21:5) who “cried against God” were not Amorites or Moabites, but God’s Covenant Nation, tenderly and unfailingly cared for by God’s own keeping since He delivered them from Egyptian bondage.And yet they LOATHED God’s very provision—the Manna which was not only the very best nourishment for them, but also a glorious type of our most precious Christ, our living Bread.The reason they reviled God’s wise and gracious provision is because a DESIRE had sprung up in their hearts —a desire they expressed as a vehement, imperious demand:” … Our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna (O vile ingratitude!) – WHO SHALL GIVE US FLESH TO EAT? ” (Num. ll:4,6) behavior is graphically described also in Psa. l06: “They lusted EXCEEDINGLY in the wilderness, (and so have I, O Lord ) and tempted God in the desert.” (v.l4)
Reader, do you know what it is for desire to carry you irresistibly away, even while conscience quietly protested—“This will displease the Lord, and cost me chastisement and the hiding of His blessed Face”? Then you also know the horrid treachery and dangers of overpowering desire, and like these Israelites, you know what it is for God to give you what you demand, and the unbearable “Leanness of soul” (Psa. l06:l5) that comes with it. You look at the thing, or the experience, you demanded and got, and with a desolate heart, feeling itself entirely forsaken of God and the priceless glory of His nearness, you sigh…“O, how dearly I am paying for this trifle!O that I had never seen it!O the desperate wickedness and deceitfulness of my heart! will I again be favored with the light of my Father’s countenance?”
We have noticed just a few examples of the workings of depraved desire, but its terrible mischief (and trail of tears) can be traced from Genesis through Revelation, in this writer’s experience and that of all God’s beloved pilgrims. Most gracious Savior, do con
constantly bring the mortifying work of Thy blessed Spirit against the root of depraved desire within us. As pilgrims and strangers, help us to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against our souls (l Pet. 2:ll), and ever find our ALL in Thee.
Come, magnify the Lord with me,
Come let us all exalt His Name;
I sought the eternal God, and
He has not exposed my hope to shame.
I told Him all my grief,
My secret groaning reached His ears;
He gave my inward pains relief,
And calmed the tumult of my fears.
To Him the poor lift us their eyes,
Their faces feel the Heavenly Shine;
A beam of mercy from the skies
Fills them with light and joy divine.
His holy angels pitch their tents
Around the men that serve the Lord;
O fear and love Him all ye saints—
Taste of His grace, and trust His Word.
Soul-trouble is both, supremely humbling and supremely painful, and yet it is a sure sign of priceless spiritual life, and the harbinger of spiritual blessedness to follow.Very sad to say, we hardly ever meet any who are passing through such dark valleys these days in America, and one can’t help but see it as evidence that the eternal God has largely withdrawn the saving operations of His blessed Spirit from this nation of ever-increasing lawlessness and defiance of God.
Reader, have you passed through the fears and terrors of soul-travail? Then you might perhaps agree that, next to Hebrews 6 and l0, the life of Israel’s first king, Saul, opened in your inward man the deepest and most painful wounds during your early Christian experience. If, like this writer, you had been taught that salvation could be forfeited, and that your reconciled Father could yet become your inexorable enemy, then the various points in the tragic life of Saul, must, especially at times of conscious spiritual failure, have struck terror to your heart, because here, for all to see, was (as it SEEMED), an undeniable case of a man passing from salvation to irreversible apostasy and damnation.
It is almost breathtaking for a tender conscience to see how quickly Saul’s very promising spiritual beginning passed into an ever-d
It is almost breathtaking for a tender conscience to see how quickly Saul’s very promising spiritual beginning passed into an ever-deepening state of inveterate departure from God. There was his daring presumption in assuming the priestly office in l Sam.l3. In l Sam.14 we seem him bent on slaying his own excellent son Jonathan. The picture continues to darken as in l Sam.15 Saul fails to execute God’s judgment on the Amelekites and their king, Agag, after which he received this fearful sentence – “The Lord hath rejected thee.” (l Sam.l5:26) the terrible, eternal implications for Saul in those words in l Sam.l6:l4: “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” it was under the baneful influence of this evil spirit that he was eventually possessed with such murderous envy and suspicion toward his godly servant and son-in-law David; and so we’re told in l Sam.l9:l, “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to ALL his servants, that they should kill David.” this point on, the killing of David was the king’s consuming obsession, and one that he certainly would have achieved had not the Almighty effectually preserved David. Coming now to the end of Saul’s life, we’re met with scenes that could not be more pathetic and deeply tragic.
Perhaps it was under the baneful influence of this evil spirit that he was eventually possessed with such murderous envy and suspicion toward his godly servant and son-in-law David; and so we’re told in l Sam. l9:l, “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to ALL his servants, that they should kill David.” this point on, the killing of David was the king’s consuming obsession, and one that he certainly would have achieved had not the Almighty effectually preserved David.
Coming now to the end of Saul’s life, we’re met with scenes that could not be more pathetic and deeply tragic.
About to engage in deadly battle with the Philistines, “And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, AND HIS HEART GREATLY TREMBLED. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, THE LORD ANSWERED HIM NOT.” (l Sam. 28:6) his desperation he went to the witch at Endor, and from the spirit which she “brought up” . . . he received this crushing prediction, “The Lord will also deliver Israel WITH THEE into the hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.” sequel is almost too painful to behold. “Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, AND WAS SORE AFRAID.” (l Sam. 28:l9-20)
O how deeply instructive it is thatall the increasing fears and terrors of his last days and hours, Saul never called on Israel’s Covenant-keeping God as his successor David did. (Psalm 51) This alone marks him as a reprobate, and this regard his true character and behavior are fearfully and unmistakably similar to that of Judas Iscariot the traitor.Their end was also similarly gloomy and hopeless, because the day after his meeting with the witch, “Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.” (l Sam.31:4) the traitor [Judas] we’re told, “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Mat. 27:5) have been years since, under a consciousness of having sinned against the Lord, and deprived of His blessed peace and the Light of His Fatherly countenance, this writer was seized with the impression that he had been irrevocably reprobated by God, just as Saul had been.It is impossible to describe the black despair and unrelieved horror that came with that impression. Surely, the unbearable anguish would have snapped the frail thread of life asunder, had not that gracious Hand that lifted Peter out of the raging sea also lifted me out of that horrible pit. Eternal praise to Thee, O Lord, forever and ever!
Though the memory of that dreadful experience remains vividly in mind, the understanding of Saul and his experience has, by the Lord’s precious instruction, been radically altered.He is no longer seen as an example of “LOST SALVATION” (there is no such thing), but of a man who, though gifted in different ways by the operation of the blessed Spirit in fitting him for the kingly office—yet he was, from the beginning to the end, a reprobate, and NEVER A PARTAKER OF REDEEMING GRACE.
Notice, dear reader, God’s sweeping statement concerning Saul, “I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.” (Hos.l3:ll) It is impossible for any onetaught of God to conceive of God speaking of any—even one of the feeblest and most unworthy of His beloved children —in this way. No, this is the Lord’s awful pronouncement against His God-rejecting nation, and the wicked, unregenerate man by which He answered their vile demand for a king.
For any unprejudiced, teachable heart, these few, but conclusive, words from the Judge of all the earth should forever settle Saul’s true spiritual identity. And in a way, it yet tends to take away our breath when we reflect that the only reason why Saul was reprobated and I redeemed, is the sovereign will and good pleasure of God. Looking upon Saul’s mutilated, lifeless form on Mount Gilboa, O may it overcome our hearts as we confess, “But for the precious redeeming grace of God, that would have been me.”
Come saints, and sing in sweet accord,
nor let your sorrows swell;
The cov’nant made with David’s Lord
is in all things ordered well.
This cov’nant, O believer, stands,
thy rising fears to quell;
Sealed by the Surety’s bleeding hands,
in all things ordered well.
No sinner once within its bound
shall ever sink to Hell;
Here’s pardon, love and grace profound—
in all things ordered well.
When rolling worlds depart on fire,
and millions sink to Hell,
This cov’nant shall the saints admire—
in all things ordered well.
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“. . . For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God
by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue
and people, and nation.” (Revelation. 5:9)
“The voice of my Beloved! Behold, He
cometh leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills.”
(song of Solomon 2:8)
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