The Anointing of the Holy Spirit
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 6 - Countering the Anointing

David and the Philistines; or the Spiritual and the Carnal

Reading: 1 Samuel 16:13; 17:1.

"Now the Philistines..." That that should come just there carries with it a very great significance. The word "Now" is a very important word. It is the peg upon which hangs a very great deal. That just at this point where David's anointing has been carried out, almost immediately, within so short a time afterward, the record takes this turn, "Now the Philistines..."; and with the introduction of the Philistines there at that point we are brought face to face with one of the greatest phases of the anointing, the meaning of the anointing.

The Philistines were the chief enemies of the testimony of the Lord. We have seen that David's life was marked by the Divine purpose of bringing the testimony of the Lord to fullness and finality; which purpose is seen fulfilled when the ark of the testimony is at last deposited in the sanctuary of the temple, and the glory of the Lord fills the House of God. That is the purpose of David's life. It was for that he was raised up, unto that he was anointed. We are now brought face to face with the chief opposition and antagonism to that anointing, represented by the Philistines. As you go through the books which contain the record of David's life, you will be tremendously impressed with the great amount of contact he had with the Philistines; with what a large place the Philistines had in his life. It is a most impressing thing, and, being made aware of it, as you go to these books you cannot fail to see how large a place the Philistines took in the life of David and in the life of Israel in the days of David.

You will also be impressed, if you care to make a survey of the books of David's life, with the tremendous place the Philistines had in the Old Testament. In the books of Judges and the books of Samuel, the Philistines are mentioned at least two hundred and four times. Then in Joshua, Genesis and Exodus together, you have them mentioned another eleven times; two hundred and fifteen times up to the end of Samuel. That surely means something. That is a round figure, it is not less than that. We want to allow the weight of that to come home to us and see the proportion in the books which contain the life of David. It does bear out what we are saying, that if David was raised up specifically in connection with the testimony coming to fullness and finality, and if he was anointed unto that particular purpose, then the very place which the Philistines hold there in his life represents something which must be taken account of and we must look into this and see the meaning of it.

Who Were the Philistines?

The Philistines; who were they? They were not natives of that part of the world. They were, in the first place, a wandering people of a war-like nature and well trained in war. They were, therefore, really a menace to the peoples on the earth. They were trained and very efficient fighters, and some of the other greater peoples of the earth found the Philistines a very real handful, and found them to be more than a match for them. Now they came toward the land of promise, the land determined by God to be the land of Israel, they menaced that land before Israel came to it and they gained a very strong footing in that land. Eventually they dominated a large area of it, and so great was their influence and their power and their domination, that they gave their name to the whole of the land, and the name Palestine is simply the land of the Philistines. Palestine means the land of the Philistines. It is their name. That has stuck to the land ever since they got their footing in it.

Now the Lord brings Israel into the land. It is sometimes called the land of Israel, but over against that title, over against that Divine designation, over against that which represents God's purpose, thought and intention, there is fastened upon that very territory the name of the Philistines, so that they dispute the title of this land with Israel, and it really is a conflict of title, a conflict of a name.

The Nature of the Philistine Menace

Running parallel with that you have the fact that the Philistines were the chief foes of Israel, and that the nature of their opposition was this, that they were always seeking to lay their hands upon and interfere with the things of the people of God. You know how in Samson's day they menaced the people, the land, and the Judges, and were always seeking to get hold of the one who in his person collectively represented the Lord's people. Just to get their hands on Samson, just to discover the secret of his ascendancy, the secret of his power. They were probing the secrets of spiritual power and authority, to get hold of that secret in order to destroy the ascendancy of the Lord's people. So, at last finding an ally in Delilah, they got to the secret of Samson's power, which was Israel's power, as represented by their Judge; and getting the secret they soon destroyed Samson and brought things again into subjection. The thing which was central to all that, was that they might be able to set their god over against Israel's God, and humiliate the God of Israel.

Thus, on the great day when blind Samson is brought out of prison, and made a spectacle before the hosts of the Philistines, the Philistines' shout and glorying was that Dagon was greater than Jehovah, because, look, here is the representative of Jehovah, here is the one in whom the people of Jehovah is gathered up; look at the poor specimen he is, defeated, broken, blinded! He represents the power of Jehovah. It was the gods of the Philistines. There is a spiritual background to this thing, and how the enemy exalted. The enemy, the Devil is exalted and glorified when the natural man, the uncircumcised, uncrucified flesh gets hold of spiritual secrets and uses them. Follow that principle all the way through. Later you know it is the ark, the ark of the testimony as the embodiment of Israel's power and glory, representatively; and the Philistines capture the ark and they put it into the house of Dagon, with the intention of again humiliating Jehovah in the presence of Dagon. We know that Dagon came down.

The Lord is able to look after His own interests even when His people are failing Him. But the object is the same, the two things go together. Philistines laying hold of holy things and using them, with the result that the glory of the Lord is veiled and the glory of the Adversary is manifested. Then the Philistines still pursuing this unholy quest to know Divine secrets, to possess spiritual secrets in order to gain power, ascendency, looked into the ark, opened the ark, investigated this thing to possess secrets in order to be in power. You know the result. They were smitten by the Lord and from city to city, in the five cities of the Philistines, that judgment spread; but the two things are going on all the time; a wanting to possess Divine secrets, to have those secrets in hand in order to have power, personal power, and that results always in the dishonouring of the Lord and the glorifying of the Adversary.

The Spiritual Parallel of the Philistines

Now you can see from that, without our going any further and drawing in any more data, what is before us. "Now the Philistines." They are known in the Scriptures as the uncircumcised Philistines; and that gives the clue to the whole thing. We know from our New Testament what the spiritual meaning of circumcision is. Let us look at it. Colossians 2:9-13 "...in whom also ye are circumcised... in putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." What is the circumcision of Christ spiritually? It is the putting away of the body of the flesh. It is said here to be something into which we have been brought. We have been brought into the circumcision of Christ, that is, putting away the body of the flesh, and that was representatively set forth in our baptism. The Word says when we were baptised, being buried with Him in baptism, we took our place in the circumcision of Christ; that is, the putting away of the body of the flesh. Our baptism was a declaration that we in the body of the flesh had been put away in the death and burial of Christ. That is circumcision spiritually interpreted. That is the spiritual meaning of this thing that runs through the Scriptures. God never intended it to be merely an outward and objective thing, He always had a spiritual principle back of everything, and the spiritual principle back of the historic circumcision was just this, the putting away of the body of the flesh.

Well now the Philistines are called uncircumcised Philistines. What does that mean? The uncrucified flesh. The body of the flesh not put away. It is the flesh, the natural man, the carnal principle coming in and laying hold of spiritual things. Such are the Philistines. When you get that sort of thing it is not long before you get monstrosities, abnormalities, for you notice with David, "Now the Philistines" is followed immediately by Goliath of Gath, one son in a household of giants. This giant is the representative of the Philistines, and the Philistines are gathered up representatively in him. He steps out as their champion and representative, and on behalf of the rest of the Philistines he personally challenges all Israel. He is a monstrosity, he is an abnormality, which means that the Philistines are an abnormal people in this sense. And when you get a carnal man or woman laying hold of spiritual things, you have got a situation that is a very, very difficult situation; it is an abnormal situation.

You can deal with the natural man alone, but what can you do with a natural man who has got hold of spiritual things? You can never get over that situation by argument. He as a natural man, knows all you know spiritually. There are lots of people who have got hold of all the Christian doctrine and principles; you can teach them nothing, but they are as carnal as they can be. You cannot teach them anything. They are unteachable. This fact proves them carnal. You can tell them nothing, they know it all. What is to be done with them? Nothing but to have their heads cut off! That is speaking typically. They have got to be laid low. They are abnormalities and there is nothing for them but to die. The only thing is to die, and it is not a very pleasant thing for a carnal man in possession of Christian doctrine to die. A man who knows he is all sinful and blind, and dead spiritually, well, he is prepared to accept the setting aside of himself; but the man who thinks he knows all about things, who has got hold of things of the Lord and is in the work of the Lord, and yet is not a crucified man, his death is going to be a most humiliating thing, and there is nothing more humiliating than to see that giant laid low, and to see by what means God brings that giant low. He brings it low, not by any great force of nature at all. David lays aside the armour of the flesh proposed by Saul, the equipment of man offered by the carnal mind of Saul. Lays it all aside and refuses it, and takes the simplest of means, and did not say: I come to you with my sling and stones but, in the Name of the Lord. And the giant, the abnormality looks down upon him, disdains him: "Am I a dog that thou comest to me with staves?" When that which in itself is nothing is God's anointed means for dealing with this giant, the humiliation is terrible.

It is far more difficult for someone who is right in the work of the Lord fully and actively, and preaching and all the rest of it, to come down to the death in Christ than it is for someone who has never touched the things of the Lord. The uncircumcised Philistines; that which seeks to enter into the realm of, and take possession of, the things of the Lord, and is not crucified. It is the natural man, the carnal man taking hold of the things of the Lord, taking hold of spiritual principles, seeking to possess spiritual secrets in order that it may be something. Now that may be applied in numerous ways. The Lord must make application as far as we are concerned.

Separation - What it is

We can put the Philistines into one word; it is this. They represent the principle of an unseparated life; and separation in this case is not just separation from the world as we speak of separation from the world, its amusements, and so on. In this case it is separation from the flesh, from self, from the old life and nature even in the work of the Lord, the things of the Lord; separation from all that we are by nature. Now over against that you get David, and you will find that the Lord's dealings with David all the way along were in order to get him and keep him clear of carnal means. The Devil's effort all the way through David's life was to get him mixed up with carnal things in order to destroy the purpose of his anointing.

Saul is the first one who seeks to entrap him. Here is the young man who in himself is nothing, as we see at the beginning: "Look not on his appearance," here is the young man who has not been chosen or accepted, but is left out of the count when the sons of Jesse pass before Samuel for anointing. The young man who in himself is not taken into account by men, but is brought under the anointing; and then so soon after the purpose of his anointing begins to develop, he has to meet the main enemy and antagonist of that purpose. Immediately he steps out to that - oh how cunning is the Devil - immediately he steps out to take the first step towards destroying that opposition to the testimony, there is a trap laid for him through Saul, a carnal man, with his proposal that David should have a suit of armour. Saul offers a suit of armour and brings it and puts it on him, and if David had assayed to go with that he would have fallen. But anointing makes for spiritual sensibility, and David says: "I cannot go with this" and so he casts the natural, carnal equipment aside and goes in the Name of the Lord, stripped down to just faith in the Name of the Lord; that is his weapon. That is his spiritual equipment. That is the power of the anointing; the Name of the Lord.

The anointing always implies that the Name of the Lord rests upon us. But you see there was a carnal trick there, a snare to get him on to carnal ground, and how can the flesh slay the flesh? How can an uncrucified man slay an uncrucified man? If our flesh rises up to meet the flesh in someone else there will be no spiritual victory. The victory is only when we meet flesh in the spirit, and do not react to flesh with flesh, carnal meeting carnal. So David had to meet the uncircumcised and uncrucified flesh not with fleshly equipment, but in the power of the anointing alone. Again and again these traps awaited him.

We saw one or two of them earlier. Losing his faith in the Name to a large measure, he took refuge in a Philistine city. He got on to Philistine ground. What is the result? He was useless, absolutely helpless, and he was made ashamed. How can he save Israel on Philistine ground? The Lord delivered him. You see, if he cannot be openly defeated by the Philistines he will be subtly ensnared by the Philistines if possible. If the flesh in open conflict cannot get the upper hand, the flesh will come round to the back door, and on a basis of compromise try to get us to lower our standard, and weaken us, and make impossible the bringing of the testimony to its fullness. But the Lord's object with David was always to get him to stand clear of any Philistine element. We know one outstanding instance. When the ark of the testimony was to be brought up again, David made a new cart, put oxen in the cart, and put the ark on the cart; we know what happened. The tragedy, the arrest and months of delay while David had to go through discipline in which to discover God's way of carrying the testimony - not on a Philistine cart.

They had made a cart and put the ark on it when they wanted to get rid of it. God's idea was that consecrated Levites should carry that ark, not a mechanical contrivance of man's making. A Philistine idea introduced in relation to the testimony brings disaster always. David was caught. He learned his lesson. David, after a few months delay he said: "The Levites ought to carry the ark." The Lord had shown him his mistake and revealed His way to him. The Lord does that. You see on the enemy's part there is a scheme, a plan, a plot laid, if possible to defeat God's purpose in bringing the testimony to fullness and finality, by getting the instrument for that purpose on to carnal ground. Again and again David was in peril of leaving the ground of the anointing and of therefore being deprived of his very life-work simply by adopting some carnal method. The Lord's dealing with David all the way along was to get him to that place where he personally represented the principle of the testimony, which is the death, burial, resurrection in Christ; utter separation from the flesh in the circumcision of Christ. "Now the Philistines"!

What the Testimony Is

I do not know how much more to say in this connection just now. Perhaps it will be as well if I try to gather it up in two or three simple ways. First of all, let us remember what the testimony is. The testimony is, in a word, the Lord Jesus. It is represented by the ark, as we know. The ark is the representative of the testimony. For the sake of those who may not be quite so familiar with it let us remind you of what the ark was. Well, to begin with, it was a chest of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold; those two things. Those two things are types of the person of the Lord Jesus, the acacia or shittim wood, His true humanity; the pure gold, His Deity. God and man joined in one Person. The true humanity of the Lord Jesus and the true Deity and Divine nature of the Lord Jesus brought together in one person.

Then on the lid of the ark was the mercy seat, blood sprinkled, where God said He would meet His people in their representative, the High Priest, and speak there. "Between the cherubim and the mercy seat I will speak." The mercy seat is the meeting-place between God and man, where God is heard, listened to, and where He in His Word governs. We are told in the New Testament that the Lord Jesus is set forth to be a propitiation; the literal word is He is set forth to be a Mercy Seat. The Lord Jesus is the Mercy Seat. He is the Place, the One in Whom God speaks to man. That is the beginning of the Hebrew letter: "God... hath in these last days spoken unto us in his Son..." God speaks in Christ and God meets man in Christ. The Lord's own way of saying that was: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." God meets man and man meets God in Christ, but only in virtue of the shed and sprinkled Blood. By the Blood of the Lord Jesus there is made possible a meeting of man with God; and in the Lord Jesus God has spoken and, that being the governing principle of our life, God speaks in us.

God rules the life of His people by what He says in Christ the Mercy Seat. Within the ark there are three things. The tables of law, the golden pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. The tables of the law, the revealed mind of God for His people. 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 will explain to you what that is spiritually on New Testament ground. The Apostle there takes up the reading of the law by Moses as an illustration. When Moses read the law to the people from the tables of stone, he had come down from the mountain and he had to put a veil over his face for the people could not look upon him. The Apostle says: "When it shall turn to the Lord the veil shall be taken away" for "God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." What are the tables of the law on New Testament ground as the New Covenant? It is God in Christ, revealed in us. God's mind in Christ, revealed in our hearts. The Apostle says in 2 Corinthians 2 and 3 that it is not written now on tables of stone but on the fleshly tables of our heart, not with pen and ink but by the Holy Spirit. You see it is the Holy Spirit revealing the mind of God in Christ in our hearts. So that Christ is the revealed mind of God taking the place of the tables of stone.

The ark is Christ with the revealed mind of God in it, and now it is Christ in you the hope of glory. The golden pot of manna, the heavenly, spiritual, miraculous sustenance of the Lord's people here in a wilderness where nature can provide nothing, where the essential resources of man do not exist, where all man's labours to produce a harvest are in vain. Take a plough into a desert and see if you can develop a harvest there. In the desert where all the resources of man, of nature fail, God from heaven miraculously provides sustenance for His people. John 6:31, "Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness." "I am the bread of life." Christ is the Manna for His people. This is the testimony, that where nature can do nothing to help us spiritually, Christ is everything to us. Christ is our life, that is the testimony.

This is a very practical thing, beloved, that Christ by the Holy Spirit is revealed in our hearts to show us the way of the Lord for our lives; and Christ by the Spirit ministered to our inner man to sustain us and cause us to live a heavenly life in the world. That is the testimony. The rod of Aaron placed within the ark signified the priesthood which God had chosen. The other eleven rods did not bud, the twelfth did, and became the symbol of a living priesthood; and priesthood is gathered up into the Lord Jesus. The Hebrew letter makes that clear. The living priesthood. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." You see the ark of the testimony with its very contents is all Christ, and it has the centremost place in the life of God's people. It is the very symbol of God's presence in the midst, and Christ in us speaks of God with us. I dare not go into any more detail.

You see Christ is the Mercy Seat, the Ark, the Manna, the Living Priest, the Law, the Blood; that is - it is the Blood of Christ, the Blood of sprinkling. It is said "I will meet with you between the cherubim." The cherubim where the Name is called. It is the Name of Jesus. Christ is the Name and Christ is the glory. It is all Christ, that ark. Now the testimony of Jesus is just all that, and all that has got to be brought out to its place of fullness and manifestation and final settlement in this universe in the midst of His people. What the Lord is after is to bring that testimony to its fullness and finality, and He does it by the anointing. Our anointing is unto that. We are anointed by the Holy Spirit for the testimony's sake, that God may at last have that testimony in its fullness manifested to the universe. That is the object of the anointing.

Countering the Anointing

Now the second thing, the thing that will thwart, that is if we dare to touch these holy things with the flesh; if there is any uncrucified natural man about us that is taking hold of the things of the Lord; if in an uncrucified way we seek to probe into the secrets of the Lord and use the secrets of the Lord in our own wisdom, strength, our own glory, to get position and recognition and reputation for ourselves. Only crucified men can bring the testimony to fullness. Only the really circumcised in the circumcision of Christ can work in the power of the anointing. No Philistine element may come in here. The Enemy's effort all the way along with us will be to get some carnal connection, some carnal ground, in order that he may destroy the purpose of our anointing and defeat the end of God in bringing His testimony to fullness and finality. Remember that! Oh, we must not have a place.

There is not one of us who would not quite eagerly take the ground of "Not I but Christ" in declaration, and yet we may have a will of our own, that we will this or that; for we have a like of our own, we like this and do not like that; we might have a desire of our own, we would desire this and not that, we would go this way but not that way. We have got to come to the place where all that which originates in ourselves goes into death, and we are in a place where we are perfectly open to the Lord for His will, whatever it is, however much it may go against our likes or contradict our ideas, or upset our acceptances. We have to be in the place where we are down before God, this carnal man absolutely slain, and we are open to the Lord spiritually to go the Lord's way. Otherwise the anointing cannot work, the purpose of the anointing cannot be realised. God's dealings with us are all to get rid of the flesh; not simply because the Lord wants to slay us.

He deals with us as He does in order to get us in the place where the fullness of the power of the anointing can operate and where His glory can come in, and where His testimony may be carried forward through us to its full expression. That is only possible as we quit the scene and the Lord Jesus occupies it, and we can truly say it is no longer I, but Christ.

This then is a summary of spiritual history. David anointed in relation to the testimony in fullness; immediately the coming in of the subtle purposes of the Devil to work in him the principle that can defeat the end of his anointing, and that principle is the principle of "I," the strength of self, the strength of nature, the flesh, the carnal element. That is how the enemy makes the mischief, robs the Lord of the glory, and takes the glory to himself. The Lord deliver us from the Philistines. The Lord make us mighty against the Philistines. The Lord give us to have no compromise with the Philistines. The Philistine nature is in us by nature, and we must take the uncompromising attitude toward the Philistine in us, for the Philistine is bent upon occupying the territory of God and giving his name to that which should bear the name of the Lord.

It seems to me a tremendously significant thing that the very land God meant to be called by His own Name and to be the land of Israel, should up to this day bear the name of the Philistines. Why? Simply because Israel never wholly quitted the ground of the flesh. The trouble with Israel all the way through is that they would not stand upon their separation unto God. Their whole history was one of links with the forbidden nature, the uncrucified nature, and the Philistine got the advantage and fastened his name upon that which ought to have the Name of the Lord. May it not be true in our case. We should bear the Lord's name and not the Philistine's.

This one thing before we close this chapter. When at last the Lord broke through to David and showed him the House of God, He had been preparing him for this all the way along. David had not had the revelation of His life purpose all the way through, God had been making him ready for it, and at last when he was ready the Lord broke through and revealed to him the House of God, the Temple; and David got the vision and the pattern of it and the purpose for it fully in his heart. The very next thing is that David went out and dealt with every one of those enemies mentioned in the book of Judges. The book of Judges is a book full of different peoples who menaced Israel in the days of the Judges, and weakened, defeated, and brought Israel into bondage. It is the long story of years and years of weakening at the hands of different peoples. The book of Judges is a book of reproach and shame and disgrace. God's Israel was in the hands of these many peoples round about. You notice immediately David got the vision and purpose of the House of God in fullness, he went out and dealt with them finally. It says to us that the House of God can only come fully into being as all those things which are a menace to the people of God are dealt with one by one and finally settled; all those elements which are fleshly elements trespassing upon the things of God are absolutely to be put out of action. It is a glorious thing, it is an inspiration! Whether he understood it all or not, he got a vision of the House of God in fullness and immediately went out to deal with all those people - one by one you come up against them in the book of Judges - which had been the weakening force.

The House of God must be built upon the ground that nothing of the flesh of any kind whatsoever can have a co-existence with the House of God. That is why Solomon was a man of peace, of rest; because David had made it possible. The House of God is always a house of rest; upon this principle, that the enemies have been dealt with and settled, put down. That is why the Church has come into being on the basis of Calvary's Victory. Because in Calvary Christ met every foe to the Church, and dealt with it. It is a House of rest. You and I as members of Christ's Body are His spiritual temple on the principle that we have entered into the rest He has secured by having defeated all our foes.

The basic thing for the testimony is that the Philistine has got to be dealt with, every uncircumcised element has got to be ruled out, and the anointing is unto that. The enemy wants to destroy the anointing by somehow getting a Philistine element into our walk, relationships, attitude, judgments; anywhere. May we be saved unto a full and complete victory over the Philistines.

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