Godís Inheritance of Glory in Sons
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - "Skilful in Playing"

"...Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph. 1:5).

"But we behold Him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace of God He should taste of death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:9-10).

These Scriptures, with all other Scriptures, are intended to be windows, and the purpose of windows is to give you a view and to let light in. We do not usually, when we are brought to windows, comment upon the windows themselves and say, "These are very nice windows, pretty windows, artistic windows!" or, "These are very wonderful windows". We look through them. They are there for that purpose. Many people are occupied with the letters of the Bible, the windows themselves, and miss the view. That is, they miss the very purpose of the Bible. The Bible is not given to us as something to occupy us with itself. It is given to us as a great means of viewing the beyond. These passages which we have just read are specimens or types. They are of the windows of heaven through which the greatest panorama ever conceived can be viewed. It is the Lord's will that we should catch at least some glimpse of that marvellous view to which we are introduced by such words as we have read.

God's Full Purpose

What they bring into view is nothing less than the original, supreme, ultimate, all-inclusive purpose of God in this universe. It is God's purpose for the universe that can be seen through these fragments of Scripture, a universe filled with His glory and as such, a universe as His own heritage: that which is for God in the first place - His pleasure, His satisfaction. But it does not stop there. As you notice, it brings in people who are called sons. "Bringing many sons to glory". These are the firstfruits of that great purpose of a universe filled with the glory of God. While such a universe is God's heritage, He is the heir of that, these who are called sons are His heirs in and through His Son who has redeemed the universe unto God. "Heirs of God" (Rom. 8:17) the Scripture is, heirs of God to come into God's heritage, "joint-heirs with Christ", with His Son.

The Begetting of Sons

The present work of God in relation to that full purpose of His is firstly the bringing of these people into being by birth, the begetting of these children. Everyone born of God is a potential heir of God. Being born of God is not just the beginning and end of everything, is not just something in itself, it is unto this tremendous inheritance. But it begins there, and there is no hope of the inheritance until we are born of God, born anew, born from above.

Training in Sonship

The next thing that God is doing at this present time is training those born-again ones in sonship. The whole course of the life of a child of God is intended to be training in sonship. To put that in another way: training in how to give God His inheritance, how to bring glory to God. Understand that, dear friends, it is a very important thing for us to grasp. Let me repeat it. The whole course and career of a child of God is intended to be governed by this one thing: how to bring glory to God. The apostle Paul grasped that so strongly, clearly and fully. He put it at one time into a phrase. He said, "As always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death" (Phil. 1:20). That comprehended his whole life, and that is what God is doing with us if we are children of God - dealing with us as sons, training us in sonship, which, in other words, is training us for glory, to bring glory to Him, that God may have His inheritance in us.

Preparing for the Coming-of-age Day

And the third thing that the Lord is doing in this and by these means and along this line is therefore the preparing of a company, a family, a body for the great coming-of-age day. The word employed by the apostle - 'adoption' - relates to children of God, and not those who are outside of the family. It relates to the day when God will adopt His own children. The real meaning of the word is that coming of age of the child.

Now, we do not hear so much about it in our days, but there was a time when a coming of age in a family was a very great event, especially in the families of what are called the nobility. There the firstborn son, having been under the father's care and discipline, training, for all those years in the family as a child, now arrived at his majority, came of age, and it was a great event. First of all, the father and the son on the morning of that twenty-first birthday had a very solemn time together in the father's own room. He called his son in, and together in a spirit of wonderful new friendship they talked. The father talked over all the years that had been and all that he had had in his heart, explained why perhaps he had seemed sometimes to be hard, difficult and strict, explained just what he had been aiming at in all his dealings and longing for that son. He laid it all out before him, and then he said, "My boy, this is the day when you have to enter into all that; take it up, honour it, respect it and fulfil it. From today it is up to you to fulfil all my hopes and my expectations, and answer to all my dealings with you." On the other side, the son, in that spirit of love and understanding, would respond and say. "Yes, I will, God helping me. I will not let you down, nor fail you, nor bring dishonour to your name. I will do all possible to bring the honour and the glory to you that is your due."

But beyond that, other great things were happening. The whole house was astir, great preparations were going on down in the commissariat department. All the servants and all the guests were in action for this great day, and presently, before the day is past, there will be a great celebration, many gathered together, much singing and rejoicing. The son of this highly honoured citizen had come of age.

That is a very poor reflection of what is seen through this window, the great day when the sons of God will be manifested (Rom. 8:21) and onwards, the great day of the coming of age when all God's dealings and discipline and all that He has been seeking and desiring reaches its fulfilment, and He enters into the inheritance of it all. That is the day of glory, and God is preparing for that, bringing many sons to glory. That is what He is doing now.

But for the moment that which is the in-between of the two things is the matter which engages us - training in sonship, training in the great business of bringing glory to God.

Glory Through Sonship

Now we can return to David with whom we were so much occupied earlier as a great representative of this very matter. You will remember we saw that the issue, the culmination and the vindication of David's whole life, was found in Solomon his son. The day came when everything was transferred from David to Solomon. Solomon inherited all that his father had prepared for more than forty years. Sonship took it all up, and the reign of Solomon being the most glorious thing in the whole of the Old Testament on this earth, illustrates this very principle, that glory comes through sonship, after much preparation, inworking, and spiritual history. We have pointed out what a large place God gives to David even in the New Testament. Apart from the quotations from David's writings, his psalms, his name is mentioned no fewer than forty-seven times, and he is also the last person mentioned in the Bible. Right there at the end of Revelation 22, within an inch of the end of the Bible, David's name is mentioned, and he comes up in a very wonderful way. Jesus, the great Son, saying, "I am the root and the offspring of David", giving David a tremendously honoured place, bringing him right up to the last.

Without dwelling upon all that is said about David in the New Testament and the titles given to him (patriarch, prophet, king, and psalmist), we look to see again why it is that God gave David such a place, why he is kept so much in view with so much honour. Well, the answer simply is this: because he so greatly fell in with the eternal thought of God, that is, he fell so fully in with God's intention to get glory, to bring glory to God as God's rightful inheritance. That sums up David.

The Nature of True Blessing

Let us there put our finger very definitely upon an abiding truth. Let us write it in our hearts deeply and clearly that our glory and blessing comes by way of a heart wholly for God, a heart that is wholly set upon God having the glory. Our blessing comes that way.

If David was made a lot of, it was not because David himself was such a wonderful person, it was because God had such a large place in David's heart and life. The one thing through all that David was seeking, was to bring glory to God. In every way he sought to bring things round to God. And again I say, if we are seeking blessing, if we are seeking glory, if we are seeking to be used of the Lord, if we are seeking a way of service for God, let it be clearly understood that it will only come, but it will come, when we have forgotten ourselves and our own work and let everything go for God. It will come that way. David says that most clearly in the whole of his life, and the Bible, and the New Testament in particular, simply shout that. If you are wholly for God, God will be wholly for you. But be careful what you mean by being wholly for God. You are going to be tested on that up to the hilt.

What do you mean by blessing, by glory? When you think of being blessed or having blessing, that your life should be in the blessing of God, when you think of glory, what do you mean? We must search our hearts on this matter, we must challenge ourselves with this. Shall I tell you what I think it should mean with us, and what it really does mean in truth? Blessing and glory is proportionate to the measure of blessing that comes to others through us, and not the measure of blessing that comes to ourselves. Have you got that? Let us illustrate. Look at Paul. What do you feel to be the real seal of God upon that man, the real blessing of God upon Paul, the real glory of Paul? Is it not that for all these centuries a stream of blessing has been growing and deepening to multitudes of others? Is not that the greatest blessing that could come to anybody? An ever-growing blessing; when we have gone it goes on and others are coming into an increasing knowledge of the Lord. Do you not think that is glory? Do you not think that is blessing? And that was not true only of Paul. It was true of John. But that is the nature of blessing.

What do you want? To be made something of yourself? To be in a place of influence and power and recognition and personal glory? That is not it. If afterwards at the end there are many who can glorify God because of us, that is glory and blessing indeed. Let us be perfectly clear about this. It is not something being made of us, it is something being made of the Lord, and that being so, many faces lifted to the Lord in thankfulness for the river that flowed through us to them.

Six Features of God's Inheritance

Now you see that brings us to David in a peculiar way. Oh, what we owe to David! Let us turn to the Old Testament, for we must find some focal point for all this. It is altogether beyond us, we are just floundering in a mighty sea, so we must find ground somewhere. Let us turn to 1 Samuel 16. This is the chapter, as you see, which brings David first into view, and that occurs at the time when the Lord has departed from Saul the king, and an evil spirit has taken possession of Saul because of his disobedience and his tampering with that world of evil spirits through disobedience. Saul is tortured and tormented by this evil spirit, and in his distress and anguish cries for help, and conceives the idea that if someone can be found who has musical genius or ability, the music might soothe him and give rest to his tortured mind and soul. And while this enquiry for such a person is, so to speak, suspended in the air, a young man speaks up.

"Then answered one of the young men, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is skilful in playing, and a mighty man of valour, and a man of war, and prudent in speech, and a comely person; and the Lord is with him" (v.18).

There is a conference for you! It seems to be very casual, but it is not as casual as it seems, that this young man should have been standing by and have heard the request for a musician and should be acquainted with the one whom he believed was most suitable for this. When you remember how long after all this the history was written, and it was probably not written by anyone who was on the scene; although it goes by the name of the Book of Samuel it is quite clear that Samuel did not write all this, but that the Spirit of God, governing and controlling the writing of the Scriptures should have put that eighteenth verse in. For within the compass of those few sentences, you have six of the greatest features of sonship, six of the greatest features of God's inheritance, six of those things which, characterising the whole life of David, resulted in this so much glory to God. If the Lord helps us, we shall go through those six things. If you like to say they are five, and the last one is all-inclusive covering the five, all right, it does not matter. But here we are.

The Spirit of Worship Developed in Secret

Let us begin. What is the first? "Skilful in playing". That introduces us to the whole of David's life of music, of worship. It is the introduction of all that we have in the Psalms and through the Psalms through all these many centuries. The Psalms of David became the hymn book of the Hebrew nation, the book of worship for the whole of Israel. 'Psalm' just means a poem set to music. The Hebrew title for this book was, and is, The Book of Praises, and here we begin.

Praise. The first simple intimation is that David was a musician; he was skilful in music. Where had he learned, where had he practised, where had he developed this particular feature of his life? In solitude. Up to this point, David was unknown. He was living most of his time away back there in the fields of Bethlehem caring for sheep and lambs. There in the solitude, the secret, the hidden life, he developed the spirit of praise, the spirit of worship, the spirit of music. In solitary exercise was found that which brought him right out into his life ministry, and into his public place.

How did that young man know? Evidently he had overheard. David was quite clearly not a public musician at this time. He was not known in public, or they would not have had to enquire as they did. But someone knew the secret history of David, what was going on outside and away from the public eye, and it was there that this tremendous thing for God found its inception and its growth. If you think that is making something of nothing, or inclining that way, do remember how much of David's secret history was fundamental to his life work. We touch upon that later. What happened way back there in the fields of Bethlehem did produce the very foundation of his life later, because it was with the combat with Goliath that David found his place in Israel, and in that combat David referred to what happened in secret in Bethlehem when a lion and a bear took a lamb from his flock.

Worship the Key to Service

What are we to learn? To begin with, there is no need for us to push ourselves forward, and there is no need for other people to push us forward. If the thing is in us, that thing which is our exercise Godward, for God's pleasure, for God's satisfaction, for God's glory, if it is in us apart from the public eye, apart from anything to stimulate it by applause in our secret history with God, it is going to come out. God will see to that. Do not worry about your life-work. Do not worry about getting a place in the service of God, do not worry when you are going to be used by the Lord. If you have got the secret between you and the Lord in your secret life, that is going to show itself; it is going to make its own opportunity. Do remember that.

You are worrying about when you are going to start on your life-work, you are thinking about the day when you will come out into the service of the Lord. You know how people think like that. There is always that tomorrow when we shall take up our life-work. If you are not doing it in secret now, you may wait all the days of your life, and they will be gone, and it will never happen, for your life-work begins in secret with God, and the key, mark you, to all service through the whole Bible is worship. God has always called His service worship and worship His service. "Let My son go, that he may serve Me" (Ex. 4:23), the Lord said to Pharaoh. And how did they serve Him? By worship.

Well, you see, that is a very important thing. The spirit of worship is not something which we do first of all in public. Worship is not something that begins when we are in the hot air of emotional crowds. Worship is not that kind of thing at all to begin with. It is something in the heart between us and the Lord. It is that which gives the Lord so much place, and you see all this that came out of David's life of music, which was all worship, because there was a spirit of worship in him. Some musical people, or people of music, can do all sorts of things with their gift. They will write a sacred cantata one day, and they will write a comic opera the next. But David was of one heart. It was not just this musical gift being employed for all sorts of purposes, but only for one thing - the Lord. David had this way of referring everything to the Lord. That is where the great end of glory, God's inheritance, begins - in secret where no one else knows anything about it, just worship, the outflow of the heart in music to the Lord. And sometimes it is songs without words, sometimes it is just music to the Lord for which there are no words.

Worship and the Evil Powers

Then, note, the first mention of David's life of music is connected with the evil powers in Saul. What had happened? Oh, get this, this is a key to so much! Saul had been given a great opportunity, the highest opportunity, but he had been disobedient. He had taken things into his own hands and had pushed himself forward. He was a man who could not wait, who could not stand back, who could not keep his hands off. Samuel had said, "Tarry, till I come unto thee" (1 Sam. 10:8). Saul could not tarry. He must do something; he was restless, impatient. He took hold of the things of God himself, and in disobedience allied himself with the evil powers, because Samuel said, you know, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim" (1 Sam. 15:23), linking on with that other world. He opened the door to the powers of evil, and he lost the kingdom. By seeking to possess, to have in himself, and not being ready to wait for God, he lost everything. But Satan gained his footing.

Now, you know that Satan's object from the beginning, whenever and wherever that was (another door in Scripture through which you see something happening) Satan not able to take second place to God or to God's Son, not able to be in subjection and follow a life of obedience, must grasp, take hold and draw to himself. That is Satan, the prince of this world seeking to draw everything away from God in order to take God's place. In the ultimate manifestation of Satan incarnate in this world in Antichrist, he will be sitting in the temple of God, giving out that he is God and being worshipped as God. That is his ambition. David came in with his music over against that whole thing, and what was the principle, again, of David's life of music? Everything for God. You see the clash. Two kingdoms, one taking from God, the other bringing everything to God. David's life of music, we are saying, was introduced in the Bible in connection with the presence of evil powers molesting the kingdom of God.

Everything Turned into Worship

Well, from that day forward, this wonderful thing develops, so that, as we were saying yesterday, David turned everything into music, turned everything into psalms. All his experiences, all his history, he turned into psalms. It is of real value, and I recommend it to you as being very profitable, to try to trace when and where David wrote his psalms. You can do that to some extent by using any good Bible which puts at the head of the psalm: "A Psalm of David when..." and then the occasion and the situation mentioned. He turned everything into a psalm. When Absalom drove him from his throne, David expressed it in music and in the words of a psalm. The heading of one psalm is: "When Absalom usurped the throne". He composed a great volume of psalms out of his spiritual experience. That is the value of the psalms. His life was in them, and that volume of psalms became, as we have said, the book of Israel's praises, and led on to the full development of this through all his experiences which provided a new psalm, each one of which provided a new psalm, until at last David organised the whole thing for the temple worship.

He drew together a choir of four thousand voices. He organised their singing into twenty-four courses so that there was no pause in the singing in Israel day nor night. No sooner had one course finished than the next took it up round the whole twenty-four hours of every day and every week and every month and every year; continuous worship, a continuous unbroken flow of glory to God, making everything glorify God. What is it if it is not turning everything to the Lord? He turned his deep and dark experiences, even his tragedies, failures and his desperate sin, to the Lord. That is why he is so beloved of God because when he got down into the depths he remembered Him and turned it to Him and found his way up and out through worship.

Worship a Militant Factor

It is a long history. David did not begin worship, did not begin music, in the Bible. We saw earlier that it began somewhere among the sons of God when God laid the foundations of the earth. The first time that music is known of in the Bible is mentioned in Job 38:7 when the foundations of the earth and all the sons of God sang. It began there. This is something of tremendous consequence. This kind of thing, this kind of music, this kind of worship is a most powerful thing. In the great parenthesis between Adam's creation and that great scene of redemption where out of every nation, tongue, tribe and kindred a great multitude which no man can number are seen and heard to be singing, singing has been the most potent and powerful weapon against all that came in with Satan's fall, that can be found in the Bible. It is so often connected with battle, with warfare; it is a great militant factor.

"The lion of the tribe of Judah... has overcome" (Rev. 5:5) that is a part of the heavenly song, the ascription of worship and praise. Judah means 'Praise'. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is only a figurative way of speaking of the tremendous power, militant power, of praise. I am not going to gather up all the Scriptures that there are to bear that out. That praise that is worship, bringing things to God, is something of tremendous account in the spiritual world. Martin Luther found his escape many times by that means. He knew something of the onslaught of Satan and the evil powers. He seemed sometimes to have a literally hand-to-hand fight with the devil. He even threw ink-pots at him! He makes it perfectly clear again and again when those terrible evil forces assailed that he found his way out by singing. "Let us sing, brother." That is the way out, something tremendous. Praise, which is only another word for worship, makes a throne for the Lord.

Worship Provides God with a Throne

Psalm 22 is one of the great Psalms of David, one of the great Messianic psalms. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" That is how it begins, but already in the third verse you hear that psalmist cry, "O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel". God is provided with a throne for ruling, for governing, when His people worship and praise.

Worship Provides God with a Habitation

This provides God with a habitation. In Psalm 114:2, speaking of the glorious procession of the people of God at the beginning out from Egypt and on towards the inheritance, the little phrase occurs: "Judah became His sanctuary." It is only a figurative way of saying that a sanctuary is provided by the praise. Judah led the way in the battle and in the procession. Praise always does, and God is there. Judah was His sanctuary.

Worship Puts the Lord Over Everything

Well, it amounts to this, so far as I see, in trying to gather up this whole matter of praise and worship in the Bible: it is the way and the means by which the Lord is put over everything. That is how the Lord is put over everything. It is a tremendous thing to be able to put the Lord over everything, even your sin, failure, breakdown, distress, perplexity, sufferings, adversities, the attitudes and activities of your enemies - to put the Lord over them. That is what David did.

Worship Puts Everything on the Side of Victory

Again, this is the means by which everything was put over on the side of victory. When Israel came out of Egypt and went through the Red Sea, reached the other side, and the Egyptians were overwhelmed, "then sang Moses and the children of Israel" (Ex. 15:1). They are on the victory side. The praise, the singing, signifies that you are standing on the ground of victory. And is that not true all the way through? It must be that. There are, of course, forms of singing and music which are on the defeat side, sometimes people just sing to keep their spirits up.

I remember when I was a very small boy living in Scotland, sometimes we had so many guests that I could not stay in the house, and I had to go a couple of miles along the high road between pine forests, at 10 or 11 at night, and if you had heard me you would probably have thought I was the most courageous youngster in the province. The fact is that I was the most timid youngster in the whole country, and I was just singing and whistling and making an awful noise to save the situation. I was not on the victory side at all. There was terror and fear in my heart. The owls were hooting in the trees, and it was all very frightening, but you can do that sort of thing and pretend. But real singing that comes from the heart means you are on the victory side and that means that victory is with the Lord because you are on the Lord's side.

But we must gather it up into this. When we come to the book of the Revelation, the great book of consummations, finalities, so far as the Lord's people are concerned, it is all singing. Oh, what music! The great throng singing, worshipping. What I want to say in that connection is this. David, musician as he was, worshipper as he was, provider of praise as he was, sometimes went down to the deepest depths of despair. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?" (Ps. 42:5). Some of his psalms are 'de profundis', they come from the very depths of darkness. But they always finish on the top note. If he says, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?" He also says, "Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him" (Ps. 42:5). Say it to yourself, dear tried, oppressed soul. The end of the Bible is singing for the people of God. We go through the depths, we go through the valley of weeping, we go through the dark things, but the end is given to us. Here is a window through which to look and see how it is going to turn out, what is going to be the end.

I remember when I was in hospital several years ago a poor fellow in the bed opposite first had one leg off and then the other, and this is how things were going with him, and he was crying all the time, "Oh, where is it all going to end?" Day and night, "Where is it all going to end?" It was a good thing to be able to say something of how it could end. Do you feel like that sometimes? What is the end going to be? How is it going to work out? God has given you a window, and do you think that those people in that great glorious choir in heaven presented to us in chapter 5 of the book of the Revelation, that those people never had hours of despair, never had hours when they felt they would never sing again, that they had every reason imaginable for not singing at all? I expect they all did, because it says, "These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God" (Rev. 7:14-15). That is how it is going to turn out. Start and keep singing. "Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth Me; and to him that ordereth his way aright will I show the salvation of God" (Ps. 50:23).

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