"...Bringing many sons to glory" (Heb. 2:10).
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling..." (Heb. 3:1).
The heavenly calling is - "bringing many sons to glory".
We are occupied with the matter of God's heritage of glory in sons, and David is being instrumental in giving us some understanding of what that means, seeing the whole of David's life issued in his son Solomon and the glorious kingdom, the kingdom of glory - sonship and glory, the full glory of God.
Will you turn back again to 1 Sam. 16:18: "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." In this verse there are six things said about David which are features of sonship, which issue in the glory of God. The first of these occupied the last chapter - "skilful in playing" - the phrase by which David's whole life ministry of worship and praise through the psalms is introduced. I am going to pass on to the next thing about him.
What Real Valour Is
"A mighty man of valour", how God gets glory through valour. It is interesting and significant to take note of the immediate combination of music with strength, because it is a rare combination; that is, naturally. It is something that is very striking about David. I hope I shall give offence to no one, but you know the artistic temperament is not always characterised by a great deal of valour. It is a temperamental temperament, and is usually a prey to varying moods. But there is this about David which is very clear all through his life, that even if he was artistic in temperament, one very much influenced by his feelings, or one who had very strong feelings and emotions, David is always seen to be conquering them, rising above them, triumphing over them. And that is really valour.
Valour right at its beginning is getting on top of ourselves, our own moods and feelings, the influence and effect of things upon our own souls. That is a real realm of conflict and battle. Valour begins within, not without. That is why there is a distinction here between a mighty man of valour, and a man of war. We come to that later, but there is a difference. War begins inside. The outward battles arise from something already that has taken place inside us; it is really something to do with us before it is to do with anyone else, and thus it was with David.
There is no doubt about it that his psalms do betray a tremendous amount of soul feeling, and that his was a very big and strong soul. But alongside of that, those same psalms show how David was always getting on top of his own soul. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?" (Ps. 42:5). He says to himself, 'Come along now, get up, none of that' - "Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him." There was a time when David was having a very bad experience, and he said some very bad things about the Lord, some very hard things, because he was bitter in spirit. He saw the prosperity of the wicked, and that the righteous and the faithful were apparently being defeated. Judged by human standards, it looked as though the Lord was really not just, not righteous, and he began to talk like that. But then he pulled himself up strongly, he took right hold of himself and said, "This is my infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High" (Ps. 77:10). That is only another way, the poetic and better way, of saying, 'Now, look here, that will not do, my soul, you must not go down that street. Come along now, remember the Lord, do not forget you have had bad times before, but the Lord has been faithful.' That is real valour, and God gets a great deal of glory out of that.
God comes into His inheritance when men and women who have a disposition and a make-up that is prone to go off at a tangent or to get down, very far down in gloom, swayed and influenced by circumstances and things, take hold of themselves in the Name of the Lord, and say, 'Now look here, remember the Lord! You have had bad times before, the Lord has not let you down, you are still going on in spite of many such experiences. And that is not due to you; that is due to the Lord.' The Lord gets glory along that line. It is very simple, but it is very true. That really is valour as brought out with David. It is the battle with his own soul, and ascendancy over it, for his temperament could have played him all sorts of tricks and led him into final and utter disaster if he had not this one dominating motive: 'This is not to the glory of God, getting down here, behaving like this, talking like this, feeling like this. This does not honour the Lord; I must get up out of this.' The glory of God was the great governing factor with David, and that motive made him a man of valour, a mighty man of valour.
Valour in Secret
And, as in other things, David being a mighty man of valour was that first of all, inside where no one else saw any of it. It is easy to be a mighty man of valour when everybody is looking on, when we have got an audience. It is quite a different thing when you are having a bad time and alone. Your only motive then is the Lord, not people. You have no other inspiration than the thought: 'Well, what is the Lord getting out of this? Not very much, therefore it must not go on.'
Well, we are not concerned here with valour as a subject in itself, but as something which does bring glory to God. A marginal word for 'valour' is 'courage', and when you take the measurement of David, you find that you have to measure his stature by his courage, that his spiritual stature was determined, in his case, by courage. To put that in another way, there is nothing which dwarfs people more than fear. Fear always results in cowardice, and everybody despises a coward. There is no stature in fear. It makes us all very small. David was a mighty man, but his mightiness, if you like, his 'gigantic stature', which in its effect was far greater than that mighty Goliath, was according to his courage, his valour. He was a mighty man of valour.
This young man who said this, and others who came to take account of David, recognised that whether his brothers in the flesh were bigger in natural stature and physique, or whether Goliath towered over every other man in Israel, this is the really mighty man. It is not measured by natural standards at all. The measurement was his valour, his courage. Now that is the thing in view.
The Weakness of Fear
Let us get back to the root of this: the first mention of fear in the Bible. According to the well-known rule, the first mention of anything in the Bible always contains the elements which are subsequently developed to the full, and so it is with this matter of fear. We have it in Genesis 3:9-10: "And the Lord God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
"I was afraid." That is the first mention of fear in the Bible, and it represents something altogether new in the constitution of man. The Lord God had walked in the garden before, perhaps many times, in the cool of the day, and there had never been this at all, but perfect openness, freedom, restfulness, quiet assurance and confidence. Here is something new. The man is afraid. A thing which had never been on all previous occasions is now present, something called fear. Where has it come from? It has just sprung out of sin and disobedience. Sin and disobedience has changed the relationship with God, and whereas before then the man knew nothing of this and walked uprightly, confidently in the presence of the Lord, before the Lord God, now he is cringing, unnerved, weak, seeking cover; he is afraid.
This is the effect of Satan's influence. Wherever there is judgment, there is fear. James says that the devils tremble (James 2:19). You can say a lot about that very thing in the realm of the evil powers, that the thing which dominates them is fear, terror, dread. When they speak, they say, "Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt. 8:29). They are betrayed. They know their doom and they are in terror. Fear has come from Satan's influence. Therefore it is not surprising, but quite illuminating that the last mention of fear in the Bible, right at the end of the book of the Revelation, places fearfulness or the fearful, with the unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, fornicators, idolaters, liars. The fearful are included in that bunch, a full ripe work of Satan.
The Basis of Valour
a) A good conscience
Then what is valour? If that is fear, the nature and basis of fear, valour or courage must rest upon exactly the opposite basis. It rests upon what? A good conscience towards God. It is a great thing in spiritual fortitude and inward strength in the cohesion of the inward life, to have a good conscience before God, to be able to walk before God without cringing and fear. The most fearless or the most valorous person that has ever walked this earth was the Lord Jesus, and that life, marked so wonderfully by spiritual and moral courage, was like that because of an absolutely clear way between Him and His Father. You say, 'Yes, that is very good for Him, and what you say may be perfectly true.' But is not this the very foundation of our salvation? Yes, a good conscience towards God. The very provision that is made in the Cross and in the blood of the Lord Jesus is that we should be cleansed from an evil conscience. The very meaning of our baptism, according to Peter's word, is this: "the answer of a good conscience towards God" (1 Pet. 3:21). Something happened, something has been done to undercut all that work in the garden which made man cringe in the presence of God. We know what has been done. Fear undercuts the work of the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and this kind of spiritual courage is the vindication of Christ's Cross. A good conscience towards God - what a grand thing! All the great doctrine of justification by faith is crowded into that - a good conscience towards God, and a good conscience makes men of us, makes sons of us. An evil conscience makes cravens of us. Valour, then, rests upon a good conscience, the conscience cleansed and resting upon all the effect of the work of Christ, just as the evil conscience rests upon the fact of the work of Satan.
b) Complete faith in God
Valour is also derived from a complete faith in God. David is a great example of that. There is no mistaking that, that his valour, his courage, sprang out of this faith which he had in God. He believed God implicitly. It is beautiful, even as a young man, how it comes out. When we deal with him as a man of war, we shall see it in particular connections, but here it is. This young man had a mighty faith in God, and that faith in God produced this spirit of courage. It always does. Such a faith is essential to spiritual courage. If you and I are not sure of God, we are weak and there is not much valour about us. See anybody who has a question about the Lord, who is not sure of the Lord, and you see a weak person. See a person who believes God, who can say as did the apostle, "I believe God" (Acts 27:25), "I believe God, that it shall be", and that man has taken command of the ship and the commander of the ship and the commander of the military forces, the whole situation. There is a courage there about that man that is not natural. "I believe God."
c) A knowledge of the Lord
Therefore this rests upon knowing the Lord. "The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32). Spiritual courage rests upon knowing the Lord, and that would open to us in itself a very large field of profitable consideration. But we content ourselves with this, and you will see much more through what I say than I am saying, that the Lord builds up in us strength by taking us through difficult, trying, adverse situations and experiences in which we get to know Him in a new way. The very reason why He does take us through those difficult experiences is in the first place that we should know Him. The result of every fresh trial and suffering ought to be that we have proved the Lord, we have come to know the Lord, and our attitude towards all such things should be: 'I am going to learn something more of the Lord through this.' And when we come out of it with that, we are very much more confident and assured with spiritual courage for the next thing. A person of courage or valour is one who faces a new situation in the strength of having proved the Lord in the last one, who does not go down before a new situation because there is something to draw upon of knowledge of the Lord.
d) A love relationship with God
This all means that the relationship with God has been put right. We said that the relationship between Adam and the Lord was changed, but now it is put right. And what is the relationship? It is the relationship of mutual love. Firstly, God's love for us, and then our love for God. "Perfect love casteth out fear... there is no fear in love" (1 John 4:18), says the apostle. If we believe that God is love and that His love is towards us, that completely undercuts fear. The relationship is recovered, restored and established. It is, of course, common knowledge that hatred and fear go together. Look at it in nations. Fear produces hatred. People hate because they fear. If you have love, you have no fear, and if we have love for God, we have no fear. That relationship does not permit fear.
Now, what I am saying is not only a statement of truths, but it is a test and a challenge. All this is fundamental to our salvation. That is the basis of valour or courage.
The Essence of Valour
What is the essence of it? Well, if you take David again as the example - mark you, we are talking about features of real sonship which bring glory to God - the essence of courage or valour is firstly a facing and undertaking of things altogether beyond our measure in the interests of the Lord. That is courage, the mountain to be overcome, the tremendous odds to be ruled out. Look at David over that. Again and again it was like that. We cannot but anticipate by reminding ourselves of the bear and the lion, the Goliath, and much more through his life. But he attached to every incident of that kind the glory of God. He brought in the Name of the Lord and made it a testimony to the Lord. He undertook things. Now find the man today anywhere on the earth who will tackle a real live lion, and a young man at that, and literally tear it asunder and leave it dead. And a bear. It is said that in the jungles of India even a tiger, a man-eating tiger, fears the bear. A bear is its greatest enemy. Find the young man who will tackle a bear and leave it destroyed. If David had been any other kind of man than the one he was, when he saw the bear and the lion come and attack the lamb, he would have said, 'Better let him have it, I am not going to risk my skin for a lamb.' We will touch that in another connection for another point, but here it is.
What about this Goliath fellow? All Israel are in terror of that man. It says that when he came out and bawled before them, they trembled and fled, they all ran away, all Israel, David's big brothers too! Now then, is this tackling something beyond him? Saul pointed that out very clearly, "Look here, you cannot go and fight with him, he is a warrior by training from his youth, and you are a stripling". But David tackled something for the glory of God altogether beyond himself. That is valour.
Now, the lion and the bear and the Goliath and a few other things may only be types, figures. You may know what they mean in your life, but there is no doubt about it that you and I are brought face to face with things that are altogether beyond us naturally, and the Lord allows that. Then it is a test of this courage born of "knowing the Lord", believing God and inspired by a great zeal for the glory of God. "If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16) - 'for the glory of God, here goes...'. That is not natural, though the language may sound like it. It is something very real.
Enduring Without Complaining
Courage is also in its essence a matter of enduring when you cannot do, and enduring without complaining, for the glory of God. That is the essence of courage - enduring. Very often we are helped a great deal by being able to do. It helps us over a lot of difficulties to be able to do something. When it is not possible to do anything, and the only thing left is to endure and be patient, it requires real courage. That is a realm in which valour has very real meaning, and David had a lot of that. For years David could do nothing about his situation. He was persecuted, driven out, hunted, his life sought. He was not being able to do anything about it, his hands were tied. Saul was put at his mercy more than once, but inwardly the Lord would not let him do anything for his own vindication or deliverance. No, he just had to suffer this thing, bear it, endure it. He had a bad time. Some psalms came out of that, pretty bad psalms too, and yet triumphant psalms. Look at the headings again - "A Psalm of David when he was pursued by Saul". Yes, with real raging conflict within, but David is not going to take an easy way out, he is not going to set his hand for his own vindication. He is going to wait God's time; he is going to be patient, endure, be steadfast. Under trial, persecution, misunderstanding, slander and reproach, for the glory of God, hold on, wait God's time. God vindicated in the long run, but this is the way of the training of sons. All this was ultimately gathered up into the glory. It was the glory of a Divine courage.
The Value of Valour
What was the value of this courage, this valour? Was it just something that was limited to David himself? Was God just dealing with David to make him something of spiritual measure? No, the real value, while it was secured in David in very practical ways by a very hard school, was because he was to be prince or leader of the people of God. He had got to be an inspiration to the Lord's people. We are deriving value from this now. Oh, do we not, in a time of need, almost spontaneously, instinctively, turn to the Psalms? Is it not out of those Psalms of David that there comes to us succour and assurance, strength and new confidence? How many times have we laid hold of his words for our own inward salvation? "My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever" (Ps. 73:26). The Lord through this was making him in spirit and in principle a leader, a prince, a true son, one who would inspire others. That is the value of courage. If we are fearful, afraid, cringing, without assurance, not resting upon what Christ is for us unto God and from God to us, if our feet are not upon that rock, there is no leadership about us, there is no inspiration to others. You cannot but be an inspiration, you cannot but be a leader in principle, if you have this kind of spiritual courage born of faith in God.
The Secret of Valour
Well, the secret of valour. What is the secret of this courage? The answer is in one little phrase or sentence from the New Testament: "God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7). What is the secret? 'The spirit that God has not given us...' that negative statement is a thrust at the enemy. The other spirit, another spirit, that spirit, that evil spirit, is a spirit of fear. That comes from the dark quarter of judgement, dread and terror. That is a spirit which comes out of the darkness. God hath not given us that spirit, God has given us another spirit. The spirit which God hath given us is not fear but a sound mind (A.V.) which means assurance, confidence, certainty. The secret of courage, then, is the Spirit that God has given us.
Open your book of the Acts and see the marvellous change that comes in that book. Where did we leave the men who are re-introduced to us? With all their vaunted self-confidence and valour, what happened to them? Peter, the leader of them all, is intimidated by a little serving-maid and lies with oaths and curses to save his own flesh to get out of a difficult situation, and "they all forsook Him and fled". That is the picture. Then in the book of the Acts, what a change! What is the thing that is constantly up? "When they beheld the boldness of Peter and John..." (Acts 4:13). "With great power gave the apostles witness" (Acts 4:33). They are standing up to the rulers, anything but cowed or intimidated. "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). 'Do what you like, do your worst, we are not afraid!' This is a tremendous change. The same men, yet not the same. What has happened? The Holy Spirit has come, the Spirit of Jesus Christ has been supplied, the Spirit who takes up all the values of His Cross and its victory and brings those values in. "A good conscience towards God". I think that is tremendous.
You think of Peter. If ever there ought to have been a man who spent the rest of his life never wanting to meet another person, to look anybody in the face again, keeping out of the public eye, under a spirit of absolute condemnation with a bad conscience, that man ought to have been Peter. That man would have been Peter, but strangely and wonderfully the man who more than any other ought to have lived for evermore under the accusations of a bad conscience, this is the man who - well, there is no sign of any bad conscience about him, and later he will write in his letter "the answer of a good conscience towards God". Something has happened.
The Holy Spirit does make good the values of the Cross to deliver us from the sin and the condemnation and the judgement. The Spirit says to us "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death" (Rom. 8:1-2). It is the Spirit that God gives that makes for courage and valour. Oh, may we see the way of sonship. This is what it means. You may have the subject, the theme of sonship, and you may delight in it and talk about it, but the thing is, is it true of us? The thing that matters is: are we upright, not in our own goodness and righteousness, but able to stand up, in the presence of God and before men, because we have our consciences cleansed and the relationship with God is alright; we know the Lord, we trust and believe God?
The Lord make us sons, and that is the way in which the Lord is glorified.