God's Inheritance of Glory in Sons
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 10 - The Presence of the Lord

"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" (1 Sam. 16:18).

These are, as we have seen, keys to the whole life of David, and now we come to the last: "and the Lord is with him". We have been seeing how each of these things, mentioned for the first time, developed in the life of David to fulness, and found their ultimate realisation in his son Solomon, and in the House of the Lord, pointing on to another: the greater Son of David, the Lord Jesus, of whom each of these things could be said in a so much fuller way, and who Himself, the greater than Solomon, hands them all on to the House of God, "whose house are we" (Heb. 3:6). So that the House, through fully developed sonship, becomes the vessel and embodiment of all these things in fulness, and that becomes particularly clear and true when we arrive at this inclusive final feature: "and the Lord is with him".

You observe what has just taken place. It says a little before: "and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward" (1 Sam. 16:13). "Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul" (verse 14). "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."

The Lord's Presence the Crowning Feature

I would like to say first of all, in a very simple way, that that is the test, after all; that is the crowning feature. So far we have not much history of David, and what we have is quite secret and is what has taken place out of public view, out of the way of any conspicuous position, and yet in the hour of emergency, or the hour of trouble, there was a young man who has taken note of this other young man, and who says, "I have seen a son of Jesse... and the Lord is with him." It was not because David had a public position and was in a conspicuous place and there were great manifestations of this fact that the Lord was with him so that all could see. And it was not because David was in a place of popularity. In fact, David was anything but in such a place. He was despised by his own brothers and his own father had not thought it worthwhile bringing him to Samuel at the feast in Bethlehem (and remember the feast that Samuel called for was in Bethlehem, and David was right on hand) but he was left out, not considered of sufficient importance to be brought into the family gathering, just left outside. It was for none of these reasons of position, respect, popularity and recognition that the young man came to this conclusion. What I mean is this: it was not because there were all the evidences in his life that the Lord was with him, that therefore he was a popular man, he was respected, he was brought to the fore, he was taken account of by everybody, and highly thought of. Rather it was true that he was having a difficult time and he was in a difficult position.

The point is this, that so often we think that if the Lord is with us, the evidence will be surely that people will be friendly, people will take note of us, we will be given some position and recognition, or that things will generally go well. Put that round the other way. If things are not going well, if we are not being taken account of, and we do not have any place given to us, and things really are difficult, if we are having a lonely and trying time, that surely must mean the Lord is not with us. It means nothing of the kind. It was not for any of those reasons that the young man came to this conclusion. It must be on some other ground altogether. He had observed David, he had come into touch with David - David in the shadows, in difficulty, in adversity, in loneliness, and yet his touch with David brought this to him, 'The Lord is with that fellow, he is not having an easy time in his home, in his family or anywhere else, but you have to say, the Lord is with him, and that is all there is to it.' And that is, after all, the thing that matters.

I want to say to you at the outset, before I open this up more fully, that the thing that matters where we are concerned, is not what we are among men, even among the people of God officially, not that things are going prosperously with us, but that when people know us and touch us, they say, 'When I meet that man or that woman I meet the Lord.' That is the thing that matters, and I would ask you to lay that to heart. You may be hungering after something else, a place, position, recognition, work, and so on, in the Lord and for the Lord. But the thing that matters more than all that, whether you have that or whether you do not have that, is that when people touch you, they touch the Lord, when they meet you, they meet the Lord, that there is someone who, observing, is able to pass this verdict: 'The Lord is with him, the Lord is with her' - not because of anything that can be seen, but you just meet the Lord. That is very simple, but it goes to the heart and root of everything. Do you not covet that more than anything else? Surely you do. Well, that is possible for the least, the most despised among men, the most ostracised among Christians. It is just beautifully possible that people have to say, 'Well, whatever you say about them, whatever the attitude of other people towards them is, you meet the Lord.'

And that can be not only true of individuals, but also of companies. They may be ostracised, they may be criticised, there may be any amount of prejudice and despising and evil-speaking, but after all, the verdict comes back to this - do you meet the Lord? And if you meet the Lord, that is all that matters, the rest can go.

The Anointing of the Holy Spirit

Well now, we have to look at this more closely for a little while, and see why it was and how it was that the Lord was with David. Of course, inclusively it is gathered into that: "and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward" (verse 13). That is the inheritance of every one of us. The Holy Spirit was never the sole possession or privilege of David or of any one man. The Holy Spirit is as much our birthright as He was David's. If David was anointed, the sure, clear declaration of the New Testament is that we are anointed in Christ, and what more do you want than that? And that makes the same thing possible.

The Presence of the Lord a Primary Matter

But then there are other things to be said about it, of course. Let us take the whole, full range in which it is set. The presencing of the Lord is a primary matter in the whole Bible from beginning to end. You find that it was an original thought of the Lord to presence Himself with man, and so in the garden when the Lord has finished His creation and is able to say, "It is very good", in other words, 'This satisfies My heart, this is what I have been desiring, what I have been wanting, what I have been after.' When the Lord can pronounce the verdict of good pleasure upon His work, He walks in it and presences Himself there. He comes into the garden, takes His delight. It is His place, He is at rest there, He has His pleasure there. He says, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased", and in principle it is not so far a cry from the garden of Eden to the Lord Jesus.

Although the Lord had to withdraw, the Lord lost that which satisfied His heart, He comes back again through the Old Testament in the great types, in the tabernacle, and the temple, showing that He has not abandoned His thought and desire and intention; not given it up. He is still clinging to it, He is holding on. When all things were made according to the pattern, satisfying the heavenly thought, the Lord filled the tabernacle and the Lord filled the temple. The presencing of Himself is still the deepest desire in His heart. The Old Testament closes, and it does not close with that presence of the Lord in fulness. It is only realised in a little company - "Then they that feared the Lord spake one with another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lords of hosts, even Mine own possession, in the day that I make ('in that day when I make up My special treasure' A.V.)" (Mal. 3:6-17). Why His special, peculiar treasure? Simply because they answered in some measure to that first thought, providing Him with a place where He could come for enjoyment and rest.

The New Testament opens, the Lord Jesus is here, Emmanuel, God with us. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). And the verdict later upon His whole life here was: "for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). God has found His place of presencing in His Son.

But that is not the end. The Son brings in the sons, constitutes His house, and on the day of Pentecost the Lord fills it, presences Himself in His church, and finds a great deal of pleasure there. We leave that for the present.

Then the Word begins to open up a new vista. When all that which has been pointing to the ultimate comes to its ultimate fulfilment, in the end when it is possible for an apostle in vision, in revelation, to cry, "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3). The great heavenly tabernacle, the church, is now filled with glory, the Lord's presence. That is the setting of this.

A Consuming Passion

Why was the Lord with David? Because David's whole life was captivated by this thought, this one purpose - the presence of God. There was one thing that gathered up all that David was and had - that was the house of God. You read again Psalm 132, "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids; until I find out a place for the Lord" (Ps. 132:4,5). Here is a man who is consumed with this single idea - a place for the preserving of the Lord, or, if you like, the presencing of the Lord, that the Lord should be present, that the Lord should have His place, that the Lord should find that in which He can have His pleasure and His rest. "Arise, O Lord", cries David, "into Thy resting-place" (Ps. 132:8). And that is why the Lord was with David, because David was a man of one idea.

He had many things in his life, but everything in David's life had to bend to this thing, that the Lord should be known as present. That is the major factor, and it comes that way. It does not just come automatically. It is a matter of the consuming passion of our life, that over all the other affairs, has one interest and makes all the other things as far as possible bend to that interest. You have got your business, your profession, your home, many things, but your heart is set upon this matter of the Lord's place, that as soon as you can get away from business, if you can get to the place where the Lord is, you make for it as quickly as you can. You swallow your cup of tea, or go without it, to be there. You are making your business, your profession, your home, bend towards this presencing of the Lord. That is your passion, and if it is, the Lord will be with you. And you get a company of people in any place like that, and you will meet the Lord. That is something more than a congregation going to 'divine service'. It is a company bound together with one idea, one passion, one master-conception - the Lord, and the Lord here.

That turned out to be the glorious issue of David's life because it was like that all the way through, there came in Solomon and the temple, the glorious house of God. David said, "The house... must be exceeding magnificent" (1 Chron. 22:5), 'for it is for the Lord', and it was so, as things go temporally, but only a shadow, a foreshadowing, of what will be - transcendent glory at last. Do you think it is just going to come about? No, it is going to come through the heart-devotion of men and women to this thing now.

Look again at David, how his heart for the Lord provided the Lord with a ground for His House. That passion, that devotion, that concern involved David in the cost of everything. David was no time-server or man-pleaser. David had no secondary considerations of: How do I stand to gain or lose by the course I am taking, by this step to which I am committing myself? How is it going to affect me, and my interests, and my future? David was never affected at all by public opinion, popular opinion, nor religious opinion. David had no concern for the accepted, established, recognised order of things. If that likes to contribute to this end, well and good, but position, opportunity for self-realisation, never came into his mind. He could have had a great deal if he had set his heart upon it and was prepared to compromise. If only he would have compromised with Saul, with Saul's kingdom, he could have obtained a good deal. But there was something in him that would not allow him to do that, and so all these things were just brushed aside.

If you or I should at any time have a secondary consideration, that is, that we shall lose prestige, position, opportunity, that we shall spoil our future, well, anything like that at all, if that is going to affect or influence us, take it that the verdict will never be "and the Lord was with him". The Lord was with David because at all costs - though it cost him his home, though it cost him his place in the kingdom, though it cost him comforts and everything else, at all costs he is going on with the Lord; he is after what the Lord is after. That was the man, there is no doubt about it.

The Proving of the Heart

David did not have the revelation and pattern of the house of God at the beginning; that came to him much later. It is not that David was behaving, acting, deciding and choosing in full view of the great revelation of the house of God. That had not come to him, the pattern was not shown until afterwards. But David's heart was set upon the Lord and what the Lord wanted was the first thing, and then a period of proving that that was true, and it was a long and terrible period of proving that that after all was true.

It is not enough for us to be after what the Lord wants. It is essential that, when everything of that seems to have been rendered impossible and all that our heart has been set upon seems to have been entirely put away, and everything now seems to argue against it, the time is a time of intense trial and difficulty, and it goes on and on. The trial is not made milder, it is through that that we are tried and proved as to whether the Lord can lead us right into the realisation of His purpose.

You will have plenty of opportunity to abandon what you have started out for, and if you argue naturally, you will have plenty of reason for abandoning it. Everything will say, "Well, you have made a mistake, you have started towards something impossible". It is all a beautiful idea, but you see it was an illusion, it is impossible of realisation, it is not practical, and all sorts of things like that. Today when you talk about the heavenly church, the church as revealed through Paul, especially in the Ephesian letter, you bring that into view, what is the reaction? 'Oh yes, it is a beautiful ideal, but it is not possible of realisation. You are going to spend your strength and time and life for nought if you think that anything like that, with Christianity as it is now, can be realised in a world like this.' Everything on the outside argues (and very often there is a lot on the inside that seems to confirm the argument) to say you are a fool, you are on a fool's errand, you are in a false paradise. David went through that sort of thing, and was proved as to his heart, and when that heart of his for the Lord was proved by deep testings of many kinds, then the Lord gave him the vision, the revelation, and showed him the pattern. The great, open heaven came to him after a time of deep trying and testing. Then it came. But it does not come in any other way. It does not come until our hearts have been proved as to whether we really do mean business with God at any cost, and the cost is sometimes very great. Read again the life of this man and what his devotion to the Lord cost him, and think yourself into the story; use your imagination a bit. You will find that for many years David had a most terrible time of testing his heart. The Lord answered back.

What are you after, dear friends? That is the point. Are you after position, place, reputation, prosperity, success, recognition, popularity, an easy life, or anything like that? Very well, the end will not be this, that whoever touches you will say, 'I meet the Lord in him, in her.' That is the thing that is in the balances. The point is, are we willing to lose everything for the Lord that is here in this life?

David's Preparation for the House

Well, when David did get the pattern, when it was shown to him by the open heaven, he drew everything towards its realisation. It is a wonderful account in 1 Chronicles 28 and 29 of David's preparation for the house, all the things that he says, 'I have prepared, I have prepared, I have prepared' - gold for the things of gold, silver for the things of silver, brass for the things of brass, iron for the things of iron. It is a long catalogue of his gathering and preparing for the realisation of this Divinely given vision. He is out in all directions to find that which can answer to God's heart, which can fulfil this thing. He is on full stretch in every direction to collect for the house of God. Interpret that spiritually, bring it together.

The Giving of One's Own Treasure

Yes, but that is not all. We can do a great deal by getting things together and getting work done, but the heart of this comes out in that portion that I have just mentioned. When David has done all that, "I have a treasure of mine of gold and silver, I give it unto the house of my God." That is subjective; it is not objective, it is inward. David had stored up for himself his nest egg, something precious to himself. 'I give it - a treasure of my own.' Oh, that might mean many things in the case of many people, but whatever it might mean regarding your personal treasure, something you have treasured for yourself, some hope you have treasured, some prospect you have treasured, to let it go in the interests of the Lord's House. The point is that it is something that costs us inwardly for the Lord. "Seeing that I have a treasure of mine own". This man stopped at nothing. He let his last possession go in order that the Lord should have His place.

I need say no more. You have the answer as to why the Lord was with David. In looking back upon his whole life now, with all its dark pages, with all that which we are sorry for, looking over his whole life we have to say, God was with that man. He was not perfect, he was not sinless or faultless; he made mistakes, he slipped up, he grievously defaulted, but you cannot get away from it, in the sum total of that man's life you have to say, God was with that man. We are not faultless, we are not perfect, we are very weak, and we make many mistakes, but there is something over all that. If we have a heart for God like this, proved to be a heart for God through testings, discouragement, frustration, persecution, sorrow and suffering, if it is proved that we have nothing too precious to hold back from the Lord, although we may be weak and faulty and all the rest of it, the verdict will be: God is with that man, that woman, God is with them, you meet the Lord in them. The Lord give us grace to be like that.

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