"Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was thou that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt be shepherd of My people Israel, and thou shalt be prince over My people Israel. So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel" (1 Chron. 11:1-3).
"All these, being men of war, that could order the battle array, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking; for their brethren had made preparation for them. Moreover they that were nigh unto them, even as far as Issachar and Zebulon and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, victuals of meal, cakes of figs, and clusters of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep in abundance: for there was joy in Israel" (1 Chron. 12:38-40).
That is a foreshadowing. There are two counterparts of that. The first was that which took place on the day of Pentecost, and followed on for some weeks or months afterwards. It is not at all difficult to see the spiritual counterpart at that time. It was when the Lord Jesus came into His own, when it was fulfilled that God highly exalted Him, and gave Him the Name which is above every Name, set Him at His own right hand, far above all (Phil. 2:9). It was then that the echo of that was found among the believers on earth, and it was a great time, this day of Pentecost, as they gathered together. The account is one which, in spirit at least, very truly corresponds to what we have here in the crowning of David. But that looks on to another time, the great day when the cry, the proclamation, shall be heard: "The marriage of the Lamb is come." We have that wonderful picture in Revelation 19, a great crowd, great joy, the Lord has at last, not only personally and in heaven, but with all His own, come into His own. There is great rejoicing. "Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad... for the marriage of the Lamb is come" (verse 7).
You will have no difficulty in seeing in these Bible passages which we have read, the carrying into fulness of all those six things which have occupied us throughout concerning David and his life of music and praise and worship. Here it breaks out in the people of God, a great rejoicing. As a man of valour, a man of war, as a man of character and personal presence, as a man of prudence in affairs, as a man with whom the Lord was, this is the day when it all comes out in wonderful fulness, the day of his vindication. Yes, that is all true. Our hearts are stirred and moved when we read the story. "There was joy in Israel."
But what is the point for this moment? Well, first of all, is this not what the Lord would have now, in between then and that final great celebration? Is it not possible to have some little taste of that now? Are we to wait for it all until then? Is it a beautiful story in the Old Testament? Is there to be nothing like it until we are all in glory? I do not believe that. The Lord would have something like that now. It can be. He would have it. He would have His people, though it may not be where they are all concerned, He would have them in companies in the good of this, enjoying Him, and there being great joy in Israel. And it need not be only at conference times, Easter, Whitsun and August, for example. Should it not be like this whenever the Lord's people are together? It surely should and can be.
The End of a Period of Disappointment
There are some very beautiful, precious features of this whole thing, and I just want to touch upon them as briefly and quickly as I can. This marked the end of a time which had been full of disappointment: Saul's reign. Saul was man's idea of things. Saul was man's choice, and Saul's kingship and kingdom was after man's mind and after man's will, not according to the Lord's mind. But man had chosen and insisted and persisted and determined, and would take no other, so the Lord allowed it. It is always like that. Make up your mind strongly enough, and the Lord will let you have it. So they did, and the Lord let them have it. But it was a terrible disappointment. Israel was no fundamental unity during all the days of Saul. It was an artificial unity. It was like tying a lot of things together and holding them together. There was no inward basic oneness, and after the first excitement and glamour had passed, it soon began to be manifest that the thing was rotten at the root and core, and it began to fall apart, to disintegrate.
Steadily the whole thing began to split up and divide. In that kingdom division after division became the order of the day. There was no oneness, no real cohesion. It was something that had to be held together, propped up, kept going, a great make-believe of a kingdom, and the people of God were in a state of terrible disillusionment. They had their visions and their hopes, their expectations, but they were steadily being disappointed. The people were becoming disillusioned about this whole thing. Dissatisfaction, growing dissatisfaction: 'This is not it, this is not really what we meant, what we feel should be.' And increasing difficulties and complications came to the nation; debts, because this whole thing was too expensive to keep going, this regime was a very expensive thing, and was undermining all resources. It had to be kept going, and it was getting a bit too much, and so they were getting into debt by the very system that they had set up; they could not pay their way. These were features of it, and at last the whole thing collapsed, and a disillusioned people were left thinking.
But thank God, there was something positive to think about, and it was such a people that came from one direction and another, from the wilderness, from Ziklag and elsewhere, to Hebron. They had remembered, they had known in their hearts that, while this other thing of their choice was not it, they also knew in their heart that there was something that was it, that it was not just a vacuum, a nothing, an emptiness. They knew that it was what they needed. Well, that is really the spiritual background. And so they came.
I think that you are interpreting as I go along because the people who are going to come into this joy of real satisfaction, contentment and appreciation, who are able to say, 'This is it!' have got to have a history by which they come to know that the thing that is not it, is not it. God is very practical. He could have prevented the tragedy of all those years taken out of their lives, while Saul was king officially. But He did not do it, and God does not do that sort of thing. God works to the positive by perhaps allowing years of our lives to be occupied with the negative so that we may more and more become aware of how negative it is, how empty it is. When we do come into the real thing, we know it by contrast, and no one ever does appreciate the positive who has not bitterly tasted of the negative. In the sovereignty and providence of God, that is the way in which He gets a people who are full of gratitude, praise and appreciation, a people who know, because they know the difference. That is basic to a scene like this. They are disillusioned people, they are people who know the emptiness and the hollowness, not only of the world, but of a religious system which does not answer to spiritual need, but is simply an official thing holding the ground, like the kingdom of Saul.
Well, they were a divided people, all over the place, in sections; divisions arose in that realm, and division followed division. As we have said, there was no fundamental oneness. It was a state of want. There was shortage, limitation, straightness, not enough to keep body and soul together. It was hard work to find enough to live on. Interpret that spiritually. It was a way and a time when all their efforts and endeavours and all their labour and their hard work led to nothing. Saul made them work right enough. Samuel had told them what he would make them do, and they worked, and all their labour was ineffective and unprofitable. It brought nothing back to them, and it was anything but a life of glory. There was no glory in Israel in those days.
The Way of Spiritual Fulness
What is the cure for such a situation, the cure for divisions, the cure for spiritual lack and poverty? What is the way of spiritual fulness? What is the way of effectiveness in life, service and ministry? What is the way of the glory? The answer is quite simple - make Jesus King, bring God's anointed into His place fully, recognise the place that God has given to the Lord Jesus, recognise that until He has His place, all these conditions will obtain, but when He has His place, that is the way out, the way over. All Israel came with a perfect, complete, undivided and unreserved heart to make David king. That is the answer to everything.
It is the answer to our own individual lives if they are disintegrated, broken up, divided. If they are disappointed, hungry, lacking and knowing no spiritual fulness, if their labour attains no proportionate result for eternity, if they lack the glory, well, the answer for us individually is just the Lord having His place in fulness and without any reserve on our part.
That extends to companies of the Lord's people, for you can have a local company that is knowing very little about oneness and spiritual fulness, spiritual effectiveness, and glory. What is the cure? That every individual heart in that company has but one thought: the glory and honour and praise of the Lord Jesus. It is the cure.
And what is true for the individual and for the local company is true for conferences and is true for the universal representation. It is just marvellous how, coming from all over the world, various nations and different languages, complexions, outlooks and constitutions, may come and the Lord Jesus is the only object of your coming, and in view. Why, there is a wonderful unity. All nationalities and everything else that is divisive on this earth simply disappears; it is no longer there. All those things go, and there is wonderful spiritual fulness and great joy. It is true. It is all a matter of the Lord coming into His place wholly.
Well, that sounds a simple statement, but it may mean a good deal more than we realise. These people who came had been a part of that other thing. They had been in that choosing and appointing of Saul. They had been alongside of Saul, they had moved out and in with Saul. But here they are confessing that they had been wrong, that even while Saul was king, he really was not; they were wrong. They were to confess and put right what they had done wrong. It is not always easy.
The joy, the glory, the blessed feasting upon the Lord's fulness may all be held up for want of some definite admission and confession of wrong. It becomes very practical. A life may be held up as to the glory of the Lord in it, the song of the Lord in it, because it will not let go and say, 'I have been wrong in this and that.' We may know quite well that things are not right, and yet not be prepared to get right down, in a humble way, and say, 'Look here, I have been holding on to this position all this time, tenaciously refusing to give it up, but now I acknowledge that I have been wrong.' The glory may wait for that.
It is just probable that many of these people had been very suspicious and critical of David, had taken Saul's part against him, and perhaps been in the train of Saul in hunting him, and now they are saying, 'We have all been wrong.' It involves us in very practical things. I am not going to pursue that any further, but it is one thing to just say, 'Yes, make Jesus king.' Sometimes that does require the going back upon a whole course, the letting go of a whole position which we have not been prepared to let go, the standing strongly for something which really has not proved to be of God, which has not had the seal of God upon it. We believed it was of God, and we have held to that position, but it has not had the seal of God on it, and all the marks of that withheld seal have been there: dissatisfaction, spiritual limitation, a disintegration of life, no fruitful service. Yes, the Lord's seal is thus seen to be withheld, and yet we may cling to our position. But they came and made this confession, went right back on the whole thing. 'Even when Saul was king, you were the right one, you were the one that the Lord had chosen and anointed.' He might well have said then, 'If you have known that all along, if that is your position, why have you held to that position all this time until Saul is dead and out of the way, and you have no one to take his place?' But no, it is an honest admission. It is not just because they are forced to it. They know in their hearts what God would have.
It is just the gathering up of this whole series into this, that the way of the glory - that is what we have been occupied with - the way of the fulness, is the way in which the Lord has His place, not only as over against the world in our hearts, but over against much that claims to be of the Lord that really is not of the Lord.
This whole system of Saul's kingdom is a great type of what we have, even in Christendom today, something in which people are spiritually starved, something that holds the ground officially, something that does not help people to pay their way spiritually. It is something that is resolving into division after division, sect after sect, and section after section. That is not the mark of the Lord's lordship at all. No, I do believe that the Lord would have it in as great a representation as possible, but if He cannot have it in a general way, He would have it in small ways, an expression of this very thing, a people together, eating and drinking, feasting and rejoicing, and it can be and will be if the Lord really has His place.
Oh, I know that you are all ready to say that you make Jesus Lord. You use all the language that is available about crowning Him Lord of all but, you know, in our lives it is tremendously pointed and practical. We are constantly coming up against something which brings us into collision with the Lord, something we want which our hearts are set upon, something that we like, something that is personal, something that we do not want the Lord to have or to do. That is the issue. No less an issue than the very throne of God, of our Lord Jesus, is involved in things like that. It may be a prejudice. No doubt many of these people were prejudiced against David. It may be a prejudice we have to get out of the way for the Lord's sake.
It may be one or more of any number of things, but the point is that the Lord has got to sweep this whole ground with His Lordship, and there has to be a perfect heart to make Jesus King. The Lord help us to do that, and all that this series has been about will become very real and very true, and, not least of all, the music will go on.