Billeder på siden

punish the evil, Israel's demand for a king in the days of Samuel was rebellion against God, rejection of His authority, and denial of His presence. The Lord God was their king: he had led them forth unarmed from the brick-kilns of Egypt; had destroyed before them Pharoah, the mightiest monarch of the earth; had smitten by their hand Sihon, and Og, and the kings of Canaan; had raised up judges, to deliver them from the kings of Moab, and Ammon, and Midian, and the Phillistines, whom their sins had brought upon them; and had given them Samuel the prophet, to teach them His laws, and to save them from the hands of their enemies. But when the sons of Samuel walked not in the ways of their father, the people, instead of waiting upon the Lord to raise up for them another prophet, as he had raised Samuel in a similar case, rashly called for a change in the ordinance of God; rejected the government of a prophet; rejected the Lord for their King, saying, We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And the Lord said unto Samuel, They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them; according to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt unto this day." (1 Sam. viii.) They forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of spoilers that spoiled them. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them; and when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge for it repented the Lord, because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned and corrupted themselves more than their fathers. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel.” (Judges ii.)


The demand for a king was rebellion against God, who was their KING. Their call for a king to fight their battles, when the Lord fought for Israel; and desiring to be judged by a king, when Samuel was ordained their judge; was rejecting the authority of God: and the reason assigned for the demand, that they might be like all the nations-nations who worshipped and served other gods-was a denial of the presence of God in Israel, whom he had chosen, and among whom he had promised to dwell. "The Lord sent Jerubaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered them out of the hands of their enemies on every side, and they dwelled safe. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and

delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you; and ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto Him, Nay, but set a king over us; when the Lord your God was your king. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king" (1 Sam. viii. x. xii.)

The sin of Israel lay in rejecting the Lord their King, and in desiring to become like the nations, from among whom the Lord had chosen them, and against following whose practices he was continually warning them. To have a king was no evil thing; and God had repeatedly said they should have one, and soon after gave them David, the man after his own heart, and promised to establish the throne of his seed over the house of Israel for ever. The circumstances attending the demand, and the rejection of God in the demand so made, constituted the sin, and brought with it a correspondent punishment; both in the perpetual wars of Saul, and in the postponement of the reign of David, and of the prosperity of Israel under a king of God's choice. The Jews before Pontius Pilate in like manner rejected God, and chose Cæsar for their king; and that which they thereby strove to avert came upon them to the uttermost : "the Romans took away their place and nation." And before the appearance of the True David, the King of kings, an antitype of Saul will be chosen by this rebellious generation; who, when he cometh, must continue not many years, as Saul did, but a short space; for "he was, is not, and goeth into perdition" (Rev. xvii. 11).

The pattern of Royalty was shewn in David and Solomon, for war and for peace: the father, by reconquering the inheritance of Israel, and subduing all their enemies; and then, by restoring the worship of God, reconstituting the service of the sanctuary, himself the foremost amongst the worshippers; and finally, by dedicating his soul to the service of God in hymns of praise, and his spoils to the temple of God, to be built by his son;-and the son, by perfecting through peace the prosperity of the kingdom, endowed by God with pre-eminent wisdom for that very end; the building a house for God being the first and chief act of his reign, and owned of God by his descending in glory to take up his abode there. "Happy are thy men (said the beholders of Solomon), happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice" (1 Kings x. 9).

And David and Solomon were prohibited from considering the throne as their own, or the government to be exercised according to their own pleasure: the throne belonged to the Lord, and they were only his vicegerents, to carry his laws and his pleasure into execution; even as David with his last words charged Solomon, "Be thou strong, and shew thyself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes and his commandments and his judgments and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses" (1 Kings ii. 2); and according as it is written of him, "Then Solomon sat ON THE THRONE OF THE LORD as king, instead of David his father" (1 Chron. xxix. 23).

From this time the children of Israel stood represented in their king; the king being held responsible for the conduct of the people, and his sins bringing judgments upon them. This was seen even in David's reign, when seventy thousand men were slain for the folly of the king in numbering the people. (2 Sam. xxiv.) It was seen still more in Solomon, when, for the idolatry of his latter years, God dooms his posterity to the loss of ten tribes of Israel, and entails upon both halves of the nation reciprocal hostility. It was seen still more in the following kings, who were blessings or curses to the people just in proportion as they obeyed or forsook the Lord their God. The faith of Josiah and Hezekiah brought deliverance and prosperity, but the sins of their successors wearied out the long-suffering of God: he withdrew his protection, and they fell under the king of Babylon, whom God had strengthened for a chastising rod and Scourge.

But had the people waited till God gave them a king; and had the kings stedfastly followed the Lord their God, and led the people in the right way; not only would the people of Israel have escaped the sorrow and fear and hard bondage, wherewith they have been made to serve the kings of Babylon, but "the whole earth had been at rest and quiet, saved from the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of rulers who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, and have ruled the nations in anger" (Isai. xiv.); and God would then have set that glory in the land of the living which David and Hezekiah desired to see (Psal. xxvii. 13; Isai. xxxviii. 11), and shewn the exact, and not the marred, type of the kingdom of heaven, and of the government which shall rest upon the shoulder of Him whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; "when in mercy shall the throne be established, and He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness" (Isa. ix. 6, xvii. 5). And had the house of Israel, at the return from Babylon, or at any subsequent period, known the time of the Lord's

visitation, and accepted his offers of mercy, He would have returned to them, and set his glory in the midst of them. He was continually feeling those yearnings of compassion which Jesus expressed when he drew nigh to the city and wept over it, saying, "If thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" (Luke xix. 42:) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. xxiii. 37.)

The raising up of the king of Babylon was a new era in the purpose of God, and the Israelites were commanded to mark well the time when Jerusalem was delivered into his hand : "Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day" (Ezek. xxiv. 2). At that time the kingdom departed from Israel, and the representation of God's sovereignty was transferred to the Gentile monarchies, of which Babylon was the first, and its kings the head of gold. God spake, by his prophet of the captives of Judah, to Nebuchadnezzar, saying, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all" (Dan. ii. 38).

The dominion thus given being ample and complete, as that originally promised to Adam, supersedes every other sovereignty, and forbids our recognising such royalty elsewhere at that time, either in Israel or among the nations. And if not at that time, not at this time; for the vision includes the whole of time, in four successions of monarchy; and the fourth, the Roman, still subsists, to be destroyed at the end of time by the Stone cut out without hands, and to be superseded when the God of heaven shall set up that kingdom, spoken of in all Scripture, which shall never be destroyed; "the kingdom which shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all preceeding kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. ii. 44).

The Jews from that time to the present have not had any dominion, not any independent sovereignty: their Tirshathas under the Persian empire are not to be called kings; nor yet should we so call the Maccabees, who held under the Antiochi, or sought support from alliances with Greece and Rome. These have been given an undue importance, from a misunderstanding of the prophecy of Jacob, Gen. xlix.; and from an overanxiety to discover the accomplishment of that event, which our own impatience has anticipated, and our ignorance misinterpreted. The sceptre did depart from Judah when he was put under the dominion of the king of Babylon; Christ, in his

character of Shiloh (or Prince of Peace), hath not yet gathered his people of Israel; hath not yet taken to him his great power over the nations; doth not yet sit upon the holy hill of Zion with his raised and glorified church: but the time draws near; the kingdom of God is about to appear, the King of kings is soon to be revealed, and then "the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, henceforth when Shiloh shall come; and to him shall the gathering of the people be." This rendering, Maccaph, omitted between the particles, inserted before the verb, requires. As Adam lost his dominion by the Fall, and became the bondsman of Satan; and as the kings of Israel for their sins were given into the hands of the king of Babylon; so we find the Gentile head of sovereignty, failing in the purpose for which it was appointed, both in exceeding its commission to punish Israel and in boasting of its own independence, was delivered over to Satan, called in the Apocalypse, the "Beast, and the Dragon," until the Redeemer shall come to cast him out, and to set the glory of God in the land of the living. To this the king of Tyrus (Ezek. xxviii.) may seem an exception; but is not so, being another mystery, growing out of the above and explaining it, as we shall shew further on in this paper.


The Gentiles have exceeded their commission in punishing the Jewish people: for this they are reproved by the Prophets, and it is declared that they shall be cast out. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy and I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction." "These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift his head: but these four are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it." (Zech. i.)

This sin still continues on the Gentile kingdoms, and is continually adding to their guilt. The martyrs are continually crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" but on the last generation shall all the judgments fall. The mystical Babylon, church and state combined; the beast bearing a woman drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, brings down the vengeance; "and in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth" (Rev. vi. xvii. xix.)

The Gentile monarchies were raised for the very purpose of chastising Israel in order to reclaim them; to correct, not to destroy them. To the first of them the Lord says, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff of mine indignation, I will

« ForrigeFortsæt »