That Goofy-Looking King David

In a recent post on King David, we saw that (unlike humans) God looks on the heart… because he can. The contrast of that familiar verse (1 Samuel 16:7) is not: man rarely looks at the heart, but he really should more often. The point is that man is only able to look as far as the outward appearance; but God is able to examine the thoughts and intentions and character of the inner man. You may want to read that article before going on.

So then, the prophet Samuel has been sent to anoint Saul’s replacement—to find the man that God had chosen to be king over Israel. Jesse has seven of his sons come before Samuel; and each time, the Lord tells Samuel no, that’s not him. Samuel thus says to Jesse, “the Lord has not chosen these; are these all the sons you have?” Jesse explains that there remains the youngest, but he’s keeping the sheep. So Samuel has him send for David, and verse twelve says that David “was ruddy, had beautiful eyes, and was of good appearance.”

Now, wait a second. Why does it say David was handsome? Why does it draw attention to his appearance? Folks generally react to that revelation for two basic reasons. First: we’ve been taught our entire lives that David was a scrawny, unfortunate looking preteen. And second: we’ve assumed and read right into the text a contrast between his good-looking brothers, and the homely-looking David—who gets a pass only because, although Samuel withdrew in disdain, the Lord was paying attention solely to David’s heart.

We’ve often heard that David was a “redheaded, snot-nosed little kid.” But that’s not the picture Scripture gives at all. He’s a young man. And it doesn’t say, “unlike his brothers, he wasn’t pretty to look at.” He’s much younger—and evidently not as physically imposing as Eliab—but he nevertheless is physically appealing.

“Ruddy,” by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean red-haired. It doesn’t say anything about his hair at all. It’s much more likely that it’s talking about his skin—his complexion. And some of the translations that render it as “healthy” are closer to the idea. It means a glowing, healthy youthfulness—not redheaded.

We tend to assume a contrast between his physical appearance and his heart, but that’s not really what seems to be going on. God has just said that man only looks “to the eyes,” but the Lord looks all the way to the heart; but then it draws attention to David’s “beautiful eyes” (meaning he had bright eyes, he was healthy and vibrant, he was handsome). The point is not that although he was scrawny and ugly, he had a good heart.

He has a really great personality though.”

The point is that David is the whole package. His youth is a problem—Jesse brings attention to it, and then Saul in the next chapter points it out as a problem for the battle—but his appearance wasn’t anything unfortunate.

And he wasn’t necessarily small and scrawny either. I don’t think that Saul, who was physically impressive, was being a blundering idiot when he offered his armor to David. And when David put Saul’s armor and sword on, the reason he gave for not using it is not that he was tripping and falling because of how oversized it was for him, but rather that David had not tested them—he hadn’t trained in them.

Samuel is introducing David to us as the paradigmatic, archetypal model of a righteous and godly king—with exemplary features, both physical and spiritual. Put aside your preconceived notions about David. We’re learning about the real man—the 11th-century shepherd who became the most powerful military leader in Israel… The king whose descendent will sit on the throne of Israel and rule all nations with a rod of iron, establishing perfect and everlasting justice and peace over all earth—far as the curse is found.

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Why the Virgin Birth Matters

A couple of fragmentary thoughts on why Jesus needed to be born of a virgin.

Why was it important that the Messiah be born of a virgin? Well, I think there are three basic reasons.

First, it’s the most unique and powerful sign possible, to mark out the anointed one of God. Isaiah 7:14 gives the sign that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (we’ll talk about the nature of that prophecy another time). Virgin’s didn’t get pregnant back then any more often than they do now, so this was an unmistakable, inescapable miracle, clearly demonstrating that this child is conceived by God to be the promised king.

The second reason the virgin birth is significant is, of course, that by the virgin birth, Jesus could be born without inheriting a fallen human nature. The transmission of the sin nature is through the father, because the man is the representative head. When Adam sinned, as the head of the human race, the entire human race fell. And that fallen nature is inherited through the father. So in order to be a man who could also live a sinless, perfect life, Jesus had to be born without an earthly father.

I think it was also important for a third reason—the curse on Joseph’s ancestor, Jeconiah. According to Matthew 1:12, Jesus is a descendent of Jeconiah. Jeconiah, though, was cursed in Jeremiah 22:24ff, such that none of his descendants would ever sit on the throne of Israel. Now there are three possible solutions to this problem: 1) Some say the curse was reversed; 2) Some say the curse only referred to “in his lifetime;” 3) Some say the virgin birth allows Jesus to avoid the curse.

Now, if you take view #3, as I do, it doesn’t diminish the reality that the virgin birth also allows Christ to be born without a fallen nature. In fact, it gives an illustration of that salvific reason the virgin birth was important. By the virgin birth, Jesus avoided the curse of Jeconiah that he would have inherited through Joseph, which would have precluded Him from being the king of Israel. And by the virgin birth, Jesus avoided the curse of Adam that he would have inherited through Joseph, which would have precluded Him from qualifying to be the sinless, perfect sacrifice, to take on Himself the penalty for sin that we deserved.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” —Isaiah 7:14

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Christmas Eve Service 2014

In all the rush and excitement of the festivities with family and friends — the lights, the food, the song, the gifts, the laughter… It’s so easy for Christmas to come and go, without ever taking the time to focus our attention on the true meaning of Christmas, and the true reason for joy and celebration.

So on Christmas Eve this year, we want to take some time out of the craziness and festivities to remember who it is that we are celebrating, and focus on why there is a reason for the joy Christmas brings to our hearts, and praise God for the gift He gave to us on Christmas!

christmaseve3There can be no real joy in the world without Christ. There can be no real joy in our lives apart from the truth of the message of Christ… of why He came to earth as a baby, born to die… to take away the penalty for our sins. That might sound like a sad message for a time like Christmas, but its not… because He rose from the dead three days later, to prove He had the power to conquer sin, and death… and the power to take away our sins. Let’s keep Christ in Christmas this year, and celebrate the real reason for the season!

Join us this Christmas Eve at WLD Ranch for a service celebrating the birth of the King!

The Gospel of the Kingdom [Conclusion]

THE DEFINING OF THE KINGDOM

A remarkable aspect of this discussion is that in the gospels, there is no indication of any explanation of the kingdom (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17; Mark 1:14-15). It is as though Jesus assumed that his hearers fully understand his teaching (Matt. 22:29; Mark 7:9). The absence of any kind of formal explanation of what was meant by the kingdom, indicates that such an explanation would be absurd and unnecessary, apart from the introduction of a radical or novel concept related to the kingdom. The principle here is that when the Bible (or, in this case, Christ) tells us something, we are expected to bring with us everything God has already revealed to us up to that point.

Jesus never indicated that He was presenting a kingdom that differed from the Messianic kingdom portrayed in the Old Testament prophets. In fact, Jesus continually appealed to the Old Testament prophets to support his messianic claims. (Luke 4:18-21; 7:24-27).

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

It seems evident that the kingdom of God spoken of in the New Testament refers explicitly to the Davidic, Messianic kingdom promised throughout Scripture, and grounded centrally in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12, 15), the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7; Psalms 2, 110), and its realization in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:25-27). Thus, the gospel of the kingdom was not some radically different message that was antithetical to the Jews’ expectations regarding the coming Messianic kingdom. However, there is an important issue to remember discussed in two very important posts – the first entitled: “The Promised Messiah and the Confused Disciples,” and its sequel: “The Promise and the Provision [Reflections on the Cross],” regarding the confusion of the Jews over Christ’s role after the rejection of the kingdom.

God does not revoke everlasting promises, nor does He break unconditional covenants. Christ’s kingdom was not redefined to something the Jews would never have been able to discern from the clear promises of Scripture. When the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, the kingdom was not then redefined or annulled, but rather postponed for a generation of believing Jews (Matt. 21:41-43). The promised Messianic kingdom of the Old Testament was legitimately offered to the Jews, rejected by them, and postponed, until a time when Christ will regenerate the heart of Israel, and the nation will enter the kingdom as a regenerated, restored people, having fulfilled for them the nation, seed, land, blessing, and kingdom, as promised throughout the whole of Scripture.


p.s… I think these verses are particularly fascinating regarding this discussion (HCSB, emphasis mine).

The book of Revelation is all about Christ defeating His enemies once and for all, and establishing His kingdom. In Revelation 19:6, we read,

“Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying: ‘Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign!'”

Speaking prophetically of the bringing in of the Kingdom, Zechariah 14:9 says,

On that day, Yahweh will become King over all the earth – Yahweh alone, and His name alone.”

Speaking of His return, Jesus says in Matthew 25:31:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His Glory.”


Go here to find some valuable resources for further study.

The Gospel of the Kingdom [The mystery form in Luke 17:21]

A COUNTER TEXT TO THE “FULLY FUTURE KINGDOM”

One text that is especially important to the discussion of a purely future kingdom versus a “mystery form” of the kingdom present today (the currently reigning view), and one that is perhaps used more than any other passage to argue for this view (the “mystery” view), is Luke 17:21. Many have attempted to use this passage as undeniable evidence that the original plan and form of the kingdom has been done away with, and replaced by a purely spiritual reign of Christ in the hearts of all Christians. There are, however, numerous problems with this interpretation.

First, it relies upon a faulty translation. Both the King James Version and the American Standard Version translate this verse, “the kingdom of God is within you.” Almost every other translation, however, translates this phrase, “in your midst,” or “among you.” Remember that at this time Jesus was speaking to unrepentant Pharisees. Surely Jesus could not have been telling the Pharisees that the kingdom was something that existed within their hearts. It is clear that these men wanted to destroy Christ (Matthew 12:14; Mark 3:6). As Darrell Bock puts it, “Jesus is not speaking of some potential within each person’s heart to establish the Kingdom. This reading sounds like the romantic notions of nineteenth century scholars on the Kingdom.”

It seems that Jesus was simply pointing out the Pharisees’ lack of discernment to recognize that the kingdom was being offered to them in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, as the king, was the representative of the kingdom, and in a very real way, the kingdom is present wherever the king is present. However, this is in a representative sense, and not the way many construe it to mean that the kingdom is fully present wherever God has authority. Because, as mentioned before, the kingdom does not refer to just anywhere that God has authority, but refers specifically to the promised Davidic kingdom. There is no basis in this passage for believing the Kingdom of God resides in one’s heart instead of being a literal world-ruling government.

Second, the mystery view misinterprets Jesus’ comment about observing the coming of the kingdom. When Jesus told the Pharisees that the coming of the kingdom would not be observable, He was not saying that the kingdom was invisible. Rather, Jesus is saying that the coming of the kingdom is not a gradual process, as if watching an object gradually approaching. Rather, it will be instantaneous, like lightning, unexpected. There is nothing in the kingdom itself to indicate the time of its approaching (can we say Mark 13:32?).

Jesus’ immediate explanation clarifies what He means. It is clear from the following verses that Jesus’ intended point was that the kingdom was not going to come gradually, but suddenly:

24 For as the lightning flashes from horizon to horizon and lights up the sky, so the Son of Man will be in His day… 28 It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed… 34 I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: One will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together: One will be taken and the other left.

The context could not be clearer; the emphasis Jesus was stressing was one of suddenness, as opposed to observable, gradual approach. Also, verse twenty-five says, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” This statement clearly rebuts any argument that Jesus was claiming that the kingdom was fully present. Here, Jesus plainly states that there are certain events that must happen, and even to Him, the king, before the kingdom is established.

This issue of the confusion over the timing of the kingdom is discussed more deeply in two very important posts – the first entitled: “The Promised Messiah and the Confused Disciples,” and its sequel: “The Promise and the Provision [Reflections on the Cross].”

Next time, we’ll discuss the remarkable lack of any definition given for the Kingdom in the New Testament, and the implications of this for our particular discussion!

The Gospel of the Kingdom [Messianic Fulfillment]

MESSIANIC FULFILLMENT

Having the Old Testament context in mind, the New Testament then should be read with an understanding that the Jews of Christ’s day would have had their minds saturated with the promises of the Old Testament.

So the question is, did Christ offer the kingdom—the kingdom the Jews longed for? Or did Christ redefine the kingdom, and establish His reign as king in 33 AD?

In Luke 1:11-17, an angel of the Lord appears to Zechariah and announces the birth of John the Baptist (or John the Baptizer—sorry, there weren’t any Baptists back then). In this passage, the angel uses language that is strikingly tied to Old Testament Messianic promises. “And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people” (Luke 1:17, HCSB). This verse ties John the Baptizer to the promise of the Elijah to come in Malachi 4:5-6, which is a promise of a forerunner to the arrival and establishment of the kingdom.

Similarly, the angel’s announcement to Mary concerning the birth of Jesus also has explicit references to His Messianic role, especially in relation to the Davidic Covenant: “and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” The book of Matthew starts out by recording Jesus’ descent from the royal house of David. The Magi come asking for “the king of the Jews,” and Herod then inquires as to where the Messianic king would be born (Matthew 2:1-6), showing that he clearly understood the significance of these events.

As already mentioned, Jesus’ message about the kingdom being at hand would have been received and perceived by the Jewish people in context of the literally understood Messianic promises concerning the kingdom. If there is no reason to reject the normal interpretation of the kingdom promises, then it must be concluded that Christ was offering the promised Davidic kingdom as prophesied in the Old Testament. The healing and cleansing work of Jesus during His earthly ministry is linked directly to the Messianic promises found in Isaiah 61:1-2a (fulfilled in Luke 4:18–21). Immediately after this declaration, the people of Jesus’ own hometown sought to kill Him (Luke 4:22-30).

There then is a developing theme in the gospels of the rejection of Christ’s message, and the hardening of the hearts of the Jews (especially the Jewish leaders) against Christ. A decisive turn then takes place in Matthew 12, when the Jewish leaders attribute the miracles of Jesus to the power of Satan, and Jesus declares that they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Jesus finally makes clear His rejection of the nation and postponement of the Kingdom due to their rejection of Him in Matthew 21:41-43 and John 19:11. Notice however, that Jesus never claims to redefine the kingdom. It is never stated that the kingdom will not be established the way it is prophesied in Scripture, only that it would not be established in 33 AD. Also notice that Jesus never rebuked his disciples for anticipating the establishing of the kingdom (John 21:22; Acts 1:6).

The issue is not redefinition, but timing.

Next time, we’ll look further at the issue of the timing of the kingdom.