RELIGIOUS MAN AND GODLY MAN
Let us consider some spiritual lessons for the Church in this age, through review of the lives and ways of some notable persons and biblical souls, such as Saul and David ---two great men of Israel and their followers, as recorded in the two Bible Books of First and Second Samuel. This is about God's covenant of Old Testament times in the BC years with Israel for God's care; and as today in the AD years with this New Testament dispensation, and promise of God's care with the Church universal. --R. L. DeWitt.
As one reads of the reign of Saul, the mighty warrior of Israel, and the rise of David, that faithful young man of God, we see something notable in the history of Israel as instructive today: religious man and also godly man. We might note here some difference and God's ways accomplished through men in various times.
After the deliverance of God's covenant people of Israel from bondage, and the teaching and care through Moses to become a great people (note Exodus), there were many lessons for Israel about trusting God and learning how to honor and worship Him. They were led forth and established by God through conquest in the promised land with Joshua and faithful men. We also see God's manage-ment and care for Israel by gifted and strong men ---and prophets in times of general disobedience and idolatry ---mercies of God and correction. The care brought by judges and prophets was gladly received by the Israelites for deliverance and blessings, but NOT the Godly counsel; and rebellion against God continued as they sought their own ways. This all came to a climax in the coming of their promised Messiah, which was contrary to their own religion they had developed, and they rejected Him, hated Him, and sought often to kill Him ---which eventually they did; yet God over-ruled and raised Him (Acts 2:3; Acts 4:10; Eph. 1:20).
This is somewhat like unto Christendom today, which is at least profession of Jesus, the Christ, as God's great Prophet, Teacher, and Savior for man; and sometimes allowed by men to be called the 'Son of God'. Christendom shows some degree of honor to the name of Jesus, but reserving to itself the choices for its preferred religious ways to live. In the world there are some PROFESSORS of Christ and some POSSESSORS of Christ, and only the latter condition will save the soul, as our Holy Bible shows (John 14; Rom. 8; 1 Jn.5: 10-12; etc.). True Christianity is souls rescued from bondage to Satan by faith in the SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, and like unto the blood applied symbolically in Egypt (type of the world ---note Exodus 12); and it is also like SEPARATION from the world (crossing the Red Sea), and a spiritual journey to the promised land, and crossing over into blessing (the River Jordan) ---suggesting the crossing over of the Church in this age for eternal blessing. Some receive the truth of this mercy today, and some are indifferent or rebellious like Israel, who rejects their Messiah.
Consider Saul, who was nationally an Israelite and they were his people. He followed the traditions and religion of his people and acknowledged God, but he was not a true worshipper of God and had little thought or a relationship with God. He was simply a natural man, and raised up by God as a mighty warrior to lead Israel when they rejected God's care and expectations. He was gifted to be a mighty leader (though not by faith in God); being much as Samson later in his self-serving way to defeat enemies of Israel (see Judges 13-16). The Spirit of God came upon Saul for service and works, but in his natural rebellion he did not yield, and in time God removed His Spirit from him, leaving him to his own ways and resources; and he perished without God.
This is like unto great men in so-called Christian nations today, who uphold their traditions, honor, and national religion, but as natural men they do not know and worship the Creator-God. They may be mighty men among men, but not before God. We can be thankful that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the true believers in this age, we are then born of God and sealed (note John 3; etc.), and God will not take His Spirit away as He did with Saul. God says to His saints: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).
Because of the continued rebellion of Israel against God and the failure of Saul, God began to make a separation of the people into those who would show devotion to God and those who would continue after their own interests. God raised up and anointed David to be the Godly king that Saul would not be, and though David did not seek to separate from Israel he was forced to flee Saul. In time we see Judah gathering after David out of the many tribes of Israel, while the rest of Israel held to Saul. David, as a type of Jesus: the Christ, surely speaks to us somewhat of our Lord who was rejected by Israel, and Jesus was persecuted unto death.
Israel was a type of the Kingdom of Heaven today (Christendom), which is all profession of Christ and some following after His teachings. As with Israel, professing Christians are divided into those who are only professors of God (like the camp of Israel under Saul) and those who seek to own Jesus as Lord and Savior --Kingdom of God (somewhat like those of Judah who came to David).
Instead of a course, as in the past with God seeking obedience and devotion of His chosen people, through the prophets, God divided this people and showed His mind for faithful saints through David. We can see that God sought the eventual unity and blessings of all Israel in spite of their waywardness ---and even the blessings of His saints in all times thereafter, though there is much failure on all sides.
David was somewhat a type of the Christ to come, and rather than rule as a warrior and conqueror, he set forth to honor and serve his God. After David fled from Israel, Judah appreciated his stand for God and fair-minded spirit. He sought the mind of God for good, and fought for the honor of God. He endeavored to uphold the heritage and unity of all Israel, though some among him were natural men who had little appreciation of his values and devotion, and were not interested in the unity of all.
One must see in David that he sought the unity of Israel and the good of God's people, as did the Lord Jesus toward all the sheep of God. David shows weakness and some failure on one hand, and boldness and courage for God on the other hand. Certainly David failed toward his own household in restraining and judging his children, and lusted in the flesh for Bathsheba and killed her husband, but was repentant and humbled when he was brought to his senses by the prophet, Nathan, and condemned in his behavior.
It is significant to see that notwithstanding the weakness in the flesh of David, he mostly sought to serve and obey God and follow after Him. This reminds one somewhat of the Lord Jesus who as the son of man hungered and thirsted in the flesh, suffered and was weary, but knew all things being also the Son of God ---did the will of His Father, and was with power in the Spirit and able to do all things.
David is a spiritual type in many ways of the Lord Jesus, yet a man and had failures. David may have showed weakness in his failure to deal righteously toward Shimei who cursed him as God's anointed king, but we should consider the spiritual application of that. He said to his captain who wanted to go kill Shimei for his cursing of David: "...let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, curse David" (2 Sam. 16:10). David no doubt felt humbled before God and was not about retribution and asserting his might. This is somewhat like unto the Lord Jesus who allowed men to speak against him and offend, but spoke forcefully in defense of His Father and the Holy Spirit.
Jonathan is an interesting study, too, in that he was attracted to David and well knew his father, Saul, was wicked; yet his allegiance was to his father and not to David or to his God. In time he made a choice and wished David well, and returned to his father and perished with him. Like his father he was a natural man, and though he had a heart for David, and appreciated his faithfulness, he did not have a heart for God and did not seem to know God. He could not see the value in leaving his privileged place to follow David's convictions, and he could not see beyond men. There are many religious men among so-called Christian nations today like that.
We learn that Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, was brought into grace by David, not as a young man of faith, but through the kindness of David in memory of Jonathan. God has said: "them that honor Me, I will honor". Mephibosheth received mercy and blessings as does Christendom today, and the Israelites today who, though lame are kept by the mercies of God, though they are yet blind to the love and hope that God has for them. That nation will be restored to God by promise, but NOT the Israelites today. They may ONLY come on the same ground as the Gentiles (note Acts 13: 16-52).
When we consider Abner, Joab, and Ishbosheth, we see religious and natural men who did not appreciate the heart of David yet respected him. They valued their positions and benefits, but without much thought for unity and the good of all, nor devotion to the God of Israel. Such are many men today. David was motivated from a young man to live for God and obey and honor Him, and God upheld and blessed him as He promised; though we see David's indulgence of his flesh and much failure, and the consequences he suffered toward the end of his life. As one has said: 'David lost his discernment by not giving God the preeminence always ---thus he failed in many things; though he was blessed of God'.
We can see in Israel of old many pictures of God's testimony in this present dispensation of grace. In Christendom there are some followers of Christianity for personal gain of a good name, favor, and hope, but who do not want the Christ of God, as it was with Israel. There is no exercise of conscience in such men to know Jesus, the Christ, and have communion with Him and worship. Many take the Name of Christ, but are yet dead in their sins, for eternal life is found only in a GODLY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with the Savior, and a willingness to stand with Him in His rejection. -R. L. DeWitt: GB13; 9/2009; add 09/2020.